Restaurant Operations

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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 

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

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.

Nashville

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.

Orlando

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.

Philadelphia

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

The 5 Ds of Bystander Intervention

The 5 Ds of Bystander Intervention

by David Klemt

Busy bar in black and white

One non-negotiable for operating a restaurant, bar, nightclub or other hospitality venue is ensuring the safety of guests.

Harassing, threatening and violent behavior cannot be tolerated, period. Some venues employ trained and certified security tasked with keeping patrons safe.

However, not every business in this industry, restaurants for example, employ or retain security personnel. There are online and in-person security courses that owners, managers and staff can complete, and I encourage operators to look into doing so. Some courses can not only empower participants, they can result in the lowering of insurance premiums they’re considered so effective.

Additionally, it’s wise to study conflict resolution and de-escalation. Both are valuable skills in hospitality and other areas of our lives.

In the meantime, a global movement called Hollaback! has come up with the Five Ds of Bystander Intervention. These began as the Three Ds by Green Dot in the early 2000s. In 2015, they became the Four Ds. In 2017, a fifth “D” was introduced.

You’ll find the Five Ds below. Not every step works perfectly on the operations side but they’re still helpful. Doing nothing is simply not an option.

Distract

Per Hollaback!, distraction is a subtle and creative way to intervene, and the goal is “to derail the incident by interrupting it.” The witness employing distraction engages the victim of harassment directly, ignoring the harasser. Hollaback! provides the following examples of distraction:

  • Pretend to be lost. Ask for the time. Pretend you know the person being harassed. Talk to them about something random and take attention off of the harasser.
  • Get in the way. Continue what you were doing, but get between the harasser and the target.
  • Accidentally-on-purpose spill your coffee, the change in your wallet, or make a commotion.

It’s important to note that staff will need to read the situation if they witness harassment. Also, some of the above examples don’t really work in a hospitality setting, but you understand the idea.

Delegate

Delegation is simply asking for assistance or help. In many cases, if a staff member is witnessing harassment they’ll have a manager on duty on which they can rely for assistance.

Conversely, a manager can delegate to a staff member to employ the distract technique. In this situation, the staff member engages the victim of harassment and asks if they want them to call law enforcement. The manager can also direct a staff member to call law enforcement.

However, as Hollaback! notes, “a history of being mistreated by law enforcement has led to fear and mistrust of police interventions,” so the victim may not want to involve police. However, the venue must also protect themselves, so it may be necessary to involve law enforcement for documentation and other purposes.

Document

Along with protecting the victim and putting a stop to harassment, documentation is a crucial step.

All hospitality venues should be set up to complete incident reports. This protects victims (and therefore other guests and the community) and the business.

Hollaback! instructs a bystander to assess the situation first. If another bystander is already intervening, the witness must assess their own safety. Record the incident only if safe to do so.

Anyone who records the incident should ask the victim what to do with the recording. Don’t post it online—this is a traumatic experience and doing so is a violation in and of itself.

Delay

As Hollaback! explains, many incidents of harassment take place very quickly. It’s possible the incident will be over before a bystander can distract, delegate or document the harassment.

In a restaurant, bar or other hospitality setting, the harasser may exit the venue immediately, before staff can step in. That doesn’t mean everything is back to “normal.”

Hollaback! suggests engaging the victim in the following ways:

  • Ask them if they’re okay and tell them you’re sorry that happened to them.
  • Ask them if there’s any way you can support them.
  • Offer to accompany them to their destination or sit with them for awhile.
  • Share resources with them and offer to help them make a report if they want to.
  • If you’ve documented the incident, ask them if they want you to send it to them.

Direct

More than likely—and unfortunately—this is the step most familiar to bartenders, servers and other front-of-house staff.

Direct means to confront the harasser directly. Of course, this is the riskiest step.

Hollaback! suggests assessing the situation to ensure the bystander is safe physically; the victim is safe physically; the victim wants someone to intervene; and the situation may be unlikely to escalate if they confront the harasser.

Again, operators will have to come up with a plan for addressing harassment, threats and violence. Staff must be aware of policies and what’s expected of them, and they should feel comfortable sharing their thoughts on policies.

Incidents can happen at any type of venue in any location at any time. Doing nothing, however, is unacceptable.

Disclaimer

This content is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as legal or other advice. This article does not constitute professional advice, nor does any information constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters discussed, the law, or liability. 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: Pixabay

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

PPP 2nd Draw vs ERTC vs RRF: What to Know

PPP 2nd Draw vs ERTC vs RRF: What to Know

by David Klemt

The face on a bank note

Some regions, states and people are behaving like the pandemic is over but our industry is still in crisis.

There is good news in the form of a few resources business owners can utilize.

Let’s take a look at the the Employee Retention Tax Credit, second Paycheck Protection Program draw, and Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Paycheck Protection Program

Today is your last day to apply for the second PPP draw. That’s why we’re starting here and why, if you haven’t yet, you need to apply now.

According to the Small Business Administration, a borrower is (generally speaking) eligible if they:

  • previously received a first-draw PPP loan and will use (or has used) the full amount only for authorized uses;
  • have no more than 300 employees; and
  • are able to demonstrate at least a 25-percent reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020.

Applicants seeking a second draw need to know the following:

  • No extension date has been announced for the second PPP draw.
  • Each single borrower is limited to a $2 million loan.
  • Using the first draw as a model, the average loan size may be around $128,000.
  • The terms of second-draw PPP loans are the same regardless of who is borrowing and who is lending.

Use SBA Lender Match to find a lender today.

Employee Retention Tax Credit

When it comes to relief for this industry, much of the focus is on the PPP and RRF.

However, the ERTC can be a valuable resource for eligible restaurants.

First, what’s the ERTC? It’s a payroll tax credit—fully refundable—meant to persuade employers to keep and compensate their workers when they’re not fully operational.

Second, who’s eligible? To claim ERTC for a given calendar quarter, restaurant operators must show:

  • full or partial suspension as a result of orders from a governmental authority limiting commerce, travel or group meetings due to Covid-19; or
  • they experienced a significant decline in gross receipts during the calendar quarter when compared to 2019.

The above criteria apply to the quarter an operator is applying for the ERTC.

To better understand the ERTC, we’re including an example from the National Restaurant Association:

Henry’s Hotcakes (HH) received a $120,000 PPP loan in April 2020. These funds were fully spent on its 10 employees by September 20, 2020. Previously, HH would not have qualified for ERTC. However, HH can now reach back to its wages for the fourth quarter of 2020 (OCTDEC) and obtain up to $5,000 per eligible employee (50% credit of up to $10,000 in eligible wages) in ERTC.

Click here to read more about the ERTC on the IRS website.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund

The Restaurant Revitalization Fund is the most recent relief resource to come to fruition, so it stands to reason that it’s top of mind for most operators.

According to recent reporting, the SBA—the agency responsible for overseeing the RRF—is aiming for early April to launch the fund.

Here’s what restaurant and bar operators need to know now:

  • A grant is equal to the amount of a restaurant’s pandemic-related revenue losses.
  • Grants are tax-free.
  • To calculate a grant amount, subtract 2020 gross receipts from 2019 gross receipts. Operations 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.

The following are eligible RRF expenses:

  • broad operational expenses;
  • payroll, rent, and mortgage interest;
  • “normal” food and beverage inventory;
  • various supply purchases (PPE, for example);
  • property damage costs related to public disturbances in 2020;
  • debt obligations to suppliers before covered period;
  • interest payments on any other debt obligations incurred prior to Feb 15, 2020; and
  • refinancing EIDL.

Bear in mind that when it comes to the PPP, ERTC and RRF, changes in requirements and other processes are subject to change. Operators must stay up to date on these and other programs.

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: Freddie Collins on Unsplash

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