Marketing

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Your Most Underused Feature

The Most Underused Element of Your Business

by David Klemt

AI-generated image of a cathedral inside a suitcase

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make an Impact

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stand Up and Stand Out

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s in a Name?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Program for Unique Holidays: May 2024

Program for Unique Holidays: May 2024

by David Klemt

"Think about things differently" neon sign

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

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

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

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

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

For our April 2024 holidays list, click here.

May 1: Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month

If your concept is one that attracts motorcyclists already, or one that can handle motorcyclists to show up en masse without alienating other guests, your venue can celebrate Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month any or every day in May.

Encourage your guests to ride safely, look out for motorcycles when they’re driving, and organize group rides that stop by your bar or restaurant. Responsibly, of course.

May 4: Beer Pong Day

Let’s face itbeer pong is a classic bar game. Importantly, it’s a classic bar game that anyone can learn to play (to varying degrees of skill), and it’s simple to organize a tournament.

Should your bar or restaurant have the room and the following to support a beer pong tournament, this holiday could do very well for you and your team.

May 6: National Beverage Day

I mean…look how open-ended this holiday is. Is your bar or restaurant known for a particular drink? More than one particular drink? Perfect! Now’s the time to really brag about that and bring people through your doors.

May 11: National Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Day

Part of being a great operator is being an excellent neighbor and member of the community. One selfless act you and your team can participate in is to organize a food drive, acting as the central hub for donations and partnering with a food pantry, shelter, or other charitable organization.

May 17: National Pizza Party Day

Sure, the pizza party has become a corporate trope. That doesn’t mean that if you operate a pizzeria your business shouldn’t be the one that companies, families, and groups of friends call when it’s pizza party time.

May 19: World Baking Day

How are your kitchen team’s baking skills? This is the holiday to shine a light on them and create a baked well LTO.

May 20: World Bee Day

Not only are there some interesting cocktails with the word “bee” in their name, there are also plenty that call for honey as an ingredient.

However, as I pointed out on Earth Day, there are also vegan honey alternatives that can be used for F&B items. So, this could be the day to use those and make your guests aware of them.

May 21: International Tea Day

Tea is, obviously, an excellent drink on its own. However, tea can really shine as the base or mixer for an array of cocktails. Try creating an LTO menu of full-, low-, and no-ABV cocktails for your guests to try.

May 22: National Craft Distillery Day

Do you have a craft distillery in your market? In your state? This holiday is the perfect time to work on developing a relationship with them and crafting an LTO menu with their products.

May 30: National Mint Julep Day

Ah, the Mint Julep. It’s not just for the Kentucky Derby. It’s a classic for a reason, and one of those reasons is how refreshing it is on a hot day. Plus, there are several variants you can adjust to create an LTO menu.

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

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AI: Coming to a Loyalty Program Near You

AI: Coming to a Loyalty Program Near You

by David Klemt

In a logical step forward, artificial intelligence is now coming to restaurant loyalty programs to enhance personalization and encourage engagement.

Proponents say that AI is in a position to learn about program members and make recommendations. Most importantly, they claim that such technology learns to present offers that will motivate guests to make a purchase.

At the end of the day, that is the reason loyalty programs exist.

One international chain embracing AI tech to enhance their program is Wendy’s. As one would expect, they’re using AI to study an individual’s preferences, visit frequency, purchase history, and more.

Should this investment in AI prove successful, the Wendy’s loyalty program will further establish itself as one of the best in the industry. In addition to enhancing the gamification aspect of the app, offer uptake should increase.

It’s no secret that consumers want personalized offers. However, that doesn’t mean a marketing email with their first name in the greeting. A truly personalized offer is one that shows the company extending it understands the recipient.

For a surface-level example, let’s say a loyalty program user’s purchase history makes it clear they’re exclusively vegetarian or vegan. It’s incredibly likely that offering this person a deal on a double cheeseburger will fail. Over time, after receiving enough offers that don’t resonate, that user may decrease visits and even exit the loyalty program.

Toward the end of last year, Wendy’s said they expected sales driven by digital opportunities to reach nearly $2 billion. A key driver is, of course, their loyalty program.

It makes sense, therefore, for the QSR giant to invest in AI to enhance loyalty.

Punchh It

Wendy’s is partnering with PAR Tech to enhance their loyalty program via artificial intelligence.

In 2021, PAR Tech acquired a loyalty and guest engagement solutions provider called Punchh for $500 million. Now called PAR Punchh, the aim is to make it simpler for restaurants to leverage loyalty.

“With the Punchh acquisition, we are building a platform that enables restaurants to scale quickly, own their path to innovation, and take back their guest relationship. This eliminates the need for juggling disjointed vendors, developing cumbersome point-to-point integrations, and relying on 3rd party dependencies. At the same time, Punchh advances our ability to provide customers with an end-to-end solution, from guest-to-kitchen, through one unified data source,” said PAR Tech CEO and president Savneet Singh back in 2021.

Per PAR Tech, there are more than 200 enterprise-level restaurant chains using Punchh currently. It stands to reason that number will grow if partnering with the platform proves lucrative for brands like Wendy’s.

Further, as AI tech reaches ubiquity and delivers more desirable results, it should become more affordable for regional chains and independents to leverage it as well.

Operators of all sizes who offer loyalty programs should keep an eye on AI-enhanced programs and the opportunities they present.

Image: Alexander Sinn on Unsplash

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Program for Unique Holidays: April 2024

Program for Unique Holidays: April 2024

by David Klemt

"Think about things differently" neon sign

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

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

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

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

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

For our March 2024 holidays list, click here.

April 5: Walk to Work Day

Operators who with bars and restaurants in walkable areas should leverage this holiday. People who walk to work should reward themselves by walking to a bar or restaurant for dinner and a drink after work. Of course, operators open for breakfast and dinner should encourage guests to walk in for a treat to start their day, and another treat (or two) to end it.

April 6: New Beer’s Eve

As the name implies, we celebrate this holiday the day before another holiday in the US: National Beer Day.

Operators who really want to help New Beer’s Eve gain a loyal following among their guests can bring in new beers for their guests to try on this holiday.

April 8: National Empanada Day

How would you rate your empanadas? How would your guests rate your empanadas? If you and your team are proud of your emapanadas, this is their time to shine.

April 10: Golfer’s Day

If you have Golden Tee in your bar, or you operate an eatertainment concept that revolves around golf, this is the perfect holiday to celebrate golfers. Of course, this also holds true if you operate a bar or restaurant within a community that loves golf.

You’re already (hopefully) your guests’ third spot; become their 19th hole on Golfer’s Day as well.

April 12: World Licorice Day

Sambuca, ouzo, xtabentún, absinthe… World Licorice Day is a great holiday for showcasing the licorice-flavored spirits in your inventory on your menu.

April 17: Blah Blah Blah Day

So, this day encourages people to try or start something that friends and family have been telling them do repeatedly. I would interpret this holiday as one during which to encourage your guests to try a new dish or drink rather than just ordering their usual again.

April 21: National Tea Day

Not only does tea make an excellent mixer for an array of cocktails, it really shines as the base for non-alcohol drinks. The depth of flavors that tea delivers really makes on impact on the palate and the guest experience.

National Tea Day is the perfect time to dial in your tea-based cocktails, be they low-, full-, or zero-ABV.

April 23: German Beer Day

Do you have German beers on your menu? I’m going to give you one guess as to what you should do with those beers on German Beer Day.

However, I have another thought, as well. There’s nothing that says you can’t come up with a creative LTO menu that introduces American or Canadian craft beers that taste similar to a German counterpart…

April 26: National Pretzel Day

Sure, you could just offer bowls of pretzels to guests on this holiday, providing a snack that goes with their beer.

Or, you could activate your kitchen team, make large pretzels in-house, and put pretzel charcuterie boards on an LTO menu. They may just prove to be a hit among you guests worthy of repeat appearances.

April 30: National Bubble Tea Day

Gee, if only there were a holiday that celebrates bubble tea, one that operators with bubble tea on their menu could build an LTO around. Oh, look! There is one!

Operators and their bar teams can also interpret this holiday a little differently. Tea cocktails and zero-proof drinks given the Flavour Blaster treatment? That could be rad…

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

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6 Sips for National Cocktail Day

6 Sophisticated Sips for National Cocktail Day

by David Klemt

The Rémy Sidecar cocktail in landscape orientation

Our friends at Cointreau, Mount Gay, Rémy Martin, St-Rémy Signature, Belle de Brillet, and METAXA want us to share some recipes with you.

And why do these purveyors of fine spirits want you to have these drink recipes? To inspire you and your team to craft a sophisticated National Cocktail Day menu, of course.

Now, you and your team are likely very familiar with Cointreau, Mount Gay, and Rémy Martin. After all, each are among the most well-known liqueurs, rums, and Cognacs on the planet.

However, you may be less familiar with some of the other spirits below. So, I’m going to provide a brief overview. Naturally, I’ll also encourage you to contact your reps so they can taste you and your team on each.

Let’s kick things of with METAXA. If your guests like brandy, they’re probably going to love METAXA. In particular, METAXA 7 Star is a Greek spirit that consists of Muscat wine, wine distillates, and Mediterranean aromatics and botanicals, aged in oak barrels. This is a truly unique spirit; your guests have likely never tasted anything quite like it.

Now, let’s look at Belle de Brillet. This is a French liqueur made with fine Brillet Cognac eau-de-vie and Poire Williams (Williams pears). Really, this is an elegant way to enjoy terroir via two fruits: pears and grapes. From what I can find, it takes 20 Williams pears to produce each bottle of Belle de Brillet.

That brings us to St-Rémy Signature. Also from France, St-Rémy Signature is the marriage of tradition and modern production techniques. For example, Signature undergoes a double-maturation process, unlike many fine brandies. When it comes to terroir, Signature takes people on a tour, as it’s made with dozens of grapes from all over France.

Whether you decide to create an LTO menu with the recipes below or put your spins on these drinks, your guests will thank you for helping them celebrate National Cocktail Day.

Cheers!

The Rémy Sidecar cocktail

The Rémy Sidecar

Fill a shaker with ice, then add first three ingredients. Shake well. Strain into a coupette, and garnish with a lemon peel.

The Original Margarita by Cointreau

The Original Margarita by Cointreau

  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 2 oz. Blanco tequila
  • 1 oz. Fresh lime juice
  • Lime wheel to garnish

Prepare a glass by rimming it with salt. Add all ingredients except for garnish to a shaker filled with ice. Shake well, then strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with lime wheel.

Mount Gay Orange Eclipse cocktail

Mount Gay Orange Eclipse

  • 2 oz. Mount Gay Eclipse
  • 1 oz. Fresh blood orange juice
  • 0.6 oz. Sweet vermouth
  • 4 dashes of Angostura Bitters
  • Orange peel to garnish

Prepare a coupe by filling it with ice and setting it aside. Alternatively, keep some coupes in a fridge to have chilled glassware on hand. Fill a shaker with ice, then add first four ingredients. Shake until well chilled, then strain into prepared coupe. Garnish with orange peel.

METAXA Greek Spritz cocktail

METAXA Greek Spritz

  • 1.4 oz METAXA 7 Stars
  • 1.4 oz Prosecco (or other sparkling wine)
  • 0.7 oz Splash of tonic
  • 3 Dashes of peach bitters or fresh peach juice
  • Peach wedge to garnish

Pour METAXA 7 Stars into a wine glass. Add ice, tonic, and bitters or juice to glass, then stir. Top with Prosecco or other sparkling wine. Garnish with peach wedge.

Belle de Brillet Belle Pamplemousse cocktail

Belle de Brillet Belle Pamplemousse

  • 1.75 oz. Belle de Brillet
  • 0.5 oz. Fresh lemon juice (optional)
  • 3.5 oz. Grapefruit soda
  • 1 oz. Prosecco
  • Slice of grapefruit to garnish

Add ice to a glass, then add all liquid ingredients. Stir, then garnish with grapefruit slice.

St-Rémy Signature Rose cocktail

St-Rémy Signature Rose

  • 1 oz. St-Rémy Signature
  • 0.7 oz. Fresh lemon juice
  • 0.3 oz. Grenadine syrup
  • 0.3 oz. Hibiscus syrup
  • 1 Egg white
  • Edible flower to garnish

Add ice and first five ingredients to a shaker. Shake well, then strain into a stemmed or footed glass. Garnish with an edible flower.

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

Images provided by LaFORCE

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What are You Changing in 2024?

What are You Changing in Your Restaurant or Bar in 2024?

by David Klemt

Restaurant owner reviewing their menu

More fun with AI-generated images. That’s quite the busy bar setup.

Toward the end of last year, Nation’s Restaurant News identified what changes operators chose to make after analyzing their operational data.

The publication surveyed hundreds of operators about how data drove their decisions. This survey was an element of their year-end report, Market Leader Report: The Data-driven Restaurant.

As one would imagine, this report focuses on data collection, analysis, and usage. However, NRN‘s report doesn’t just address the importance of data collection in the F&B space. Rather, they seek to understand if operators are collecting the “right” data; whether they can optimize the data they collect; what metrics they’re tracking; and how they’re acting on all that data.

Simply put, it’s an important report addressing a topic crucial to today’s restaurant and bar operations. Those who want their own copy of The Data-driven Restaurant can download it free here.

While entire report is valuable, the focus of this article is one question and the answers provided. Below, to provide context, is a breakdown of the survey respondents.

The Who

Most of the respondents identified as independent restaurant operators.

  • Indie: 37 percent
  • Chain (franchisee): 21 percent
  • Chain (company owned): 18 percent
  • Multi-concept: 15 percent
  • Single-site operator: 6 percent
  • HQ or brand level of foodservice company: 3 percent

By a slim margin, most survey respondents categorized their restaurants as full service or casual dining.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the fewest respondents operate in the upscale or fine dining category.

  • Full service / casual dining: 30 percent
  • Fast casual: 28 percent
  • Quick service: 20 percent
  • Midscale / family dining: 15 percent
  • Upscale / fine dining: 7 percent

The What

So, what question caught our attention at KRG Hospitality?

“In the past 12 months, which initiatives did your organization undertake after analyzing data?”

NRN conducted this survey in November 2023. Not surprisingly, respondents mostly made changes to their menus after reviewing their data. Streamlining menus and adjusting prices were two of the biggest operational trends last year, as many operators are no doubt well aware.

That theory is supported by the survey results. Below, the top four answers to the question above.

  • Changed menu prices (48 percent)
  • Removed items from or added items to our menu (47 percent)
  • Improved the way we trained our staff (26 percent)
  • Adjusted our loyalty program’s rewards and/or incentives (24 percent)

Honestly, it’s heartening to see that training is among the top-three data-driven actions operators took last year. And, of course, it’s not shocking that the menu was the focus of the most attention. Streamlining is an effective way to reduce food and labor costs. Further, pricing is always (please excuse the pun) on the menu.

Our question is: What changes, if any, do you plan to implement this year now that we’re headed into Q3?

The What: The Sequel

If the menu received the most attention after operators reviewed their data, what received the least?

Well, it appears marketing fell to the wayside, along with the kitchen. The following are the bottom four answers to the question in the section above:

  • A/B tested marketing campaigns and increased ROI (6 percent)
  • Changed specs on our kitchen equipment or technology (10 percent)
  • Identified lapsed customers and marketed to them (11 percent)
  • Increased throughput in our kitchen during peak periods (13 percent)

Now, I’ll concede that one marketing action found itself in the middle of the pack when it came to this survey question. Upon analyzing their data, 18 percent of respondents identified new potential guests and marketed to those people.

Still, in comparison to making changes to menus, the fewest respondents took marketing action or made changes to the kitchen directly.

Does this mean that menu changes have the greatest impact on guests and ROI? Well, that’s possible. However, I think something else is at play.

Personally, I think collecting data is the easy part. At this point, most platforms serving our industry are collecting data for operators.

But tracking the correct metrics, analyzing the associated data, and knowing what to do after analyzing said data? That’s difficult. It can be overwhelming, which is why it’s so important to build and implement the proper tech stack for a specific concept. This is why one of the services we offer our clients is tech-stack development.

Further, the tech stack needs to be built around an operator and their leadership team. If nobody knows how to use it or what to do with the data they’re collecting, it’s useless.

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

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Celebrating the Goat of Beer Styles

Celebrating the Goat of Beer Styles

by David Klemt

An Alpine Ibex, also known as a Steinbock, in the mountains

On Wednesday, March 20, operators and their teams have the opportunity to celebrate the “goat” of beer styles with their guests.

I’m talking about Bock Beer Day, the day we raise a glass to a several-centuries-old beer style. Just like I did with Baltic Porter Day last year, I’m going to do a bit of a deep dive into this diverse brew.

Now, please note that I say Bock is the goat, not the GOAT. I’m not claiming that Bock is the greatest beer of all time. (Although, this style does make a compelling case for the GOAT title.)

Rather, the German word bock translates to “goat” in English. And why would Germans name a beer after the hollow-horned relatives of sheep? Well, it all comes down to accents.

Beer experts and historians agree that we can trace the first brewing of Bock beer to Einbeck, a town in Germany, in the 14th century. As the story goes, people in Germany pronounced the Einbeck as ein bock, which translates to “a goat.” Hence, goat, not GOAT.

However, as I said, this style of beer does have a realistic claim to the beer throne. It’s a wide-ranging style that has many variants. Of course, Bock itself is related to another style: Lager. In particular, brewers tend to view it as a “cousin” of Amber Lager.

Over time, Bocks have evolved a bit. Once considered a “strong” Lager high in alcohol content, the style is much more varied now. A Bock can be low-ABV (I found one that’s just 3.5% ABV) to high test. It can be pale or dark, and every shade in between.

One thing Bocks do have in common, however, is a sweet, malty note on the palate.

Styles of Bock

There are several styles within this style of beer. Savvy operators will realize that positions Bock well for flights, pairings, and tastings.

In fact, Bocks are excellent for multi-course dining events. That can mean three courses (starter, main, dessert) to four or more.

Oh, and for those wondering, Bock pairs well with Asiago, Parmesan, and Cheddar cheeses.

Some styles operators and their bar teams will want to consider are:

  • Doppelbock
  • Dunkels Bock, a.k.a. Traditional Bock
  • Eisbock
  • Helles Bock, a.k.a. Maibock
  • Texas Bock
  • Triple Bock
  • Weizenbock

American Bock Beers

Kicking off the list below is Shiner Bock. When it comes to American Bock beer, this Texas brew is likely the most well known.

Interestingly, there are people deeply entrenched in the beer world that believe Texas is the epicenter of Bock beer in the US.

Of course, there are craft brewers all over the country producing Bock beers. With that in mind, I encourage operators to look into breweries in their state to learn who’s crafting this style of beer.

A word of warning: Many breweries produce Bock seasonally or in limited runs, so they can be difficult to find.

  • Shiner Bock (Shiner, Texas)
  • New Glarus Uff-da Bock (New Glarus, Wisconsin)
  • Rogue Dead Guy Ale (Newport, Oregon)
  • Genesee Spring Bock (Rochester, New York)
  • Community Beer Co. Texas-style Bock (Dallas, Texas)

Candian Bock Beers

Similarly to the US, it takes a fair bit of research to find Bock beers in Canada.

However, I think operators who put in the effort will find it rewarding. It’s smart business to find out who can supply Bocks (and other craft beers) so operators can support local brewers.

Below is a short list of brewers in BC and Ontario who produce Bock beers.

  • Howl Brewing Winterbock (Victoria, British Columbia)
  • Hoyne Brewing Co. Weizenbock (Victoria, British Columbia)
  • Vancouver Island Brewing Hermannator Ice Bock (Victoria, British Columbia)
  • Pacific Western Brewing Co. Schwarzbock (Prince George, British Columbia)
  • Blackburn Brew House General Bock (Niagara Falls, Ontario)

Image: Cédric Streit on Unsplash

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Clash of the Coffee Cocktails

Clash of the Coffee Cocktail Titans: Espresso Martini vs. Carajillo

by David Klemt

AI-generated image of a Carajillo cocktail next to an Espresso Martini

It took quite a few attempts for AI to generate a Carajillo without a lemon wedge or wheel garnish, with oddly placed ice on top of the foam.

It’s National Espresso Martini Day on Friday, March 15, the day we celebrate a cocktail that has been having “a moment” for decades.

I doubt the man behind the Bramble thought the Espresso Martini (originally the Vodka Espresso) would take on the life it has. The late, legendary Dick Bradsell created this modern classic in London in the 1980s. Oh, and he was also leading the charge for London’s cocktail scene revival at the time.

For whatever reason, the Espresso Martini (also known as the Pharmaceutical Stimulant when served on the rocks) enjoys immense popularity but also suffers widespread mockery. Hey, I’m also guilty of cracking jokes at this stalwart’s expense. Although, my issue is the annual articles saying, “Espresso Martini, so hot right now. Espresso Martini.”

The drink itself? I’ve enjoyed my fair share. And, damn it, I’ll do it again.

Now, I’m mainly writing about National Espresso Martini Day to put it on your radar. This Bradsell creation is wildly popular, and this year’s holiday falls on a Friday. So, there’s ample opportunity to engage with guests, increase traffic, boost revenue, and get creative.

However, I did use the words “clash” and “versus” in the title of this article for a reason…

Clash of the Coffee Cocktail Titans

I submit that National Espresso Day is the perfect time to make guests not in the know aware of the Carajillo.

Look, I know it’s not cool to steal someone’s thunder on their big day. We know we shouldn’t propose to our significant other at someone’s wedding reception. And it’s poor form to pull focus on someone’s birthday with big life event news.

Still, I’m going to propose that operators use National Espresso Martini Day to introduce guests to its rival.

A great rivalry tends to be beneficial for both participants, so why not stoke a friendly feud between these two coffee cocktail heavyweights? To get people’s promotional wheels turning, allow me to suggest an approach.

One way to get guests acquainted with both cocktails is to have them order them back to back. Encourage the ordering of a traditional (or signature) Espresso Martini. Then, have the guest order a Carajillo, traditional specs or otherwise. Right there, operators have gotten a guest to order the important second drink.

If an operator really wants to lean into this approach, they can even create a prix fixe cocktail menu featuring the Espresso Martini and Carajillo. A third drink could be a signature or personalized riff on whichever cocktail the guest enjoyed most.

Espresso Martini

  • 2 oz. Vodka
  • 1 oz. Fresh-brewed espresso
  • 0.5 oz. Coffee liqueur
  • 0.25 oz. Simple syrup
  • 3 Coffee beans to garnish

Add ice to a cocktail glass to chill it. Alternatively, keep some chilled cocktail glasses on hand. Add all liquid ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well, then strain into prepared cocktail glass. Garnish with three coffee beans.

Carajillo

  • One part Licor 43
  • One part coffee
  • 3 Coffee beans to garnish (optional)

Add equal parts Licor 43 and coffee to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake very well to create a foamy texture, then pour into a cocktail glass.

It’s important to note that a Carajillo can be poured over ice or served up. Also, one can use any type of coffee they prefer, including cold brew. Further, some people make a Carajillo with horchata, while others serve it with a small bowl of sugar. There are also people who use cinnamon sticks and chocolate shavings for garnish.

Going even deeper, some bars serve the Carajillo as a layered, stacked, or pousse-café drink, also known as puesto style.

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

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Program for Unique Holidays: March 2024

Program for Unique Holidays: March 2024

by David Klemt

"Think about things differently" neon sign

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

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

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

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

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

For our February 2024 holidays list, click here.

March 5: Cinco de Marcho

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

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

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

March 7: National Crown Roast of Pork Day

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

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

March 8: National Proofreading Day

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

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

March 14: National Potato Chip Day

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

March 18: National Sloppy Joe Day

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

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

March 19: National Poultry Day

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

March 21: World Vermouth Day

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

March 22: National Goof Off Day

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

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

March 29: Smoke and Mirrors Day

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

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

March 31: National Tater Day

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

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

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

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Update Your Margs with Mezcal and Sotol

Update Your Margaritas with Mezcal, Sotol, and More!

by David Klemt

Contraluz Cristalino Mezcal bottle on a drinks tray

We all know how to make a classic Margarita, so for this National Margarita Day we want to put some new recipes and ingredients on your radar.

The cocktail recipes below swap out the tequila for mezcal and sotol.

For a quick refresher, all tequila is mezcal in a technical sense. Mezcal is made with agave plants. Tequila producers use a specific agave plant, Blue Weber. Further, tequila must be produced in one of five Mexican states: Guanajuato, Jalisco, Michoacan, Nayarit, or Tamaulipas.

Then we have sotol. You may have seen sotol thrown in with agave spirits on cocktail or spirits roundups. To clarify, however, sotol is a typo of shrub known as the desert spoon, and it’s not an agave plant.

So, all tequila is mezcal, mezcal is agave, and sotol is…sotol.

Swap Out the Tequila

Being National Margarita Day, you certainly need to have a classic Margarita on your menu. It’s all the better if your bar team makes them so well and so consistently that really, your top-selling Marg is one of your signature cocktails.

That said, it’s also a good idea to play with classics to give your guests new drinks to discover. The two recipes below are two great examples of riffs on the classic Margarita that should get your and your bar team’s creative wheels turning.

Allow me to introduce you to Contraluz Cristalino Mezcal and Nocheluna Sotol, if you’re not already acquainted.

Contraluz lays claim to the title of “world’s first cristalino mezcal.” Made from 100 percent espadín agave, this is a crystal-clear, small-batch reposado mezcal. On the nose, expect aromas of agave, along with citrus and floral notes. You may also detect smoke, cedar, and honey. In terms of flavor, Contraluz delivers notes of vanilla, clove, cacao, and cooked agave, with a sweet, long finish.

The second cocktail below is made with Nocheluna Sotol, which is crafted using 100-percent wild sotol from Chihuahuan desert. This particular sotol is the result of a collaboration between a fourth-generation master vintner, and a master distiller.

A unique spirit, Nocheluna delivers a delicate balance of sweet, herbal, dried fruit, and mineral notes. These notes come through via both the aroma and taste, although you may detect oak and smoke as well. Interestingly, Nocheluna says the finish may include a taste of pecan wood, along with wet earth.

 

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A post shared by Nocheluna Sotol (@nochelunasotol)

But Wait, There’s More!

Along with Contraluz and Nocheluna, you’ll see three bottles that may be new to you below. The Light and Soul cocktail calls for Alma Finca Orange Liqueur, Nixta Licor de Elote, and HAGAVE Spiced Nectar.

The first is an orange liqueur produced by the same company that makes Montelobos Mezcal. The second liqueur, Nixta Elote, is essentially liquid elote seasoning, and it comes in a fantastic corn-shaped bottle. Finally, HAGAVE is exactly what it says on the label: a premium, spiced agave mixer.

I don’t know about you, but I definitely plan to get my hands on each of these bottles. Just imagine what you can do to engage with your guests by introducing them to a crystal-clear, artisanal mezcal, an expertly crafted sotol, and liquid elote in a corn bottle.

Cheers!

Contraluz Cristalino Mezcal, Light and Soul cocktail

Light and Soul

  • 2.0 oz. Contraluz Cristalino Mezcal
  • 0.5 oz. Alma Finca Orange Liqueur (or a triple sec or different orange liqueur if unavailable)
  • 0.5 oz. Nixta Licor de Elote
  • 1 oz. Lime cordial
  • 0.5 oz. HAGAVE Spiced Nectar

Place a large ice cube or sphere in a rocks glass. Add all liquid ingredients to a shaker filled with ice. Shake well, and strain into the prepared rocks glass. Garnish with a dehydrated lime wheel.

Nocheluna Sotol cocktail, the Sotolita

Sotolita

  • 1.5 oz. Nocheluna Sotol
  • 1.0 oz. Triple sec
  • 1.0 oz. Fresh lime juice
  • 1.5 oz. Apple juice
  • Apple slices to garnish
  • Chiltepin salt for rim (sea salt blend with chiltepin peppers)

Prepare a rocks glass by adding quality ice and rimming it with chiltepin salt. Add ice to a shaker, then add all liquid ingredients. Shake well, then strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with an apple-slice fan.

Images provided by LaFORCE

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