Ways to Share Valentine’s Day with Your Customers

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

valentines dayDining out is one of the most popular ways for couples to celebrate Valentine’s Day, which gives restaurateurs a tremendous profit making opportunity in the midst of the winter lull. And with February 14 falling on a Sunday this year, there’s a chance to generate even more revenue than usual by offering breakfast and/or brunch in addition to dinner.

But Valentine’s Day success doesn’t just happen. You must be willing to temporarily tailor your menu, decor, services, and operating hours towards attracting customers for the holiday, especially if your restaurant is not typically known as a romantic destination. Here are some suggestions on how to do just that, even with a limited marketing budget:

 

  • Make sure would-be diners know your restaurant will be doing something special for Valentine’s Day by getting the word out on all of your social media accounts and posting notices within your establishment.
  • Offer a complimentary appetizer, drinks, dessert, or other freebie or discount for the first 20-25 reservations or for making a reservation prior to a certain date to encourage early responses.
  • Create holiday-specific dessert options, such as red and pink or heart themed desserts, or ‘dessert for two’ menu offerings.
  • Based on the number of early reservations you get and the number of walkups you can expect, be sure to have enough kitchen help and waitstaff able (and willing) to work.
  • Alter the ambience of your restaurant to suit the occasion by dimming the lights, placing candles on each table, choosing soft background music, and adding red or pink accents to the interior decor.
  • Create some kind of keepsake that customers can take home to remember the experience. Popular keepsakes include special menu covers, custom champagne flutes, personalized matchbooks, or a printed photo of the couple.
  • Promote red or pink drinks such as strawberry daiquiris, pomegranate margaritas, Jack Rose cocktails, blood orange mimosas, and cosmopolitans to help diners get in the spirit of the evening. Save time and keep the fun flowing by using a Bunn frozen drink dispenser or a Waring high-powered commercial blender (both available at ShortOrder.com) behind the bar.
  • Serve heart-shaped versions of appetizers, breads, and desserts, and arrange the food in the main course into a heart shape prior to serving.
  • Give each departing couple a red rose and a voucher or discount coupon for a future date.

 

While some people might cynically dismiss Valentine’s Day as a “made up” holiday, few restaurateurs can afford to ignore the occasion. Demonstrate your willingness to share Valentine’s Day with your customers by using some of the ideas listed above to make their dining experience unforgettable.

A New Year Means a Clean Slate

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

restaurant in kitchen

Chipotle has been in the news a lot lately, and not for the reasons any restaurant would want! They’ve shut down and promised a “deep clean” of all locations and hope to recover from the PR beating they’ve had lately. What can you do to help prevent an outbreak of sick guests at your location? Start with a deep clean, clean often, establish a routine and train your employees.

The obvious place to start is with your equipment and prep areas. Clean those well, and keep them clean. Food code requires establishments to clean and sanitize food contact surfaces after each use. But we all know that! What about the other places that are often touched by customers and employees alike, and are often missed during daily cleaning?

  • Door Handles: They are used by every person entering your restaurant. It’s important to clean the front door handles, but don’t forget the other ones too. Door handles like those to offices, storage areas, refrigerators, restrooms and the back door are equally as important to wipe down daily.
  • Community Areas: Community tables, chairs and benches all need cleaning and sanitizing. They are all touched often and can harbor bacteria. Don’t forget the arm rests and bottoms too.
  • Light Switches: Though the switches in the main dining area may only be used in the morning and evening, those that are in storage closets, restrooms and offices might be used much more frequently.
  • Railings: You might have them next to steps and stairs, you might have a banister on your second floor that overlooks the lower level. They are used frequently and should be cleaned frequently.
  • Tables for your customers: Establish a cleaning routine that is done between each customer. You can use a disinfecting spray in a marked bottle and disposable towels or pre-treated cleaning and sanitizing towels, whichever works best for your restaurant. Make sure it’s clear which roles in the staff are responsible for cleaning duties.

As important as the initial training is, it’s also important to revisit the steps and expectations often. Make sure your employees, both new and old, are familiar with their cleaning and sanitizing responsibilities.

As a manager, remember illnesses like Norovirus are highly contagious and can spread fast, especially in a restaurant setting. If one of your employees is having intestinal issues, play it safe and send them home. Then, make sure the surfaces on this list get a thorough going-over that day.

It just takes a few minutes to clean and sanitize around your restaurant and it can do wonders to prevent the spread of illness.

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.

A Happy Staff Leads to a Great Customer Experience

Tuesday, December 1st, 2015

Employees-in-Kitchen_Waverbreakmedia-Ltd-Copyright_ThinkstockThe holiday season is here! Let the hustle and bustle begin! Rushed customers at lunch, and worn out customers at dinner leads to a staff that has to be at the top of their game. How do you make sure your customers have a great experience every time? According to Matt Hood, Habit Burger’s chief marketing officer, it starts with nurturing the staff. He shared five ways to nurture the staff and improve the customer experience with the National Restaurant Association in this article. We’ve hit the highlights below:
(more…)

Restaurant Safety Tips for Surviving the Holiday Season

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

restaurant decorated for the holidaysEven during the holiday season—one of the busiest in the industry—restaurant safety should take top priority. When the day gets hectic, it’s easy to let little things like a lax cleaning regimen or unsafe clothing go unnoticed. However, that’s when keeping an eye on safety matters most. To make sure workers and guests are safe this holiday season, check out these handy kitchen safety tips.

(more…)

9 Ways to Spice Up Your Fall Menu

Wednesday, November 4th, 2015

Restaurant Fall MenuAs it gets colder, customers’ taste buds start to beg for something warm and comforting. Out with crisp summer salads and barbecued meat, and in with the soups and baked goods. However, standard recipes can become stagnant over time, so it’s important to spice things up every once in awhile. Here are few ideas to help inspire your autumnal menu.

1. More Soup For You

When it’s cold, there’s nothing better than a warm cup of soup. However, it doesn’t take long for a simple soup du jour to become a bit boring. Branch out from traditional favorites like chicken noodle, and introduce some new flavors to your menu. Butternut squash is seasonal and super easy to prepare, a chorizo and white bean stew is a fresh take on a classic recipe, and spicy harvest chipotle chili gives a favorite fall comfort food a little kick. To get your restaurant ready for the season, try these bowls for a warmer color scheme. (more…)

Restaurant Industry (finally) Embracing New Technology

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

chefs cooking in restaurantRestaurants have been around for centuries, dating as far back as Ancient Rome. Over the years, the food, the atmosphere and the service have improved by leaps and bounds. I mean, we have air conditioning and electricity folks! The problem is, even though we have seen massive changes since the Roman times, until very recently, the restaurant industry technological advances seem to have stalled out in the 1990’s. When it comes to placing food orders, many chefs, kitchen managers and owners are still placing their orders by fax or phone call. Reservations at many restaurants are still made over the phone, orders taken on a pad of paper.

(more…)

School House BBQ: To Be Or Not To Be

Tuesday, August 18th, 2015

BBQ RibsRecently, a friend of mine asked me about turning a piece of property he has into a restaurant. To be clear, he doesn’t have a passion for foodservice per se, he is a successful operator of several assisted living facilities. The property he owns was purchased with the ambition of opening a new assisted living facility. He sees this endeavor as a “fun” investment. I thought I would comment on the thought process people go through as they look into opening a restaurant. In this case, the plan is to open a tap house and restaurant.

The property in question is a school house that is 106 years old. It sits on 2.5 acres in a well-populated midwest suburb near a major city. The first step was to take the idea to the city to see if they would support changing the use of the property from assisted living to a foodservice establishment. Not only was the city enthusiastic about the idea, they sent my friend to look at a tap house in a nearby large city. They said, “If you can do something like this, we’ll be your best customer!” With that hurdle cleared, now the real work could begin! (more…)

Hey True, What’s With The New Model Numbers?

Tuesday, August 4th, 2015

True - Commercial RefrigeratorYou may have noticed that some of the True model numbers that you’ve known for years have grown a bit longer. If you haven’t noticed, they’ve all been tagged with “HC” in the model number. The change will affect all of the model numbers, but it’s a slow change over at True Manufacturing, taking place over several months starting this past February and will continue through 2015.

So what’s with the change? The folks over at True have converted all of their refrigerant from the old R-134 refrigerant to a new HydroCarbon R-290 refrigerant (or “HC”). It’s a sweeping change for the manufacturer with several benefits to you, the customer, as well as for the environment. (more…)

Short Order | What's Cookin'

A Restaurant Equipment Blog for the Enhanced Professional Kitchen

View ShortOrder's Product Lines

Gen2
Gen2
Luxor
Luxor
Nemco
Nemco
Vulcan
Vulcan Ranges
Scotsman
Scotsman Ice Machines

Low Price Guarantee

ShortOrder.com is committed to being the low price leader. Not only will we meet, but we'll beat any legitimate advertised price from a competing food service equipment dealer for any item in our inventory. We will gladly refund 110% of the difference on an identical item from another dealer (including all freight charges.) Contact us at 800-211-0282 if you feel you have located an item that is priced lower than ShortOrder.com.

We beat any price

PRODUCT CATEGORIES