by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Canada’s Restaurant Labor by the Numbers

Canada’s Restaurant Labor by the Numbers

by David Klemt

Chef inside commercial kitchen

While there are positive signs for Canada’s foodservice industry, recruiting and retaining labor continues to be a challenge.

Unfortunately, this isn’t a challenge unique to Canada. Operators throughout North America and indeed across the globe are facing labor shortages.

Restaurants Canada addresses this topic in their 2022 Foodservice Facts report. The non-profit research and advocacy group predicts sales will reach pre-pandemic levels by Q4 of this year.

However, restaurants, bars, and nightclubs may have to achieve traffic and revenue growth despite a significant labor deficit.

Please click here to access the 2022 Foodservice Facts report yourself.

Labor Shortage by Category

In their latest report, Restaurants Canada crunches the numbers for three distinct venue categories. These are quick-serve restaurants, full-service restaurants, and bars and nightclubs.

The organization finds that QSRs and FSRs are facing the greatest shortages. In fact, in response to a survey from May of this year, at least half of QSRs and FSRs aren’t operating with fulls staffs.

For QSRs, 52 percent of respondents say they perceive restaurants and bars they’ve visited to be understaffed. A bit over a third (36 percent) think staffing is “about right.” Unhelpfully, 12 percent “don’t know” if restaurants and bars have enough staff.

So, let’s switch gears to FSRs. Precisely half of survey respondends say restaurants and bars don’t have enough staff. Just like their QSR counterparts, 36 percent say that staffing seems to be at the ideal level. Fourteen percent respond that they “don’t know,” which doesn’t tell us much.

Per Canadians who responded to Restaurants Canada’s survey, bars and nightclubs are fairing better…at first. Frustratingly, a staggering 37 percent of respondents “don’t know” if bars or nightclubs have appropriate levels of staffing. Thirty-two percent think they’re understaffed, 31 percent think staffing levels are “about right.”

Industry professionals are probably already putting two and two together here. As long as guests receive the level of service they expect, from greeting to speed of service, to closing out their check, they think things are fine. If they’re made to wait longer than they want, they’ll likely say a restaurant, bar or nightclub doesn’t have enough people on shift.

Labor Shortage by Role

Okay, so the May 2022 Restaurants Canada wasn’t entirely helpful. It still provides interesting insight. That is, we know how guests perceive staffing in at least most instances.

So, let’s get down to hard numbers: shortages in specific roles throughout the industry.

Here, Restaurants Canada provides compelling information, even if it’s not what we want to see. In comparison to 2019, every role is down by thousands of people. In some cases, tens of thousands.

Below you’ll find the deficits by role:

  • Foodservice supervisors: -3,100
  • Chefs: -10,900
  • Bartenders: -17,600
  • Maîtres d’hôtel and hosts/hostesses: -21,100
  • Restaurant and foodservice managers: -22,400
  • Food counter attendants, kitchen helpers, and related support occupations: -43,200
  • Cooks: -44,400
  • F&B servers: -89,500
  • Other: -18,800

Add that up and that’s a shortage of 271,000 people throughout Canada’s foodservice industry. For further context, the industry boasted 1,265,700 workers. In 2021, the industry was down to 994,700.

Unfortunately, from 2020 to 2021, just 4,100 jobs were recovered, according to Restaurants Canada. This situation clearly shows that operators need to change their approach to staffing.

Now, more than ever, operators must focus on effective recruitment, onboarding, and retention. For tips on making improvements, click here. To learn how to implement employee surveys to boost retention and avoid costly turnover, click here.

Image: Brian Tromp on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Datassential’s State of the Operator 2022

Datassential’s State of the Operator 2022

by David Klemt

Guests sitting at the bar inside a restaurant

The latest addition to the Datassential FoodBytes research series shares insights into the top three challenges most—if not all—operators are facing.

Now, some of what the report reveals paints a bleak picture. Inflation, the labor shortage, and supply chain issues persist even past the midway point of 2022.

However, operators are a tenacious and innovative group of business owners. Of course, that tenacity seems to manifest in people thinking this industry can weather any storm. That perception can come at operators’ detriment. Exhibit A: The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 not including replenishing of the RRF. But, I digress.

“The State of the Operator & the Road Ahead,” which you can download here, is helpful and informative. As you may be aware, we’re fans of Datassential and their FoodBytes reports. In fact, you can find our synopses of FoodBytes reports here and here.

Below are some key points that operators should be aware for consideration. I strongly urge you to download this free report today.

Operator Outlook

First, let’s take a look at traffic. As Datassential points out, some hospitality business segments are performing better than others currently.

In large part, this is due to two factors: People working from home, and people returning to travel. So, operators who rely heavily on commuters and in-person workers are struggling. On the other hand, operators inside or around hotels are, per Datassential, performing the strongest at the moment.

Interestingly, though, nearly half of operators (47 percent) are seeing an increase in traffic in comparison to pre-Covid levels. Fourteen percent of operators are reporting no change in traffic. Unfortunately, traffic is lower for 39 percent of operators.

Next, sales. In comparison to pre-Covid times, more than half (51 percent) of operators report an increase. Again, 14 percent of operators are experiencing no change. But 35 percent of operators are experiencing a decrease in sales.

Finally, profit margins. Half of operators may be seeing increases in traffic in sales, but profit margins are taking a hit. On average, the industry’s profit margin is now hovering at 13 percent. That’s an eight-percent drop in comparison to pre-Covid levels.

Segment Performance

The findings regarding profit margins are likely to be the most alarming to operators. Historically, our industry has operated on razor-thin margins for decades. Dropping from an average of 21 percent to 13 is concerning.

However, context is important. The segments seeing the lowest profit margins in 2022 are: Business & Industry (B&I), Healthcare, and Colleges & Universities (C&U). Again, remote work (and learning) are largely responsible for those particular segments watching their profit margins tumble.

The strongest performers are: Quick-Service Restaurants (QSR) at 17 percent; Fast Casual at 15 percent); and Midscale, Casual Dining, and Fine Dining, each at 13 percent. Lodging is just below the current average at 12 percent.

Operator Adaptation

Inflation, rising food costs, supply chain issues, labor shortages… Operators are finding ways to cope, and in some situation, thrive.

Unsurprisingly, the vast majority of operators are increasing menu prices. In the past 12 months, 77 percent of operators have raised menu prices at least once.

These increases range from one percent a staggering 30 percent. However, the majority have kept these increases to one to ten percent. Most (31 percent) have implemented increases of no more than five percent. Just one percent of operators boosted prices between 25 to 30 percent.

Of course, raising prices isn’t the only strategy operators have at their disposal. Forty percent of operators are streamlining their menu, reducing the sizes of their menus. However, it’s wise for operators to review their menus at least every three months to eliminate poor performers.

Other strategies include focusing on value for guests (27 percent); utilizing LTOs and launching new menu items (26 percent); eliminating a specific daypart or portion of the menu (25 percent); and making portion sizes small, or “shrinkflation” (18 percent).

There’s much more revealed in Datassential’s latest FoodBytes report. Download your copy today.

Image: Luca Bravo on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Top 10 States Attracting High Earners

Top 10 States Attracting High Earners

by David Klemt

The Florida Theater in Jacksonville, Florida

Using the inflow and outflow data of tax filers earning $200,000 or more, SmartAsset identifies the top ten states attracting high earners.

When it comes to the number-one state, “it’s not even close,” says SmartAsset Advisors. Not surprisingly, several top inflow cities (according to Redfin data) line up with SmartAsset’s top inflow state list.

So, why should this information matter to operators? Plainly, it’s important market information. Population, household income, and age information are crucial considerations when opening any business.

In fact, KRG Hospitality includes such data (and much, much more) when conducting research for our proprietary feasibility, business, and concept plans. Among many elements of opening a restaurant, bar, hotel, or entertainment venue, the income of one’s target audience is crucial.

Knowing where high-income households are leaving and moving to can inform many operator decisions. Where should one open their first concept? Which markets should one consider for expansion? What type of concept will work in a market? What are the threshold price points for menu items? How will this information help inform design choices?

Operators need to recoup their outlay. The income of a concept’s ideal guest should be as important to an operator as knowing their costs.

Top Ten Inflow States

Interestingly, the top state on this list did experience significant outflow in 2020. In fact, the state lost 11,756 high-earning households in 2020.

However, the state also added 32,019 such households, netting 20,263 high earners.

  1. Utah
  2. Idaho
  3. Nevada
  4. Colorado
  5. Tennessee
  6. South Carolina
  7. North Carolina
  8. Arizona
  9. Texas
  10. Florida

Another compelling detail of the states on this list pertains to income tax. In short, three of the states don’t levy personal income tax.

Above, they’re the states in bold: Florida, Nevada, and Texas.

Top 10 Outflow States

So, above are the ten states are seeing the greatest an inflow of high-earning households. Which means, of course, there’s an inverse.

Below, the ten states experiencing the greatest outflow of high earners. Unsurprisingly, SmartAsset deems several entries on the list high-tax states. Also, Washington, DC, is a high-tax area.

Moreover, the list below includes five of the top ten high personal income tax jurisdictions (in bold).

  1. Ohio
  2. Minnesota
  3. Washington, DC
  4. Maryland
  5. New Jersey
  6. Virigina
  7. Massachusetts
  8. Illinois
  9. California
  10. New York

However, it’s not as though these states are seeing a massive exodus of high-earning households. In fact, per SmartAsset, these states have more high-income households than the national average.

Nationally, high-earning households account for less than seven percent of all tax filers. According to SmartAsset, nearly nine percent of tax filers are high-income households in the top ten outflow states.

Image: Trevor Neely on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

What Does Omni-channel Mean?

What Does Omni-channel Mean in Hospitality?

by David Klemt

Restaurant diners eating burgers, fries and roasted vegetables

Buzzword or professional jargon, the term “omni-channel” seems to come up more often as our industry embraces more innovations.

As more social and digital platforms (channels) pop up, your job as marketer becomes more complex.

For a pessimistic take, your marketing efforts are like a ship. Every new marketing channel that gains traction is like a hole you have to plug. Fail to do so and you risk your marketing ship sinking.

Now for an optimistic take. Every channel you can add to your marketing is an opportunity to grow your reach. Increasing the amount of people who become familiar with your brand represents the potential to grow loyalty and sales.

If you want to meet your guests where they are—and you should—you need to have a presence where they are to engage with them.

And that’s just marketing. There are also omni-channel operational tactics you can implement. Unsurprisingly, you’ll likely realize many of those solutions are also digital.

So, what does “omni-channel” mean for operators? It means offering seamless guest experiences pre-, per- and post-visit.

Staying top of mind is also an element of an omni-channel strategy.

Traditional Channels

In terms of marketing, let’s break down the different types of channels available to operators.

A simple way to look at “traditional” marketing channels is that they don’t leverage digital mediums:

  • Newspaper and magazine ads
  • Radio and television ads
  • Direct mail
  • Billboards
  • Vehicle wraps
  • Flyers

Now, some of the above may seem outdated. However, those channels still have reach.

The key is knowing your brand and audience to know if a traditional channel will deliver an ROI. You also need to take the time to figure out where your dollars and time are best spent.

Digital Channels

So, there’s a reason I put the word traditional in quotation marks in the previous section.

There may be a time when digital channels become so ubiquitous that they’re considered traditional.

Just look at the digital channels below and consider how commonplace they’ve become:

  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Company websites
  • Search engine marketing
  • Newsletters
  • Text messages

It’s easy to see how one day the channels above will overtake their non-digital counterparts and become the traditional way we market.

The reasons for this are obvious. Digital campaigns are easily measurable, they allow for incredibly specific targeting, and they tend to be more engaging.

Really, the biggest cons that pertain to digital marketing channels are: being viewed as annoying/intrusive; being lost in the sea of ads people encounter every day.

On the execution side, it can still be overwhelming to engage just in social media marketing. However, there are platforms that can help make this task less daunting.

Other Channels

Like I wrote earlier, omni-channel doesn’t only pertain to marketing.

Of course, the term and practice are most often associated with marketing. However, operators have more to think about to truly become omni-channel.

The way your guests interact with your restaurant are also channels. Your front-of-house staff is a channel, technically speaking.

Now, we all know that the pandemic forced operational changes. Many of those changes are here to stay.

So, let’s look at a potential guest journey:

  • The potential guest receives a promotional offer via email.
  • They follow the link to an online reservation platform.
  • After arriving at the restaurant with their party, they check in with the host in person.
  • The server greets the party, some of whom request a physical menu. Others in the party pull out their phones and access the menu via QR code.
  • Throughout the meal, the server touches the table to ensure the visit is going well, refill drinks, take additional drink orders, etc.
  • When it’s time to pay, the party quietly does so via a touchless option and leaves.
  • A follow-up email is sent for feedback.
  • After a number of days, a text message is sent out to encourage another visit.

The marketing channels are just one element that makes the hypothetical restaurant an omni-channel operation. Providing digital, touchless menu access and payment are also omni-channel elements.

Those are just a few examples. If you take the time to review your operations; where you can reach new and repeat guests; threats such as third-party delivery; and innovations you can implement, you’ll see where you can make changes to become an omni-channel restaurant.

Image: Dan Gold on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Canadian Trends 2022: Technomic

Canadian Trends 2022: Technomic

by David Klemt

Yellow neon "butter" sign and scaffolding

Curious about what to expect in 2022 as a Canadian restaurant, bar or hotel operator?

Technomic has some predictions for next year.

Reviewing their “Canadian Trends: Looking Ahead to 2022” report, creativity and streamlining will be keys to success.

Let’s jump in!


Yes, this is why I chose the image above. Technomic is very specifically identifying butter as an important 2022 F&B trend.

And no, they don’t appear to be predicting the popularity a particularly rare or esoteric butter. The industry intelligence firm means butter will prove important in 2022.

In large part, Technomic is pointing to comfort food as a driver for butter.

Generally, the firm points to how versatile butter is in the kitchen. Browned and herb-infused butters, says Technomic, will find its way into cocktails.

Flavor and texture will play an important role, extending the butter prediction into buttery foods territory. For example, Technomic predicts butterscotch, buttermilk and ghee will see a boost in usage and demand.

Additionally, the plant-based movement will help nut butters grow more popular. In fact, Technomic says nut butters will find their ways onto burgers and into cocktails.

Interestingly, the firm’s butter prediction gives operators two larger trends to watch: comfort food and plant-based.


You don’t need me to tell you that North America—and the rest of the world—is facing supply chain issues.

I know you’re exhausted from just the past nearly two years of constant adaptation and pivoting. In 2022, you’ll have to continue with your creative problem solving.

The supply chain challenge (there’s an understatement) requires creativity in several areas. This includes the kitchen and menu.

Technomic suggests that one path forward through supply chain problems involves ingredient preparations:

  • Pickling
  • Candying
  • Salt-baking

The firm says these creative takes on ingredients operators already have will extend product life; add new flavors to dishes; and deliver new textures. Those last two offer guests new experiences.

In addition, getting creative with the ingredients you may be able to get more readily will help streamline and update 2022 menus. However, revising your menu will require careful consideration of your supply chain and cross-utilization, with a heavy helping of creative prep.

Running Lean

Smaller footprints. Shrunken staff. Streamlined menus. Smaller, shrunken, streamlined, optimized, leaner…

Call the process whatever you want, Technomic is predicting that operators will need to “optimize” (read: make smaller) their businesses.

Of course, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. We’ve read and heard predictions since last year about what will need to shrink moving forward.

While some recent news reports say that ghost kitchens are out, Technomic seems to think that’s not the case. Technomic suggests ghost kitchens will remain viable for operators who want to expand without investing in real estate.

Additionally, Technomic’s report suggests something that should come as no surprise. In short, if it works for a brand or location, smaller may be better and here to stay.


Now, this is the most promising of Technomic’s predictions: Growth.

Per the firm, the foodservice industry in Canada was down 29 percent in Q1 of 2021. Pre-pandemic, sales reached $95 billion. That represents a loss of nearly $30 billion.

However, there’s reason to be optimistic in 2022, according to Technomic.

The firm expects growth of 21 percent in 2022 over 2021, or sales of $74.8 billion. Should this prediction prove accurate, 2022 would close just three percent under pre-pandemic sales.

Technomic identifies full-service as the foodservice segment to experience the most growth next year at 26.2 percent. In comparison, the firm predicts limited-service to grow 7.3 percent.

Next year won’t be easy. 2022 won’t be a magical return to normalcy. But there is room for optimism if Technomic’s predictions are correct.

Image: Jon Tyson 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