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Relationship Advice: Your Food Purveyors

Relationship Advice: Your Food Purveyors

by David Klemt

An AI-generated image of a restaurant receiving their food delivery through the front

“When visiting City, stop by Food Comipany for a food.”

Operators are facing challenges when it comes to their food purveyors, and as Chef Brian Duffy says, the issues don’t all boil down to rising costs.

By now, Chef Duffy needs no introduction. However, he contributes so much to the hospitality industry that I’m going to boast a bit on his behalf.

As the founder and principal of Duffified Experience Group, Chef Duffy has opened more than 100 restaurants. In fact, I believe he passed the 110-restaurant mark this year during the National Restaurant Association show.

Speaking of that show, he has presented multiple sessions at industry events over the past several years. Further, Chef Duffy leads the F&B Innovation Center at the annual Bar & Restaurant Expo in Las Vegas.

On the topic of presentations and education, he recently spoke at the inaugural Flyover Conference. You can check out more of our coverage of this brand-new show here and here.

This is all, of course, to say nothing of his television appearances.

Now, if you’re a regular consumer of KRG Hospitality articles, you know I love a Chef Duffy live menu read. I firmly believe that the asides he throws out while addressing even a single menu offer more value than most dedicated menu webinars or menu-engineering conference sessions.

Chef Duffy’s Flyover session, however, represented a departure from his menu reads. Due in part to the frustration he, operators, and kitchen teams across North America are facing in terms of inventory, Chef Duffy addressed the relationship between operators and their food purveyors.

Repairing a Toxic Relationship

Allow me a couple caveats before we jump in. If you’re happy with your food purveyors, awesome. Should you truly feel you’re getting the most out of the relationships with your food supplier partners, not all of this advice is for you. Additionally, Chef Duffy’s Flyover session wasn’t an attack on national food suppliers. At risk of speaking for him, it appears his issues have arisen from specific reps, not the major companies themselves.

That said, I have a suspicion that if you really sit down and review your supplier relationshipsencouraging feedback from your leadership and kitchen teamsyou’ll find that things could be better.

Chef Duffy reviews a lot of menus. Whether reviewing one for a client or performing a live reads, he’s seen some things. And one of those things is that it appears national food purveyors have been handed too much control.

This is unfortunate, because this relationship should be a partnership, not a dictatorship. Further, if every operator is buying the same ingredients, it makes sense that most menus will be similar.

“If we’re all being sold the same products, we’re being told what to put on our menus,” said Chef Duffy at Flyover. “And we’re all doing the same thing.”

So, how do we turn this situation around? We stop being dependent or co-dependent, and we start developing reciprocal relationships.

Your food purveyor reps need to come into your restaurant on your schedule. Too many operators are only seeing reps when something has gone wrong with an order.

In other words, if your rep expects to earn your business, they need to meet your expectations: that they’ll actually work with you in a mutually beneficial way.

Let the Healing Begin

Okay, I’m being a bit cheeky with this topic. That doesn’t mean I’m not serious about helping operators improve their relationships with their food purveyors.

To that end, here’s how Chef Duffy works with his reps. He has a rep who comes into one of his venues every Tuesday from 2 to 2:30 pm. This arrangement is, again, mutually beneficial: the rep comes in at noon for lunch, completes his other work, then meets with Duffy at the arranged time.

During the scheduled weekly meeting, Chef Duffy tells this rep what he’s thinking of doing that week. He asks what the rep can do for him, then asks what the rep what he needs to sell. It’s important that you make your rep work for you, but also that you talk to them and see where you can be helpful.

Of course, you’d think this would be the approach every rep prefers. Well, in Chef Duffy’s experience, this just isn’t the case.

Recently, he asked a different rep from a different food purveyor to find him a specific product. Put simply, Chef Duffy didn’t want the products this rep was trying to unload on him. This was apparently too much work because this rep has gone radio silent ever since. Because of this, this food supplier no longer has this account.

Had the rep been interested in an actual professional relationship rather than just focusing on what he “needed” to sell, he’d still be servicing the restaurant.

Be the Change

If that anecdote feels familiar, it’s time to find new partners. Luckily, Chef Duffy has a suggestion you can use today.

Look at the smaller, regional purveyors who service your market. See what they can offer you, and compare their prices to those of your current, national suppliers.

You’ll likely find an impressive portfolio with appealing pricing. Moreover, these smaller companies want to land new accounts and work with you.

Remember, it’s your restaurant. You brought your concept into the real world. You’ve done the work to build your business, and it’s your menu.

Review your food purveyor relationship today, schedule time to sit down with your reps this week (or month), and develop the relationships your business needs.

Image generator: Microsoft Designer

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Why We Offer Tech-stack Planning

Why KRG Hospitality Offers Tech-stack Planning

by David Klemt

Black-and-white photograph of shelves loaded with broken desktop computers and monitors

If your hardware looks like this, it may be time to update your tech stack.

Navigating the seemingly endless restaurant, bar, and hotel technology options available to operators can feel like an overwhelmingly complex task.

This can be particularly true for brand-new operators and those with a decade or more of experience under their belts. For the former, where does one with little to no experience even begin putting together their technology stack?

And for the latter, what tech upgrades are worth implementing, and which platforms are crucial; which are nice to have; and which are unnecessary for a particular concept?

Sitting down and sifting through the platforms within just a few categories can be a significant investment of time. Learning to use each solution and training relevant team members on them also requires considerable time and effort. That’s to say nothing of the initial and monthly outlay of precious monetary resources after making selections.

Of course, there’s also the nagging feeling that maybe the platforms chosen aren’t the “right” fit, or the best in class.

Most operators, regardless of the length of time they’ve been in hospitality, are aware of a handful of tech selections they need to make. They know they need a point-of-sale system, a customer relationship management option, an online ordering platform, a reservation system.

But what about inventory, gratuity management, marketing campaign management, guest feedback, scheduling, catering, website chatbots, AI-enhanced loyalty programs, and even kitchen displays?

According to Brizo Foodmetrics, operators need to consider a dozen tech categories. At KRG Hospitality, we say there are at least that many.

Difficult Choices

Per a new report from Nation’s Restaurant News, people are excited but cautious about the tech available to the hospitality industry. Anyone interested in reviewing the 2024 Restaurant Technology Outlook report can click here to gain access.

Among the report’s insights are the identification of a number of challenges operators face when it comes to tech decisions. The most-significant barrier is still pricing, with 37 percent of NRN survey respondents saying hardware comes with high costs. Further, 30 percent think there’s not enough transparency surrounding additional fees.

There’s also an interesting perception as regards features. While 33 percent of respondents feel the systems they’ve selected are light on functionality, 18 percent say their systems have functions that they don’t even use.

Thirty-two percent of survey respondents identify a lack of knowledge of systems as a barrier to adopting new tech solutions. In some good news, just ten percent of respondents say systems are too difficult to use. Still, ten percent of our industry is a significant number.

Combined, 87 percent of those surveyed will either possibly (24%), probably (33%), or definitely (30%) invest in tech in 2024. That’s an impressive number.

However, 39 percent of respondents were “definitely” going to invest in tech in 2023. That’s a drop of nine percent.

Here to Help

When we at KRG develop a tech stack for a client, it’s with their specific project and needs in mind.

And while we do have preferred partners, we present multiple options. Moreover, each option comes with a synopsis of features and a justification for its inclusion.

If a preferred partner isn’t the best option or the client wants to choose something else, we support that decision. Tech is challenging enough already without being steered toward specific platforms for no other reason than, “We like this one.” These decisions aren’t about us, they’re about what’s best for our clients.

At the end of each tech-stack plan are estimated costs for each option. We include the onboarding fees, monthly fees, and the annual cost. Again, these are close estimates as modules, additional features and hardware like handhelds, and subscriptions can increase or reduce the overall cost.

The hospitality industry tech landscape is transforming from a barren desert to a thriving wetland. KRG Hospitality is here to help you navigate this complex terrain.

Image: z yu on Unsplash

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Welcome Back to the Culinary Arena

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

by Nathen Dubé

"2024" dessert concept

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

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

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

Part 1: Strategic Use of Downtime

Menu Innovation and Optimization

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

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

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

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

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

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

Staff Training and Empowerment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Facility Revitalization

Use this quieter period to assess and upgrade your facilities.

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

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

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

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

Part 2: Setting Priorities for the Year

Elevating Customer Experience

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sustainability as a Cornerstone

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

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

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

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

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

Innovative and Integrated Marketing Strategies

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

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

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

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

Financial Health and Diversification

Keeping a close eye on your financials is crucial.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

Image: 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality operational assessments

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Maker’s Mark Debuts Age-stated Bourbon

Maker’s Mark Debuts Age-stated Bourbon

by David Klemt

Maker's Mark Cellar Aged bourbon bottle

The team at Maker’s Mark, one of the most iconic and respected names in bourbon, is proud to introduce their oldest-ever expression.

Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged is making its introduction to the world in time to celebrate National Bourbon Heritage Month. As a quick reminder, we honor America’s native spirit in September.

This innovative expression is, in my opinion, an exercise in restraint. As decadent a whiskey as Cellar Aged may be for one’s senses, this bourbon shows that the team at Star Hill Farm is disciplined and deliberate.

While many other whiskey producers have been using age statements to pull focus from competitors, grab headlines, make splashes among collectors, and otherwise use aging to move cases, Maker’s Mark has stayed their course.

That is to say, Maker’s Mark takes their time when implementing a new process. If the team can’t figure out how to do something in a distinctly Maker’s way, they don’t do it.

Take, as an example, their limestone cellar, introduced in 2016. This maturation environment is Star Hill Farm’s approach to aging. The team doesn’t have an interest in simply stacking on years—age must adhere to Maker’s Mark flavor vision and leverage terroir.

Inaugural Annual Release

The 2023 release of Cellar Aged is a blend of 11- and 12-year-old Maker’s Mark. The percentage breakdown is 13 percent of the former and 87 percent of the latter.

The liquid that will eventually become Cellar Aged is first aged for six years in the Maker’s Mark warehouse before being moved to the maturation cellar.

For those wondering, this innovative expression will be an annual release. In fact, it appears Maker’s Mark plans to mark each National Bourbon Heritage Month going forward with Cellar Aged.

This year’s expression is bottled at cask strength—115.7 proof—and comes with a SRP of $150. Sources state that there are 30,000 bottles of the 2023 release, and more may be produced each year.

And for those curious about when they can wrap their gums around a dram, the wait shouldn’t be long. In response to a comment underneath an Instagram post, Maker’s Mark says the following:

“Thanks for asking! Cellar Aged will leave Star Hill Farm in the next few weeks and start making its way across the country!”


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A post shared by Maker’s Mark (@makersmark)

So, be on the lookout and let your Maker’s rep know you need this bottle on your back bar.

Tasting Notes

The KRG Hospitality team has yet to taste Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged. Therefore, the tasting notes below are from the Maker’s website.

Aroma: Dark stone fruit, caramelized sugar, toasted oak

Taste: Balanced with big oak, dark vanilla and fruit

Finish: Velvety texture, long and complex with caramelized barrel notes and baking spices

For more information, please review the official Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged press release below.

Introducing Maker’s Mark® Cellar Aged, an Inspired New Take on Older American Whiskey

Matured in a Limestone Whisky Cellar, Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged is Aged to Taste, Not Time

LORETTO, Ky., Aug. 16, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Maker’s Mark® is proud to debut Maker’s Mark® Cellar Aged Bourbon, an annual, global limited-release expression that proves whisky aging is about more than just a number. Featuring a marriage of 11- and 12-year-old bourbon, Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged delivers the distillery’s highly anticipated oldest release, stemming from the question: What if age isn’t just about time, but instead about how you use that time to evolve, develop and mature?

Since its founding in 1953, Maker’s Mark has aged its whisky to taste – not time – to achieve the vision set by its founders: bourbon without the bite that’s always smooth, soft and creamy. Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged stays true to this philosophy, delivering a richer, deeper and more complex older bourbon, free from the harsher tannic effects commonly found in extra-aged American whiskies, as a result of our innovative maturation process that starts in traditional Kentucky warehouses and finishes in the distillery’s one-of-a-kind limestone whisky cellar.

“For more than 65 years, aging our whisky for a decade-plus wasn’t something we did,” said Rob Samuels, 8th generation whisky maker and grandson of the founders at Maker’s Mark. “It’s not that we didn’t believe in it; we simply hadn’t found a way to do it that didn’t compromise on our taste vision – until now. Cellar Aged embodies an older whisky that’s distinctly Maker’s Mark. One rooted in challenging convention, delivering new flavor experiences from the environment that surrounds us, and building on a taste vision that’s been generations in the making.”

To become Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged, barrels of the distillery’s classic distillate first spend approximately six years aging in traditional bourbon warehouses, where they endure the Kentucky climate and its temperature swings season after season until they reach full maturity and can be called “Maker’s Mark.” Barrels are then moved into the distillery’s proprietary whisky cellar for an additional five to six years of aging before being blended to taste and bottled. Built into the natural limestone shelf of the Kentucky hills, the cellar’s consistently cool environment slows down the tannic impact that occurs during maturation, while allowing the bourbon to develop a deeper, darker flavor with hidden depths, but no bitterness.

This innovative and taste-led approach in pursuit of an older Maker’s Mark expression continues the boundary-pushing mindset that has shaped the brand since the beginning. Founders Bill and Margie Samuels challenged category norms when they burned their 170-year-old family recipe, choosing to use red winter wheat instead of rye in their mashbill for a softer, smoother bourbon. This spirit of asking “what if?” was present in the introduction of Maker’s Mark 46, which is crafted using a proprietary wood-stave finishing technique, and in Maker’s Mark Private Selection, which became the industry’s first custom barrel program upon its launch in 2016.

Cellar Aged will be an annual, limited release available in specific markets around the world. The unique maturation approach of Cellar Aged will be consistent every year, but the specific blend of aged bourbon will vary based on which barrels are ready, by taste. The inaugural release of Cellar Aged is a marriage of 12-year-old and 11-year-old whisky – 87% and 13%, respectively – bottled at cask strength (115.7 proof). Cellar Aged will be available for a suggested retail price of USD $150.00 in the United States in September 2023; in London, Munich and select Global Travel Retail accounts in October 2023; and in Tokyo and Singapore in early 2024.

For more information about Maker’s Mark Cellar Aged, please visit

Image: Maker’s Mark

KRG Hospitality Bar 101 Techniques

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2 Big Bourbons: High Proof, Heavy Flavor

2 Big Bourbons: High Proof, Heavy Flavor

by David Klemt

Bib & Tucker Double Char Bourbon bottle and cocktail

Be on the lookout for two innovative, big bourbons that are heavy on flavor and boldly offer striking drinking experiences.

One of these whiskeys, luckily, is available now. That means if you can get your hands on it, this particular bourbon has arrived in time for National Bourbon Day and National Old Fashioned Day.

And, of course, it’s also here in time to help celebrate Father’s Day.

Agonizing as it is, the other bourbon will make its appearance in August. However, it’s big, bold flavors will be an excellent way to end summer and start fall.

Let’s take a look at these two dramatic drams.

Woodford Reserve Master’s Collection Batch Proof 124.7

Let’s start with the bourbon available today.

The latest release in the Master’s Collection is Batch Proof 124.7. This limited-edition Woodford Reserve release is, as the name suggests, a high-proof heavy hitter.

Master Distiller Elizabeth McCall and Master Distiller Emeritus Chris Morris worked on this release to showcase their incredible proficiency in coaxing a complex array of flavors from blending whiskeys from different barrels.

However, they didn’t stop there. McCall and Morris bottled this year’s limited edition Master’s Collection expression at 124.7 proof. For comparison, standard Woodford Reserve expressions—Straight Bourbon, Double Oaked, and Rye—are bottled at 90.4 proof.


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A post shared by Woodford Reserve (@woodfordreserve)

According to tasting notes provided by Woodford Reserve, guests can expect Batch Proof 124.7 to pour a burnt orange color. On the nose, nutty toasted almond, cherry, and overripe banana, plus hints of oak, citrus zest, and, unsurprisingly, pepper.

“The trademark flavors of Woodford Reserve are even more pronounced—and more bold—in this celebrated annual release,” says McCall. “It’s a high-proof bourbon with complex flavors.”

Those lucky enough to locate a bottle will be treated to peppery baking spice, cardamom, and pine on the palate, finishing with leather, dry vanilla, and cedar.

No word on how hot this bourbon sips, but I expect Woodford’s trademark smoothness. Suffice to say, however, this isn’t a beginner’s bourbon.

Batch Proof 124.7 retails for $129.99 and is available now at the Woodford Reserve distillery, so it’s time to hit up your reps, call in favors, or take a trip to Versailles, Kentucky.

Bib & Tucker Double Char Bourbon

Above, the high-proof heavy hitter. Now, the innovative heavy flavor release.

They’re making us wait for it but this Bib & Tucker Small Batch Bourbon release certainly appears to worth our collective patience. Something savory, smoky, and smooth this way comes.

The inspiration for this unique bourbon comes from the rustic corners of the culinary world. Double Char is meant to evoke the sensory experience of enjoying food cooked on open fire.

“I can’t wait for consumers to try this delicious expression,” says Tom Steffanci, president of Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits. “Double Char spends just the right amount of time in the second heavily charred barrel, creating a savory, smoky character that adds a whole new dimension to the bourbon.”

This innovative Tennessee bourbon is rested for six years in new white American oak barrels. Double Char is then aged for at least five months in a new barrel that was heavily charred and smoked.

Notes provided by Bib & Tucker reveal, as expected, smoke and toasted oak on the nose. However, those notes are balanced by cinnamon, clove, and dulce de leche.

On the palate, Double Char delivers white smoke, vanilla, sugar maple, sweet corn, and toasted cinnamon. Oak, white smoke, and vanilla stand out on the medium to long finish.

Personally, I can’t wait to get my hands on a bottle.

Click here to listen to episodes 32 and 59 of the Bar Hacks podcast. The former features Woodford Reserve, while the latter features Bib & Tucker.

Images courtesy of Bib & Tucker and Woodford Reserve

KRG Hospitality Mixology Training with Jared Boller

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The Kraken Unleashes a new Monster

The Kraken Unleashes a new Monster

by David Klemt

The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum bottle

The Kraken, which claims to be the top-selling black spiced rum in the world, has released another monster: the Kraken Gold Spiced Rum.

This new release is a direct shot across the bow of the Captains, Sailors, and Admirals that have long commanded the spiced rum category. In other words, you know exactly which brands the Kraken is challenging with this expression.

Of course, this also gives you and your bar team a new spiced rum to introduce to guests. As it turns out, spiced rum is the most popular of the rum categories.

In June of 2020, Drizly launched BevAlc Insights by Drizly. The data-focused platform can provide operators with insights into consumer behavior and preferences. After all, if they’re ordering specific products for delivery to drink at home, they’ll expect the restaurants and bars they visit to have them on their menus.

Per BevAlc Insights, spiced rum boasted a 27-percent share in comparison to other styles in 2021. Interestingly, dark rum, according to BevAlc, held only a five-percent share. Those interested in this data can learn more reviewing BevAlc Insights’ 2021 Rum Forecast.

As far as what to expect on the nose and palate, tasting notes make mention of aromas of banana bread, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, and oak. One reviewer on YouTube likens the nose to that of Bumbu Rum. Vanilla and oak carry through to the finish, with the top flavors being molasses, dark spice, and caramelized sugar.

The Kraken Rum Launches A New Gold Spiced Rum

The Top-Selling Rum Brand Unveils Its Latest Gold Treasure

Jersey City, NJ, March 7, 2023—Today, the world’s first and top-selling black spiced rum brand, The Kraken® Rum, emerges from its lair in the depths of the ocean to enter into the gold spiced rum category with a new release. A smooth and rich liquid, The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum is here to set THE NEW GOLD STANDARD in the rum category making waves for captains, sailors, and admirals alike.

The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum: The Product

Introducing THE NEW GOLD STANDARD for sipping: a gold spiced Caribbean rum, rich beyond words—and perhaps the only bit of lightness the legendary beast, known as “the Kraken,” loves with as much passion as its storied black ink. On the nose, The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum reveals a sweet brown medley of caramel, oak, and banana bread. Flavors of molasses and dark spice fade into caramelized sugar, with a slight finish of toasted oak and vanilla.

“As gold spiced rum occasions are now the highest among the rum category, we are proud to introduce this new offering from The Kraken, with a flavor profile all its own,” said Lander Otegui, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Proximo Spirits. “We are confident that this product will be THE NEW GOLD STANDARD in spiced rum thanks to its superb taste that we know matches what our consumers are looking for.”

A study conducted on the popularity of spiced rum brands showed The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum as a clear category favorite. Proximo Spirits commissioned a third-party double blind taste test study against category competitor, Captain Morgan®. The study revealed more than 70% of consumers prefer The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum over Captain Morgan Original Spiced Rum. Furthermore, participants also overwhelmingly indicated The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum both has “superior taste” and is “the smoothest.”1

  • Aroma: Sweet brown medley of caramel, oak, and banana bread. Rich vanilla with light cinnamon backtone.
  • Flavor: Molasses and dark spice fading into caramelized sugar. Slight finish of toasted oak and vanilla.

The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum is 35% ABV and sold nationwide at a $21.99 MSRP per 750ml. It is also available in 1L and 1.75L bottles.

“Take of Gold” New Campaign

To bring The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum from sip to screen, the brand is launching a new visual campaign, “Tale of Gold.” The advertisement, directed by Rich Lee who’s known for his work on the first three The Pirates of the Caribbean films, draws consumers into the dark world of the Kraken. Moody, foreboding visuals divulge the action-packed narrative of unworthy pirates who try to steal the precious treasure of gold from its lair and are thwarted by the Kraken.

The Kraken Golden Hour Sweepstakes

Before it dives back into the darkness, The Kraken is celebrating its newly released Gold Spiced Rum by giving consumers an opportunity to win a Golden Hour experience in the Dominican Republic.To enter The Kraken Golden Hour Sweepstakes for a chance to win a trip to the home of The Kraken Rum, scan the QR code or visit for more information.

No purchase necessary to enter or win. Purchasing a product will not improve your chances of winning. Must be documented resident of the U.S. or D.C., age 21 or older as of date of entry. Registration begins at 12:00am ET on February 1, 2023 and ends at 11:59pm ET on June 30, 2023. To enter, and for complete official rules including eligibility, prize description and approximate retail value, scan the QR code using your mobile device’s camera or directly visit Winner selected in random drawing. Odds of winning are based on the total number of eligible entries received. No alcoholic beverage is part of any prize award. Void wherever prohibited or restricted by law. SPONSOR: Proximo Spirits, Inc., 3 Second Street, Suite 1101, Jersey City, NJ 07302.  

To learn more about The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum and the rest of the Kraken’s keep, visit and follow The Kraken Rum on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

1 Taste-tests were conducted in April 2022 by TasteMakers Research Group in a blind study.

About The Kraken® Rum

AS IT IS TOLD, The Kraken Rum is an imported rum from the Caribbean blended with secret spices. Named for the sea beast of myth and legend, The Kraken Rum is bold, rich, and smooth. The Kraken Rum portfolio includes The Kraken Black Spiced Rum, made from unique Caribbean black spiced rum with a lingering spicy finish, The Kraken Gold Spiced Rum with a toasted oak and vanilla finish that’s smooth and tasteful, and ready-to-drink The Kraken Rum canned cocktails in flavors: Rum Punch, Cola and Ginger Beer. AS THEY SAY, “To not respect the power of the Kraken is to not respect the sea.” So, drink with respect.

The Kraken® Gold Spiced Rum. Rum with Natural Flavors and Caramel Color. 35% Alc./Vol. (70 proof). ©2023 Kraken Rum Co., Jersey City, NJ, Like the deepest sea, The Kraken® should be treated with great respect and responsibility.

Captain Morgan® is a registered trademark of Diageo North America, Inc. and referred to for product identification. Pirates of the Caribbean® is a registered trademark of Disney Enterprises, Inc. and referred to for Rich Lee’s background experience with the film franchise.

Disclaimer: Neither the author nor KRG Hospitality received compensation, monetary or otherwise, from the Kraken Rum, Proximo Spirits, or any other entity in exchange for this post.

Image: The Kraken Rum

KRG Hospitality spirit education

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Incredible Rise of Luxury Whiskeys

There are Luxury Whiskeys. Then There are These…

by David Klemt

Closeup image of whiskey in a glass

Some investors look at whiskey as a luxury good worthy of parking their dollars, with some outperforming gold and the S&P 500 Index.

In fact, super- and ultra-premium whiskey has at times outperformed gold over the past decade. According to some reports, investments in whiskey casks performed better than gold, the S&P 500, and Bitcoin just a few years ago.

Of course, the hospitality and spirits worlds have long been reporting increased interest in luxury whiskey. Really, consumers have shown interest in premium, super-premium, and ultra-premium spirits across several categories.

In other words, it appears that the “drink better” movement continues to accelerate.

This is, of course, great news for operators. Premium and above spirits command higher prices on-premise, boosting revenue.

But there’s luxury, and then there’s luxury. There are ultra-premium spirits, and there are truly exclusive bottles. I suppose hyper-premium describes these incredibly rare expressions. After all, there are hypercars and hyperyachts, and the owners of such vehicles are the people who can afford hyper-premium spirits.

Two examples of such spirits made headlines recently, and wow—their prices are eyewatering.

The Highland Park 54 Year Old

Interested in a taste of the late ’60s? This Scotch was laid down back in 1968 by Highland Park.

And back in 2008, Highland Park master whisky maker Gordon Motion combined four refill butts and six refill hogsheads. That was also the year that Gordon Motion was named master whisky for the distillery. It seems Motion wasted no time in creating an awe-inspiring whisky for Highland Park.

Highland Park’s 54-year-old whisky is stunning, and just 225 bottles are available. This is, of course, a nod to the distillery’s big 2023 anniversary celebration. Highland Park was founded in 1798; 2023 is their 225-year anniversary.

So, what’s a 700ml, 46.9% ABV bottle of Highland Park 54 Year Old going for? Each one carries a price tag of £39,000, or nearly $47,000 USD. There is, of course, no telling what each bottle will be valued at in the future (or if they’ll appreciate, so be careful, investors).

As far as flavor profile, there are, of course, woody and peaty notes. However, there’s also camphor, pistachio, kiwi, and lychee. However, I’m sure whatever I write here will never do justice to experiencing a dram of 54 Year Old.

Gordon & MacPhail Generations 80-Years-Old

For once, I’m nearly speechless. This is the world’s oldest Scotch. And, until we learn otherwise, world’s oldest whisky.

Of particular note, this is Glenlivet liquid rested by father-and-son duo John and George Urquhart in a Gordon & MacPhail cask.

The liquid was laid down on February 3, 1940 and bottled on February 5, 2020. There are 250 decanters available, and these vessels are as stunning as the whisky they contain.

Architect and designer Sir David Adjaye OBE (knighted in 2017) designed the decanter and oak case. Glencairn Crystal Studio stepped up for production of the decanter. Wardour Workshops crafted the case from sustainably sourced oak.

As I stated above, Highland Park’s 54-year-old Scotch costs nearly $50,000. So, what does this Gordon & MachPhail 80-Years-Old Scotch cost?

Well, we won’t really know until October 7 of this year. That’s the date that Sotheby’s will auction off Generations 80-Years-Old Decanter #1.

The world-renowned luxury marketplace is estimating this lot will go for between $120,000 and $255,000. Although, that price could be driven higher should the auction heat up.

Some of the tasting notes from Charlie MacLean MBE include: almond oil, scented hand-soap, sandalwood, dates, salted plums, figs, dry Oloroso Sherry, and a menthol finish.

The Takeaway

I’m not suggesting that operators drop tens of thousands of dollars on hyper-premium bottles. While doing so could translate to hefty margins per ounce sold from such bottles, it’s not realistic for most restaurants and bars.

However, it’s clear that consumers are showing interest not only in learning about luxury spirits but also an inclination to splash out for a taste.

Are 50- to 80-year-old spirits extreme examples of luxury? Absolutely. Do they point to interest in more affordable examples of luxury? Again, absolutely.

Decades-old spirits are rare but not, if this makes sense, uncommon. While the two bottles above are generating headlines, there are others out in the world garnering interest. Examples are Morthlach 70-Year-Old and 75-Year-Old.

Moreover, these rare expressions generate interest in the distilleries that produced them. So, while the average guest may not be able shell out for a 50-year-old single malt, they could be persuaded to try one from that same distillery that’s half that age.

This is, of course, where storytelling comes into the guest experience. An educated, interested, and engaging front-of-house team can be a sales powerhouse.

Image: Anthony Torres on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality Beverage Programming

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Infographic Shows Massive Tech Growth

Infographic Shows Massive Hospitality Industry Tech Growth

by David Klemt

White robot hand

An infographic from Brizo FoodMetrics puts the explosive growth of the hospitality industry technology landscape on display.

It appears that operators, once largely hesitant to embrace new technology, are seeking it out. So, too, it seems, are guests. Intriguingly, many guests expect restaurants, bars, and hotels to innovate technologically.

In a sign of this change, SpotOn is predicting 2023 to be the year when independent operators upgrade their POS systems.

And that’s just one area where tech companies are innovating for our industry. As their infographic shows, Brizo FoodMetrics identifies ten areas of innovation:

  • POS systems
  • Payment platforms
  • Online ordering solutions
  • Reservation and waitlist platforms
  • Inventory, accounting, and purchasing solutions
  • Human resources and staffing
  • Delivery, pickup, and drive-thru tech
  • Marketing, loyalty, and analytics platforms
  • Artificial intelligence, robotics, and automation
  • Ghost kitchen and virtual brand tech

Looking just at Brizo’s POS section, they list 48 platforms as part of their “2023 Restaurant Tech Landscape.” That’s four dozen POS systems, and that’s not even every platform available to operators.

Some will be familiar to operators—Toast, TouchBistro, Clover—as they’re basically synonymous with POS systems. Others, like Tillpoint and OVVI, may be less known. However, that doesn’t mean they’re not worthy of research and consideration.

Explosive Growth and Innovation

Again, the Brizo infographic doesn’t list every single available platform. For instance, I don’t see OpenSimSim under the HR/Staffing section. But the fact that there are still dozens of other platforms—more than in the POS section—shows that tech companies finally want their share of the hospitality pie.

This is, of course, beneficial for operators and their teams for several reasons. One such reason is innovation.

On one hand, the established platforms must innovate to fend off competitors. And on the other hand, upstarts must prove themselves to operators. In other words, new platforms must show they’re not vaporware; they have longevity and won’t abandon their own platform any time soon; they’ll update constantly; they’re simple to learn and use; they integrate with other systems; and that they’re worth an operator’s money and time.

We’re just two months into 2023. Imagine what the 2024 tech landscape is going to look like. And bear in mind, this is a restaurant-focused map—there are categories like property management systems for hotels that aren’t included.

If you’re in the market for a new POS system, want to upgrade scheduling, or are just curious about where the industry is heading, check out the infographic below. Select a few brands that are unfamiliar and look them up.

Brizo FoodMetrics 2023 Restaurant Tech Landscape

To view this infographic on the Brizo FoodMetrics website, click here.

KRG Hospitality Planning Phase, 2023 icon

Image: Possessed Photography on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Datassential’s State of the Operator 2022

Datassential’s State of the Operator 2022

by David Klemt

Guests sitting at the bar inside a restaurant

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

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

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

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

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

Operator Outlook

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

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

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

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

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

Segment Performance

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

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

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

Operator Adaptation

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

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

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

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

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

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

Image: Luca Bravo on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Rabbit Hole Resources: Bourbon 101

Rabbit Hole Resources: Bourbon 101

by David Klemt


Bunny painting or graffiti

Those who want to learn about bourbon can access free resources from a credible and knowledgeable source: Rabbit Hole Distillery.

When it comes to learning about a particular spirit, those producing them tend to know the most. So, seeking education straight from the source is a smart move.

Now, hospitality professionals have a reliable, informative resource to add to their toolbox. Learn About Bourbon is Rabbit Hole’s ever-growing bourbon resource.

Bourbon Basics

If your restaurant or bar has bourbon on the menu, you’re likely at least familiar with the basics:

  • To carry the “bourbon” designation, one must produce the liquid in America.
  • The mashbill must consist of at least 51 percent corn.
  • It’s not permissible to use any additive except water.

Similarly, you are likely aware of some bourbon myths:

  • Only distilleries in the state of Kentucky can produce bourbon.
  • The name “bourbon” comes from Bourbon County.
  • The whiskey must be at least two years old to be bourbon.

As you can see from the first bullet point at the start of this segment, bourbon can come from any state in America. As far as the second myth, the origin of the name “bourbon” is a bit murky.

Interestingly, the third myth is somewhat true. To include “straight bourbon” on the label, the bourbon must be a minimum of two years old. Otherwise, once new-make whiskey comes into contact with the oak barrel in which it’s going age, it’s bourbon.

Rabbit Hole bourbon barrel rolling into rickhouse

Learn About Bourbon

Rabbit Hole goes far beyond simple definitions on their Learn About Bourbon page.

Instead, the distillery dives deep into every element of bourbon production. As important, this page receives regular updates. In other words, much like bourbon itself, this resource gets better with age.

To give you an idea of how in-depth Rabbit Hole gets, let’s look at the Bourbon Barrel Char / Charring section. It’s essentially an article in and of itself at nearly 400 words. Additionally, there’s a link within this section that leads to an even deeper dive into toasting and charring barrels.

Elsewhere on the Learn About Bourbon page you can learn about esters. In fact, there’s a list of over a dozen esters for you to—yep, I’m gonna make the pun—go down the rabbit hole.

Rabbit Hole Blog

Now, it turns out that the distillery isn’t content with offering one bourbon education resource. There’s also the Rabbit Hole Blog.

Looking for bourbon cocktail recipes? Check out the brand’s blog. Currently, the top recipe posts feature the Golden Ponzu and Strawberry Bourbon Lemonade.

Curious about cooking with bourbon? How about a recipe for nasi goreng with a Rabbit Hole bourbon ginger sauce? As a bonus, this recipe should perform well with guests looking for plant-forward dishes with small amounts of animal protein.

Of course, there are also Bourbon 101 articles. For example, this link will take you to an article about wheated bourbons.

If you want to boost your bourbon knowledge and update your food and cocktail menus, check out Rabbit Hole’s blog and Learn About Bourbon page today.

Image: Vincent Pelletier