A soup course may be old-school, but it never fails to delight, putting any special-occasion meal right over the top. The smooth, sophisticated pea and parsley soup is an homage to the season. It gets body from creme fraiche and a salty snap from orbs of golden caviar. See the recipe from MarthaStewart.com.
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 3 cups coarsely chopped onion (from 1 large)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 2 cups water
- 6 cups shelled fresh English peas
- 4 cups packed flat-leaf parsley leaves (from 2 bunches)
- 1/4 cup creme fraiche, plus more for garnish
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
- Golden caviar, for garnish
- Pea shoots (optional), for garnish
*Soup can be cooled completely and refrigerated up to 1 day; gently rewarm over medium-low heat.
Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and 2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add broth and water and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in peas and return to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in parsley and creme fraiche. Puree soup in a blender, working in batches, until very smooth. Transfer to a clean pot and stir in lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm until ready to serve. Divide soup among bowls and garnish with creme fraiche, caviar, and pea shoots.
In this recent news article from the National Restaurant Association, they announced that the Food Waste Reduction Alliance has released its first-ever best practices guide for restaurateurs, manufacturers, and retailers, offering solutions on reducing food waste at their businesses and diverting it from landfills across America.
Released April 16, the Best Practices and Emerging Solutions Toolkit is the brainchild of the Alliance, which is spearheaded by the National Restaurant Association, the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute. The group, established in 2011, is working to tackle food waste challenges within the food sector, and the toolkit is a first step in helping operators, manufacturers and retailers reduce food waste at the source.
“We are proud to be a leading partner in the Food Waste Reduction Alliance’s efforts to reduce food waste in this country and believe this toolkit will help operators to better understand and tackle the issue of food waste head on,” said FWRA co-chair Laura Abshire, the NRA’s director of sustainability and government policy. “This guide will provide our industry with the strategies and solutions needed to prevent, reduce and divert food waste at their various businesses.”
“Our goal for the toolkit is to elevate the issue of food waste within the sector and enable more companies to take action by sharing key learnings and model practices gleaned from organizations who are at the leading edge of this issue, said Gail Tavill, vice president, sustainable development for ConAgra Foods and one of the toolkit authors.”
According to the FWRA, approximately 80 billion pounds of food waste are discarded in U.S. landfills each year. One of the group’s goals is to get more foodservice providers to donate their unused food to those who need it most.
“The sad truth is that while all of this food is going to waste, 37 million Americans struggle to put enough food on the table to feed their families. The safe, edible food that is diverted from the waste stream to food banks through model practices showcased in the toolkit make a positive social impact on communities across the country by providing sustenance to those in need,” said Karen Hanner, director of manufacturing product sourcing at Feeding America and a contributor to the toolkit.
The best practices compiled for the toolkit came from more than 30 member companies including Darden Restaurants and contract foodservice provider Sodexo. They include:
- tactics for overcoming obstacles to food donation such as liability and supply chain issues
- emerging solutions and new technologies for recycling food waste, including energy production opportunities
- strategic planning to avoid food waste generation
It also features a getting started section that shows companies just beginning to consider food waste reduction strategies how to:
- conduct waste characterization assessments
- establish standard operating procedures, and
- develop collaborative relationships with partners from the anti-hunger community, waste management providers and other stakeholders
This toolkit will educate restaurateurs on the issue of food waste and show them how they can improve their businesses simultaneously,” Abshire said. By providing real-life examples of what others are doing to solve the food waste issue at their businesses, operators will see that starting a composting program or conducting a waste audit at their restaurants doesn’t have to be daunting or difficult.”
For more information on the FWRA or the toolkit, go to www.foodwastealliance.org. To learn more about sustainability practices in the restaurant and foodservice industry, visit the NRA’s Conserve site at Restaurant.org/Conserve. For software to help you manage your food cost and inventory, visit www.MenuMax.com.
This week’s featured recipe is Bourbon Baked Ham to help you prepare for the Easter holiday coming up Sunday, April 20th, brought to you by TasteofHome.com. Check out our Pinterest board for more great Easter recipes.
- 1 bone-in fully cooked spiral-sliced ham (7 to 9 pounds)
- 1 cup honey
- 1/2 cup bourbon
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- Place ham on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Score the surface of the ham, making diamond shapes 1/2 in. deep. Bake at 325° for 2 hours.
- In a small saucepan, combine the remaining ingredients; cook and stir until smooth.
- Brush ham with some of the glaze; bake 20-25 minutes longer or until a meat thermometer reads 140°, brushing occasionally with remaining glaze.Yield: 15 servings.
What new foods and beverages will your competition be focusing on this spring? And, more importantly, what will your customers be expecting? You can’t see into the future, but you can still get an idea of what trends will be this spring. Learn about the hottest food and beverage trends for this spring in this article from buzztime.com. From meatless meals to super foods, here are nine trends you’ll be seeing soon.
1. Less beef.
You might want to cut back on your beef-centric entrées. The rising price of beef means that more and more restaurants will be offering fewer steaks, roasts, and burgers.
2. More vegan and vegetarian meals.
Rising beef cost has another side effect…more vegan and vegetarian meals. With customers becoming healthier and caring more about sustainable meals, restaurants will be offering more meatless meals.
3. Hot dogs.
But it’s not all about being meatless! The classic hot dog will be making a resurgence on menus. But think beyond mustard—today’s hot dogs have more upscale toppings, like kimchi and chutney.
4. Red velvet.
For customers who feel like being indulgent, red velvet will be the way to go this spring. Restaurants are getting in on the trend by making everything red velvet, from milkshakes and cocktails to pancakes and doughnuts.
Consumers’ interest in health and their increased appetite for vegetables means that fresh juice is bigger than ever. This extends from restaurants to bars to designated juice bars.
6. Deep-fried vegetables.
Just because customers are eating more vegetables doesn’t mean they necessarily want to be healthy! To make vegetables like brussels sprouts more palatable, many restaurants are deep frying them to serve as appetizers or sides. Look for fried green beans, fried green tomatoes, and fried pickles.
7. Super foods.
This is yet another trend that’s powered by health conscious customers. Although you may already have seen super foods like kale, quinoa, and pomegranate, look for newly popular super foods such as teff and cauliflower.
8. Single concept restaurants.
Forget long, complicated menus with millions of different dishes. The trend now is to perfect one thing and stick with it. Single concept restaurants—i.e. those that do just burgers, fried chicken, or hot dogs—are heating up.
The Thai-style chili sauce is no longer just a hot sauce. As it gains popularity, it’s finding its way into mayonnaise, potato chips, and even chocolate for unique desserts.
If you want to get a leg up on your competition, keep an eye out for these nine trends this spring. Are you planning on implementing any on your menu? Read more on buzztime.com.
Need help organizing your recipes? See what MenuMax can do for you. With tools for inventory, nutrition analysis and food costing, MenuMax is your all-inclusive solution to help run your restaurant more efficiently. Contact us today at 1-877-MENUMAX or email@example.com.
In honor of National Peanut Butter & Jelly Day (today), check out this great recipe for a PB&J wrap, being called the “NEW” Peanut Butter and Jelly.
- 1/4 cup(s) peanut butter
- 2 tablespoon(s) apple butter
- 4 (10-inch) sandwich wraps, such as flour tortillas or lavash
- 2 tablespoon(s) apple jelly
- 1 apple, cored, halved, and cut into thin slices
- 8 slice(s) crisp, cooked bacon
- Assemble the sandwiches: In a small bowl, use a spoon to mix the peanut butter and apple butter together.
- On a clean work surface, lay the wraps and divide the peanut-butter mixture among them, spreading it equally on 1/2 of each wrap. Spread the apple jelly evenly on the other half of each.
- Place 4 or 5 slices of apple on the peanut-butter mixture and 2 strips of bacon on top of the apples. Fold the tortillas into wrap sandwiches.
Check out the collection on Delish for more great PB&J recipes.
In this article from Business Financial Services, Jose Terrier discusses the important of refreshing and resetting your outlook on restaurant management. Spring cleaning can be much more than a fresh coat of paint. For small businesses, spring cleaning can include delving into your operations to see what you can improve or tightening up your operational procedures.
For restaurants especially, the hectic and never-ending cycle of serving customers all week long can be so intense that it seems impossible to pause and see the bigger picture. But, this is why spring cleaning is so important. Here are three big areas you might not automatically associate with spring cleaning:
- Analyzing food and beverage inventory and costs
- Revamping or replacing menus
- Reviewing your food safety procedures
Food and Beverage Costs
Restaurant owners and chefs say that two of the most stress-inducing words in restaurants are “food costs.” Industry experts say that real stress comes when you use gut feelings instead of actual calculations to figure your monthly food costs. On rrgconsulting.com, Restaurant Associates NW President Chuck Gohn says that the best gauge of food cost comes from your own analysis of your inventory, recipes, sales mix and price structure. In other words, feelings and guesswork are taken out of the equation.
It’s not necessarily an easy process, and can, in fact, be trying. But the key, Gohn says, is having a system in place for identifying all ingredients, having current inventory prices and tracking your menu sales mix. Luckily, what was once a tedious manual process is now streamlined by a variety of user-friendly software programs such as MenuMax, that let you make updates with a few keystrokes. Initially, of course, you need to find and enter all the relevant data. But once you have, you will have a database of valuable information, including inventory usage, purchase trends and profitability of individual menu items.
If you are looking for a way to easily monitor inventory, manage recipes and provide up-to-date analysis of food cost and nutrition content, see how MenuMax can help.
John Nessel of the Restaurant Resource Group talks about the necessity of periodically physically counting your food and beverage inventory to ensure accurate cost reporting and in turn, accurate profit and loss statements. After all, Nessel says, along with labor, food and beverage costs are your largest expenditures, with an estimated (median) by experts to be 33 percent of total sales! But while labor costs are relatively fixed, food and beverage costs are variable and controllable.
Nessel says that doing a regular inventory count is an absolute must for having an accurate picture of your food and beverage costs. And, it’s the key to the very important distinction between food costs and food purchases:
- Food costs are the total food purchases necessary to generate the food sales that you recorded for a specific time period.
- Food purchases (what your accounting system will produce if no inventory adjustment is made) simply tell you how much food you bought during the month.
Only when you make the inventory counts and record the adjustments every month will your P&L statements give you an accurate representation of your food costs. Nessel further recommends tracking food and beverage costs by category (food, beer, wine, liquor), which he says will give you even better quality information and make it easier to spot problem areas.
The website allfoodbusiness.com says that your menus are among the top four things your guests spend time looking at and consciously thinking about. Even so, relatively few restaurant owners put much energy or strategy into their menus, failing to realize that as part of the “face” of your restaurant, menus say a lot about your establishment.
But this can be rectified in a few steps. Your menus can be transformed into effective communication tools by making them unique and personalized; removing pictures and dollar signs; and training servers to complement the menus.
Restauranteur-turned-restaurant professor David Pavesic, Ph.D, FMP, does a deep and fascinating dive into the psychology of menu design. Understanding these principles, he says, can make your menus your “silent salespeople” that can actually increase check averages and guest loyalty.
Because the menu functions as your restaurant’s business card, it should reflect your overall brand image. But at the same time, the menu can be a powerful tool that can directly influence what your guests will order and how much they will spend. In other words, there is a direct connection between your menu and your sales revenue.
Pavesic draws on a variety of published research in detailing virtually every aspect of menu design, from what sizes work best in certain type of environments to how your guests’ eyes and brains react to different kinds of fonts.
Food Safety Procedures
Your guests take it as a given that your employees are following proper food safety procedures. But most have no idea how many of these procedures there are and how rigorous restaurants must be in their standards. Smallbusiness.chron.com offers an overview. Generally, food safety can be broken down into these specific areas:
As a restaurant owner, you’re undoubtedly familiar with the FDA’s recommended safety system (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point), which is based on seven principles that cover every step of food storage and preparation.
But restaurants are a dynamic industry. Change is constant in the face of employee turnover, incorporating new equipment, and introducing new menu items. This simply means that having food safety procedures in place is just the beginning. There also needs to be a system in place for regular review and updating of the procedures internally as well as keeping up with industry developments.
Case in point: food allergies. More and more of your guests seem to be suffering from (or are aware they have) food allergies. Research shows that there is a group of major allergens that causes 90 percent of all food allergies. This list includes, but is not limited to, milk, eggs, certain fish, certain nuts, wheat. Notifying customers of the presence of certain allergens has been shown to be an effective way to cut down on reactions.
Another area that’s evolved in recent years is cross-contamination, and a new understanding of the potential for spreading bacteria and illness has resulted in new standards for food prep and food storage.
The FDA maintains a series of fact sheets on safely handling food that are accessible and user-friendly. Get them here.
Springtime offers restaurant operators the opportunity to wipe away winter grime, prepare for summer traffic and perform essential deep cleaning tasks to revive floors and other hard surfaces. To help restaurants and foodservice operations conduct a thorough spring cleaning of their facility, read through this helpful checklist issued by Cintas of all the necessary restaurant spring cleaning tasks.
“Studies routinely show that guests prefer clean floors and will not return to a restaurant they do not perceive to be clean,” said Brian Garry, Senior Director of Foodservice, Cintas. “From the front to the back of the house, restaurants owners and operators can complete nine effective cleaning tasks to ensure they make a favorable first impression amongst travelers and summer guests.”
Cintas recommends restaurants complete the following spring cleaning checklist to prepare for summer:
- Deep clean carpets in dining areas. While daily vacuuming and spot removal is an essential component to keeping carpets in optimal condition, deep cleaning carpets removes dirt and debris that cannot otherwise be extracted. Hot-water extraction carpet cleaning systems remove residue left behind by other cleaning systems and reduce the amount of downtime required.
- Restore grout lines. With tiled hard floor surfaces, grout lines often harbor bacteria and dirt, causing it to discolor and darken. This is particularly evident in entryway areas where patrons congregate and track dirt. Regularly deep cleaning and restoring grout lines will limit the amount of dirt that accumulates and keep gout lines looking their original color.
- Steam clean tiled floor surfaces. A high-pressure steam cleaning system effectively removes dirt and soil from tile and other hard surface substrates. This type of process also reduces the amount of chemicals required in the operation. This is a great advantage for hard surfaces where leftover chemical residue can leave unsightly marks.
- Give restrooms a facelift. Like most guest areas within a restaurant, restrooms can also suffer from winter wear. Dirt and organic material can build up on floors, fixtures and common touch points throughout the restroom, causing surfaces to dull and blight. Using a high-pressure, chemical injection washer, thoroughly deep clean all restroom surfaces, including walls, floors, commodes, light fixtures and soap and towel dispensers. This removes grime and buildup, restoring floors to like new conditions.
- Roll out the mats. With spring rain showers on their way, now is the ideal time to review the current matting program and make sure mats adequately cover entryways and other high-traffic areas in a restaurant. Mats not only help reduce the risk of slips and falls, but they can also help improve worker productivity, build the restaurant brand, limit wear patterns and prevent dirt from entering a restaurant. A proper matting program will also integrate regular laundering and deep cleaning for maximum effectiveness.
- Implement a mop cleaning program. Mop heads are often breeding grounds for dirt and bacteria. Implementing a mop cleaning program can make sure that the task of cleaning mops is not overlooked. Dry and wet mops should be cleaned at least once a week, if not more frequently. This helps ensure that mops contribute to a clean rather than dirty floor.
- Set up a maintenance schedule for your drains. Whether located in kitchen areas, restrooms or in the front of the house, drain lines can harbor potentially harmful bacteria or food sources for familiar summer insects such as gnats. Perform regular drain line maintenance to reduce soil buildup and thoroughly clean drains.
- Sanitize and clean hard-to-reach surfaces. While food preparation and cooking areas receive regular attention, spring is a good time to clean all of those untouched areas throughout a restaurant, including the tops of refrigerators, behind fryers and beneath cupboards.
“Common winter products such as ice melt and sand can wreak havoc on hard and soft floor surfaces, eroding floor finish and penetrating carpet fibers,” said Dave Mesko, Senior Director of Marketing, Cintas. “Without the proper deep cleaning and maintenance program, common surfaces throughout the restaurant can suffer long-term damage which results in unexpected costs.”
Read the full article here>>
In this recent article from Nation’s Restaurant News, Fern Glazer reports the rising trend of arugula, spinach and kale as chef’s top picks for spring ingredients. It’s still winter outside, but spring vegetables will soon appear on restaurant tables. This year, some popular spring vegetables will show up in the center of the plate instead of just as salads or sides.
Among the vegetables most likely to take the spotlight are leafy greens such as arugula, spinach and kale, which have all grown on menus over the past five years, according to the Chicago-based research firm Technomic Inc.’s “Category Close-Up: Vegetables” report.
The report found that spinach was mentioned on menus more than 20 percent more in 2013 than it was in 2009, and that arugula was mentioned nearly 55 percent more often than in 2009. Kale, possibly the trendiest vegetable over the past two years, was mentioned 380 times more often in 2013 than four years earlier, according to Technomic’s MenuMonitor.
Given the popularity of Southern fare, mustard greens may also start to appear more frequently, according to the Chicago-based research firm’s vice president Darren Tristano.
At Supper, a farm-to-table restaurant in Philadelphia, diners have grown more interested in vegetable dishes, leading chef–owner Mitch Prensky to increase the number of them on his already veggie-heavy menu. Beginning in April, Prensky says he’ll add more main dishes where he “treats vegetables in a meaty sense,” such as Swiss chard pie, charred romaine lettuces and barley or amaranth with beets, crème fraîche and mustard greens.
“Vegetable cookery is fun; there’s so many more options,” said Prensky. “[Spring greens] open up a whole bunch of doors for us creatively.”
At Found Kitchen and Social House in Evanston, Ill., chef Nicole Pederson is committed to putting vegetables center stage. On the current menu, black kale shines in a saag with smoked tofu, sweet potato, turmeric and coconut milk. In another dish, mustard greens and spaghetti squash complement braised pork.
Even Brennan’s of Houston, best known for its Creole seafood- and meat-focused fare, is making vegetables a more integral part of its menu, starting with an early spring introduction of a shifting vegetarian menu.
“We’re changing it up, putting more focus on vegetables,” said chef Danny Trace.
For March, the all-veggie section includes several entrees with popular leafy greens, such as baby arugula, mustard greens and collards. Trace says he looks forward to incorporating more spring vegetables into the menu, including beet greens, cucumbers and dinosaur kale.
In late February, kale went from salads and sides to featured main dishes at b.good, the Boston-based fast-casual chain. New to the menu and already best sellers are the white bean and rosemary bowl with organic quinoa, kale, sautéed veggies, wild mushrooms, beets, cannellini beans, Parmesan cheese and a red pepper vinaigrette, and the toasted almond and ginger bowl with organic quinoa, kale, sautéed veggies, tamari almonds, bean sprouts, mint and a toasted almond-ginger sauce. The chain, which has been growing its own produce at two of its restaurants for several years, is now exclusively growing kale to meet the demand. Co-founder Jon Olinto hopes to harvest about 5,000 pounds of kale this spring, summer and fall.
Other chefs are playing with lesser-known spring vegetables that may one day soon proliferate on menus, such as dandelion greens. For example, at newly opened Flight in Washington, D.C., chef Bradley Curtis is offering a twist on a classic Lebanese fattoush with dandelion greens, romaine, cucumbers, watermelon radish and heirloom cherry tomatoes tossed with sumac and pomegranate dressing.
For more recipe trends check out our Pinterest page and use MenuMax to organize and safely store your recipes online.
With St. Patrick’s Day just around the corner, the topic of adult beverages is at the forefront of the minds of foodservice professionals. In this article from the National Restaurant Association, Donna Hood Crecca, Senior Director at Technomic, Inc. explains how quenching the Millennial generations’ thirst for adult beverages can build traffic, sales and loyalty for your restaurant.
Americans between the ages of 21 and 34 are an interesting lot, something of an enigma. Here’s what we know about them:
- Known as Millennials, this generation numbers more than 68 million and is the largest since the Baby Boomers. It’s also the most diverse both in terms of ethnicity and life stages.
- The Millennial cohort currently has the lowest level of employment and is the lowest-earning generation, yet is expected to have the highest spending power of any generation due to its sheer size.
- Millennials are projected to be the most highly educated of any American generation, and not just in terms of formal education; Millennials are globally aware and constantly processing reams of information made available by the internet.
- Raised on gourmet coffee and the internet, Millennials are knowledgeable about food and drink; they’re demanding patrons, seeking a unique experience, customization and authenticity. They like to explore and discover new flavors and products.
- They are frequent users of foodservice, yet are financially pressured, so are looking for value and promotional pricing. In fact, 54% seek out low prices so that they can visit restaurants more often, according to Technomic’s research.
How can restaurant operators attract and satisfy a generation that’s knowledgeable about food and beverage, demanding of the experience and also looking for value and attractive pricing? The answer can be served up in a glass. Based on what we know about Millennials, here are five ways to attract and engage this dynamic and demanding generation through your drink program:
Mix it up. When in restaurants, Millennials prioritize adult beverages and look for variety. More than two-fifths of Millennials (46%) surveyed for Technomic’s Trends in Adult Beverage (TAB) reports look for restaurants to offer a variety of beers, one-third (32%) prioritize wine variety and half (50%) prioritize variety in spirits and cocktail offerings. Older Millennials (25-34 year olds) over index for prioritizing beer and wine variety. Creating adult beverage selections that present variety appeals to Millennials’ desire to explore.
Quick learning curve. Millennials are unlike any previous generation in their knowledge of adult beverages, and are thirsting for more. They’re adopting wine at a younger age than their parents did, with many interested in working their way through various varietals and regions. Although vodka is their favorite spirit, they’re imbibing rum, tequila and whiskey as well, diving into the different aged and flavored expressions of these spirits. Observers credit Millennials with driving the craft beer and cider trends. Satisfy their interest in spirits, wine and beer by ensuring bartenders and service staff can speak to the flavor profiles, production methods and origins of your drink list’s various offerings with authority.
Focus on flavor. While it’s true that Millennials have a sweet tooth, evidenced by the growth of dessert-flavored vodkas, sweet is often an entry point into an adult beverage category. The Millennial flavor portfolio is much broader than one might expect, typically ranging from sweet to spicy, and flavor often drives their drink selection. In wine, Millennials gravitate to sweet reds and Moscatos, but will also move into more complex varietals and styles with some guidance. Calling out the flavor nuances in various whiskeys on your drink menu alerts them to intriguing elements such as hints of spice, tobacco and vanilla that will pique their interest. Millennials do look for seasonal beers, but will also seek out hoppier IPAs or other more assertive styles.
Showcase what’s new at the bar. Compared to other age groups, Millennials are most likely to try a new drink, according to Technomic’s research; while 8% of the general population tried a new drink on their most recent occasion, 18% of younger Millennials (21-24) and 12% of older Millennials (25-34) did so. Differentiate your restaurant by offering innovative new cocktails involving the latest flavored rum introduction, the latest limited-edition beer or a recently released wine. And be strategic about how you present the new offering, as the power of suggestion works with Millennials. The following are the top factors influencing Millennials’ decision to try a new adult beverage:
- Menu descriptions, promotions and POS materials
- Sample from the server or bartender
- Suggestions of their cohorts or the bartender/server
Do all this – at an attractive price. Here’s where it gets tricky. Millennials have the least discretionary income but are demanding in the flavor and experience department. To satisfy both, engineer your drink menu carefully. Provide a variety of products and flavors with an eye toward driving high-volume/high-profit beverages while also offering unique libations that set your drink program apart from the restaurant across the street. Be strategic in your drink promotions (adhering to local regulations regarding such promotions). Millennials are often on the look-out for special events, special drinks and special pricing. One way to create that triple play is to develop a new cocktail involving a recently introduced spirits product, one whose roll-out is being supported in consumer and social media by the supplier. Keep the drink fairly simple to control your costs: focus on showcasing the flavor of the new spirit, perhaps pairing it with a familiar but low-cost mixer, but add a unique garnish for an interesting twist. Price it attractively. Where legal, look to the wholesaler or supplier for promotional support of the drink on the menu or via POS materials, or even of an event tied to the new drink that will drive traffic into your restaurant and promote trial. Such programs signal to Millennials that your restaurant is a place to have new experiences and try new things, and to do so at a great price point.
Millennials are a challenging generation, but with the right offering, its members will embrace one of the more profitable sections of your menu – adult beverages.
Technomic provides clients with the facts, insights and consulting support they need to enhance their business strategies, decisions and results. Its services include numerous publications and digital products, as well as proprietary studies and ongoing research on all aspects of the foodservice industry. Technomic’s Trends in Adult Beverage (TAB) database tracks more than 3,000 adult beverage brands and its BarTAB report analyzes the adult beverage trends in restaurants, bars and other licensed establishments.
To learn more, visit the National Restaurant Association. To gain control of your inventory, food cost and nutrition analysis contact us at 1-877-MENUMAX or firstname.lastname@example.org.
According to a recent article from Nation’s Restaurant News, written by Ron Ruggless, Valentine’s Day falls just a heartbeat behind Mother’s Day among restaurants’ busiest days of the year, and with it comes operational heartaches.
In years past, the National Restaurant Association has estimated that as many as 70 million people will dine out on Valentine’s Day, surpassing No. 3 Father’s Day, No. 4 New Year’s Eve and No. 5 Easter.
The Feb. 14 holiday falls on a Friday this year, raising the potential for a tsunami of love-struck guests, from bastions of high-dollar fine dining to the kitsch of White Castle.
“What’s the saddest day of the year for a restaurant that has all four-tops?” asked Sherri Kimes, Cornell University professor of services operations management, referring to the challenges of accommodating the wave of two-person parties on Valentine’s Day.
“What are you going to do? Tell the next couple that walks in that, ‘There’s a lovely couple over there at that table, would you like to join them?’” Kimes said.
Operators can prepare for the onslaught of two-by-two parties, starting by estimating how many two-tops they expect.
Using data from prior-year holidays, “What a restaurateur should do is estimate the percentage of parties that will come in as parties of two and multiply the number of seats in the restaurant by that percentage,” Kimes said. “That will give the number of seats that should be provided at two-tops.” To calculate the number of tables, divide that number by two.
“Let’s say a restaurateur estimates that about 80 percent of parties on Valentine’s Day come as couples,” Kimes explained. “Her restaurant has 200 seats: 80 percent of 200 equals 160 seats should be at two-tops.” Divide 160 by two, she added, and the operator should budget 80 two-tops.
The Valentine’s Day two-top percentage depends on the type of restaurant, Kimes said.
“I’ve seen some fine-dining restaurants where it’s 90 percent [two-tops],” she said, adding with a laugh, “and there are no singles.”
Kimes advised operators to acquire more two-top tables if possible by switching out four-top and larger tables with two-tops rented, borrowed or on hand for the occasion.
“You might have some in the back, or maybe you can borrow some,” she said. “If you don’t have a lot of two-tops and you are taking reservations, you might want to be giving preference to the larger parties if you have the excess demand.”
Tables that allow seating flexibility are crucial to restaurant planning, Kimes said, as other holidays, such as Mother’s Day, pose the opposite challenge of Valentine’s Day: a demand by large parties and bigger tables.
Valentine’s Day also offers the potential for significant upselling, even before guests enter the door, Kimes added.
“You can have special Valentine’s Day menus that may be a little pricier, because people want something special,” she said. “You also have the possibilities for add-on sales for flowers or something like that. When the restaurant takes a reservation, it might be worth asking questions about doing extra things. Customers might value that and, of course, would be willing to pay for.”
In 2011 the NRA surveyed member restaurants and found the best guest responses to special menu items, prix fixe menus, celebratory beverages or desserts, flowers or candy, and entertainment or music.
Even quick-service chains can tap into the action. For the past 20 years, 400-unit White Castle has brought romance to its locations by turning them into “Love Castles,” providing tablecloths, candles, tableside service and reservations on Valentine’s Day. Last year, more than 20,000 guests dined at the chain on the holiday.
“It’s become huge for us. It’s a great expression of our commitment to make memorable moments everyday,” said Jamie Richardson, vice president for government and shareholder relations at Columbus, Ohio-based White Castle System Inc., adding that team members enjoy the day as well.
“We’re already 90-percent full for our reservations this year in our Chicago stores,” Richardson said. “We may have to expand our Valentine’s Day hours.”
Looking for ways to promote your restaurant this Valentine’s Day? Check out these 10 tips to help inspire you. If you are looking for some recipes to spice up this romantic holiday, check out our Pinterest board.
Many of the food items customers now covet also deliver solid margins for restaurant operators, according to a recent article from RestaurantHospitality.com written by Bob Krummert.
Prognosticators have already weighed in on the tastes and trends that will prevail throughout 2014—here’s a comprehensive list in case you missed any of them. But now Restaurant Finance Monitor has provided a big-picture perspective that tells operators what they really want to know: Will their restaurants make money next year? The short answer: Yes. Sales are headed up and, more importantly, food costs are trending down.
“Many franchisees we spoke with recently are somewhat bullish heading into 2014 in part because they fully expect food costs will ease this year, which should enable them to be more profitable,” the publication reports.
One caveat, and it’s a big one: Beef prices will remain high. It’s a key factor in an industry where burger chains have been coining money of late and steakhouses remain a can’t-miss format for many industry players.
There’s still plenty of action in the better burger segment. Operators ranging from Shake Shack to Smashburger are still opening units in new markets at a rapid clip, soaring ground beef prices or no. And the big-ticket steakhouse remains the go-to option for multiconcept operators ranging from celebrity chef Tom Colicchio to dozens of savvy local and regional players.
Keeping food costs in line at beef palaces like these will continue to be a challenge this year. But consumers are increasingly willing to embrace non-beef-centric options. Those who collect data that document long-term consumption patterns put out an eye-opening report in early 2014: Chicken has overtaken beef as the most popular animal protein source for U.S. consumers. As food trend predictors have noted, U.S. restaurant patrons are more than ready to embrace a dazzling array of new foods and cuisines and their protein choices have become more eclectic.
The upshot for operators: in 2014, food trends can dovetail neatly with less costly proteins. You may wish to adjust your menu accordingly—just don’t get caught behind when cattle herd sizes return to normal, beef prices drop and consumers taste sentiment swings back to ever-popular burgers and steaks.
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