Think Outside the Pumpkin Spice: Alternative Fall Flavors

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

fall-flavorsNow that summer is giving way to fall, it’s once again time for seasonal menu changes. Many restaurants and cafes will simply offer trendy pumpkin spice versions of traditional food and beverage favorites and call it a day, but we find that approach to be very limiting. There are far too many other terrific fall flavors out there to stop at just pumpkin spice, so we encourage you to find a way to add these classic alternatives to your new menu.

Apple

Apples are an incredibly versatile fruit that pair well with other flavors and can be served up in a variety of ways. For example, apple cinnamon is wonderfully comforting in breakfast foods like pancakes, waffles, and cereal, and also goes nicely in tea. Apple based desserts are a no-brainer in the fall, so be sure to consider apple pie, caramel apple cake, and apple strudel for your menu. And of course nothing beats warm apple cider on chilly fall days. Brew up a batch and keep it ready to serve (with or without alcohol) in a Bunn hot beverage dispenser for a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Butternut squash

With its creamy texture and nutty flavor, butternut squash is a perennial fall favorite that can liven up everything from appetizers to entrees. Go-to recipes include a hearty butternut squash chicken stew, butternut squash and kale salad, and butternut squash mac and cheese.

Regular pumpkin

It seems that the pumpkin spice trend has completely pushed regular pumpkin off the radar, which is unfortunate for anyone who loves that satisfyingly savory flavor. Bring it back to your menu in its original form by adding pumpkin cubes to salads, pastas, and chili, or using it as the key ingredient in cookies, cakes, pies, and other desserts. Don’t forget that pureed pumpkin also makes an excellent soup, so find a recipe you like and whip up a huge batch with the help of a Groen table top cooking kettle.

Maple

If you only use maple in syrup form on top of pancakes and waffles, then you’re missing out on the delicious sweetness this key fall ingredient can bring to many other dishes. Maple is perhaps best used as a glaze for desserts such as cakes, doughnuts, and pastries, as well as meats such as ham, bacon, and pork, but is also ideal for flavoring butters and jams. And once you add a touch of maple to yellow pea soup, wild rice soup, or sweet potato soup, you’ll never go back!

Give your customers something more exciting to look forward to this fall than pumpkin spice flavored everything by offering these and other great flavors on your seasonal menu.

Get Ready for Summer Drinks

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

summer drinks 2

Summer beverage sales have the potential to contribute big bucks to a restaurant’s bottom line. The profit margins for alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages alike are among the highest in the food service industry, and can provide your establishment with a welcome boost in what might otherwise be a slow season. Check out these great tips on how to get ready for summer drinks:

  • Invest in a Bunn frozen drink dispenser to help cut down on the prep and cleanup time involved in serving perennial summer favorites like daiquiris, margaritas, and slushies.
  • Swap out hot coffee, tea, and other popular beverages for iced and cold brewed versions to allow customers to get their caffeine kick in a more refreshing form.
  • Offer drinks that contain less alcohol by volume. These are often lighter, brighter, more flavorful, less dehydrating and thus ultimately more satisfying than heavier alcoholic beverages in the summer.
  • Add food elements such as candied fruit, edible stir sticks, and interesting garnishes that make drinks more fun and visually appealing.
  • Target your health-conscious patrons with delicious green or fruit smoothies. Peaches and strawberries are especially popular in summer, so be sure to stock your inventory accordingly.
  • Think outside the fruit basket and try using fresh vegetables in beverages to yield a more savory result.
  • Experiment with alcohol infused dessert drinks to increase after-dinner sales. Vodka milkshakes, lemon drop dessert shots, and alcoholic ice cream or sorbet are a few easy ones to start with.

Getting your restaurant, food truck, or kiosk ready for summer drinks can be achieved with a few menu modifications, a commercial frozen drink dispenser, and a willingness to try new things. Put your own twist on these ideas to keep your customers coming back all season.

Getting Your Restaurant Ready for Spring

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

The snow has melted in most parts of the country, temperatures are gradually warming, and the calendar shows that the official start of spring is just a few days away. This means customers are ready to shake off any lingering symptoms of cabin fever and patronize their favorite eateries with renewed enthusiasm. Be sure you’re ready to welcome them back by sprucing up your restaurant with the help of these seasonal tips:

Spring RestaurantMenu

Review your menu with an eye toward replacing heavy, hearty fare with lighter, more refreshing options for spring. Iced versions of popular beverages such as coffee and tea are no-brainers, as are desserts such as Lemon Bar Cheesecake, Key Lime Pie, Orange Sherbet, and other citrusy sweets. Main courses and salads made with seasonal produce should also be featured prominently on your revised menu.

Restaurant equipment

Inspect your cooking, serving, and cooling equipment to make sure everything is in good working order. Refrigerators and ice machines should be a top priority at this time of year, so take this opportunity to repair or upgrade these items. You may also want to consider purchasing a display refrigerator to showcase your new desserts, deli offerings, or daily specials.

Restaurant interior

Cast a critical eye around the interior of your restaurant to see which areas are in need of change. Are the tabletops chipped, scarred, or otherwise damaged? Are the window treatments looking a bit discolored and shabby? Are the carpets worn or hopelessly stained? These can all be major turnoffs for customers, so restore, replace, or deep clean as necessary. For even better results, try adding brightly colored decorative accents such as vases of spring flowers or linen tablecloths to improve table presentation.

Restaurant exterior

If you offer outdoor dining, it’s time to start prepping the area for customers that wish to enjoy their meals al fresco. Pull your tables, chairs, and patio umbrellas out of storage for cleaning, and carefully examine each piece for rust or other problems. If you’ve had the same outdoor furniture for many seasons, updating to a more modern style could be a wise move. You might also wish to create a pet-friendly space in a shaded spot where you can provide fresh water and treats to diners with pets (be sure to check local ordinances first). Finish by anchoring everything down and training staff on how to care for diners in the event of a sudden rainstorm.

Give your customers a fresh dining experience by sprucing up your restaurant for spring. Use these tips to get started and visit ShortOrder.com to purchase any new restaurant equipment or commercial refrigeration solutions you need to get the job done.

This Valentine’s Day, Romance Them with Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

fancy teaA simple, and often overlooked, way to increase per-table sales is non-alcoholic beverages. They can quickly add up, leading to a higher check total, which is good for the server and the restaurant! Valentine’s Day is coming up, one of the busiest days of the year for any restaurant. Try these tips to help boost your sales:

Start with the menu. Be sure to give the non-alcoholic drinks their own section on the menu. As a recently pregnant diner, I was frequently frustrated by many restaurants lack of a beverage menu. Many restaurants will opt to exclude them, but it’s important to increase sales.

Offer limited-time-only beverages. Nothing generates interest like knowing something is only available for a limited time! Rotating seasonal beverages can help you test new flavors and if something really takes off, you can add it to the menu full time.

Education is key. Educate your serving staff to sell non-alcoholic beverages. They know to offer a glass of wine or beer, but teach them to suggest a few non-alcoholic options as well. A cool glass of tea on a hot day or a warm cup of coffee at brunch might strike a perfect balance with that mimosa!

Pair them with a meal. When your table full of “I’ll have water” customers orders, suggest a non-alcoholic beverage that goes great with that dish. Flavored teas are perfect for this, when you consider their herbal qualities and subtle flavors.

Develop a “signature drink.” Create a taste that is worth coming back for. Flavored teas and lemonades are HOT right now, and might make the difference between you and the restaurant across the street.

Put them on display. Frozen drink dispensers rotating in the background, bubbling lemonade in the mixer and even bottled beverages in display refrigerators all help keep the beverages on display and in the customer’s minds. Increase sales by keeping both alcoholic AND non-alcoholic options visible to your customers.

One of the greatest margins in any restaurant is the beverage service. Don’t miss this opportunity to boost sales and revenue with a few simple steps this Valentine’s Day.

 

Ways to Improve Your Food Business in the New Year

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Now that the New Year is officially under way, this is the perfect time to evaluate your restaurant, cafe, food truck, or other food-related business to uncover and shore up weaknesses. Chances are, no matter how well your business did in 2015, there is still room for improvement in a major area such as quality, service, or overall efficiency for the new year. To help identify current shortcomings and set future performance goals, consider taking one or more of these steps:

improve restaurantExpand (or reduce) your menu

Whether you use an expensive point-of-sale tracking system, have tight inventory controls, or personally take orders every single day, you probably have a very good idea of which menu items consistently sell well and which lack customer appeal. Try new recipes that complement the bestsellers and ditch the underperforming dishes to reduce associated waste in food, ingredients, or storage space.

Spend off-peak hours wisely

Slow periods are inevitable in the food service industry, so it’s important to spend that time wisely. Clean up and preparation for the next meal rush are obvious ways to use downtime, but they’re not the only ways. Many business owners have increased revenues by offering off-peak specials such as early bird dining discounts, extended happy hours, or limited late-night menus.

Give your staff the right tools for the job

If your food business is plagued with operating inefficiencies, it might be tempting to place the blame on your kitchen or wait staff. But before doing that, find out whether or not they have the necessary tools for getting the job done. Is there adequate prep space in the kitchen? If not, consider buying more work tables. Is most of the mixing, blending, and chopping of ingredients being done by hand? If so, consider providing commercial food processors to improve speed, efficiency, and safety in these areas.

Develop a social media presence

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social media sites are no longer optional for businesses—particularly those in the food service industry. Today’s customers expect to be able to find your company and engage with you on one or more of these platforms, and it’s in your best interest to oblige. Being active on social media not only gives you the opportunity to improve your responsiveness to inquiries and complaints, but also helps you manage your brand in a positive way.

Improvements for the New Year don’t have to be radical or expensive in order to be effective; they simply have to fill a void in your business. So start examining your current practices now to see if your bottom line would benefit by implementing one of the above ideas at some point in 2016.

Tips to Help Your Food Truck Survive Winter

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

According to industry experts, food truck operators can expect revenues to drop off by nearly 50% in winter. That’s a huge decline, especially if the truck is your sole source of income.

Does this mean you should put your vehicle into long-term storage and get a different job until warmer weather returns? Maybe not. Try these tips to help your food truck survive the winter slump:

  • Change your menu to suit the season: Cold weather calls for warmer and heartier fare such as soups and stews, as well as hot drinks like espresso, tea, and cocoa. These items can easily be prepared and kept warm with the help of one of the multi-quart table top kettles we have at ShortOrder.com, and will attract customers who otherwise might not be willing to brave the elements.
  • Team up with another business: Is there a bar or winery in your area that doesn’t serve food? If you specialize in desserts, is there a coffee shop that doesn’t offer sweets? Contact those business owners ASAP and try to work out an arrangement in which both parties can benefit.
  • Consider catering: Catering is another popular winter option for food truck operators. Though these jobs might be on a larger scale than you’re used to dealing with, if you’ve got the time, equipment, and personnel, it could be worth your while to check into catering holiday parties, business events, school functions, and social occasions.
  • Try direct delivery: You know those office complexes and buildings you regularly service during the warmer months? That’s an established base for your business and shouldn’t be given up just because the customers don’t want to wait around in freezing temperatures for their food. Talk to the office manager and see if you can arrange a direct delivery service for orders placed before a certain time each day.
  • Be on the lookout for special events: Many cities and towns have winter festivals or other special outdoor events that can provide you with extra income opportunities. Check out your city’s events calendar (and those of neighboring towns and suburbs) and hit as many as you can.

Surviving the winter decline is a challenge familiar to every food truck owner and operator, but viable solutions do exist. If you haven’t done so before, try one or more of the revenue-generating ideas listed here so you can keep your business up and running all year round.

Back To School!

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

Boy with lunch tray in school cafeteriaNow that school is back in session, parents around the world get their schedules back. Many have to work on homework at night, sign agendas, fill out school paperwork and get up every morning to make a healthy lunch before sending their kids off to a day at school. Wait… you don’t make a homemade lunch for your kids daily? What kind of parent are you? The answer? The same as many other parents! Schools offer education. Education transcends the classroom and enters the lunch room every school day. The lunchrooms of today are not like it was when I was a kid. There are more choices for students as well as stricter guidelines for schools. How has that changed the kitchen? Let’s look.

If you were to step into today’s K-12 school kitchen, you would notice that it is far more streamlined than in the past. Why? The food being put into that kitchen has changed. Back in the day, most kitchens were working with raw ingredients. Slicers, ovens, choppers, sinks, braising pans, steam jacketed kettles and holding cabinets galore were used to change those raw goods into the lunch we (some not so fondly) remember from our childhoods. (more…)

Top 3 Things You Need To Know About Commercial Fryers

Thursday, June 18th, 2015

tmp1E6EFryers aren’t just for fast food restaurants. Kitchens all around the country are using fryers to make new culinary creations. From deep-fried squash blossoms to tempura-battered Oreos, commercial fryers offer restaurants and their chefs the opportunity to create unique, fresh food served up crispy and hot. Whether you’re new to the restaurant business or a seasoned professional, eventually you’ll be in the market for a new commercial fryer. Let’s take a look at a few things to consider before purchasing:

Fryer Specifications

Do you want a gas or electric fryer? What size do you need? Fryers come in all shapes and sizes with a wide range of features. Gas fryers were once the most popular power source option. However, rising natural gas prices have increased the sales of electric fryers. Also take into consideration the space you have in your kitchen; make sure your new fryer fits appropriately into your floor plan. (more…)

How to Create a Zero-Waste Commercial Restaurant Kitchen

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Short-Order_Compost-RecyclingRestaurant kitchens are notoriously wasteful. Not only does almost every piece of food come with some form of organic waste that you don’t actually want to cook with, but most of it also comes wrapped in plastic, which is wrapped in plastic again, and then in a cardboard box (which is itself sometimes wrapped in plastic!). All that plastic and cardboard can be recycled, but the organic waste has to be composted. So what do you do with everything else? Follow these steps to cut down on waste in your restaurant’s kitchen.

Step 1: Proper Prior Planning

The first step to a zero-waste kitchen is to consider what your kitchen does that produces waste in the first place. Trash and food waste are the two greatest culprits, and you should have a plan to deal with both on-site. Composting non-meat food waste is a no-brainer. Recycling what can be recycled is as well. However, what few people realize is that, in most metropolitan areas, there are recycling facilities that can handle 90% of post-consumer waste between them. Sit down and think about what you have that cannot be composted or recycled, and make a list. (more…)

Guide to Buying Restaurant Utility Carts

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

Luxor 100S3 Utility CartsWhat can you use a utility cart for? Use your imagination. Towering cakes? You bet. Floral arrangements? For certain. Laundry loads? Yes indeed. There are utility carts of all shapes and sizes, made for all kinds of businesses. So where to start when buying a utility cart? Consider the 3 C’s: capacity, casters, and construction.

Capacity

What will your cart be holding? Will it primarily support pastries, or bear the weight of bussing buckets and dishes? All that poundage can add up pretty quickly, so make sure you account for the weight capacity of your cart. Depending on size and construction, utility carts can hold and evenly distribute between 200 and 1,000 pounds.

Casters

What’s a cart without its casters? Yep. Just a bunch of shelves. Utility carts are available both with and without locking brakes, as well as with ball-bearing casters and swivel casters.

Construction

(more…)

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