Limited service restaurant

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

FAST Act Dealt Knockdown Blow

FAST Act Dealt Knockdown Blow

by David Klemt

Boxer being knocked back by punch

A bill we think is one to watch, California’s Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery Act, may be on the ropes already.

Assembly Bill 257, known as the FAST Act, is “on hold” until 2024. So, while the Save Local Restaurants coalition and voters have yet to kill the bill, it may be out on its feet.

We reported two months ago that fast food chains were moving quickly to kill the FAST Act. It appears that the initial attack on AB-257 was successful.

That is, the chains and coalition got what they want: the ballot initiative vote has knocked down AB-257.

For those unfamiliar with the Save Local Restaurants Coalition, the following organizations are members: The National Restaurant Association (NRA), US Chamber of Commerce (USCC), and International Franchise Association (IFA). Further, fast-casual and QSR chain coalition members—including Starbucks, In N Out, McDonald’s, and Chipotle—threw nearly $13 million at the ballot measure that halted FAST.

What’s FAST?

To read AB-257, the FAST Act, in its entirety, click here.

In summary, FAST:

FAST does the following:

  • establishes the Fast Food Council, ten members appointed by the Governor, the Speaker of the Assembly, and the Senate Rules Committee. The council will operate until January 1, 2029;
  • defines “the characteristics of a fast food restaurant“;
  • gives the Fast Food Council the authority to set “minimum fast food restaurant employment standards, including standards on wages, working conditions, and training“;
  • provides the council the power to “issue, amend, and repeal any other rules and regulations, as necessary”; and
  • allows the formation of a Local Fast Food Council by a county, or a city that has a population of more than 200,000.

Voters effectively stopped California from implementing FAST until November 2024 at the earliest. (That is, if the California Secretary of State verifies that the referendum effort did indeed secure the required amount of signatures.)

Opposition

A statement from Save Local Restaurants reads, in part:

The quick-service restaurants targeted by the law – which include coffee shops, juice bars, pizzerias, delis, and salad shops – already operate on small, single-digit profit margins. These include more than 10,000 small businesses, including thousands of women- and minority-owned businesses.

If these restaurants are forced to absorb the costs, the result will be bad for workers and local communities. To survive, many restaurant owners will have no choice but to reduce worker hours or introduce automation. Some may choose to leave their communities entirely or go out of business.

As is often the case with overreaching California policies, this is likely only the beginning.

Additionally, the National Restaurant Association, a member of the coalition, has said the following:

The impacts of the FAST Act won’t be limited to quick service restaurants in California. The law allows the new regulating council to set a higher minimum wage for quick service restaurants. Independent restaurants will, however, be forced to increase their pay to match, so they can remain competitive when recruiting and retaining workforce.

Takeaway

We believe this bill is one to watch because similar efforts could spring up in other states. Also, just because the bill is on hold until 2024 in California doesn’t mean other states aren’t working on similar legislation right now.

Now, there are obviously two sides to consider. Opponents, as we see above, say FAST will raise prices, eliminate jobs, and hurt families.

Proponents believe FAST will protect the health, safety, and welfare of fast-food workers. Additionally, the Fast Food Council could increase the minimum wage for fast food workers above California’s $15.50 minimum (effective January 1, 2023).

We’ll keep an eye on FAST over the next couple of years. Perhaps the coalition can work with California on a bill that protects fast food workers and doesn’t hurt operators and the communities they serve.

At any rate, FAST is down but certainly not yet out.

Image: Johann Walter Bantz on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Canada’s Single-use Plastics Ban

How Canada’s Single-use Plastics Ban Affects Operators

by David Klemt

Single-use plastic straws and utensils

With a few exceptions, Canada’s ban on the manufacture, importation, and sale of single-use plastics is now officially in effect.

However, that doesn’t mean restaurant and bar operators need to worry about current inventories just yet. While the Single-use Plastics Prohibition Regulations are in effect, operators have a year to deplete their stocks.

SUPPR is a crucial element of Canada’s overall plan to combat pollution and reach a goal of zero plastic waste by 2030. The single-use plastics ban was announced in June of this year.

“We promised Canadians we would deliver a ban on single-use plastics. Today, that’s exactly what we’ve done,” said Minister of Environment and Climate Change Steven Guilbeault the day SUPPR was announced. “By the end of the year, you won’t be able to manufacture or import these harmful plastics. After that, businesses will begin offering the sustainable solutions Canadians want, whether that’s paper straws or reusable bags. With these new regulations, we’re taking a historic step forward in reducing plastic pollution, and keeping our communities and the places we love clean.

Now, six months later, it’s the law of the land.

What’s Banned?

Essentially, Canadian operators must evaluate everything they use for delivery and takeout or pickup. If any items are single-use plastic, they must be gone by December 2023.

Per SUPPR, the manufacture, importation, and sale of the following is prohibited:

  • Checkout bags designed to carry purchased goods from a business and typically given to a customer at the retail point of sale.
  • Cutlery includes:
    • knives
    • forks
    • spoons
    • sporks
    • chopsticks
  • Foodservice ware designed for serving or transporting food or beverage that is ready to be consumed, and that:
    • contains
      • expanded polystyrene foam
      • extruded polystyrene foam
      • polyvinyl chloride
      • carbon black
      • an oxo-degradable plastic
    • are limited to the following items
      • clamshell containers
      • lidded containers
      • boxes
      • cups
      • plates
      • bowls
  • Ring carriers are flexible and designed to surround beverage containers in order to carry them together.
  • Stir sticks designed to stir or mix beverages, or to prevent a beverage from spilling from the lid of its container.
  • Straws include:
    • straight drinking straws, and
    • flexible straws, which have a corrugated section that allows the straw to bend, packaged with beverage containers (juice boxes and pouches)

For accuracy, the above comes from the Government of Canada website directly, unedited.

What does this mean for Operators?

Again, operators in Canada don’t need to toss their current stock of the above items.

However, Restaurants Canada does recommend that operators contact suppliers and customers if they import, export, or sell prohibited items currently.

The single most important thing for operators to do now is research single-use plastic alternatives. Items need testing as changes will affect F&B items and the guest experience.

Of course, it’s possible an operator’s current supplier already offers alternatives to single-use plastics. That could prove convenient but costs, supply chain reliability, and impact on menu items need careful consideration.

Sustainability and responsible practices are no longer just conversation topics within the industry. As of this week, in Canada, they’re the only way forward.

Image: Volodymyr Hryshchenko on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Is Restaurant Revitalization Back?

Restaurant Revitalization Back on the Table?

by David Klemt

US Capitol Building and cloudy sky

After watching the Restaurant Revitalization Fund die a slow, painful death earlier this year, three senators are trying to help the industry again.

Three Democratic senators seem to think that the RRF battle isn’t over. Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Patty Murray (D-WA) are trying once again to help RRF applicants. As a refresher, Sen. Cardin is among the original RRF legislation authors.

Last Thursday, the senators introduced the Restaurant Revitalization Tax Credit Act. Now, before we get into the details, it appears this bill is a stop-gap of sorts. A statement from Sen. Murray suggests as much.

Per a statement from Sen. Muray, the “Restaurant Revitalization Fund left too many behind. I believe we need to replenish the Fund and will keep pressing to do so. Until that happens, bills like the Restaurant Revitalization Tax Credit Act will help keep restaurants afloat.”

It’s safe to say a significant number of operators prefer replenishment of the RRF to a tax credit. However, this could represent a step in the right direction.

The Restaurant Revitalization Tax Credit Act

For those with an interest in dissecting the bill, the text in its entirety is here.

In summary, here’s what Sens. Cardin, Brown, and Murray want to see become law: a payroll offset of $25,000. Of course, it’s not that simple—there are requirements and nuances.

First, the only eligible restaurants are RRF applicants who didn’t receive a grant. Second, the restaurant must prove:

  • operating losses of at least 30 percent in 2020 and 2021 in comparison to 2019; or
  • losses of at least 50 percent in either 2020 or 2021 in comparison to 2019.

Additionally, applicants must have been operating at least as far back as March 14, 2020. There’s also a payroll tax requirement: the applicant restaurant must have paid the taxes in at least two quarters in 2021. But wait—it doesn’t end there.

Restaurants with ten or fewer employees could offset a maximum of $25,000 in payroll taxes for the entirety of 2023. However, for every employee over ten, the refund cap drops by $2,500.

So, this bill appears to target very small operations for assistance. Assistance, we can only hope, that’s meant to help until the Senate and House replenish the RRF.

After all, Sen. Murray did say this bill—”bills like,” to be precise—is meant to “help keep restaurants afloat.”

It’s difficult to view this effort through anything but a skeptical lens given what happened earlier this year. And hope, as the saying goes, isn’t a strategy. But I suppose this bill represents a glimmer of hope that the estimated 175,000-plus RRF applicants who never received a grant may still get the help they deserve.

Image: J. Amill Santiago on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The NRA’s 2023 Culinary Trend Forecast

The National Restaurant Association’s 2023 Culinary Trend Forecast

by David Klemt

Cheesy chicken sandwich on paper wrapper

Ahead of the beginning of a new year, the National Restaurant Association unveils their culinary trend predictions for 2023.

The report is the result of a collaboration between the NRA, Technomic, and the American Culinary Federation (ACF).

For those unfamiliar, Technomic is at the forefront of foodservice trend tracking, industry research, and analysis. Likewise, the ACF is a premier industry organization. Tracing its founding to 1929, the ACF promotes “the professional image of American chefs worldwide through education of culinarians at all levels.”

To predict what will be “hot” next year, the NRA, Technomic, and ACF sent the 17th annual What’s Hot survey to thought leaders and chefs. In direct partnership with the Technomic Menu Research & Insights Division, the NRA predicted the top menu trends from 110 items spanning 11 categories.

Now, this isn’t a full dive into the report in its entirety. Rather, we strongly encourage our readers to download a copy of What’s Hot 2023 Culinary Forecast for themselves and their teams.

What readers will find below are the top 10 trends for 2023. Additionally, we’ll share the top three macro trends for next year, as forecast by the NRA and their partners.

More than Food

Somewhat surprisingly, the NRA’s top-ten list of culinary trends isn’t just a list of food items. Instead, this forecast paints a picture of where restaurants are heading in 2023.

While there are some specific cuisine predictions, the NRA’s top culinary predictions show us, in part, how consumers want to experience the restaurants they visit.

  1. Southeast Asian cuisines (examples: Vietnamese, Singaporean)
  2. Zero waste/Sustainability/Upcycled foods
  3. Globally inspired salads
  4. Sriracha variations
  5. Menu streamlining
  6. Flatbread sandwiches/Healthier wraps
  7. Comfort fare
  8. Charcuterie boards
  9. Fried chicken sandwiches and Chicken sandwiches “3.0” (example: fusion of flavors)
  10. Experiences/Local culture and community

As we can see, operators and consumers expect tighter, more concept-specific menus. Also, comfort foods; shareable (and “Instagrammable”) items like charcuterie boards; and items that show local and global influences may be hot in 2023.

One can consider, then, streamlining their menu to include their top sellers along with local and/or global flavors authentic to their brand.

Below, readers will see that three of the trends above make up the NRA’s top-three 2023 macro trends:

  1. Menu streamlining
  2. Comfort fare
  3. Experiences/Local culture and community

Operator and Consumer Behavioral Shifts

Looking at the macro trends, it’s reasonable to believe the past few years will influence 2023 heavily.

Operators are dealing with inflation, higher costs for everything, labor shortages. Further, according to Datassential, more than a third of American operators are experiencing low traffic and sales levels.

We can expect these issues to follow us into 2023, at least for Q1 and Q2. Therefore, the NRA’s macro trends forecast makes sense. Streamlining menus often leads to streamlining the back and front of house. In turn, doing so can lower costs and boost staff retention.

On the consumer side, it appears comfort foods, chicken sandwiches, and experiences are driving visits and online orders. These are, as we all know, behavioral shifts we can trace back to the start of the pandemic.

We always suggest proceeding with caution, logic, and data when considering embracing trends. Missing out on trends can be just as costly as latching onto a trend too late.

That said, the macro trends certainly seem reasonable. Only time will tell, but the NRA’s 2023 forecast certainly contains several items operators and their teams should give serious consideration.

Image: Arabi Ishaque on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Merchants Support Credit Card Act

100s of Merchants Support Credit Card Competition Act

by David Klemt

Customer paying via Square terminal

Perhaps at least somewhat unsurprisingly, support for the Credit Card Competition Act is growing rapidly among merchants.

In fact, 1,802 merchants are making their position on the bill clear. Those hundreds of merchants drafted, signed, and set a letter to the House and Senate.

The crux of that letter? To tell our lawmakers to support and pass the Credit Card Competition Act.

To view the letter, sent by the Merchants Payments Coalition (MPC), please click here. For the bill and its status, follow this link.

The Credit Card Competition Act: A Quick Summary

According to the MPC, credit and debit card transactions just in the US reached $3.49 trillion in 2021. Along with those transactions came $77.48 billion in merchant fees—just for Visa and MasterCard.

Why call those out those two processors in particular? Well, it’s because they’re behind about 576 million credit cards. Oh, and they also control 87 percent of the processing market.

In the span of just one decade, Visa and MasterCard swipe fees have risen 137 percent. So, it’s not surprising that merchants are supportive of the Credit Card Competition Act.

There are, indeed, restaurant and hospitality groups attached to the MPC’s letter to Congress. Taking a quick glance, Denny’s franchisees, Dutchman Hospitality Group, and Mandalay Hospitality Group are among the signees.

Obviously, this makes sense—swipe fees are among the highest costs operators face every day.

Where’s this Bill Currently?

It shouldn’t be too shocking to find that this has yet to make much progress. The bill’s sponsors, Sens. Richard Durbin (D-IL) and Richard Marshall (R-KS), introduced it in the senate at the end of July.

Three months later, October 28, an attempt was made to include the bill in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). For those who are unfamiliar, the NDAA is known as a “must-pass” bill. After all, it specifies the US Department of Defense’s (DoD) budget and expenditures each year.

Along with a reported 900 other “riders,” Sens. Durbin and Marshall tried to get their bill passed within the NDAA. Unfortunately for the senators and supporters of the bill, the NDAA vote was pushed until the middle of November…which we’re now past.

Of course, the US did just undergo a mid-term election cycle. So, I suppose it’s reasonable to be a bit more patient with the Senate and the progress of this bill.

Those who work in or support our industry can make their opinion of this bill known. Just follow this link to the National Restaurant Association Credit Card Competition Act portal.

Image: Clay Banks on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

These are the Happiest Provinces in Canada

These are the Happiest Provinces in Canada

by David Klemt

Newfoundland and Labrador during daytime

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

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

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

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

The Happiness Survey

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Happiest Province

Okay, let’s dive into the reason you’re here: to learn which province is the happiest.

  1. Newfoundland and Labrador
  2. Prince Edward Island
  3. Quebec
  4. New Brunswick
  5. Manitoba
  6. Alberta
  7. Saskatchewa
  8. Nova Scotia
  9. Ontario
  10. British Columbia

The above rankings are determined by the percentage of survey respondents who rated their life satisfaction eight, nine or ten. So, if you’re in Newfoundland and Labrador, Prince Edward Island or Quebec, wow—you’re apparently one incredibly happy person.

Conversely, below you’ll find the rankings as determined by the largest percentage of respondents who rated their satisfaction a five or lower. As you’ll find, the list below isn’t simply the inverse of the one above.

  1. Ontario
  2. British Columbia
  3. New Brunswick
  4. Alberta
  5. Nova Scotia
  6. Prince Edward Island
  7. Manitoba
  8. Saskatchewa
  9. Quebec
  10. Newfoundland and Labrador

As far as Canada overall, the results of this particular survey are positive. Just 19.4 percent of survey respondents rated their satisfaction or happiness zero through five. And only 28.9 percent provided a rating of six or seven.

More than half of Canadians, 51.7 percent, rate their lives an eight, nine or ten. That’s some great and welcome news.

Image: Erik Mclean on Unsplash

by krghospitality krghospitality No Comments

2023: Year of the POS Systems?

2023: Year of the POS Systems?

by David Klemt

SpotOn POS system on laptop

Image from SpotOn press release

According to SpotOn, the industry could be in for a tech revolution next year as independent operators pursue more powerful POS solutions.

The results of a survey conducted by the cloud-based POS platform are rather revealing. In an effort to better understand where the industry is heading, SpotOn surveyed 300 independent and small-chain restaurant operators.

Both full-service and limited-service (LSR) concept operators participated in this SpotOn survey. Intended to identify the challenges operators face currently, the results reveal much more.

Below, the picture these survey results paint for the industry.

Legacy vs. Innovation

This isn’t the first time I’ve stated the following: Our industry hasn’t been the fastest to implement new technology.

However, we did appear to turn that around in 2021. Now, heading into 2023, our industry may be pursuing cutting-edge tech solutions even more fervently. Today’s guest expects more tech, and your team likely wants access to more modern tech that makes their jobs easier.

Per SpotOn’s survey, 81 percent of independent operators still use so-called “legacy” POS systems. These are “traditional” systems from companies that have been around for quite some time.

It’s not difficult to understand why the vast majority of independent operators continue using legacy systems:

  • Investing in a new platform requires expenditures of money and time.
  • Introducing a new POS platform requires staff training.
  • Staff need to grow adept at using the new system.
  • It can be daunting to research the available platforms and implementing change.

So, independent and small-chain operators have a choice to make: Stick with the familiar or invest in the future. Change can not only be intimidating, it can be expensive.

However, it seems that most operators are ready to throw comfort to the wayside and embrace innovation.

State-of-the-art Benefits

Should the SpotOn survey prove to be accurate snapshot of the industry, 75 percent of operators will implement new tech next year. According to SpotOn, this is largely in response to growing labor challenges, such as scheduling and retention.

The restaurant, bar, nightclub, and food truck platform found that operators are spending as much as 20 hours per week on administrative tasks. State-of-the-art POS systems can slash those hours by:

  • streamlining operations;
  • making scheduling simpler;
  • calculating tips and payout for payroll; and
  • managing overtime, an increasingly common task.

More modern POS platforms can automate labor management tasks, saving operators time, money, and frustration. Automation and streamlining give operators something invaluable: time.

In particular, innovative and helpful tech solutions provide an operator with time to focus on growing their business. When weighing whether to keep a familiar but less feature-rich POS system or invest in a modern platform that seamlessly integrates many solutions, ask yourself a couple important questions:

  • What’s my time worth?
  • What am I focusing on every day?
  • Am I growing my business or stagnating?
  • Is my current POS system helping or hindering my team?
  • Does my POS system streamline and automate any tasks?

Image: SpotOn

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