Prepare Your Restaurant for the Holiday Season

Tuesday, November 8th, 2016
5 Nyc Bars And Restaurants With Crazy Christmas Decor December 8 - Best Christmas Accessories

5 Nyc Bars And Restaurants With Crazy Christmas Decor December 8 – Best Christmas Accessories

Everyone knows that the holiday season represents a prodigious boon for retailers. All across the country, big-box stores and mom-and-pop shops alike rake in a reported 20 to 30 percent of their total annual sales in the period between Black Friday and Christmas. This is a significant portion of any bottom line.

But retailers aren’t the only ones who benefit from the holidays. Restaurants like yours can also experience a huge increase in customers and sales, either through direct promotion of holiday specials or via residual foot traffic from nearby malls and shopping centers. The catch is, you have to be ready to handle the upcoming surge in a way that is least disruptive to standard operations. Towards that end, here are some tips on how to prepare your restaurant for the holiday season.

  • Get organized: Planning ahead is crucial for meeting the demands of the holiday rush, so getting organized should be your first step. Reviewing your reservation system (or implementing a new one), evaluating your available personnel and planning key shifts, and ordering extra inventory are just a few items that should be on your to-do list.
  • Hire short-term help: Being overstaffed during the holidays is far preferable to the alternative, which is why you should start looking for seasonal help now. Depending on the size of your restaurant and services provided, you may want to consider adding kitchen hands, waitstaff, banquet servers, and delivery drivers to the roster for the next couple of months.
  • Inventory smallwares and check equipment for usability: More customers means you’ll require faster turnover of smallwares (dishes, glasses, cutlery, etc.) and will have your ovens, dishwashers, fryers, ice machines, and food warming stations working overtime. Inventory smallwares now to make sure you have sufficient quantities to serve larger crowds and inspect your commercial restaurant equipment to see if any repairs or replacements are needed.
  • Consider temporarily expanding your services: To really cash in on the season, consider adding services that you don’t normally offer. These may include home and office deliveries, full-service catering for offsite events, onsite parties, and providing to-go sides, pies, and other desserts for customers to enjoy at their own holiday dinners.
  • Sell gift cards or gift certificates: Gift cards and certificates are not only a blessing for people seeking last-minute stocking stuffers, but also a way to continue driving traffic after the holidays. Be sure to have gift cards or gift certificates available, and train your staff to suggest a purchase to every customer.

A strong holiday season can push your restaurant into the black or turn a good year into a great one, but the benefits aren’t automatic. It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare for the influx of customers and provide them with outstanding service, so follow the tips listed here to get started.

Celebrate National Dessert Month

Tuesday, October 4th, 2016

oct-national-dessert-monthOctober is National Dessert Month and features a number of specialty days sprinkled throughout, including National Angel Food Cake Day (October 10), National Pumpkin Pie Day (October 12), National Chocolate Cupcake Day (October 18), and National Boston Cream Pie Day (October 23). With desserts taking center stage all month long, there’s no better time to showcase your restaurant’s tastiest treats and satisfy every sweet-toothed patron that walks through the doors. Here are a few ideas for organizing and presenting your dessert offerings for the month.

By seasonal fruits

Incorporating seasonal fruits into different dishes is a great way to shake up the dessert menu while taking advantage of the freshest produce available. Apples, pears, figs, and cranberries are all in season, so get those apple pies, poached pears, homemade fig bars, and cranberry coffee cakes into your True Refrigerator display case to attract attention and drive after-dinner sales.

By nationwide popularity

Another idea for celebrating National Dessert Month is to provide customers with a selection of the most popular desserts as ranked by nationwide surveys. According to one such survey, current favorites include apple pie, carrot cake, cupcakes, and Jell-O. You can even present these desserts in countdown fashion by beginning with the No. 10 entry (cheesecake), keeping it on offer for a few days, and then progressing down the list until you get to No. 1 (fudge).

By customers’ expectations

If you serve a more traditional minded customer base, then simply meeting their expectations might be the smartest way to approach National Dessert Month. This could mean keeping extra servings of chocolate mousse in the refrigerated display, whipping up a sizable batch of tapioca pudding in a commercial cook pot, or making sure everyone’s favorite pumpkin pie is always in abundance.

By the calendar

As mentioned above virtually every day in October celebrates a different confection, so if you’re striving for variety in your dessert menu, just follow the calendar. Doing so will take you through everything from Apple Betty to Yorkshire Pudding, brandied fruit, caramel apples, and frappes, a journey that is certain to appeal to conventional and adventurous palates alike.

Whether your restaurant is already well-known for its desserts or you want to focus on popularizing this part of your menu to help increase revenues, you should be excited for October. Take advantage of National Dessert Month by using the above ideas to celebrate all things sweet and gooey with your customers!

Back to School Restaurant Marketing Ideas

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016

Back-To-School-Facebook-Cover-Picture

If the end of summer is typically a slow time for your restaurant, one terrific way to drive sales is to jump on the back to school marketing bandwagon. Offering various discounts and specials aimed at cash-strapped college students and families with school-aged children can help bring in new customers, establish goodwill within the community, and lead to longterm patronage and bigger profits. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Freebies
Everyone loves freebies, especially after spending hundreds of dollars on school supplies and textbooks for the upcoming term. Offer a free appetizer, drink, or dessert to customers that show a receipt for school related purchases or tuition fees. Another option that’s great for bringing whole families into your restaurant is to provide a free kid’s meal with the purchase of an adult entree.

Discounts
If your margin is too tight for freebies, discounts are the next best alternative. For example, eateries located in college towns or near high schools can offer discounts on all purchases for customers who show a student or teacher ID card. If that kind of promotion is unsustainable, consider offering the discounts only at lunchtime or only on a specified day of the week.

Coupons
Many college towns and communities distribute coupon books to students and residents at the beginning of the year filled with promotions from local businesses, so check to see how your restaurant can get in on the action. You can also put printable coupons on your website or Facebook page, or send out offers on sites like Groupon and LivingSocial.

Incentive/Loyalty Programs
A proven way to cultivate repeat business is through incentive or loyalty programs, so this is also a great strategy to try. A stamp card that gives the bearer a free item after “x” number of purchases is easy to implement, as is a free (or discounted or BOGO) item for showing a report card with a B average or perfect attendance.

Promotion
Whatever kind of back to school marketing campaign you implement, be sure to take time to promote it beyond your usual social media channels to ensure you reach new eyeballs. Distribute fliers on campus or at the mall, put up signs in your windows, and place ads in popular local media.

Get Your Grill On: Lighter Options for your Spring Menu

Tuesday, April 12th, 2016

With spring in the air, it seems that everyone suddenly has a hankering for freshly grilled foods. And while nothing beats a classic burger charbroiled to perfection on a Globe broiler with cast iron radiants, it’s always a good idea to offer your customers a variety of mouthwatering options to choose from. So as you put the finishing touches on your seasonal menu, consider adding these lighter selections that can be prepared on your commercial grill.

grilled foodStarters and sides

Kick things off and whet your customers’ appetites by making these popular starters and sides available on your spring grill menu. All of the food listed here can be customized by mixing, topping, or serving with your own special sauces, seasonings, cheeses, and dips:

  • Shrimp
  • Clams
  • Vegetable kebabs
  • Buffalo wings
  • Whole bell peppers
  • Corn on the cob
  • Potato wedges
  • Artichoke hearts

Main dishes

The great thing about these items besides how easy they are to whip up—just brush with some olive oil before grilling and add salt, pepper, or other seasonings to taste—is that they can be served on bread as a sandwich or on a plate with sides. Either way, your customers will love the result and clamor for more, so be sure to stock up accordingly:

  • Lean pork tenderloin
  • Swordfish
  • Turkey burger
  • Meatballs
  • Thin crust pizza
  • Quesadillas
  • Flank steak
  • Farm-raised pheasant
  • Boneless leg of lamb

Sweet treats

Customers might not be used to thinking of sweets and desserts coming off the grill, but these light and tasty treats will change their mind in a hurry.

  • Fruit, including apples, peaches, pineapple, strawberries, mangoes, and bananas
  • Any variation of S’mores (chocolate or flavored chocolate spread and marshmallows sandwiched between graham crackers or cookies)
  • Grilled ice cream
  • Miniature pastries filled with any of the fruits listed above
  • Grilled pound cake with fruit or whipped cream topping

If you’ve been using your grill only for traditional food like burgers, steaks, and chicken, it’s time to break out of that pattern and offer up something fresh for spring. Choose your favorite ideas from this page, test out a few recipes, and get ready to wow your customers with a new menu.

 

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.

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.

The Value of the Microwave in the Restaurant Industry

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

microwaveBack in the day, seeing a microwave on the cook line or assembly area of a restaurant was considered bad form. I knew some folks that would judge the quality of a place by first looking for the existence of a microwave.

I think those days have passed. Seeing a microwave on the line is a normal occurrence. They offer speed and convenience. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to go to a high-end fish house and see them throwing a handful of Gordon’s fish nuggets in the microwave to later throw on a fancy plate and charge me $100. No offense to the Gordon’s fisherman, but I don’t trust him in a high end kitchen.

One of the reasons that microwaves are less disheartening to see commercially, is the success they have in our home kitchens. There are many reasons for that, but it’s a 50/50 split between better frozen foods and better microwaves.

A simple, yet impactful, change in the microwave’s design is the carousel that rotates the product to provide for more even heating. Given the nature of microwaves, heating is often uneven. Rotating the product help foster even heating.

Convection microwaves are starting to get traction domestically. RV’s and houses are starting to see the convenience and flexibility these units can provide. They can even cook bread! They are fast and efficient.

All microwaves are not alike. Different technologies provide different functionality at different price points. To warm sauces, a $3,000 microwave would be overkill. In the same vein, using a low watt unit may not be suitable to every need. Check out our microwave buyers guide for some tips on finding the right unit for the right job. 

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…)

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…)

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