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2014 Consumer Trends

Learn what consumers look for in a restaurant from this helpful video from the National Restaurant Association.

Recipe of the Week: Confetti Shrimp Cocktail Pasta Salad

A colorful, zesty pasta and shrimp salad served ice-cold has the flavor of a Mexican-style shrimp cocktail for a very refreshing lunch or light supper. This dish is perfect to serve on the patio during the warm summer months. See more great recipes at Allrecipes.com

Ingredients:
13 ounces spiral pasta
1 ripe avocado – peeled, pitted and
chopped
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 pound cooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 tomatoes, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped yellow bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped orange bell pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1 1/2 cups vegetable juice cocktail
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and minced
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce, or to taste
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

Directions:
  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil; cook the pasta at a boil until tender yet firm to the bite, about 8 minutes; drain and rinse under cold water until chilled
  2. Place avocado into a bowl and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons lime juice to prevent browning; cover and refrigerate.
  3. Toss cooked pasta, shrimp, tomatoes, green onions, red onion, green, red, yellow, and orange bell peppers, and cilantro in a large salad bowl until thoroughly combined.
  4. Pour vegetable juice cocktail, olive oil, ketchup, and 1/4 cup lime juice into a food processor; add horseradish, jalapeno pepper, hot pepper sauce, salt, garlic, and black pepper. Pulse a few times to mix the dressing, then process until jalapeno and garlic are chopped very small, about 30 seconds. Pour dressing over pasta salad and stir to combine. Cover salad and chill thoroughly in refrigerator, 2 to 3 hours; just before serving, gently stir in avocado.


4 Surefire Ways to Increase Liquor Sales

Increasing your liquor sales is one of the best ways to increase your bar’s profits. Of course, that’s easier said than done. Luckily, it doesn’t have to be complicated—in fact, by following these tips and investing a little bit of time, you can definitely increase your bar’s liquor sales! Here’s how:

1. Focus on your staff.

Your bartenders make a huge difference—after all, they’re the ones who talk to and serve your customers. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your bartenders are perfectly trained. They should know how to perfectly make every drink your customers ask for, as well as how to suggest drinks to unsure customers. To take it a step further, your bartenders should also be trained in upselling. But it’s not all about business! Aside from knowing the ropes, your bartenders should also be friendly and able to hold a conversation with just about anybody. Rude bartenders definitely won’t help you increase your liquor sales, but personable, knowledgeable ones will.

2. Use in-house marketing.

How can your customers order your fancy new cocktails if they don’t even know they exist? Be sure to show off your drinks in house by using table tents, digital signage, or old-school chalkboards. And make sure your cocktail menus make your drinks sound appetizing—don’t just list the ingredients, but give customers an idea of what the drink tastes like. Don’t forget to use high-quality photos!

3. Have specials.

Give your customers a reason to buy more drinks! Create a specialty cocktail that customers can’t find anywhere else. And be sure to offer customers deals, like a great happy hour or another deep discount. You might also consider promoting a cocktail or beer of the month.

4. Keep it clean.

It doesn’t matter if you have the swankiest cocktail lounge or the darkest dive bar—being dirty won’t help you sell more drinks. Sticky counters, crumbs, and dirty glasses turn customers off. A sparkling clean bar makes all of your drinks look more appealing. And don’t forget about keeping things organized! Keeping your stock in order might not seem like a priority, but think about how much faster your bartenders can make (and sell) drinks when they know where to find everything.

Increasing your liquor sales doesn’t have to be hard. By training your staff, using in-house marketing, creating specials, and keeping your bar clean, you can watch your liquor sales go up!

Article provided by Buzztime.

For daily tips, ideas, and concepts for your bar or restaurant, please visit
http://www.BuzztimeBusiness.com/smarts

Trusted by over 3,200 bars and restaurants in North America since 1985, Buzztime integrates trivia, card and sports games with in- and out-of-venue messaging and communication tools. With over 4.2 million player registrations on the Buzztime platform and over 52 million games played each year, Buzztime players spread the word and invite friends and family to their favorite Buzztime location to enjoy an evening of fun and competition.

Memorial Day Margarita Grilled Chicken

Try this delicious recipe to celebrate the unofficial start of summer from AllRecipes.com

Ingredients:
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons coarse black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion salt
1/2 cup margarita mix
1/4 cup lime juice
1/4 cup orange juice
3 tablespoons tequila
3 tablespoons triple sec
2 tablespoons honey
1 cup light olive oil
6 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Directions:
  1. Place cilantro, pepper, garlic powder, and onion salt in the bowl of a blender. Pour in margarita mix, lime juice, orange juice, tequila, triple sec, and honey. Puree on high speed until smooth, then reduce speed to medium-low, and slowly add the olive oil; blend until creamy. Place chicken breasts in a resealable plastic bag or glass bowl; pour marinade overtop and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 5 hours.
  2. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil grate.
  3. Remove chicken from the marinade, shake off excess, and discard remaining marinade. Grill the chicken until tender and juices run clear, approximately 7 minutes per side.

To manage your recipes, try MenuMax. Access your recipes from any where with Internet access and gain vital information including food cost and nutrition analysis.

5 nutrition trends on the menu at the NRA Show

In this great article from the National Restaurant Association, learn about the op trends at the NRA Show in Chicago, IL.

As restaurants make nutrition part of their menu-development process, they looked for advice, ideas, innovations and ingredients at the NRA Show. The four-day show featured a dozen education sessions on health and nutrition and hundreds of exhibiting companies with healthful options.

Among the popular sessions: “The Current State of Nutrition in the Restaurant Industry,” featuring executives from Darden, McDonald’s and Yum Brands, and “Nutrition Trends on the Menu.” In the latter, author Carolyn O’Neil and food strategist Janet Helm offered tips to satisfy consumer demand for healthful options.

Here are some of the trends operators are exploring:

Gluten-free goodness

A need for gluten-free options brings Ben Breslauer to the Organic & Natural Pavilion, where he visits Smart Flour Foods. Breslauer, executive chef, The Club at Crested Butte, Colorado, says he’s trying to design menu items for guests who have “hopped on the gluten-free bandwagon.” Austin, Texas-based Smart Flour uses only ancient grains for its pizza crust: sorghum, amaranth and teff, which elevates its taste, texture and nutrition profile, says Charlie Pace. “A lot of consumers aren’t gluten-free, but they want multi-grain products,” he says. “Tastes great,” Breslauer says.

Glorious grains


“There’s a high understanding of whole grains by consumers,” says David Schmidt, president and CEO, International Food Information Council. Steve Hilton, vice president, global government and public affairs, McDonald’s, notes the chain’s eight-grain breakfast muffins and oatmeal. “We’re working on it,” he says.

On the Show floor, operators ask Cathy Nehl of Bob’s Red Mill Natural Foods how to use its gluten-free baking mixes, whole-grain flour and hot cereal and other products. They want recipe ideas and information on how to use the products for breakfast, lunch and dinner, she says. “More people are interested in offering them, and more channels of distribution are available than in past years,” she says.

Plant-based protein

Since opening the Peanut Butter & Co. Sandwich in 1998 in Greenwich Village, Lee Zalben has become known as an expert on peanut butter. So now he supplies peanut products, including peanut flour, to fellow restaurateurs. The flour adds protein and flavor without as many calories as peanut butter because the oil is pressed out, he says from his booth at the NRA Show. “It’s not for every application,” he says. “What we’re showing are examples of innovative ideas for people interested in peanuts.”

Meat alternatives are more acceptable than they’ve been in decades, says Steve Zimmerman, vice president, sales, foodservice, Dr. Praeger’s Sensible Foods. “Big concepts that you wouldn’t think were interested in healthy, vegan or vegetarian food are adding meatless items to the menu,” he says.

“We’re seeing growing interest from people who want to eat meatless,” Cheryl Dolven, director, health and wellness, Darden, says. Some want to know whether the restaurants uses animal rennet in the cheese. Others aren’t as strict. But having meatless items “helps you avoid the veto vote.”

Ingredient-centric options


“People want to know specifics about what’s in their food,” Helm says. “Clean eating is the new buzzword: minimally processed and ingredient-centric.” That’s the thought behind 78 Red Ketchup, says founder Amir Bavani. He believes ketchup should be all about the tomato, so he slashed the sodium count and eliminated potato starch and corn syrup. Tomatoes represent 78 percent of the ingredients, thus the name. “Ketchup is overlooked, but it’s used every day, especially by kids,” he says. Likewise, Jennifer Connor, the Mustard Girl, says her condiment is GMO and gluten-free, low-sodium and kosher with little sugar. Says O’Neil: “The more information people have about their food, the more it empowers them.”

Fresh produce

What’s something the restaurant industry could do to make the biggest health impact with consumers? Cut the salt, and add more fruit and vegetables, says CSPI’s Michael Jacobsen. ”Those are exactly the things we’re working on,” McDonald’s Hilton says. The company is working with its suppliers to make fruit, vegetables and dairy more appealing in its restaurants, he says.

Recipe of the Week: Strawberry Basil Margarita

Celebrate the warm weather with this Strawberry Basil Margarita from AllRecipes.com. The combination of basil and strawberries work with tequila to make a delicious and refreshing blended cocktail.

Ingredients

1 cup hulled strawberries
1/4 cup tequila
1 tablespoon orange-flavored liquor
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons white sugar
3 large basil leaves
8 ice cubes

Directions:
  1. Combine the strawberries, tequila, orange-flavored liqueur, lemon juice, sugar, and basil leaves in a blender; mix on low until smooth. Add the ice and puree until the ice is crushed, 30 to 60 seconds.


Marketing Ideas for June

Restaurant owners and operators will find many opportunities for marketing during June.  In this great article from RestaurantNews.com, learn about how you can market your restaurant. Father’s Day is one of the busiest days of the year for most restaurants, but your promotional activities don’t have to end there.  As June is also Entrepreneurs “Do It Yourself” Marketing Month, it only makes sense to explore other possibilities to grow your business.

For food related marketing, June is Country Cooking Month, National Dairy Month, National Frozen Yogurt Month, National Iced Tea Month, and National Soul Food Month, among others.

If that isn’t enough to get your menu marketing ideas sizzling, specific days of the month include National Cheese Day, National Frozen Yogurt Day, National Doughnut Day, Corn on the Cob Day, National Strawberry Shortcake Day, National Catfish Day and much more.

Corn and Cucumber Month
Country Cooking Month
Lemon and Mango Month
National Candy Month
National Dairy Month
National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Month
National Frozen Yogurt Month
National Iced Tea Month
National Papaya Month
National Soul Food Month
National Steakhouse Month
National Turkey Lover’s Month
Child Vision Awareness Month
International Surf Music Month
National Adopt-a-Cat Month
National Camping Month
National Drive Safe Month
National Fireworks Safety Month
National Rose Month
National Safety Month
Great Outdoors Month
National Zoo and Aquarium Month

1 – Say Something Nice Day
1 – Dare Day
1 – Flip a Coin Day
1 – National Cancer Survivors Day
2 – National Rocky Road Day
2 – Leave the Office Early Day
3 – National Egg Day
4 – National Cheese Day
4 – National Applesauce Cake Day
4 – Running Day
4 – Old Maid’s Day
4 – Hug Your Cat Day
5 – National Gingerbread Day
5 – World Environment Day
6 – National Doughnut Day
6 – National Yo-Yo Day
6 – D-Day
7 – National Chocolate Ice Cream Day
8 – World Oceans Day
8 – Best Friends Day
8 – Upsy Daisy Day
9 – National Strawberry Rhubarb Pie Day
9 – Donald Duck Day
10 – National Iced Tea Day
11 – National Corn on the Cob Day
11 – National German Chocolate Cake Day
12 – National Peanut Butter Cookie Day
12 – Red Rose Day
14 – National Strawberry Shortcake Day
14 – World Gin Day
14 – National Flag Day
14 – World Juggling Day
14 – World Blood Donor Day
15 – Father’s Day
15 – National Lobster Day
16 – National Fudge Day
16 – National Fresh Veggies Day
16 – National Vinegar Day
17 – National Apple Strudel Day
17 – Eat Your Vegetables Day
18 – International Sushi Day
18 – National Cherry Tart Day
18 – International Picnic Day
18 – National Splurge Day
18 – Go Fishing Day
19 – National Martini Day
20 – National Vanilla Milkshake Day
20 – National Ice Cream Soda Day
20 – American Eagle Day
20 – Flip-Flop Day
21 – National Peaches & Cream Day
21 – International Surfing Day
22 – National Chocolate Eclair Day
22 – National Onion Rings Day
23 – National Pecan Sandy Day
23 – Pink Day
23 – Public Service Day
24 – National Pralines Day
25 – National Strawberry Parfait Day
25 – National Catfish Day
26 – National Chocolate Pudding Day
26 – Canoe Day
26 – Beautician’s Day
27 – Sunglasses Day
27 – “Happy Birthday to You” Day
28 – National Tapioca Day
29 – Camera Day
29 – Waffle Iron Day
30 – Meteor Watch Day
30 – Social Media Day

Recipe of the Week: Grilled Pork Chop with Fresh Nectarine Salsa

Try this mouthwatering recipe to help welcome the warm spring time weather. This recipe from AllRecipes.com has been described as “zippy, sweet and spicy” a surefire hit for your restaurant customers!

Ingredients:

2 nectarines, pitted and diced
1 ripe tomato, seeded and diced
1/4 cup diced onion
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste
salt to taste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
salt and ground black pepper to taste
2 tablespoons olive oil
8 (4 ounce) boneless pork loin chops

Directions:
  1. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat. Lightly oil grate, and set 4 inches from the heat.
  2. To make the salsa, place the nectarines, tomato, onion, cilantro, lime juice, and red pepper flakes in a bowl; toss to blend. Season to taste with salt. Cover, and refrigerate 30 minutes to blend flavors.
  3. Stir the cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper together in a small bowl. Place the olive oil in a small bowl. Brush the pork chops with oil, and season both sides evenly with the cumin mixture.
  4. Place pork loin chops on the preheated grill. Cook until lightly browned and juices run clear, about 4 minutes on each side. Place pork chops on serving plates, and top with a generous spoonful of salsa.


Recipe of the Week: Mexican Chicken Soup

In honor of Cinco de Mayo, try this zesty soup loaded with chicken, corn and black beans in a mildly spicy red broth from TasteofHome.com.

Ingredients

1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
2 teaspoons canola oil
1/2 cup water
1 envelope reduced-sodium taco seasoning
1 can (32 ounces) V8 juice
1 jar (16 ounces) salsa
1 can (15 ounces) black beans, rinsed and drained
1 package (10 ounces) frozen corn, thawed
6 tablespoons reduced-fat cheddar cheese
6 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro

    Directions

    1. In a large nonstick skillet, saute chicken in oil until no longer
    2. pink. Add water and taco seasoning; simmer, uncovered, until chicken
    3. is well coated.
    4. Transfer to a 5-qt. slow cooker. Stir in the V8 juice, salsa, beans
    5. and corn. Cover and cook on low for 3-4 hours or until heated
    6. through. Serve with cheese, sour cream and cilantro. Yield: 6
    7. servings.


    8 Promotion Ideas to Make Mother’s Day Profitable

    In this article from buzztimebusiness.com, learn about some of the best ways to make this Mother’s Day profitable for your restaurant.

    Mother’s Day is one of the most important holidays of the year with more than one quarter of American adults anticipated to celebrate Mother’s Day by dining out, according to the National Restaurant Association. As your restaurant starts planning, here are 8 winning promotion ideas that will make this special day a profitable one.

    1. Get creative with pre-fixe menus:

    Special pre-fixe menus are a great way to go on Mother’s Day. Offering pre-fixe menus during busy holidays is also a smart strategy for keeping the menu manageable and easier to serve guests during busy rushes. Get creative with your pre-fixe menus with signature food and wine pairings and special desserts that mom will love.

    2. Turn Mother’s Day into an annual brunch event:

    Mother’s Day is notorious for brunch. Make brunch stand out by offering only once a year on this special day. Give your customers an over-the-top brunch experience and turn it into an exclusive, annual event for your guests.

    3. Offer Fair Prices:

    With restaurants all over the nation competing for their share of the Mother’s Day profits, price point is important. Give your guests enticing reasons to choose your restaurant for Mother’s Day by offering comfortable prices.

    4. Give moms a gift:

    Make all of the moms feel great on their special day by giving them a small gift. Consider a fresh-cut rose upon being seated at their table or a personalized photo with frame of their day, taken by an on-site photographer. Always be sure to brand that personal item with your restaurant’s logo and name to reinforce future brand awareness.

    5. Bring in live music:

    Enhance your restaurant’s ambiance on Mother’s Day with a jazz guitarist, pianist or a small band. Encourage guests to put in their favorite requests. If you have a place for a dance floor, even better!

    6. Be prepared to accommodate children and older adults with special needs:

    Mother’s Day is a family event, so everyone in the family needs to feel comfortable. Offer an appealing kid’s menu, have entertainment for the kids and keep the noise levels at bay for older members of the family to make sure they are comfortable, too.

    7. Add Mother’s Day décor touches:

    Add appeal to your restaurant’s décor in celebration of Mother’s Day with floral elements, spring pastels and other décor choices that evoke Mother’s Day. One cost-effective idea is to turn small glasses into small vases with a single rose in the center.

    8. Introduce a signature Mother’s Day cocktail:

    There are so many fun ways to turn classic cocktails into signature drinks in honor of Mother’s Day that celebrate the seasonal fresh fruits of spring. Here are a few fun Mother’s Day cocktail ideas, courtesy of Punchbowl.

    For more great Mother’s Day ideas including recipes, decor, specials and more, visit our Pinterest board.

    Don’t fall victim to restaurant profitability myths

    In this great article from the National Restaurant Association, learn about these major profitability myths and how to avoid them.

    Myth: Buying larger quantities to get volume discounts saves money. Answer: Not after accounting for the extra waste, theft, spoilage, larger portion sizes and overall carelessness that results when more products are purchased than are needed. Smart operators purchase just what they need even if the price/unit is a little higher. They know they will make more money if they focus on product use, not quantity discounts.

    Myth: It is better to have cash overages than shortages. Answer: Although neither is great news, cash overages are often an indication of unrecorded sales ‑ one of an operator’s worst nightmares.

    Myth: Keeping food costs low means larger profit margins. Answer: Many of the most profitable restaurants in the country have high food costs, some as much as 45 percent to 50 percent. The issue is not how high or low food costs are, but rather how many gross profit dollars your menu items generate. That’s why menu items should be promoted based on their gross profit contribution (dollars) rather than having a low food cost (percentage).

    Myth: Only the chef or the manager on duty should check in deliveries. Answer: The chef and the manager on duty are usually the two people in the operation with the least time to always do a complete, thorough job of checking in deliveries. Many companies use an hourly employee who is trained to be a dedicated receiving clerk during certain hours of the day. An hourly employee generally has the uninterrupted time to devote the attention necessary to do a proper job checking in each and every delivery.

    Myth: Profit-and-loss statements should be prepared and reviewed monthly. Answer: It is of limited value to compare a monthly P&L with a previous month. There may be a different number of total days or a different number of weekend days that will invalidate any meaningful sales comparison. Many restaurants do more than 50 percent of their sales on two days of the week ‑ Fridays and Saturdays. Many restaurant operators prepare their P&Ls on a four-week, 28-day cycle so that each P&L reflects the same number of days each week.

    Myth: The most important part of pricing the menu is determining each item’s food cost. Answer: Costing out each item is very important, particularly when determining their gross profit contribution. However, determining what customers will pay in your immediate market is the most important consideration. While not an exact science, shopping the local competition plus an evaluation of your customers’ income levels and spending habits should provide valuable information for a framework on pricing decisions. Also, ask your servers how much they would charge for a menu item. After all, servers are closer to your customers than anyone else.

    Myth: The best accountant in most restaurants is the bookkeeper. Answer: Actually, it’s usually one of the bartenders. Their accounting skills are honed through years of experience keeping track of liquor usage and unrecorded drink sales with elaborate counting schemes using glasses, stir sticks, toothpicks, pennies and even olives.

    Myth: Using garbage cans in the kitchen is a good way to dispose of trim and waste. Answer: Smart operators use clear plastic food boxes to deposit kitchen scraps and trim. Managers take a moment to inspect the contents of each box at the end of the shift.

    If you’re looking to gain control over your food cost and better track your inventory, see what MenuMax can do for you. We offer a wide range of tools to help manage your restaurant and increase profitability. Call 1-877-MENUMAX or visit www.MenuMax.com

    Recipe of the Week: Arugula Corn Salad with Bacon

    Summer is just around the corner! Cool off with this refreshing Arugula Corn Salad, feature from SimplyRecipes.com as our Recipe of the Week.

    Ingredients

    4 large ears of corn
    2 cups of chopped arugula (about one bunch)
    4 strips of bacon, cooked, chopped
    1/3 cup chopped green onions
    1 Tbsp olive oil
    1 Tbsp white wine vinegar
    1/8 teaspoon ground cumin
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

    Method

    1 Cook the corn ears, in their husks, either on the grill for a smokey flavor, or by steaming in a large covered stock pot with an inch of boiling water at the bottom of the pot, for 12-15 minutes. Let the corn cool (can run under cold water to speed up the cooling), remove the husks and silk. I recommend cooking the corn in the husks for the added flavor that the husks impart. If you boil or steam the corn ears after you’ve already husked them, or if you cook them in the microwave, reduce the cooking time by a few minutes.

    cutting-corn-on-cob.jpg

    2 To remove the kernels from the cobs, stand a corn cob vertically over a large, shallow bowl. Use a sharp knife to make long, downward strokes, removing the kernels from the cob, as you work your way around the cob. Note: it may help to work over a low table, to be in a better ergonomic position to cut the cobs this way.

    3 In a medium sized bowl, mix together the corn, chopped arugula, bacon, and onions. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper, and cumin. Mix dressing into salad just before serving. Taste and add more vinegar if necessary to balance the sweetness of the corn.

    Keep track of your recipes with MenuMax. Learn more by calling 1-877-MENUMAX or visit www.MenuMax.com


    Why Going Green is Good for Business

    In honor of Earth Day (April 22), learn why going green is good for your restaurant in this article from Food Service Warehouse by Monica Parpal. Typical restaurant owners and operators have a lot on their plates–literally. From keeping track of labor expenses to managing food cost to ensuring customer satisfaction, the restaurant owner is always concerned with ensuring the restaurant’s success. One way to mark this success is by measuring the restaurant’s ability to adapt to changing circumstances.

    Going green is one of the most important movements affecting commercial food service operations today. Going green can be one of the smartest operational decisions you can make for your restaurant, as it not only reduces consumption and draws environmentally-conscious customers, but actually saves money for your operation in the long run.

    Save Profits As a restaurant operator, chances are you know exactly what expenses are bogging down your profit and loss (P&L) statement. What you may not know is that going green can actually save money for your restaurant. By reducing consumption and changing some daily behaviors, your operations can move from guzzling energy to saving money. Going green involves many transitions, especially in a commercial environment where electricity, gas, water and disposable products are used in vast quantities on a regular basis. Use the following guidelines to protect the environment as well as your profits:

    Invest in energy-efficient commercial kitchen equipment. Purchase ENERGY STAR® qualified commercial kitchen equipment whenever your old equipment wears out. With efficient equipment, your operation will consume less energy and less water without sacrificing quality. In fact, the money you save in utility bills is often enough to recover the cost of the equipment itself.

    Establish a start-up and shut-down schedule. Your commercial kitchen equipment may be constantly powered on, running up a high energy bill even during your slowest hours. Develop a schedule that educates kitchen staff when to turn on and when to turn off the equipment to help minimize lost profits.

    Switch to energy-saving restaurant lighting. A simple to way reduce energy usage and cut down on monthly expenses is to replace your conventional light bulbs with energy-efficient fluorescent lighting. These bulbs produce less heat and more light, putting the energy dollars where they count the most.

    Retain Customers
    In a 2008 National Restaurant Association survey, 62 percent of consumers polled stated that they would prefer to dine at an environmentally-friendly restaurant if given the choice. Making earth-friendly changes in your operation requires a great effort on your part, but that effort is crucial to gaining the allegiance of almost two thirds of American diners. Customers today are conscious of their choices as well as that of the businesses where they spend their time and money. Operating an environmentally-conscious restaurant is a key strategy in keeping your business going strong in a future of strained resources and educated diners. As an owner or operator, be sure you consider your customers’ opinions and values. Communicate your own values by making the choice to go green.

    Conserve Resources
    Restaurants pollute the earth’s atmosphere and water resources every time they open their doors for business. In fact, studies show that commercial kitchens use over twice the energy per square foot than other commercial buildings. By taking steps to make your restaurant more environmentally friendly, you will reduce your operation’s negative impact on the environment and improve your commitment to a healthier atmosphere.

    Use green cleaners in place of conventional cleaners. Green cleaning agents are preferable when it comes to their impact on the environment, meaning that they do not contain harmful chemicals which can contaminate water resources and harm wildlife.

    Reduce your restaurant’s water consumption. Although water is relatively inexpensive, overuse has already begun to affect the global demand for clean and safe drinking water. Install a low-flow pre-rinse spray valve, reuse water when possible and simply reform daily operational behaviors in the commercial kitchen to begin conserving water.

    Cut Down on Waste.
    Restaurants produce an egregious amount of waste. From wasted food product to empty food containers, most restaurant operators can stand to reduce their garbage output by implementing a recycling program, composting food scraps and using biodegradable materials.

    Restaurants benefit from going green by saving more money, retaining eco-conscious customers and conserving resources at the same time. Going green is a smart move for your operation in many ways. Consider implementing these behavioral and equipment changes that will profit your restaurant as well as the environment. To learn more about how MenuMax can help you cut down on food waste, call us at 1-877-MENUMAX or visit www.MenuMax.com.

    Recipe of the Week: Pea and Parsley Soup with Golden Caviar

    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.

    Ingredients

    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.

      Directions

      1. 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.

      2. 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.


      Toolkit issued to reduce industry’s food waste

      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.