Foodservice

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: November

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: November

by David Klemt

Stay Weird neon sign with purple background

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

Several “holidays” are set against every date on the calendar, and November is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream—Thanksgiving Eve and Thanksgiving, anyone?—to food-centric to weird.

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

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

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

For October’s list, click here.

November 1: World Vegan Day

Obviously, this holiday isn’t weird for vegans or vegetarians. There are, however, those who still find this particular diet odd. Well, this is the perfect holiday to learn more about vegan cooking and eating. Pass on that knowledge by adding delicious vegan dishes to your menu.

November 4: National Candy Day

Do you have a surplus of candy now that Halloween is over? Trying to fight the temptation to eat it all yourself? Various candies perform well as garnishes for cocktails. There’s also another way to approach this holiday, like featuring starters such as candied bacon.

November 6: National Nacho Day

So, this holiday is more fun than weird, really. However, you can probably see the potential to deviate from the standard nacho builds. Instead, ask your kitchen staff to get creative and come up with intriguing takes on nachos that will grab the attention of your guests.

November 9: National Scrapple Day

One of the best ways to cut back on food waste in restaurants, bars, and hotels is to utilize as much of a given ingredient as possible. Scrapple, of which our Philadelphia audience will no doubt be very well aware, consists of pork scraps. Guests outside of Pennsylvania may have never tried scrapple before, so this holiday is the perfect time to tempt them with a new taste sensation.

November 12: National Pizza with the Works Except Anchovies Day

It’s not this pizza that’s weird, of course. It’s the very specific pizza this holiday is celebrating. I’m guessing that you know exactly what to do to celebrate this holiday with your guests.

November 14: Pickle Day

The (in)famous Pickleback. Bloody Mary made with pickle juice. A Dill Pickle Martini. Pickle appetizers and starters. If you’ve got pickles and some degree of creativity, it’s pretty clear what needs to be done on November 14.

National 15: National Spicy Hermit Cookie Day

This is another very specific holiday. This cookie, the Spicy Hermit, features flavors that couldn’t be any more perfect for fall: cinnamon, clove, allspice, and nutmeg. You can Google a recipe, of course, but we found this one and it seems delicious.

November 17: National Take a Hike Day

We’re big fans of encouraging guests and staff to get outside. There are thousands of trails throughout the United States and Canada, ranging from the easy-peasy to the truly treacherous, so the sky’s the limit. Encourage guests to take a hike and grab a bite and drink at your establishment to rest and recover. Have them tag your spot and their meal, of course.

November 28: Red Planet Day

It seems like billionaires and millionaires can’t get enough of Mars. Over the past few years, space travel has focused almost exclusively on the idea of reaching the Red Planet and figuring out how to live on it. So, if you’ve got dishes and drinks that are predominantly red in color, put them at the forefront on November 28.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Months Pass, RRF Still not Replenished

Months Pass, RRF Replenishment Remains Uncertain

by David Klemt

Time has run out hourglass, black and white

If you’re wondering if the RRF Replenishment Act of 2021 or ENTREE Acts are making progress, you’re not alone.

Unfortunately, it appears far too many politicians on all sides are focusing on anything but our industry.

Indeed, it’s apparently more important that they score political “points” for sniping at each other on social media; engage in hyperbole and histrionics; and overall engage in brinksmanship instead of doing anything meaningful for their constituents.

Meanwhile, the industry has lost more than $300 billion in revenue over 19 months. Additionally, we’re short at least one million jobs.

So, it’s not hyperbolic to state this: It’s no longer time for Congress to act, time has very much run out.

It’s up for owners and operators, their teams, and their teams’ families.

Replenish RRF Act

As people familiar with the Restaurant Revitalization Fund will recall, the fund launched with $28.6 billion. Obviously, that was nowhere near enough funding to meet the demand for grants.

The National Restaurant Association estimates that 177,000 grant applicants are still waiting for assistance. Those applications total more than $43 billion.

Essentially, $60 billion would be printed to replenish the RRF. That’s according to the language in the RRF Replenishment Act bill.

In June, Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-PA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the bill.

It’s now the middle of October.

ENTREE Act

Toward the end of July, Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO) introduced an alternative bill.

A ranking member of the House Committee on Small Business, Rep. Luetkemeyer proposed the Entrepreneurs Need Timely Replenishment for Eating Establishments Act on July 20.

Again, that was in July and it’s now October 25.

Known as the ENTREE Act (acronyms are fun, eh?), this bill wouldn’t just create $60 billion out of thin air.

Instead, per the text of the bill, the ENTREE Act would use unspent funds from the American Rescue Plan and Economic Injury Disaster Loans.

Now What?

In early August, there was an attempt made to replenish the RRF with $48 billion of emergency funding.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), along with a bipartisan group of senators, sought unanimous consent to authorize the funds.

Unfortunately, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) objected to the unanimous consent motion. The measure was blocked due to Sen. Paul’s objection and the RRF didn’t receive any emergency funds.

So, now what? In August, political insiders expressed their opinion that the ENTREE Act wasn’t likely to be passed.

Meanwhile, the RRF Replenishment Act hasn’t made significant progress since it was first introduced in June.

Most recently, members of the Independent Restaurant Coalition held a press conference with Rep. Blumenauer and Rep. Dean Phillips (D-MN). During the press conference, it was pointed out that Congress was voting on infrastructure bills that didn’t contain the RRF Replenishment or ENTREE Acts.

The most that can be said currently about any “progress” is that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has made a promise that relief for the industry is coming, somehow, during some unknown timeframe.

Great. In the meantime, you, your family members, your friends, and your guests can contact their reps to put more pressure on them to replenish the RRF. You can also click here for more ideas from the IRC on how to get the message across that our representatives need to act now.

Perhaps reminders that every House seat and 34 Senate seats are up for re-election next year will help spur some action.

Image: Eduin Escobar from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: October

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: October

by David Klemt

Stay Weird neon sign with purple background

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

Several “holidays” are set against every date on the calendar, and October is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream—Halloween, anyone?—to food-centric to weird.

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

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

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

For September’s list, click here.

October 3: National Boyfriend Day

I’m pretty sure you understand exactly what this holiday honors and how to encourage guests to celebrate it. Invite people into your restaurant or bar to treat their boyfriend to a bite, drink, and good time.

October 6: National Noodle Day

Do you have noodles? Like to sell them to guests? Enjoy creating LTOs and specialty noodle dishes? This is the holiday to celebrate all of your favorite things with your guests.

October 8: National Fluffernutter Day

Ah, Fluffernutter. Marshmallow fluff resonates with a lot of people, particularly ’80s and ’90s kids. National Fluffernutter Day is the perfect holiday to leverage nostalgia, creative cocktails and desserts, cooling temperatures, and candy.

October 9: National Motorcycle Ride Day

One of the best parts about cruising in a group on motorcycles is stopping to refuel at a restaurant or bar. Encourage your bike-riding guests to begin, take a break during, or end their group ride at your venue.

October 11: National Kick Butt Day

No, this isn’t a day about literally kicking any butts. Instead, this holiday is about motivating people to take the necessary steps to realize their dreams and achieve their goals. Encourage your guests to take steps to reach their goals and celebrate doing so at your business.

October 13: National Emergency Nurse’s Day

Nurses always deserve our thanks. However, I think we can all agree that the past 18 months have been particularly difficult and overwhelming for nurses. Offer the emergency room nurses (all nurses, really) an amazing food or drink promotion to thank them for all they do.

October 15: National Grouch Day

While this holiday focuses on letting people let their grouch flag fly, operators can take a different direction. Why not offer people a place and promotion to get out of their funk through great food, amazing drinks, and a fantastic time?

October 17: Wear Something Gaudy Day

I mean, this holiday is two weeks out from Halloween—people are willing to make any excuse to dress up.

October 21: Get to Know Your Customers Day

Do you really want to boost your bottom line? Get to know your customers. Really, this holiday is for you. Use this day to implement guest data-collecting practices and train your team to obtain this valuable information. Learn more about why and how to build a guest database on episode 51 of Bar Hacks with Matt Plapp.

October 25: Sourest Day

There are multiple ways to approach Sourest Day. Some say it’s about eliminating the “sour” people in our lives. Others use it to enjoy sour candies which, admittedly, is perfect for Halloween month. For operators, promoting sour beers and cocktails is likely a winning strategy.

October 29: National Breadstick Day

Unless someone is counting their carbs strictly, everyone enjoys a breadstick. In reality, not many people have the discipline to enjoy just one. If you’ve got breadsticks on your menu, you know what to do on this holiday.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: September

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: September

by David Klemt

Stay Weird neon sign with purple background

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

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

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

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

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

For last month’s list, click here.

September 3: National College Colors Day

There are a few ways you can go about celebrating this holiday. If your bar or restaurant supports a particular college team, create a promotion that encourages guests to wear that team’s colors. You can also ask guests to wear their favorite college team’s colors…if there’s no risk of rivalries getting out of hand, of course.

September 4: World Beard Day

An entire day dedicated to celebrating facial hair? Sign us up! There’s a lot you can do with this holiday, even if that means going the other way and rewarding the clean shaven among us.

September 6: National Read a Book Day

It’s not exactly a secret that we love a good book, whether it’s about leadership, business, history, cocktails, food or fiction. Create a new promotion focused on inspiring people to read books or bring back last month’s Book Lover’s Day promo.

September 10: National TV Dinner Day

Delivery and takeout aren’t going anywhere. Even before the pandemic, these two lifelines helped many operators generate revenue. Several restaurants have come up with signature TV dinners and you can do the same.

September 12: National Hug Your Hound Day

People love dogs. People love other people’s dogs. If your business is dog-friendly, this is the day to encourage guests to bring their pooches to your restaurant, bar or hotel.

September 19: National Talk Like a Pirate Day

I doubt I have to tell you what to do this day. Brush up on your pirate and nautical lingo, feature themed cocktails like the Dark & Stormy, and if you have the capability, show a pirate movie or two.

September 22: Car Free Day

If it’s authentic to your brand and will resonate with your guests, create a promotion that encourages people to walk, ride their bikes, or otherwise get to your place by means other than traditional petrol-powered vehicles.

September 25: National Comic Book Day

Break out the comic book character-inspired cocktails and your favorite comic book movies on this day.

September 27: World Tourism Day

This is a great day to seek out partnerships with hotels and local tourism boards to drive out-of-town guests through your doors.

September 28: National Good Neighbor Day

We’ll always suggest that operators show their communities that they support them and are members in good standing. This is the perfect day to pay back the support you receive from the community.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Supporting Local Charities

Supporting Local Charities

by David Klemt

Stacks of pizza boxes

When it comes to showing the community you serve that you care about the people in it, supporting local charities is a wise decision.

Indeed, it’s a choice that restauranteur, restaurant industry leader, author, speaker, and World Pizza Champion Mike Bausch endorses.

Last week, Bausch shared his tips for supporting local charities at the 2021 International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The owner of Andolini’s Pizzeria in Oklahoma is also a Bar Hacks podcast guest. Click here to listen to episode 18.

The Wrong Way

First, Bausch encourages operators to always donate food, not money.

“Don’t be a gold Sponsor,” he says of the higher tiers of charitable donations. “Don’t be a silver sponsor.”

Of course, one reason to provide only food to a charity’s event comes down to costs. Let’s say an operator plans to donate five 20-inch pizzas (I know, not a huge donation—it’s just an example). On the high end, the food cost is $7 per pizza. That’s a donation of just $35 while still showing community support.

Second, promoting charitable donations. Simply put, don’t do it.

Bausch says to just provide the donations but not brag about it on social media or other avenues. In most cases, doing so wipes out good will from the community.

However, there is one exception: national charity events.

Third, some donations come in the form of silent auctions. In these instances, Bausch believes it’s perfectly acceptable to be over the top.

For example, silent auction items are often just an 8.5 x 11 sheet describing what a bidder can win. To stand out, Bausch says to go big with a branded basket loaded with several items. People will leave the event remembering the brand with the big basket.

The Right Way

Here, Bausch explains that he normally says yes to all charities. There are, of course, some exceptions. More on that below.

First, let’s take a look at a simple way to field donation requests. Bausch recommends adding a donation request page to a restaurant’s website. Doing so makes it easy for an operator to stay on schedule for donations and events.

The form also helps weed out the aforementioned exceptions. If someone seeking donations can’t even take the time to fill out the form, says Bausch, that identifies a red flag immediately.

Also, Bausch includes the following at the end of the request form: “A customer of Andolini’s?” (yes or no), and “Describe an experience (positive or negative) you’ve had at Andolini’s.”

Additionally, not every donation Bausch and Andolini’s make is necessarily for a charity. There are smaller groups of people with whom Bausch will seek good will.

Example: Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering groups. Bausch sees value in supporting so-called “fringe” groups, providing a place to host tournaments or food for their tournaments.

Bausch will also call the local police, ask when shift changes take place, and drop off pizzas.

When asked, inevitably, why he would just drop off free pizzas, his answer is simple: “Because we want to.”

Image: Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Leadership: The Other 10-second Rule

Leadership: The Other 10-second Rule

by David Klemt

Watch face showing seconds and minutes

Those who remember last week’s Friday post will recall that there’s more than one 10-second rule.

Interestingly, this “other” rule also relates to communication.

As we all know, communication is paramount to leading teams and building relationships with others.

Last Week’s Rule

Deceptively simple, last week’s 10-second rule focuses on easing tensions.

If a situation is about to boil over or is already out of control, going silent for 10 seconds can cool things off.

First, shutting up for ten seconds stops the argument cold. Second, it provides time for the person leveraging this tactic to respond rationally.

Third, it humanizes the other person. Rather than seeing an opponent, the person going quiet for ten seconds remembers that this is a team member they’re engaging.

Finally, people who use this rule say going silent tends to snap the other party out of their hostility.

Treating others with respect and dignity, along with encouraging open communication and a free flow of ideas, are hallmarks of a healthy workplace culture.

This Week’s Rule

There are, of course, similarities between this week’s rule and last week’s. Obviously, they both call for a ten-second “timeout” to talking.

Also, they both focus on humanizing the other person in the conversation.

I came across the other 10-second rule on the Accounting Today website. Accountant and author Kyle Walters writes that his rule is also simple: If Walters talks for ten consecutive seconds during a client meeting, he stops to ask an open-ended question. Crucial to the process is that Walters then gives the person answering time to talk.

Now, while Walters applies this to client meetings, it’s useful for conversation in general. As he points out, it breaks the bad habits of dominating conversations; giving off the impression that you’re selfish and don’t care about the others in conversations; and not listening to others.

Anyone who leads a team; needs to develop relationships with suppliers, distributors, contractors, investors, banks, inspectors, etc.; and wants to build relationships with guests knows that listening is crucial.

Sure, ten seconds doesn’t seem like a lot of time. However, take the time to actually see how many thoughts you can fire off in ten seconds. You’ll see how much talking for that “small” amount of time can quickly seem domineering if you don’t stop to include others in the conversation.

There’s also the “small” detail that you’re not having a conversation if you’re not listening—you’re just delivering a speech…and it’s probably not a good one.

It takes work to break bad habits. However, the benefit to your personal growth, leadership abilities, and business are worth the effort.

Image: Agê Barros on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Wendy’s Looks to Ghosts for Growth

Wendy’s Looks to Ghosts for Growth

by David Klemt

Wendy's fast food restaurant exterior and sign

Wendy’s is the latest foodservice company to announce plans to open ghost kitchens in Canada, the US and the UK.

The fast-food giant’s scheme is large-scale and part of an expansive growth strategy.

Per the company, Wendy’s plans to open 700 ghost kitchens.

Embracing the Trend

Here’s a question for you: Do you hear and read the word “pivot” or the phrase “ghost kitchen” more often these days?

Ghost kitchens seem to be the pivot of choice for restaurant groups and enterprising tech companies looking to leverage the next big thing. (There, a sentence with both “pivot” and “ghost kitchen” in it,)

The trend also appears more often than not to be the domain of Big Business.

Former Uber executive Travis Kalanick is the founder of CloudKitchens. DoorDash is also entering the ghost kitchen space, running a trial in California to see if pursuing the idea is viable.

Now, enter Wendy’s, not exactly a mom-and-pop shop in the restaurant space.

Ghost vs. Virtual Kitchen

We don’t revel in the semantics game, necessarily. But we know people are going to refer to Wendy’s ghost locations as “virtual” kitchens as well.

However, ghost kitchens and virtual kitchens have unique definitions and characteristics.

Wendy’s isn’t creating a new brand with new items they’re preparing in their existing brick-and-mortar locations. Nor do they plan to do so with their new locations under constructions currently.

Were that the case, their strategy would be a virtual kitchen plan.

Instead, the 700 locations will be separate facilities without storefronts. Also, the units will focus solely on delivery, leveraging on-demand consumer behavior.

So, the lack of storefront is arguably the greatest defining characteristic of a ghost kitchen.

Conversely, a virtual kitchen operates in a location with a storefront. However, the brand on offer exists online and not in the brick-and-mortar world of an established brand. In essence, an existing brand is offering a brand that they don’t want to dilute what they’ve already built.

That’s a Lot of Ghosts

Per reporting, Wendy’s is joining forces with Reef Technology to open and operate their ghost kitchens.

At least 50 such locations are in the works to open this year. The other several hundred locations will open between 2022 and 2025.

That means we should see more than 150 Wendy’s ghost kitchens going live per year across Canada, the US and the UK.

Partnering with Reef Technology is an interesting and telling maneuver. Reef, per their website, focuses on “urbanization” and reshaping “our urban infrastructure.”

And as CEO Todd Penelow stated last week, Wendy’s doesn’t isn’t strong in urban areas. The vision for Wendy’s new strategy is to penetrate urban markets, adding new stores and new franchisees as the brand moves forward.

Should things go according to plan, Wendy’s expects to expand from 6,500 units worldwide to somewhere between 8,500 and 9,000 in 2025.

Image: Michael Form from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Connect with Us at Pizza Expo 2021

Connect with Us at Pizza Expo 2021

by David Klemt

Freshly baked pepperoni pizza on board

We’re currently attending the International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas this week.

If you’d like to meet up, don’t hesitate to reach out to me via email or LinkedIn.

There are a lot of attendees to meet, education sessions to check out, and exhibitors to explore. However, we’ll be around so don’t be shy.

Where to Find Us

First, it’s awesome that trade shows and conferences are back in Las Vegas.

Linking online is convenient but nothing can really replace connecting in person.

That said, we’ll be at the International Pizza Expo all three days. Please, if you want to learn more about KRG Hospitality or the Bar Hacks podcast, feel free to connect.

Today, you’ll be able to find us at industry leader, pizza pro, restaurateur, and Bar Hacks guest Mike Bausch‘s “Community Marketing” seminar. Of course, we’ll also be attending his keynote on Wednesday.

But, back to today. You’ll certainly be able to find us at Scott Anthony’s “Old-school Marketing that Still Works,” and Nicole Russell and Anthony Falco’s “Today’s Top Pizza Trends” seminars.

If you’re looking for us on Tuesday, we know we’ll be attending Bausch’s “Menu Development Amidst COVID”; Nicole Bean’s “Logistics of Offering Multiple Pizza Styles”; and Sammy Mandell’s “Using Video to Grow” sessions.

Wednesday, the final day of this year’s International Pizza Expo, offers an array of can’t-miss education sessions.

We’re interested in the “Women in Pizza” panel featuring Nicole Bean, Rachel Cope, Denise Greer and Nicole Russell; Bausch’s “Third-party Delivery”; and the “Not Letting Covid Win” panel with Domenico Di Diana, Pasquale Di Diana, and Eric Rickman.

Of course, we’ll be walking the expo floor as well.

Las Vegas is Home

One of the major KRG Hospitality markets is Las Vegas. It’s where I’ve lived for nearly two decades.

So, if you want to grab a bite and a drink or even just want some tips for places to check out, reach out to me.

As home to one of Tony Gemignani’s Pizza Rock locations, it’s more than a little likely that you’ll spot us at this off-Strip pizza standout.

Image: amirali mirhashemian on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

How and Why to Edit Your Menu

How and Why to Edit Your Menu

by Nathen Dube

Restaurant tables with place settings and menus

When thinking about opening a restaurant an important question to answer is, “What am I going to serve?”

There is one answer that tempts too many restauranteurs: “I’ll offer something for everyone!” The thinking is that doing so translates into everyone coming to their restaurant or bar.

The truth is, everyone isn’t coming. Sadly, many of these places don’t survive long, and 60 percent of restaurants don’t make it past their first year. Having an overwhelming menu is one of the key contributors to that statistic.

Massive menus are stressful for guests, making it difficult for them to decide. At a certain point, too many items create what’s called the Fallacy of Choice. Overwhelm guests with possibilities and they’ll just choose something simple and familiar rather than exploring the entire menu, impacting the guest experience negatively.

Too many options also lend to the perception of low-quality food. How can a kitchen staff possibly excel at so many dishes? How can the ingredients be fresh and not frozen? What is the quality of dishes if people only order them once or twice a week?

Those reasons and more are why it’s important to have a laser-focused menu from the onset.

Inventory Challenges

If a large portion of your menu isn’t moving out of the kitchen to hungry diners, guess where that food is going. A large menu creates tracking issues, a high percentage of ingredient spoilage, and opens the door to theft from staff. The best establishments do just a handful of things well, with a select few complementary items to round out the menu.

Having a kitchen full of product for dishes on the menu that might get ordered can quickly turn into dead stock. If there are boxes sitting in dry storage shelves collecting dust, it’s a good time to consider removing any dishes that require them from the menu.

Setting a scheduled review of inventory and menu sales breakdowns can be a great way to avoid dead stock eating into your food budget for any significant length of time. Not all dishes end up being winners—ignoring the losers will limit profitability significantly. A massive, unchecked menu just compounds the issue.

Another profit-eater is food waste. Ordering usually means receiving product in bulk and breaking it down. It’s near impossible, as an example, to order just two or four of something like cabbage for a dish that doesn’t move. The cabbage sits, and half a case gets thrown out for every dish sold. Having a focused menu will help quickly highlight items that need to be removed from a menu.

Tracking Issues

Then there’s the issue of theft. Unfortunately, theft happens. Having some deterrents in place can help mitigate opportunities for those who seek to steal in this industry.

If there aren’t robust tracking systems in place along with an honest team who uses them correctly, things can (and will) disappear. A much harder time will be had spotting losses and what’s causing them when it takes a long time to track inventory. Again, this leads to compounded profit losses on dead stock and product spoilage. We haven’t even begun to prepare any food yet and already our food cost is trending in a bad direction.

A restaurant budget needs to be established before opening and needs to be adhered to strictly. That can quickly go out the window when it comes to ordering food to stock your kitchen. A massive addition to your operating costs can set you back a few months, particularly when you’re not seeing a return on purchases for the reasons stated above.

With the current climate of the restaurant industry and a post-Covid dining scene, avoiding these pitfalls is crucial to success. Rising food and labour costs, recovering from months of closures, and a shortened patio season (if you’re lucky enough to have one), have made strict cost controls more important than ever going forward.

Keep in mind, if your seating capacity matches or is less than the amount of menu items you’re serving, that equates to minimal product turnover, which translates to minimal profits. That number is multiplied by product loss of any kind.

Training & Retention

When an owner can’t match their concept to food and drink offerings, it leads to poorly trained staff and frustration during service. There will be plenty of room for error (more loss!) and, unsurprisingly, low staff retention. That all keeps this never-ending cycle in motion.

If you can’t clarify your vision, how can you expect staff to showcase it to guests with any confidence?

At every “big menu” restaurant I’ve worked in, the owners were always in the building or kitchen. This wasn’t because they were driven to be hands on. It was because they couldn’t train staff properly to run the whole menu reliably, things would go “missing,” or staff simply couldn’t accomplish daily tasks consistently.

Interestingly, the opposite was true at establishments with small, focused menus. Staff were confident and knowledgeable, problems with food and service didn’t spiral out of control, and food moved out the door to some degree of consistency. The owners were freed up to run their business rather than micromanage everyone.

With all the issues currently hampering the food industry, the last thing you want right now is another level of frustration among your staff. Retention rates are at an all-time low. The struggle to fill job openings industry-wide are at all-time high, as are reported cases of staff walking out mid-service. A properly structured menu can keep your business on track and make the lives of your employees much more simplified.

Editing Your Menu

Focusing on cohesion between menu and concept doesn’t require offering all the dishes under the sun. Avoiding the “something for everyone” approach leads to improved guest experiences and employee confidence. Streamlining your menu simplifies inventory and sales tracking; differentiates high-profitability items from the rest; and makes identifying items that don’t sell easier.

Paring down your menu into a tight, focused version allows you to quickly retool it every few months. Just try tracking and editing a large four-page menu as frequently. It’s costly to reprint and you have better things to do with your time.

Keeping things tight also creates space to take advantage of seasonal offerings, local specialties, or customer favorites. You can also offer specials throughout the week that can drive traffic and give your talented cooks a chance to show off!

I would suggest looking over your sales data to identify your highest-selling dishes and the slow movers every one to two months. If you have a seasonal menu, this can be done at the midpoint of a seasonal change.

Think about what items are being purchased and only used in one dish. They can start to pile up in your stockroom and lead to dead stock. Consider the versatility of ingredients when planning a menu change—cross-utilize everything you can.

Fluctuating Costs

Another important point that can get forgotten is that the prices of food items fluctuate constantly. Maintaining a large menu, therefore, can become a nightmare cost scenario quickly. Limes, beef, avocados—even celery—are experiencing tremendous jumps in price. A small menu allows for damage control when prices jump, giving your room to make quick, lower-cost moves.

Of course, the alternative is to have your staff rattle off everything the kitchen is out of to your guests. Not cool.

The underlying theme here is to avoid tying up your finances in product that is sitting, turning to waste instead of profit, or not moving at all. Your mission is to have product moving out of the kitchen constantly and consistently.

It might seem like a wise decision to offer a large menu that’s all over the place. Maybe you’re making that choice for fear of alienating guests or reducing your traffic. However, the points made in this article should illustrate why a cohesive link between concept and menu is crucial, and how a smaller, more focused menu can deliver more for you than a large, out-of-touch menu.

Image: Karolina Grabowska from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

What is the ENTREE Act?

What is the ENTREE Act?

by David Klemt

United States Capitol Building on fifty dollar bill

Foodservice and hospitality operators are waiting for Congress to act and replenish the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.

Well, that replenishment may come in the form of a bill from Rep. Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO).

Congressman Luetkemeyer is a ranking member of the House Committee on Small Business.

Restaurant Revitalization Fund Empty

As operators know, it didn’t take long for the RRF to be depleted entirely.

The Small Business Administration opened the RRF application portal on May 3. Just 21 days later, the portal was closed to new applicants.

More than 60 percent of eligible applicants in need were not awarded grants from the $28.6 billion fund.

Clearly, that amount was nowhere near enough to meet the needs of our industry.

People have been calling for Congress to #replenishRRF ever since the RRF portal was closed on May 24.

Entrepreneurs Need Timely Replenishment for Eating Establishments Act

To be fair, Congress acted quickly to at least address the SBA’s shortcomings in handling the RRF.

Early in June, a bipartisan group introduced Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act of 2021. Sens. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), and Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-PA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) introduced the bill on June 3.

The bill seeks $60 billion to replenish the RRF and the funds would essentially come from “printing more money.”

However, Rep. Luetkemeyer introduced the Entrepreneurs Need Timely Replenishment for Eating Establishments Act on July 20.

The aptly (if unwieldy) named bill is also proposing $60 billion. However, the funds would come from a combination of sources.

ENTREE Act Funding

Both sources would pour unspent, previously allocated funds into the ENTREE Act.

Rep. Luetkemeyer’s bill proposes using state and local funds from the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

The ENTREE Act would also secure funds from Economic Injury Disaster Loans that have yet to be spent.

Currently, there’s no indication if Congress intends for these bills to somehow work together. Also, no date has been put forth regarding voting on either the Restaurant Revitalization Fund Replenishment Act or ENTREE Act.

However, we can put pressure on Congress by asking them to act quickly on these bills. So, let’s come together and contact our representatives—it can take just 30 seconds.

Image: Karolina Grabowska from Pexels

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