Author: David Klemt

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What’s in the Senate Relief Package?

What’s in the Senate Relief Package?

by David Klemt

United States Capitol Building rotunda ceiling painting

As expected, the Senate version of the latest Covid-19 relief bill is different from the one passed by the House.

The changes will require the bill to be kicked back to the House, adding to the pressure to get relief to Americans before March 14.

Things may change but below are some of the differences between the two versions.

$15/hour Minimum Wage

This provision is dead in both houses of Congress.

That should come as no surprise as the boost to federal minimum wage was declared dead in the water by Senate Parliamentarian Elizabeth MacDonough even before the House voted on the American Rescue Plan Act.

According to reports, removing any and all language that raises federal minimum wage to $15 an hour is the biggest change between the House and Senate versions of ARPA.

Direct Payments to Americans

Chatter online indicates that Senate Democrats are in favor of a drastically lower threshold for $1,400 direct stimulus payments.

The House version of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 calls for $1,400 economic impact payments with the following parameters:

  • Individuals earning an adjusted gross income (AGI) up to $75,000.
  • Married couples earning an AGI up to $150,000.
  • Payments phase out, reaching $0 for individuals earning AGI over $100,000 and married couples earning AGI over $200,000.

The Senate version calls for $1,400 payments to phase out entirely for individuals earning an AGI of $80,000 and married couples with an AGI of $160,000.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Let’s be honest, this is why you’re here. Is the RRF safe?

There’s nothing that shows the $25 billion fund is in danger from the Senate. That said, there’s one threat to ARPA in general, “minor” as it may be: game-playing politicians.

Unsurprisingly, Republicans view ARPA as too expensive, too favorable of Democrat’s priorities, and insufficient for addressing the reopening of businesses, schools, and fighting Covid-19.

Those concerns in and of themselves aren’t akin to playing games, nor are they invalid. Vote-a-rama, however, is a time-wasting stalling tactic that allows senators to propose literally hundreds of amendments to a bill. The time limit for vote-a-rama? There isn’t one—it lasts until senators get tired or bored.

Speaking about a coordinated plan to engage in vote-a-rama, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), said he’s “hoping for infinity. There are people talking about trying to set up a schedule and having it go on and on.”

Take Action

Americans simply do not have time for politicians on any side of the aisle to play games. Good-faith negotiations are one thing, delay tactics that last for “infinity” are another.

We’re still in the midst of a pandemic, people are unable to pay their bills, they’re going hungry, and business owners and their employees are suffering.

It seems some politicians have made up their minds and are committed to dragging out the process of passing ARPA and the RRF contained within but we still have our voices. Follow this link to tell your representatives to pass ARPA and RRF now.

Enough games, enough delays, more action.

Image: GO Educational Tours from Pixabay 

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Meet Customers Where They Are

Meet Customers Where They Are

by David Klemt

Suburban community

If news stories are to be believed, Americans are fleeing big, expensive cities en masse.

Are those stories accurate or examples of sensationalism?

Mass Exodus?

The pandemic is, without any doubt, reshaping the United States. It is, in fact, transforming any nation on which it has gained a significant foothold.

Several sources claim that a mass exodus to the suburbs and rural towns is taking shape across America.

The authors of these stories often cite survey results, housing and rental price fluctuations, financial struggles and the cost of living in many cities, and anecdotal “evidence” to make their points.

On its face, just the argument that cities like Los Angeles and New York City are too expensive to live in with so many people struggling financially makes sense. And stories about astronomically high rent compared to square footage and median income in dense, expensive cities are commonplace.

Haute Exodus?

Still other stories tell tales of the wealthy migrating from major cities to “wait out” the pandemic.

Since wealthy people have the means, they’re able to leave densely populated areas for destinations with smaller populations. The logic being, the less people in an area, the lower risk of infection.

There are reports referring to NYC as a “ghost town” and describing San Francisco as a shell of its former densely-populated, well-heeled self.

Again, much of the reporting is supported by anecdotal and social media “evidence.”

Half-thruths

Forbes, which has published articles supporting mass exodus claims and also disputing them, has made the argument that the situation is nuanced.

Eric Martel, a Forbes Councils Member, analyzed U-Haul Migration Index (UMI) and uncovered some interesting data. Martel finds that net migration in San Francisco and Los Angeles is lower—significantly so in LA—than it was in 2018. In NYC, net migration looks higher.

More reasonable conclusions regarding Americans and the pandemic seem to be:

  • Large numbers of people have moved out of some major cities. NYC seems to be a good example.
  • Some of the wealthy have temporarily left highly-populated cities, choosing to stay in places normally considered vacation destinations for longer periods of time.
  • People appear to be moving toward the outskirts of larger cities where rent and prices tend to be lower than that of city centers.
  • Suburbs near the outskirts of major cities appear to be popular migration targets.
  • Some of this “migration” is temporary, driven by the ability to work remotely. It’s likely that some people who have moved out of cities will return when they perceive things have returned to “normal.”

Adapt

Jack Li, co-founder and CEO of Datassential, suggests operators check out so-called second-tier cities—Austin, Nashville and Charlotte, for example—and the areas where cities meet suburbs. The reasons are simple:

  • Innovation and food trends tend to start cities, reaching rural areas last. That means second-tier cities, city outskirts, and suburbs are quicker to embrace trends and innovations. (Location.)
  • Less-expensive commercial real estate prices. (Cost.)
  • Potential increase in the number of families. (Customer density.)
  • Potential increase in the number of seniors with financial means. (Customer density.)

The impact the pandemic has had makes informed decisions that much more critical to success in this industry. Demographic and feasibility studies are more important now than ever.

Both are cornerstones of the KRG Hospitality approach, whether an operator has several years’ experience or is a neophyte. Click here to learn more about how KRG Hospitality can help you and your concept, click here to learn about KRG Momentum coaching, and click here to download the KRG 2021 Start-up Cost Guide & Checklist.

Image: The Lazy Artist Gallery from Pexels

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Your Drink Menu Deserves an Ice Program

Your Drink Menu Deserves an Ice Program

by David Klemt

Cocktail with large king ice cube, overhead view

All ice is not created equal—there’s a reason behind their shapes and sizes.

Taking the time to consider your ice and build a dedicated program that includes it is crucial for your beverage program and the guest experience.

Remember that just like there are rules for building cocktails, there are rules for using ice:

  • Dilution is your friend. Water is a crucial component for cocktails.
  • Is your ice floating? Your build balance is off.
  • Store ice in plastic bags if it’s not being used right away.
  • Don’t use ice that’s two weeks old or older.

Types of Ice

Standard Cube (1 inch x 1 inch): These absolutely have a place in the cocktail glass. Just adhere to this standard when using standard ice cubes: Never use a water source you wouldn’t drink.

King Cubes (2 inches x 2 inches): Use these for spirit-forward drinks for consistent temperature and dilution. Examples: Manhattan, Negroni, Old Fashioned, Vieux Carré.

Collins Spear/Shard/Cylinder: For highballs. These make a Tom Collins or G&T look elegant and cool.

Ice Block: Use blocks in punches to keep large-format cocktails cold and control dilution over time.

Ice Slab: These are impressive blocks of ice bars and restaurants use to cut and shape their own cubes and spheres, often providing guests with entertainment (see below). Operators either form slabs in-house or retain the services of producers who drop them off. (In fact, there are services out there that will provide perfect and bespoke cubes, spheres and spheres.)

Sphere: Ice spheres are ideal for stirred cocktails and enjoying spirits straight. They melt very slowly in comparison to other shapes and deliver an impressive visual impact, so they often wind up in cocktails that call for king cubes.

Pebble/Crushed: Use in drinks that are heavy on syrup and/or juice, tiki drinks, and drinks served in hot climates. Examples: Frozen Daiquiri, Margarita, Mint Julep, Moscow Mule, Swizzle.

Hands-on Approach

According to many well-known bartenders, mixologists and operators, the best method for perfectly clear ice is “directional freezing.” Camper English outlined the process on the Alcademics site in 2009. But what do you do to turn a single slab into several cubes?

You’ll need an ice saw to get through the slab, a traditional single-prong ice pick to break off smaller cubes, a three-prong ice pick to break off smaller cubes and shape them into spheres if you prefer (be careful!), and an ice mallet to help the ice picks do their jobs.

Treat this process as a show for the guests. For a real-world example, the bars inside Zuma restaurants have ice stations dedicated to turning an ice slab into ice cubes. These stations are an experiential feature of the cocktail program.

Semi-hands-on Approach

An aluminum ice sphere mold is a type of “set it and forget it” device.

It may seem like these would be time-consuming to use and low-yield, but most take just a minute to form a ready-to-use sphere. Most manufacturers claim their molds can produce 30 to 40 spheres per hour.

While the mold is creating a perfect sphere of ice, the bartender grabs a glass and builds the cocktail. The guest, meanwhile, enjoys the “drama” of drink production versus ice sphere production: Will the drink and ice be ready at the same time?

Ice sphere molds range in price from under $200 to $800 (and beyond). The molds themselves are appealing to the eye, simple to use, and justify higher cocktail prices. Yes, there are bars that successfully charge more for large ice spheres, often offering different types of ice for at additional charge.

Molds make spheres in a range of diameters, normally from 1.2 inches to 2.8 inches. Higher-end models also offer shapes, such as perfect spheres, diamonds or snowflakes. Several bars that use these molds utilize custom versions that “brand” the ice with their logo.

Ice Machines

There are multiple manufacturers of commercial-grade icemakers. However, there are two that are considered top of the food chain.

Hoshizaki America’s headquarters is in Georgia and the company makes dozens of icemakers. People can choose from ice shape and the pounds of ice a machine produces in a day. We’re fans of Hoshizaki for their quality and the pandemic information they added to their FAQs last year.

Manitowoc operates out of Wisconsin and manufactures several models. There are cubers, flakers, nugget producers, and there are several solutions that work for an array of venue types, layouts and service volumes.

To learn even more about creating an epic beverage program, click here for our latest download.

Image: Moritz Mentges on Unsplash

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Restaurant Revitalization Fund Passes

Restaurant Revitalization Fund Passes

by David Klemt

United States Capitol Building

Congress has once again voted to pass targeted relief for restaurants and bars.

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which includes the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Passes, made it through Congress by a vote of 219 to 212.

All Republicans and two Democrats voted against the $1.9 billion bill, which now goes to the Senate.

Now What?

After a year of being mostly left to fend for ourselves—save for the flawed Paycheck Protection Program—operators may finally receive some relief.

The $300-per-week federal boost to unemployment, which the American Rescue Plan Act increases to $400 per week, expires on March 14. There’s some pressure on the Senate to pass the bill so it can be signed into law before or by that date.

However, we’ve been down this road before: Congress has voted in favor of a bill that contains relief for restaurants, bars and other foodservice and drinking establishments, the Senate goes a different direction, and the Congressional victory turns to ashes in our hands rather than becoming law.

Democrats control the House. A Democrat sits at the Resolute Desk. And while the 50-50 Senate is “controlled” by Democrats since Vice President Kamala Harris can break tie votes, the party can’t afford any defections if they hope to pass the American Rescue Plan.

Once again, targeted relief isn’t a certainty.

What’s in the Plan?

In short, not the RESTAURANTS Act. The American Rescue Plan provides a fraction of the $120 billion for which the industry has been campaigning for a year now.

Instead, a $25 billion grant program called the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) has been carved out for restaurants, bars and other eligible providers of food and drink.

There’s another $15 billion allocated for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) advance payments, and $1.25 billion for shuttered venue operators.

Just $7.25 billion would be pumped into the PPP and the application deadline wouldn’t be extended beyond March 31. This is likely because the PPP has disbursed over $662 billion in just under a year, and there’s still roughly $140 billion available.

In addition, the current bill includes $1,400 direct stimulus payments for individuals earning up to $75,000 or $2,800 for married couples earning up to $150,000. Payments would phase out completely for individuals earning $100,000 or married couples earning $200,000.

What’s the Restaurant Revitalization Fund?

The RRF carves out $25 billion for restaurants, bars, saloons, inns, taverns, lounges, tasting rooms, brewpubs, taprooms, food trucks, food carts, food stands, caterers, and eligible providers of food and/or drink.

Grants, should the bill pass the Senate and be signed into law, will be equal to pandemic-related revenue loss as calculated by subtracting 2020 revenue from 2019 revenue. Eligible entities could receive of up to $10 million, or a physical location could receive a maximum grant of $5 million.

RRF grants are required to be used for:

  • payroll costs;
  • principal and interest payments on a mortgage, excluding prepayments on the principal;
  • rent payments, excluding prepayments;
  • utilities;
  • supplies, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning materials;
  • F&B expenses within the eligible entity’s scope of “normal business practice” before the covered period: February 15, 2020, through December 31, 2021 (or another date as determined by the Small Business Administration);
  • maintenance expenses, including construction accommodating outdoor seating and walls, floods, deck surfaces, furniture, fixtures, and equipment;
  • covered supplier costs;
  • operational expenses;
  • paid sick leave; and
  • any other expenses the SBA determines to be essential to maintaining the eligible entity.

The SBA would be responsible for awarding $20 billion of the $25 billion fund in “an equitable manner to eligible entities of different sizes based on annual gross receipts.” The remaining $5 billion would be set aside, per the bill in its current form, for eligible applicants with 2019 gross receipts of $500,000 or less.

Click here to find your senators and urge them to pass the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Image: Jens Junge from Pixabay 

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Self-ordering Kiosks Gaining Ground

Self-ordering Kiosks Gaining Ground

by David Klemt

Ordering kiosks and the convenience they offer have become more commonplace, even before the pandemic plunged its claws into the world.

In addition to the convenience factor, self-ordering kiosks provide guests with a contactless option that keeps them and front-of-house workers safer than ordering face to face.

Proliferation

This technology was on its way from trend to operational mainstay long before Covid-19 savaged the planet and tore through the hospitality industry.

The presence of ordering kiosks at the National Restaurant Association Show reportedly tripled from 2017 to 2018. Quick-service, fast-casual restaurants and limited-service were earlier adopters of self-ordering tech.

It took just a couple of years for McDonald’s, as an example, to outfit thousands of locations with such kiosks.

For several months, industry pros and experts have been saying there clearly defined types of guests with which operators will have to contend post-pandemic:

  • Those who will comfortably return to restaurants and bars, treating them as they did pre-pandemic.
  • Those who will return to in-person restaurant and bar visits cautiously.
  • Those who won’t return to in-person dining until they have been vaccinated and are confident others have been as well.

One can see how self-ordering kiosks appeal to cautious guests, along with those who will use them but take their order to-go.

Types of Kiosks

Anecdotal evidence suggests there are three types or styles of kiosks that are most prevalent: terminals, tablets and tabletop systems.

Ease of function and integration has made tablet-based systems popular.

Toast and TouchBistro are two of the most popular restaurant POS systems on the market, and both offer kiosk functionality. Toast is Android-based, TouchBistro is iOS-based.

Some operators choose to mount their tablet-based kiosks on countertops, some create ordering locations with tablets affixed to stands.

There are also kiosk terminals that are similar in size to ATMs, not based on tablets, and Windows-based.

ADA Compliance

Similar to how it’s important for operators to consider their guests and comfort levels with new (or newer) tech, consideration must be paid to ADA compliance when choosing kiosks.

No guest should feel alienated, excluded, forgotten about, or valued less than other guests. Counter- and table-top ordering devices should be easily accessible by all guests, as should tablet-based systems mounted to free-standing pedestals.

Operators who choose larger ordering terminals must appraise such systems on their ADA compliance. Last week, the Kiosk Manufacturers Association posted a 14-point ADA compliance checklist that end users can use to assess whatever kiosk is under consideration.

Kiosk Manufacturers Association ADA checklist

Image: Kiosk Manufacturers Association

One can read through the checklist in its entirety here, which includes such considerations as:

  • Depth, clearance, maneuvering and protruding objects.
  • Assistive considerations like Braille and tactile guidance.
  • Assistive technologies such as speech-output enabled display screens.
  • The Big Seven: Captions, contrast, audio, focus, target size, errors and labels

Self-ordering tech and kiosks will continue to evolve and become part of everyday operations for several foodservice business categories. While they may not become commonplace in the fine-dining space, they’re likely to dominate QSRs and fast-casual, and gain more traction in casual and family dining.

Not every restaurant, bar or hotel will benefit from this self-ordering kiosks. Operators who want to implement this tech must consider initial investment, POS integration, hardware, guest comfort, and ADA compliance.

Image: Christiann Koepke on Unsplash

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Hakkasan Group Announces Reopenings

Hakkasan Group Announces Reopenings

by David Klemt

OMNIA Nightclub Las Vegas Terrace

In a positive sign for Las Vegas nightlife, daylife and tourism, Hakkasan Group has set dates against the reopening of three major venues in its portfolio.

The announcement came less than a week after Governor Steve Sisolak unveiled Nevada’s Roadmap to Recovery Safe Reopening Plan.

Two Hakkasan Group properties will reopen on March 5. A third will resume business a week later on March 12.

OMNIA

Two years after Hakkasan ushered in a new era of nightlife in 2013, OMNIA opened its doors inside Caesars Palace. Known for its “dancing” chandelier (click here for images) and opulence, OMNIA quickly established itself as a nightlife bucket list destination, attracting guests from all over the globe. The nightclub gives Hakkasan’s namesake venue a run for the title of portfolio flagship.

OMNIA is scheduled to reopen the property’s terrace area as a lounge on Friday, March 5. Restrictions mandated by the State of Nevada include reservations for nightclubs and dayclubs. In terms of health and safety protocols, a statement on the OMNIA website reads: “With health and safety protocols at the forefront: the venue has moved to touchless menu system via a scannable QR code from cell phones; VIP sections will be separated to allow for physical distancing; and rigorous cleaning plans will also be implemented.

Wet Republic

The dayclub that redefined the category, Wet Republic opened in 2008. If Rehab at the Hard Rock was the pioneer in the dayclub space, ultra-pool Wet Republic is the undisputed heir to the throne. There are no plans to relinquish that crown any time soon, either.

Just before the pandemic forced Las Vegas nightclubs to close, Wet Republic unveiled renovations made to the 54,000-square-foot property. The venue was able to operate in a limited capacity midway through 2020 but it wasn’t quite the same.

On Friday, March 5, more guests will finally be able to see the refreshed dayclub, located at MGM Grand. General admission is prohibited; reservations are required and the venue is following the same health and safety protocols as OMNIA.

Liquid Pool

Located at Aria Las Vegas, Liquid Pool is an upscale adults-only venue designed to pamper guests and provide a luxe pool experience. At 16,000 square feet, Liquid is less than a third the size of Wet Republic, delivering a more relaxed and intimate vibe than its larger sibling.

There are eight cabanas, several daybeds, multiple dipping pools, and upscale F&B programming at Liquid Pool. On Friday, March 12, Liquid Pool will welcome the start of Las Vegas pool season in reserved-but-elevated style. Like OMNIA and Wet Republic, Liquid Pool requires reservations.

Image: Hakkasan Group

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Datassential Finds Operators Optimistic

Datassential Finds Operators Optimistic

by David Klemt

Restaurant open sign hanging in window

The latest report from Datassential finds that the vast majority of operators are optimistic or at least confident their businesses will survive the pandemic.

Per Datassential, operator outlook appears to be more positive than it was in December.

That’s largely due to the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Datassential Covid-19 Resources & Reports

Datassential has been releasing informative Covid-19 reports throughout the pandemic to provide helpful industry, consumer and operator data.

Trending Upward” is Datassential’s 46th installment, and the research firm provides their Covid-19 resources at no charge.

For this report, Datassential surveyed 400 “decision makers for restaurants and on-site foodservice locations.”

Operator Outlook

Most of the operators surveyed, 220 or 55 percent, are still concerned about the challenges facing them and the industry. However, they’re “fairly confident” that their businesses will make it through.

That 55 percent represents no change from December of last year, when Datassential last gauged operator outlook.

The next two survey respondent segments tell the tale of optimism.

Of the 400 operators surveyed, 148 or 37 percent are “cautiously optimistic.” In fact, they expect to be even stronger post-pandemic.

Compared to December, that’s a seven-percent increase in operators who feel optimistic. That seven percent shifted from the “very nervous” segment,

Just 32 of survey respondents (eight percent) reported that they don’t think they’ll survive the pandemic. Losing any businesses to the pandemic and its terrible impact on the industry is beyond horrific, and the results of this Datassential report in no way minimize that awful truth. However, the percentage of operators who feel “very nervous” or otherwise pessimistic reducing by nearly half provides at least a semblance of hope for the future of the industry.

Staff Cuts

According to Datassential, more than 80 percent of operators who were forced to cut staff at some point during the pandemic have been able to bring back some of their workers.

Of the 400 respondents surveyed by Datassential, 21 percent of operators reported they hadn’t laid off any of their employees

Another 20 percent had to cut staff but were able to rehire all of them.

Nearly half (48 percent) have only been able to hire some of the staff they laid off back. Twelve percent have been unable to rehire any of the staff they had to let go.

Takeaway

Optimism is great for emotional and mental health. So is targeted relief. Operators and employees will likely feel far more confident and relieved if the industry receives actual targeted relief. This Datassential report’s findings are positive but we need Congress to act.

Click here to tell your representatives to pass the RESTAURANTS Act now.

Image: Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

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Does the Margarita Still Reign Supreme?

Does the Margarita Still Reign Supreme?

by David Klemt

Whatever’s happening here, I’m in…

The Margarita has maintained the title of Most Popular Cocktail in the United States year after year.

But is the classic cocktail still wearing the crown and clutching the scepter?

Most Popular 2020 Cocktails

Midway through last year, Google revealed the top cocktail searches in each state:

  • Alabama: Hurricane
  • Alaska: Whiskey Sour
  • Arizona: Paloma
  • Arkansas: Frozen Daiquiri
  • California: Paloma
  • Colorado: Hurricane
  • Connecticut: Margarita
  • Delaware: Screwdriver
  • Washington, DC: Old Fashioned
  • Florida: Cuba Libre
  • Georgia: Sazerac
  • Hawaii: Lemon Drop Martini
  • Idaho: Kamikaze
  • Illinois: Manhattan
  • Indiana: French 75
  • Iowa: Kamikaze
  • Kansas: Screwdriver
  • Kentucky: Lily
  • Louisiana: Bushwacker
  • Maine: Margarita
  • Maryland: Kamikaze
  • Massachusetts: Old Fashioned
  • Michigan: Cosmo
  • Minnesota: Oliveto
  • Mississippi: Painkiller
  • Missouri: Gin and Tonic
  • Montana: Blue Hawaiian
  • Nebraska: Old Fashioned
  • Nevada: Grasshopper
  • New Hampshire: Old Fashioned
  • New Jersey: Manhattan
  • New Mexico: Old Fashioned
  • New York: Manhattan
  • North Carolina: Bushwacker
  • North Dakota: Kamikaze
  • Ohio: Boulevardier
  • Oklahoma: Black Russian
  • Oregon: Old Fashioned
  • Pennsylvania: Whiskey Sour
  • Rhode Island: Cosmo
  • South Carolina: Tequila Sunrise
  • South Dakota: Screwdriver
  • Tennessee: Buschwacker
  • Texas: Paloma
  • Utah: Cape Cod
  • Vermont: Cosmopolitan
  • Virginia: Old Fashioned
  • Washington: Old Fashioned
  • West Virginia: Kamikaze
  • Wisconsin: Grasshopper
  • Wyoming: White Russian

Margarita Slipping?

As you can see, the Margarita was only the top search in two states, Connecticut and Maine. Perhaps their access to the Atlantic Ocean coastline motivated residents of those states to enjoy the refreshing classic that invokes summer and escapism.

Regardless, the Margarita didn’t even make it into the top three. Third place went to the Cosmo, Manhattan and Screwdriver in a three-way tie, with each the most popular in three states.

Second place went to Kamikaze, the top cocktail search in Idaho, Iowa, Maryland, North Dakota and West Virginia.

Before I get to the first-place cocktail—according to a snapshot of time by Google—I have to address the clear winner of the Most Unique Search title. Minnesota’s top search was for the Oliveto cocktail, shaken and strained into a rocks glass:

  • 2 oz. Dry gin
  • 1 oz. fresh Lemon juice
  • 1/4 oz. Simple syrup
  • 1/4 oz. Licor 43
  • 1/2 oz. full-bodied Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 fresh Egg white
  • Ice cubes

New Number One?

The Old Fashioned, clinching seven states, was the number-one cocktail…for about 30 days in 2020.

Much has also been made about a supposed surge in interest for the Gin & Tonic.

However, scouring the Internet for data and articles, the Margarita is still sitting comfortably on the throne. According to multiple sources, the Margarita is a to-go cocktail mainstay, it’s succeeding in the RTD space (meaning it’s performing well on- and 0ff-premise), and home bartenders are driving up sales of tequila and cordials.

Trends are fun but classics are classics for a reason. So, make sure your Margs, G&Ts, Old Fashioneds, Manhattans and other staples are dialed in this year.

Image: Menú Acapulco on Unsplash

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Uncorked: 2021 Wine Trends to Watch

Uncorked: 2021 Wine Trends to Watch

by David Klemt

Glass of red wine

What’s up with wine in 2021? We reviewed multiple sources to find out.

One great thing about hunting for wine trends is that it’s easy—there’s no shortage of sources willing to make predictions.

Common Wine Trends

The IWSR, without a doubt a reputable source for information about all things beverage, expects wine consumption to “bounce back” this year.

Along with Forbes, Wine Intelligence, just-drinks, and bar inventory platform Backbar, the IWSR expects e-commerce to be crucial for wine sales. Continuing with tech influence, the IWSR and Wine Intelligence expect wine producers and sellers to engage more with consumers online. Forbes pointed to orange wine benefiting from Instagram posts as a specific example of digital engagement.

Forbes, the IWSR, and Wine Intelligence predict alternative packaging to really take off in 2021. Canned wines are well positioned but other options—wine-in-box and “letterbox” bottles, for example—will perform well this year.

Forbes, the IWSR, and WineMemoir expect sustainability to be even more important in 2021. The IWSR mentioned organic and low-intervention wine, and they pointed to biodynamic wine, as did WineMemoir. Zero-waste winemaking was mentioned by Forbes.

The IWSR and Forbes expect sparkling wine—Prosecco specifically—to have a moment this year. Drinking occasions, per the IWSR, have come to include Prosecco more often; sparkling is no longer just for celebrating.

Breakout Wine Trends

Speaking of moments, rosé Champagne will have on in 2021, according to Forbes. The publication also expects the wealthy to continue “drinking richly,” so operators with rare, exclusive and high-dollar bottles should consider promoting them.

With the explosive growth of hard seltzer that has taken place over the past few years, Wine Intelligence predicts 2021 to be the year the wine seltzer market is established.

People will choose “safe” wine options, meaning they’ll be less likely to experiment and move out of their comfort zones, according to just-drinks. The magazine is also more cautious about the category’s growth this year, pointing to slowed economies and rises in alcohol duty rates.

Backbar, explaining that wine dollar value slipped but sales volume rose in 2020, predicts restaurants will offer more affordable wines. Along with that trend, they predict restaurants will hold less inventory to reduce costs, meaning wine lists will shrink.

Specific varietals Backbar predicts will perform well due to a turn toward affordable wines: South American Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Malbec; South African Chenin Blanc; Portuguese reds; red blends; and American wines in general.

2021 will be the Year of Cabernet Franc, according to WineMemoir. Bordeaux will see a resurgence in popularity, and wines from Abruzzo and Jura will see a lift.

Image: Carson Masterson on Unsplash

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Infographic: NRA Raise the Wage Survey

Infographic: NRA Raise the Wage Survey

by David Klemt

The results of a survey conducted by the National Restaurant Association to gauge operator reaction to the Raise the Wage Act are in.

Per the NRA’s infographic detailing the participant responses, there’s not much support for increasing the federal minimum wage and eliminating the tip credit.

What’s in the Raise the Wage Act?

If signed into law, the Raise the Wage Act will represent significant change for employers and employees.

The federal minimum wage will be raised incrementally to $15 by 2025. Two years later, in 2027, the tipped wage will be eliminated.

Survey Results

The NRA surveyed 2,000 restaurant operators between February 2 and 9. Respondents are clearly opposed to the Raise the Wage Act.

National Restaurant Association Raise the Wage infographic

What Does This Mean?

A vast majority of survey respondents—along with the NRA—definitely view the bill as a threat to the industry. An email sent by the NRA’s executive vice president of public affairs, Sean Kennedy, includes this succinct statement:

“These results make one point crystal clear—after seeing over 110,000 restaurants close and over 2.5 million jobs lost, increasing labor costs is going to make it more likely that more operators close their doors and lay off their staff. Tipped servers will lose with the end of a system that allows them to make $19-$25 an hour in tips under the current tip credit system.”

To the best of my knowledge, the NRA has not yet conducted a targeted survey of restaurant workers for their opinions of a $15 federal minimum wage and the elimination of the tax credit.

However, fast-food workers from McDonald’s and other chains have gone on strike in at least 15 cities in the United States to demand a raise to $15 per hour. That speaks volumes for how foodservice workers who aren’t typically tipped feel about the Raise the Wage Act.

What’s Next?

According to the NRA, the bill is slated to be fast-tracked and voted on in just a few weeks.

Agree that the Raise the Wage Act is going to hurt operators, workers and the industry? Click here to let Congress know.

Want Congress to pass the bill? Click here to find your representatives and let them know.

Infographic: National Restaurant Association

Image: lucas Favre on Unsplash

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