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Where are To-Go Cocktails Legal?

Where are To-Go Cocktails Legal?

by David Klemt

Bottled Negroni mixed drinks and to-go cocktails

We’re still coming to grips with what the industry will look like post-pandemic. One pandemic-driven adaptation is to-go cocktails.

For this article, “cocktails” means mixed drinks specifically, as that is how most jurisdictions are defining such to-go drinks.

In some markets, operators can now offer to-go mixed drinks permanently. Some jurisdictions are offering extensions to temporary sales, while others are considering bills.

The To-Go Pivot

Clearly, our industry responds to guest demands and expectations. And what does today’s guest expect? For their every customized whim to be fulfilled—conveniently.

Therefore, it only makes sense that operators constantly adapt to encourage guest loyalty (as far as that’s possible).

People are itching to get out more, impatient to return to their pre-pandemic lives. Even so, the convenience of drinking and dining at home appeals to large swaths of the public.

Of course, it’s not just convenient.

Providing guests the choice to enjoy a restaurant or bar’s F&B offerings and semblance of their unique experience at home—including cocktails—is also about safety and comfort levels.

Obviously, we want guests to be able to comfortably and safely gather in restaurants, bars, hotels, and every other type of hospitality venue. That’s a given.

However, if some people are more comfortable at home for now, operators in a position to meet guests where they are to generate revenue should do so.

Lawmakers Respond

Carryout and delivery beer and wine sales have been legal for some time in many states. Mixed drinks, not so much.

The rules addressing “to-go” cocktails (carryout and delivery are more accurate) were relaxed in several markets in response to indoor dining bans and shutdowns.

However, “loose” laws aren’t permanent changes. Some jurisdictions will eventually rescind their relaxed approach and ban to-go cocktails unless specific legislation passes.

Iowa is the first American state to legalize to-go cocktails permanently. The vote was unanimous in the Iowa House and nearly so in the Iowa Senate.

Operators in Canada or America who intend to sell to-go cocktails must be aware of their jurisdiction’s specific rules, including but not limited to packaging requirements, volume restrictions, food sale components, and transportation laws.

Canada: Delivery and Carryout Rules

Currently, KRG Hospitality operates in Alberta, British Columbia, and Ontario for the Canadian market. Therefore, we’re focusing on those provinces for this article.

Alberta

While packaged, unopened liquor may be sold for off-site consumption, pre-made cocktails may not. Food sales must accompany liquor sales.

British Columbia

The province’s approach to liquor sales for delivery and carryout are the same as Alberta’s. Operators can’t sell to-go mixed drinks.

Ontario

Restaurants and bars can sell pre-made cocktails sealed in bottles, cans, and bags. Like the other two provinces, food sales must accompany to-go liquor sales.

America: Permanent, Extended, Up for Consideration

In total, 11 states have made the move to legalize to-go mixed drinks permanently:

  • Arkansas
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Iowa
  • Kentucky
  • Montana
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas
  • West Virginia
  • Wisconsin

Others have introduced bills to make to-go cocktails legal permanently:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Kansas
  • Minnesota
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • New Hampshire
  • New Jersey
  • New York
  • Oregon
  • Pennsylvania

A handful have extended to-go cocktails until at least 2022:

  • Delaware (March 2022)
  • Illinois (2024)
  • Maine (September 2022)
  • Virginia (July 2022)
  • Washington (July 2023)

Image: Jonas Tebbe on Unsplash

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What in the CDC Guidance…?

What in the CDC Guidance…?

by David Klemt

Red neon sign question mark

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is once again offering Covid-19 guidance and this time it’s taking a sharp turn.

One big takeaway is that nobody was really expecting the agency’s abrupt and surprising advice.

Also, the CDC’s updates are confusing a lot of people. So much so, in fact, that the agency is “shaking up” communications personnel.

Changing Guidelines

Clearly, the CDC’s statements toward the end of last week are shocking. The agency caught states and businesses completely off guard.

Business owners, workers and the public are unsure how to interpret the CDC’s new advice. Unfortunately, that seems to indicate that perhaps the agency didn’t take the time to really dial in their message before addressing the nation.

We’ve dealt with constant shifts in guidance for more than a year now. There’s little wonder that so many Americans are experiencing Covid-19 fatigue and skepticism.

It’s fair to say that when the CDC announced updated guidelines last week, people threw their hands up in frustration.

Obviously, the messaging was haphazard since so many attempts at clarification have taken place over the course of just a few days.

So, what’s the agency saying now?

Vague at Best

Last Thursday, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the current CDC director, said this:

“Anyone who is fully vaccinated can participate in indoor and outdoor activities, large or small, without wearing a mask or physical distancing. If you are fully vaccinated, you can start doing the things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.”

Which, okay—great. Seems like a simple bit of direction, right?

Obviously, no—not that simple. Yesterday, Dr. Walensky had to clarify the CDC’s newest guidance:

“This is not permission for widespread removal of masks. We were going to get to the point in the pandemic where the vaccinated could take off their masks.”

The Details, Kinda

In short, the new advice is aimed toward those who are fully vaccinated. To review, a person is considered to be fully vaccinated:

  • two weeks after receiving the second dose of a two-dose regimen (Pfizer, Moderna); or
  • two weeks after receiving a dose of a one-dose vaccine (Johnson & Johnson).

Last week, Dr. Walensky said that fully vaccinated people no longer needed to wear masks or practice social distancing outdoors or indoors. Of course, caveats followed immediately, leading many people to criticize the guidance as vague and, to put it bluntly, unhelpful.

The caveats? The fully vaccinated should still wear masks in crowded settings like airports, airplanes, buses and other public transportation, hospitals, homeless shelters. Also, they should continue following the guidance of their employers and local businesses.

Sifting Through the Confusion

In a nutshell, what the CDC is saying is that fully vaccinated people can return to a semblance of their normal pre-pandemic lives.

This is likely an attempt, however slap-dash or ham-fisted, to incentivize the unvaccinated to get their shots. It’s also probably another attempt at rebooting the economy.

One problem with this new guidance is that it’s vague. People still have questions, and the CDC appears to be fine with deferring to business owners. That means, once again, front-line workers have to police mask wearing and social distancing.

Our industry has been forced to shove staff into awkward and hostile situations and confrontations for over a year now. Shifting guidance and recommendations routinely give short shrift to this facet of working during the pandemic.

Another problem with the CDC’s latest guidance? We have no way of knowing who’s actually vaccinated. Because of this, many business owners are keeping mask and social distancing rules in place to protect their staff and guests. This is no doubt already leading to uncomfortable confrontations.

Staff who can’t get vaccinated for medical or religious reasons are also now being put at risk. Since we’re relying on the “honor system” regarding mask wearing and distancing, unvaccinated workers face greater risk of exposure from unvaccinated guests.

Lack of Industry-specific Guidance

We’re still learning about Covid-19. We’re still attempting to figure out best practices. And we’re still balancing the need to keep businesses open while protecting workers and the public.

But the CDC’s latest guidance isn’t helpful. Essentially, the agency is putting the onus of their recommendations on business owners and state and local policymakers. And, of course, the CDC hasn’t put forth specific guidance for restaurants, bars and other hospitality industry businesses.

The National Restaurant Association responded to the CDC’s update by saying that “restaurant operators have the option of determining how best to enforce the new guidance,” and that they wouldn’t be updating their own Covid-19 Operating Guidance just yet. Also, the NRA stated that operators would be wise to continue to work with state and local regulatory bodies to avoid falling afoul of any mandates.

Next Steps

Operators will now have to review their Covid-19 protocols, the guidance and rules in place in their local jurisdictions, and determine what’s required and what’s best for their staff. They should also consider doing the following:

  • Inform staff about mask, social distancing, and other Covid-19 protocols, whether they’re being kept in place, adjusted or rescinded.
  • Ask staff about their comfort levels in terms of serving guests who aren’t required to wear masks at all during their visits. It’s not just guest comfort that’s important.
  • Owners and managers need to let staff know they have their backs if they’ll be enforcing protocols.
  • Ownership and management must provethey’re backing up their teams. If operators think they’re facing labor challenges now, they’ll struggle even harder if they fail to back up workers who are tasked with informing guests that Covid protocols are in place.
  • Operators should make their protocols known—if they’re still in place—on social, their websites, via email, and in-person so there are no surprises when guests arrive.

Once again, business owners are left to deal with the aftermath of the CDC’s “recommendations.” Now more than ever, guest-facing staff need to be supported.

Image: Simone Secci on Unsplash

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International Chain Slashes Menu

International Chain Slashes Menu

by David Klemt

Applebee's Grill & Bar casual dining restaurant

If you’re curious as to whether “lean and mean” menus are here to stay as a result of the pandemic, look no further than one international chain.

Moving forward, Applebee’s Grill + Bar menus will be some 60 items lighter.

The chain’s menu will be 38 percent smaller, and the change is permanent.

Significant Overhaul

Of course, it isn’t like the Applebee’s menu is tiny now. At about 100 items, it’s still larger than most independent restaurant menus. For contrast, KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey, in most cases, recommends 12- to 32-item food menus.

Still, the casual dining chain cutting 60 items permanently is a big move.

The decision is a direct result of the pandemic and the toll it took on Applebee’s and the industry overall. Unfortunately, like many operators big and small, chain and independent, the chain had to furlough staff. Lightening the menu made it easier for the chain to adapt and shift toward takeout and delivery.

Weak performers and complex items that affect efficiency are gone. According to John Cywinski, Applebee’s president, the decision means faster ticket times, more consistency, and better efficiency.

Among the 60 or so items that are no longer available: the triple cheeseburger, clam chowder, and BBQ brisket tacos.

Streamline Summer

The decision to eliminate dozens of complex and lagging items puts Applebee’s in a better position for Summer 2021, potentially.

Speaking with CNN Business, Cywinski said, “The team will have to be very thoughtful about every single product or beverage they introduce, and the consequence of it from a complexity standpoint.”

That thoughtful approach is crucial in large part because of Applebee’s new menu policy: When a new item comes onto the menu, an old item must go.

Accordingly, Applebee’s can remain innovative while avoiding once again inflating their menus.

With demand for social interaction, a return to normalcy, and in-person restaurant and bar visits set to explode, Applebee’s finds itself with a menu that’s nearly 40-percent smaller. That should make it simpler for the chain’s restaurant and bar teams to fill orders quickly, efficiently, and consistently.

Menu Refresh

Every operator needs to know their numbers. That doesn’t just mean costs and inventory, by the way.

Do you know the cook times for each food item on your menu? Do you know how many dishes you can make with a given ingredient? Is thoughtful cross-utilization an important element of your F&B operations?

The answers to those questions can help you identify bottlenecks in your operation and become more agile.

Another important question to consider: Do you know which menu items are your slowest sellers? If you do, answer this: Why are they still on your menu?

When you eliminate an item, yes, some guests will express their disappointment. You’ll have to weigh the costs of keeping a poor performer against freeing up resources by losing an item that rarely sells. You may even identify an item that you personally love but just doesn’t move. Again, you have to do what’s best for your bottom line.

You may not have 160 items on your menu. You may not have 100. That doesn’t mean you don’t have at least a handful of items that you can eliminate to reduce costs and increase revenue.

Image: Applebee’s Grill + Bar

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SBA Releases RRF Guide and Forms

SBA Releases RRF Guide and Forms

by David Klemt

"This is the sign you've been looking for" white neon sign on brick wall

Operators in the United States are nearing the opening of the Restaurant Revitalization Fund application process.

The Small Business Administration’s RRF program guide and sample application are now available.

Let’s jump in!

RRF at a Glance

In simple terms, the RRF is the most targeted relief the industry in America has received since the pandemic took hold.

Eligible entities apply for a tax-free grant equal to the amount of a their pandemic-related revenue losses.

To calculate a grant amount, an applicant subtracts 2020 gross receipts from 2019 gross receipts. Applicants must deduct first-draw PPP and second-draw PPP loans, even if they’re paid back or forgiven. Any economic disaster loans—Economic Injury Disaster Loans, for example—are not RRF deductions.

Per the SBA, operators do not need to register for a System for Award Management (SAM.gov) account, meaning they no longer need to acquire a DUNS number.

RRF Eligibility

As the SBA’s RRF program guide states, eligible businesses A) must not be closed permanently, and B) are places where customers gather primarily to consume food or drink. Such entities include:

  • restaurants;
  • bars;
  • saloons;
  • lounges;
  • taverns;
  • food trucks, carts and stands;
  • snack and non-alcoholic beverage bars;
  • licensed facilities or premises of a beverage alcohol producer where the public may taste, sample, or purchase product; and
  • other similar places of business in which the public or patrons assemble for the primary purpose of being served food or drink.

However, that’s in no way the entire list of eligible businesses. Bakeries, breweries, microbreweries, brewpubs, taprooms, distilleries, wineries, and tasting rooms are eligible if they can provide documentation (which must accompany their application) that:

  • on-site sales to the public comprised at least 33% of gross receipts in 2019; or
  • original business model should have contemplated at least 33% of gross receipts in on-site sales to the public if they’ve yet to open or opened in 2020.

Interestingly, it’s possible for an inn to be eligible for the RRF. Such a business is subject to the same eligibility requirements as bakeries, breweries, etc.

Eligible Expenses

Businesses that receive an RRF grant may use the funds for eligible expenses during their covered period. That timeframe is the “period beginning on February 15, 2020 and ending on March 11, 2023.” Should the business close permanently, that period will end when the business permanently closes or on March 11, 2023, whichever occurs sooner.”

A grant recipient must return any funds to the Treasury if they’re unable to use for eligible expenses by the end of the covered period.

So, which expenses are eligible per the SBA for the RRF program? Below is a short list of eligible expenses:

  • Payroll costs (sick leave, costs for group health care, life, disability, vision, or dental benefits during periods of paid sick, medical, or family leave, and group health care, life, disability, vision, or dental insurance premiums).
  • Payments on any business mortgage obligation, both principal and interest (Note: Excludes any prepayment of principal on a mortgage obligation).
  • Business rent payments, including rent under a lease agreement (Note: Excludes any prepayment of rent).
  • Construction of outdoor seating.
  • Business supplies (including protective equipment and cleaning materials).

For the full list of eligible expenses and many more RRF details, please click here to download and view the entire SBA RRF program guide. To view the sample application and prepare for the process to begin, click here.

Disclaimer

This content is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as legal, tax, investment, financial, or other advice. This article does not constitute professional and/or financial advice, nor does any information constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters discussed or the law. This information is of a general nature and does not address the circumstances of a specific individual or entity. The reader of this information alone assumes the sole responsibility of evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of any information before making any decisions based on such information.

Image: Austin Chan on Unsplash 

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NRN Shares Inclusion Insights Report

NRN Shares Inclusion Insights Report

by David Klemt

Light bulb idea concept on wood background

Featuring insights from their 2021 Power List, an inclusion report from American trade publication Nation’s Restaurant News is now available.

Overall, NRN’s 2021 Power List consists of C-suite and executive heavy hitters from some of the most influential restaurant groups.

For example, Domino’s, Yum Brands, &pizza, and Momofuku Restaurant Group, are on this year’s list.

To compile their 2021 Power List: Leadership & Inclusion Insights report, NRN asked their power players to identify a team member who embody inclusivity.

Lessons Learned from 2020

NRN’s report is broken down into five sections; this is the first.

Reading through the insights in this section, you’ll find that agility and adaptability are crucial to navigating crises. That will come as no surprise to many.

However, what really strikes me are the words of Donnie Upshaw, SVP for people at Wingstop. Upshaw cites the importance of culture and core values:

“Our core values, known as ‘The Wingstop Way’—service-minded, authentic, entrepreneurial and fun—have been and will continue to be our guiding light through all seasons of our business.”

Those core values, along with Wingstop culture and a focus on retaining top talent, are keys to their successful navigating of the pandemic.

Accomplishments During a Pandemic

The pandemic has torn apart the hospitality industry and continues to do so. In America, we’re just now seeing specific relief targeting foodservice businesses.

Given the situation, just surviving the pandemic is an accomplishment.

Still, chain and independent operators are forging paths forward and inspiring others inside and outside of the industry.

Erika Palomar, COO of the Independent Restaurant Coalition, says the group “faced the darkest hours, together.”

Palomar continues: “They held fast to their commitment to change the most lives possible. This group has the remarkable ability to look beyond their door and inspire others to take action and make bold changes that will serve this industry and our society for the better.”

Importance of Leadership & Impact

The job of owners, operators, managers, and mentors is to lead. Doing so is one of the most effective tools for growing a business and retaining talent.

Adversity, of course, is one of the—if not the—greatest challenges to leadership.

Beth Scott, president of Fleming’s, says building trust is the first step in realizing the core of what it means to be a leader: inspiring and influencing, not commanding.

Jason Crain, CRO of Slutty Vegan, says, “Leading is dynamic and solution oriented.” Crain points to knowing when to implement different forms of leadership as a crucial element.

Further Insights

NRN’s report has two more categories, “Fostering Diversity & Inclusion” and “The Future of Foodservice.” There are insights from several more power players who drive the missions of inclusivity, diversity and equity.

We encourage you to follow this link and review the report for invaluable motivation and inspiration for your own business.

Image: Free-Photos from Pixabay

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Kitchen Showdown: Virtual vs. Ghost

Kitchen Showdown: Virtual vs. Ghost

by David Klemt

Person ordering Uber Eats

The lines between virtual and ghost kitchens are growing increasingly blurry as they rise in popularity.

The terms aren’t interchangeable—they’re separate concepts.

Let’s snap the two into focus so operators can decide for themselves which, if either, is for them.

Virtual Kitchen

A virtual kitchen or virtual restaurant supports a brick-and-mortar concept. This includes food trucks.

Standard process is as follows:

  • A concept in a certain category seeks to expand their menu options without diluting or otherwise damaging their brand.
  • They create new menu items and sometimes a new brand.
  • Their existing kitchen or kitchens create these new items, which are online- and delivery-only.

A virtual kitchen has a brick-and-mortar location in a technical sense, but the brand’s existence is essentially digital as far as consumers know.

Ghost Kitchen

These facilities are delivery-only and commonly produce virtual brands’ items, which is a possible source of the confusion surrounding ghost and virtual kitchens. A truly virtual brand is only available online, either via its own ordering site or a delivery app—it has no brick-and-mortar location of its own.

We’ve known since the Chicken Wars first started that chicken sells, apparently in all forms. Several virtual brands, largely focused on wings and sandwiches, are succeeding with the help of ghost kitchens.

However, ghost kitchens also rent themselves out to or otherwise enter into contracts with third-party concepts with brick-and-mortar locations of their own to produce their delivery menu items.

The explosive rise of delivery is driving investment in ghost kitchens (former Uber executive Travis Kalanick’s CloudKitchens is an excellent example). It’s also the reason that so many industry experts and speculators declare ghosts “the future of restaurants.”

Not the Same

This quick rundown should clarify the differences between virtual kitchens and ghosts. Their missions may be similar but their operations are not.

Image: Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

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House Passes $1.9B Covid Relief Bill, RRF

House Passes $1.9B Covid Relief Bill, RRF

by David Klemt

US Capitol Building Dome

The Senate version of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 is through the House, awaiting the signature of President Joe Biden.

Once the bill is signed by the president, it will be the law of the land.

That means our industry is finally receiving at least a portion of the relief it so desperately needs. After nearly a year of campaigning and fighting, the Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF) is a reality.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

Managed by the Small Business Administration properly, the RRF is a critical lifeline for small- and mid-sized operators.

The SBA will prioritize women- and veteran-owned and operated businesses for the first 21 days. Economically and socially disadvantaged businesses will also receive priority.

Maximum grant amounts are $5 million per individual restaurant or $10 million per restaurant group.

Eligible Expenses

Importantly, eligible expenses fall between February 15, 2020 through December 31, 2021.

Eligible expenses include but are not limited to:

  • payroll and benefits;
  • mortgage (no prepayment);
  • rent (no prepayment);
  • utilities, maintenance;
  • supplies (including PPE and cleaning materials);
  • food;
  • operational expenses;
  • covered supplier costs (as defined by the SBA under the PPP program); and
  • sick leave.

American Rescue Plan Provisions

Of course, the RRF is just a small portion of the American Rescue Plan. The bill includes many provisions for national Covid-19 testing and vaccine distribution.

States and local governments receive $20 billion to assist low-income households with rent, utility bills, and back rent. There’s an increase to benefits of 15 percent through September for those on food stamps.

Also, the Emergency Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program receives $15 billion, which will help small business owners.

The $300-per-week federal boost to unemployment benefits remains the same rather than climbing to $400 per week.

Crucially, the bill waives the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits from 2020. That amount rises to $20,400 for married couples. To receive the waiver, a household must have an adjusted gross income of $150,000. That AGI is the same for individual and combined households.

Individuals with an AGI of up to $75,000 will receive stimulus payments of $1,400. That amount phases out completely at $80,000 for individuals, $160,000 for couples.

What’s Next

The SBA is responsible creating and implementing the RRF application process.

For now, it’s wise for operators to calculate their grant amounts:

  • Open prior to 2019: 2019 revenue minus 2020 revenue minus PPP loans.
  • 2019 opening: Average of 2019 monthly revenues times 12 minus 2020 revenues.
  • 2020 opening: Eligible to receive funding equal to eligible expenses incurred.

Since the SBA is the agency overseeing the $28.5 billion RRF, it’s a good idea to monitor their site for pertinent dates, details and requirements.

Image: Joshua Sukoff on Unsplash

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Bacardi Predicts How We’ll Drink in 2021

Bacardi Predicts How We’ll Drink in 2021

by David Klemt

Bartender making a cocktail

What will alcohol consumption look like this year? Bacardi has answers.

In association with the Future Laboratory, Bacardi’s second-annual cocktail trends report—a well-sourced 25-page document—is available.

As is the case when we begin a new year, we’re being deluged with trend predictions and reports. I’d say the Bacardi 2021 Cocktail Trends Report goes deeper than most.

The report is organized into five macro trends identified by Bacardi Limited. Let’s get to it!

Reinventing the Bar

I’m not presenting Bacardi’s macro trends in order. Instead, I’m starting with the trend arguably most relevant to operators: bar reinvention.

Industry experts have been pointing to the ease of access to knowledge along with consumer interest in learning more about spirits and cocktails as an important trends for years now. It’s no longer a trend—it’s standard that guests are better informed.

Like other sources, Bacardi predicts guests will seek out more personalized experiences. They also predict guests will want to connect more with bartenders. However, the brand goes deeper in their report.

Bacardi thinks to-go cocktails, cocktail and meal kits, and e-commerce will become standard. Going a step further, the report posits that some venues will create cocktail menus that will change according to weekly inventory; sommeliers will add spirits knowledge to their skillset; and that guests will be eager to try drinks they’ve never had before.

Perhaps most importantly, Bacardi predicts bar culture will become more positive and inclusive, resulting in gender stereotypes—including those inherent to bottle design—will fall to the wayside.

Purpose and Transparency

According to a study conducted by IBM and the National Retail Federation and cited in Bacardi’s report, a massive 70 percent of American and Canadian consumers think it’s important that brands are eco-friend or sustainable.

Bacardi predicts sustainability, transparency, and the authentic embrace of social causes will be crucial this year and beyond.

In response to climate change, sustainability, eco-friendliness, and the zero-waste movement, Bacardi plans to wipe out 80 million plastic bottles with their new biodegradable bottle design, rolling out in 2023.

Pointing to a statistic from ZypMedia—that 36 percent of consumers plan to keep buying from local businesses post-pandemic—Bacardi predicts hyperlocality will grow stronger in 2021. Operators who source more local items, including beverage alcohol, will likely find more support from consumers.

Mindful Drinking

Per a Bacardi survey, 22 percent of consumers across the globe are drinking alcohol less. More than half (55 percent) of “mindful drinkers” are drinking low-ABV options.

Bacardi predicts low- and no-ABV drinks to perform well this year. Spritzes, for example, is on the rise as a bar culture in its own right.

Per Bacardi, zero-proof spirits are getting the most attention of any other category, worldwide.

Mindful drinking is also affecting how spirits are made. Consumers, more conscious of their health because of the pandemic, are showing a preference for beverages free of artificial ingredients. Furthermore, Bacardi expects consumers to seek out drinks that have health-boosting benefits.

The report, as an example, cites a Global Wellness Institute finding that in 2019 alone, “U.S. sales of ginger rose by 94%, while turmeric and garlic sales were up by 68% and 62%.” Today’s consumer is seeking out functional cocktail ingredients.

Drinking by the Numbers

Bacardi’s report puts all the brand’s cards on the table. Operators looking to program or reprogram their menus will find this information helpful.

Consider the info below for delivery and to-go drinks since Nielsen finds that 40 percent of US consumers are interested in make-at-home cocktail kits, 37 percent are interested in pre-made bottled cocktails, and 37 percent are interested in grab-and-go cocktails.

Flavor and Experience: Extreme heat (chilies), Super-sweet, Sour, Bitter, Smoked

Experiences: Pleasure, Nostalgia, Escapism, Quality over quantity, Light-hearted drinks, Flavor-filled indulgences

Most Popular Cocktails, Globally (Descending Order): Low-ABV, Other spritzes, Negroni, Classic cocktails with a twist, G&T (including riffs), Non-alcohol, Whiskey Highball, Espresso Martini, Old Fashioned, Vermouth cocktails

Premiumization Opportunities: Gin, Rum, Tequila

Top 5 Spirits (by Interest): Gin, Mezcal, Tequila, Vermouth, Bitter/Amaro Liqueurs

Top 5 RTDs in North America: Vodka Soda and flavors, Margarita, Moscow Mule, Low-ABV, G&T

Click here to read the report in its entirety.

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I Tried the Mask Made for & by Hospitality

I Tried the Mask Made for & by Hospitality

by David Klemt

Wearing a mask is part of everyday life, particularly for hospitality industry professionals.

DCBL Masks was designed by hospitality professionals for the hospitality industry, born out of their reverence for the workers putting themselves at risk so the communities they serve can retain a semblance of their normal lives.

Their first mask, the X-1, is intended to provide solutions to the problems presented by other face coverings.

Thoughtful Design

One problem with the standard masks and face coverings we’ve grown accustomed to is their tendency to muffle voices. One of the driving design elements behind the DCBL X-1 is the projection of the wearer’s voice.

The X-1 is a three-piece mask and its second layer is what sets it apart from others. The middle layer is sound-enhancing, sculpted foam that allows the wearer’s voice to carry. No more going hoarse from yelling, no more (or less, at least) repeating oneself, no more guests leaning in or stepping closer to hear what’s being said (hopefully).

That second layer is also intended to improve breathability. The inside layer’s design provides an air pocket for similar breathing functionality. It’s also made of natural bamboo so it’s soft, moisture-wicking and cooling, and it receives an antimicrobial treatment.

The X-1’s outer layer is polyester and resists dust and moisture while also protecting against UV rays. There are two flexible “suspension” systems, one for the nose and one to seal the bottom of the mask. Straps are Spandex, ear loops are adjustable, and there’s a clasp system so the wearer can choose how to secure the mask to their head.

Designed by Industry Pros

DCBL is the brainchild of industry veterans Michael Tipps and Homan Taghdiri. Tipps and Taghdiri are the co-founders of both DCBL Masks and Invictus Hospitality, a consulting agency headquartered in Los Angeles.

Tipps boasts over two decades’ experience in hospitality. He got his start in South Florida and has worked every front-of-house position. His journey through hospitality helped him gain perspective regarding the challenges inherent to the industry, and he eventually co-founded Invictus.

Taghdiri worked in hospitaity for 13 years before becoming a licensed attorney in California. He has worked every position in the industry. While he no longer studies law, when he did, he specialized in real estate, business and the hospitality industry.

DCBL’s Mission

There are three main goals DCBL seeks to achieve: Protection, projection, and connection. I’ve explained how they achieve the first two goals.

If the first goal isn’t realized, goals two and three don’t matter. If DCBL whiffs on the second goal, the third is unachievable. The X-1 seeks to make conversation easier when wearing masks so people can feel more connected. Being separated by masks, distance, barriers, and staying at home is detrimental to us all. The DCBL X-1 addresses that issue.

As the DCBL website says, “Staying safe and making a living shouldn’t be as challenging as it has been.” I feel the brand accomplishes their deceptively simple goals.

Impressions

First things first, I didn’t receive my X-1 in exchange for this post or any monetary compensation. I was genuinely curious about the mask and placed an order for two.

My masks arrived in a black bubble mailer, making them seem a little cooler from the start. They were each sealed in their own packet with an insert that explained the three layers, different methods for securing the X-1, machine washing instructions, and more.

DCBL X-1 mask packaging

In my experience, the mask felt soft and comfortable before even putting it on. The X-1 feels like a well-constructed, high-quality mask.

DCBL X-1 Mask

I have to say, I dig the interior layer. Not only is it soft and comfortable, the design detail is a nice departure from the white, black or pale blue to which we’ve all become accustomed:

Inside layer of DCBL X-1 face mask

It’s comfortable on my face and it allows me to speak comfortably, clearly and loudly no extra effort. I wore mine around my place and while writing this article. The ear loops are comfortable for me but the X-1 can be worn easily with an ear loop extension or toward the top of the head with the clasp system.

My glasses did fog slightly at first, but that became a non-issue after I adjusted the nose bridge suspension area.

Other people’s mileage may very, of course, but I feel that the mask delivers on DCBL’s mission statement: Be Heard.

To learn more and order the X-1, click here. connect with DCBL on Instagram and Facebook. Contact hello@dcblmasks.com for wholesale orders.

Disclaimer: The DCBL X-1 is not a medical-grade mask and is not intended as a replacement for medical-grade equipment or other recommended measures to stop the community spread of any viruses.

Images taken by author.

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

On the Menu for 2021: The RESTAURANTS Act

On the Menu for 2021: The RESTAURANTS Act

by David Klemt

Much like restaurants themselves, the RESTAURANTS Act has faced multiple starts and stops.

The bill received huge bipartisan support in 2020, landing dozens upon dozens of co-sponsors.

However, that widespread support didn’t materialize into any actual progress—the bill was never signed into law. That must change now.

A Long Road

It’s February 2021. The House and Senate must work together to provide the targeted relief of the Real Economic Support That Acknowledges Unique Restaurant Assistance Needed to Survive (RESTAURANTS) Act.

The RESTAURANTS Act was first introduced to the House of Representatives on June 15, 2020. The bill was eventually included in the revised Heroes Act, which was passed by the House on October 1, 2020 on a vote of 214 to 207.

Unfortunately, that bill was “dead on arrival” and didn’t receive a vote on the Senate floor. A $900 billion stimulus package was negotiated in December of 2020 but the RESTAURANTS Act wasn’t included in it.

It has been more than long enough—it’s beyond time for action.

Where are We Now?

Throughout all of this, from inception to current status, the Independent Restaurant Coalition (IRC) has never faltered in their campaign to ensure this industry receives the targeted relief it so desperately needs.

It’s wise given how the number of times we’ve been let down by our elected officials to be guarded and cautiously optimistic about the RESTAURANTS Act finally being signed into law this month.

On February 5, Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), and Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) formally (re)introduced the RESTAURANTS Act to the 117th Congress.

What’s in the Bill?

In its current form, the RESTAURANTS Act:

  • establishes a $120 billion relief fund for foodservice and drinking establishments;
  • makes groups that operate up to 20 units eligible for relief from that fund;
  • provides operators access to grants of up to $10 million for eligible expenses; and
  • makes the grants retroactive to February 15, 2020 and ends them eight months after the legislation is signed into law.

New provisions in the February 2021 RESTAURANTS Act include:

  • updates to the award calculation based on annual loss from calendar year 2020 instead of quarterly;
  • grant eligibility for new restaurants that opened after January 1, 2020;
  • paid sick leave as an eligible expense for employees, with a bonus amount to cover the cost of voluntarily providing ten days of sick leave to employees;
  • providing the Department of the Treasury the discretion to help reduce waste, fraud, and abuse;
  • imposing reporting obligations on the Department of the Treasury to share who gets loans and demographic information about recipients; and
  • ensuring that restaurants can use both the Employee Retention Tax Credit and the RESTAURANTS Act grant program, provided they are not used for the same expenses.

What’s Next?

We must all act to give the RESTAURANTS Act the best chance of becoming law. We have been patient for long enough.

We must let our representatives know we expect them to pledge their support for this bill formally.

The IRC provides several methods for ensuring our representatives understand they need to co-sponsor and pass the RESTAURANTS Act:

  1. Email your representatives and ask them for their co-sponsorship.
  2. Call your representatives directly and tell them why restaurants and bars need the RESTAURANTS Act to be voted on, passed, and signed into law. This is the number to dial: (202) 224-3121. The IRC has provided talking points here.
  3. Share the graphic below on your social channels and encourage your followers to also contact their representatives and ask them to co-sponsor the RESTAURANTS Act. Use the following caption when posting: It’s official: the RESTAURANTS Act of 2021 is on the menu in both chambers of Congress. Call your representatives today and tell them that independent restaurants, bars, and workers can’t wait any longer for direct relief: 202-224-3121 #SaveRestaurants

All of that will take less than 20 minutes. That’s not a lot of time to help finally get this industry the support and relief it needs.

The RESTAURANTS Act is needed to prevent more permanent restaurant and bar closures, and to revitalize the industry. The road to recovery is a long one and getting this bill signed into law is a major step forward.

Please email and call your representatives. Please share the post and caption above on your social media. Please help save the restaurants, bars, and millions of people they employ.

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