Advice

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Program for Unique Holidays: March 2024

Program for Unique Holidays: March 2024

by David Klemt

"Think about things differently" neon sign

Do you want to stand out from from other restaurants and bars in your area? Change how you think about your March holiday promotions.

Several holidays are set against every date on the calendar, and this month is no exception. These holidays range from mainstream to esoteric.

Pay attention to the “weird” or unique holidays to raise eyebrows, carve out a niche for your restaurant or bar, and attract more guests. Why do what everyone else is already doing? Why program only around the same holidays as everyone else?

Of course, you shouldn’t try to celebrate every holiday, strange or otherwise. Focus on the days that are authentic to your brand; resonate with your guests; and help you grab attention on social media.

You’ll find suggestions for promotions below. However, the idea behind our monthly holiday promotions roundup is to inspire you and your team to get creative and come up with unique programming ideas.

For our February 2024 holidays list, click here.

March 5: Cinco de Marcho

Supposedly, this holiday is meant to “train the livers” of people planning on getting slightly wild on March 17. They have 12 days to get ready to party.

Well, we at KRG Hospitality think this sounds a bit irresponsible. We don’t want any operators or their teams to run into any legal trouble. So, I recommend offering a spin on the Coronarita as a nearly two-week-long LTO.

Build a Margarita with Irish whiskey, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, and agave syrup. Serve it in a salt-rimmed pint glass, schooner, or mason jar. Invert a Harp Lager, Smithwick’s Pale Ale, or Guinness Blonde Lager in the glass.

March 7: National Crown Roast of Pork Day

Here’s a fun one based on a culinary classic. Put simply, a crown roast is anywhere from a dozen to nearly two dozen pork rib chops. When arranged in a circle, they look like a crown.

It’s old school, and it’s certainly a shareable dish. Dress this LTO up with a wine pairing, or dress it down with a bucket of beers.

March 8: National Proofreading Day

Your menu is a billboard. It’s a crucial marketing and branding tool. So, it can be embarrassing when there are typos and other issues on your menu.

If you don’t want to proofread it yourself, or you just want to engage your guests, put a “bounty” on misspellings and grammatical errors on your menu. Watch how quickly any mistakes are found, if any exist.

March 14: National Potato Chip Day

Housemade potato chips are among the best appetizers and sides. If your kitchen team is up for it, consider housemade chips as an LTO side. Think about making them a permanent (or semi-permanent) addition to your menu if all goes well.

March 18: National Sloppy Joe Day

So, it’s March 18. Some people may have gotten after it pretty hard for St. Patrick’s Day. They need comfort food.

If your kitchen team can make delicious Sloppy Joe’s from scratch (maybe served with housemade potato chips), they may be just what the doctor ordered.

March 19: National Poultry Day

Does your restaurant or bar serve dishes featuring poultry? Guess what you should do on this day…

March 21: World Vermouth Day

The days of low-quality vermouth are gone. For a few years not at least, people have discovered that premium vermouth makes a great cocktail base. This holds particularly true for low-ABV drinks, like reverse cocktails.

March 22: National Goof Off Day

This year, National Goof Off Day falls on a Friday. Really, that timing couldn’t be much better.

Encourage your guests to set aside their responsibilitiesas long as it won’t get them firedand goof off at your bar.

March 29: Smoke and Mirrors Day

When a cocktail is served with smoke, people take notice. Often times, when one is served, people watching the show want one of their own.

This is the perfect holiday to show off your smoking cocktails. To really embrace the holiday, smoke and serve them in a glass and chrome smoker box. By the way, these boxes work well when it comes to smoking food items, too.

March 31: National Tater Day

Much like poultry day, I bet you can figure out what to do on National Tater Day. Celebrate the potato! Tater tot nachos? Done. Sriracha French fries? Awesome. Fully loaded potato skins and baked potatoes? Classics.

Get creative. The humble potato is a fantastic canvas for enticing dishes.

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Questions Future Operators Need to Ask

Questions Future Operators Need to Ask Before Opening

by Jennifer Radkey

Black and orange question marks

Taking your dream bar or restaurant from vision to reality can be an exciting journey but too many people get ahead of themselves during the process.

What are some of the first actions a future operator takes when deciding to open a new restaurant or bar? Well, many will dive right into deciding on a concept, looking at locations, or figuring out costs. Some may take the time to wisely invest in feasibility, concept, and business plans.

Very few will ask themselves the crucial questions that will help them figure out if they are truly ready to take on this huge endeavorand be successful at it.

Before designing menus, hiring a real estate agent, or looking for investments, you need to sit down and gain a clear understanding of the state of your mindset. Successfully opening a restaurant or bar can be mentally and physically exhausting. Well before you open your doors you need to have acquired a mindset that is built on resilience, growth, leadership, and positivity.

Below are several questions to considerand answer truthfullybefore diving in.

Mindset Questions

  1. What is the purpose behind wanting to open a restaurant or bar? Why is this goal significant to you?
  2. How do you currently stay motivated and do you have a system in place to turn to when you lose motivation?
  3. Do you feel capable of handling the day to day pressures of starting and operating a business? Why or why not?
  4. Have you been in a leadership position before? On a scale of one to 10 (one being not successful at all and 10 being very successful), how successful of a leader were you?
  5. What kind of leader do you want to be and Is there someone in a leadership position you admire and can learn from?
  6. If you feel that you can not be the leader your business needs to succeed is there a partner you can rely on for this?
  7. Are you currently in a good position to be able to devote the time, energy, resources, and focus needed to undertake this endeavor?
  8. What non-negotiables do you have in your life? What are you willing to sacrifice for this dream and what are you not?
  9. How comfortable are you with meeting people and being open to others’ ideas?
  10. What are three key strengths you possess? How will they help you succeed?
  11. What are three weaknesses you possess? How might they hinder your success?
  12. Are you comfortable with delegating to others when you are not the best person for a task?
  13. Do you have a strong support system in place of people you can turn to when needed?
  14. Why are you choosing to open a business in the hospitality industry? How do you plan to leave your mark in it?
  15. Do you possess the knowledge to run the day to day operations of a restaurant or bar? If not, how do you plan to gain that knowledge?
  16. How open are you to continuous education and learning for yourself and your future team?
  17. How will you balance opening a new restaurant/bar with your personal life?
  18. Are you willing to adapt and pivot when needed, even if it means an entirely new concept?
  19. How do you currently deal with failure?
  20. How will opening a restaurant/bar impact other areas of your life?

Once you have answered these questions you will have a better understanding of where your mindset stands right now, what areas you may need to improve upon, and if you are truly ready to open your own restaurant or bar. There is a saying that knowledge is power, and self-knowledge is the most powerful kind!

Cheers to professional and personal well-being!

Image: Laurin Steffens on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality. Business Coach. Restaurant Coach. Hotel Coach. Hospitality Coach. Mindset Coach.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Fourth Member of Your Team

The Fourth Member of Your Team

by David Klemt

Black puzzle piece slotting into illuminated puzzle

When looking at your organization, it’s crucial to realize ownership, leadership, and staff aren’t the only members of the team.

There’s another key member, and their input is among the most valuable. And you rely on them for the success of your business. They’re your guests.

It may seem painfully obvious that your guests are integral to the success of your business. After all, your registers won’t ring without guests coming through your doors, placing orders online or via phone, and spending their money at your venue.

When they become regularsparticularly vocal regulars who tell others about your great businessthey transform into unofficial brand ambassadors. That’s fantastic marketing that tends to cost you nothing.

However, their importance goes beyond the monetary. Further, it’s more than just free marketing.

Menu Streamlining

Do your guests provide you with feedback? Actually, scratch that; let’s start again.

Do you provide your guests with a simple, convenient way to give you feedback? And do you seek more than a thumbs up or thumbs down for their experience at your restaurant or bar?

It can be difficult to streamline your menu, particularly if you’re unable to look at every item objectively. There are operators and chefs out there who get attached to their personal favorite menu items. That’s fine, until it’s not.

Perhaps a dish took a long time and a lot of work to get just right. Maybe it was a family thing and you’re proud of it.

But if you’re too proud of it and it’s not selling, it’s just costing you money. Keeping it on the menu hoping it will become a hit is bad for business.

A while back, when Bar & Restaurant Expo was Nightclub & Bar, Chef Brian Duffy shared a simple method for streamlining a menu. You run a product mix report, then separate them into three categories: rock stars, solid performers, and dogs.

The former are your top-selling items, and the middle category perform consistently. But the latter…they don’t sell. Worse, if they require ingredients that you don’t cross-utilize to make other dishes or drinks, they aren’t just stagnant, they’re costing you money.

If an item isn’t selling, that’s your gueststhe fourth member of your team—letting you know they don’t want it. Removing such items is an easy way to begin the streamlining process. Some of the best bars and restaurants in the world audit their highly anticipated menu launches a few months after their release. Items that aren’t selling are refreshed or removed.

So, when you encourage your guests to give your feedback, ask them what they think about your menu. Also, ask your staff what guests are telling them about your food and drink.

Your Vision

If you’re anything like our clients (or you are one of our clients), you’ve spent a ton of time envisioning your perfect restaurant, bar, cafe, eatertainment concept, nightclub, or hotel.

With that comes a hypothetical but informed vision of the guest journey. You’ll have an idea of how your guests will use your space.

Well, what if your guests turn that idea on its head? How will you react if guests see your vision in a different way?

On today’s episode of the Bar Hacks podcast, guest James Grant says something that I have also been saying for quite some time: like me, he sees guests as an integral member of the team. They do, to a degree, have influence over your concept.

To paraphrase, Grant says guests are half of the reason people open and operate restaurants, bars, cafes, nightclubs, hotels, etc.

As an example, we have a client who saw their space a certain way. We helped develop their bar concept with their vision in mind. However, not long after opening, our client’s guests showed that they had a different perception of the bar. Our client adapted, and the bar team and guests are happy.

The brand didn’t change. Neither did the space, physically. Nor did the cocktail program. However, one key element did change, as far as the type of bar it was intended to be.

As another example, friends of mine opened a bar years back. The space was meant to be an upscale cocktail bar with a relaxed and sophisticated vibe. That vision was achieved, but influential guests added an element: the bar became a high-energy after-hours spot.

At first, my friends weren’t sure about this change or if they should encourage it. But when they saw that revenue and profits were up, well…sometimes change is a good thing.

Adaptation

You may be very proud of items you have on your menu. Along those lines, you may have a very specific vision for your F&B programs that tell the story of your brand and space.

If an item here or there doesn’t catch on, it doesn’t make you a failure. It can be disappointing if your personal favorite turns out to be a dud with guests; don’t take it personally. It’s just business. The items on your menu should earn money, not lose it.

And if a guest reads through your highly curated cocktail, beer, or wine menu and then orders something “basic,” that shouldn’t be seen as a personal affront.

Now, guests deciding your concept is something you never intended it to be is something else. If this happens, it requires looking at the experience, service, brand storytelling, and even the design with a critical eye.

That said, if none of that is “off,” and if your team is happy and profits go up because your guests see your business in a different way, it may be smart to adapt. This is particularly true if your team is making more money and the unexpected new direction is safe.

Operators have usually been creating their concepts in their minds for years. It can be a shock for guests to transform the business into something else.

But if the business is successful because of how guests decide to use it, is that a bad thing?

Only you can answer that question. It may be best for you to identify the “why” behind the possible concept disconnect and stamp it out. However, it may be best to lean into the unexpected new direction.

Image: Edge2Edge Media on Unsplash

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Bar Hacks Celebrates World Bartender Day

35 Bar Hacks Podcast Episodes for World Bartender Day

by David Klemt

Black microphone and pop filter with purple light

This Saturday, February 24, we celebrate World Bartender Day, so here are 35 Bar Hacks episodes featuring some of our favorite people in the bar business.

We’ve had the honor of speaking with incredibly talented, humble, and generous bartenders. Below you’ll find the Spotify and Apple Podcasts links to nearly three-dozen of these informative and entertainment conversations.

Please join us in thanking your bartenders on Saturday. And if you’re an operator, we encourage you to come up with a way to celebrate your bar team to show them your appreciation.

Cheers!

Episode 109 with Colin Asare-Appiah

Host David Klemt had the opportunity to chat with Colin Asare-Appiah, an industry icon he’s wanted to talk to for many years. Colin is Bacardí’s trade director of multiculture and lifestyle, and the brand’s LGBTQIA+ advocate. Not only does he spread the message of diversity, equity, and inclusion, he believes (as does KRG Hospitality and Bar Hacks) that diversity is necessary for our industry to thrive.

In this episode you’ll learn about Colin Asare-Appiah’s journey through hospitality, which includes saying he’d never be a bartender to becoming a bartender and creating a bartending school; his thoughts on what makes a successful operator and team; cocktail and spirits trends for 2024; the AJABU cocktail festival coming to South Africa in March of this year, spearheaded by Colin and his partner Mark Talbot Holmes; and more.

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Episode 107 with Anne Becerra

Anne Becerra is the first female Certified Cicerone in New York City and has been working in beer for more than a decade. More importantly, however, she’s as passionate as she is educated about beer. Anne’s also passionate about hospitality, which comes across in this conversation. Truly, she loves hospitality, the beverage world, and how the two pair to make people feel amazing.

On this episode Anne talks introducing guests to beer; serving beer aficionados, beer neophytes, and the beer wary; how to make guests feel comfortable in a beer-centric concept; what she’s excited about in the beer world; tips for operators who want to succeed with a beer-forward venue; and much, much more. Cheers!

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Apple Podcasts link

Episode 106 with Matthias Ingelmann

Since opening their doors, KOL Restaurant has found its way onto the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and Kol Mezcaleria can be found on the World’s 50 Best Disovery tool. The upscale Mexican restaurant and bar, co-owned by Chef Santiago Lastra, celebrates Mexican culture and traditions hand in hand with British ingredients. They’re also currently participating in the 14th annual London Cocktail Week.

KOL bar manager Matthias Ingelmann dropped by the Bar Hacks podcast while he and the team prepared for service. On this episode, Matthias talks agave spirits; introducing guests to artisanal and ancestral agave spirits along with Mexican rum, gin, and whiskey; planning for seasonality and menu changes; maintaining the familiar while offering new menu items; honoring Mexican culture with this fusion concept; what he looks for in team members; and more.

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Episode 104 with Simone Caporale

Simone Caporale, an internationally renowned bartender and operator, swings by the Bar Hacks podcast to talk spirits, branding, the guest experience, and operations.

Noticing a gap in the industry and seeing a way to lend his expertise to help grow spirits brands, Simone and Luca Missagli founded Cocktail Concierge, a brand-building agency focusing on craft spirits brands. One of the most recent brands Cocktail Concierge has helped introduce to the world is Amaro Santoni.

Of course, Simone is also one of forces behind SIPS Drinkery House, number three on the World’s 50 Best Bars list, and the World’s Best Bar according to Tales of the Cocktail. Simone shares his thoughts on what he thinks makes SIPS so successful, why he views service as a privilege, three tips operators can implement today to plant the seeds for long-term success, and more!

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Episode 103 with Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr. Lyan, part 2

Ryan Chetiyawardana, also known as Mr. Lyan, returns to the Bar Hacks podcast! Ten years ago, Ryan opened the first bar in what would become the Mr. Lyan empire, White Lyan. This innovative venue set the tone for Ryan and the team’s approach to creating bars.

On this episode of the Bar Hacks podcast, Ryan shares details of the ten-year celebrations; what it means to him to have reached the ten-year operator milestone; lessons learned over the course of more than ten years running bars; what people can expect from the re-release of his book Good Things to Drink with Mr Lyan and Friends, now with brand-new content and a new title, Mr Lyan’s Cocktails at Home: Good Things to Drink with Friends; and more!

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Episode 102 with Jordan Bushell

Global Hennessy brand ambassador Jordan Bushell returns to the Bar Hacks podcast. While Jordan may know people with more Cognac knowledge, we don’t know anyone who knows more about this spirit category. More importantly, he’s as generous with his time as he is knowledgeable about Cognac. If you have a question about the spirit of Hennessy you can reach out to him and he’ll answer you.

On this episode of Bar Hacks, Jordan talks about special Hennessy releases, initiatives, collaborations, and what sets the maison apart from others in the Cognac region of France. He also talks about how operators can introduce guests to Cognac and Hennessy, including paying attention how they price their menus. Cheers!

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Episode 101 with Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr. Lyan

Ryan Chetiyawardana, also known as Mr. Lyan, is one of the bar world’s true visionaries. He opened his first bar, White Lyan, in 2013 and the venue immediately achieved its intended purpose. Beyond being an award-winning bar and one of London’s best places to grab a drink, White Lyan started a much-needed conversation about sustainability in the industry.

Dandelyan, Lyaness, Super Lyan, Cub, and Silver Lyan would follow shortly after, making an even bigger splash not only in London but also Amsterdam and Washington, DC. All Mr. Lyan venues, while showcasing incredible innovation, accomplish something just as important: each bar is a place people to want to spend their time and money, and where professionals want to work.

During this fantastic conversation, Ryan shares insights into the menu programming processes at each venue; discusses seasonality; provides a look into hiring and engaging each team; the reissue of his book and his foray into the RTD cocktail space; and much more.

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Episode 99 with Michele Mariotti

Bartender Michele Mariotti leads an illustrious career. He has worked behind the bars at some of the best hotels around the world, including the Savoy in London and Mandarin Oriental in Singapore.

As of 2020, Michele has held the title head of bars at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland. In this role, he heads the programs at 11 F&B venues on the property, overseeing dozens of bar professionals.

On this episode, Michele and Bar Hacks podcast host David Klemt talk about mentorship, interviewing potential bartenders, menu development, using a flavor map when assigning new cocktail builds to bar team members, finding inspiration, interesting hotel guests, bespoke glassware, investing in platforms and programs that boost staff retention, and more.

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Episode 96 with Lynnette Marrero

You know about RTDs, but what about RTEs? Lynnette Marrero returns to the Bar Hacks podcast, dialing in from a very cool hybrid restaurant-work concept in Cincinnati to talk about Delola, the recently launched premium ready-to-enjoy cocktail brand.

The House of Delola was founded by Jennifer Lopez with the mission of launching premium, sophisticated RTE cocktails. The core lineup consists of three spritzes crafted in collaboration with bartending, mixology, and hospitality icon Lynnette Marrero. A truly collaborative effort, Lynnette created bold yet refreshing spritzes that resonate with JLo’s party personality, Lola.

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Episode 95 with Bob Peters

Bob Peters has big news to share, and you can hear in his voice how excited he is to share it with everyone. He’s taking on the perfect role. In fact, he calls it his dream job during this episode. Cocktails and cuisine are about to get even better in North Carolina and South Carolina…

But it doesn’t stop there! Bob also shares his approach to bar training to make sure everyone is engaged; his assessment of the Charlotte dining and drinking scene; a simple step all restaurants and bars can take today to improve operations, team engagement, and the guest experience; a very cool project he’s taking on; and more.

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Episode 93 with Adrián Michalčík

Adrián Michalčík is the director of mixology at the award-winning Pier 42 inside the Amerikalinjen hotel in Oslo, Norway. The bar has been recognized by the World’s 50 Best and has won Best Bar of Norway twice. In addition to taking home the title of 2022 Diageo World Class Global Bartender of the Year, Adrián has won several bartending competitions throughout the years.

He popped by the Bar Hacks podcast to chat with host David Klemt about his bartender journey. Adrián has worked in several types of bars and each helped him develop the skills that allowed him to elevate his skills behind the bar. Mentors, his endless quest for knowledge, his passion for hosting others, and his focus on empathy have informed his approach to team building, delivering top-level hospitality, and tapping into his creativity to develop Pier 42’s cocktail menus.

Adrián shares the three pillars he believes great bars are built upon, what he looks for in bar team members, transforming people from guests to friends, the importance of storytelling, and much more.

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Episode 91 with Charles Joly

Industry icon, bar educator, entrepreneur, and bartender Charles Joly drops by the Bar Hacks podcast to chat with host David Klemt. The two discuss Charles’ start and his journey from the trenches to opening Chicago’s Drawing Room, and also his role at the city’s legendary Aviary. Charles also talks about Crafthouse Cocktails, the premium ready-to-serve brand, and his barware label Crafthouse by Fortessa. Interestingly, his love of bar history and vintage barware design not only informs his own designs, it manifests in Telltail Vintage, his Instagram shop. Not one to sit still for long, Charles is also involved in craft ice startup Abstract Ice.

The conversation also touches on spirits categories that appear to be dominating or otherwise seeing a big lift; advice for aspiring career bartenders; and advice for operators who want to succeed in today’s restaurant and bar world.

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Episode 84 with Roberta Mariani

Bar Hacks host David Klemt sits down with Roberta Mariani, Global Brand Ambassador for MARTINI. The two discuss a range of topics, including Roberta’s journey through hospitality, lessons learned working at some of the best hotels in London and opening Bar Tremini in Soho, the guest experience, aperitivo culture, and more. Roberta and David also discuss why now might be the best time to introduce guests to Aperitivo Hour as an alternative to Happy Hour, the Negroni Sbagliato “controversy,” MARTINI’s Non-Alcoholic range, and the cocktails need to put on their menus to bring aperitivo culture into their restaurants, bars, and hotels.

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Episode 81 with Paul Mathew

Paul Mathew, bartender, bar owner, and founder of Everleaf, sits down with Bar Hacks podcast co-host David Klemt. In this fun and informative episode, Paul shares his journey through bartending and bar ownership, and his entry into the drinks business. Non-alcoholic aperitif brand Everleaf is the culmination of Paul’s many years as a conservationist botanist, knowledge of plants, and nearly 30 years in the bar business.

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Episode 59 with Theo Rutherford

Whiskey expert, spirits judge, and sommelier Theo Rutherford stops by the Bar Hacks podcast to talk about Bib & Tucker Small Batch Bourbon, a prominent addition to the Deutsch Family of wine and spirits. Theo shares the Bib & Tucker brand story, what sets the brand apart from other bourbons, and why the 6 Year expression appeals to all categories of whiskey drinkers. He also shares tips for tasting bourbon, including how easily Bib & Tucker wins over non-whiskey drinkers. Listen now to learn why Theo wants you to smell everything and stop swirling your whiskey at tastings.

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Episode 58 with Ivy Mix and Conor McKee

Ivy Mix returns to the Bar Hacks podcast with Conor McKee, a partner in her off-premise endeavor FIASCO Wine and Spirits. Mix, McKee and third partner Piper Kristensen signed FIASCO’s lease a month before the pandemic halted life as we knew it in its tracks. So, they spent the next several months doing demolition and renovation. This conversation highlights the importance of partnering with the right people, even if that means having different partners for different projects; setting aside ego to ask partners who may know more about your new business than you; and leveraging your shared experience to deliver the best service possible to your clientele. If you’ve wondered about taking your on-premise experience to the off-premise space, this is a can’t-miss episode!

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Episode 57 with Collin De Laval

Código 1530 not only has an intriguing story, the brand values authenticity and heritage. Company mixologist Collin De Laval stops by the Bar Hacks podcast to share the Código 1530 story with co-host David Klemt. The two discuss Código’s notable past, handmade approach to their entire production process, innovative products, unique foray into mezcal, shooting high-end spirits, and more.

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Episode 54 with Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero

Speed Rack co-founders Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero come on the podcast to talk about breast cancer awareness and the role the all-female high-speed bartending competition plays in raising money for breast cancer research. Mix and Marrero also share their thoughts on nurturing work cultures that promote women, creating venues that are safe for female guests and staff, how to approach mentorship, their favorite spirits, and more.

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Episode 52 with Lynn House

Lynn House, national spirits specialist and portfolio mixologist for Heaven Hill, drops by Bar Hacks to speak with host David Klemt about the second annual Old Fashioned Week. Elijah Craig is seeking to raise at least $100,000 for the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, an advocacy and action nonprofit created by and for restaurant workers.

Lynn and David also discuss bourbon, rye, hospitality, building balanced cocktails, and how trust plays a role in educating guests so you and your team can introduce them to new drinks and experiences.

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Episode 50 with Travis Tober

Episode 50! The only way to celebrate such a big milestone is with an incredible guest. We’re excited to bring you Travis Tober of Nickel City and Old Pal. Travis and his partners opened the first Nickel City in Austin in 2017. The Forth Worth location opened its doors during the pandemic in October 2020. Travis then opened Old Pal in Lockhart, TX, just a few months ago.

In our 50th episode, Travis explains the difference between a dive bar and a neighborhood bar, and notes that both Nickel City locations are “anytime bars” that welcome everyone. He also shares his hospitality journey, which saw him go from Buffalo, NY, to Florida, Las Vegas, and ultimately Texas; tips for staying on brand; hiring and retaining team members; how the hospitality industry is the entertainment industry; supporting the community during a crazy winter storm; location scouting; how there’s no better time to open a bar or restaurant than right now; and much more.

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Episode 47 with Tony Abou-Ganim

The legend, the icon, the one and only Tony Abou-Ganim stops by Bar Hacks to chat with co-host David Klemt. The two discuss this year’s Helen David Relief Fund at the USBG Foundation fundraising events, Helen David and the Brass Rail’s legacy, current drink trends, and more.

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Episode 45 with Bob Peters

Revered bar pro Bob Peters swings by the Bar Hacks podcast to chat with co-host David Klemt about a wide array of topics: his love-hate relationship with the words “pivot” and “layered”; lessons learned over more than two decades behind the bar; hiring and training bar staff; how he always seems to have the coolest new bar equipment, including the new Ripples 2.0 and Stündenglass gravity smoker; Bob’s current go-to cocktail, spirit, beer and wine; and so much more. You’ll also learn about Bob’s exciting new endeavor, CocktailClass.com. You don’t want to miss this episode. Strap in—this is a fun one!

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Episode 40 with Trevor Schneider

We’re excited to present episode 40! For the big four-oh we speak with Trevor Schneider, the United States Reyka Vodka brand ambassador. Trevor shares what sets Reyka apart from other vodkas and brands, lessons learned during a career in which he worked at several types of bars throughout New York City, surviving the weeds with the Bartender Ballet, his preferred Espresso Martini recipe, vodka infusions, and more!

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Episode 39 with Anthony “Terry” Bohlinger

Anthony “Terry” Bohlinger, national brand ambassador for new William Grant & Sons whiskey brand Fistful of Bourbon, drops by Bar Hacks. Terry talks with podcast co-host David Klemt about launching a brand during a pandemic, representing an irreverent brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, the hilarious videos Fistful of Bourbon created to introduce the brand, lessons learned during his journey in hospitality, and more.

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Episode 36 with Jordan Bushell

Global Ambassador and engaging educator for storied brand Hennessy, Jordan Bushell, swings by Bar Hacks to chat with host David Klemt. When he attended a bartending class with a buddy he had no idea it would lead to celebrating three major Hennessy milestones over the course of a decade. The two talk about Master Blender’s Selection No. 4, how to share Cognac knowledge with bar teams and consumers, menu tricks, and much, much more.

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Episode 32 with Michael Toscano

Woodford Reserve brand ambassador Michael Toscano stops by to talk about the Kentucky Derby, crafting the perfect Mint Julep, maximizing the operator-brand-rep relationship, and more.

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Episode 28 with Tim Rita

Lyre’s Spirits crafts alcohol-free spirits that masterfully mimic their full-proof counterparts. Host David Klemt sits down with Lyre’s brand ambassador, bartender and buddy Tim Rita to chat about the brand. In this episode you’ll learn about one of the fastest-growing brands in one of the fastest-growing beverage categories.

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Episode 27 with Armon Noori

It’s tax season and hospitality industry professionals have unique needs. Luckily, we have unique industry friends! Host David Klemt speaks with Armon Noori, an incredible Las Vegas bartender who also has a finance degree and an entrepreneurial spirit. Armon opened a tax preparation and financial services company called Industry Financial Services this with the mission of helping his fellow industry peers.

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Episode 26 with Katie Stryjewski a.k.a. Garnish Girl

The Garnish Girl herself, Katie Stryjewski, dropped by the Bar Hacks podcast to talk with host David Klemt. Katie talks about her new book Cocktails, Mocktails, and Garnishes from the Garden, available today! This book is loaded with delicious recipes along with helpful information to elevate your drinks and grow your own ingredients and garnishes. Katie shares some of her favorite drinks, photography and social media tips, edible flowers, and more!

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Episode 25 with Megan Breier

Happy International Women’s Day! One of our favorite people in the industry—and in life in general—popped by to speak with Bar Hacks host David Klemt. Megan Breier is one of the most engaging, entertaining and knowledgeable educators in the hospitality and spirits industries. In this episode, Megan explains what sets Maker’s Mark apart from other bourbons, some of the amazing activations she’s executed, Private Selection, Maker’s 101, Margie Samuels’ contributions to the brand and industry, and more.

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Episode 20 with Vance Henderson

Host David Klemt kicks back and talks with Vance Henderson, national brand ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin. Before joining William Grant & Sons, Vance tended, managed and operated bars for several years. He proved himself at WG&S with Drambuie and then moved to Monkey Shoulder before taking on his role at Hendrick’s. He shares details of the brand-new Hendrick’s Lunar, his thoughts on branding, his best tips for hiring, and much more.

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Episode 17 with 86 Politicians, part 2

Part two of host David Klemt’s talk with bar operator Yan Agaev and bartender Holly Tripp, founders of 86 Politicians.

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Episode 16 with 86 Politicians, part 1

Part one of host David Klemt’s conversation with bar operator Yan Agaev and bartender Holly Tripp. Yan, fed up with how elected officials have continually damaged the hospitality industry throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, posted a video shot and edited by Holly that spread across social media like wildfire. The duo founded 86 Politicians, a peaceful grassroots movement intended to hold politicians accountable for the harm they’ve caused the industry and their inaction on targeted financial relief.

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Episode 14 with Joann Spiegel

In this episode, host David Klemt speaks with Joann Spiegel to dive deep into the global phenomenon that is Miracle, the annual Christmas-themed cocktail pop-up event. Back in 2014, nobody predicted how successful or expansive this event would become. Miracle has transformed into a juggernaut that involves months of careful planning, cocktail creation, logistics, partner liaisons, and much more behind-the-scenes preparation. The end result is a profitable and memorable pop-up that runs for 35 to 40 days.

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Episode 12 with Jared Boller

The new host of the Bar Hacks podcast chats with Jared Boller, Canadian National Whiskey Ambassador at Proximo Spirits. Tending bar gave him the opportunity to live, work and travel around the world. Currently, he represents brands like Bushmills and Proper No. Twelve at Proximo Spirits in Canada. Jared discusses his journey through the world of hospitality and how operators can benefit more from working with brand ambassadors.

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Cheers to the bartenders across the world!

Image: Los Muertos Crew on Pexels

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The Batching Superpower of Sūpāsawā

The Batching Superpower of Sūpāsawā

by David Klemt

A bunch of limes and lemons

One of our favorite products from WSWA’s Access LIVE 2024 event in Las Vegas can save operators and bar teams time and money.

Access LIVE, the annual Wine & Spirit Wholesalers of America (WSWA) event is always chock full of notable items. However, this one in particular stood out to me and my colleagues.

Coming out of Deluxe Distillery in Belgium, Sūpāsawā Seriously Sour Cocktail Mixer is here to make lives easier.

Of course, it’s not surprising that this mixer is so impressive. Sūpāsawā is produced alongside high-quality stablemates, after all: Blind Tiger Handcrafted Gin, Mary White Premium Vodka, and Yusibi Honey Based Aperitif.

 

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In short, this innovative mixer can replace citrus. Importantly, it’s also widely available around the world. Speaking to the core of our audience and clients, it’s available in Canada and the US. When I asked about availability in the US, I was told it’s in 30 states currently.

Operators in the UK, Europe, Australia, and many more regions should also be able to get their hands on Sūpāsawā.

So, what is this magical mixer, exactly? It’s a simple and clean stand-in for expensive and time-consuming citrus.

Deluxe’s super sour mixer is distilled water, citric acid, malic acid, tartaric acid, phosphoric acid, and succinic acid. The liquid is crystal clear, aroma-free, and an incredibly convenient substitute for lemons and limes.

Real-life Scenario

Consider the following real-life hypothetical that shines a light on Sūpāsawā’s real-life benefits.

Let’s say someone hires an operator for a catered event. Included in this event is bar service, and involves more than pouring wine and beer.

Along with a handful of calls, the client and their guests expect a signature cocktail. Well, batching a cocktail or two ahead of the event would be a smart move.

However, we all know what that means: purchasing and juicing citrus. And we also all know what else that means: labor costs for all that prep.

What if one bartender or bar back could batch a cocktail in less than five minutes? Yes, I’m talking under five minutes for the entire batching process.

That scenario is nearly identical to Deluxe Distillery’s Access LIVE 2024 situation.

Deluxe showed the convenience and superpower of Sūpāsawā at their booth via batching. According to the bartender and ambassador who prepared the standout cocktail, he added all the ingredients—including the super sour mixer—to a jug, shook it, and it was ready to go in less than five minutes.

Real-life Benefits

Does this mean you’ll never have to buy lemons and/or limes again? For the vast majority of bars, no. However, the more drinks you can make with Sūpāsawā, the more you can plan for and control the cost of citrus.

Per Deluxe, operators can expect to save 15 minutes per liter of citrus juiced. The distillery also says each bottle of Sūpāsawā represents 35 pieces of fruit an operator won’t have to purchase. On average, a single cocktail requires just 20 ml of Sūpāsawā, or 2/3 of an ounce. With each bottle coming in at 700 ml, that’s 35 individual cocktails per.

When I asked about unit cost at their Access Live 2024 booth, Deluxe said operators can expect a price of $9 per unit. People who do the math can see the benefit of getting their hands on Sūpāsawā for individual, kegged, and batched cocktails.

In terms of storage, the slim bottle can last for about two years unopened. After it’s opened, Sūpāsawā should last for up to a year. Compare that to the two- to three-day shelf life of lemon or lime juice.

Notably, using Sūpāsawā leads to consistency. Because it always tastes the same, drink consistency is improved. And, of course, using this super sour mixer leads to producing less food waste.

Click here to learn more about Sūpāsawā and what it can do for an operator’s bar program, catering, and bottom line. Oh, and click here for recipes. Cheers!

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, from Deluxe Distillery, WSWA, or any other entity in exchange for this post.

Image: Irina on Unsplash

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Welcome Back to the Culinary Arena

Welcome Back to the Culinary Arena: A Comprehensive Guide for 2024

by Nathen Dubé

"2024" dessert concept

The start of a new year is an exciting time in the restaurant world, offering a unique opportunity to reassess and rejuvenate your foodservice business.

From utilizing downtime effectively to setting strategic priorities, this guide is designed to help you navigate the year ahead with confidence and creativity.

Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a budding restaurateur, these insights will equip you with the tools to make 2024 a year of remarkable culinary experiences and business growth.

Part 1: Strategic Use of Downtime

Menu Innovation and Optimization

The start of the year is ideal for re-evaluating your menu.

Begin by analyzing customer feedback and sales data from the previous year. Identify which dishes were most popular and which underperformed. Consider removing items that aren’t selling well and focus on the dishes that your customers love.

This is also an excellent time to experiment with new flavors and culinary trends. For instance, with the growing demand for plant-based options, think about introducing a few vegan or vegetarian dishes.

Keep an eye on food trends. Are there new ingredients or cooking techniques that you can incorporate into your menu? This not only keeps your offerings fresh and exciting but also shows your commitment to culinary innovation.

Remember, a well-crafted menu is a balance between popular staples and innovative dishes. It should reflect your restaurant’s identity while also appealing to your target customer base.

Consider a seasonal menu that takes advantage of fresh, local produce, which can provide inspiration for new dishes and help reduce costs.

Staff Training and Empowerment

The quieter months are a perfect opportunity for staff training and development.

Conduct a skills audit to identify areas where your team could improve or learn new competencies. This could range from culinary skills, like mastering a new cooking technique, to soft skills, such as guest service or conflict resolution.

Training doesn’t have to be formal or expensive. You can leverage online courses, in-house mentoring, or even cross-training within your team.

For instance, front-of-house staff could benefit from basic kitchen training to better understand the dishes they are serving, while kitchen staff could learn about customer service to appreciate the end-to-end dining experience.

Team building is another key aspect. Organize activities that foster communication and collaboration. This could be something as simple as a team meal or a group outing.

A cohesive team that communicates well will provide better service, leading to happier guests and a more pleasant working environment.

Finally, empower your staff by involving them in decision-making processes. This could be in menu development, process improvements, or even marketing ideas.

When staff feel valued and part of the business, they are more likely to be motivated and committed.

Facility Revitalization

Use this quieter period to assess and upgrade your facilities.

Start with a thorough cleaning and maintenance check. This includes checking kitchen equipment, dining area furniture, and the overall infrastructure of your establishment.

Evaluate your kitchen equipment and consider if anything needs to be repaired or replaced. Upgrading to more efficient equipment can improve productivity and reduce long-term costs. For instance, investing in energy-efficient appliances not only cuts down on utility bills but is also better for the environment.

Look at your dining area from a customer’s perspective. Is the seating comfortable? Is the lighting appropriate? Small changes in décor can significantly enhance the dining experience. Consider refreshing the paint, adding new artwork, or even rearranging the layout to improve flow and ambiance.

Also, think about your back-of-house operations. Is your storage area organized? Can you improve the workflow in the kitchen? An efficient back-of-house leads to smoother service and a better customer experience.

Part 2: Setting Priorities for the Year

Elevating Customer Experience

The guest experience is paramount in the food service industry. This year, make it a priority to enhance every aspect of your guest’s journey.

From the moment they walk in, to the service they receive, to the food they enjoy, each element should contribute to a memorable experience.

Focus on training your staff to provide exceptional service. This includes being knowledgeable about the menu, attentive to guest needs, and quick to resolve any issues.

Personalized service can make a big difference. Remembering regulars’ preferences or celebrating special occasions with them can turn a one-time visit into repeat patronage.

Ambiance plays a crucial role in the dining experience. The right music, lighting, and décor can create an inviting atmosphere that complements your culinary offerings. If your budget allows, consider investing in upgrades that enhance the ambiance, such as new lighting fixtures or comfortable seating.

Implementing a feedback system is also important. Encourage customers to share their experiences, whether through comment cards, online reviews, or direct conversations. This feedback is invaluable for continuous improvement and can help you address any issues promptly.

Sustainability as a Cornerstone

Sustainability is becoming increasingly important to consumers, and incorporating sustainable practices into your business can have a significant impact. Start by assessing your current practices and identifying areas for improvement.

One key area is waste reduction. Conduct a waste audit to understand where most of your waste is coming from and develop strategies to reduce it. This could involve better inventory management to prevent overordering and spoilage, composting food waste, or finding creative ways to use leftovers.

Local sourcing is another aspect of sustainability. Building relationships with local suppliers not only supports the local economy but also reduces your carbon footprint. Local ingredients are often fresher and can inspire seasonal menus.

Also, consider the sustainability of your operations. This could involve using eco-friendly packaging, reducing energy consumption, or even installing water-saving devices.

Communicating your sustainability efforts to your customers can also enhance your brand’s image and attract environmentally conscious patrons.

Innovative and Integrated Marketing Strategies

In today’s digital age, effective marketing is crucial for any business.

Utilize social media platforms to engage with your audience. Share behind-the-scenes glimpses of your kitchen, showcase your signature dishes, and highlight your team. This not only promotes your offerings but also builds a connection with your guests.

Email marketing is another powerful tool. Regular newsletters can keep your guests informed about new menu items, special events, or promotions. Personalized emails on birthdays or anniversaries can make your guests feel special and encourage repeat visits.

Don’t overlook the power of community involvement. Participate in local events, collaborate with other businesses, or sponsor local sports teams. This can increase your visibility in the community and build goodwill.

Financial Health and Diversification

Keeping a close eye on your financials is crucial.

Regularly review your costs and revenues and look for ways to optimize them. This might involve renegotiating supplier contracts, adjusting menu prices, or reducing unnecessary expenses.

Consider diversifying your revenue streams. This could include offering catering services, hosting private events, or selling branded merchandise.

These additional streams can provide a buffer during slower periods and increase your overall profitability.

Conclusion

As we look forward to 2024, let’s embrace the opportunities and challenges that come our way.

By using downtime strategically, setting clear priorities, and striving for excellence continuously, we can ensure that this year is not just successful but also fulfilling.

Remember, in the dynamic world of foodservice, adaptation and innovation are key. Let’s make this year a celebration of our culinary passion, business acumen, and commitment to our guests.

Here’s to a year of delicious discoveries and unparalleled success in the culinary world!

Image: 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash

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The Sixth: Art of ITALICUS Returns

The Sixth: Art of ITALICUS Returns for 2024

by David Klemt

ITALICUS bottle surrounded by citrus fruits

Your bar team members have the opportunity to participate in the sixth-annual Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge and win an invaluable prize.

There are multiple prizes, really. For example, national finals winners take the title of ITALICUS Bar Artist for their country, for 2024. They also walk away with a ticket to the global finals, which take place in Rome.

After the global finals, one winner will earn the title ITALICUS Bar Artist of the Year 2024. However, taking nothing away from this title, there’s another prize that I feel should drive every competitor to truly outshine their competition.

The ITALICUS Bar Artist of the Year will head to the incredible Cafe La Trova in Miami to participate in a mentorship program. Given that Julio Cabrera is such an influential member of the hospitality world, this prize represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Now, as an operator or leadership team member, you may wonder what this news has to do with you. It’s simple: Encouraging your bartenders to participate in this competition and others like it shows you care about their career progression.

Bar team members who want to take part in competitions get to show off their creativity to a wider audience, become known to brands, and network with peers outside of their local communities. They can also discover and bring back tips, techniques, and lessons to your bar, restaurant, nightclub, or hotel.

In this case, one bartender will return to their bar or restaurant with lessons from the Cafe La Trova team. That’s priceless insight that will benefit their entire team.

For crucial competition details, please read the Art of the ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge press release below.

Good luck to all of the participants!

ART OF ITALICUS APERITIVO CHALLENGE RETURNS FOR 2024 IN PURSUIT OF THE BEST ART-INSPIRED APERITIVO COCKTAIL

New York, NY (January 9, 2024) – Today, The Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge returns for its sixth edition, inviting bartenders from around the world to create an original and unique aperitivo cocktail inspired by any form of art and crafted using ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto.

The Winner of the renowned industry challenge will be crowned ITALICUS Bar Artist of the Year 2024 and win a trip to Miami for a once in a lifetime mentorship program with Cafe La Trova by Julio Cabrera. Nominated in 2023 as one of the World’s 50 Best Bars, Cafe La Trova is the true embodiment of hospitality, welcoming guests with impeccable warmth, attention to detail and service, crafting a truly memorable experience for anyone who visits. The “cantinero culture,” which is synonymous with the venue, embraces the most important values of the cocktail industry, making it the perfect inspiration for the new Art of Italicus participants. As part of the prize, the 2024 ITALICUS Bar Artist will have the opportunity to experience what makes this bar truly special and discover one of the most vibrant art cultures in Miami’s iconic surroundings.

Reflecting the brand’s passion for Italian art and design, The Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge is built on the belief that bartenders are artists and offers them the opportunity to expand their creativity whilst experimenting with new ingredients, techniques and glassware to showcase the versatility of ITALICUS. Each recipe must be in an aperitivo style and can be inspired by any form of art such as sculpture, painting, fashion, music, architecture and much more.

The competition will welcome entrants from 13 countries including Croatia/Slovenia, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Swiss, United Kingdom and the United States. Bartenders from other countries will be able to apply through a Wild Card entry, offering them the opportunity to win a spot at the global final in May in Rome.

Giuseppe Gallo, founder and CEO of ITALICUS, comments:

“Now in its sixth year, The Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge celebrates aperitivo culture while encouraging bartenders to express their creativity, looking to art in its various forms as way of inspiration. Meeting with the industry’s emerging talent through this program gives me a great deal of pride and is something I hope continues for many years as a way of keeping our community connected, working together and empowering one another.”

The 2024 Competition

Competitors are tasked with creating an original aperitivo cocktail using a minimum of 40ml (1.5oz in US) of ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto and a maximum of five ingredients. Participating bartenders must upload their unique recipe alongside an image of their creation including measurements, garnishes and glassware recommendations to the competition website before February 20, 2024 in order to be in with a chance of winning. Competitors are also required to share their inspiration and the story behind their aperitivo cocktail and encouraged to suggest food pairings for their recipe.

Applications for The Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge 2024 will be open from January 9 through February 20. Recipes can be submitted via the website: https://imbibemagazine.com/art-of-italicus/.

Entrants are also encouraged to share their creations on social media ahead of the competition, using the following hashtags: #ITALICUS #ROSOLIODIBERGAMOTTO #ARTOFITALICUS #AOI24

National Finals

The national finals will take place throughout March and April (March 4 – April 12) where the eight shortlisted bartenders will present their cocktail creation to the judging panel across eight minutes and including at least three serves. The winner of the national final will receive the title of ITALICUS Bar Artist of their country 2024 along with a ticket to participate in the global final which will be held in Rome.

Global Finals

On May 12, the national finalists will compete against one another in Rome in a bid to earn the coveted title of ITALICUS Bar Artist of the Year 2024 as well as a once in a lifetime opportunity and mentorship with one of the world’s most influential bars, Cafe La Trova by Julio Cabrera. During the trip to Miami, the winning bartender will be accompanied by a film crew who will document their experience and create a documentary video which will later be released on social media.

For further information on The Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge, please visit www.artofitalicus.com.

Image: ITALICUS

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2024 500-point Start-up Checklist

2024 KRG Hospitality 500-point Bar & Restaurant Start-up Checklist

by David Klemt

KRG Hospitality 2024 Bar & Restaurant 500-point Start-up Checklist

Opening a bar or restaurant is a daunting undertaking, with projects requiring the completion of 500 unique tasks within four phases before welcoming guests.

It takes strategic clarity along with a strong supportive team around you to ensure your dream doesn’t turn into a nightmare. To help you get ahead and start 2024 with the strongest opportunity for success, we’re giving you access to a number of free resources.

First, our 2024 Bar & Restaurant Start-up Costs Guide. If you haven’t already, download this informative guide today. And now, our 2024 500-point Bar & Restaurant Start-up Checklist.

KRG Hospitality’s feasibility studies, concept and brand development, and programming are unique and customized to every client. However, the journey from idea to grand opening is a well-worn path dotted by hundreds of waypoints.

There’s a reason we call our project plans Roadmaps to Success: we’re here to help guide our clients to and through each point on the map.

Below you’ll find 32—only six percent—of the 500 unique tasks we at KRG believe you must complete before your grand opening. Just these tasks alone should provide an idea of the enormity that is taking your concept from idea to brick and mortar.

To download your free copy of our 2024 500-point Bar & Restaurant Start-up Checklist, click here. As you’ll see once you open this checklist, it’s interactive. You can easily check off items as you complete them, and the document will save your progress.

Opening a bar or restaurant is challenging. We’re here to help make it easier.

Planning Phase

Self-assessment

  • Mindset assessment
  • Support network assessment

Feasibility Study

  • Market viability study
  • Technical viability study

Brand Strategy

  • Vision statemet
  • Frame of reference

Tech-stack Plan

  • Service technology plan
  • Payment processing technology

Project Set-up Phase

Job Scopes for Project

  • Landlord presentation
  • Equipment vendor presentation

Project Support Team Plan

  • Industry consultant
  • Legal Advisor

Menu Testing

  • Final flavor profile creation
  • Theoretical costing, food

Interior Design

  • Final choice in furniture
  • Final choice for millwork design

Operational Set-up Phase

Operational Vendors

  • Bar and kitchen smallware vendor
  • Refrigeration tech vendor
  • Hood cleaning vendor
  • Grease trap cleaning vendor

SOP Procedures/System

  • Finalize hourly operations plan
  • Application forms
  • Food safety quiz
  • Leadership team manual

Launch Phase

Marketing Execution

  • Creation of media package
  • Search engine optimization

Tech-stack execution

  • Point-of-sale systems
  • Menu management systems

Team Onboarding

  • Leadership team onboard
  • Team-building exercises

Soft Opening

  • Menu timing
  • Menu feedback

To download your free copy of our 2024 500-point Bar & Restaurant Start-up Checklist, click here now!

Image: KRG Hospitality

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5 Books to Read this Month: January 2024

5 Books to Read this Month: January 2024

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our inspiring and informative January book selections will help you and your team transform your operations and F&B programming.

This month, we look at books covering an array of topics: becoming a great boss; gaining perspective when analyzing your business; and more.

To review the book recommendations from December 2023, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Single AF Cocktails: Drinks for Bad B*tches

You may roll your eyes at the title of this cocktail book but there’s no denying it has your attention. In that way, it’s much like a well-curated, themed cocktail menu split into cleverly named sections. In fact, this book is separated into sections that match its overall theme. For example, Honeymoon Phase, Betrayal, Devastation, and Resilience. If you have reality show fans among your guests, they’ll likely know author Ariana Madix from Vanderpump Rules and Dancing with the Stars. So, they’ll probably dig these drinks.

From Amazon: “The newly solo Ariana serves up her own recipes and perspective in a unique exploration of the stages of a doomed relationship. In her own words, Ariana takes back the narrative of her very public breakup while inspiring others to find inner strength in their own troubles. Each drink tells part of the story from her point of view, from when she first met her ex, through the insidious affair and its painful aftermath, and to her present state, coming out the other side, stronger than before.”

Grab it today!

How to Be a Great Boss

Entrepreneurs, when working with a team, need to be leaders. That means being a great boss. However, that doesn’t mean being a tyrant. If you want to earn buy-in from your team, if you want to get the most out of each person, you need to get them excited and engaged.

From Amazon: “Studies have repeatedly shown that the majority of employees are disengaged at work. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Often, the difference between a group of indifferent employees and a fully engaged team comes down to one simple thing: —a great boss.

“In How to Be a Great Boss, Gino Wickman and René Boer present a straightforward, practical approach to help bosses at all levels of an organization get the most from their people. They share time-tested tools that have worked for more than 30,000 bosses in every industry. You can learn to be a great boss—and dramatically improve both your organization’s performance and your team’s excitement about their work.”

Pick up the hardcover today.

Same as Ever: A Guide to What Never Changes

As a business owner, it’s smart to see what’s changing. However, it’s also crucial to identify what’s not changing to gain perspective and understand the whole picture.

From Amazon: “With his usual elan, Morgan Housel presents a master class on optimizing risk, seizing opportunity, and living your best life. Through a sequence of engaging stories and pithy examples, he shows how we can use our newfound grasp of the unchanging to see around corners, not by squinting harder through the uncertain landscape of the future, but by looking backwards, being more broad-sighted, and focusing instead on what is permanently true.

“By doing so, we may better anticipate the big stuff, and achieve the greatest success, not merely financial comforts, but most importantly, a life well lived.”

Click here for the hardcover, or here for the paperback.

Bar Hacks: Developing The Fundamentals for an Epic Bar

This informative and conversational book written by KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey is the perfect read for aspiring or seasoned bar, pub, lounge, or even restaurant owners, operators, and managers looking for that competitive edge in operations! If you’re looking for both fundamental and in-depth planning methods, strategies, and industry focused insight to either start or grow a scalable, sustainable, memorable, profitable, and consistent venue in today’s cut-throat industry, Bar Hacks is written just for you.

Pick up the paperback from Amazon today!

Hacking the New Normal: Hitting the Reset Button on the Hospitality Industry

Doug’s followup book to Bar Hacks! The world around us has changed. The food and beverage industry has changed. The hospitality industry has changed. But will some ways of life change for the better? Will perhaps the restaurant, bar, and hospitality industry come out even stronger? With the right changes to the previous status quo, it is possible. There’s no question, resets are major undertakings, but a major reset will provide us with a clean start and that’s what this industry needs.

Pick up KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey’s second book today! Click here.

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2023 KRG Recap: Top 10 Articles

2023 KRG Recap: Top 10 Articles

by David Klemt

The roman numeral for the number 10 on a clock

Here it is! The final roundup of 2023, a collection of the top ten articles spanning all categories, including news, operations, and F&B.

Unlike our previous three year-end roundups, some of these articles aren’t from 2023. As an example, one of our most-read articles is from 2022, and it’s about the happiest provinces in Canada.

We’re humbled and grateful that you continue to view us as a trustworthy source of hospitality industry analysis, advice, and news. We look forward to serving you further in 2024.

Cheers!

Three hands holding up three pineapples

Raise the Bar: The 3 Ps of Hospitality

Nightlife, bar, and cocktail experts Mia Mastroianni, Phil Wills, and Art Sutley want operators to focus on what they call “the Three Ps.”

The engaging trio shared their trio of Ps recently in Las Vegas at the 2023 Bar & Restaurant Expo.

So, what are the Three Ps of hospitality? People, Place, and Product. Operators who pull the threads tighter on each of these crucial elements will be well on their way to improving operations and the guest experience.

People

Remember all the way back to a week ago when I shared Mastroianni, Wills, and Sutley’s thoughts on service versus hospitality? Consider the first P a deeper dive into that topic.

Operators need to focus on two categories of people who help their businesses succeed: their teams and their guests.

Addressing the former, the trio feels that operators are centering a disproportionate amount of their attention on guests in comparison to staff.

“We’re not lacking for people who want to work in the business and are outperforming other industries, but we’re not focusing on staff like we focus on guests,” says Wills. “Treat everyone with respect, including through the hiring process. If you don’t engage your staff, you won’t retain them. You need to show them they can grow in your business.”

According to Sutley, 89 percent of operators say that labor costs present a “significant challenge.” It follows, then, that committing to treating staff with respect and nurturing their careers isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s smart business.

Look for people with passion, those you can motivate to go above and beyond so you’re not stuck with a team full of space-fillers who are just after a paycheck, suggests Mastroianni.

Of course, operators and their teams must also focus on providing exceptional service and experiences to guests.

“Treat ever guest like a pearl in an oyster,” advises Wills. “They’re the pearl, we’re the oyster. We need to ‘protect’ them.” Anything less, cautions Sutley, and guests won’t return.

For the rest of the Three Ps, click here.

Tortilla with beans, cotija cheese and egg

Canadian Trends 2023: Technomic

Restaurant, bar, and hotel operators will find this year’s data-driven trend predictions from Technomic for 2023 insightful.

Interestingly but perhaps not surprisingly, some operators may be looking beyond North America for inspiration.

Per Technomic, Central and South American cuisines could influence menus in Canada this year. Other food trends that might take hold are “retro” health items, and all manner of pickled foods.

Of course, not every Canadian trend prediction involves F&B. According to Technomic, tech and the guest experience will play important roles.

To review last year’s Technomic predictions, click here. Now, let’s jump into Technomic’s 2023 predictions.

Guest Experience

Certainly, the guest experience should always be top of mind for operators, their leadership teams, and their staff.

In this instance, Technomic isn’t suggesting that the guest experience in general will be a trend. Obviously, with as important as it is to the success of any business, it’s a cornerstone.

Rather, Technomic predicts that guests will continue to feel the need to rein in their spending due to ricing costs and prices. However, the foodservice research firm also believes there’s still heavy desire for social interaction.

So, both those financial and social influences translate to the following: overdelivery.

Operators and their teams must ensure they position their brands well; make guests feel special every visit; and really dial in the guest experience. Specifically, Technomic suggests focusing on younger generations and menus with at least a couple specialty items that aren’t easy for a guest to replicate at home.

In other words, do whatever it takes to entice guests with memorable experience and quality menu items, and keep them coming back for more.

Follow this link to continue reading.

Server carrying two plates with one hand

Just.Safe.Food. and More Alternatives to ServSafe

ServSafe, the National Restaurant Association‘s food safety training program, isn’t the only food handler training game in town.

Certainly, the program is the most well known in our industry. However, it’s fair to say that ServSafe is closer to infamous than just ubiquitous due to a New York Times article from January.

While it’s the most recognizable of the food safety programs, it’s not the only one. Although, ServSafe’s omnipresence likely gives many the impression that it’s ServSafe or nothing.

There are, however, alternatives to ServSafe. In fact, one challenger was announced a day after the explosive New York Times article that thrust ServSafe into a spotlight the NRA probably isn’t enjoying. (After all, one result of that article was a letter from six US senators demanding answers from the NRA about ServSafe by March 3.)

At any rate, the newest alternative to ServSafe comes from One Fair Wage. The program is Just.Safe.Food. and costs just $10. (As a reminder, ServSafe costs $15.)

For that $10, Just.Safe.Food. gives an individual three attempts to pass their exam and unlimited access to training materials. Additionally, One Fair Wage (OFW) says profits they raise from the program will go toward advocating for restaurant workers.

OFW, as many in the industry know, is owned and operated by restaurant workers. Two cornerstones of the organization’s mission are increasing the minimum wage, and ending the tip credit. OFW is also attempting to convince lawmakers to stop accepting donations from the NRA.

Basically, OFW and the NRA are—and it appears always have been—at odds with with one another.

To learn more, click here.

Newfoundland and Labrador during daytime

These are the Happiest Provinces in Canada

If you’re wondering which province in Canada is the happiest, Statistics Canada has the answer—and the happiest may surprise you.

Of course, those who live and work in the happiest province won’t find it shocking. After all, they’re largely happy to be there.

However, if you expect the happiest province to be the home of Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal or Canada… Well, you’re in for a surprise.

Earlier this week we took a look at the happiest cities and states in America. Congratulations Fremont, California, and Hawaii, respectively. To learn where 181 other cities and 49 states rank, please click here.

The Happiness Survey

Or more accurately, the “life satisfaction” survey. For this survey, that’s what Statistics Canada reveals: life satisfaction.

Interestingly, the survey is very simple. Apparently, Statistics Canada simply asked participants to rate the satisfaction of living in their province, zero through ten. For this survey, zero is least satisfied, ten is most.

Ages 15 through 75 (and older) were able to participate. The survey was also broken down to gauge the satisfaction of men and women.

Before we jump into the breakdown of province satisfaction or happiness, some good news. Reviewing the Statistics Canada data, most participants across all age groups are happy. In fact, age groups 65 to 74 and 75-plus appear to be happiest.

On the other side, ages 15 to 54 had the most people who rated their life satisfaction between zero and five. Even so, just over 20 percent of survey respondents rated their satisfaction a five or less.

So, on the whole, Canadians seem satisfied or happy with their lives, regardless of the province in which they live. Personally, I find that to be great news.

Click here to keep reading.

Glendalough Distillery Wild Gin Irish gin

8 Glendalough Distillery Cocktail Recipes

Offer your guests something different for your St. Patrick’s Day promotion with Glendalough Distillery cocktail recipes.

Without a doubt, you should have plenty of the expected Irish whiskeys on hand. However, Glendalough Distillery Double Barrel, Pot Still, Wild Gin, and Rose Gin are extraordinary Irish whiskeys and gins.

Each spirit the distillery crafts honors the art of Irish distillation, a craft that stretches back centuries. What’s more, each whiskey Glendalough crafts is single malt—there are no light-bodied blends in their lineup.

To learn more, check out episode 71 of the Bar Hacks podcast with Glendalough Distillery co-founder and national brand ambassador Donal O’Gallachoir.

Sláinte!

Glendalough Distillery Double Barrel Single Malt Irish Whiskey

The Lough Inn

This highball is made with Glendalough Double Barrel, a single-grain Irish whiskey aged in ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in Oloroso sherry casks.

  • 2 oz. Glendalough Double Barrel Single Grain Irish Whiskey
  • 1 oz. Spiced honey syrup (see note)
  • 1 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • Soda to top
  • Lemon wheel or slice to garnish
  • Mint leaf to garnish
  • 1 cup Honey for spiced honey syrup
  • 0.5 cup Water for spiced honey syrup
  • 4 Cinnamon sticks for spiced honey syrup
  • 1 pod Star anise for spiced honey syrup

Add ice to a highball glass, then add first three ingredients. Top with soda water. Garnish with lemon wheel or slice and freshly torn mint leaf.

For spiced honey syrup: Add honey, water, cinnamon sticks, and star anise to pot. Bring to a boil, then stir. Strain into container.

For more Glendalough Distillery recipes, click here.

White Russian cocktail made with Mr. Black Coffee Liqueur

7 Coffee Liqueurs You Need to Know

Whether you and your bar team are making Espresso Martinis, riffing on classics or creating something new, consider these coffee liqueurs.

National Espresso Martini Day takes place on Tuesday, March 15. Leading up to this bar holiday, the cocktail is experiencing yet another resurgence.

In fact, this cocktail more than any other seems to maintain an enviable rate of “surging back” in popularity. Maybe it’s time to just admit that it’s a modern classic people love to hate…but still order and enjoy.

Below are seven coffee liqueurs that shine in an Espresso Martini, Old Fashioned, Negroni, Irish Coffee, or any number of rich, flavorful cocktails. Cheers!

Mr. Black

Most of the reviews out there place Mr. Black at the top when it comes to coffee liqueurs. Once you’ve sipped it neat, you understand why. The coffee flavor is outstanding, and that should come as no surprise. After all, Mr. Black is crafted in Australia, a country with a rich coffee culture.

Additionally, Mr. Black occasionally releases special batches. In the past, the brand has produced Single Origin Ethiopia, Single Origin Colombia, and collaborations with WhistlePig and St. Ali Coffee Roasters. They also have a coffee amaro available.

Grind Espresso Shot

You really can’t go wrong making an Espresso Martini with an espresso liqueur. Grind Espresso Shot gives Mr. Black a run for their money in the coffee liqueur showdown.

This blend of Caribbean rum, espresso, coffee, and coffee extract that shines in just about any cocktail.

Click here for more coffee liqueurs to consider adding to your inventory.

Group of Big Game cocktails at Ocean Casino Resort

Ocean Casino Resort Offers Big Game Cocktails

Ocean Casino Resort, Atlantic City’s award-winning oceanfront casino and resort, is ready for the Big Game with four cocktails that team with the theme.

Now, by “Big Game,” we all know what I’m talking about. We know the sport, we the know the league, and we know precisely which game is under discussion.

However, due to very “enthusiastic” attorneys, we also have to talk like we’re spies or actors in a mob movie. We wouldn’t want to tempt anyone to file a lawsuit now, would we?

And I’m going to encourage you to continue following this childish way of speaking about the Big Game. When you’re promoting your Sunday, February 12 event, don’t use any trademarked terms, logos, images, etc.

Alright, the Big Game legalese is out of the way. Let’s talk themed cocktails!

Big Game Cocktail Inspiration

Midway through last year, Ocean Casino Resort showed us all their marketing prowess. When news of the Choco Taco’s demise made headlines, Ocean created a cocktail homage: the Chocotini.

To ensure the LTO could be enjoyed by most guests, the cocktail was available at four venues on the property.

Now, Ocean Casino Resort is tackling the Big Game. (Note: I’m legally required to include sports puns when writing about any major game.)

Guests have four specialty LTO cocktails from which to choose. Two representing the team from Philadelphia, two for the team in Kansas City. Each drink is available at venues throughout the casino resort, including their Topgolf Swing Suite (largest in America), Nola’s Bar & Lounge, and the Gallery Bar Book & Games.

In news that should appeal to you and your bar team, these drinks are quick to make. That’s a relief when you plan to be slammed on a particular day.

Of course, you don’t have to attempt to replicate these cocktails. They serve as excellent inspiration to motivate you and your team to come up with your own liquid homages and LTOs.

In case you’re wondering what to charge, Ocean is charging $14 each for the Brotherly Love, Hurts So Good, and Big Red cocktails. The Arrowhead carries a price tag of $15.

Click here to continue reading.

Closeup of keyboard

Can ChatGPT Write Food and Drink Menus?

After my “conversation” last month with ChatGPT about AI, I had another conversation during which I asked it to write me four menus.

Of course, I did this to prove a point. And upon reviewing the ChatGPT menus, you’ll likely reach the same conclusion.

Curious about how creative the AI-powered chatbot could be, I asked for four specific menus. As you’ll see, two are cocktail specific, one focuses on food, and one is a 20-item F&B menu for a specific event.

So, yes, ChatGPT can write food and drink menus. But there’s a caveat. I could leave you in suspense but that’s not very nice. Let’s jump in.

Write me a cocktail menu using the most popular cocktails from 2022.

Cocktail Menu

  1. Aperol Spritz – Aperol, Prosecco, and soda water, garnished with an orange slice
  2. Old Fashioned – Bourbon, sugar, bitters, and a citrus peel
  3. Margarita – Tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and salt rim
  4. Daiquiri – Rum, lime juice, and simple syrup
  5. Moscow Mule – Vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice
  6. Paloma – Tequila, grapefruit juice, lime juice, and soda water
  7. Pina Colada – Rum, pineapple juice, coconut cream, and a cherry garnish
  8. Whiskey Sour – Bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup
  9. French 75 – Gin, Champagne, lemon juice, and simple syrup
  10. Mai Tai – Rum, orange liqueur, lime juice, and orgeat syrup

*All cocktails are served over ice, unless otherwise requested.

Write me a cocktail menu using the most popular spirits and alcohol types of 2022.

Cocktail Menu

  1. Gin and Tonic – Gin, tonic water, and a lime wedge
  2. Vodka Martini – Vodka, dry vermouth, and an olive garnish
  3. Bourbon Manhattan – Bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters
  4. Tequila Sunrise – Tequila, orange juice, and grenadine syrup
  5. Rum Runner – Rum, blackberry liqueur, orange juice, pineapple juice, and grenadine
  6. Whiskey Sour – Bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup
  7. Margarita – Tequila, triple sec, lime juice, and salt rim
  8. Daiquiri – Rum, lime juice, and simple syrup
  9. Long Island Iced Tea – Vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec, lemon juice, and cola
  10. Pina Colada – Rum, pineapple juice, coconut cream, and a cherry garnish

*All cocktails are served over ice, unless otherwise requested.

Click here to keep reading.

Developing a Bar Concept w/ Sensory Experiences

Once your idea has been researched and the market, location, technical, business, and financial viability of the idea has passed a series of reviews throughout a feasibility study, a concept development plan can then be started.

Remember, outside of being scalable, you want to build a concept that is sustainable, profitable, memorable, and consistent.

Bar concepts over the years have gone from being tame (or lame) or overplayed, like tiki bars or sports bars, to concepts that push the boundaries of what a bar can be. One of the best ways to build a customer base is to go off the beaten path to create a bold and fresh new bar concept.

A concept plan will focus on ‘chapters’ and visual storyboards that include an overall:

  • Concept Summary (a one page summarization similar to that of an Executive Summary)
  • Statement Overview (Value, Vision, Mission, Culture)
  • Architectural Design (characteristics, features, costs)
  • Bar/Kitchen Production (your equipment specs)
  • Entertainment & Guest Experience Summary
  • Menu Design Attributes (food & beverage)

Owning a bar is a dream for most that must be met with the right research, planning, and mind-set.

One’s market will, and must, define the concept. To be successful, you must be open to building a venue the market both wants and needs.

Concept development is giving your ‘idea’, both soul and character. A bar’s concept is the lifeline of its brand and longevity in the market. It makes your venue stand apart from the competition, and it’s ultimately your bar’s unique selling proposition.

Have you ever walked into a bar and been confused about its identity? The interior doesn’t match the beverage offerings, the social media experience doesn’t reflect the actual experience, and even the music doesn’t seem to match the vibe of the bar.

This is what happens when there isn’t a clear and detailed concept development plan in place, and it is a sure fire way to be just average at best.

Continue reading here.

How to Address Temporary Restaurant and Bar Closures: 5 Social Media Examples

Repeated restaurant and bar closures have, tragically, become a hallmark of 2020.

Operators have had to learn how to communicate closures to potential indoor guests, as well as delivery and takeout guests.

For most operators, the possibility of closing their doors—temporarily or otherwise—has moved well past “if” territory. At this point, it’s not even a question of when a restaurant or bar will have to close, it’s a matter of when it will happen again.

There are a few reasons a F&B business will have to close due to the Covid-19 outbreak: official mandate, reduced indoor and outdoor dining capacities, and voluntary temporary closures.

Mandated closures are, on the surface, straightforward. Government officials decree that certain types of businesses must close their doors by a specific date and time, and owners are expected to comply.

Closures induced by capacity restrictions are less straightforward. It has become woefully apparent that most lawmakers don’t understand (or don’t care) that at a certain threshold, reducing indoor and outdoor dining capacities is as good as forcing a restaurant or bar to close; the value proposition of remaining open simply isn’t there.

A voluntary temporary closure can come about because of capacity limitations, but they can also be the result of other factors. A significant workforce reduction, lack of traffic, rising costs of goods, or an internal Covid infection.

The stark reality is that the likelihood today’s operators are going to have to craft social media posts and emails announcing temporary (and possibly extended) closures is anything but slim.

Click here to keep reading.

Image: Anne Nygård on Unsplash

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