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.


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…)

Do You Know Your Customers?

Tuesday, July 7th, 2015

Conversation With CustomerAs a restaurant owner or manager, you spend a lot of time thinking about food costs, employee schedules and generally how to keep things running smoothly while making a profit. What about customers? Without them, you won’t have much else to consider! So, let’s talk about customers for a moment.

Is the customer always right? How will you know if you don’t listen to them? Take some time each day to visit with the customers. Really listen to what they have to say and respect their opinions. They may differ from yours, but consider what they have to say with an open mind. You might be surprised with ideas they offer! Recently, Jim, the president of, went to eat at a local business and while waiting for his table, he noticed the kitchen staff was slowing down to squint, or even worse, pausing to grab their glasses to read each food ticket. He mentioned to the manager that he thought that they could be more efficient by increasing the font size on their ticket printer. The next time they visited, the manager stopped him and thanked him. They had significantly reduced ticket times and customer wait times by implementing that change! (more…)

Best In Class Equipment

Wednesday, June 10th, 2015

Each year Foodservice Equipment & Supplies (better known as FES) Magazine polls their subscribers and asks them to evaluate equipment and supplies manufacturers on seven characteristics. The seven key factors are:

  • Product Quality
  • Product Value
  • Product Design and Aesthetics
  • Service and Support
  • Sales Representation
  • Product Inventory and Availability
  • Product Information Availability


The results come out each in October. You might be shopping now, and if you can’t wait until October, here are the top performers from 2014. (more…)

Ketchup, it’s Not the #1 Condiment Anymore

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

KetchupNo, I’m not kidding. Salsa is now the most popular condiment in the United States, surpassing even ketchup! Is this just an interesting fact or maybe an opportunity in disguise? I think it’s the latter.

Let’s face it. Ketchup is just ketchup. That segment of condiment world is owned by two primary brands. You have one, or the other, or you are cheap. Customer’s expect ultimately one brand over the other, but both are acceptable. Ketchup is interesting as it isn’t something that most people make in-house and push as a “homemade” item. Homemade ketchup wouldn’t really be a destination or a draw for your business.

No one is having ketchup festivals that I am aware of… but salsa is another story. To this day, chips and salsa are still my favorite pre-meal food. Traditionally, salsa was solely a mexican restaurant staple. No one was serving Pace at good quality mexican food places. More often than not, the salsa was homemade and a thing of personal pride; Grandma’s recipe, shared with the clientele. (more…)

Promoting Your Restaurant on a Small Budget

Tuesday, May 5th, 2015

Male Owner Of Coffee ShopOK so you opened your restaurant and you’re trying to get the word out about the new place in town. Or, you’ve been open a while and want to try to drum up some new business. Either way, you’re probably wondering where to start.

Let’s start with the budget. Think about how much your average customer spends. You can calculate that on the average table or you can calculate it based on the customer. Then, calculate how much you make off that ticket. So, for every person or table that walks in the door, you make an average of $x. Of that money, what percent do you feel comfortable spending on advertising?

Another consideration: what percent of your customers come back? You might be able to spend a bit more to get someone to come in the first time if most of your new customers turn into repeat customers. Keep in mind, if you’re offering a coupon or opt to run a Groupon-type special, you’re likely to see fewer customers return than your average. There is always the table/person that is just there because they got a good deal. Don’t let that discourage you – just account for it in the budget. (more…)

Stop, Watch and Learn

Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

Line Cooks In Restaurant KitchenSince I’m in the biz, I can’t stop watching and analyzing operations in restaurants… often times to my wife’s dismay! I look for missed opportunities and often suggest to the managers a slight change that might make a big difference. Recently, I was at a diner where my family and I enjoy dining on a regular basis. The place is always packed on the weekends and the speed of service is… fair. The food offsets the wait for a seat and the time it takes to get served. The diner is an open-kitchen operation. You can sit at the counter and watch the sausage being made. A couple visits ago, the place was a madhouse. Customers were waiting, the kitchen staff was arguing and the food was moving slowly and with little accuracy. Remakes were clogging the already bogged down line.

In the hour or so I waited for my food, I drank coffee and watched the craziness, I noticed something. The font on the tickets was too small! The confusion in the back was being greatly increased because the tickets were hard to read. The staff had to actually pull the tickets off the rack and hold them up to their eyes to see what they said. On top of that, everyone had reading glasses on their heads. They needed two hands to read each ticket! (more…)

BBQ Season in Texas

Tuesday, April 7th, 2015

Grilled Meat On BarbequeWhen I first started this topic, I thought that March or April would kick off the barbeque competition season here in Texas. Upon further research, it looks like the “season” really has no beginning, or ending for that matter. As I’m sure you’ve heard, we take our BBQ seriously in the Lone Star State! Some rumors and legend are just that (like riding horses to work?), but this one folks, is true! (Thank Goodness!)

According to the International Barbeque Cookers Association website, there are competitions starting in early January, and they run all year long until the 2nd weekend in December. I guess the pros take a short break for the holiday season. No matter where you live in Texas, you’re sure to have a competition near your location sometime during the year. (more…)

Save Water – Save Money – Save the Environment

Tuesday, March 10th, 2015


Running FaucetMany parts of the country are experiencing droughts like they haven’t seen in years (I’m talking to you Texas and California!). Businesses and residents are being asked to conserve water and make lifestyle changes to preserve the water supply. Even if you don’t live in one of the hardest hit areas of the country, you can still benefit from conserving water. Yes, it’s better for the environment, but it’s also great for the bottom line.

Don’t let the thought of conserving water intimidate you. There are 3 areas of any restaurant where taking steps to saving water will make a large impact, with minimal effort on your part.

Ice Machines

Ice machines are a large source of water usage in all restaurants. Some things you might consider help conserve: (more…)

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