It’s the giving season and the hospitality industry is one that takes care of its own.
We all have the opportunity to help an industry veteran and also support an incredible cause.
In July of this year, Chris Patino was diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer. One night he went to bed feeling fine and the next morning he was unable to get out of bed.
Patino is an industry advocate who has focused on elevating the art and craft of bartending, brand education, and executing incredible events. He’s a partner in the award-winning Raised by Wolves, founder of the strategic marketing agency Simple Serve, and a Bartender’s Weekend organizer.
Now, Patino has launched This T-Shirt Fights Cancer. The proceeds of each This T-Shirt Fights Cancer tee, designed by Dave Stolte, based on a design by Woodrow Guthrie, and originally sketched on the back of a napkin—so fitting for this industry—go to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network (PANCAN).
Like Patino, PANCAN is dedicated to building community, sharing information, and advocacy. The organization fights to improve the lives of those living with pancreatic cancer through advancements in research.
As we near the end of the year, please consider joining the fight against cancer and purchasing a This T-Shirt Fights Cancer tee. To quote Patino on his campaign page, “And as always, f*ck cancer.”
Can Vending Machines Help Restaurants and Farmers Fight Food Waste and Generate Revenue?
by David Klemt
French farmers have found an innovative way to fight food waste, generate much-needed revenue, and provide fresh produce to the public: vending machines.
Last week, Barron’s, a publication dedicated to financial and investment news coverage, published an article about farmers in France finding more success selling produce via vending machines than their own farm stores.
All manner of items can be loaded into vending machines—fruits, vegetables, eggs and dairy products, for example—and famers are able to choose how many lockers their setups will include. For instance, one farmer invested in a 60-locker vending machine for €30,000, while another placed a machine with 88 lockers close to her farm.
Selling via vending machine was lauded by Barron’s as respectful of health and safety regulations since farmers and consumers aren’t interacting with one another directly.
This development begs the question: Would selling produce directly to consumers through vending machines prove viable in the United States and Canada?
The havoc afflicting the restaurant business doesn’t affect only the owners, operators and employees—it’s a shockwave ripping through other industries, such as farming and agriculture. For months, news coverage has included reports of farmers sharing stories of showing up to restaurants to deliver food only to find them closed, leaving farmers with surpluses of food destined to go to waste.
One option to make this work could include restaurant operators and local farmers partnering to set up vending machines (locker type, not the standard snack versions). This would help reduce the initial buy-in and both operators and farmers would have access: restaurants would use them for contactless meal and meal kit pickup, and farmers could accept direct-to-consumer orders of fresh produce fulfilled through the lockers.
In fact, creative operators may be able to build meal kits that combine their menu items with ingredients sourced from local farmers.
The partnership concept may prove more viable for connectivity reasons as well. In France, one major supplier of vending machines, according to Barron’s, indicated the machines required a reliable 4G connection, in part because they recommend only accepting credit card and online payments to reduce vandalism. Placing vending machines on-site should provide more stable connections and steadier consumer traffic.
Politicians continue to drag their feet and posture in regards to Covid-19 relief. It has been clear for months that the public and businesses without lobbying power are being left to fend for themselves. A partnership between restaurants and farmers could prove mutually beneficial for the survival of the restaurant, farming and agriculture industries.
When contacting their representatives to demand they help we the people and the restaurant industry, it could be wise to remind them that relief for restaurants is also relief for farmers, saving millions of jobs and thousands of farms at risk of permanent loss, along with avoiding literal tons of needless food waste.
LCBO and SkipTheDishes Hit Pause on Partnership After Public Lashing
by David Klemt
The Liquor Control Board of Ontario (LCBO) faced outrage over the weekend, ultimately deciding to “pause” a controversial partnership after receiving a public lashing.
In case you missed it, the LCBO and SkipTheDishes announced on December 4 that they had partnered to offer home deliveries of beer, wine and spirits in Toronto. For those who are unfamiliar, SkipTheDishes is a food delivery service similiar to Grubhub that serves Canada. In fact, SkipTheDishes pulled out of the United States in 2020 and their services were handed over to Grubhub.
Just two days after the partnership was made public, it was announced by the LCBO that, due to “direction from the Ontario Government,” the deal had been suspended.
Restaurants and bars in Ontario have been allowed to offer alcohol for delivery and takeout since March via an emergency order due to the Covid-19 pandemic, shutdowns, and utter carnage that has befallen the industry. Many would like for the emergency order to be made permanent.
To understand the outrage, one must realize that restaurants and bars in Ontario have been operating under forced lockdowns. Premier Doug Ford announced the lockdown—which affected Toronto and Peel Region—on November 20. It went into effect a minute past midnight on November 23. No end date accompanied the mandate.
When the LCBO—which is able to make purchases and sales of beverage alcohol at lower wholesale prices than restaurant and bar owners and operators—arranged the deal with SkipTheDishes, those who operate in Toronto and Peel interpreted the move as undercutting their struggling businesses. Alcohol delivery and takeout is one of the only ways operators in those areas can generate any revenue and give themselves a fighting chance to keep from closing their doors permanently.
In terms of optics, the situation did anything but paint the LCBO and SkipTheDishes in a positive light. The LCBO, for those outside Canada, is what’s known as a Crown Corporation. That is, it’s entirely owned by the Sovereign of Canada—a state-owned enterprise. One could argue that it appeared the government in Ontario hobbled the LCBO’s competition—restaurants and bars—in an effort to boost their revenue and profits.
A tweet by operator and author Jen Agg regarding the timing of the partnership read, in part, “It is timed to UNDERCUT restaurants that are already bleeding out. It is timed to benefit companies that DONT NEED ANY HELP! It is timed to devastate restaurants and they damn well knew all of this.” (Emphasis Jen Agg’s.)
While the “pause” of the LCBO-SkipTheDishes partnership is a victory of sorts, countless operators—and likely customers and other small business supporters—would like to see this arrangement permanently dissolved. Several tweets have mentioned that the LCBO has increased profits during the pandemic, while others have pointed out that the Crown Corporation could help restaurants and bars by offering them wholesale pricing to reduce costs.
For now, operators in Ontario will need to keep their eyes and ears open, remaining vigilant should the LCBO and SkipTheDishes press play on their deal again.
There are 346 Boston Market stores in the United States. Pop open Twitter, search “Boston Market,” and check out the tweets from about November 21 to today.
Twitter users, some of whom claimed to have spent $300 or more on preordered and prepaid Thanksgiving meals prepared by Boston Market, experienced a range of issues when they went to pick up their orders.
Tweets and reports abound of Boston Market customers experiencing one or more of the following:
Waits of up to three hours (if not longer). In a pandemic. On Thanksgiving Day.
Incomplete orders. Supposedly, this was due in some situations because walk-in guests were permitted to place orders they received before those waiting in line for preorders which, again, were paid for in advance.
Unprepared orders. Some Twitter users claimed they were given frozen or raw items to prepare themselves.
Missing orders. There are claims that some customers arrived to pick up their orders only to be told it wasn’t there.
Of course, that’s not the complete list of issues reported by Twitter users. Other tweets—and there are a lot—claim that people placed preorders, paid for them, and then received messages canceling their orders. Some of those cancellations allegedly occurred on Thanksgiving Day—and without refunds.
And what has Boston Market done so far? Continued to tweet on Thanksgiving, Black Friday and the following Sunday. Those tweets are still up, with a November 29 tweet about the final day of their Black Friday deal being the most current.
At the time of publication, there’s no tweet addressing Boston Market’s apparent Thanksgiving debacle. But there are plenty of replies with messages like this from one user:
“It’s not a happy thanksgiving when you tell us to wait in a very long line our Thanksgiving order that WE PAID $140 – and we’re here during our window.”
And this one, from a user who shared an image that purported to be of their $175.30 order:
“I’d be thankful if I could have waited in line for 2 hours to pickup our family’s Thanksgiving day meal. Unfortunately, the food was paid for, but never delivered to us. We’ll be eating sides from the grocery. Thanks Boston Market.”
The situation is no better on Instagram, with one user there commenting, in part, “Boston Market has taken NO RESPONSABILITY for the Thanksgiving disaster.” (Emphasis theirs).
Perhaps Boston Market is addressing or has already addressed affected customers offline. Perhaps some of the tweets weren’t real and posted by trolls doing their troll thing. Not everything, it turns out, on the Internet is real.
Boston Market still needs to release an official statement addressing what happened to many of their guests on Thanksgiving. That statement needs to be accompanied by social media posts.
How negative an impact Boston Market’s silence will have on their bottom line moving forward remains to be seen. However, as most owners and operators of customer-facing businesses know, an apology and offer to make things right goes a long way. Simply acknowledging a problem occurred and vowing to look into it can keep a bad situation from devolving further.
Competing Stimulus Plans Fail to Include RESTAURANTS Act
by David Klemt – 12/3/2020
Talk out of Washington, D.C., about yet more stimulus relief package negotiations is making one thing starkly clear: We’re on our own.
There’s no help coming, not from the federal government.
Unfortunately—but perhaps unsurprisingly—it appears the bipartisan support the RESTAURANTS Act received in Congress was an exercise in optics. The result? Fleeting hope.
Without a signature from the president, it doesn’t matter that Congress voted to pass a revised HEROES Act two months ago. Lest anyone forget, the last time a meaningful Covid-19 relief package was signed by the current president on March 27 of this year.
Another way to put that is that our elected officials haven’t managed to pass a stimulus package signed into law for 251 days. They did, however, find the time for a week-long recess for Thanksgiving.
It was announced just two days ago that a bipartisan group of congresspeople and senators had negotiated a $908 billion stimulus package. The intention was to strike a middle ground between Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) desire for a $500 billion package and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-CA) proposed $2 trillion-plus bill.
Yesterday, multiple sources reported that the $908 billion—which apparently didn’t include the RESTAURANTS Act—was dead on arrival.
Of note, at least to me, is that Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) is reported to have mentioned that this week’s touted bipartisan package had been negotiated “over pizza or pasta at people’s houses.” I have to wonder if the pizza or pasta was prepared, provided and delivered by restaurants that are among the hundreds of thousands facing permanent closure if the government doesn’t actually act in a meaningful way.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, on his way to a House committee meeting, reportedly said, “The president will sign the McConnell proposal that he put forward yesterday, and we look forward to making progress on that.”
From what I was able to glean, the RESTAURANTS Act isn’t included in McConnell’s bill either. Neither are stimulus checks nor a federal boost to unemployment insurance payments. Supposedly it does include an extension of the problematic Paycheck Protection Program (PPP); liability protection for schools and businesses; and a $332 million grant for theaters and live venues.
If the tone of this article comes across as angry, I freely admit that’s an accurate assessment. The RESTAURANTS Act was first introduced to Congress on June 15. Elected officials have had 171 days to help the hospitality industry.
The industry that employs more than 16 million people—11 million of which are employed by independent restaurants. The industry that generates well over $760 billion in annual sales. The industry that accounts for 3.5 percent of America’s GDP. The industry that has for years provided venues, food and drinks for elected officials’ countless re-election campaign fundraisers.
The industry that, should tens or hundreds of thousands of restaurants close their doors permanently, will shed millions of jobs that will not return.
And that’s just what’s happening to the industry in the United States. The industry is similarly at extremely high risk for irreversible devastation in Canada and throughout the world.
So, yes—I’m angry. I’m angry that the millions of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars this industry contributes just to America apparently don’t mean much to government officials.
I suppose I can only blame myself for holding out hope that the RESTAURANTS Act would be signed into law. After all, the president, speaking about restaurants back in March, said, “they’ll all come back in one form or another,” adding, “It may not be the same restaurant, it may not be the same ownership, but they’ll be back.”
They won’t be back. We’ve already suffered permanent closures. There was no prescience—or empathy—in the president’s statement. Let me make this clear: I’m not laying all of this solely at his feet. America’s politicians on all sides have failed the hospitality industry and therefore millions of Americans.
Restaurants, bars, lounges, nightclubs, hotels… This is an industry that consists of incredibly resilient people. There comes a point, however, that even the most resilient need help.
As hospitality professionals fight to return to their feet, bloodied and battered from countless blows, it doesn’t seem that the government is in their corner. Nothing would make me happier than to be proven wrong, but we’ve been at this crossroads for months now.
KRG Hospitality Expands Team with Director of Business Development
by KRG Hospitality – 12/1/2020
December 1, 2020, Burlington, Ontario, Canada–KRG Hospitality, a strategic and creative hospitality consulting agency, today announces the addition of industry veteran and journalist David Klemt to the team. Mr. Klemt will take on the role of Director of Business Development at KRG Hospitality.
Before joining KRG Hospitality, Mr. Klemt gained decades of experience in hospitality working in multiple roles. He kicked off his career as a host at an international chain restaurant, worked as a server at restaurants big and small, became a bartender, co-founded a nightlife-specific valet company, and moved into nightlife marketing and promotions.
For the past 15 years, Mr. Klemt has reported on the industry as a hospitality business journalist. He held the title of editor for Nightclub & Bar’s digital publication for five years. Mr. Klemt founded hospitality news and resources site Hospitality Villains earlier this year after losing his editing job due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We’re entering a new era of hospitality brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic and an industry-wide reckoning with the old way of doing business that forced operators to accept single-digit profit margins,” said Mr. Klemt. “I’m excited and eager to help hospitality professionals thrive as the industry undergoes its next evolution. KRG Hospitality is a driven, dynamic and creative solutions-based agency that aligns with my values and passion for this industry.”
In his role as Director of Business Development at KRG Hospitality, Mr. Klemt will be responsible for developing the agency’s partner network, hosting the Bar Hacks podcast, writing informative articles, publishing expert contributors, and overseeing KRG Hospitality’s social media platforms.
About KRG Hospitality
KRG Hospitality is a storied brand with a proven track record. The agency has delivered exceptional and award-winning concepts throughout a variety of markets found within Canada, the United States, and abroad over the past decade. KRG Hospitality provides a clear framework tailored to each client, writing detailed strategic plans; creating award-winning concepts; facilitating start-up projects; finding gaps in existing strategies; developing solutions to known problems; identifying opportunities for growth; and inspiring others through unique seminars, workshops, and on-going coaching methods. Currently, KRG Hospitality operates in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Las Vegas, Nashville, Orlando, Philadelphia, and the Eastern Caribbean. Visit KRGHospitality.com to learn more.
Articles Submitted To Media Partners During Covid-19 Pandemic
By Doug Radkey (March 2020-July 2020)
Take Time to Recharge: Self-Care During a Crisis
During times of crisis, everyone feels something: sadness, confusion, fear, anxiety, or anger.
It can be easy for many within the industry to become overwhelmed with the amount of decisions that need to be made not only for their business, but for their family, staff, and community.
One area that often gets overlooked, particularly among business and community leaders, is their own self care.
From watching the news every hour to making tough decisions, to hours of volunteering, to scrolling through your social media a little too much, it’s easy to get lost in the noise of what’s going on around us in the time of crisis.
When faced with a lengthy business shutdown, it can be a roller coaster of emotions when you learn it’s time to re-open. While it is understandable that you want to open your doors as quickly as possible, you also want to ensure you’re doing it correctly and in a way that will not cause further damage to your brand, bottom line, staff, or guests.
The truth is, as a variety of government bodies have indicated; you’re likely going to have to open your venue in a series of phases. Are you financially & mindfully prepared for that?
You are also going to have to pivot (are you tired of that word yet?) if you haven’t already in addition to diversifying your menu and offerings.
Understanding flexibility and a willingness to embrace change will make you a valuable leader — one who can reliably deal with many different opportunities and scenarios. You will then find change is not something to fear, but something to welcome and turn into an advantage. For restaurants with a large on-premise business model, change is happening and you need to prepare – now!
The biggest fear factors for many with a significant dining room are the new seating recommendations and capacity levels for dine-in restaurants. Everyone reading this will be in a slightly different scenario, pending the size of venue, location, and style of concept, so it is hard to create a cookie-cutter solution.
However, there are some new strategies and standards to consider that will help you adapt, pivot, and embrace these changes. Continue Reading on Resto Biz
Adapting to Change; Seating (Part 2)
To maximize your seating, encourage guests to make reservations, preferably online. Your guests will want to pick their spots, their proximity to others, and their proximity to high-traffic areas. Your new seating arrangement should ideally be online to review and should also be flexible.
Having a reservation system will also allow your staff the appropriate time to fully sanitize and prepare each area for the next number of guests in a reserved party.
With reservations, it may be wise to also consider time restrictions; guests who are used to travelling to tourism hot spots will be accustomed to these types of rules. Don’t be scared to put a 60- or 90-minute timestamp on reservations to encourage more table flips, which you’ll want to do as many times as possible within safety guidelines. Continue Reading on Resto Biz
Maintaining Financial Health During Pandemic
You already know the majority of restaurants run their business on extremely thin margins, and in the the time of COVID-19, the financial health of the industry has become all the more precarious. In fact, a recent (U.S.) National Bureau of Economic Research paper gave restaurants a 30 per cent chance of reopening if the pandemic lasts four months; this estimate drops to 15 per cent if it lasts six months.
The average restaurant, it found, had enough cash on hand to last approximately two weeks. Why such little time? Because the 3- to 5-per cent profit margin of the average restaurant or bar simply can’t cut it in this environment.
Here’s the thing – we can’t continue down this doom and gloom route. The industry will prevail, and some will come out even stronger – if they push forward now. Restaurants must operate with the mindset of achieving 12- to 15-per cent profit margins – and the secret is, it is possible. Continue Reading on Resto Biz
Hotel F&B in a Post-Pandemic Landscape
early all of our favorite and most popular travel destinations around the world have been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic, resulting in a horrendous financial loss for hotels, resorts, and the entire hospitality industry alike.
Research by the American Hotel & Lodging Institution suggests that hotel recovery to pre-COVID-19 levels could take until the year 2023—or perhaps even later with the expected ‘long-term’ loss of business travel and international leisure travellers.
There are numerous strategies and alterations to consider moving forward for the operation of a hotel property post-pandemic; but one area that can help properties regain their guests’ trust plus revenue and profits is that of the food & beverage program. Continue Reading on KRG Hospitality