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New York City Mandates Escalate

New York City Mandates Escalate

by David Klemt

Times Square empty in New York City during Covid-19 pandemic

Mandates requiring people to wear masks and maintain social distance indoors aren’t new.

However, a mandate requiring proof of vaccination status to dine and drink inside a restaurant or bar is a new development.

This week, Mayor Bill de Blasio is escalating Covid-19 mandates in New York City.

Restaurants and Gyms

To date, New York City is nearing a 70-percent full vaccination rate.

The latest pandemic mandate is likely intended to boost the city’s vaccination rate. Per reporting, the Delta variant of Covid-19 accounts for more than 70 percent of new cases in New York City.

Interestingly, the new mandate requires workers, not just customers, to prove their vaccination status. It also makes New York the first major city to implement such a requirement.

So far, the requirement pertains to indoor restaurants, bars, nightclubs, performances, and gyms.

Per Mayor de Blasio’s announcement, the vaccine mandate, referred to as “the Key to NYC Pass,” will begin with a transition period that starts August 16. Beginning September 13, full enforcement of the mandate via New York State’s Excelsior Pass app; the NYC COVID SAFE app; or paper vaccination card is expected.

Union Square

Predictably, the response to this mandate comes in three flavors: supportive, hostility, and apathetic.

So, those who support the requirement are applauding it, saying they’ll feel safer when dining out. Conversely, those who oppose the new mandate believe this is glaring government overreach and an infringement on their freedoms.

In a way, however, this mandate isn’t completely new. Some operators throughout the United States already require proof of vaccination to enter their venues.

Currently, several media outlets are focusing on Danny Meyer and his Union Square Hospitality Group.

Several days before Mayor de Blasio’s announcement, Meyer said guests who want to dine and drink in his NYC restaurants will need to prove vaccination status starting September 7.

Additionally, Meyer announced current and new employees would have to prove they’ve been vaccinated.

At the moment, it doesn’t appear Shake Shack, of which Meyer is founder and chairman, will follow suit.

Not the First

However, Meyer is not the first operator to implement and enforce strict Covid-19 protocols to protect their teams, guests and communities.

Perhaps some of the focus on Meyer is intended to draw eyes and ears, and ultimately encourage more people to get vaccinated fully. After all, celebrity chefs and operators have nationwide and global influence.

Cynically, however, it’s to not dismiss the focus on Meyer as a ploy for ratings, clicks, and engagement.

At any rate, many operators across the country require proof of vaccination to work and dine at their restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and hotels. And many were doing so before Meyer made his announcement.

One such chef-operator is Eric Rivera, who operates ADDO in Seattle. He has required proof of vaccination for employees and guests since May of this year.

In fact, Chef Rivera has been strict in his handling of Covid-19 health and safety measures since last year.

A visit to Chef Rivera’s website finds the following disclaimer, attributed to him:

“All of our experiences are for vaccinated guests only. That will remain permanent. If that’s a problem for you then there are plenty of restaurants that will reward you for doing nothing, this isn’t one of them.”

During an NPR interview, Chef Rivera explained his stance succinctly: “I don’t want to be somebody’s last meal. Whatever I’m doing food-wise and restaurant-wise isn’t worth that.”

He’s active on Twitter, where he makes his position and policies clear.


If you think I’m going to point out that New York City’s new mandate increases the likelihood of hostile confrontations with guests, you’re correct. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.

Also, if you’re guessing that I’m going to point out that guest-facing team members must receive support from leadership when policing guest behavior, you’re two for two.

However, policies like those put in place by Chef Rivera and others throughout the industry highlight something else: They’re showing the fallacy of the maxim “the customer is always right.”

Why should operators tolerate aggression toward their employees from disrespectful, angry customers—for any reason—if the employee is remaining professional and respectful?

It certainly seems that a growing number of operators are tired of capitulating to everyone who walks through their doors. The days of bowing to customers and failing to support and defend employees look to be ending.

Personally, I’m in favor of putting that outdated adage to rest. Continuing to reward guest behaviors we find objectionable—which has been the industry’s stance for decades—ultimately motivates good employees to quit. Again, this isn’t a pandemic-driven phenomenon—it has been going on for generations.

Of course, each operator must do what they think is best for their business. Just about every decision made in this industry is risky, but risk is something all operators understand inherently. Watching dollars walk out the doors never to return can be a frightening proposition. So is the prospect of losing good workers and incurring the associated costs.

The need to balance the comfort and safety of their team members and guests is paramount—an absence of either will shut a business down. Today, however, choosing guest dollars over employee dignity, safety and mental health is inexcusable and evidence of a problematic company culture.

If we’re truly in the midst of a Great Resignation, I can’t fault operators for deciding to keep their employees safe. Even if we weren’t facing a labor shortage, I’d support operators who support their workers.

Image: Paulo Silva on Unsplash

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Stand Out with Weird Holidays: August

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: August

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 July 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.

August 3: National Night Out Day

It may sound like this holiday is just an excuse for restaurant and bar crawls. However, this day is actually about bringing communities together and making them safer. This is an excellent time to strengthen your ties to the community and support local organizations.

August 5: National Underwear Day

We’re not entirely sure what to suggest you do for this holiday but there’s definitely something here. Get creative but be tasteful, is all we recommend.

August 6: National Fresh Breath Day

Certain herbs help freshen breath: Mint, basil, rosemary, cardamom, and tarragon, for example. These same herbs also make great cocktails, so tie them into a drink promotion.

August 7: National Disc Golf Day

With mask mandates being re-issued, some people will likely be looking at outdoor sports as an escape. Encourage and reward people for getting out and playing disc golf on this day.

August 8: National Dollar Day

Have a menu item or two you can offer for $1? Perhaps a “buy one, get another for one dollar”? You know what to do on National Dollar Day.

August 9: National Book Lover’s Day

There are several ways you can celebrate this holiday with your guests. For example, you can host a book drive, encourage guests to trade books, or even create a free community library space inside your business. Tap into your creative side.

August 10: Lazy Day

I mean, come on… This day was practically invented to encourage people to spend all day eating and drinking in your bar or restaurant. People can be responsible another day.

August 14: National Bowling Day

Remember National Disc Golf Day from way up higher on this page? Of course you do. Well, it shouldn’t be difficult to come up with promotions focused on bowling, like offering promotions for bowling teams who pop into your bar or restaurant.

August 21: National Honey Bee Day

If we lose our bees, we lose our agriculture. And if we lose that, we lose our food supply. Highlight the importance of honey bees with menu items that feature honey (local sources are ideal), and promote the need to protect these valuable insects.

August 27: National Just Because Day

A promotion focused on doing whatever you want just because you feel like doing it? The sky’s truly the limit with this one.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

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4 Tips for Recruiting and Retention

4 Tips for Recruiting and Retention

by David Klemt

Server walking through restaurant carrying tray

Operators seeking to survive and thrive despite the Great Resignation can give themselves an edge with these four concepts.

Attract New Talent

KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey doesn’t find the struggle to fill restaurant, bar and hotel positions all that shocking.

Why? Because too many operators post generic, cookie-cutter job listings. Doing what everyone else is doing has never been advisable for those looking to stand out.

Instead, Doug suggests a more unique approach to job ads, an approach that helps operators stand above the competition.

Step one is avoiding banal listing language:

  • “Are you friendly, energetic, and highly motivated?”
  • “Are you an experienced and enthusiastic [insert position]?”
  • “The ideal candidate must work well in a fast-paced environment and be a team player.”
  • List of basic job tasks.

Instead, Doug suggests the following:

  • Hire for values rather than experience. Training addresses systems and standards, not personality and drive.
  • Operators should be transparent about their core values, company culture, and potential for growth.
  • Showcase the approach to inclusivity, diversity, acceptance, and flexibility. That is, if that’s authentic. If not, that’s a flashing, neon red flag that requires addressing.
  • Offer a living wage, benefits, potential for personal growth, and education.
  • Produce a video of team members sharing why they work at the company. This must be genuine and honest.

Demand creates competition. Innovation beats the competition.

Actually Onboard New Hires

So, an operator adjusts their approach to filling open positions. They recruit and hire promising employees.

Sadly, it’s common for new hires in hospitality and foodservice to leave in just a few months. Rather than accept this as the norm, operators have a tool at their disposal for improving employee retention: Onboarding.

Too many operators think the next step after hiring someone is providing a start date, showing them the front- and back-of-house, and hoping things will work out.

Well, hope isn’t a strategy.

The next step after hiring someone is onboarding and should include the following:

  • Complete all pertinent paperwork and setting up access to systems. If applicable, set up direct deposit.
  • Provide new hire with detailed employee handbook. If there isn’t one yet, that must be addressed.
  • Share the story of the business (history, area, etc.) and workplace culture.
  • Outline expectations: Policies, rules and responsibilities.
  • Explain benefits, such as health insurance and mentorship opportunities.
  • Provide training and assign shadowing.
  • Deliver feedback on trained tasks.

The above list obviously has room for more onboarding tasks. Operators should create a physical onboarding checklist. Also, they should require the person or people tasked with onboarding to complete and sign off the checklist (even if that person is the operator).

Nail recruiting, hiring and onboarding and word will get out. The result? Hiring gets easier and turnover decreases.

Focus on Workplace Culture

Doug addressed workplace culture and the labor shortage on Bar Hacks bonus episode number 16.

Simply put, operators need to take an honest look at their culture.

Is it inclusive and accepting? Transparent and nurturing? Do employees feel comfortable bringing up workplace issues? (More on that last one below.)

Hospitality is fast-paced and demanding—owners and managers shouldn’t add to the stress.

Why would anyone want to work in for someone who isn’t going to treat them and their coworkers with respect, mentor them and nurture their career, and value their input?

It’s every operator’s responsibility to be good stewards of hospitality professionals’ passion for this industry. We do them a disservice when we turn a blind eye to an unhealthy workplace culture that has taken hold, crushing their love of his business and driving them away.

Value Employee Feedback

Yes, guest feedback is valuable. However, so is feedback from employees.

It’s important for operators to remember not to focus solely on guests.

True, a business isn’t a business without customers. Equally true: It’s not a business without employees.

So, operators should foster a work environment in which employees feel comfortable sharing honest feedback. This is, of course, where culture comes into play.

If employees don’t feel safe sharing their opinions and suggestions, operators won’t truly know what it’s like to work for them. Without that feedback, employee turnover will skyrocket, recruiting and hiring will be an endless struggle, and the guest experience will suffer.

We all know what happens if guests pick up on an uncomfortable restaurant, bar or hotel environment: They don’t return.

Operators can’t expect their businesses to thrive (or just survive) if they focus solely on guests.

Putting these concepts to work can help operators succeed despite the Great Resignation of 2021.

Image: Shangyou Shi on Unsplash

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Canada to Reopen Border

Canada to Reopen Border

by David Klemt

Canadian airplane with maple leaf on tail

In a move months in the making, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is opening the border to Americans.

Remarkably, this loosening of Canada-America border restrictions doesn’t pertain solely to essential travel.

Rather, the border will open on August 9 for non-essential travel to American travelers (and permanent residents) who can prove their vaccine status.

Great News

Obviously, this is fantastic news for Canadian hospitality operators (and other business owners, of course).

Really, it’s great news for all Canadians and Americans: people can finally visit family and friends, and the economy should see a boost.

This news comes on the heels of other positive developments for Canada, such as the country’s vaccination rate now surpassing that of America’s. There’s also the province of Ontario bringing back indoor dining.

According to media reports, Canadian officials are in communication with American President Joe Biden’s administration about opening the border the other way.

However, there is no information yet about when that will happen. When asked about Canada’s announcement regarding the border, White House press secretary Jen Paski said the following:

“Any decisions about reopening travel will be guided by our public health and medical experts. We take this incredibly seriously. We look and are guided by our own medical experts. I wouldn’t look at it through a reciprocal intention.”

Should all to plan, Canada will open the border to travelers from other countries on September 7.

The Details

Of course, Americans can’t just flash their passport and cross the border. People eager to enter to Canada need to plan ahead a few days.

This is due to the requirement that Americans—with few exceptions—need to submit travel information 72 hours before arriving at the border. For example, if an American would like to cross the border the day it reopens to them, August 9, they’ll need to begin the process no later than August 6.

So, those travelers will need to use the ArriveCAN website, iOS app, or Android app.

ArriveCAN users using the website will show Canadian border agents a printout. App users will show them their screen.

Also, travelers will need to complete a Covid-19 test within the same 72 hours and be asymptomatic upon arriving at the border.

To review eligibility requirements—including lists of eligible and ineligible vaccines—click here. Full details are here.

The Opportunity

Clearly, the plan to open the border to American travelers and Canadians who found themselves stuck in America due to the pandemic presents a terrific opportunity for business owners.

In particular, in terms of our industry, bar, restaurant and hotel operators must see this development as excellent news.

Family members and friends will be eager for long-overdue reunions. That means hotel stays and restaurant and bar visits. There are also opportunities that relate to weddings, such as rehearsal dinners.

Obviously, operators must prepare for an influx of guests. So, they need to schedule accordingly, prepare staff for possibly overwhelming amounts of traffic, and ensure precautions are in place that reassure team members their health and safety are being considered.

In terms of those who waiting for the “right time” to open their restaurant or bar, this news could be a signal that the hospitality industry is on its way toward recovery in Canada.

It’s crucial that operators and management balance guest and employee comfort levels. Doing so will aid in boosting traffic, increasing revenue, and recruiting, hiring, and employee retention efforts.

Image: John McArthur on Unsplash

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Mask Mandates, Recommendations Return

Mask Mandates, Recommendations Return

by David Klemt

Downtown Los Angeles, California

Pointing to vaccination hesitation, vaccination refusal, and rises in Covid-19 cases, some cities are mandating masks indoors.

Importantly, mandates and recommendations are coming down irrespective of vaccination status.

Of course, many people are unhappy about this news. Much of the backlash includes the claim that a return to masks proves vaccines don’t work.

However, others point to variants—in particular, Delta—spreading via the unvaccinated and unmasked.

Unfortunately, continuing divisiveness means hospitality and other frontline workers are again at risk for hostile confrontations.

Los Angeles County, California

If you’re an operator in Los Angeles County, masks indoors aren’t just a recommendation. An indoor mask mandate went into effect on Saturday, July 17.

Just a month prior, embattled Governor Gavin Newsom proudly announced California’s unrestricted reopening.

Now, the more cynical among us see Gov. Newsom’s June reopening as a bid to stave off recall efforts. However, recall ballots will go out to Californians next month.

Per reporting, California’s Covid-19 infection rate is close to tripling. Los Angeles County health officials say the indoor mask mandate comes out of an overabundance of caution.

On a different note, health officials expect the state’s vaccination rate to effectively combat a spike in infection rates. The current rate isn’t expected to match or surpass those of prior peaks in the state.

As far as mandate details, it’s quite simple: Masks are required for everyone indoors, regardless of their vaccination status.

According to reports, an additional ten California counties are recommending masks indoors. No word yet on if other counties—or the state as a whole—will announce mask mandates. Nor is there an end date for LA County’s current mandate.

Southern Nevada

While not a mandate, the Southern Nevada Health District is recommending people, regardless of vaccination status, wear masks indoors.

Unsurprisingly, Las Vegas is experiencing an influx of visitors. With vaccination rates on the decline and infection rates on the rise, health officials are concerned.

More than 2.9 million visitors flocked to Las Vegas in May. Clark County, Nevada, which includes Las Vegas, has a population of over two million.

Of course, it’s important to remember that, for now, wearing masks indoors is a recommendation. However, some resorts and casinos—Westgate and the Venetian among them—now require their employees to wear face masks.

So far, neither Las Vegas, Clark County or Nevada have implemented a mandate. Of course, that could change and a mandate may be in the wings.

Orange County, Florida

Much of the news of returning mask mandates and recommendations focuses on Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

In fact, some critics are attacking Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak, accusing him of blindly following Gov. Newsom.

Interestingly, though, is that a mayor in Florida is also recommending face masks.

Mayor Jerry Demings of Orange County recommends wearing masks indoors, vaccination status notwithstanding. The phrasing of the mayor’s announcement refers to the suggestion as an “official recommendation.” However, no mandate is in place currently.

Frontline Risks

Clearly, mask mandates and even recommendations are going to anger some of the population.

Unfortunately, hospitality workers (and those in other public-facing industries) are once again at risk of confrontations. Even without mandates, some businesses that choose to require masks experience hostility.

The last thing America needs is more divisiveness, anger, and potential for confrontations.

Millions of hospitality professionals have left the industry for good. One factor leading to those losses has been concern for safety due to people angry over mask and vaccine requirements.

Obviously, operators must do whatever’s in their power to ensure the safety of their team members and guests. Leadership must not only convey their support for their employees, they must stand behind that messaging with their actions.

In cities where masks mandates and recommendations return, operators need to focus on safety as much as employee retention. Indeed, the former aids the latter, which aids recruiting and hiring.

Image: Daniel Lee on Unsplash

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Hospitality Labor Shortage not Improving

Hospitality Labor Shortage not Improving

by David Klemt

Wait station to side of busy bar

Surveys and data focusing on the restaurant and hotel employment situation paint a stark picture.

The sobering reality is that operators can’t simply point to the pandemic as the reason they’re failing to fill available positions.

Instead, we need to focus on the problems hospitality workers continue to face.

It’s not going to be easy. However, it can lead to positive change. That change can help the hospitality industry recover and thrive long into the future.

Culture is Crucial

Per several sources, millions of hospitality professionals are washing their hands of the industry.

Unfortunately, foodservice and lodging workers are citing several reasons for the exodus:

  • Lack of livable wages.
  • Inconsistent wages.
  • Stress levels not worth level of monetary compensation.
  • Lack of benefits.
  • Lack of mentoring and/or career progress.
  • Industry volatility, particularly devastating as a result of the pandemic.
  • Unhealthy lifestyle: Long shifts, late nights, and alcohol and drug abuse.
  • Cultures of harassment and discrimination.

Obviously, it’s easier to blame labor shortages on the workers. Well, being easier doesn’t make it true.

Industry and workplace culture matters. Employee turnover rates were high long before the pandemic ravaged the planet.

Rather than make excuses, operators need to look at their restaurant, bar or hotel’s culture.

Barking orders and feeling infallible isn’t leadership. Admitting failures and shortcomings—and learning from them and implementing positive changes—is how successful operators lead.

Generic Job Listings

Last week, KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey asked a simple but poignant question on LinkedIn: Are your job listings just like everybody else’s?

He suggests knocking it off with the old standards:

  • “Are you friendly, energetic, and highly motivated?”
  • “Are you an experienced and enthusiastic [insert position]?”
  • “The ideal candidate must work well in a fast-paced environment and be a team player.”
  • List of basic job tasks.

What’s appealing about such basic, generic ads? Why would rock star talent be moved to work for operators who post these types of ads?

Instead, Doug suggests the following:

  • Hire for values, not experience. Training can address systems and standards, not personality and drive.
  • Operators should be transparent about their core values, company culture, and potential for growth.
  • Showcase the approach to inclusivity, diversity, acceptance, and flexibility. That is, if that’s authentic. If not, that’s a flashing, neon red flag that requires addressing.
  • Offer a living wage, benefits, potential for personal growth, and education.
  • Produce a video of team members sharing why they work at the company. This must be genuine and honest.

A unique approach to ads, hiring and onboarding can lead to an increase in employee retention.

Yes, it’s more comfortable to avoid looking internally for the roots of problems. It’s more comfortable to avoid blame. And it’s more comfortable to point fingers anywhere but at ourselves.

That’s not leadership. And it certainly won’t improve any operator’s situation, nor will it improve the hospitality industry and its opportunity to thrive.

Image: One Shot from Pexels

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Restaurant Tech Map Illustrates Innovation

Restaurant Tech Map Illustrates Innovation

by David Klemt

TechTable - Culterra Capital Restaurant Tech Map sponsored by Back-of-House

The hospitality industry’s embracing of new technologies is experiencing rapid and welcome acceleration in less than two years.

In comparison to the restaurant technology map by TechTable and Better Food Ventures from 2019, there are two entirely new categories: Shared / Ghost Kitchens, and Food Safety / Quality.

More than a dozen platforms on the 2021 map from TechTable and Culterra Capital (sponsored by Back-of-House) now fall into those two categories.

Changing Landscape

It’s a sign of current industry trends and what will matter to guests moving forward that ghost kitchens and food safety are emerging as separate tech segments.

Obviously, the pandemic didn’t create the ghost kitchen category. However, it did fuel a meteoric rise in delivery and takeout. In turn, ghost kitchens are more prevalent than ever.

After all, a former Uber executive Travis Kalanick owns CloudKitchens and Applebee’s is testing a ghost kitchen pilot program.

What was once the domain of murky, unpermitted virtual brands is now its own successful business model.

However, today’s guest isn’t concerned solely with convenience. In general, guests now take their health and safety more seriously since the pandemic

Tech platforms that can ensure the food guests are consuming is safe will ease some concerns.

Increase in Platforms

Again, in comparison to just two years ago, the acceleration in new tech for the industry is astounding. It’s also long overdue.

As a whole, the hospitality industry has been surprisingly slow to take on new tech. Although, it’s fair to say that there wasn’t much new to adopt until somewhat recently.

Now that there’s more to try out, operators seem keen to embrace tech that can help them streamline operations; improve inventory monitoring and ordering; hire employees and manage teams; engage with and market to customers intelligently; and much more.

Even better, the above map doesn’t include all of the available platforms. That’s excellent news as it means operators have an increasing number of choices to help improve their business in every category of operation.

For example, Barventory isn’t listed within the Purchasing / Inventory / Ordering segment. The platform makes taking inventory, gaining a real-time inventory snapshot, and efficient ordering a breeze. Barventory also features the world’s first live keg scale.

It’s challenging to find positives from the past 14 to 15 months. However, one good thing may be the leaps in technology our industry is experiencing.

If they continue, these innovations may make it easier for operators and their employees to recover.

A concept’s tech stack is crucial to operations and will only grow more important moving forward. Whether opting for a full KRG Hospitality package or the Momentum program, we can help operators make informed tech selections.

Map by TechTable and Culterra Capital, sponsored by Back-of-House

Featured image: Pepper by SoftBank Robotics (photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash)

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Stand Out with Weird Holidays: July

Stand Out with Weird Holidays: July

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 July 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.

July 1: International Joke Day

Kicking things off this month is a fun one: International Joke Day.

July 7: National Dive Bar Day

This category of bar is one of our favorites. Whether you operate a dive bar, neighborhood bar or corner bar, this is your day.

July 8: Video Games Day

This is not to be confused with National Video Game Day, which takes place September 12. This bar holiday is perfect for all the barcades and eatertainment venues out there. Or, for cool restaurants and bars that have a video game system or arcade game or two inside.

July 11: National Cheer Up the Lonely Day

Nearly the entirety of 2020 and the first half of 2021 have been challenging, to say the absolute least. It’s safe to say that we’re all quite a bit lonely. On this holiday, provide a fun and safe environment for people to get back out there, socialize, and meet new friends.

July 12: National Simplicity Day

There’s nothing wrong with complex cocktail builds. However, today is the perfect holiday to highlight the simpler two- and three-ingredient cocktails on your menu. Simple, speedy, and delicious.

July 13: National Delaware Day

Of course, this isn’t a weird holiday to people who live in Delaware. For those outside the Diamond State, this is the time to showcase Delaware brands like Dog Fish Head.

July 15: National Give Something Away Day

We’re not huge fans of outright giveaways unless said giveaway items come from a partner or sponsor. However, operators can certainly come up with a creative food or beverage giveaway that requires a purchase.

July 17: National Tattoo Day

Operators can prepare for this holiday by partnering with a local tattoo shop and creating a traffic-driving promo with them.

July 20: National Pennsylvania Day

Again, this isn’t weird to Pennsylvanians. Operators outside the Keystone State should feature brands like Philadelphia Distilling and Victory Brewing Co.

July 22: National Refreshment Day

If it’s cold and refreshing, shout it from your rooftop. It’s July, it’s hot out, and people need to know you’ve got ice cold beer, cocktails, and soft drinks.

Image: Dan Parlante on Unsplash

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Resorts World Partners with Grubhub

Resorts World Las Vegas Partners with Grubhub

by David Klemt

Resorts World Las Vegas partners with Grubhub for world-first in-room dining experience

Resorts World Las Vegas is foregoing traditional room service in favor of a unique, property-wide partnership with Grubhub.

The freshest, shiniest new resort and casino to open on the world-famous Strip is taking a different approach to in-room dining.

Impressively, guests can order from any of the property’s 40 food and beverage concepts. Yes, there are 40 restaurants and bars at Resorts World Las Vegas.

This resort-delivery platform partnership is a world first.

Las Vegas Emerges

The opening of Resorts World, which took place last Thursday, is significant for several reasons.

First, surviving a pandemic to open a $4-plus-billion resort and casino in Las Vegas in 2021 is no small feat.

Second, the gaming industry in Nevada was shut down for 15 months. To emerge from that and return to 100-percent capacity is a staggering achievement.

Third, this is the first new resort to open on the Strip in over a decade. For context, The Cosmopolitan opened at the end of 2010.

Fourth, Resorts World Las Vegas is being billed as the most technologically-advanced resort and casino in Las Vegas. Indeed, they make a great case for that claim: RFID-embedded chips at the gaming tables; cashless wagering; plans to accept cryptocurrency for wagers, rooms, and amenities; and the ability for guests to use mobile pay for just about everything on property.

World-first Partnership

So, that brings us to the Resorts World Las Vegas and Grubhub partnership.

Up until relatively recently, technological innovation was somewhat stagnant in the hospitality industry. Outside of POS, CRM, reservation, inventory, audio and visual advancements, other industries routinely surpassed ours in terms for tech.

Now, we’ve seen that tide begin to turn; tech companies are turning their attention more and more to foodservice, nightlife, and accommodation businesses.

Of course, one of the most-visible and most well-known applications of tech in our industry has been delivery platforms.

As stated previously, Resorts World Las Vegas features 40 F&B concepts. Via app or QR codes, guests can order from any of the concepts on property and opt for pickup or delivery. Further, they can choose to charge their orders to their rooms.

Additionally, guests at the resort pool can have orders delivered to touchless, QR-code-enabled lockers. Impressively, some Resorts World Las Vegas retail shops are available for orders via this Grubhub partnership.

Moving Forward

Clearly, news of this partnership isn’t relevant to all operators (not directly, anyway).

However, some operators will see a real-world benefit to this delivery/pick-up development. Doubtless, their wheels be turning as they consider what tech-driven partnerships they can develop.

For others, this will be a lesson in guest expectations.

Consumers are becoming more and more accustomed to convenience and selection. At this point, a consumer’s whims—particularly in the F&B and retail spaces—can be indulged with just a few taps on their phone.

Operators will need to identify where and how they can fulfill guest expectations for convenience, selection and personalization in their own businesses. For the most part, those who innovate will be those who thrive long-term.

Image: Resorts World Las Vegas

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Tip Elimination is Back on the Table

Tip Elimination is Back on the Table

by David Klemt

Person holding up cash

Several operators across the country feel that as we emerge from pandemic life, now is the time to once again try eliminating tips.

Back in 2015, Danny Meyer made a decision about tips in his restaurants that sent shockwaves through the industry. Over the course of five years, Union Square Hospitality Group (Meyer’s group) implemented a hospitality included policy to eliminate tipping.

To be sure, it wasn’t only Meyer’s restaurants that examined and put no-tipping policies in place. However, Union Square was certainly among the highest-profile operators to try it out.

Good Intentions

Per the CEO of Union Square and founder of Shake Shack, attempting to do away with tipping was about promoting equity in the hospitality.

Tipping has been linked to the propagation of sexism, racism, harassment, and exploitation.

Meyer has also said that he believes it leads to wage instability, and studies have shown it contributes to outright wage theft. And, as anyone who has worked in a restaurant knows, tipping can create a gap—and therefore tension, among other issues—between the front of house and back.

However, it has proven difficult to for no-tipping policies to take hold. This is in part because tipping is so ingrained in American society. And, of course, there’s also the issue of increasing menu prices; some people are fine with tipping but not with paying more for menu items.

Guests aren’t the only individuals who have pushed back against eliminating tips. Unsurprisingly, the very people Meyers and other operators are trying to help have rejected no-tipping policies.

Many servers and other FoH staff have made it clear that they’re not interested in working for an operator who eliminates tips.

Reinstatement of Tipping

Around eleven months ago, Meyer announced he would reverse course on his hospitality included policy. According to reporting, Meyer had done so not because of pushback against increased menu prices (about 15 to 20 percent to cover increased labor costs).

Rather, the five-year experiment never worked exactly as Meyer and Union Square had hoped. As he told Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jonathan Capehart during a Washington Post Live conversation back in March of this year, the policy wasn’t sustainable.

“It worked to a degree, but it was not sustainable, and the biggest reason it wasn’t sustainable was we could never quite do all the things we wanted to do for our team members like make sure that a formerly tipped employee could make as much as she made when she was tipped, make sure that we had a 401(k) plan, make sure we had a really, really generous family leave policy,” Meyer told Capehart.

And then there was the impact of the pandemic. Meyer finally pulled the plug on his no-tipping policy after New York allowed restaurants to reopen for outdoor dining a year ago. Reportedly, Meyer didn’t see how he could stand in the way of his staff making additional money.

2021 Experiment

Interestingly, several news outlets are reporting that operators around the country are at least considering doing away with tips this summer.

Again, this is at least in part due to the pandemic. Restaurateurs who have wanted to implement policies similar to Meyers’ Hospitality Included see this year as the time to try.

We still don’t know exactly what post-pandemic life will be. However, a hospitality industry reset is certainly coming—and it’s absolutely overdue.

So, it does make sense that as operators can change guest and staff perception of tipping and living wages as we all emerge from pandemic life and face a new world.

For example, the Chicago Tribune has reported that Big Jones, owned and operated by Paul Fehribach, has implemented service fees so he can cover offer servers between $18 and $25 per hour. A 20-percent fee for in-person dining or placing an order with a live person, and a 10-percent fee attached to online orders go to Big Jones payroll.

While there has been some pushback, the Chicago Tribune reports that Fehriback says Big Jones reactions are trending toward the positive.

It’s possible that tip elimination simply doesn’t work for some restaurant categories. As an example, those policies may work out in the casual dining space but not fine dining. Time will tell if it works at all.

Image: Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash