Author: David Klemt

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Restaurant or Bar Dream? Make Your Move

Restaurant or Bar Dream? Make Your Move

by David Klemt

Chess pieces on a chessboard

If your dream is to open a restaurant, bar or nightclub, you’re not doing yourself any favors by waiting to make it a reality.

The same goes for starting up any other type of hospitality business.

We’re in uncharted territory and things seem unstable. But waiting to move forward with your concept is setting you back.

Industry Challenges

We can all agree that the destruction wrought upon the hospitality industry in 2020 continues to be felt today.

Tens of thousands of business closures. Millions of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in revenue lost.

Some experts say the veteran operators and workers won’t be back. The financial damage and psychological trauma will drive them out of the industry. Others disagree, myself included, saying those operators won’t stay down for long. This industry works its way into people’s blood.

The pandemic is responsible for the permanent or long-term closure of nearly 20 percent of restaurants in America. Most of the restaurants lost were well-established operations. The industry is down 2.5 million jobs that it will take years to recover.

Since March of last year, Canada has seen the closure of 10,000 restaurants. The country is facing the loss of 800,000 industry jobs.

Waiting to open a restaurant or bar, therefore, seems to make sense. Only no, it doesn’t.

Don’t Wait

Time is rarely on anyone’s side. And I’m not the first to say that perfection is an illusion. Our industry would be a fraction of what it is if people chose to wait for the “perfect time” to open.

That doesn’t mean it’s great to throw caution—and hundreds of thousands of dollars—to the wind.

Rather, those with a vision for a business in this industry owe it to themselves to move forward.

Let me put it this way: If you have an idea but you’re waiting for “the right time,” you’re already behind.

Forward Progress

The key is being strategic, making calculated decisions.

There are operators who successfully opened new concepts in the midst of the pandemic. We’re going to see new entrants in this industry this year as well. Will you be among them?

Maybe you’re not ready to break ground or sign a lease. Perhaps you’re not ready to send in a crew to renovate a space.

However, there are crucial moves you can make so that when you’re ready ready, you can move quickly. Think agility.

Will you be applying for a grant to fund part of your business? Complete the paperwork and submit it now.

Do you need a consultant? Do your research now and schedule those conversations.

You need demographic, feasibility and other studies done. Will you do them? Will you retain the services of an industry researcher?

If you’re not yet ready, take meaningful steps today because your future competitors are making their moves. It takes longer than you think for each crucial step to be completed, and there are dozens.

Your concept won’t become a reality if it only lives in your head. Don’t watch your opportunity to thrive in this industry pass you by.

Image: Kei Scampa from Pexels

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Container Kitchens: The New Footprint

Container Kitchens: The New Footprint

by David Klemt

Make My Ghost Kitchen container exterior

Would it be a surprise to anyone after the past twelve months that shipping containers may be the new commercial kitchens?

According to two 2021 Restaurants Canada Show panelists, custom containers are the future.

A partnership between a builder and designer is providing restaurateurs with an intriguing solution.

Meet the Problem Solvers

Jonathan Auger is the president of Juiceworks Exhibits. The company operates out of Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Juiceworks designs, engineers, and fabricates memorable exhibits and installations. Click here to view projects for clients such as Genesis, Infiniti and Volvo.

Nicholas Goddard is the founder of Portage Design Group, located in Toronto.

Portage specializes in interior design and offers a full suite of services, including research, sophisticated design, and construction management. The company’s restaurant design work can be seen here.

Together with a small but skilled team, Auger and Goddard have formed Make My Ghost Kitchen.

Custom Container Flexibility

In some cases, a smaller restaurant footprint is attractive to operators. This is due in part to guest behavior we’ve seen since 2020. That is, guests haven’t been able to or felt comfortable with dining indoors at restaurants.

Then, of course, there’s the cost factor. A smaller footprint, generally speaking, equals lower initial investment and rent. An operator with a new concept can use a container before investing in a brick-and-mortar location.

Other benefits relate to market testing; expansion; virtual and ghost kitchen operations; and delivery and pickup.

Operators looking to expand or add retail, along with QSRs, are showing interest in Make My Ghost Kitchen’s containers. One explanation for the interest is simple: containers are highly mobile.

An operator sends their kitted out container to a potential market. They open up shop and test the viability of their concept. If the reaction is less than desirable, they move the container to another market.

For example, one client set up a container complete with a delivery window. In just six hours they sold 3,600 burgers.

Custom Container Costs

Make My Ghost Kitchen’s custom containers come with the necessary equipment. They also feature a delivery window and fabricated with a small pickup vestibule.

Obviously, prices go up with the quality of equipment. Other customizations, it stands to reason, can also push container costs up.

On average, however, Auger says an eight-foot by 20-foot container can be had for as low as $20 per square foot. Prices can climb north of $50 to $75 per square foot, however.

Whether functioning as a ghost kitchen or marketing showpiece, operators can choose from ventilation solutions. The containers can vent to interior (which heats them up quickly) or exterior. Another cost to consider is water. If a municipality doesn’t grant access to their water it will need to be trucked in.

Finally, a custom-kitted kitchen can be an asset. If an operator decides it’s time to move on, they have the potential to sell their container.

Image: Make My Ghost Kitchen

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AAPI-Owned Restaurants in Canada

AAPI-Owned Restaurants in Canada

by David Klemt

Stop Asian hate signs

KRG Hospitality stands in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community in Canada.

The hate and violence directed toward AAPI communities is unacceptable and reprehensible—it has no place in this country.

Below, we’ve listed AAPI-owned restaurants people can support in the three main Canadian markets in which we operate. Of course, we encourage people to find additional AAPI-owned businesses they can support.

We must come together and support one another. The hospitality industry is about diversity and inclusion.

We’re a family that looks out for each other and the communities we serve. The divisiveness and hate must stop.

Calgary

Silver Dragon (Cantonese and Szechuan cuisine). Located in Chinatown.

Foreign Concept (Modern Pan-Asian cuisine). Located in Beltline.

U & Me (Chinese cuisine). Located in Chinatown.

Pho Dau Bo (Vietnamese cuisine). Located in Forest Lawn.

Pad Thai Restaurant (Thai cuisine). Located in North Mount Pleasant.

Lola’s Filipino Kitchen (Filipino cuisine). Located in Meridian.

Ke Charcoal Kitchen (Yakitori and sushi). Located in Beltline.

Toronto

R&D (Modern Asian cuisine). Located in Chinatown.

Nami (Japanese cuisine). Located in Moss Park.

Tinuno (Filipino cuisine). Located in St. Jamestown.

Phở Hưng (Vietnamese cuisine). Located in Chinatown.

Dumpling House (Chinese cuisine). Located in Chinatown.

Hong Kong Bistro Cafe (Hong Kong-style comfort and fast food). Located in Chinatown.

House of Gourmet (Chinese cuisine). Located in Chinatown.

Vancouver

Chinatown BBQ (Modern Cantonese-style cuisine). Located in Chinatown.

Bao Bei (Chinese cuisine). Located in Chinatown.

Kulinarya Filipino Eatery (Filipino cuisine). Located in Grandview-Woodland.

Viet House (Vietnamese cuisine). Located in the Lower Mainland.

Yuwa (Japanese cuisine). Located on the West Side.

Maenam (Thai cuisine). Located in Kitsilano.

Torafuku (Pan-Asian cuisine). Located in Strathcona.

Image: Jason Leung on Unsplash 

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AAPI-Owned Restaurants to Support

AAPI-Owned Restaurants to Support

by David Klemt

Stop Asian Hate protest sign in San Francisco, CA

We at KRG Hospitality stand in solidarity with the Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) community across the United States.

The hate and violence directed toward AAPI communities has no place in this country—enough is enough.

We want to bring attention to Stop AAPI Hate, a nonprofit organization with multiple resources, including incident reporting.

Below, we’ve listed AAPI-owned restaurants people can support in the four main American markets in which we operate. Of course, we encourage people to do their own research and find additional AAPI-owned businesses they can support.

The hospitality industry is multi-cultural and all about diversity and inclusion. We’re a family that looks out for each other and the communities we serve.

We need to come together and support one another. The divisiveness and hate needs to stop.

Las Vegas

Oming’s Kitchen (Filipino cuisine). Located southwest of Silverton Casino Hotel.

Lotus of Siam (Northern Thai cuisine). Located in University District or Southridge.

Soho Japanese Restaurant (Japanese cuisine). Located in Concorde Plaza.

Soho SushiBurrito (Sushi burritos, rice bowls, salads and nachos). Located in Rancho Sereno, northwest of Silverton Casino Hotel, and at the UNLV campus.

Momfuku (Contemporary Japanese, Korean and Asian-American cuisine). Located inside the Cosmopolitan.

Nashville

Steamboys (Chinese comfort food). Located in Germantown, Hermitage and Nolensville.

Soy Bistro (Korean-inspired cuisine). Located in Brentwood, TN.

Miss Saigon (Vietnamese cuisine). Located in Charlotte Park.

The Smiling Elephant (Thai cuisine). Located in Historic Waverly.

Tànsuo (Chinese cuisine). Located in North Gulch.

Orlando

Sticky Rice Lao Street Food (Laotian cuisine). Located in Colonialtown South.

Kadence (Sushi and sake bar). Located in Audubon Park.

BBB Tofu House (Korean cuisine). Located in Westside Crossings.

Taglish (Filipino cuisine). Located in Lotte Market.

Kai Asian Street Fare (Asian cuisine). Located in Winter Park, FL.

Philadelphia

Chubby Cattle (Chinese cuisine). Located in Chinatown.

Mi ‘n Tea (Vietnamese bánh mì and Taiwanese bubble tea). Located in Manayunk.

Perla (Filipino cuisine). Located in East Passyunk.

Philly Poké (Hawaiian poke bowls, sushi, Japanese and Chinese cuisines). Located in Chinatown Square.

Seorabol Center City (Korean cuisine, Korean barbecue and sushi). Located in

Image: Jason Leung on Unsplash 

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Just Add Champagne: Spring Cocktails

Just Add Champagne: Spring Cocktails

by David Klemt

We love it when our friends do cool stuff.

Two of our friends teamed up recently for what is certainly something very cool.

Both of these awesome women have been on our Bar Hacks podcast and we’re eager to share their collaboration with you.

Even better, this collaboration can help you elevate your beverage program.

Susie O.

You can hear from our friend Susie on episode 19 of the Bar Hacks podcast.

Susie is a dynamic and engaging social media influencer, photographer, and marketer. She also happens to be one of the most prolific travelers we know.

In fact, she’s traveling right now and enjoying the cocktail life. Follow her on Instagram at SusieDrinks to connect, get photography and social media tips, and follow along with her on adventures.

And while you’re on Instagram, make to follow us as well: KRG Hospitality and Bar Hacks.

Elise Cordell

Looking to learn about all things Champagne and luxury? Give episode 23 of Bar Hacks a listen to hear from Elise Cordell.

Elise is the National Manager of Trade Engagement and Events for Champagne at Pernod-Ricard. That means that outside of the Perrier-Jouët and G.H. Mumm houses, nobody knows more about Champagne than Elise.

Click this link to subscribe to the Just Add Champagne YouTube channel and scroll through the videos. You’ll find guests like sommeliers, winemakers, cocktailians, influencers, and more. Make sure to follow Elise on Instagram to stay up to date on upcoming Just Add Champagne events.

Just Add Champagne

Elise invites special guests to join her on the Just Add Champagne webcast. Together, she and her guest dive into an element of Champagne and hospitality.

In the above video, Elise and Susie team up to discuss Champagne cocktails perfect for springtime.

Like we said, we love it when our friends do cool things. All the better if there cool stuff can help you do great things too.

Cheers!

Image: Pexels from Pixabay

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Is Gen Z the Workforce Solution?

Is Gen Z the Workforce Solution?

by David Klemt

Momofuku Las Vegas interior

Is Gen Z the solution to the industry’s workforce problem?

That’s one big question posed during the 2021 Restaurants Canada Show.

A panel consisting of Philip Mondor, president and CEO of Tourism HR Canada; Adam Morrison, president and CEO of Ontario Tourism Education Corporation; Jody Palubiski, CEO of the Charcoal Group; and Lori Wilson, manager of people and change at BDO Consulting have answers.

The Problem

Canada’s hospitality industry is facing a labour shortage. In fact, that has been the case since before the pandemic.

According to several sources, the hospitality industry is Canada’s fourth-largest private-sector employer. And yet, there’s a labour crisis.

This is partially due to Baby Boomers retiring. As they leave the workforce, there’s a disparity in the number of people in Canada working or seeking work.

According to a January 2020 report from The Globe and Mail, there were at least 60,000 empty positions in foodservice before Covid-19 lockdowns.

Mondor concurs with that article’s sentiment. He expects “a very large shortfall” over the next year that could force the industry into a four-year recovery.

The Solution?

Neither Wilson, Mondor, Morrison or Palubiski see Gen Z as the solution to Canada’s labour shortage problem.

Now, that isn’t to suggest that operators and managers should dismiss Gen Z. Rather, Mondor suggests including this generation as they enter the workforce without viewing them as the only solution.

“Relying on youth alone is not going to meet the demand,” says Mondor.

Instead, Mondor posits that new Canadians—immigrants—will play a significant role in the hospitality industry moving forward. In fact, Mondor expects immigrants to make up 50 percent of Canada’s workforce.

Recruitment and Training

Palubiski says that what separates Gen Z from other generations is how connected and informed they are. Screen time provides Gen Zers plenty of information about social, regional and global issues.

To recruit Gen Z, Palubiski suggests brands and businesses be transparent about their stances on issues such as sustainability and the climate.

However, that approach to recruiting isn’t just effective when it comes to Gen Z—employees and guests alike want to know where a brand stands.

Morrison says that it’s important to be cognizant of the employment market. Knowing what people are being paid, even if an operator can’t match or beat that rate, is helpful. It’s also part of an effective strategy, says Morrison, to understand the ambitions of candidates to see if available roles will match their motivations.

Retention

Once an operator has built a team, the next step—training—is key to staff retention. And not just training for the specifics of one particular role in a restaurant or bar.

Rather, the panel agrees that this industry does a poor job of documenting transferrable skills. For example, operators can help develop employees’ leadership and conflict resolution skills (among many others) that they can take into other careers. Operators must explain that benefit to employees and help nurture it.

Additionally, the panel suggests looking at training and retention in the following ways to adapt and make businesses in this industry stronger:

  • Invest in people, don’t just hire them. That means training and developing their skills and careers.
  • View hiring and training as investments, not costs.
  • Everyone makes mistakes. True leaders admit their mistakes, fix them, and move forward.
  • Ask this question: Do your employees feel a greater affinity for this industry and your business after they’ve started working with you?

In parting, operators and managers should consider this: Palubiski had to furlough 950 employees due to the pandemic. A staggering 95 percent returned when they were called back. That is effective hiring, training, development and retention to emulate.

Image: Jason Leung on Unsplash

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Rediscovering Your Guests in 2021

Rediscovering Your Guests in 2021

by David Klemt

Guests in a restaurant and bar

Labatt Breweries of Canada wants operators to get to know their guests all over again in 2021.

Luckily, this isn’t a massive undertaking. However, it requires commitment and an understanding of altered consumer behavior.

During the 2021 Restaurants Canada Show, Labatt presented “Rediscover Your Guest: The 2021 Consumer.”

Christina Veira, bar and beverage curator for the RC Show, hosted the digital session. Labatt panelists included Michelle Tham, head of education and certified Cicerone, and Megan Harris, director of insights and strategy. Casey Ferrell, vice president of US and Canada Monitors for Kantar Consulting rounded out the panel.

Who’s Your 2021 Guest?

The good news is that Canadians are still consuming beverage alcohol. The less-good news is that they’ve gotten used to drinking mainly at home.

In fact, per Megan Harris, 95 percent of beverage alcohol occasions now happen at home. Harris also says there’s excitement about a return to in-person restaurant and bar service. However, several pandemic-driven behaviors will persist, including:

  • Takeout
  • Delivery
  • Daytime drinking
  • Working from home

Guests are set to unleash a torrent of pent-up demand when they can safely return to restaurants and bars. They want to indulge themselves, have fun and new experiences, but also feel safe.

Generally speaking, younger guests are more tolerant of risk. Conversely, guests over 50 years old are more cautious.

Vaccine Influence

Per Ferrell, there are four distinct vaccine groups in Canada and the United States:

  • People have gotten a Covid-19 vaccine.
  • People who can’t wait to get a Covid-19 vaccine.
  • People who are unsure about Covid-19 vaccines.
  • People who refuse to get a Covid-19 vaccine.

Ferrell says to remove the final group on that list. Doing so shows that about two-thirds of Canadians (and Americans) are in the process of getting the vaccine. Therefore, operators need consider how to address vaccination safety along with vaccination requirements for guests and employees. For Ferrell, the best lever to pull is the one that addresses Covid-19 and vaccine risks.

Additionally, just because the calendar ticked over to 2021 doesn’t mean everything is different. Accordingly, Ferrell feels that Q1 is the “More of 2021” stage of this year. He expects people to open up their bubbles during possibly Q2 or Q3, the “Less Covid-19” stage. Parties that include multiple households will return in force in Q4.

How to Meet 2021 Guest Expectations

First, we must be cautious when people return to restaurants, bars and other venues en masse. That initial boost in traffic driven by pent-up demand will ebb quicker than one would expect.

To get people through the doors, operators will need to focus on:

  1. health and safety;
  2. staff expectations and training;
  3. social interactions and the joy deficit; and
  4. guest experience and journey.

Harris sums up the first point succinctly: Anything that can be touchless, should be touchless. Operators should expect contactless features to remain moving forward. The expectation for hygiene will also remain. Guests will want to see employees cleaning and sanitizing, for instance.

Speaking of employees, operators must address the role they’ll plan in crowd management. Unfortunately, management and employees will have to be ready to enforce health and safety protocols strongly.

As Ferrell notes, long-term lockdown means large swaths of the population need to re-learn how to interact with others. One way to drive guests through restaurant or bar doors is promoting the role they play in socializing. Hospitality businesses facilitate social interaction—it’s one of the industry’s greatest strengths. Equally, restaurants and bars fill people’s joy deficits.

Operators, says Harris, need to consider:

  • every way they can offer an experience guests can’t have at home;
  • how they can capitalize on the daytime drinking experience;
  • how to extend the guest experience—pre-visit and post-visit;
  • how to attract older guests to their venues;
  • leveraging patio spaces; and
  • focusing on messaging that promotes escapism and excitement.

Another interesting consideration concerns table distances. Every operator needs to weigh square feet per guest and distancing tables. Social distance will likely remain important to guests for at least a little while post-pandemic.

Bonus

Ferrell answered a question I asked about Las Vegas specifically. Dayclubs, which largely focus on elevating pool parties, are an integral part of Vegas hospitality.

So, how can they signal their commitment to health and safety as relates to infections?

Ferrell’s answer is that evidence appears to indicate that pools are Covid-19 infection spreaders. Therefore, dayclub operators should focus more on the crowd control aspect of health and safety. Additionally, messaging should focus on indulgence.

After all, says Ferrell, not much is more indulgent than saying, “I’m going to take the day for myself and go to a daylife venue.”

Image: Nick Hillier on Unsplash

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SevenRooms Reveals Third Party Impact

SevenRooms Reveals Third Party Delivery Impact

by David Klemt

Person using Uber Eats on their iPhone

New findings from SevenRooms, the powerful reservation and guest relationship platform, show the impact third-party delivery has on restaurants.

In partnership with YouGov, a respected internet-based market research and data analytics firm, SevenRooms finds that direct delivery saves operators thousands of dollars per month.

The overall finding of the “Data & Dollars: Revealing the Impact of Third-Party Marketplaces” report is startling. Operators are relying on a technology that in reality is harming them and their bottom line.

Cost of Convenience

Foodservice operators and workers, along with being hospitable in their mission to serve others, are adaptable.

The industry proves this time and time again. This is particularly true of the past 12 months.

Nimble operators pivot quickly, so it makes sense that so many restaurants, bars and other foodservice businesses embrace delivery, takeout and curbside pickup. Doing so is a direct and seemingly logical response to a major shift in consumer behavior to lockdowns, restrictions, and health concerns.

Most operators are well aware that state third-party delivery platforms take a 30-percent commission on average. However, the cost goes beyond devastatingly high fees: operators also lose control of the guest journey.

Real-world Example

SevenRooms illustrates the negative financial impact third-party delivery platforms with three examples: a high-end Italian restaurant in New York; a high-end steakhouse in Los Angeles; and a high-volume casual restaurant in California.

Let’s take a look at the last example.

Over a six-month period, the restaurant fulfills 19,000 combined orders. Delivery makes up 75 percent of these orders, takeout/pickup account for 25 percent. The average order is $33, and over the six-month period the total order volume is $617,500. Had the restaurant implemented direct delivery rather than third-party, they would have saved about $154,000.

Break those savings down and the restaurant would save approximately $25,600 per month that could go to:

  • PPE: 853 boxes of face masks or 196 boxes of gloves.
  • Takeout: 101,000 food containers.
  • Guest experience: 522 tanks of propane to keep guests warm on patios.

Using an average rent amount of $6,000-15,000 per month in Los Angeles, that’s also two to four months’ rent.

Guests Support Direct Delivery

The impact of third-party delivery on restaurants isn’t lost on consumers. Many view ordering food as more than just convenient, they see it as a way to support their favorite businesses.

Luckily, consumers are supportive of ordering delivery, takeout and pickup directly from restaurants.

Per SevenRooms:

  • Firstly, 37 percent of Americans are eager to do anything they can to help restaurants.
  • Nearly half, 48 percent, think it’s more economical to order directly from a restaurant.
  • 28 percent who say they prefer ordering directly to third-party delivery feel that way after seeing their favorite restaurants suffer.
  • 23 percent are informed and think third-party delivery platforms charge restaurants too much in fees.
  • 16 percent feel that the harm done to restaurants by third-party delivery outweighs any benefits.

Leverage Direct Delivery Support

SevenRooms identifies several ways in their report that operators can succeed in getting consumers to order directly.

One way is the platforms’ own Direct Delivery solution. We speak to SevenRooms CEO Joel Montaniel about this solution on our Bar Hacks podcast.

Then, of course, there are an array of incentives consumers are willing to accept in exchange for direct delivery and ordering:

  • 41 percent of Americans would order directly over ordering via third-party if a restaurant has its own app with features such as tracking and communication.
  • 37 percent consider a complimentary item such as an appetizer, drink or dessert in addition to their order an appealing incentive.
  • 32 percent like the idea of a personalized promotion applied to a future order or in-person visit.
  • 28 percent indicate interest in a personalized promotion for their meal such as a discount code or comp item.
  • 17 percent are fans of restaurants using ordering history to customize their menu and experience.

Read the entire report here. To learn more about SevenRooms, please click here. Connect with SevenRooms on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.

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Ontario F&B Workers Petition for Phase 2

Ontario F&B Workers Petition for Phase 2

by David Klemt

Covid-19 vaccine ampoules

A petition on Change.org seeks to include F&B workers in Phase 2 of the Covid-19 vaccine rollout in Ontario, Canada.

The petition, which can be found here, is directed toward Ontario, Canada, Premier Doug Ford.

Currently, Ontario is in the midst of Phase 1 of Covid-19 vaccination.

Phase 1

Per the official Ontario Government website, Phase 1 aims to vaccinate around 1.8 million people.

The phase breakdown is as follows:

  • One: High-risk populations (December through March)
  • Two: Mass deliveries of vaccinations (April through July)
  • Three: Steady state (July onward)

Those eligible for Phase 1 inoculations are:

  • Health care workers
  • Adults in First Nations, Métis and Inuit populations
  • Adult chronic home care recipients
  • Congregate living for seniors
  • Adults over 80 years old

According to the Covid-19 Tracker Canada website, 1,116,496 vaccine doses have been administered throughout Ontario. In total, slightly more than six percent of the Canadian population has received at least one dose.

Phase 2

The second phase seeks to vaccinate approximately nine million people.

Eligible people are:

  • at-risk populations;
  • individuals with high-risk chronic conditions, and their caregivers;
  • high-risk congregate settings (such as shelters, community living, etc.);
  • adults aged 60 to 79, in 5-year increments; and
  • essential frontline workers who cannot work from home.

The requirement in bold should get the attention of all restaurant, bar and foodservice workers. Ontario identifies several “essential frontline workers” eligible for Phase 2. Among them are elementary and secondary school staff, police, firefighters, special constables, and social counselors.

However, high- and low-risk retail workers are on the list while restaurant and foodservice workers are not.

The Petition

Cassie MacKell is the person behind the petition to “Include Restaurant & Food Service Workers on Ontario’s Phase 2 Vaccination List.”

MacKell’s opening statement says, “I write this letter as a cry for help from the entire Food & Beverage industry of Ontario in regard to Ontario’s phase vaccine distribution plan.”

The petition’s creator goes on to say:

“As one of the hardest hit industries from Covid-19 why am I not seeing restaurants workers on this list? From the outset of the Covid-19 pandemic restaurants across Ontario have been heavily regulated and shut down by Premier Ford. Even after adhering to stringent restrictions and safety guidelines set forth by our government the framework continues to keep us closed, or only allows for limited seating capacity making it impossible for many businesses to survive.”

In closing, MacKell lays bare the situation for Ontario (and indeed all of Canada) foodservice professionals. Workers in this industry are exposed to people not wearing masks while they eat or drink; are unable to remain six feet from guests; and certainly can’t work from home.

Put bluntly, all those who work in foodservice are high-risk frontline professionals. If you agree and live in Ontario, Canada, please sign this petition.

Image: Alena Shekhovtcova from Pexels

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Are You Ready for St. Patrick’s Day?

Are You Ready for St. Patrick’s Day?

by David Klemt

Green neon "DRINKS" sign on brick wall

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner. Operators need to make sure they’re ready for in-person, delivery and takeout guests eager to celebrate.

An interesting element for this year’s holiday is that many people will be celebrating at home. That makes themed delivery, takeout and pickup packages important.

Over the past 12 months, consumers have grown to correlate drinking occasions with drinking at home. That shift in behavior can make it more challenging to succeed with holidays.

Of course, challenges also present opportunities. Working from and drinking at home has made weekday day-drinking more common. Operators can leverage new behaviors to offer in-person, delivery and takeout packages starting earlier for St. Patrick’s Day.

Such packages can include Irish Coffees for the morning or early lunch, Irish beers for lunch or dinner, Irish whiskey and beer packages for dinner and late-night…you get the idea. Classic and modern riffs on St. Patrick’s Day food mainstays are also a crucial element. The key is to get creative with inventory and offers, attracting a combination of in-person and off-premise consumers.

To give you a helping hand, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite Irish, Canadian and America whiskeys. We’re including the standards but also focusing on innovative and single malt expressions that boost guest spends and overall revenue.

Irish Whiskeys

One thing all operators know when it comes to St. Patrick’s Day: Irish whiskey and high-visibility brands must be represented.

After all, according to the Spirits Business, Irish whiskey generated well over $1 billion for distillers last year in the United States alone.

Jameson, Bushmills, Tullamore DEW, Kilbeggan and Redbreast shine on St. Patrick’s Day. Proper No. 12 is just a few years old but is on its way to becoming a St. Patrick’s standard.

In markets that can bear it, premiumization can help generate more revenue during this year’s holiday.

There’s nothing wrong with OG Jameson but consider premiumization with Jameson Black Barrel or 18 Years, which is finished in first-fill barrels.

When it comes to Bushmills, the original expression is great. Rare Cask 01, however, is the distillery’s Cognac cask premium dram.

For the adventurous guest, Cider Cask Finish, XO Caribbean Rum Cask Finish, and Old Bonded Warehouse Release from Tullamore DEW will get their attention.

Operators who feature Kilbeggan would do well to consider premiumization in the forms of Single Pot Still and Small Batch Rye.

Redbreast 12 Cask Strength and Redbreast Lustau are undeniable elevations of traditional Irish whiskey.

Canadian Single Malts

When people hear or think about St. Patrick’s Day, they tend to immediately leap to Irish whiskey. However, this holiday can be a time to highlight whiskeys from other countries.

Central City crafts Lohin McKinnon Single Malt with “pure British Columbia” water, per their website. The distiller recommends adding a splash cold, filtered water, a tip you can share with your guests.

Another Central City single malt takes Canadian in an interesting direction. Lohin McKinnon Tequila Barrel Finished instills single malt with unique flavors.

Eau De Claire boasts the distinction of being Alberta’s first craft distillery and first single malt whisky producers. The distillery uses only Alberta barley and rye to craft their liquid.

American Single Malts

There are a number of superlative American single malt whiskeys to consider promoting on St. Patrick’s Day.

Westland produces American single malt in Seattle, Washington. The distillery’s Outpost Range—Garryana, Colere, and Solum—celebrates American tradition, innovation and Pacific Northwest provenance.

Westward aims to craft and bottle the spirit of the American Northwest. Westward Pinot Noir Cask and Stout Cask elevate the distillery’s American single malts.

Those searching for a Rocky Mountain single malt need look no further than Stranahan’s. Each of their expressions is thoughtfully crafted, so it can be hard to choose just one. However, Blue Peak is interesting because it undergoes high-altitude distillation and is also finished using the Solera Method.

Also hailing from Colorado is Deerhammer. The distillery’s American Single Malt mash bill can experience temperature swings of well over 40 degrees in a single day.

Image: Stéphan Valentin on Unsplash

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