Food & Beverage

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Celebrate National Takeout Day!

Celebrate National Takeout Day!

by David Klemt

Canadian flag against blue sky and white clouds

Today is the big day: National Takeout Day in Canada!

Canada Takeout is challenging Canadians to place takeout orders and set a national record.

Obviously, this national challenge is very straightforward—if you’re in Canada, order takeout!

Take Part

As an operator, make sure your loyal customers know to participate today. You know what that means—flood social media.

If there was ever a right time to leverage your social media channels, it’s today.

Post about your takeout menu. Post about any specials you’re offering to entice your customers to place takeout orders. Show off your food. Use the hashtags #takeoutday and #Canadatakeoutrecord. Encourage your customers to post their orders and use the same hashtags.

Also, ensure your receipt printing system is set to label takeout orders as “Takeout” on receipts. That makes it possible for your customers to upload their receipts to the Takeout Tracker; make sure you tell your customers to do that so they can be counted.

Go All In

Canada Takeout’s mission is “reminding Canadians to order takeout.” The organization is helping Canada set the all-time record for takeout orders today in several ways.

We’ve been over their hashtags and that you should absolutely use them. However, Canada Takeout has also created social media assets anyone can download and use. One of these assets features a fantastic slogan: “Eat well. Support local. Set a record.”

Click here, scroll down, and download. While you’re at it, make sure you’re following Canada Takeout on Instagram and Facebook.

Keep it Going

This isn’t Canada Takeout’s first initiative. The organization launched the inaugural National Takeout Day last year, April 15, 2020.

Per a press release, the hashtag #takeoutday has earned more than 160 million impressions, reaching nearly 53 million people.

Canada Takeout also celebrates other food-related holidays. Visit the site and you’ll see that they’re looking forward to Thai Food Day (April 21), Tomato Day (April 28), and Mexican Food Day (May 5).

Get your takeout menu ready, promote it on social, and help set a record today!

Image: chris robert on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month

5 Books to Read this Month

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Spring is traditionally the time when we’re meant to reinvent or otherwise better ourselves. These books can help you do just that.

Some will help you expand or enter this business, others will boost your marketing and social media, and a couple will help you refresh your drink menu.

With restrictions easing and vaccination rates in the United States growing, now’s the time to improve yourself and your business.

Prepare now for pent-up demand for in-person dining and drinking.

Food Truck Business Guide for Beginners

Looking to enter this industry with a food truck or expand your existing business with one? This book is a great place to start.

Food Truck Business Guide for Beginners is a comprehensive guide that covers:

  • common mistakes that lead to food truck failure, and exactly how to avoid them;
  • the most successful ways to secure funding;
  • how to master marketing;
  • best practices for passing health inspections;
  • tackling and mastering marketing for your business;
  • and many more topics.

The Terroir of Whiskey: A Distiller’s Journey Into the Flavor of Place

Dr. Rob Arnold is a plant biochemist and the master distiller at TX Distillery. To say he understands the science of whiskey and terroir is obvious.

What’s less obvious is the direction Dr. Arnold’s book heads into. He takes readers to distilleries in Kentucky, Ireland, Scotland and elsewhere, but he takes things further.

In The Terroir of Whiskey, Dr. Arnold shines a light on plant breeders, local farmers, and distillers bringing back “lost” grains. These same innovators are also attempting to create new grains to further develop terroir.

This book will definitely enhance your whiskey knowledge and engagement with guests.

Rad Cocktails

Yes, this book’s description states that it focuses on the home bartender.

No, that doesn’t mean bartenders, operators, and other hospitality pros can’t learn from it.

Rad Cocktails, in addition to including awesome illustrations, also embodies a growing cocktail trend: simplification. Innovative cocktails don’t have to be complicated or take ten minutes to build.

Beautiful Booze: Stylish Cocktails to Make at Home

Natalie Migliarini, also known as Beautiful Booze, has more than 95,000 followers on Instagram. Her cocktail recipes, photographs and mastery of social media help her stand out in a roiling sea of influencers.

Her first book, Beautiful Booze: Stylish Cocktails to Make at Home, also targets home bartenders…on the surface. This book, creative cocktail recipes, can help elevate anyone’s bartending skills. The beautiful photography will also help inspire anyone to take their social media shooting to the next level.

Hacking the New Normal: Hitting the Reset Button on the Hospitality Industry

Alright, this may seem self-serving. However, I wouldn’t have written the foreword for a book I didn’t believe this book would truly help people.

Millions of hospitality industry professionals’ lives were imperiled at the start of last year. We continue to innovate and adapt to overcome unprecedented challenges.

Hacking the New Normal addresses the need for an industry-wide reset and seeks to guide operators through rebuilding for the long term, and to strengthen the industry moving forward.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash 

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: April

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: April

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. They range from mainstream to food focused to weird.

Focus on the latter to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests.

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, weird or otherwise. Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

April 14: National Reach as High as You Can Day

This is a holiday that will likely work best on social media. Just like there’s always a holiday and people like to say “there’s always a tweet,” there’s always a hashtag.

Use this day (and its accompanying hashtag) to highlight staff who want to participate, along with your venue.

Of course, if you want to involve your guests in person, go for it. Put your head together with your staff and get creative.

April 15: National Take a Wild Guess Day

You can take promotions centered around this day in several directions. The simplest way is to use the holiday to engage with followers on your social channels.

Consider borrowing from the “wrong answers only” posts on Instagram. Post a blurred, pixelated or “censored” item, like a bottle. In the caption, ask followers to “guess” what it is—wild guesses only.

This holiday also works well with blind tasting events.

April 16: Wear Pajamas to Work Day

I’d say this holiday is fairly self-explanatory. Let your front-of-house staff participate by wearing pajamas, with full team buy-in. Or, encourage your guests to wear their pajamas to your restaurant or bar.

If this holiday fell on a Saturday or Sunday, this would be a great day for a brunch promo. Of course, there’s nothing to say you can’t execute a Friday brunch.

April 16: National Bean Counter Day

In the United States, this holiday is taking place a month before the Tax Day deadline. If you’re so inclined, you could offer a deal to all the tax preparers and accountants in your area.

Although, you can also go a completely different direction. You can fill a large jar with beans—coffee would be great—and have guests guess how many there are. You can even post the jar full of beans to social, encouraging follower engagement. Closest guess wins a prize.

April 22: National Jelly Bean Day

Oh, hey… Remember that bean-counting holiday from way up there? I wonder if that bean-guessing idea would work for this holiday…

April 23: National Talk Like Shakespeare Day

If you think you or your social media manager can handle it, encourage your followers to describe your restaurant or bar as though they’re the Bard himself.

Or, as a Shakespearean translator would explain it, “Encourageth thy followeth’rs to describeth thy restaurant ‘r bar as though those gents’re the Bard himself.”

April 25: National DNA Day

Yesterday, I shared how our DNA plays a significant role in how we perceive bitter flavors. National DNA Day would be a great time to plan and execute a PTC strip and cocktail event.

April 27: National Tell a Story Day

How well do your loyal guests know you and your brand? How well do they know your staff?

National Tell a Story Day is an excellent time to leverage the story features on your social channels. Show off the venue and tell your brand’s story. If you have team members who want to participate and tell share a story, that’s a great way to engage with followers and guests.

April 28: National Superhero Day

If there was a ever a day to encourage your staff and/or guests to dress up for a fun time… National Superhero Day also leverages Shudder’s “Halfway to Halloween” event.

To take this holiday in another direction, you can also celebrate members of your community who give back to others by giving back to them.

“Weird” holidays aren’t just a dynamic way to engage with guests. Asking your team for ideas for holiday promotions is an excellent way to keep them engaged, which is a smart way to retain staff.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash 

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Science of Bitter Flavors

The Science of Bitter Flavors

by David Klemt

Selection of cocktails on table on patio of bar

Not only do bitter cocktail ingredients add depth and complexity to drinks, individual DNA plays a role in how we perceive them.

Campari, one of the best-known bitter aperitifs, adds herbal bitterness to cocktails.

However, not everyone perceives bitterness the same way. This is why some of your guests love bitter drinks, some can’t stand them, and others don’t have much of a response at all.

The Bitter Response

Dr. Danielle Reed is associate director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center. As her research summary states, why different people taste and smell differently, and how genotypes play a role in that perception.

A recent Campari digital event, “In a Sense: Decoding the Science of Bitter,” dives into the bitter response of humans. During this webinar, host Alison Mouratis, a Campari portfolio representative in Chicago, hosts Dr. Reed and Micah Melton, beverage director at the Alinea Group.

In the webinar, Dr. Reed asks, “Where does bitter come from?” The answer is: plants.

Obviously, plants can’t defend themselves like animals. If a predator chooses a plant as its prey, it doesn’t really have to worry about teeth and talons.

Instead, plants employ secondary defense chemicals, and they do so in an instant. Some of these defense chemicals are poisonous and humans perceive them as bitter. Often, bitter flavors activate our salivary glands to dilute the poison and protect us.


Yes, that. Phenylthiocarbamide (PTC) is a chemical compound that tastes bitter…to some of us.

As Dr. Reed explains, not everyone can detect PTC. Our parents determine whether the receptor that picks up PTC is broken or not.

In some of us (about 30 percent of people), the receptor is broken. Turns out, it’s broken in yours truly. In others, one parent passes on the receptor. And for some people, both parents pass it on and the reaction to PTC is strong.

Test Your Receptor

I discovered my receptor is broken during the Campari event on screen with more than a dozen other participants.

How does one test their reaction to PTC? Via PTC strips. One takes a strip, places it in their mouth, and they’ll know quite quickly if their receptor is active.

Not only is this interesting to do just out of personal curiosity, operators can host an event similar to Campari’s. Guests are looking for new ways to engage with the brands, restaurants, bars, and bar teams they support.

PTC strips are available for on Amazon, and they’re not expensive. Vials of 100 PTC strips can cost as little as five dollars.

Not only is this type of event educational, it’s entertaining and can help drive drink sales.

Image: Chino Rocha on Unsplash 

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

2020 Craft Brewing Production Infographic

2020 Craft Brewing Production Infographic

by David Klemt

Stack of beer kegs in black and white

The Brewers Association‘s latest report and infographic reveal 2020 small and independent craft brewery production numbers.

Like their restaurant, bar and brewpub cohorts, brewers are facing enduring struggles due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, the Brewers Association did find some good news.

First, the challenges.

Overall Market Drop

The BA’s report reveals that small and independent craft brewer production is down nine percent from 2019. Overall, draught beer sales dropped 40 percent last year.

That equates to an overall market share of 12.3 percent in 2020. Comparing 2020 to 2019, that’s a decline of 1.3 percent.

Unfortunately, 2020 craft brewer numbers also reveal significant job loss for the industry. In comparison to 2019, direct craft beer jobs are down 14 percent.

In terms of small and independent brewery closures, 2020 saw 346 brewers close their doors permanently.

Some Silver Linings

There is some good news for craft beer. Not every closure is attributable to Covid-19.

Reviewing the 2020 numbers, the BA says there are 8,764 craft breweries operating in the United States. That’s an all-time high.

The breakdown is as follows:

  • 220 Regional craft breweries
  • 1,854 Microbreweries
  • 3,219 Brewpubs
  • 3,471 Taproom breweries

Impressively, the number of new craft brewery openings more than double the number of closures at 716.

Per Bart Watson, chief economist at the BA, the total number of craft breweries and openings in 2020 proves the “resilient and entrepreneurial nature” of small and independent brewers.

BA Infographic

You’ll find more information below. The BA’s infographic neatly tells the story of the association’s latest report.

Perhaps the biggest positive takeaway is the steady growth in operational craft breweries. Since 2016, the number of breweries in this category has increased by nearly 3,100.

That’s an average of 785 new brewery openings each year. Given the number of openings in 2020, it’s possible craft brewers will gain ground on the jobs lost over the course of last year.

It’s also likely production and sales numbers will see a boost in 2021 through a culmination of easing restrictions, reopening markets, pent-up demand, vaccination rates, and guest comfort levels.

2020 Small and Independent US Craft Brewer Annual Production Report

Infographic: Brewers Association

Image: Hennie Stander on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Dial In Your Brunch Before Mother’s Day

Dial In Your Brunch Before Mother’s Day

by David Klemt

Warming weather, pent-up demand, and less-restrictive Covid rules—at least in the United States—make brunch viable in many markets.

Plus, we’re just a month away from Mother’s Day. If everything goes right, dining restrictions won’t keep operators from capitalizing on this big brunch holiday.

Considering your brunch menu now—including your Champagne and sparkling drinks—will help you dial it in before Mother’s Day.

To help you perfect your brunch operations, let’s look at a casual chain, a taco shack, a fine-dining restaurant, and a casual independent restaurant that focuses on comfort foods.

Las Vegas

Things are looking up for Las Vegas. Nevada’s current Covid-19 status is Mitigation.

Restaurants, bars, pubs, breweries, distilleries and wineries may operate at 50-percent indoor capacity. There’s no occupancy limit for outdoor dining, but operators must follow social distancing guidelines.

The city is known for its buffets, of course. Some are open again, thanks to the easing of restrictions. However, Las Vegas buffets are known globally—let’s focus on a more traditional restaurant for this list. I also want to venture off the Strip—but not too far.

Lazy Dog is a casual dining chain with a focus on craft beer and dog-friendly operations. Canine buddies are welcome on their patios.

You may be wondering why, given all the incredible restaurants in Las Vegas, I’m looking at a casual chain. The answer, quite simply, is that I want to offer an array of suggestions to get you thinking about your own brunch offerings.

First, there’s the $20 DIY Mimosa. For $20, guests get a 750mL of Freixenet Cava with either orange juice of Kern’s Peach Nectar.

Then there are the brunch menu food items. There’s a generous portion of avocado toast that comes with cheesy scrambled eggs; a Breakfast Burger; a Breakfast Club Sandwich; a couple of breakfast quiches; and Bacon Candy, which is bacon with brown sugar, crushed red pepper chili flakes and black pepper.

Lazy Dog’s brunch is a good example of how to make bottle service fun and accessible, and elevating brunch menus in a way that’s familiar and appealing to guests.


It’s still standard operating procedure for guests in restaurants and bars to wear face coverings unless eating or drinking. Capacity is 175 people maximum per floor. There’s a limit of 10 guests per table inside, 25 outside.

However, restaurants and bars are open in Nashville for indoor dining. Venues that serve alcohol must cease service at 1:00 AM and close at 2:00 AM. If there is no alcohol service, a restaurant may remain open for 24 hours.

Redheaded Stranger takes brunch in a deceptively simple direction: breakfast tacos. Brunch doesn’t have to be standard breakfast foods, after all.

Flour tortillas are made in house and pair well with mouthwatering brunch fillings. There are tacos with bacon, tater tots, egg and cheddar cheese; chorizo, egg, sour cream and cheddar; and tater tots, jalapeño crema, red hatch chiles, and American cheese. Oh, and don’t forget their inventive sauces, like Dr. Pepper Hot Sauce.

Of course, no brunch is complete without cool, refreshing drinks. The taco hot spot offers Bloody Marys, Mimosas, Margaritas, and frozen cocktails.


Florida is in Phase 3 of their reopening plan. That means restaurants, bars and nightlife venues are open for business.

There’s an executive order in place in Orange County, Florida, mandating face masks in public settings. Orlando is in Orange County.

Otherwise, it’s business as usual.

Chef’s Table at the Edgewater is an award-winning fine dining restaurant. People travel from all over the world for the food and experience.

The Chef’s Table brunch menu features upscale but accessible fare. There are Duck Fat Fries to share (or keep to yourself); Lobster Mac & Cheese; a trio of Mini Beef Wellingtons; Chicken and Waffles made with sweet-tea-brined chicken and bourbon maple syrup; Vegan Chilaquiles Verdes to which one can add a sunny-side-up egg.


As of April 4, restaurants and bars are able to enjoy relaxed Covid restrictions. One of the biggest reasons for restaurants and bars to rejoice is the return of bar services. Barriers are required promote social distancing.

As far as indoor capacity restrictions, restaurants and bars that self-certify may operate at 75 percent. Venues that don’t self-certify may open at 50 percent indoor capacity.

Establishments can serve alcohol without the purchase of food, and there’s no longer a curfew for removing alcohol from tables.

One Philly restaurant that got our attention with their brunch menu is the Twisted Tail. The Headhouse Square eatery offered a $39/person prix fixe menu for Easter, taking full advantage of Pennsylvania’s new Covid regulations.

Their “standard” brunch menu features creative items such as Crawfish Mac & Cheese, Beer-Battered Cheese Curds, and Buttermilk Chicken Sandwich.

Image: Natasha Kapur on Unsplash 

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Grilled Cheese Day: Mastering the Melt

Grilled Cheese Day: Mastering the Melt

by David Klemt

Person pulling apart melty grilled cheese sandwich

There are few comfort foods more popular than a well-made, melty grilled cheese sandwich.

It’s such a perfect comfort food that it has its own national holiday in the United States.

National Grilled Cheese Sandwich Day is April 12 in the US. From what I’ve read, Canada also gets in on the fun.

Melt Mastery

If you want to make the best grilled cheese sandwiches, not just any cheese will do.

The saying goes that you can’t squeeze blood from a stone. Well, you also can’t squeeze a melt out of a hard cheese cheese.

So, you want to make one of the comfiest of comfort foods. Cheese selection matters. Here’s what to consider:

  • Moisture content. Hard cheeses have very little water content and therefore don’t fully liquify.
  • Fat content. Cheeses with a high fat content melt very well.
  • Acidity. Cheeses that are highly acidic get stringy when melted. Acid-curded cheeses (vegan, many goat cheeses) don’t melt much, if at all.
  • Age. If you want melty cheese that results in that visually appealing cheese pull, look for fresh and unaged cheeses.

Melt Mates

It’s tempting to throw the cheese drawer at a sandwich. If one cheese is great, more cheeses are even better, right?

Wrong. Certain cheeses melt together better than others. Consider this:

There are restaurants that have grilled cheese eating challenges. Complete such a challenge, bask in glory forever. The reason this particular challenge must be completed quickly is melting points. As the sandwich cools, the cheeses congeal. The harder, lower-fat cheeses make it much more difficult to finish the admittedly ridiculous challenge sandwich.

So, which challenges melt the best and tend to play well together? Check out the list below:

  • American
  • Blue Cheese
  • Brie (works particularly well with fruit slices, jam and aged Cheddar)
  • Cheddar (look for younger versions for the best melt)
  • Colby
  • Comté
  • Fontina
  • Gruyère (again, younger versions tend to be better for grilled cheese sandwiches)
  • Monterey Jack
  • Mozzarella
  • Muenster
  • Pepper Jack
  • Provolone
  • Raclette
  • Taleggio

Become Legend

Comfort foods have become big-time revenue generators during the pandemic in America and Canada. There’s no reason to believe that’s going to change any time soon.

Master your melt and your sandwiches will become legend. Master the sides, dips and other accoutrements that enhance your legendary sandwich(es) and you’ll become a grilled cheese god.

Image: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

This Would Be a Good Time for a Beer

This Would Be a Good Time for a Beer

by David Klemt

Draft beer on bar

New Beer’s Eve and National Beer Day are relatively new American holidays closely related to prohibition and Repeal Day.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Wait a second—Repeal Day takes place in December. What’s wrong with you?”

First, you’re right. Second, we don’t have time to get into all of that.

However, beer became legal again well before the Eighteenth Amendment was repealed.

The Cullen–Harrison Act

It’s 1933 and a United States Senator and a Congressman sponsor a bill changing the definition of “intoxicating beverage.”

The bill is aptly known as the Cullen-Harrison Act. It doesn’t legalize all beer but it makes it legal to sell beer with alcohol content no greater than 3.2 percent.

Such alcohol content, it’s thought, is so low as to not be intoxicating.

Congress enacts the so-called Beer Permit Act on March 21, 1933. President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the act into law the next day, and it goes into effect April 7, 1933.

President Roosevelt, signing the Cullen-Harrison Act, famously says, “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”

National Impact

Beer drinkers—and very likely people just looking for a legal drink—rejoice, obviously.

Across the United States, people gather in droves outside breweries. According to reports, people will consume 1.5 million barrels of beer the day the Cullen-Harrison Act becomes the law of the land.

Fast forward to 2009. Justin Smith, who lives in Richmond, Virginia, at the time celebrates the first National Beer Day. Smith sets off a chain of events involving social media and Untappd. In 2017, Virginia officially recognizes National Beer Day.

Let’s Celebrate!

National Beer Day is accompanied by New Beer’s Eve.

The latter celebrates those brave and thirsty souls that lined up outside our nation’s breweries the day before the Cullen-Harrison Act went into effect.

We get to celebrate two beer holidays this week: New Beer’s Eve on Tuesday and National Beer Day on Wednesday.

New Beer’s Eve is an excellent day for operators to showcase their newest beers.

Both days are ideal for highlighting 0.0 and 0.5 beers, along with what we now refer to as “session” beers (5.0 percent and lower).

Oh, and don’t forget to use President Roosevelt’s famous quote when promoting these two holidays: “I think this would be a good time for a beer.”

Image: cottonbro from Pexels

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Meet Customers Where They Are, Part 2

Meet Customers Where They Are, Part 2

by David Klemt

Preparing a cocktail at home for living room tasting event

We seem to approaching a semblance of normalcy but some consumer behaviors—drinking at home among them—are likely here to stay.

Per Distill Ventures, the living room is the new tasting room.

Consumers are drinking at home, drinking during the day, and prioritizing convenience.

So, will you get creative and meet your customers where they are—their living rooms?

The New Tasting Room

Fresh off their third whisky summit, Distill Ventures believes consumers will seek out more at-home experiences.

This is partly due to some regions around the world locking down. Additionally, consumers know they can partake in experiential guests at home.

Consider what some brands are putting together to engage with people at their homes:

  • Cynar: CynArts & Crafts, Paint by Numbers Virtual Party, complete with brushes and paints sent to participants.
  • Campari: Decoding the Science of Bitter, including a PTC strip sent to participants to gauge their bitter response.
  • Espolòn Tequila: Virtual Espolotería, an online bingo-style game.

Distill Ventures and the panelists of their third summit see people’s living rooms as a viable place to engage consumers.

While the latest summit focuses specifically on whisky distillers, brand marketers and retailers, the findings are transferrable.

Don’t Be Left Out

If consumers are going to engage more with brands at home, operators must meet them in their living rooms. That means going beyond offering standard delivery.

Obviously, operators need to attract guests to their brick-and-mortar locations. And pent-up demand for in-person experiences is set to explode.

However, that initial explosion in traffic will eventually taper off, and more quickly than we think. That gradual slow-down will make digital engagement crucial.

This industry requires adaptability and agility to survive and thrive. Operators and their teams will need to focus on social, YouTube and webinar-style engagement to engage with current and new customers.

Bar team members who want to participate can share recipes and techniques via live videos. Of course, kitchen team members can do the same.

Scheduling digital events—guided tastings and cooking classes—can also draw customers. Operators should just make sure they don’t give too much away to their audience so they’ll feel compelled to visit in person as often as they can.

Succeeding with these events opens the door to potentially lucrative collaborations. Operators should reach out to brand partners for branded, themed events.

With enough lead time, packages can be put together and delivered with partner help. Of course, in “help” in this context means “dollars and/or product.”

You’ll never know what support your partners are willing to provide if you don’t ask.

Image: Boozy Events on Unsplash 

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

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