Cocktail bar

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The Power of an ImpactMAP™

The Power of an ImpactMAP™

by Doug Radkey

KRG Hospitality ImpactMAP, main image

Let’s be honest, the line between success and failure often hinges on the ability to act decisively and act with purpose.

In this article, we’re going to explore two areas of your hospitality business that are under your control: creating a plan, and taking action.

Understanding the Risk of Inaction

The concept surrounding the Risk of Inaction—arguably a new form of ROI—captures the potential losses businesses face when they fail to take strategic actions.

Inaction in the hospitality industry can manifest in various harmful ways. Inaction can also stem from multiple sources: fear of change, lack of resources, or simply underestimating the competition.

Regardless of the manifestation or cause, the consequences are usually the same: stagnation, decline, and, ultimately, a shuttered business.

Let’s put this into context by taking a look at a sample of both a restaurant and a hotel business.

Failure to Innovate

If a restaurant does not act to continuously re-engineer its menu, it risks diminishing profits, providing a low-level guest experience, and mismanaging inventory. Without regular strategic updates, the menu may fail to reflect current culinary trends and guest preferences, which can lead to a decrease in interest and satisfaction.

Additionally, sticking with a static menu can prevent the restaurant from optimizing ingredient use, productivity, and cost-efficiency.

At the end of the day, this lack of adaptation and innovation will result in diminishing sales and profitability, making it difficult for the restaurant to sustain its operations.

Failure to Update Systems

If a hotel on the other hand decides to not use a modern and fully integrated Property Management System (PMS), it risks operating inefficiently and falling behind in today’s technology-driven hospitality environment.

A non-existent, outdated, or fragmented PMS can lead to significant operational issues, such as slow check-in and check-out processes, errors in room availability and booking management, and ineffective communication between different departments. That’s just to name a few crucial issues.

This inefficiency can impact guest experiences negatively, leading to dissatisfaction and potentially harming the hotel’s reputation.

Furthermore, without a modern PMS, a hotel may struggle with data management, limiting its ability to effectively analyze performance metrics, forecast demand, and implement dynamic pricing strategies. These disadvantages will result in lost revenue and reduced competitiveness in a space where guest expectations and operational efficiency are increasingly driven by technological advancements.

In each example above, the risk of inaction leads to missed opportunities and underperformance.

The Power of an ImpactMAP™

To combat the risks associated with inaction, your hospitality business can benefit significantly from developing an ImpactMAP™.

This strategic tool can help you identify where you currently stand, define where you want to go, and outline the steps required to get there, thereby helping you create not only strategic clarity, but drive and accountability.

KRG Hospitality ImpactMAP, flowchart and map

The Assessment

To create an ImpactMAP™ and to take action immediately, you need to first assess your operations.

An assessment of your hospitality business is a comprehensive evaluation process aimed at analyzing various aspects of your business to identify strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement or opportunity. The goal is to gather actionable insights that can help optimize operations, enhance guest experiences, and massively improve your profitability.

The assessment should involve on-site observations, staff interviews, and a deep dive into the following eight categories, culminating in a detailed report that provides recommendations and a strategic plan for future growth and sustainability.

For each of the eight categories, consider a 3x matrix with three responses to the following questions:

  • Where are we now?
  • Where do we want to go?
  • What resources do we need?
  • What’s holding us back?

Then, create a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely) goal for each response in your “Where We Want to Go” list.

What are the eight assessment categories?

1. Brand Strategy

Assessment: Review your core values, story, messaging, philosophy, design, and reputation.

Opportunity: Enhance brand alignment across all touchpoints to ensure consistency while refining your brand messaging to better connect with targeted guest profiles.

2. Internal Programming

Assessment: Review your pricing strategy, guest experiences, property / menu / room management systems and programs.

Opportunity: Optimize your offerings based on guest preference data and a profitability analysis, along with potential upgrades to your amenities to enhance guest satisfaction and to compete with today’s market standards. In summary, implement efficiencies to improve guest experiences and operational workflow with a focus on your internal programming.

3. Marketing Plans

Assessment: Review guest profiles, guest journey maps, guest databases, awareness and retention strategies, and your digital marketing portfolio.

Opportunity: Integrate advanced digital marketing techniques to increase reach and engagement while developing targeted promotions and partnerships, and by leveraging data analytics to tailor marketing efforts more precisely to guest behaviors and trends.

4. Tech-Stack Plans

Assessment: Review guest facing technology, POS / PMS system, integrations, and marketing.

Opportunity: Identify current technology gaps and plan for a strategic integration of systems that enhance guest experiences while streamlining operations.

5. Standard Operating Procedures

Assessment: Review of all internal and external systems, plus training programs and SOPs.

Opportunity: Ensuring that all staff are clear on their roles and responsibilities, which enhances overall service quality through the development of standardized procedures that ensure consistency and efficiency across the business. Implement feedback systems to continually refine and improve SOPs based on real-time challenges and successes.

6. People and Culture

Assessment: Review of staff experiences, onboarding, productivity, growth, and retainment.

Opportunity: Strengthen employee engagement through improved communication and support systems. Foster a culture of innovation and openness in which employees feel valued and motivated. Develop leadership from within to enhance management effectiveness and succession planning.

7. Financial Health

Assessment: Review of all financials, including Revenue, COGs, KPIs, Expenses, Debt, and Profit.

Opportunity: Identify cost-saving opportunities without compromising service quality. Explore new revenue streams that align with your brand values and market opportunities. Implement more rigorous financial tracking and forecasting tools (such as technology) to better predict financial trends and react proactively.

8. Mindset

Assessment: Daily habits, work / life balance, decisiveness, communications, and growth-based thinking.

Opportunity: Develop a mindset of continuous improvement among all staff levels (starting with yourself) to foster an environment of excellence. Cultivate resilience by planning for crisis management and business continuity. Promote a guest-centric approach, aligning all business decisions with guest satisfaction and personal development outcomes.

Creating the ImpactMAP™

By following the above 3x strategy for each category, you will have created 24 SMART objectives that will be the foundation of your ImpactMAP™ to move your business forward over the next one to six to 12 months.

Importance of SMART Objectives

What does SMART mean and how does it work?

  • Specific, Clarity, and Focus: SMART objectives provide clear and concise goals that everyone in your business can understand and rally behind. This clarity helps to focus efforts and resources on what’s most important.
  • Measurability and Tracking: By setting measurable goals, your business can track progress and make data-driven decisions. This measurability allows for adjustments to be made in strategies or tactics to ensure the objectives are met.
  • Achievability: Goals that are achievable motivate staff. Setting impossible goals can lead to frustration and disengagement, whereas achievable objectives encourage team effort and commitment.
  • Relevance: Ensuring that each objective is relevant to the broader business goals ensures that every effort made contributes to the overall success of your brand.
  • Timeliness: Incorporating a timeframe provides urgency, a deadline, and accountability, which can help prioritize daily tasks and long-term plans.

However, you shouldn’t try to accomplish all 24 objectives at the same time. Once you’ve set your 24 impactful objectives, prioritizing them is crucial to stabilize your hospitality business and aim for scalable growth.

Best Practices for Prioritizing Objectives

  • Assess Business Needs: Start by conducting that thorough assessment of your business to identify key areas that need improvement.
  • Impact Analysis: Evaluate the potential impact of each objective. Prioritize objectives that offer the greatest benefits in terms of guest satisfaction, revenue growth, and operational efficiency.
  • Resource Availability: Consider the resources available, including budget, people, and technology. Prioritize objectives that align with current resources or where adjustments can be made to accommodate necessary changes.
  • Quick Wins: Identify objectives that can be achieved quickly and with minimal disruption to your ongoing operations. These quick wins can boost morale and provide visible improvements that justify further investments in other areas.
  • Strategic Importance: Some objectives, while not providing immediate benefits, are crucial for long-term success. Prioritize these based on their strategic importance to the business’s future.
  • Stakeholder Input: Engage with various stakeholders, including management, staff, and guests, to gain insights into which objectives they feel are most critical. This can help in aligning the goals with the needs and expectations of those most affected by the changes.
  • Balanced Scorecard: Use a balanced scorecard approach to ensure that objectives across different areas such as guest services, internal processes, financial performance, and learning and growth are all being addressed.
  • Iterative Review: Regularly review the priorities as situations and business dynamics evolve. What may be a priority today might change based on market conditions or internal business changes over the next three to six months.

Once you have your objectives prioritized, it’s time to assign or delegate them as needed and have those assignees (including yourself) take ownership of the objectives with their signature to add another level of accountability.

Implementing the ImpactMAP™

Before starting, ask yourself one final question: What will happen if we don’t take action?

Be detailed and mindful of what the short-term and long-term consequences might be if you don’t act.

Effective implementation of an ImpactMAP™ requires knowledge of these consequences, along with a commitment from all levels of your business. It starts with comprehensive training sessions followed by regular review meetings, which are both essential to assess progress, address challenges, and refine strategies as needed.

Take a SMART-ER approach, which is where you Evaluate and Re-adjust the SMART objectives halfway through the timeline you’ve set.

Conclusion

Risk of inaction is a silent threat that can undermine any business, particularly in this dynamic industry.

Adopting an ImpactMAP™ and making a commitment to take massive action allows you to manage your operations proactively, adapt to changing market conditions, and set a course for sustainable success.

This strategic approach not only mitigates risks but also empowers your hospitality business to thrive in a competitive landscape—but it starts with you and your mindset toward taking action.

Image: KRG Hospitality

KRG Hospitality. Restaurant Business Plan. Feasibility Study. Concept. Branding. Consultant. Start-Up.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Drink Donnybrook: Mojito

Drink Donnybrook: Mojito

by David Klemt

An AI-generated image of a male bartender preparing a Mojito cocktail

Hey, AI may be getting better at drawing hands. Also, I’m not sure about some of these bar tools…

Happy 440th-ish birthday to a rum-powered classic cocktail with a mashed-up, medicinal, mysterious, and complicated history: the Mojito.

Given that we can trace the Mojito to the 16th century, this drink more than justifies its classic cocktail status. Perhaps it’s deserving of placement on another tier of classic cocktail. Prototypical tipple, perhaps?

At any rate, some cocktail historians believe the Mojito’s origins reach as far back as 1586. However, we don’t know if we have to reach even further back in history for its creation. And nobody seems 100-percent certain who to credit for the creation of the Mojito.

Currently, most historians appear to think Sir Francis Drake is the inventor.

Now, before I proceed, let’s address Drake’s history.

A History of Significant Violence

Don’t let his title fool you into thinking he was a well-mannered gentleman; Drake was a pirate. Worse, he was a slave trader.

In fact, some label him one of the pioneers of the British slave trade.

He and his crews sacked and pillaged villages. They attacked ships for the sole purpose of plundering them. Drake was present for the Rathlin Island massacre, where in excess of 600 Scots and Irish were killed.

We’ll never know the overall death toll attributable to Drake and those under his command. Given that he was heavily involved in the slave trade, piracy, and raids, it’s at least in the hundreds.

“Firewater of Sugar Cane”

Personally, I don’t believe that we should give credit to Drake for inventing the Mojito. That honor should go to whoever gave him and his crew the ingredients for the drink.

If we accept that Drake and a small contingent landed on Cuban soil in search of medicine for scurvy and dysentery, an inhabitant of the island country created what would become the Mojito.

As a prevailing story goes, the Mojito was a tonic for a number of ailments, including the aforementioned scurvy and dysentery. In 1586, one of Drake’s crews was suffering from both (and probably other illnesses).

Upon their return from the shores of Cuba, the crew mixed the lime juice (which provided the vitamin C needed to combat scurvy), sugar cane juice, mint leaves, and aguardiente de caña they had been given by locals.

That last ingredient, the base for the tonic, translates to “firewater of sugar cane.”

Of course, we can argue over whether Drake or someone among his crew decided to create the tonic, or if they were told to so by the locals. I feel the answer is the latter, but I can’t prove my theory.

That said, aguardiente de caña can be considered the progenitor to rum. Dependent on a country’s rules regarding production and aging, aguardiente is the stage before the liquid can be labeled “rum” legally.

There was a time that a cocktail called “El Draque,” supposedly named for Drake, was popular in Cuba. So, where does the name “Mojito” come into the story?

No Concrete Answer

Prepare for a surprise: We don’t know with absolute certainty who named this cocktail, or when it attained its current moniker. This is in stark contrast to our previous Drink Donnybrook, which looks into the history of the Sazerac.

It’s possible, per historians, that African slaves named this drink. It could be tied to the Spanish word mojadito, which translates to “a little wet.” Or, perhaps, the cocktail is named for mojo, a Cuban seasoning with a lime base.

So, we don’t know exactly when the Mojito was invented. We don’t know exactly who invented it. And we don’t know who named it. We don’t even know when rum replaced aguardiente de caña in the recipe.

Even more frustrating is a bit of trivia related to one of the Mojito’s supposed greatest fans.

Supposedly, Earnest Hemingway loved Daiquiris and Mojitos. The following quote is attributed to the legendary writer:

“My Mojito in La Bodeguita and my Daiquiri in El Floridita.”

Allegedly (or allegedlies for my Letterkenny fans), Hemingway wrote that quote on the wall of La Bodeguita del Medio, where he supposedly crushed quite a few Mojitos.

Unfortunately, Hemingway biographers are dubious. They’re not not convinced Hemingway was a regular at La Bodeguita. Nor are they certain that the Mojito was in Hemingway’s cocktail repertoire.

What We Know

Well, I know this: We celebrate this iconic cocktail on July 11, National Mojito Day.

Oh, and we know that this drink holiday falls on a Thursday in 2024.

Of course, we also know that the Mojito is made with rum (now). Further, if you’d like to start an argument, I know that you can either declare the Mojito a member of the Sour, Fizz, or Punch family.

Finally, people around the world know the recipe, which you’ll find below. Cheers!

Mojito

  • 2 oz. White rum
  • 0.75 oz. Fresh-squeezed lime juice
  • 0.5 oz. Cane syrup or simple syrup
  • 10 Fresh mint leaves
  • Soda water to top
  • Mint leaves to garnish
  • Lime wheel or wedges to garnish

In a shaker or mixing glass, muddle the fresh mint leaves and syrup. Add the rum, fresh-squeezed lime juice, and ice. Either shake well or stir until well chilled. Strain into Collins glass over ice, then top with soda water, and garnish. Note: To serve as a swizzle, fill glass with pebble ice, strain the cocktail, gently swizzle, garnish, and serve.

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

Bar Pub Brewery Nightclub Club Nightlife Concept Development

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Fast-food Giant Halts AI Ordering

Fast-food Giant Halts AI Order Taking

by David Klemt

AI-generated image of a caramel sundae surrounded by pats of butter and chicken nuggets

Ironically, this image is AI generated. So, how many pats of butter and nuggies do like with your sundae?

Roughly two years after first experimenting with artificial intelligence-driven ordering technology, McDonald’s is pulling the plug…for now.

The fast-food behemoth made its interest in artificial intelligence abundantly clear in 2019. In Q2 of that year, the company purchased Dynamic Yield for a reported $300 million. Immediately after making the acquisition, McDonald’s implemented Dynamic Yield’s machine-learning tech to an estimated 8,000 drive-thrus.

KRG Hospitality readers may recall that the fast-food company faced a class-action privacy lawsuit in Illinois. The plaintiff alleged that McDonald’s “violated BIPA because it failed to obtain proper consent prior to collecting and disseminating Plaintiff’s and the other class members’ voiceprint biometrics who interacted with its AI voice assistant at its Illinois locations.”

Around six months after making that acquisition, McDonald’s picked up Apprente. Interestingly, the voice-powered ordering tech platform had only been founded in 2017.

Following the purchase, the Apprente team became founding members of McD Tech Labs, a group that fell under the McDonald’s Global Technology Team umbrella. Two years later, McDonald’s would sell McD Tech Labs to IBM.

Put simply, McDonald’s was interested in testing voice-activated “automated order taking” (AOT). In theory, an effective platform could take orders, speeding up drive-thrus and streamlining operations.

Well, it appears that the answer is no. At least, not to the standards of McDonald’s, and satisfaction of the company’s guests.

Speed, Convenience, and Accuracy

A drive-thru needs to be fast. There’s no question about it, that’s the entire point.

The speed, after all, makes a drive-thru convenient. Otherwise, people would just park and place their orders at a counter or kiosk.

However, speed means nothing without accuracy. An LSR, QSR or fast-casual restaurant with a drive-thru could promise a guest will wait in line for no more than ten seconds after ordering. If they don’t get what they ordered, it doesn’t matter.

Poke around social mediaTikTok in particularand you’ll come across some viral AOT moments. There’s the addition of several “butter portions” to an ice cream order. Also, the addition of bacon to an order for ice cream, which I’m not entirely confident I’d correct. At least one guest popping into an AI-powered McDonald’s drive-thru had hundreds of dollars of McNuggets added to their order.

So, by July 26 of this year, as reported by Restaurant Business, the experiment will end. This partnership between McDonald’s and IBM to test AOT will be no more.

However, McDonald’s also said that IBM will remain a partner for other efforts. Further, McDonald’s shutting down AOT (for now) doesn’t seem to have turned other brands off from the idea. Per reporting, IBM says other fast-food chains are inquiring about AOT.

This story makes a few things clear to me. First, McDonald’s is confident that investing in tech is the way forward. They’ve spent hundreds of millions of dollars to test and implement new tech solutions. Second, someone has to go first and test in earnest, and it appears that LSRs and QSRs are leading the charge in hospitality.

And third, AI isn’t ready for prime time just yet. It’s wise to keep up to date with AI-powered innovations, but it’s also smart to be cautious.

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

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Concept Development: Idea to Execution

Restaurant Concept Development: From Idea to Execution

by Nathen Dubé

A street-art-style image of a thought bubble coming from a chef

A big light bulb means a great, big idea is coming.

Creating a restaurant concept is an intricate process that requires blending creativity, an understanding of a given market, and business acumen.

From the initial idea to the grand opening, each step is crucial in ensuring that the restaurant not only stands out in a competitive market but also delivers a memorable dining experience.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the essential stages of restaurant concept development, providing insights and strategies to turn your vision into a thriving reality.

1. Ideation: Craft Your Vision

The journey of developing a restaurant concept begins with a compelling idea. This idea should reflect your passion, culinary expertise, and a clear understanding of your target market.

Below, how to start down the path from vision to reality.

Identify Your Niche

A deep understanding of the niche you want to fill in the market is critical. Are you aiming for a high-end fine dining experience, a casual eatery, a fast-casual concept, or a food truck?

Research current market trends, consumer preferences, and gaps in the market to find your unique angle.

Define Your Concept

Your concept should be a detailed description of your restaurant’s identity. This includes the cuisine, service style, ambiance, target audience, and overall theme.

For example, are you creating a rustic Italian trattoria, a chic urban sushi bar, or a family-friendly diner?

Create a Vision Statement

A vision statement is a concise description of what you want your restaurant to achieve, and how it will stand out. This statement will guide your decisions throughout the development process.

2. Market Research: Understanding the Landscape

Thorough market research is essential to validate your concept and refine your strategy. This step involves analyzing the competitive landscape, understanding customer preferences, and identifying potential challenges.

Analyze Competitors

Visit and analyze restaurants that could be considered competitors. Evaluate their strengths and weaknesses, menu offerings, pricing strategies, and guest experience.

Understanding what works and what doesn’t can help you position your restaurant effectively.

Understand Your Target Audience

Identify your target demographic in terms of age, income, lifestyle, and dining preferences. Conduct surveys, focus groups, and interviews to gather insights into what will attract and resonate with your guests.

Evaluate Location Options

Location is a critical factor in the success of a restaurant. Analyze different locations based on foot traffic, accessibility, visibility, and proximity to competitors. Consider the demographics of the area to ensure they align with your target audience.

3. Business Planning: Laying the Foundation

A well-crafted business plan is essential for securing funding and guiding the execution of your restaurant concept. It should outline your strategy, financial projections, and operational plan.

Executive Summary

Provide a concise overview of your restaurant concept, including the vision statement, target market, and unique selling proposition (USP).

Market Analysis

Summarize your market research, including competitor analysis, target audience insights, and location evaluation.

Marketing Strategy

Detail how you plan to attract and retain customers. This includes branding, advertising, promotions, and social media strategies.

Operational Plan

Describe your restaurant’s daily operations, including staff roles and responsibilities, supplier relationships, and inventory management.

Financial Projections

Provide detailed financial projections, including startup costs, operating expenses, revenue forecasts, and break-even analysis. This section should also include funding requirements, and potential sources of financing.

4. Branding and Design: Creating an Identity

Your restaurant’s brand and design play a crucial role in attracting guests, and creating a memorable dining experience.

This step involves developing your brand identity, designing the physical space, and creating marketing materials.

Develop Your Brand Identity

Your brand identity includes your restaurant’s name, logo, color scheme, typography, and overall visual style. Ensure that it reflects your concept and appeals to your target audience.

Design the Interior and Exterior

Work with architects and interior designers to create a space that reflects your concept and enhances the dining experience.

Consider factors such as layout, seating arrangements, lighting, and décor. The exterior should be inviting and reflect the brand’s identity.

Create Marketing Materials

Develop a website, social media profiles, menus, and promotional materials that align with your brand. High-quality photography and compelling content are essential for attracting customers and creating a strong online presence.

5. Menu Development: Crafting Culinary Offerings

The menu is the heart of your restaurant concept. It should reflect your vision, appeal to your target audience, and be feasible to execute consistently.

Design a Balanced Menu

Create a menu that offers a variety of dishes that reflect your concept. Ensure a balance of flavors, textures, and price points.

Consider dietary restrictions and preferences to cater to a diverse customer base.

Cost and Pricing

Accurately cost each menu item to ensure profitability. Consider ingredient costs, portion sizes, and preparation time.

Set prices that reflect the value of your offerings while remaining competitive in the market.

Test and Refine

Conduct taste tests and gather feedback from potential guests, industry professionals, and staff. Use this feedback to refine your dishes and ensure they meet your quality standards.

6. Staffing and Training: Building Your Team

Your staff is a crucial component of your restaurant’s success. Hiring the right team and providing comprehensive training ensures a consistent and high-quality dining experience.

Hire Skilled Staff

Recruit chefs, servers, bartenders, and other staff who have the skills and experience needed to execute your concept. Look for individuals who are passionate about your vision and have a strong work ethic.

Develop Training Programs

Create comprehensive training programs that cover everything from food preparation and presentation to customer service and safety protocols. Regular training sessions and evaluations help maintain high standards.

Foster a Positive Culture

Encourage a positive and collaborative work environment. Recognize and reward outstanding performance, and address issues promptly to maintain morale and productivity.

7. Marketing and Promotion: Attracting Customers

Effective marketing and promotion are essential for attracting customers and building a loyal guest base. This involves both online and offline strategies to generate buzz and drive traffic.

Leverage Social Media

Use social media platforms to showcase your restaurant’s unique offerings, engage with potential customers, and build a community. Share high-quality photos, behind-the-scenes content, and promotions to attract and retain followers.

Collaborate with Influencers

Partner with local influencers and food bloggers to reach a wider audience. Inviting them to dine at your restaurant and share their experiences can generate valuable word-of-mouth promotion.

Host Events and Promotions

Organize events such as soft openings, tastings, and special promotions to generate excitement and attract customers.

Consider loyalty programs and discounts to encourage repeat visits.

Public Relations

Reach out to local media outlets and food critics to secure coverage of your restaurant. Positive reviews and features can significantly boost your visibility and credibility.

8. Execution: Bringing Your Concept to Life

The final step is the execution of your concept.

This involves managing the logistics of opening day, ensuring a smooth operation, and continually refining your approach based on feedback and performance.

Prepare for Opening Day

Ensure that all permits and licenses are in place, staff are trained, and inventory is stocked.

Conduct a soft opening to test your operations and make any necessary adjustments.

Monitor Operations

Regularly evaluate your restaurant’s performance, including customer feedback, financial metrics, and operational efficiency. Use this data to identify areas for improvement and implement changes as needed.

Stay Adaptable

The restaurant industry is dynamic, and trends can change quickly. Stay informed about industry developments and be willing to adapt your concept to meet evolving customer preferences and market conditions.

Conclusion

Restaurant concept development is a multifaceted process that requires careful planning, creativity, and execution.

Following these steps to guide your vision and transform it into a brick-and-mortar reality. Doing so will give you the strongest chance to create a restaurant that stands out in the market, and that delivers a memorable dining experience.

Remember, the key to success lies in a clear vision, thorough research, strategic planning, and a commitment to excellence.

Embrace the journey, learn from each step, and watch your restaurant concept come to life, delighting diners and making a lasting impact in the culinary world.

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

KRG Hospitality. Restaurant Business Plan. Feasibility Study. Concept. Branding. Consultant. Start-Up.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The 2024 Spirited Awards: Top 4 Finalists

The 2024 Spirited Awards: Top 4 Finalists

by David Klemt

AI-generated image of the Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award on top of a bar, next to a cocktail

This is what Shutterstock’s AI think a Spirited Award looks like. At least the spelling is accurate.

We’re excited to share the top finalists in each of the 2024 Spirited Awards categories, announced by the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation.

It’s a monumental task to come up with the top-ten nominees, I’m certain. So, I can only imagine what it’s like to remove six well-deserving nominees from each category.

As regular readers of KRG Hospitality probably know by now, I do have a bit of bias for venues and industry pros in Las Vegas, New Orleans, Chicago, and basically the entirety of Canada. The same can be said for Bar Hacks podcast guests.

However, I’m just excited to see such amazing people, venues, and outlets receive Spirited Awards recognition. This time around, I’ll keep my bar biases to myself.

With that said, we do know four of this year’s recipients already. We’ll learn who took home the rest of the awards on Thursday, July 25.

Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award presented by William Grant & Sons
  • Hidetsugu Ueno
Timeless International Award presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation
  • Café Pacifico — London, UK
Timeless U.S. Award presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation
  • The Buena Vista — San Francisco, CA
Tales Visionary Award Presented by Johnnie Walker
  • Colin Asare-Appiah

Congratulations to the winners above, and cheers to the finalists below!

US Categories

US Bartender of the Year presented by Pernod Ricard

  • McLain Hedges — Yacht Club, Denver, CO
  • Christine Kim — Service Bar, Washington, D.C.
  • Kapri Robinson — Allegory, Washington, D.C.
  • Masa Urushido — Katana Kitten, New York, NY

Best US Bar Mentor presented Jameson Irish Whiskey

  • Anu Apte
  • Jason Asher
  • Kate Gerwin
  • Alex Jump

Best US Brand Ambassador presented Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Tad Carducci — Gruppo Montenegro
  • Benny Hurwitz — Campari American Whiskeys
  • Anna Mains — Monkey Shoulder
  • Natasha Sofia — Mijenta Tequila

Best US Bar Team presented by William Grant & Sons

  • Century Grand — Phoenix, AZ
  • Jewel of the South — New Orleans, LA
  • Pacific Cocktail Haven — San Francisco, CA
  • Service Bar — Washington, D.C.

Best US Cocktail Bar presented by Del Maguey Mezcal

  • Double Chicken Please — New York, NY
  • Happy Accidents — Albuquerque, NM
  • Overstory — New York, NY
  • Yacht Club — Denver, CO

Best US Hotel Bar presented by Grey Goose

  • Allegory at the Eaton Hotel — Washington, D.C.
  • Little Rituals at the Residence Inn/Courtyard by Marriott — Phoenix, AZ
  • Pacific Standard at the KEX Portland — Portland, OR
  • The Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt New Orleans — New Orleans, LA

Best US Restaurant Bar presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Cleaver – Butchered Meats, Seafood & Classic Cocktails — Las Vegas, NV
  • Jaguar Sun — Miami, FL
  • Kumiko — Chicago, IL
  • Palomar — Portland, OR

Best New US Cocktail Bar presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • Cobra — Columbus, OH
  • Medium Cool Cocktail Lounge — Miami Beach, FL
  • Paradise Lost — New York, NY
  • Superbueno — New York, NY

International Categories

International Bartender of the Year presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Lorenzo Antinori — Bar Leone, Hong Kong, China
  • Kate Boushel — Atwater Cocktail Club, Milky Way Cocktail Bar, Bon Délire, Montreal, QC, Canada
  • Eric van Beek — Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City, Mexico
  • Luke Whearty — BYRDI, Melbourne, Australia

Best International Bar Mentor presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Ryan Chetiyawardana
  • Iain McPherson
  • Danil Nevsky
  • Christina Veira

Best International Brand Ambassador presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Claudia Cabrera — Fratelli Branca
  • Jesse Estes —Tequila Ocho
  • Caitlin Hill — Rémy Cointreau
  • Dave Mitton — Lot 40 / J.P. Wiser’s

Best International Bar Team presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Handshake Speakeasy — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Hanky Panky — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Jigger & Pony at the Amara Hotel — Singapore
  • Panda & Sons — Edinburgh, Scotland

Best International Cocktail Bar presented by PATRÓN Tequila

  • 🔶🟥🔵— London, UK
  • ALQUÍMICO — Cartagena des Indias, Colombia
  • Handshake Speakeasy — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Satan’s Whiskers — London, UK

Best International Hotel Bar presented by Fords Gin

  • ARGO at the Four Seasons — Hong Kong, China
  • BKK Social Club at Four Seasons Bangkok — Bangkok, Thailand
  • Charles H. at the Four Seasons Hotel — Seoul, South Korea
  • Side Hustle at The NoMad Hotel London — London, UK

Best International Restaurant Bar presented by Gin Mare

  • ARCA Tulum — Tulum, Mexico
  • Bar Kismet — Halifax, NS, Canada
  • Burnt Ends Bar — Singapore
  • Danico — Paris, France

Best New International Cocktail Bar presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • Bar Leone — Hong Kong, China
  • Bar Nouveau — Paris, France
  • Bar Us — Bangkok, Thailand
  • Cat Bite Club — Singapore

Global Categories

Best New Spirit or Cocktail Ingredient presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Don Fulano 20th Anniversary Añejo
  • J. Rieger & Co. Monogram Whiskey 2023 Kansas City Whiskey – Solera Reserve
  • Worthy Park 109
  • YUZUCO Yuzu Super Juice

World’s Best Cocktail Menu presented by Diageo Bar Academy

  • Allegory at the Eaton Hotel — Washington, D.C.
  • ALQUÍMICO — Cartagena des Indias, Colombia
  • Handshake Speakeasy — Mexico City, Mexico
  • Jigger & Pony at the Amara Hotel — Singapore

World’s Best Spirits Selection presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Baba Au Rum — Athens, Greece
  • Eleven Madison Park — New York, NY
  • Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library — Portland, OR
  • Origin Bar at the Shangri-La Hotel — Singapore

Writing & Media Categories

Best Cocktail & Spirits Publication presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • CLASS magazine
  • SevenFifty Daily
  • The Cocktail Lovers
  • The Spirits Business

Best Broadcast, Podcast, or Online Video Series presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Bartender At Large
  • Like•a•ble Cocktails by Kaitlyn
  • Perspectives by Campari Academy
  • Radio Imbibe

Best Cocktail & Spirits Writing presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • “A New Spirit Confronts the Consequences of Colonialism,” by Adaorah Oduah, for Punch
  • “Facing Rum’s Problematic Past Is Allowing Producers to Embrace the Spirit’s Future,” by Christine Sismondo, for Imbibe
  • “Indigenous Women Working in Mezcal Are Ready to Be Recognized for Their Work,” by Shayna Conde, for Wine Enthusiast
  • “Meet the People Keeping Queer Bars Safe,” by Rax Will, for Punch

Best New Cocktail or Bartending Book presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • Slow Drinks: A Field Guide to Foraging and Fermenting Seasonal Sodas, Botanical Cocktails, Homemade Wines, and More by Danny Childs
  • The Book of Cocktail Ratios: The Surprising Simplicity of Classic Cocktails by Michael Ruhlman
  • The Ice Book: Cool Cubes, Clear Spheres, and Other Chill Cocktail Crafts by Camper English
  • TROPICAL STANDARD: Cocktail Techniques and Reinvented Recipes by Garret Richard & Ben Schaffer

Best New Book on Drinks Culture, History, or Spirits presented by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

  • How to Taste: A Guide to Discovering Flavor and Savoring Life by Mandy Naglich
  • ICE: From Mixed Drinks to Skating Rinks–a Cool History of a Hot Commodity by Amy Brady
  • Juke Joints, Jazz Clubs, and Juice: A Cocktail Recipe Book Cocktails from Two Centuries of African American Cookbooks by Toni Tipton-Martin
  • The Maison Premiere Almanac Cocktails, Oysters, Absinthe, and Other Essential Nutrients for the Sensualist, Aesthete, and Flaneur: A Cocktail Recipe Book by Joshua Boissy, Krystof Zizka, Jordan Mackay, William Eilliott

TALES OF THE COCKTAIL FOUNDATION ANNOUNCES 2024 SPIRITED AWARDS® TOP FOUR FINALISTS

The 18th annual Spirited Awards® celebrates global excellence in the drinks industry and recognizes professionals, organizations, and establishments shaping the cocktail community

NEW ORLEANS, LA (June 17, 2024) — Tales of the Cocktail Foundation (TOTCF) is honored to announce the Top Four Finalists for the 18th annual Spirited Awards®. Since its founding in 2007, the Spirited Awards® has become one of the industry’s most revered awards, recognizing beverage professionals, products, and establishments across every facet of the spirits and cocktail community on a global scale. In partnership with Forbes, the Spirited Awards® official media partner, TOTCF will honor recipients during the Tales of the Cocktail® (TOTC) conference, which is celebrating its 22nd-year in New Orleans from July 21-26, 2024.

The Spirited Awards® are comprised of industry accolades, both domestic and international, writing and media awards, and overall awards that transcend regionality, including World’s Best Cocktail Bar and World’s Best Cocktail Menu. Today, Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is proud to announce the Top Four finalists of each category, in addition to the recipients of the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award, Timeless U.S. and International Awards, and the Tales Visionary Award. The awards categories spotlight a range of talent from bartenders, journalists, brand ambassadors, and industry luminaries, to brands and media, to ensure each aspect of the industry is represented and recognized for its incomparable contributions.

“It is with immense pleasure that we celebrate those propelling the cocktail industry forward and amplifying their craft within their respective communities,” said Charlotte Voisey, Spirited Awards® Overall Chair. “We are honored to announce our Top Four Finalists for the 2024 Spirited Awards and recognize the incredibly talented individuals receiving the Helen David Lifetime Achievement Award, Timeless U.S. and International Awards, and the Tales Visionary Award. Their love-affair with hospitality and dedication to advancing the industry is awe-inspiring. We are excited to celebrate and honor them at the 18th annual Spirited Awards.”

[See above for the top-four finalists in each category.]

The 18th Annual Spirited Awards® Ceremony

The 18th annual Spirited Awards® Ceremony will be celebrated on July 25, 2024, at the Fillmore New Orleans. For those who are interested in attending the Spirited Awards®, two tiers of tickets are now available – Spirited Awards® Ceremony Side Seating and Spirited Awards® Ceremony Stadium Seating. Additional information and to purchase tickets, please visit the Spirited Awards® website.

Spirited Awards® Judges

Below is a list of Spirited Awards® Chairs, responsible for overseeing the judging process this year:

  • Spirited Awards® Overall Chair
    • Charlotte Voisey
  • Asia Pacific Co-Chairs
    • Sam Bygrave
    • Andrew Ho
    • Symphony Loo
    • Charmaine Thio
  • Canada Co-Chairs
    • Kate Boushel
    • Jonathan Smolensky
  • Europe Co-Chairs
    • Stephanie Jordan
    • Roberta Mariani
  • Latin America & Caribbean Co-Chairs
    • Carlos Aguinsky
    • Georgina Barbachano García
  • Middle East & Africa Co-Chairs
    • Stephen “KOJO” Aidoo
    • Caitlin Hill
    • Nana Sechere
  • U.S. Central Co-Chairs
    • Joshua Gandee
    • Lynn M. House
  • U.S. East Co-Chairs
    • Jackson Cannon
    • Jaymee Mandeville
  • U.S. West Co-Chairs
    • Jason Asher
    • Erin Schaeferle
  • Timeless Co-Chairs
    • Jared Brown
    • Anistatia Miller
  • Writing & Media Co-Chairs
    • Ryan Chetiyawardana
    • Emma Janzen
    • Sandrae Lawrence

Spirited Awards® judges are a collection of respected bartenders, bar owners, educators, and writers from across the globe entrusted with this critical calling. Drawing on their years of experience and their knowledge of the current work being done locally, nationally, and internationally, together the judges can evaluate nominees from far and wide to ensure that the Spirited Awards® represents the breadth and diversity of the global drinks industry.

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation’s Spirited Awards® Committee is dedicated to valuing the inclusion of the communities the foundation serves, by ensuring that our judging panel reflects their incredible diversity in terms of race, gender, ethnicity, and sexuality. Recognizing that inclusion is key to a well-represented committee, TOTCF strives to ensure that we have an equitable representation of gender across the judging panel. The Spirited Awards® are not based on popular vote and all nominations are evaluated by their respective judging committees.

Spirited Awards® Directory

Tales of the Cocktail is pleased to share the Spirited Awards® Directory giving discerning imbibers a comprehensive compendium of all Spirited Awards® winners and nominees from the past 18 years. This resource is updated annually, making it a go-to guide for planning the perfect drinking and dining itinerary. Access Spirited Awards® Directory to explore award-winning bars.

A Special Thanks: Spirited Awards® Sponsors

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation would like to thank all of its Spirited Awards® sponsors: Del Maguey Mezcal, Diageo Bar Academy, Fords Gin, G. H. Mumm Champagne, Gin Mare, Grey Goose, House of Lustau, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Johnnie Walker, Lyre’s Non-Alcoholic, PATRÓN Tequila, Pernod Ricard, and William Grant & Sons.

To follow along for additional information on the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation, please visit the website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

About Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is a non-profit organization that educates, advances, and supports the global hospitality industry and creates lasting impact in our host communities. Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is the global leader in spirits education and a platform to tackle issues facing the industry. The pillars of the Foundation are to Educate, Advance, and Support the hospitality industry through programs that benefit individuals and organizations in the community and to make a lasting impact in communities that host our events.

About Forbes

Forbes champions success by celebrating those who have made it, and those who aspire to make it. Forbes convenes and curates the most influential leaders and entrepreneurs who are driving change, transforming business and making a significant impact on the world. The Forbes brand today reaches more than 140 million people worldwide through its trusted journalism, signature LIVE and Forbes Virtual events, custom marketing programs and 42 licensed local editions in 68 countries. Forbes Media’s brand extensions include real estate, education and financial services license agreements.

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

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Drink Donnybrook: The Sazerac

Drink Donnybrook: The Sazerac

by David Klemt

A Sazerac cocktail on a counter inside a rustic apothecary shop

That’s quite a full Sazerac, but I’m more interested in what this particular AI platform thinks that powder next to the cocktail is…

We celebrate the Sazerac, nearly 200 years old and known to many as America’s first cocktail, on Sazerac Cocktail Day, which falls on a Sunday this year.

Refreshingly, we know who should credit for its creation. Further, we can trace it back to a year, and even a location.

In that regard, this won’t be like other Drink Donnybrook articles. The only bold, debate-inducing claims I can really make relate to the base spirit, year of creation, and that my first-ever Sazerac was awful. Oddly, this less-than-stellar Sazerac was made for me at an incredibly popular bar in New Orleans.

Well, sometimes bartenders have off days. I’ve been back to that bar, and had a great time with a great Sazerac. It’s absinthe under the bridge.

Speaking of absinthe, that anise-flavored spirit is a core element of this classic cocktail. Much like some people say “No Negroni without Campari,” there’s no Sazerac without an absinthe rinse.

Now, onto the base of this legendary drink. While bartenders have been making it with rye whiskey for decades, the original recipe calls for Cognac. More specifically, it was made with Sazerac de Forge & Fils. Voilathe drink bears the name of the brandy used at its creation. (Hey, speaking of brandy, check out my Donnybrook article about the Brandy Alexander.)

Cold water, an ice cube, and Peychaud’s bitters round out the ingredients list for a Sazerac. And it’s that last item that reveals the drink’s creator.

The Official Cocktail of New Orleans

Roughly a decade into the 1800s, Antoine Peychaud arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana. Reliable records are a bit difficult to come by, so we don’t know his precise arrival date.

However, historians seem confident that Peychaud did open an apothecary in New Orleans in 1832. (According to one source I came across, Pharmacie Peychaud was opened in 1841.) The next time you’re in NOLA, you can visit the location of said apothecary: 437 Royal Street. Originally, the address was 123 Royal Street. Today, it’s the home of James H. Cohen Antique Weapons & Rare Coins. It’s a fun spot to pop into, by the way.

As you’re likely well aware, apothecaries were precursors to pharmacists and chemists. They served their communities from ye olde apothecary shoppes, and their medicine often consisted of alcohol.

Peychaud crafted his namesake bitters and used them to create an elixir that treated his customers’ illnesses. That medicinal elixir would become the Sazerac. Again, this potion was made with Sazerac de Forge & Fils Cognac, absinthe, and Peychaud’s bitters.

Intriguingly (to me), the Sazerac Housea must-see attraction in NOLAclaims the Sazerac became famous in the 1850s at the Sazerac Coffee House. So, it could’ve taken the Sazerac 20 years to evolve from medicine to cocktail.

On the topic of cocktails, some people attribute Peychaud with inventing the word “cocktail.” Many historians have labeled this claim as false.

Over time, it became difficult to source the cocktail’s eponymous brandy, so the recipe changed to rye whiskey. Some bartenders craft their Sazeracs with other spirits, and will even split their bases. For example, you should try a Sazerac made with a split base of Cognac and rye.

Original Sazerac

Behold, the original Sazerac cocktail recipe.

  • 2 oz. Sazerac de Forge & Fils Cognac
  • 3 to 4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 0.5 teaspoon Cold water
  • 1 Sugar cube
  • Absinthe, to rinse
  • Lemon peel, to garnish

You’ll want to have chilled rocks glasses on hand for this cocktail. To start, rinse the glass with absinthe. In a mixing glass, muddle the bitters, water, and sugar cube. Add ice and the Cognac to the mixing glass, and stir until well chilled. Strain, garnish, and serve.

As stated earlier, most modern-day recipes call for rye whiskey rather than Cognac. Experiment with basesincluding splitsto craft your signature Sazerac.

In 2008, lawmakers in Louisiana passed legislation that made the Sazerac the Official Cocktail of New Orleans. Sazerac Cocktail Day is on June 23, which falls on a Sunday in 2024. Cheers!

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

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FAST Act Fallout far from Finished

FAST Act Fallout far from Finished

by David Klemt

A frustrated cartoon slice of pizza carrying a suitcase and leaving the state of California

Have you ever seen a more frustrated slice of pizza in your life? I doubt it.

The battle over the implementation of California’s FAST Act appears to be heating up further, with multiple parties attempting to land blows on one another.

Depending on the source, the Golden State’s fast-food minimum-wage hike to $20 per hour is either killing jobs or adding them. One side says that limited-service and quick-service restaurants have shed nearly 10,000 jobs since Governor Gavin Newsom signed the FAST Act into law.

On the other side, proponents are pointing to data the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released recently to paint the situation in a better light. According to this data, LSRs in California added 4,500 jobs between September of last year and April of this year.

However, those unhappy with the FAST Act have downplayed this net gain in fast-food jobs. According to reports, that increase in jobs represents a recurring seasonal trend. Further, some sources claim that the data showing a gain in jobs includes restaurants other than LSRs, so the information is being spun to look positive.

One group is so unhappy with Gov. Newsom’s implementation of the FAST Act, they released an obituary-style ad to make their grievance known.

“In Memoriam”

Below, a social media post displaying the “in memoriam” ad from the California Business and Industrial Alliance (CABIA).

The full-page ad is available for viewing here.

Jonathan Maze, editor-in-chief of Restaurant Business, also spoke out against California’s $20 minimum wage for fast-food workers.

During an appearance on FOX & Friends First, Maze addressed how the state handled the pay hike.

“You’ve got two issues, really. You have the fact that it was done almost overnight,” said Maze. “You have the fact that it was a 25-percent increase in the wage rate. Both of those things happening simultaneously, is a really hard thing for restaurants’ bottom line, and you’re seeing the effects of it.”

Brand Relocation

In a development that won’t assuage Gov. Newsom’s critics, a California-born fast-food brand has announced it’s leaving the state.

Blaze Pizza, which opened its first location in Irvine, California, in 2012, has announced the relocation of its headquarters to Atlanta, Georgia. Currently, the brand’s headquarters is located in Pasadena. The move will take place later this year, and it’s not expected to impact the company’s roughly 7,500 employees.

It will, however, impact Blaze Pizza’s taxes. Moving to Atlanta will reduce the QSR’s corporate tax rate by at least a third.

This begs a couple questions: Is this simply a business-savvy move that will reduce Blaze’s taxes and allow it to allocate more resources to further the brand’s growth? Or did the brand analyze the FAST Act’s impact on its bottom line and decide to flee the state for greener pastures?

One can argue the situation is closer to the former than the latter, as Blaze has stated that store-level employees won’t be impacted by the reorganization.

But on the other side of the coin, one can argue the move to Atlanta is a direct response to FAST. Cutting taxes by a third (if not more) may help Blaze avoid restaurant-level job cuts or store closures.

Messy

One thing is mostly clear regarding California and the FAST Act: the situation, so far, is messy.

The tendency is usually to say that as things play out, data will tell the tale. Unfortunately, as this situation is showing us, that’s not always the case. Data is being spun to support agendas.

One thing I’ll say is that I’m happy some fast-food workers’ lives are improving. Or, at least their wages have gotten better. But, of course, if their employers are cutting hours or eventually closing stores, is that improvement sustainable?

And then there are the guests. Reports appear to indicate that more and more Americans now perceive fast food to be a luxury. That doesn’t bode well for LSRs and QSRs in California in particular, nor for fast-food operators across the US.

This situation is complex, with many factors impacting California’s restaurant workers, operators, and guests. We likely won’t know the true impact of the FAST Act until the end of this year, at the earliest.

Other states looking at implementing similar measures should keep their eyes trained on California before moving forward. Legislators need to meet and actually listen to independent and chain operators, along with people representing the workers in good faith.

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

KRG Hospitality. Restaurant Business Plan. Feasibility Study. Concept. Branding. Consultant. Start-Up.

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Try, Try Again: Creating Positive Habits

Try, Try Again: Creating Positive Habits

by Jennifer Radkey

Two people jogging through a city at sunrise, going in opposite directions

It turns out that some AI platforms aren’t good at telling time, so instead of an image of an alarm clock, here’s the 5 A.M. Club going for a jog.

Ever wonder why some people seem to effortlessly achieve their goals while others struggle? It’s all about the habits they have cultivated.

We all have great intentions to practice healthy habits that are good for our body, mind, and soul…but we face roadblocks in committing to them.

Do any of these thoughts sound familiar?

  • “How does she have the time to workout, run a business, take care of her family, and have hobbies? She must be part of that 5 A.M. Club. I could never do that; I’m not a morning person.”
  • “I wish I could post to social media daily. I know I could reach more potential customers if I do. I don’t know how to come up with that much content though.”
  • “I want to feel stronger. My friend has started strength training, and he seems so much more confident and happier, but I’m a cardio person.”
  • “I wish I could take a few courses, but I don’t have time for that.”

All of the statements above have one thing in common: They have already given up before even trying.

There’s a wish to become better at something, and then there’s an immediate shut down.

Here’s the thingyou don’t know that a habit will work for you or not until you try it.

You Have to Work at It

Experience eclipses all for learning about yourself. You tell yourself that you aren’t a morning person and you can never wake up at 5 a.m. But until you try it…how do you know that?

Developing new habits takes time and commitment. If you’re serious about making changes to your life and you know that certain habits will help you achieve that goal faster, you owe it to yourself to try.

On average it can take at least two months to actually form a new habit. Trying something for a week and deciding it’s not for you doesn’t do you, your goals, or the habit proper justice. Give things time.

If, after several weeks, you feel that the change really isn’t for you, no problem! At least you’ll know that it doesn’t work from experience, not from your limiting beliefs.

The same advice applies to your team. If you’re trying to encourage daily habits in the work environment, it’s going to take time before everyone’s consistently participating.

Yes, they’re going to need daily and weekly reminders. Yes, it’s going to take more than a week or two. If the habit you’re trying to implement will create a more efficient, successful business, it deserves time and commitment from you.

Mindset is contagious, just as action and inaction are contagious. If you want your team to adopt a new habit, you and your leadership team must show up and participate in the habit as well.

Make it positive. Demonstrate the value of doing it. Have patience while your team practices the new habit.

Positive habits are the powerhouses behind personal and professional success. By consistently doing small things, you can create a ripple effect of positive change.

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

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

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Emerging Trend: Cicada Skewer, Anyone?

Emerging Trend: Cicada Skewer, Anyone?

by David Klemt

Cartoon image of an anthropomorphic cicada wearing a toque and holding a pot

Need a cicada tattoo? Here ya go!

Two broods of cicadas, numbering in the trillions of insects, have been emerging throughout the US, and this may present operators with opportunity.

Brood XIII is emerging throughout the Midwest, while Brood XIX is making their presence known in the Midwest and Southeast.

I think it’s clear where I’m going with this: operators can put cicadas on their menus.

This suggestion comes with a few crucial caveats:

  • Harvesting must be done with care, and in safe areas.
  • The preparation must ensure guests can handle and consume the cicadas safely.
  • Operators must do their due diligence to make certain that preparing and serving cicadas is permitted in their venue’s jurisdiction.

With that out of the way, eating cicadas isn’t as unusual as it sounds. According to experts on the subject, people have been eating cicadas for centuries.

It’s likely anyone reading this has heard over the years that some insects are excellent sources of protein. Well, according to people who know more about eating bugs than I, this applies to cicadas. I’ve eaten a scorpion (not a live one) but it wasn’t prepared to make it delicious or even palatable, so…I’m no expert. (For those wondering, it was dry, mostly flavorless, and I didn’t enjoy it.)

Since there are people out there who know about these things, and because the internet exists, I dug into the topic of eating cicadas. I’m not telling anyone they need to put these on their menu, of course. But for those who are curious and enterprising enough to do so, what I’ve learned is below.

Harvesting

If an operator’s going to bring cicadas into theirr business, they need to be smart and careful about it, and do so within the bounds of the law.

The source area should be free from pesticides. Along those lines, the cicadas need to come from an area free of other contaminants.

From what I found online, one of the best approaches is to venture to places that don’t see much traffic. This should reduce the possibility of guests consuming harmful chemicals.

Think about it: If someone’s just grabbing cicadas out of a busy neighborhood or within a commercial or industrial area, the critters may have been subjected to lead, fertilizers, unsafe fluids, gasoline, diesel, etc.

But what about actually catching them? Well, there’s more than one approach. One can either hunt them quite early in the morning, when they’ve emerged and are starting to climb trees or tree stumps. Or, they can try an hour or two after dark, looking around the lower part of tree trunks and stumps. Cicadas with white wings are in their teneral state, which means they’re soft.

Another tip? The exoskeletons aren’t pleasant. So, some experts suggest waiting for them to molt before grabbing them. Most sources I foundI think I’ve read too much about this topicrecommended freezing cicada hauls immediately.

I’ll add this, as well. Operators who know foragers in their area of business can check in with them to see if they’re harvesting cicadas. Again, operators need to find out as much as they can about where the cicadas come from, how they’re being harvested, etc.

Preparation

While researching this topic, cooking cicadas before consuming them was a constant refrain. Eating them raw is viewed as not worth the risk of making one’s self sick.

Anyone still reading this and considering putting cicadas on their menu must keep the guest experience in mind. Sure, this is an adventurous, gimmicky thing to try. It still needs to be memorable and enjoyable.

So, serving cicadas that haven’t been “shelled” should be avoided. Further, the wings and legs should be removed as these can be very hard and unpleasant in terms of mouthfeel.

Along with not eating them raw, experts also want people to wash cicadas thoroughly before cooking them. In fact, I’m going to go ahead and opine that operators and their kitchen teams handle cicadas as though they’re raw chicken. Behave accordingly and responsibly.

A couple sources suggested blanching cicadas in boiling water for at least a minute, then freezing them until it’s time to prepare them.

When it comes to actually cooking them, it seems the sky’s the limit. Boil them, fry them, air fry them, grill them, roast them…

KRG Hospitality’s very own chef-consultant, Nathen Dubé, has a couple of suggestions for operators to consider.

First off, he suggests battering and frying cicadas. Serve them with a lime aioli “to play off the earthy asparagus and green pea flavour of the cicadas.”

Nathen also recommends skewering cicadas and grilling them over charcoal. Brush the cicadas with a soy-ginger-scallion sauce continuously “to play off the natural nutty flavour.” You can read culinary articles from Nathen here, here, and here.

I don’t know if Brood XIII and Brood XIX taste differently, or which is nutty and which is earthy. So, operators are going to have to try them to find out.

Caution

Multiple sources warn that cicadas can be unsafe for people with shellfish allergies.

So, people who are allergic to shrimp, for example, probably shouldn’t eat cicadas. Owners, operators, kitchen team, and servers and bartenders need to know this, and caution guests appropriately.

Another important warning? Cicadas can, it turns out, be high in mercury. This means that women who are pregnant or lactating, and young children, should either limit how many cicadas they consume or avoid them altogether.

Lastly, I did look up the safe minimum internal temperature for cicadas. Supposedly, that temperature is 145 degrees Fahrenheit.

As far as pricing, I’ll put this here: I found an online source selling a tin of five cicada nymphs for $13. Also, a restaurant that creates a buffet-style, bug-eating experience charges about $17 per adult.

Putting cicadas on the menu can be a lucrative opportunity to drive traffic and engage with guests. However, preparation and service must be done legally and responsibly.

Disclaimers: 1. This content is for informational purposes only, and should not be used as legal or other advice. This article does not constitute professional advice, nor does any information constitute a comprehensive or complete statement of the matters discussed, the law, or liability. This information is of a general nature and does not address the circumstances of a specific individual or entity. The reader of this information alone assumes the sole responsibility of evaluating the merits and risks associated with the use of any information before making any decisions based on such information. 2. The image at the top of this article was generated by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) system.

Image: Shutterstock.

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Happy Hundredth to the Caesar Salad!

Happy Hundredth to the Caesar Salad!

by David Klemt

AI-generated image of a Caesar salad in a bowl on a table with a birthday cake on top of it

AI generated some truly unhinged abominations before creating this image.

In about a month you and your kitchen team have the opportunity to pull out all the stops and celebrate an iconic menu item with your guests.

Whereas it’s often difficult to impossible, in contrast, to trace the origins of classic cocktails, we know much of the history of this particular dish. Driven by a restaurant in Tijuana, the Caesar salad will receive recognition on its hundredth “birthday” on July 4.

Or, more accurately, Caesar’s Restaurante Bar is planning a festival to celebrate the salad during the first week of July.

Given the attention this festival is receiving, savvy operators can also plan promotions around the Caesar salad.

Origins: Known

First, let’s get one of the greatest misconceptions surround this salad out of the way. No, it’s not named for Julius Caesar.

Next, let’s dispel another myth. No, the Caesar salad wasn’t around in Rome during Caesar’s reign. Well over two thousand years separate his five-year rule and the creation of this salad.

Rather, the salad carries the name, quite simply, of its creator, Cesare Cardini.

In 1913, Cardini traveled to New York City, and then headed to Montréal. He would return to Italy eventually, then come back to the US in 1919.

Before heading to Tijuana, Cardini ran at least one restaurant in Sacramento. Per reporting, he chose Tijuanawhere he operated several restaurants and a hotelto get around Prohibition.

Cardini’s daughter Rosa shared the salad’s story in 1987 with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. According to Rosa, an overwhelming number of guests arrived at her father’s hotel a hundred years ago. Of course, these guests also slammed the restaurant.

Cardini didn’t have enough fresh veggies to feed everyone, so he chose to improvise. Part of that improvisation was putting on a performance, preparing the first-ever Caesar salad in the dining room in front of the guests.

So, tableside is the traditional, original preparation, an interesting detail.

More Misconceptions

The Caesar, in its original preparation, consists of a handful of specific ingredients. Cardini used romaine hearts, eggs, lemons, Worcestershire sauce, garlic-infused oil, Parmesan cheese, salt, and croutons.

However, per Rosa, it’s not just the namesake of the salad and its country of origin that people get incorrect. You’ll notice that anchovies aren’t among the ingredients. Neither are mayonnaise or Dijon mustard. And as far as the finer details, Rosa told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin that her father didn’t use raw eggs. Instead, they had been coddled, or boiled for one minute.

Another mistake for which Rosa expressed her disdain is tableside preppers putting all of the ingredients into a bowl at the same time to toss them. There’s a proper order, and you’ll find it at the bottom of this article.

Finally, Rosa noted that the appropriate method of tossing the romaine hearts is to use a gentle, under-over rolling technique. This approach prevents bruising of the leaves when done correctly.

Now, guests visiting bars and restaurants in America will have expectations on the Fourth of July. It’s likely that celebrating the Caesar salad isn’t one of them. So, operators should consider promoting their Caesars in the days before and just after that major holiday.

The Original

Below, the proper order to prepare a traditional Caesar salad, per Rosa Cardini. Following the instructions will yield four servings.

I’m going to skip the steps of making the garlic-infused oil and croutons in house.

  1. The hearts (outer leaves removed) of two medium romaine lettuce heads  should be cold and crisp. These can be kept whole or broken into two-inch lengths.
  2. Pour four ounces of the infused oil over the leaves, and sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
  3. Using the aforementioned proper technique, toss the leaves two or three times.
  4. Break the coddlednot raweggs over the leaves. Add eight to ten drops of Worcestershire sauce along with the juice of two lemons. Again, toss two or three times.
  5. Add six to eight tablespoons of Parmesan cheese and a half-cup of croutons (made with day-old white bread and a touch of the infused oil, traditionally), and toss again.
  6. Serve on chilled salad plates.

There you have it. The original preparation.

According to Rosa, many guests simply picked up the leaves and ate them like slices of toast. Today’s guests will likely prefer a fork, but that’s an interesting note.

Of course, people enjoy putting their spin on this classic dish. In particular, adding all manner of proteins is a popular way to personalize a Caesar salad.

Recently, I tried a Caesar to which Everything But the Bagel seasoning had been added. Not bad.

Given its adaptability, it could be a good idea to create an LTO Caesar menu with the original at the top, along with two or three variations.

And, hey, while you’re at it, consider offering a Caesar cocktail (another very customizable item) alongside the Caesar salad. Why not?

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

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