Bar Hacks

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Chef Duffy x NRA Show: Live Menu Read

Chef Duffy x NRA Show: Live Menu Read

by David Klemt

Graffiti of crossed chef's knives underneath a baseball cap that reads, "D.E.G."

Chef Brian Duffy crushed it in Chicago at the 2024 National Restaurant Association Show.

We’re sharing tips from Chef Brian Duffy‘s live menu reads at this year’s National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago.

These informative sessions are always standouts at industry trade shows and conferences. Both the operator who submits their menu anonymously and the audience gain valuable insight into menu programming and development.

In ten minutes or less, the Chef Duffy shares wisdom that’ll boost guest engagement; streamline and energize the kitchen; and help save on labor and food costs. And he won’t even Bar Rescue anyone who submits a menu. That is to say, no, he doesn’t yell at anyone while giving them tips for fixing their menu.

As Chef Duffy pointed out during his latest live menu reads, an operator’s menu has the potential to create generational wealth. However, it must be programmed properly for it to reach that potential.

So, ask yourself a question right now about your menu: Would you be proud for your menu, in its current state, to be plastered across a billboard? If not, I have another question for you: Why aren’t you taking the time to rectify that situation?

Your menu is your concept’s billboard. Treat it as such.

Oh, and one note for the NRA Show before we dive in: These sessions deserve at least two hours. One hour just isn’t enough given how impactful Chef Duffy’s live menu reads are for operators.

Menu Programming 101

There’s a logical reason why Chef Duffy is never short on menus to review. In fact, he addressed the situation directly at the 2024 NRA Show.

“Everybody has the same shit on their menu,” he stated frankly.

One explanation for why menus seem so similar makes a lot of sense.

“We’ve been told what to put on our menu buy our purveyors,” said Chef Duffy during his live menu read.

For the most part, operators are given the same product catalogs. These are circulated nationally, not regionally. So, everyone is ordering the same items. Clearly, Chef Duffy is fed up with this situation.

“We’re not here to do the same things that everyone else is,” declared Chef Duffy. “I don’t want to see that anymore.”

Menu #1: Sports Bar

This first menu featured a vibrant design that instilled a sense of patriotism. Chef Duffy theorized that he’d feel good spending time in this space, based on the menu’s appearance.

However, he wasn’t a fan of the layout of the menu. Taking up valuable real estate was a large catering ad, placed directly in the center.

In the top left were salads. “‘Add chicken to any salad,'” read Chef Duffy. “No shit. Why are we stopping at chicken? We can add anything to a salad.”

Based on his knowledge of food costs and the menu’s pricing, Chef Duffy deduced that the operator’s food costs were too high. In fact, he estimated that food costs were more than 31 percent. The burgers, he surmised, were running a 35-percent cost.

By the way, Chef Duffy always puts two slices of cheese on his burgers to fill the top out more. This delivers a more visually appealing experience, and a better bite.

On the topic of pricing, operators must maintain balance. For example, this first menu priced the addition of two slices of bacon at $3.50, but a chicken breast was six dollars. Two Chicago hotdogs cost more than a burger.

Menu #2: Breakfast Spot

Unfortunately, the operator committed one of Chef Duffy’s deadliest menu sins. There was a photo of the restaurant’s steak and eggs.

Worse, the image showed a rather large steak paired with a commodity egg. If this dish doesn’t leave the kitchen looking exactly like the picture, guests are going to be underwhelmed and unimpressed. Further, why are operators still trying to save money by buying commodity eggs?

However, there was a second deadly menu sin committed by the operator. Given the overall perception this menu delivered, the claim that at least one dish featured “wild-caught crab” didn’t ring true to Chef Duffy.

I’m confident in saying that I think lying on a menu may provoke Chef Duffy’s wrath more than a photo.

“If you lie to me on your menu, I will tear you apart,” he stated quite strongly.

That said, he did like the menu’s design (minus the photos). Even better, he recognized that there were several inventive spins on breakfast classics. Remember, “We’re not here to do the same things that everyone else is.”

Menu #3: Sports Bar

To be honest, I was expecting this type of menu. In fact, I thought it would be the first menu design encountered during this session.

Essentially, it was a collection of what everyone else has on their menus.

As an example, there were wings on the menu, and the sauces were anything but creative. Chef Duffy didn’t address it but they were also listed without commas, so they appeared to be one long, run-on sentence of a sauce.

The most glaring issues, however, were the pasta and the dessert. Both sections contained just a single item. That’s rightthere was an entire section dedicated to one pasta dish. Moreover, it’s not like there were a number of modifiers one could select to personalize their pasta.

This was the item description underneath the dessert section (designated as “Closers”): “Dessert of the week – $8 Please ask your server for details.” There’s a significant issue with that description and placement, as identified by Chef Duffy.

If a menu includes desserts, the guest is likely going to forget about them after they’ve ordered their starter and entree. It’s far more effective to have a dessert tray or cart and train your servers to suggest dessert when they touch the table toward the end of the meal.

Takeaways

Chef Duffy throws in more tips during a single menu read than most people would expect.

Below are some of the takeaways that make his live menu reads so insightful:

  • Only list name brands if they come from a local farm. This approach shows that an operator cares about supporting local producers and is part of the community.
  • Use the best ingredients for the specific concept.
  • If a restaurant features housemade buns for burgers and/or bread for sandwiches, they should offer a version as an appetizer. Really make this idea shine by also offering housemade specialty butters.
  • Operators that have chips on their menus should use the crumbles and “dust” to make breading for other items. After all, the chips have been paid for alreadyuse all of them.
  • It’s better and more impactful to have 25 items on a menu that are executed perfectly than 50 items that are executed poorly.
  • Chef Duffy doesn’t agree with omitting prices from menus. “Why? Are we negotiating? Are we negotiating before I place my order?”

Connect with Chef Duffy on Instagram, and learn more about him on the Duffified Experience Group website.

Image: Shutterstock. Disclaimer: This image was generated by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system.

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Meet Your Next Love: Amante 1530

Meet Your Next Love: Amante 1530

by David Klemt

Ana Rosenstein at a table watching a bartender shake up an Amante 1530 cocktail

A beautiful new luxury amaro from Italy is committing to becoming your nextand bestlover, whether you enjoy it straight up or in a fabulous cocktail.

Produced in Tuscany, Italy, at the Il Palagio 1530 estate, Amante 1530 hits a multitude of sweet spots.

Whereas Aperol comes in at 11-percent ABV and Campari hits between 24- and 29-percent ABV, Amante 1530 rings in at 15 percent. Further, this amaro has less sweetness than the former and less bitterness than the latter.

I sat down with Ana Rosenstein, the brand’s CEO, for an episode of the Bar Hacks podcast. Declaring herself a nerd, she explains that Amante 1530 falls in between Aperol and Campari, and can serve as an aperitivo or a digestivo.

Notably, the team behind Amante 1530 isn’t out to replace Aperol, Campari, or other well-established amari on the market. During our conversation, Rosenstein shares that she believes the brand speaks to an amaro consumer that hasn’t, until now, found the product that truly speaks to them. (You’ll also gain some invaluable insight into succeeding with investors during this episode.)

Below, four recipes that highlight Amante 1530’s key flavor notes of citrus, ginger, and honeysuckle. That said, I think you’ll find that Rosenstein’s recommendation of enjoying it neat or on the rocks with a slice of Amalfi lemon delivers an elegant and refreshing experience. Cheers!

 

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The Last Lover

  • 1.5 oz. Amante 1530
  • 1 oz. Blanco tequila
  • 0.5 oz. Fresh lime juice
  • 2 oz. Quality soda water
  • 4 cucumber rounds
  • 1 barspoon Agave nectar (optional)

Muddle the cucumber rounds in a shaker, then add ice and the first three ingredients. As an option, you can add a barspoon of agave nectar. Shake, then strain into a Collins or highball glass. Top with soda water.

Moonraker

  • 1.5 oz. Gin
  • 0.75 oz. Amante 1530
  • 0.75 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz. Green tea simple syrup
  • 3 Cucumber rounds
  • 2 Cucumber ribbons to garnish

Muddle the cucumber rounds in a shaker. Fill shaker with ice. Add gin, Amante 1530, lemon juice, and green tea simple syrup. Shake well, then double-strain into cocktail coupe. Garnish with ribbons/lengthwise slices of cucumber, and serve.

Amante 1530 Amante Spritz cocktail

Amante Spritz

  • 2 parts Amante 1530
  • 3 parts Prosecco
  • 1 part High-quality soda water
  • 1 Amalfi lemon wedge to garnish

Prepare a stemmed balloon glass or goblet by adding ice. Next, add the Prosecco to the glass, followed by Amante 1530. Top with soda water, then squeeze the juice from the Amalfi lemon and drop in the wedge to garnish.

Amante 1530 Palombo tequila cocktail

Palombo

  • 1.5 oz. Reposado tequila
  • 0.75 oz. Amante 1530
  • 0.25 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • 0.25 oz. Fresh lime juice
  • 0.5 oz. Simple syrup
  • 3 oz. Soda water
  • Lemon wheel to garnish

Prepare a Collins or highball glass by adding quality ice. To a shaker filled with ice add all the liquid ingredients except the soda water. Shake, then strain into the prepared glass. Top with the soda water, then garnish with the lemon wheel and serve.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this post or podcast appearance.

Images: Amante 1530

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Your Most Underused Feature

The Most Underused Element of Your Business

by David Klemt

AI-generated image of a cathedral inside a suitcase

What, you’ve never seen a cathedral inside a suitcase with a glowing interior before?

There’s a part of your business that you see and use every day, and yet it’s very likely the least leveraged element of your bar, restaurant or hotel.

If there are couple (or more) areas of your business running through your mind right now, that’s a bit of a red flag. For now, I want you to focus on a specific feature of your venue: the name.

When you were developing your concept, did it have a different name than it does now? Are you proud of the name? Do you think it pops and demands attention?

During his 2024 Bar & Restaurant Expo session, Michael Tipps posited that most operators are averse to attaching an abstract or enigmatic handle to their concept. That is, in his opinion, a mistake.

“The name is the most under-utilized element of a bar or restaurant,” he said plainly.

For context, this is a man who has proudly affixed the monikers Shoo Shoo, Baby and Mama Foo Foo to concepts in Los Angeles and Daytona Beach, respectively. I’m not going to provide more examples since some concepts are yet to be revealed officially, but there’s more label lunacy in the works.

The word “works” is a segue for addressing the fear or being too “out there.” As they say, it isn’t crazy if it works. Part of making sure the name and thematic elements work is developing a concept’s identity. With that achieved, marketing will be far more effective.

Make an Impact

As we tell KRG Hospitality clients, concept development is the fun stage of project planning. It’s a collaborative effort that gives everyone involved the opportunity to be creative.

Moreover, an effective consultant will help their client swing for the fences rather than stay too grounded. The concept development stage shouldn’t be about dumbing down and saying no. The right consultant-client relationship will be about asking, “How can we get to where and who you want to be?”

Tipps, co-founder of Maverick Theory, will tell you that our F&B world is a social experiment. Guests really aren’t coming to buy food and beverages; they’re at your venue to socialize, connect, feel valued.

“It’s not about what you’re doing, it’s about what you’re being while you do it,” he says. So, I think it’s safe for me to say that he would ask why someone would want to be mediocre. Why would they want their concept to blend in rather than stand out?

As he said during his BRE session, “Everyone who wants to build a concept that’s original and blows people away also includes people who build mediocre, cliche restaurants and bars.

If your concept doesn’t make an impact on a guest and make them curious enough to step through the doors, that’s not a great start. Yes, outstanding service is crucial; it converts one-time guests into repeat visitors. However, they need a reason to become a guest in the first place.

Logically, that means the name, signage, and exterior design need to be impactful.

“Steven Spielberg didn’t make a scary shark movie called Scary Shark,” observed Tipps.

Why, then, do people continue to put “restaurant” or “bar” in the name of their business? Fear.

Stand Up and Stand Out

I doubt that a significant percentage of hospitality operators have said the following during concept development: “I’d really like to fade into the background.”

Combined, according to 2023 data, there are more than 810,000 restaurants and bars in the US alone. Add hotels and motels and that number jumps to well over 900,000.

The last thing that will help any of those businesses make money and keep the lights on is to become white noise. Saddle your concept with a boring name and that’s exactly what it will be, from the jump. Why do that to yourself?

As I said in the preceding section, fear. And Tipps would agree with my conclusion.

“You want to do something special but you also don’t want to do anything too esoteric,” said Tipps during his session. That’s the reason we see “restaurant” and “bar” on restaurant and bar signs.

There’s also the fact that things get very “real” for some people when they first open their doors to the public. They’re now in the spotlight, and the pressure to lead their business to success can be overwhelming.

It’s fair to theorize that some owners second-guess their name and branding when their nerves get the better of them. How will they ever live up to a bold, irresistible bar or restaurant name? What if people won’t come to the business if they aren’t 100-percent certain they know it’s a restaurant or bar?

Which would you rather visit? Mama Foo Foo Neighborhood Restaurant and Bar, or Mama Foo Foo? Which has more impact and sparks your curiosity? Which name would make you feel like you’ve arrived somewhere?

What’s in a Name?

Tipps didn’t title his BRE session “How to Name Your Restaurant or Bar.” Instead, his session was called “Cathedral in a Suitcase.”

Does that session title communicate the topic directly? Not exactly, but it certainly had an impact. And that was the point.

Rather than wonder how to name a restaurant or bar, Tipps (and the KRG team as well) wants operators, current and future, to consider different approaches to developing their concepts.

Certainly, we don’t need to label restaurants and bars as restaurants and bars. Further, as Tipps pointed out during his session, we don’t have to make them feel like restaurants and bars. I promise you, people will intuit how you intend for them to use your space.

Per Tipps, and once again, we agree, your restaurant can feel like a movie. Your bar can feel like an album. You can decide, while eschewing stereotypical elements, whether your venue is masculine, feminine, or neutral.

“Creativity is intelligence having fun,” said Tipps, so have fun with your concept in the development stage. That will translate to a fun, engaging venue (with the right systems and standards in place, of course).

From there, collaborate with a designer to transform your concept from vision to brick and mortar that creates connections. For example, add texture, because speaking to our sense of touch elicits a visceral reaction. Give careful consideration to lighting, because your guests want to look good. Make sure every element relates to the name and the theme.

So, what’s in a name? The future of your business.

Image: Shutterstock. Disclaimer: This image was generated by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system.

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Be the RTD You Want to See in the World

Juan, Please: Be the RTD You Want to See in the World

by David Klemt

Pete Flores, the founder of brand-new ready-to-drink cocktail brand Juan, Please, is on a mission to bring the TLT to the world.

And what is a TLT? It’s Tequila, Lemonade, Tea, the first expression in the Juan, Please RTD portfolio.

You may be familiar with a different name for this particular cocktail. Like the John Daly is a vodka-spiked version of the iconic Arnold Palmer, a Juan Daly is an Arnold Palmer made with tequila.

As it turns out, the Arnold Palmer is Flores’ favorite alcohol-free beverage. He explains on an upcoming episode of the Bar Hacks podcast, Flores added tequila to an AriZona Arnold Palmer several years ago.

You’ll learn on his episode that Flores assumed someone would surely bring a Juan Daly RTD to market. However, after a couple of years of waiting, he realized he and his business partners were going to be those someones.

In fact, by the time you read this, Flores and his team will be fresh off the official Juan, Please launch party that took place in Hoboken, New Jersey. And really, what day could’ve been better than Cinco de Mayo to launch this brand?

 

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For now, Juan, Please is available only in New Jersey. However, New York is next, possibly as early as June 1 of this year. With any luck (and interest by you and other operators and bar professionals), major markets throughout the US will follow before year’s end.

Keep your ears out for our upcoming chat with Flores, and keep an eye out for your opportunity to taste Juan, Please.

Cheers!

Introducing Juan, Please Set to Disrupt the Canned Cocktail Market with Tequila-Infused Innovations

Juan Please is poised to redefine the category with its inaugural product: the T.L.T.—Tequila, Lemonade, and Tea Launching May 5th, 2024, in New Jersey.

New York, NY – April 23, 2024 – Today marks the unveiling of Juan, Please, a bold new player in the world of Ready-to-Drink cocktails, set to make waves with its unique lineup of tequila-based beverages launching on Cinco de Mayo in New Jersey. Juan, Please is poised to redefine the category with its inaugural product: the T.L.T. – Tequila, Lemonade, Tea, a non-carbonated drink with only Juan gram of sugar and 7% ABV.

The inspiration for Juan, Please struck when founder Peter Flores, a tequila enthusiast and fan of Arnold Palmers, noticed a glaring gap in the market for tequila-based canned cocktails. After years of waiting for someone to introduce this concept, Peter decided to take matters into his own hands, building a team with like-minded colleagues to embark on this spirited venture.

“Flores emphasizes that ‘Juan, Please’ embodies the essence of joy—laughter, dancing, and life—sealed within each can, reflecting his life’s cherished moments.” “As we embark on the brand’s journey in our home state of New Jersey, it feels like all of the friends we grew up with are on the ride with us.”

Since its soft launch in early 2024, Juan, Please has already gained traction in select venues across New Jersey, including notable Mexican restaurants and prestigious country clubs. The brand is now gearing up for its official launch on Cinco de Mayo, May 5th, 2024, at Pier 13 in Hoboken, promising attendees a taste of innovation and celebration.

Peter Flores, the visionary behind Juan, Please, brings over two decades of experience in hospitality, entertainment, and advertising. His mission is clear: to encapsulate the essence of good times, laughter, and joy into every can of Juan, Please.

“The T.L.T marks the pioneering spirit of our venture. Our upcoming expansion into New York City in June 2024 will debut two exciting new flavors: a Mezcal Old Fashioned and a Tequila Reposado Espresso Martini. ‘Juan, Please’ is positioned to establish itself as the premier choice for those seeking innovative twists on classic cocktails, marking just the beginning of our flavorful story. Says Flores”

The launch event will take place on May 5th, Cinco de Mayo, on Pier 13 in Hoboken from 1:00 to 5:00 PM. There will be a Juan on Juan Challenge (game with a giveaway), drink specials, and Juan will be in attendance in the costume for pictures. Attendees will experience the excitement and flavor that Juan, Please brings to the market. Juan, Please is set to carve out its niche as the go-to choice for those seeking a fresh take on classic cocktails.

About Juan, Please

Juan, Please is a dynamic alcohol startup brand reshaping the Ready-to-Drink cocktail market with its innovative lineup of tequila-infused beverages. Founded by Peter Flores, Juan, Please offers a range of premium canned cocktails designed to deliver exceptional flavor and convenience. The flagship product, the T.L.T. Tequila, Lemonade, Tea, is a non-carbonated drink with only Juan gram of sugar and 7% ABV. Juan, Please embodies our commitment to crafting unique combinations that capture the spirit of celebration. Inspired by Peter’s passion for tequila and classic cocktails, Juan, Please introduces a fresh take on familiar favorites, promising unforgettable experiences with every sip. Join us as we redefine the art of cocktail culture, one can at a time.

Image: Juan, Please

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: April 2024

5 Books to Read this Month: April 2024

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our inspiring and informative April book selections will help you improve operations, refresh and streamline F&B programming, and learn more about coffee.

This month, we look at books covering an array of topics: overcoming dysfunctions within teams; stepping outside of comfort zones; cocktail and Irish dish recipes; and repurposing existing buildings.

To review the book recommendations from March 2024, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Roundbuilding

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it seems like most cocktail books target home bartenders. In a refreshing change of pace, Roundbuilding is specifically for working bartenders. In case the name doesn’t give it away, this book is about crafting and serving consistent rounds of cocktails and ensuring a high standard of service.

From Amazon:Roundbuiding is a practical guide to mixing cocktails, aimed at the working bartender. This is a book about ensuring that, for every round you serve, every drink is made to a consistently high standard, and that first sip always makes an impression. It’s the nuts and bolts of mixing drinks.”

Buy it today!

The World Atlas of Coffee (2nd Edition)

This bestseller enjoys a 4.8-star rating on Amazon with nearly 4,000 reviews on the platform. The World Atlas of Coffee also boasts a score of 4.4 on Goodreads.

Written by World Barista Champion James Hoffman (who’s also the co-founder of a successful coffee roaster operating out of London), this book will provide the reader with just about everything they need to know about coffee. The rise in popularity of cocktails like the Carajillo and the near-constant chatter about the Espresso Martini got me thinking: I should probably include a coffee book in one of these roundups.

From Amazon: “Coffee has never been better, or more interesting, than it is today. Coffee producers have access to more varieties and techniques than ever before and we, as consumers, can share in that expertise to make sure the coffee we drink is the best we can find. Where coffee comes from, how it was harvested, the roasting process and the water used to make the brew are just a few of the factors that influence the taste of what we drink. Champion barista and coffee expert James Hoffmann examines these key factors, looking at varieties of coffee, the influence of terroir, how it is harvested and processed, the roasting methods used, through to the way in which the beans are brewed.”

Pick your copy up now.

The Complete Recipe Writing Guide: Mastering Recipe Development, Writing, Testing, Nutrition Analysis, and Food Styling

This book isn’t even a year old but has already made waves. In fact, it was listed as one of Chef Eric Ripert‘s (Le Bernardin in New York City) books of the month just a couple of months after publication.

From Amazon:The Complete Recipe Writing Guide shows you how to create professional recipe content from development to publication. Raeanne Sarazen, a registered dietitian and chef, shares her expertise from over 20 years of working with recipes as a test kitchen professional, recipe developer, food writer, and editor, along with insider tips from top industry professionals. Like a master class on recipes, this comprehensive resource guides you through the variety of skills needed to create and share successful recipes.”

Get your copy here.

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.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

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Slice Releases 2024 Report

Indie Pizzeria App Slice Releases 2024 Report

by David Klemt

Slice of pepperoni pizza on a plate, on top of a table

Still the most popular pizza topping.

It’s finally here, one of our favorite food-forward hospitality industry reports providing operators with valuable insider insights.

In keeping with tradition, Slice released their 2024 Slice of the Union report the day before National Pizza Day. Truly, this is one of the reports I most look forward to each year.

As one would expect, the fifth-annual Slice of the Union is stuffed with helpful information.

Before we dig in, a quick rundown of Slice. The platform serves all 50 states and works with more than 20,000 independent pizzerias. To put that in context, that’s a network of pizzerias in the US larger than Domino’s, Little Caesars, and Pizza Hut combined.

If you’re an independent pizzeria owner and you have yet to partner with Slice, I encourage you to look into doing so. Should a partnership with Slice be feasible, it should increase brand awareness, engagement, traffic, and revenue to a notable degree.

Seasoning

Kicking things off, Slice sprinkles a bit of trivia onto this year’s report.

Last year, consumers apparently gorged themselves on pizza. How much was eaten? Just over 29,000 tons.

Providing context, Slice says to imagine 11,572,064,136 pennies. That’s a Scrooge McDuck dive-worthy pile of coins.

However, one category of pizza experienced a drop in popularity last year. According to Slice, pizzerias saw a 5.21-percent dip in vegan pizza orders.

Now, on to toppings.

Toppings

There’s a reason I chose a photo of a single slice of pepperoni pizza for this article.

Operators who track their data probably already know what I’m about to say: According to Slice, pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping in the US.

This is followed by, in descending order of popularity, mushrooms, sausage, extra cheese, onions, bacon, and black olives. For those wondering, kale was one of the “least-loved” toppings last year.

If you read through the 2023 Slice of the Union report or read our article reviewing it, you know they made a couple of trend predictions. Last year, Slice guessed that pickle pizzas would be in demand. Well, they were right. Orders for pickle pizzas jumped by 32 percent in 2023.

So, when Slice makes a pizza-based prediction, it’s probably in your best interest to take it to heart. Oh, waitSlice has a prediction for 2024. According to the platform, tinned fish will be a standout pizza topping this year.

Sauce

In case you’re wondering about how much data Slice has at their fingertips, here’s an interesting bit of trivia. Last year, 4,744 people ordered pizzas with anchovies, garlic, or onions on Valentine’s Day. Alrighty, then.

They also know that orders for pizza with pineapple as a topping saw an increase of nearly six percent in 2023.

Further, the 2024 Slice of the Union reveals the most and least “pizzaful” days of 2023. The former? December 1. And the latter? Thanksgiving.

Last year, Fridays accounted for the most orders, at 23.5 percent. However, only 8.7 percent of pizza orders were placed on Mondays.

For data that’s a bit more esoteric, what if Slice could reveal which Zodiac signs order the most and least pizza? Would this be useful to operators? Honestly, it could be, I suppose. Particularly for those who have loyalty programs and engage with their guests via email and text marketing.

Apparently, a Taurus (April 20 to May 20) is the most likely to order pizza. Conversely, Capricorns (December 22 to January 19) either don’t like placing food orders in general or don’t like eating pizza specifically, because they ordered the least amount last year.

By the way, if you happen to operate a pizzeria in New Jersey, you may want to search for a guest named Dominic. According to Slice, someone named Dominic in NJ placed 348 pizza orders in 2023. Sounds like Dom has earned a special perk from his favorite pizza joint.

Extra Cheese

Pizzeria owners and their teams in Hawaii, Alabama, Oregon, South Carolina, and Montana may have the happiest wallets. That’s because people who ordered pizza for delivery in those five states tipped their drivers the most.

However, people who order pizza in Washington may have slightly lighter wallets than their fellow Americans. That’s because while the average price for a large cheese pizza in the US is $18.33, that number jumps to $25.75 in the Evergreen State.

If you’d like to see the average price for a large cheese pizza in each of the 50 states, click here. As an example, the average price in Nevada (KRG Hospitality’s American HQ is in Las Vegas) is $21.09.

Speaking of price, while Dom in NJ placed the most pizza orders, Frances in New York placed the most expensive order last year: $2,867.07. Frances, I want to attend one of your pizza parties (I think).

Finally, let’s end on data that can help operators when reviewing their labor costs. On average, pizza delivery distance was 9.14 miles in 2023. And, on average, pizzerias completed the process of producing an order and delivering it in 42.5 minutes.

For more insights from the 2024 Slice of the Union, click here.

Image: Sydney Troxell on Pexels

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

3rd Annual TAG Awards Hit Las Vegas

3rd Annual TAG Global Spirits Awards Hit Las Vegas

by David Klemt

The third annual TAG Global Spirits Awards, created by industry icon Tony Abou-Ganim, is about more than ranking spirits and handing out awards.

Clearly, the awards are the main focus. However, the multi-day happening hosts an important event: the Pink Tie Gala.

We had the honor of attending the Gala this year. Each year, the party brings industry professionals together to socialize, taste awards entrants in creative cocktails, and support the Helen David Relief Fund. You’ll find more information about the Fund below.

 

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One of the standout spirits we sampled at the Pink Tie Gala was Hendrick’s Gin’s latest expression. Bold but bright, Grand Cabaret is my favorite Hendrick’s to date. Along with delivering stone fruit notes, I detected complex aromas and flavors of Cabernet Sauvignon and other bold red wines.

Walking the floor, we also ran into and saw several Bar Hacks podcast guests. You’ll find descriptions and links to episodes with Tony Abou-Ganim, Lynn House, Vance Henderson, and Tim Rita toward the end of this article.

In case you’re wondering, yes, consumers can purchase tickets to attend select events, like the Pink Tie Gala. Something for people to consider for 2025.

Cheers!

TAG Global Spirits Awards

While these awards are the brainchild of Tony Abou-Ganim, he doesn’t go it alone. Julio Bermejo, David Graphsi, and Sean Ludford help execute TAG each year, along with a panel of judges.

Speaking of judges, they included Dale DeGroff, Lynn House, Charlotte Voisey, and Francesco Lafranconi this year.

 

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It’s no small feat to be a TAG judge, as they’re tasked with evaluating entrants across more than 100 spirits categories. Luckily, the judges are up to the challenge.

Interestingly, they have some assistance in the form of specialized glassware. TAG has partnered with Steelite International and RONA to create the Ultimate Universal Spirits Glass. Not only is the glass exclusive to TAG, its usage ensures fair judging for every entrant.

Helen David Relief Fund

TAG Global Spirits Awards Pink Tie Gala ice sculpture

If any party needs an ice sculpture…

Named for Abou-Ganim’s cousin, the Helen David Relief Fund pays homage to its namesake while serving bartenders who need help.

Helen and her mother opened the Brass Rail in Port Huron, Michigan, in the 1930s. As women owning and operating a bar in the ’30s, the duo were true pioneers in the industry. Abou-Ganim credits Helen with teaching him the spirit of hospitality.

To celebrate Helen and give back to the industry, Abou-Ganim created the HDRF. The Fund provides assistance via grants to bartenders fighting breast cancer, or other forms of cancer.

In just the first two years of operation, the TAG Global Spirits Awards and its partners have raised tens of thousands of dollars for the HDRF. To learn more about the Fund, donate, or apply for a grant, click here.

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. On September 13, Bally’s Atlantic City is hosting a 25-mile bike ride to benefit the Helen David Relief Fund that culminates in a complimentary Team Negroni Lunch and happy hour at Bally’s Beach Bar.

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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 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 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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Woodford Reserve 2024 Derby Bottle

Woodford Reserve Unveils 2024 Kentucky Derby Bottle

by David Klemt

Woodford Reserve 2024 "Adorned with Flowers" bottle

Commemorating the 150th running of the iconic Kentucky Derby, Woodford Reserve’s 2024 Derby bottle is now available for purchase.

In keeping with tradition, the bottle’s label features a Kentucky artist’s work.

For 2024, Woodford Reserve collaborated with artist Wylie Caudill, who crafted the painting “Adorned with Roses.” The art is a clear nod to another tradition: adorning the winning horse with a garland consisting of hundreds of roses, the Derby’s official flower.

This should grab an operator’s attention for a few reasons. To start, some operators enjoy collecting bottles. So, they can now get their hands on this annual release.

Further, it’s time to start thinking about this year’s Derby, which takes place on May 4. Millions of people watch the Kentucky Derby every year. Operators need to ensure their Mint Juleps and riffs are dialed in, including the appropriate drinkware.

Impressively, while it has been postponed twice, it has never been cancelled.

Traditionally, the Derby is run on the first Saturday in May. The race was run in June in 1945 due to World War II. And in 2020, Covid-19 restrictions pushed the race to September. Incredibly, a world war and a pandemic couldn’t thwart the Derby.

2024’s race is the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby. It stands to reason that even more people will show an interest in watching and celebrating this year’s race. Woodford’s commemorative bottle at least be on the back bar of any venue running a Derby promotion. It would also make for a great raffle item on race day.

Finally, we celebrate International Whiskey Day this month. The more special edition whiskeys available on March 27, the better.

Learn more about this year’s Woodford Reserve Derby bottle below. Cheers!

Woodford Reserve Releases 2024 Bottle Celebrating 150th Anniversary of the Kentucky Derby

Bottle features the art of Kentuckian Wylie Caudill 

Versailles, KY (March 5, 2024) — Woodford Reserve®, the Presenting Sponsor of the Kentucky Derby®, is honoring “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports®” with the release of its 2024 commemorative Derby bottle.

This year’s special release celebrates the 150th running of the Kentucky Derby® and features the artwork of Kentucky native Wylie Caudill, known for his bold, repetitive patterns, and his signature roses. His painting, “Adorned in Roses,” depicts a racing thoroughbred covered with red roses, with a background of multi-colored roses.

The one-liter bottle retails for $55 and is available for purchase globally. A special presale on ReserveBar begins March 5. It also is for sale at Woodford Reserve Distillery and in the Woodford Reserve online store starting March 5.

“Wylie’s artwork embodies the spirit of Woodford Reserve, the liveliness of Churchill Downs during race day, and the heart of Kentucky,” Woodford Reserve Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall said. “We’re thrilled to have a Kentuckian’s artwork on our bottle during this monumental year.”

Caudill grew up drawing and painting in Cynthiana, Kentucky. During college, he spent his free time creating chalk drawings, leaving his mark around campus and leading to his title ‘chalk guy’ among locals. He expanded his public street art to painting murals in Lexington after college, and many of his murals can be seen across Kentucky today. Caudill also created the Official Art of the Kentucky Derby for Churchill Downs for the 150th Derby, marking the first year that Woodford Reserve and Churchill Downs used the same artist.

“As a Kentucky native, I am honored to be a part of this milestone celebration,” Caudill said. “I have painted my signature roses many times over the years, but this one is truly special. The colorful roses symbolize the diverse Derby fans from around the world, connecting people beyond the track.”

Woodford Reserve’s Derby bottle has been an annual collector’s item anticipated by bourbon and racing fans since 1999.

About Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve, “Presenting Sponsor of the Kentucky Derby,” is crafted at the historic Woodford Reserve Distillery, tucked in the heart of thoroughbred country in Versailles, Kentucky. A National Historic Landmark, the Woodford Reserve Distillery represents craftsmanship with a balance of historic heritage and modern practices. Woodford Reserve is a product of the Brown-Forman Corporation, a premier producer and marketer of fine quality beverage alcohol brands including Jack Daniel’s, Finlandia, Korbel, Tequila Herradura, Old Forester, Sonoma-Cutrer and Chambord. Please enjoy your bourbon responsibly. To learn more about Woodford Reserve, visit us www.woodfordreserve.com  or check us out on Facebook at www.facebook.com/woodfordreserve.

Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, 45.2% Alc. by Vol., produced and bottled by the Woodford Reserve Distillery, Versailles, KY ©2024

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, in exchange for this post.

Image provided by Woodford Reserve

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5 Books to Read this Month: March 2024

5 Books to Read this Month: March 2024

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our inspiring and informative March book selections will help you improve operations, refresh F&B programming, and consider a design update.

This month, we look at books covering an array of topics: overcoming dysfunctions within teams; stepping outside of comfort zones; cocktail and Irish dish recipes; and repurposing existing buildings.

To review the book recommendations from February 2024, click here.

Let’s jump in!

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable

In a departure from most business books, the author of The Five Dysfunctions of a Team presents useful lessons in the style of a fictional tale. This approach makes this bookwhich has more than 13,000 reviews on Amazona compelling read.

From Amazon: “Equal parts leadership fable and business handbook, this definitive source on teamwork by Patrick Lencioni reveals the five behavioral tendencies that go to the heart of why even the best teams struggle. He offers a powerful model and step-by-step guide for overcoming those dysfunctions and getting every one rowing in the same direction.”

Pick up your copy today.

The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook

I doubt you need a reminder but just in case, St. Patrick’s is just two weeks away. So, what better time to pick up this best-selling cookbook featuring Irish classic and modern fare? Flip through this book, check out some interesting recipes, and put your own spin on them so they fit with your concept.

From Amazon: “Pubs in Ireland are the cornerstone of their communities, relaxed places where locals and visitors can experience the best of traditional Irish hospitality. Many pubs have also become the place to go for a great meal, with a choice of both traditional and contemporary dishes. In recent years Irish cooking has been transformed, with skillful cooks making the most of wonderful fresh local produce to create delicious new dishes and giving a twist to many classics. This tasty cookbook includes the best of both worlds – with best-loved favorites s Irish Stew, Corned Beef and Split Pea and Ham Soup and newer recipes, like Scallop Chowder or Oatmeal and Raspberry Cream to set your taste buds tingling.”

Order The Complete Irish Pub Cookbook now!

Drink: Featuring Over 1,100 Cocktail, Wine, and Spirits Recipes

This is a seriously big book. After all, it really does contain more than 1,100 recipes. KRG Hospitality president Doug Radkey recently picked up this book and flipped through its many, many pages.

Along with well over a thousand recipes organized by spirit, Drink looks at bar tools, housemade ingredients, and ice. Further, it includes interviews with bartenders. If you’re looking for a recipe book that will inspire a drink menu refresh, this is the one you want.

Grab this tome today.

Cool is Everywhere: New and Adaptive Design Across America

Last month, we dove into the biophilic design methodology. This book, Cool is Everywhere, is a photo-driven look into the adaptive reuse design movement. Very briefly summarized, this is a design movement that focuses on repurposing existing architecture rather than knocking down buildings and putting up new construction. This approach tends to be eco-friendly, and as you’ll see from the photos in this book, it also creates cool buildings.

From Amazon: “Cool Is Everywhere highlights remarkable designs that have transformed ordinary buildings into works of art. From North Adams, Massachusetts, to Oakland, California, join Michel as he explores the skyscrapers and quaint neighborhoods that led him to believe that cool is, in fact, everywhere.”

Pick up this book now.

The Comfort Crisis: Embrace Discomfort To Reclaim Your Wild, Happy, Healthy Self

This book from author Michael Easter asks a fairly simple question: What if the modern world’s conveniences are making our lives more difficult? When we look deeper into our lives, we may find that our health is being impacted negatively by building and remaining in our comfort zones. Certainly, entrepreneurs can find that refusing to step outside of their comfort is hurting the business side of their lives.

From Amazon: “In many ways, we’re more comfortable than ever before. But could our sheltered, temperature-controlled, overfed, underchallenged lives actually be the leading cause of many our most urgent physical and mental health issues? In this gripping investigation, award-winning journalist Michael Easter seeks out off-the-grid visionaries, disruptive genius researchers, and mind-body conditioning trailblazers who are unlocking the life-enhancing secrets of a counterintuitive solution: discomfort.”

Order it today!

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

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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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