Author: David Klemt

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The Uber Effect: Recruit and Retain

The Uber Effect: Recruit and Retain

by David Klemt

Person using Uber app on phone

To better understand how to recruit and retain top talent these days we can simply look at what’s known as the Uber Effect.

We just got back from the Restaurant Leadership Conference in Scottsdale, Arizona. The education was top-notch, featuring a wide range of restaurant industry experts.

One outstanding session illustrates the need for operators—chain and independent—to change their approach to recruiting and retaining staff.

Flexibility in the Workplace

According to Jennifer Grimes, senior vice president of client services for Service Management Group, people in the labor pool are after three things when seeking employment.

Generally speaking, they want better pay, better benefits, and better scheduling. Gone are the days of people focusing only on their paychecks.

And per Jim Thompson, chief operating officer of Chicken Salad Chick, the Uber Effect is largely responsible for this shift in focus. The Uber Effect refers to people realizing they can be much more in control of their careers.

In simplest terms, Uber drivers are in control of their workdays. They can work as often as they want, whatever hours they want, and wear what they want while working.

Of course, it’s not complete anarchy. There are rules, there are expectations, there are standards. However, there’s also flexibility.

Along with more flexibility in scheduling, people want the following:

  • workload balance;
  • ability to trade shifts;
  • better communication; and
  • paid vacations.

Today’s modern scheduling platforms make it simple for operators and their leadership teams to meet these expectations. With these apps, operators and leadership can:

  • assign specific roles to individual team members;
  • communicate clearly with staff;
  • allow staff to trade, drop, and pick up shifts; and
  • fill available shifts.

One Size Doesn’t Fit All

Thompson has an interesting anecdote about availability.

A Chicken Salad Chick manager conducting interviews didn’t proceed with a candidate. Asked by Thompson why they wouldn’t be moving forward, the manager pointed to the candidate’s availability.

During the interview, the candidate provided only a single day and the manager felt that wasn’t enough. However, Thompson disagreed with the manager’s assessment.

What if, Thompson posited Thompson, their availability filled a currently open shift? At least there would be one less shift for leadership to worry about.

But it went deeper than just that point. Good operators and leaders know that job interviews aren’t one-way streets. Candidates are also interviewing their potential employer.

What if this candidate provided limited availability because they’re unsure about a particular employer? They may not know the brand all that well, they likely don’t know the leadership team, and they don’t yet understand the workplace’s culture.

As Thompson says, “One size fits all is over.” Operators and their leadership teams need to be flexible.

It’s highly possible that just a few shifts in, if the narrow-availability team member is a good fit and finds the job engaging, they’ll broaden they’re availability.

Developing the Culture

Of course, the above scenario comes down to culture. And Thompson has an interesting thought on that operational element.

If an operator isn’t constantly developing their culture, it will grow stagnant. Maintaining the current culture isn’t good enough.

Failing to do so will ultimately lead to a decline in guest satisfaction. When that happens, a decline in traffic comes along with it.

It’s really rather simple: How an operator and the leadership team treats employees trickles down to guests. Unhappy and unsatisfied staff provide poor service. How long are guests going to tolerate negative guest experiences?

And no, simply offering competitive compensation doesn’t automatically equate to treating staff well.

“Competitive pay, to me, is the cost of entry,” says Thompson.

To this point, the COO, also the self-appointed chief smile officer, addresses how the restaurant chain respects personal time.

Chicken Salad Chick, founded in 2008, is closed on Sundays. This isn’t due to any religious influence. Rather, the founders, per Thompson, were influenced by what they perceived as a high divorce rate in the restaurant space.

So, the brand wants employees to have family time. That’s also why there stores are also closed by 8:00 PM. In some cases, they close at 5:00 or 7:00 PM. Again, personal and family time.

Could they generate more revenue if they opened earlier and closed later? Probably. However, their culture is crucial to their success.

Takeaway

If operators want to begin the process of truly developing a positive workplace culture, there are several questions Thompson suggests operators and their leaders should ask.

Is the brand purpose driven? Does focus on fun, family, and culture?

How can the business offer incremental value to staff? Are the pay and benefits competitive? Is the workplace safe and are their opportunities for staff to advance?

What’s the community like within the four walls? How’s the energy within those walls?

Are the processes and practices in place helping or hindering recruitment and retention? How can the processes be simplified so employees learn what they need to know quickly?

How flexible is the business, honestly? What’s being done to truly help leadership create better relationships with the team?

Finally, I’ll end on something interesting from Grimes. Analyzing employee engagement, SMG has found that isn’t just about compensation.

In fact, when it comes to what makes most people perceive their job as fulfilling, the top influencer is working with people they like. Second is salary and benefits. Third, rewarding work.

Operators need to adapt to employee expectations, just as they need to focus on those of guests. Sitting down with their leadership teams to discuss Thompson’s questions is a great first step toward developing a culture that works and rewards.

Image: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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Leadership Facepalm, Part Two

Leadership Facepalm, Part Two

by David Klemt

Airplane email icon set against white brick wall

In a stunning example of tone-deafness and callousness, a franchisee executive sent an email that led to severe consequences.

And no, I’m not talking about the termination of the offending exec. That, in my opinion, was well deserved.

In this instance, the email has led to mass resignations and damage to a global restaurant chain’s reputation. What’s more, the negative impact to the brand’s reputation comes from consumers and employees.

Of course, I’m talking about the now-infamous Applebee’s “gas prices” email.

The Email: Labor

Let’s just jump right into the email, because…wow.

“Most of our employee base and potential employee base lives paycheck to paycheck,” writes the executive. “Any increase gas prices cuts into their disposable income.”

This could have been an excellent example of awareness and perhaps even empathy. In the context of this email, it’s appalling.

Why? Mainly because this executive appears to be celebrating the fact that Applebee’s employees, at least those who work for this franchisee, are barely earning a living wage.

“As inflation continues to climb and gas prices continue to go up, that means more hours employees will need to work to maintain their current level of living,” continues the author.

In this exec’s view, this franchisee is “no longer competing with the government when it comes to hiring.” He cites stimulus payments and boosted unemployment support have run out. Therefore, he reasons that people will be forced to return to the workforce.

The author further points to competitors increasing wages to recruit and retain employees. This, he figures, is untenable and some will have to close their doors. So, the labor pool will fill up and this franchisee will benefit.

The Email: Wages

Some of what I’ve laid out above is accurate. According to some estimates, about two-thirds of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.

Additionally, it’s accurate to state that some employees will seek more hours to combat the effects of rising costs. Further, yes, the labor market is turbulent and challenging.

And, unfortunately, some independent operators are facing incredibly difficult decisions. To recruit and retain, they’ll need to be competitive and raise their wages. To pay for that, they’ll need to raise prices, passing on rising costs to customers. In some instances, for some operators, that will prove unsustainable.

However, an executive in this industry shouldn’t be delighted about any of this. And they certainly shouldn’t see it as an opportunity to potentially pay employees even less.

You see, the author of this email suggests that the franchisee can bring in new workers “at a lower wage to decrease our labor (when able).”

He then recommends monitoring employee morale to ensure that the Applebee’s operated by this franchisee is their “employer of choice.”

For me, however, the most eyeroll-inducing line is this: “Most importantly, have the culture and environment that will attract people.”

Images of printouts of the email reveal that at least a handful of recipients agreed. “Great message Sir! [sic]” reads one response. Another paints the email as “Words of wisdom.”

Clearly, the culture and environment are unhealthy.

The Consequences

Before I proceed, know this: I’m not going to name the author. It’s not remotely difficult to find the author’s name if you feel the need.

However, I will name the franchisee that finally fired him. American Franchise Capital reportedly owns more than 120 Applebee’s and Taco Bell locations in nine states.

So, to be clear, this executive didn’t work for Applebee’s directly. In fact, Applebee’s has disavowed the former executive and the email.

In the interest of clarity, it’s possible the author worked for Apple Central LLC, owned by American Franchise Capital.

As far as fallout, it was swift. According to reports, consequences were realized immediately. A Kansas franchise manager was shown the emails, printed them out for staff to discover, and comped the meals of everyone at the location. Then, he quit and the staff walked out.

Per reporting, four other Applebee’s managers quit, as did several employees. The location remained closed for at least the following day.

If reports are accurate, Applebee’s lost five managers, nearly a dozen employees, and sales from a location for at least two days. That’s just the localized fallout.

Applebee’s, of course, is distancing the company from the former executive. However, that’s not going to stanch the reputational bleeding and turnover.

As we know, a significant percentage of consumers want to know their dollars and support are going to companies that align with their values. The same is true of employees; they want to work for companies with values they can get behind.

A Final Thought

This now-infamous email was sent March 9. Just two weeks later, it was circulated and went viral. The author, gleeful about being able to hire employees “at a lower wage,” was fired before the end of March.

I’ve seen several takes on this situation, and I’ve read some accompanying leadership advice. One in particular caught my attention.

Unfortunately, it’s not because I thought it was great advice: Be cautious about what you send via blast emails.

I’m not saying one shouldn’t be careful about what they send out in emails—that’s good advice. However, that’s not the lesson I’ve learned from this situation.

Personally, I see this as a lesson in emotional intelligence, relationship intelligence, brand culture, and work environment.

At least two companies, one with annual sales in the billions of dollars, another in the hundreds of millions, have had their reputations tarnished. The fault may not lie with Applebee’s but they’ll be dealing with the consequences regardless.

If an operator is going to learn anything about being cautious, it’s this: Be cautious when hiring those in leadership positions. Be cautious about those with whom you enter into partnerships. And be careful about how you view those who work for you.

If you aren’t seeing those who choose to work for you as people worthy of your respect, as human beings, your brand’s culture is poisoned.

Image: Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

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Leadership Facepalm: Don’t Do This

Leadership Facepalm: Don’t Do This

by David Klemt

Close-up shot of person texting on phone in a restaurant

Here’s a hot take on the employer-employee dynamic: Don’t text staff at 3:00 in the morning demanding they come in on their day off.

In fact, let’s compress this piece of advice. Don’t text staff at 3:00 in the morning.

Really, I shouldn’t have to explain the myriad reasons that doing so isn’t acceptable. However, a post on Reddit shows that this topic needs addressing.

Are You Serious?

Yes, I’m using a Reddit post as an example of what not to do. And yes, I’m going to assume the post is legitimate for the purposes of education.

Owners, operators, and members of leadership teams need to lead. Micromanaging, assuming staff is at their beck and call, and domineering behavior only lead to high turnover.

A high staff churn rate is costly, and not just financially. Yes, it costs thousands of dollars to replace a single member of staff. However, immediate financial costs shouldn’t be the only concern.

Churning through staff also damages a restaurant, bar, hotel, or owner’s reputation. Should they become known as a bad employer—word gets around quickly in this industry—and eventually an operator won’t be able to hire rock star talent.

Over time, they’ll only draw in workers that chase away their guests. After that, the operator will be closing the doors.

“You Need to Be a Team Player”

Interestingly, the Reddit post that’s inspiring this article isn’t brand new. The post in question is about six months old.

But these days, with the shift in the employee-employer dynamic that’s taking place, stories of “epic” or “savage” quitting garner attention.

Again, there are myriad reasons people are drawn to these stories. Rather than read through those, let’s take a look at this quitting story.

A bartender took to Reddit (again, I’m assuming this is a fact) to share texts from his (former) manager. The timestamp on the first text? 2:59 in the morning.

“I need you to come in from 11a-10p today,” starts the text. The reason? Only one bartender is on the schedule for an event that day.

In response, the bartender says, “No thank you,” stating it’s their day off. And then the manager makes a demand using a term that gets thrown around far too much when some people in a position of authority don’t get the response they want (in my opinion).

The bartender is told they need to be a “team player,” and that “it isn’t all about you.” On a positive note, the manager does then say “please” and asks the bartender to come in.

Putting their cards on the table, the bartender says they’ve had a few drinks and don’t want to work an eleven-hour shift with a hangover. Personally, I don’t think the manager was due that explanation but okay.

This doesn’t sit well with the manager, who now attempts to police the bartender’s personal time. According to the texts, the bartender needs “to stay ready for work.” This is apparently because “getting too drunk is not a good look if you can’t stay prepared.”

“Fed Up with You”

After a few more texts back and forth, the manager fast-tracks this situation’s escalation. The bartender is told that they’re going to talk about the bartender’s “attitude” when they “come in Sunday.”

Well, it’s highly unlikely that conversation ever took place. According to screengrabs of the texts, the bartender replies, “No we’re not.” They then proceed to remind the manager that “dozens” of places are hiring bartenders. They’re happy to go work for one of those businesses.

Unsurprisingly, the manager attempts to backpedal. They say that the bartender is making a rash decision “because you’re drunk” and will regret it the next day. That approach doesn’t work.

Now, there’s one sentence that suggests to me, if this situation is real, that the owner needs to address this manager. Or, if this manager is the owner of the business, that they need to work on developing leadership skills.

That line? “I’m fed up with you.”

Sure, they could mean they’re fed up with them in this instance. However, the line follows the bartender saying that their are several other places they can find work instead.

My interpretation is that at a minimum, these two have a problem with one another. Worst case, this manager isn’t doing the owner (or themselves) any favors with their “leadership” style.

Just…Don’t Do This

Please, please, please, don’t text or call staff at 3:00 in the morning. There are perhaps a tiny handful of reasons to ignore this advice. As I see it, those reasons all involve emergencies.

And no, being short-staffed for an event the following morning is not an emergency worthy of texting or calling an employee to cover a shift so late at night/early in the morning.

There are several leadership and scheduling solutions that can prevent this type of situation. In this particular instance, since the bartender was “fed up with” this manager, they were going to quit sooner or later.

Which brings me to my first point: Operators need to know what their leaders are doing. How are they treating staff? How does the staff perceive the leadership teams?

Secondly, how do the operator and other leaders perceive one another? Is everything running smoothly or is one “leader” not really leading?

And finally, scheduling technology. These days, there’s really no excuse for many kinds of scheduling problems. Several scheduling apps integrate well with popular restaurant, bar, and hotel POS systems.

For example, HotSchedules gives staff the ability to give away, swap, and pick up shifts. Another example is OpenSimSim, which provides an open shift invite feature. Staff can also set their profiles to auto-accept shifts as they become available.

7shifts and Schedulefly can also help fill shifts. And like HotSchedules and OpenSimSim, leaders can message groups and individuals, and vice versa.

Perhaps the biggest takeaway here is this: The maxim, “People don’t leave jobs, they leave managers,” is accurate. Leaders need to respect their team members and their personal time.

Image: Alex Ware on Unsplash

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Metallica Supports World Central Kitchen

Metallica Supports World Central Kitchen

by David Klemt

Metallica band member portraits

Metallica is supporting World Central Kitchen to #StandWithUkraine via donations made through their non-profit organization, All Within My Hands.

To start off AWMH’s annual Month of Giving, the band and their philanthropic organization awarded WCK a $100,000 grant. They then donated $500,000 to the humanitarian non-profit founded by Chef José Andrés and his wife Patricia.

However, Metallica and AWMH aren’t done there. The iconic metal band and their non-profit have committed to the goal of donating another $400,000 to WCK.

Additionally, Metallica and AWMH have unveiled the Month of Giving 2022 T-shirt.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

A post shared by Metallica (@metallica)

The shirt can be pre-ordered here (I placed my order last Monday). Proceeds will go to the WCK #ChefsForUkraine campaign. Artist Andrew Cremeans created the brand-new design and donated it to AWMH.

People interested in making a donation to AWMH that will benefit WCK but who don’t want the T-shirt can click here.

All Within My Hands

The All Within My Hands Foundation was founded in 2017. Metallica and the band’s management are the founding members.

James Hetfield, Lars Ulrich, Kirk Hammett, and Robert Trujillo are members of AWMH’s board of directors. In addition, the organization’s advisory board has eight members:

  • Chris Anthony (Salesforce)
  • Howard Ellin (Skadden, Arps)
  • Brenda Goodman (BGood Marketing)
  • Bill Moore (WRVI Capital)
  • Doug Palladini (Vans)
  • Gregg Perloff (Another Planet Entertainment)
  • Michael Rapino (Live Nation)
  • Paula Wagner (Chestnut Ridge Productions)

AWMH’s mission focuses on three crucial pillars:

  • Workforce education with partner American Association of Community Colleges. The Metallica Scholars Initiative is now supported by 23 schools across the US. To date, $4.1 in grants have been awarded.
  • Fighting hunger in collaboration with partner Feeding America. Food banks are a heavy focus of Metallica and AWMH, with proceeds from tour ticket sales going to the fight against hunger.
  • Critical local services with their partner Direct Relief, which is active in all 50 states of America and more than 80 other countries.

#ChefsForUkraine

World Central Kitchen mobilized incredibly quickly in response to Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Initially, WCK set up in Poland.

However, the the hunger-fighting organization has expanded operations to an additional six countries.

Further, WCK is now operating in over 30 cities located in Ukraine. As of this week, the non-profit is providing nearly 300,000 meals daily to those in need.

In staggering news, WCK has provided six million meals to the region in just over a month.

To donate to WCK directly, please click here.

Image: MasterClass

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House Votes to Replenish RRF

House Votes to Replenish RRF

by David Klemt

United States Capitol Building dome in greyscale

Eleven months after the closure of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund application portal, Congress has voted on RRF replenishment.

Earlier today, the House voted “yes” on $42 billion for the RRF via the Relief for Restaurants and Other Hard Hit Small Businesses Act of 2022 (HR 3807).

To clarify, the intent is that funds go to original applicants who were left out when the portal closed.

Neither the $1.7 trillion Build Back Better Act nor the $1.5 trillion omnibus spending bill passed in March included the RRF Replenishment Act.

So, this news is obviously fantastic. However, it’s also long overdue.

We’ve waited nearly 11 months for movement on relief for our ravaged industry. In comparison to the hospitality industry, the legislative process often moves at a glacial pace.

For obvious reasons, the long delay in replenishing the RRF has been devastating.

Nearly a month ago, I wrote and published “Congress is Abandoning Us.” Some considered the article harsh, others agreed with what I wrote.

To be clear, I stand by what I said after ten months of inaction. However, I’m relieved—cautiously—that the House proved their support for our industry today.

$55 Billion Lifeline

In its current form, the House bill would provide $42 billion. This is the amount believed to be enough to award grants to the original applicants from May of 2021.

Additionally, there’s another $13 billion for businesses in other hard-hit industries. So, the House bill provides a total of $55 billion in relief.

Per bill co-author Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), those who applied last year for the first (and only) round of RRF relief won’t have to re-apply.

Rep. Blumenauer reportedly told Nation’s Restaurant News that “[t]he independent restaurant is the foundation of a livable community.”

Continuing, Rep. Blumenauer told NRN, “We need to have these institutions to provide a foundation for our neighborhoods.”

As far as the source of the $55 billion, the money is supposed to come from funds recovered from 2020 and 2021 pandemic relief programs. This includes billions of dollars stolen through fraudulent relief program claims.

In an effort to combat further fraud and show the public that the funds are indeed going to the correct recipients, the SBA will be required to be transparent about its process.

As it stands, grant recipients will need to spend the funds on eligible uses by March 11, 2023.

Bittersweet

While this is huge news for our industry, it’s somewhat difficult to let go of my frustration fully. The RRF portal opened May 3, 2021. It closed just 21 days later, shutting out an estimated 177,000 grant applicants.

In June of last year, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-PA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced a bill to replenish the RRF.

That was followed in July by the ENTREE Act, introduced by Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO).

Then, in August, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) objected to a unanimous consent motion to fund the RRF. Essentially, after that occurred, it was crickets.

As stated above, when the Build Back Better Act was passed in November, relief for our industry was nowhere to be found.

Given all of this, and the fact that the bill must now go before senators for debate and a vote, I find myself still uneasy about the fate of the RRF.

We often say hope isn’t a strategy. However, I hope our senators do the right thing and pass the relief our industry so desperately needs and deserves.

Image: Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

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XDar Vodka Resumes Ukraine Production

XDar Vodka Resumes Production in Ukraine

by David Klemt

XDar Vodka distillery in Ukraine

Over the past several weeks, the people of Ukraine have shown the world their resilience, tenacity, and refusal to submit to Russia.

The sovereign European nation has endured attacks and atrocities that began on February 24 of this year. Nearly six weeks since the invasion, Ukraine has resisted and repelled the vaunted Russian military.

There’s no end in sight. The world is learning daily about the atrocities and possible war crimes being perpetrated in Ukraine.

Because of this, any good news coming from Ukraine is welcome.

“Gift of Grain”

Incredibly, Ukrainian distiller XDar Vodka is resuming production. The brand, whose name translates to “gift of grain,” is reopening their distillery.

Now, this is all no small feat: XDar Vodka’s distillery is in the Cherkassy region of Ukraine. So, when I say XDar Vodka is a Ukrainian product, I mean they distill their spirits in Ukraine.

This wheat vodka is made using the region’s artesian water. Impressively, the result is a clean vodka that scored 92 points in the 2016 Ultimate Spirits Challenge.

Further, XDar Vodka flies in the face of the “definition” of vodka. Supposedly, vodka is meant to be odorless, colorless, and flavorless. Not XDar.

Instead, tasting notes include wet sand, floral notes, vanilla, cotton candy, burnt sugar, and a touch of sweetness.

And yes, XDar does have distribution in North America via Liquorum Imports, Inc. In addition, XDar can be purchased through Royal Wine Merchants.

Those who want to try XDar Vodka as well as support this tenacious Ukrainian brand can also place orders through Drizly.

Bittersweet Anniversary

2022 marks XDar’s 20th anniversary. Obviously, this is bittersweet for the brand and its 4,400 employees.

To that point, XDar stopped production when Russia attacked Ukraine. However, the distillery continued to pay its workers.

“The people at XDar are committed to their employees,” says Natalya Kolosok of Liquorum Imports, Inc. “They are some of the strongest people in the world.”

XDar Vodka production line

Now, the brand is resuming production. According to the distillery, XDar is doing so safely. According to a statement from Kolosok, this is in part due to the desires of the distillery’s team.

“The employees, while grateful for the assistance, don’t just want a check, they want purpose,” says Kolosok. “They want to work, which is why, as safely as possible, XDar opened up their facility to resume production.”

That’s resilience. That’s tenacity. And those characteristics exemplify the people of Ukraine.

Images provided by KLG Public Relations

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TOTC Launches New Philanthropic Committee

TOTC Launches New Philanthropic Committee

by David Klemt

New Orleans, Louisiana, architecture in the French Quarter

Continuing their growth and commitment to supporting the spirits and hospitality industries, Tales of the Cocktail announces a new committee.

Formerly known as the Grants Committee, this committee will act as an advisory board to TOTC Foundation. In this capacity, the new Philanthropy & Development Committee will guide decisions regarding the TOTCF’s portfolio of philanthropic endeavors.

In launching the Philanthropy & Development Committee, the TOTCF is responding directly to the needs of the spirits community.

Commitment to Philanthropy

Supporting the industry is a TOTCF cornerstone. This commitment was supercharged when the Solomon Group and Neal Bodenheimer, Jr. took over in 2018.

Upon purchasing the rights, the Solomon family and Bodenheimer, Jr. transformed TOTC into a non-profit. Since then, the organization has developed ways to benefit New Orleans and the spirits and hospitality industries.

One major avenue of support came by way of the TOTCF Grants Committee. Their mission was straightforward and lofty: “to support nascent or existing programs, non-profit organizations, and individuals developing a specific project that will impact the global hospitality community present day and beyond.”

In selecting recipients, the Grants Committee reviewed submissions. Recipients needed to support the TOTCF’s core pillars with a focus on diversity, representation, and inclusivity: Advancement, education, and support.

One such recipient that exemplifies the Grant Committee’s work is Turning Tables. From their website:

“Turning Tables advocates for equity in the hospitality industry by providing mentorship, educational tools, and platforms for exposure in a system of support for the black and brown communities of New Orleans.”

New Name, Bigger Mission

To be clear, the Philanthropy & Development Committee is still offering grants. However, the past two years saw the expansion of the Grants Committee’s mission.

In addition to grants, the committee:

  • provided direct relief to industry professionals;
  • entered into more non-profit partnerships;
  • boosted the number of Beyond the Bar activations;
  • engaged in advocacy and policy efforts;
  • and expanded mental health and wellness capabilities.

Given the evolution of the committee’s work, transforming to the Philanthropy & Development Committee better communicates the mission.

“I’m really excited about this new era of the committee,” says Philanthropy & Development Committee co-chair Kellie Thorn. “While grant-giving will still be a focus, we will now have the opportunity to diversify the way that we serve the drinks community as well as continue to provide thoughtful insight to the Foundation about our industry.”

Continental Drift and Drift Kitchen owner Eric Bennett co-chairs the committee alongside consultant and educator Thorn. The eleven current committee members are:

  • Tiffanie Barriere
  • Chris Cabrera
  • Claudia Cabrera
  • Samuel Jimenez
  • Nandini Khaund
  • Yisell Muxo
  • Lisa Nguyen
  • Chris Patino
  • Vivian Pei
  • Kelsey Ramage
  • Morgan Schick

To learn more about the Philanthropy & Development Committee, click here.

Image: Aya Salman on Unsplash

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5 Books to Read this Month: April 2022

5 Books to Read this Month: April 2022

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

This month’s engaging and informative book selections will help you develop next-level culinary, beverage and marketing skills throughout 2022.

To review February’s book recommendations, click here.

Let’s jump in!

My America: Recipes from a Young Black Chef

This book is scheduled to be released on May 17 of this year. I anticipate this cookbook by Chef Kwame Onwuachi, which includes 125 recipes, to come flying off the shelves. In addition to more than 100 recipes, Chef Onwuachi connects his personal journey to food, culture, and places. Pre-order My America now!

Paddy Drinks: The World of Modern Irish Whiskey Cocktails

Jack McGarry, Sean Muldoon, and Jillian Vose are back with their latest Dead Rabbit book. The trio’s latest release, Paddy Drinks, shares Irish whiskey drink recipes you’ll find on the actual Dead Rabbit menu. However, that’s just one portion of this informative book. Inside are whiskey flavor wheels, tasting notes, illustrations depicting whiskey production, and more. And if that’s not enough for you, David Wondrich provides the foreword.

Founder Brand: Turn Your Story Into Your Competitive Advantage

In Founder Brand, Dave Gerhardt explains why your brand’s story is one of the most valuable assets you own as an entrepreneur.

From the Amazon listing: “This is a tactical guidebook that first shows you how to tell your story, then how to put your story to use as a marketing strategy. You’ll learn how social media provides a bridge between you and your customers, the platforms that are appropriate for your business, and how to measure results to truly determine value.”

Finding Mezcal: A Journey into the Liquid Soul of Mexico

You don’t have to be a veteran bartender or spirits expert to know that mezcal continues to rise in popularity. Written by Ron Cooper, founder of artisanal mezcal brand Del Maguey, Finding Mezcal includes 40 cocktail recipes from bartenders and chefs; photographs; Cooper’s own artwork; and much more.

Bar Hacks: Developing The Fundamentals for an Epic Bar

Industry expert and KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey wrote this informative and conversational book. This is the perfect read for aspiring or seasoned bar, pub, lounge, or even restaurant owners, operators, and managers looking for that competitive edge in operations. If you’re looking for both fundamental and in-depth planning methods, strategies, and industry focused insight to either start or grow a scalable, sustainable, memorable, profitable, and consistent venue in today’s cut-throat industry, Bar Hacks is written just for you

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

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Stand Out with Weird Holidays: April 2022

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: April 2022

by David Klemt

Stay Weird neon sign with purple background

Want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Then commit to keeping it weird.

Several “holidays” are set against every date on the calendar, and April is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream to “weird.”

Pay attention to the latter to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests. Why do what everyone else is already doing?

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, weird or otherwise. And this month’s list in no way includes every odd holiday.

Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

For last month’s list, click here.

April 1: National One Cent Day

Please, please, please tell me you’re not going to indulge in an April Fool’s Day “prank” today. Instead, consider—if your jurisdiction will allow it—getting rid of dead stock for a penny with a purchase of a food and/or beverage item. You won’t get rich doing it but you also won’t be sitting on stock that’s just taking up space.

April 2: National Handmade Day

An easy riff on “handmade” is “housemade.” So, on this crafty holiday you can easily promote the housemade items on your menu. Make your own bitters? Promote it. Craft your own sauces? Let the world know.

April 6: National Tartan Day

No, it’s not “weird” to wear tartan. And no, it isn’t weird to celebrate anything and everything Scottish. However, this isn’t exactly the best-known holiday, so we’re including it on this list.

This is an easy one: Encourage your guests to wear tartan, take photos, and post it on social media (tagging your business, of course). Create a promo highlighting a Scottish whisky and/or gin and you’ve got a winner.

April 13: National Make Lunch Count Day

It’s fairly easy to celebrate and program on this holiday. The entire point of this day is to make lunch the best meal. Operators, you should know exactly what to do to execute a promo for this holiday.

April 15: National Take A Wild Guess Day

Who among us hasn’t taken a wild guess for a prize? We all know how this works: A jar or a convertible (why not, right?) is filled with jelly beans, gumballs, etc. People guess how many of said item are in said container. The person who guesses the closest wins a prize.

April 19: National Hanging Out Day

Talk about the perfect day to encourage your guests to spend a morning, afternoon, evening or night at your business with their friends. This holiday can be as simple as coming up with a few F&B promotions that will keep butts in seats for a while.

April 23: National German Beer

Hey, can you guess how you should celebrate this day? Hint: The clue is in the name.

April 24: National Pet Parents Day

If you allow dogs and other pets inside your venue or on the patio, this is the time to celebrate pet parents. Just remember when creating your promo that you need to include pet-safe F&B items.

April 27: National Tell a Story Day

As an operator, you know the importance of telling a story. Whether that story is that of your brand’s, a brand you feature, or a food or beverage item, it’s a powerful engagement technique. So, you can use this holiday to tell your brand’s story or encourage your guests to engage by telling their own stories. In fact, this is a great day to help facilitate connections between guests.

April 30: National Sense of Smell Day

Experts estimate that anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of taste is smell. Creating a promotion focusing on our sense of smell can be complicated but the payoff can be huge. So, activate your reps and see how they can help you show your guests the power of their sense of smell.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Prepare for the New Rules of Hospitality

Prepare for the New Rules of Hospitality

by David Klemt

People toasting with a variety of cocktails

Guests are returning to bars, restaurants, and hotels, so you need to prepare now for the new rules of hospitality.

If you’re wondering what those rules are, wonder no more. We have a number of articles addressing them, some of which are here, here, and here.

Phil Wills, owner and partner of the Spirits in Motion and Bar Rescue alum, also has some thoughts. In fact, Wills shared his approach to what he identifies as the new rules of hospitality last week.

 

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During Bar & Restaurant Expo 2022, Wills presented “The New Rules of Hospitality: What a Post-pandemic Consumer Wants.”

Below, you’ll find what Wills has to say about hospitality in 2022 and beyond in three categories.

Hospitality

Wills kicked off his session with a simple question: How do you define “hospitality”? And yes, he put attendees on the spot, asking them for their answers.

It’s always at least a bit amusing that even the most outgoing operator gets shy in a conference setting. I’ve never seen so many people suddenly need to check their phones, shoes, or the ceiling tiles as when they’re asked to participate in a class or education session.

For Wills, the definition is “making a guest feel welcome, as though they’re in your home.”

Obviously, the answer is different for everyone. As Wills says, the key is considering how you and your brand define hospitality. If that seems easier said than done, Wills has some tips, presented in the context of a guest visit.

First, guests take in the sights, sounds, and smells of your space. They also consume your menu items, and converse with your staff, their party, and other guests.

Look at your business through the eyes of your guests. Now, this can be a difficult exercise, particularly if you spend a lot of time in your restaurant, bar or hotel.

So, ask team members to do the same and provide feedback. We take for granted what our spaces, food, and drinks look like.

To improve the guest experience, pay attention to ticket times and F&B consistency. This will reduce recovery incidents and phrases.

Finally, Wills recommends engaging with guests (if that’s what they want). However, he also suggests facilitating connections between guests.

Interestingly, Wills also says, “Regulars are old money. You want to get that new money.” Then, you want to convert that new money into old money. Rinse, repeat.

Training

As relates to training, Wills categorizes new hires in two ways: toll takers and moneymakers.

Toll takers take a toll on your business. They cost you money, and if they don’t receive the proper training they can chase guests away.

So, you’ll need to spend time and money to convert toll takers into moneymakers.

Speaking strictly in a technical sense, training needs to provide team members with the knowledge and tools to become moneymakers. To accomplish this, Wills has three keys to making training stick:

  1. Don’t make training too easy. If training is easy, team members won’t retain what they’re taught. Challenge your staff.
  2. Vary your training. There are a number of training methods at your disposal. Use multiple methods to engage your staff. Wills suggests combining shift work, book work, and tests, at a minimum.
  3. Turn training into a competition. At this point, we’re gamifying just about anything. So, Wills recommends the platform 1Huddle to gamify your training.

Labor

Simply put, Wills says we need to find new ways to make this industry exciting to new hires.

According to the National Restaurant Association, we’re still seeing significant job losses in hospitality, foodservice, and lodging and accommodation.

In fact, we’re down 14 percent when it comes to full-service restaurant jobs. For bars and taverns, the number is 25 percent.

For Wills, offering incentives, mental health breaks, and even cash bonuses for staying in role for a number of months can draw the attention of new workers.

However, he also has another interesting idea: making people smile. On average, according to Will’s research, people smile 20 times each day. He wants to find ways to make people smile 20 times during a single visit to a restaurant or bar.

Now, Wills admits he’s still working on how to accomplish this lofty goal. I believe a key component is creating a working environment that inspires team members to smile 20 times per shift.

Image: Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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