Deprecated: Required parameter $code follows optional parameter $content in /var/www/wp-content/plugins/commercegurus-toolkit/includes/shortcodes/google_maps.php on line 3

Deprecated: Required parameter $code follows optional parameter $content in /var/www/wp-content/plugins/commercegurus-toolkit/includes/shortcodes/content_boxes.php on line 3

Deprecated: Required parameter $code follows optional parameter $content in /var/www/wp-content/plugins/commercegurus-toolkit/includes/shortcodes/content_boxes.php on line 46
News | KRG Hospitality

News

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

This Design Prediction has Our Attention

This Restaurant Design Prediction has Our Attention

by David Klemt

All of Hospitality Design‘s recently revealed 2024 restaurant design predictions are compelling but one in particular really stood out to us.

That’s not to imply that the other predictions are “less than,” of course. Each trend prediction, put forth by highly regarded designers and architects, provides insight into the direction of restaurant design.

As an example, the image atop this article references one of the trend predictions Dala Al-Fuwaires. Per the House of Form owner and principal, retro design is experiencing “a fresh transformation.” In particular, according to Al-Fuwaires, designers are giving materials such as glass brick or block and dark wood tones a modern spin.

Another trend prediction comes from Larry Traxler, the senior vice president of global design at Hilton Hotels & Resorts. Traxler has said in the past that hotels aren’t “just hotels” anymore.

For 2024, he foresees foodie tourism driving significant changes to restaurant and hotel design. Speaking with Hospitality Design, Traxler points to “connection to the outdoors, farm-to-table concepts, biodynamic farming features, biophilia, and bold uses of color and art to create a memorable environment to connect with the food and culture where these hotels are located” as growing trends.

Another trend prediction involves restaurants and kitchens. Specifically, Gulla Jónsdóttir, the owner and principal of Atelier Gulla Jónsdóttir, believes we’ll see more open kitchens in 2024. As Jónsdóttir explains, this design feature creates a more engaging dining experience.

Ed Ng, the founder of AB Concept, has a simple but exciting trend prediction: more concepts embracing secret menus.

But there’s another 2024 prediction that really captured our attention.

Pop-up Collaborations

Operators who put in the time, energy, and strategy to develop buzz around their restaurant experience several benefits.

The most obvious, of course, are increases in traffic, revenue, and profits.

There’s also the recruitment benefit. A restaurant generating local and regional buzz will likely find it much easier to recruit new team members. That is, of course, if ownership and leadership are also generating positive word of mouth in the area.

However, there’s another perhaps lesser-known benefit of developing and operating a cool concept: opportunities to collaborate.

According to Dan Mazzarini, creative director and principal at BHDM Design, hotel groups will seek to partner with local restaurants (and bars, I assume) for pop-ups. These will be on hotel property and will help to provide guests a deeper sense of place during their visits. Another benefit will be locals viewing hotels that partner with independents in the area as respectful of the community.

Most KRG Hospitality clients are indies, regional concepts, and boutique hotels. Consequently, we find Mazzarini’s prediction to be the most captivating. However, each of these trend predictions seem likely to come to fruition.

Image: Ekaterina Astakhova on Pexels

KRG Hospitality. Boutique Hotels. Resorts. Properties. Consultant. Feasibility Study. Business Plan

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

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.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

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

KRG Hospitality Start-Up Restaurant Bar Hotel Consulting Consultant Solutions Plans Services

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Did This Beer Win Super Bowl LVIII?

Did This Beer Win Super Bowl LVIII?

by David Klemt

A pint glass overflowing with beer

Now that the Super Bowl is over, behavioral insight platform Veylinx is revealing the impact on brands that advertised during this year’s big game.

If Veylinx sounds familiar to you, you may be a regular KRG Hospitality news reader. Last month we looked at their dive into alcohol-free canned cocktails. Last year, we shared a Veylinx report with a focus on whether Super Bowl ads really work on consumers. And in 2022, Veylinx wondered if the interest in zero-proof drinks was all hype or worth leveraging.

This month, Veylinx is at it again. This time, however, they’re revealing which brands—those that advertised during Super Bowl LVIII—saw the biggest ROI. For context, a 30-second spot during the big game cost approximately $7 million this year.

That’s a ton of cash to shell out in the hopes of seeing a sales increase on- and off-premise.

Speaking of on-premise, Veylinx’s findings should be of interest to operators. The beer that Veylinx says “won” the Super Bowl will likely be top of mind among your guests who watched the game and the accompanying ads.

So, it stands to reason that they’ll either expect to find that beer on a menu. Likewise, they may be swayed to order the beer if they see it when scanning a bar’s taps, menu, or fridges.

With that in mind, operators may want to watch their sales of Michelob Ultra.

Study Methodology

For their latest report, Veylinx used similar methodology to their Elixir non-alcoholic canned cocktail study.

A mix of 50 percent men and fifty percent women participated in the study. All 1,604 participants were US residents aged 21 or older. Looking deeper into the participants, the age breakdown is as follows:

  • 21 to 27: 30 percent
  • 28 to 43: 25 percent
  • 44 to 59: 25 percent
  • 60 and older: 20 percent

Like the Elixir (a fake brand invented by Veylinx) study, participants bid on products with their own money. The auction mix consisted of products that advertised during Super Bowl LVIII and those that did not advertise during the game.

Study Results

Among all viewers of Super Bowl LVIII, brands that advertised during the game saw an average lift of 16 percent.

However, those brands saw the biggest boost in demand—24 percent—among men. Gen Z followed, with demand in advertised brands growing by 11 percent. Among women, brands that advertised saw just a nine-percent boost in demand.

While Doritos Dinamita was the number-one brand among all viewers in general, and men and Gen Z in particular, Michelob Ultra is a close second. Interestingly, the beer brand was the top-performer among women in terms of demand growth.

For those wondering, no alcohol brands were among the top three performers for Gen Z.

So, operators who have noticed in uptick in Michelob Ultra sales may have Super Bowl LVIII to thank. If that’s the case, if sales of Michelob Ultra have increased in bars and restaurants since this year’s big game, it appears that yes, Super Bowl ads still work on consumers.

Image: cottonbro studio on Pexels

Bar Nightclub Pub Brewery Menu Development Drinks Food

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Bar Hacks Celebrates World Bartender Day

35 Bar Hacks Podcast Episodes for World Bartender Day

by David Klemt

Black microphone and pop filter with purple light

This Saturday, February 24, we celebrate World Bartender Day, so here are 35 Bar Hacks episodes featuring some of our favorite people in the bar business.

We’ve had the honor of speaking with incredibly talented, humble, and generous bartenders. Below you’ll find the Spotify and Apple Podcasts links to nearly three-dozen of these informative and entertainment conversations.

Please join us in thanking your bartenders on Saturday. And if you’re an operator, we encourage you to come up with a way to celebrate your bar team to show them your appreciation.

Cheers!

Episode 109 with Colin Asare-Appiah

Host David Klemt had the opportunity to chat with Colin Asare-Appiah, an industry icon he’s wanted to talk to for many years. Colin is Bacardí’s trade director of multiculture and lifestyle, and the brand’s LGBTQIA+ advocate. Not only does he spread the message of diversity, equity, and inclusion, he believes (as does KRG Hospitality and Bar Hacks) that diversity is necessary for our industry to thrive.

In this episode you’ll learn about Colin Asare-Appiah’s journey through hospitality, which includes saying he’d never be a bartender to becoming a bartender and creating a bartending school; his thoughts on what makes a successful operator and team; cocktail and spirits trends for 2024; the AJABU cocktail festival coming to South Africa in March of this year, spearheaded by Colin and his partner Mark Talbot Holmes; and more.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 107 with Anne Becerra

Anne Becerra is the first female Certified Cicerone in New York City and has been working in beer for more than a decade. More importantly, however, she’s as passionate as she is educated about beer. Anne’s also passionate about hospitality, which comes across in this conversation. Truly, she loves hospitality, the beverage world, and how the two pair to make people feel amazing.

On this episode Anne talks introducing guests to beer; serving beer aficionados, beer neophytes, and the beer wary; how to make guests feel comfortable in a beer-centric concept; what she’s excited about in the beer world; tips for operators who want to succeed with a beer-forward venue; and much, much more. Cheers!

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 106 with Matthias Ingelmann

Since opening their doors, KOL Restaurant has found its way onto the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and Kol Mezcaleria can be found on the World’s 50 Best Disovery tool. The upscale Mexican restaurant and bar, co-owned by Chef Santiago Lastra, celebrates Mexican culture and traditions hand in hand with British ingredients. They’re also currently participating in the 14th annual London Cocktail Week.

KOL bar manager Matthias Ingelmann dropped by the Bar Hacks podcast while he and the team prepared for service. On this episode, Matthias talks agave spirits; introducing guests to artisanal and ancestral agave spirits along with Mexican rum, gin, and whiskey; planning for seasonality and menu changes; maintaining the familiar while offering new menu items; honoring Mexican culture with this fusion concept; what he looks for in team members; and more.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 104 with Simone Caporale

Simone Caporale, an internationally renowned bartender and operator, swings by the Bar Hacks podcast to talk spirits, branding, the guest experience, and operations.

Noticing a gap in the industry and seeing a way to lend his expertise to help grow spirits brands, Simone and Luca Missagli founded Cocktail Concierge, a brand-building agency focusing on craft spirits brands. One of the most recent brands Cocktail Concierge has helped introduce to the world is Amaro Santoni.

Of course, Simone is also one of forces behind SIPS Drinkery House, number three on the World’s 50 Best Bars list, and the World’s Best Bar according to Tales of the Cocktail. Simone shares his thoughts on what he thinks makes SIPS so successful, why he views service as a privilege, three tips operators can implement today to plant the seeds for long-term success, and more!

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 103 with Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr. Lyan, part 2

Ryan Chetiyawardana, also known as Mr. Lyan, returns to the Bar Hacks podcast! Ten years ago, Ryan opened the first bar in what would become the Mr. Lyan empire, White Lyan. This innovative venue set the tone for Ryan and the team’s approach to creating bars.

On this episode of the Bar Hacks podcast, Ryan shares details of the ten-year celebrations; what it means to him to have reached the ten-year operator milestone; lessons learned over the course of more than ten years running bars; what people can expect from the re-release of his book Good Things to Drink with Mr Lyan and Friends, now with brand-new content and a new title, Mr Lyan’s Cocktails at Home: Good Things to Drink with Friends; and more!

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 102 with Jordan Bushell

Global Hennessy brand ambassador Jordan Bushell returns to the Bar Hacks podcast. While Jordan may know people with more Cognac knowledge, we don’t know anyone who knows more about this spirit category. More importantly, he’s as generous with his time as he is knowledgeable about Cognac. If you have a question about the spirit of Hennessy you can reach out to him and he’ll answer you.

On this episode of Bar Hacks, Jordan talks about special Hennessy releases, initiatives, collaborations, and what sets the maison apart from others in the Cognac region of France. He also talks about how operators can introduce guests to Cognac and Hennessy, including paying attention how they price their menus. Cheers!

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 101 with Ryan Chetiyawardana, aka Mr. Lyan

Ryan Chetiyawardana, also known as Mr. Lyan, is one of the bar world’s true visionaries. He opened his first bar, White Lyan, in 2013 and the venue immediately achieved its intended purpose. Beyond being an award-winning bar and one of London’s best places to grab a drink, White Lyan started a much-needed conversation about sustainability in the industry.

Dandelyan, Lyaness, Super Lyan, Cub, and Silver Lyan would follow shortly after, making an even bigger splash not only in London but also Amsterdam and Washington, DC. All Mr. Lyan venues, while showcasing incredible innovation, accomplish something just as important: each bar is a place people to want to spend their time and money, and where professionals want to work.

During this fantastic conversation, Ryan shares insights into the menu programming processes at each venue; discusses seasonality; provides a look into hiring and engaging each team; the reissue of his book and his foray into the RTD cocktail space; and much more.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 99 with Michele Mariotti

Bartender Michele Mariotti leads an illustrious career. He has worked behind the bars at some of the best hotels around the world, including the Savoy in London and Mandarin Oriental in Singapore.

As of 2020, Michele has held the title head of bars at the Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland. In this role, he heads the programs at 11 F&B venues on the property, overseeing dozens of bar professionals.

On this episode, Michele and Bar Hacks podcast host David Klemt talk about mentorship, interviewing potential bartenders, menu development, using a flavor map when assigning new cocktail builds to bar team members, finding inspiration, interesting hotel guests, bespoke glassware, investing in platforms and programs that boost staff retention, and more.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 96 with Lynnette Marrero

You know about RTDs, but what about RTEs? Lynnette Marrero returns to the Bar Hacks podcast, dialing in from a very cool hybrid restaurant-work concept in Cincinnati to talk about Delola, the recently launched premium ready-to-enjoy cocktail brand.

The House of Delola was founded by Jennifer Lopez with the mission of launching premium, sophisticated RTE cocktails. The core lineup consists of three spritzes crafted in collaboration with bartending, mixology, and hospitality icon Lynnette Marrero. A truly collaborative effort, Lynnette created bold yet refreshing spritzes that resonate with JLo’s party personality, Lola.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 95 with Bob Peters

Bob Peters has big news to share, and you can hear in his voice how excited he is to share it with everyone. He’s taking on the perfect role. In fact, he calls it his dream job during this episode. Cocktails and cuisine are about to get even better in North Carolina and South Carolina…

But it doesn’t stop there! Bob also shares his approach to bar training to make sure everyone is engaged; his assessment of the Charlotte dining and drinking scene; a simple step all restaurants and bars can take today to improve operations, team engagement, and the guest experience; a very cool project he’s taking on; and more.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 93 with Adrián Michalčík

Adrián Michalčík is the director of mixology at the award-winning Pier 42 inside the Amerikalinjen hotel in Oslo, Norway. The bar has been recognized by the World’s 50 Best and has won Best Bar of Norway twice. In addition to taking home the title of 2022 Diageo World Class Global Bartender of the Year, Adrián has won several bartending competitions throughout the years.

He popped by the Bar Hacks podcast to chat with host David Klemt about his bartender journey. Adrián has worked in several types of bars and each helped him develop the skills that allowed him to elevate his skills behind the bar. Mentors, his endless quest for knowledge, his passion for hosting others, and his focus on empathy have informed his approach to team building, delivering top-level hospitality, and tapping into his creativity to develop Pier 42’s cocktail menus.

Adrián shares the three pillars he believes great bars are built upon, what he looks for in bar team members, transforming people from guests to friends, the importance of storytelling, and much more.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 91 with Charles Joly

Industry icon, bar educator, entrepreneur, and bartender Charles Joly drops by the Bar Hacks podcast to chat with host David Klemt. The two discuss Charles’ start and his journey from the trenches to opening Chicago’s Drawing Room, and also his role at the city’s legendary Aviary. Charles also talks about Crafthouse Cocktails, the premium ready-to-serve brand, and his barware label Crafthouse by Fortessa. Interestingly, his love of bar history and vintage barware design not only informs his own designs, it manifests in Telltail Vintage, his Instagram shop. Not one to sit still for long, Charles is also involved in craft ice startup Abstract Ice.

The conversation also touches on spirits categories that appear to be dominating or otherwise seeing a big lift; advice for aspiring career bartenders; and advice for operators who want to succeed in today’s restaurant and bar world.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 84 with Roberta Mariani

Bar Hacks host David Klemt sits down with Roberta Mariani, Global Brand Ambassador for MARTINI. The two discuss a range of topics, including Roberta’s journey through hospitality, lessons learned working at some of the best hotels in London and opening Bar Tremini in Soho, the guest experience, aperitivo culture, and more. Roberta and David also discuss why now might be the best time to introduce guests to Aperitivo Hour as an alternative to Happy Hour, the Negroni Sbagliato “controversy,” MARTINI’s Non-Alcoholic range, and the cocktails need to put on their menus to bring aperitivo culture into their restaurants, bars, and hotels.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 81 with Paul Mathew

Paul Mathew, bartender, bar owner, and founder of Everleaf, sits down with Bar Hacks podcast co-host David Klemt. In this fun and informative episode, Paul shares his journey through bartending and bar ownership, and his entry into the drinks business. Non-alcoholic aperitif brand Everleaf is the culmination of Paul’s many years as a conservationist botanist, knowledge of plants, and nearly 30 years in the bar business.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 59 with Theo Rutherford

Whiskey expert, spirits judge, and sommelier Theo Rutherford stops by the Bar Hacks podcast to talk about Bib & Tucker Small Batch Bourbon, a prominent addition to the Deutsch Family of wine and spirits. Theo shares the Bib & Tucker brand story, what sets the brand apart from other bourbons, and why the 6 Year expression appeals to all categories of whiskey drinkers. He also shares tips for tasting bourbon, including how easily Bib & Tucker wins over non-whiskey drinkers. Listen now to learn why Theo wants you to smell everything and stop swirling your whiskey at tastings.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 58 with Ivy Mix and Conor McKee

Ivy Mix returns to the Bar Hacks podcast with Conor McKee, a partner in her off-premise endeavor FIASCO Wine and Spirits. Mix, McKee and third partner Piper Kristensen signed FIASCO’s lease a month before the pandemic halted life as we knew it in its tracks. So, they spent the next several months doing demolition and renovation. This conversation highlights the importance of partnering with the right people, even if that means having different partners for different projects; setting aside ego to ask partners who may know more about your new business than you; and leveraging your shared experience to deliver the best service possible to your clientele. If you’ve wondered about taking your on-premise experience to the off-premise space, this is a can’t-miss episode!

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 57 with Collin De Laval

Código 1530 not only has an intriguing story, the brand values authenticity and heritage. Company mixologist Collin De Laval stops by the Bar Hacks podcast to share the Código 1530 story with co-host David Klemt. The two discuss Código’s notable past, handmade approach to their entire production process, innovative products, unique foray into mezcal, shooting high-end spirits, and more.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 54 with Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero

Speed Rack co-founders Ivy Mix and Lynnette Marrero come on the podcast to talk about breast cancer awareness and the role the all-female high-speed bartending competition plays in raising money for breast cancer research. Mix and Marrero also share their thoughts on nurturing work cultures that promote women, creating venues that are safe for female guests and staff, how to approach mentorship, their favorite spirits, and more.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 52 with Lynn House

Lynn House, national spirits specialist and portfolio mixologist for Heaven Hill, drops by Bar Hacks to speak with host David Klemt about the second annual Old Fashioned Week. Elijah Craig is seeking to raise at least $100,000 for the Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation, an advocacy and action nonprofit created by and for restaurant workers.

Lynn and David also discuss bourbon, rye, hospitality, building balanced cocktails, and how trust plays a role in educating guests so you and your team can introduce them to new drinks and experiences.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 50 with Travis Tober

Episode 50! The only way to celebrate such a big milestone is with an incredible guest. We’re excited to bring you Travis Tober of Nickel City and Old Pal. Travis and his partners opened the first Nickel City in Austin in 2017. The Forth Worth location opened its doors during the pandemic in October 2020. Travis then opened Old Pal in Lockhart, TX, just a few months ago.

In our 50th episode, Travis explains the difference between a dive bar and a neighborhood bar, and notes that both Nickel City locations are “anytime bars” that welcome everyone. He also shares his hospitality journey, which saw him go from Buffalo, NY, to Florida, Las Vegas, and ultimately Texas; tips for staying on brand; hiring and retaining team members; how the hospitality industry is the entertainment industry; supporting the community during a crazy winter storm; location scouting; how there’s no better time to open a bar or restaurant than right now; and much more.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 47 with Tony Abou-Ganim

The legend, the icon, the one and only Tony Abou-Ganim stops by Bar Hacks to chat with co-host David Klemt. The two discuss this year’s Helen David Relief Fund at the USBG Foundation fundraising events, Helen David and the Brass Rail’s legacy, current drink trends, and more.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 45 with Bob Peters

Revered bar pro Bob Peters swings by the Bar Hacks podcast to chat with co-host David Klemt about a wide array of topics: his love-hate relationship with the words “pivot” and “layered”; lessons learned over more than two decades behind the bar; hiring and training bar staff; how he always seems to have the coolest new bar equipment, including the new Ripples 2.0 and Stündenglass gravity smoker; Bob’s current go-to cocktail, spirit, beer and wine; and so much more. You’ll also learn about Bob’s exciting new endeavor, CocktailClass.com. You don’t want to miss this episode. Strap in—this is a fun one!

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 40 with Trevor Schneider

We’re excited to present episode 40! For the big four-oh we speak with Trevor Schneider, the United States Reyka Vodka brand ambassador. Trevor shares what sets Reyka apart from other vodkas and brands, lessons learned during a career in which he worked at several types of bars throughout New York City, surviving the weeds with the Bartender Ballet, his preferred Espresso Martini recipe, vodka infusions, and more!

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 39 with Anthony “Terry” Bohlinger

Anthony “Terry” Bohlinger, national brand ambassador for new William Grant & Sons whiskey brand Fistful of Bourbon, drops by Bar Hacks. Terry talks with podcast co-host David Klemt about launching a brand during a pandemic, representing an irreverent brand that doesn’t take itself too seriously, the hilarious videos Fistful of Bourbon created to introduce the brand, lessons learned during his journey in hospitality, and more.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 36 with Jordan Bushell

Global Ambassador and engaging educator for storied brand Hennessy, Jordan Bushell, swings by Bar Hacks to chat with host David Klemt. When he attended a bartending class with a buddy he had no idea it would lead to celebrating three major Hennessy milestones over the course of a decade. The two talk about Master Blender’s Selection No. 4, how to share Cognac knowledge with bar teams and consumers, menu tricks, and much, much more.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 32 with Michael Toscano

Woodford Reserve brand ambassador Michael Toscano stops by to talk about the Kentucky Derby, crafting the perfect Mint Julep, maximizing the operator-brand-rep relationship, and more.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 28 with Tim Rita

Lyre’s Spirits crafts alcohol-free spirits that masterfully mimic their full-proof counterparts. Host David Klemt sits down with Lyre’s brand ambassador, bartender and buddy Tim Rita to chat about the brand. In this episode you’ll learn about one of the fastest-growing brands in one of the fastest-growing beverage categories.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 27 with Armon Noori

It’s tax season and hospitality industry professionals have unique needs. Luckily, we have unique industry friends! Host David Klemt speaks with Armon Noori, an incredible Las Vegas bartender who also has a finance degree and an entrepreneurial spirit. Armon opened a tax preparation and financial services company called Industry Financial Services this with the mission of helping his fellow industry peers.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 26 with Katie Stryjewski a.k.a. Garnish Girl

The Garnish Girl herself, Katie Stryjewski, dropped by the Bar Hacks podcast to talk with host David Klemt. Katie talks about her new book Cocktails, Mocktails, and Garnishes from the Garden, available today! This book is loaded with delicious recipes along with helpful information to elevate your drinks and grow your own ingredients and garnishes. Katie shares some of her favorite drinks, photography and social media tips, edible flowers, and more!

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 25 with Megan Breier

Happy International Women’s Day! One of our favorite people in the industry—and in life in general—popped by to speak with Bar Hacks host David Klemt. Megan Breier is one of the most engaging, entertaining and knowledgeable educators in the hospitality and spirits industries. In this episode, Megan explains what sets Maker’s Mark apart from other bourbons, some of the amazing activations she’s executed, Private Selection, Maker’s 101, Margie Samuels’ contributions to the brand and industry, and more.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 20 with Vance Henderson

Host David Klemt kicks back and talks with Vance Henderson, national brand ambassador for Hendrick’s Gin. Before joining William Grant & Sons, Vance tended, managed and operated bars for several years. He proved himself at WG&S with Drambuie and then moved to Monkey Shoulder before taking on his role at Hendrick’s. He shares details of the brand-new Hendrick’s Lunar, his thoughts on branding, his best tips for hiring, and much more.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 17 with 86 Politicians, part 2

Part two of host David Klemt’s talk with bar operator Yan Agaev and bartender Holly Tripp, founders of 86 Politicians.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 16 with 86 Politicians, part 1

Part one of host David Klemt’s conversation with bar operator Yan Agaev and bartender Holly Tripp. Yan, fed up with how elected officials have continually damaged the hospitality industry throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, posted a video shot and edited by Holly that spread across social media like wildfire. The duo founded 86 Politicians, a peaceful grassroots movement intended to hold politicians accountable for the harm they’ve caused the industry and their inaction on targeted financial relief.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 14 with Joann Spiegel

In this episode, host David Klemt speaks with Joann Spiegel to dive deep into the global phenomenon that is Miracle, the annual Christmas-themed cocktail pop-up event. Back in 2014, nobody predicted how successful or expansive this event would become. Miracle has transformed into a juggernaut that involves months of careful planning, cocktail creation, logistics, partner liaisons, and much more behind-the-scenes preparation. The end result is a profitable and memorable pop-up that runs for 35 to 40 days.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Episode 12 with Jared Boller

The new host of the Bar Hacks podcast chats with Jared Boller, Canadian National Whiskey Ambassador at Proximo Spirits. Tending bar gave him the opportunity to live, work and travel around the world. Currently, he represents brands like Bushmills and Proper No. Twelve at Proximo Spirits in Canada. Jared discusses his journey through the world of hospitality and how operators can benefit more from working with brand ambassadors.

Spotify link

Apple Podcasts link

Cheers to the bartenders across the world!

Image: Los Muertos Crew on Pexels

Bar Nightclub Pub Brewery Winery Staff Talent Consulting

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

TOTCF Unveils National Policy Initiative

TOTCF Unveils National Policy Initiative

by David Klemt

Tales of the Cocktail 2023 Singapore x Tales Residency

Yesterday, the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation announced the launch of their Policy Initiative, intended to update outdated labor standards and pay.

Along with advocating for both bartenders and servers, the initiative seeks to raise the subminimum wage to $2.13.

This news comes on the heels of the completion of an in-depth survey. The TOTCF surveyed more than 510 bartenders and other hospitality industry professionals about pay and other compensation.

In particular, more than half of bar workers want employers to provide health insurance. On the restaurant side, servers want to say increases in pay.

There’s much more, of course. Please visit this link to discover the finer details of the TOTCF Policy Initiative. Additionally, you’ll find TOTCF’s press release in its entirety below.

INTRODUCING THE TALES OF THE COCKTAIL FOUNDATION® POLICY INITIATIVE

TOTCF introduces a national initiative aimed at policy change in support of the hospitality community with first priority centered on improving labor standards for bar professionals

NEW ORLEANS, LA (February 13, 2024) — Tales of the Cocktail Foundation® (TOTCF) is pleased to announce the launch of the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Policy Initiative, a multi-faceted effort designed to amplify and advocate for improved benefits and resources for hospitality professionals in the United States. The TOTCF Policy Initiative – which includes a robust nationwide survey and research project, coupled with support from the initiative’s advocacy committee members and partners – will catalyze an extensive campaign to create policy reform and positive change within the food and beverage community.

“Supporting an industry that has been historically underserved – from lack of industry research, common resources to educate and inform, and funding for coalitions – is crucial in breaking the cycles that have made it difficult to build a lifelong career in hospitality,” said Tales of the Cocktail Foundation CEO Eileen Wayner.

Intended to shift antiquated and subpar labor standards through industry support of positive policy action, the TOTCF Policy Initiative’s objectives include providing resources for employees and employers on labor standards and protections, conducting research and supporting efforts toward effective policy changes, information on healthcare access and benefits, sexual harassment training, and youth worker engagement – all with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion. The TOTCF Policy Initiative, along with its Bar Professional Policy Network Hub, will assist with the organization of grassroots development and advocacy efforts in industry professionals’ local communities, providing opportunities for advocates to be directly involved in policy and reform in their own communities.

“Given our unique position within the industry, we want to offer platforms and resources for productive conversations between policymakers, industry executives, bar owners and operators, and bar professionals, to ensure existing and future policy changes are reflective and inclusive,” said Tammera Catchings, Government Affairs Manager for Tales of the Cocktail Foundation. “For TOTCF, the process begins with supportive research data and intricate data analysis of bar industry professionals and their work.”

The Policy Initiative is centered around improving labor standards for hospitality professionals around the country and supporting increased protections that will help ensure bartending and serving are viable, long-term careers. One of the first priorities of the TOTCF Policy Initiative is to support efforts to increase the subminimum wage of $2.13 for bartenders and servers. Since 1990, employment in the hospitality industry has grown over 85%, while overall private-sector employment grew by only 24%. With more than one in ten U.S. workers employed in the hospitality industry, increasing the wage floor and improving labor standards would significantly improve the well-being of millions of Americans and their families and help reduce long-standing race and gender-based wage inequities.

Launched in spring 2022, Phase One of the Policy Initiative consisted of a robust research project, which culminated with an industry-specific data collection completed by more than 500 bartenders and servers nationwide, targeting topics such as job quality, compensation, tip culture, health benefits, and more. This research, which was analyzed by Dynata, the nation’s largest first-party data company, resulted in a compilation of data that highlights key trends in the hospitality community. By effectively utilizing the survey data to start a progressive dialog amongst hospitality executives, politicians, and advocates, the TOTCF Policy Initiative will encourage significant changes in the economic and labor standards for all bartenders and servers in the country. Research results will be published as analyzed on the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Policy website in April 2024. In Phase Two of the initiative to support positive policy reform, TOTCF is partnering with Florida International University Chaplin School of Hospitality and Tourism Management to conduct further research and analysis into industry labor standards, culminating in research publication at the end of 2024.

TOTCF Policy Initiative Committee Members

TOTCF is pleased to share the collective of industry professionals who are dedicated to advancing and overseeing the Policy Initiative: 
  • Zen Castro: New Orleans, LA – Espiritu Mezcaleria Restaurant, Bartender; BeachBum Berry’s Latitude 29, Bar Back
  • Jayanthi Daniel: Los Angeles, CA – Restaurant Workers Community Foundation, Executive Director 
  • Lauren Darnell: New Orleans, LA – Made IN New Orleans, Executive Director
  • Amanda Gunderson: Los Angeles, CA – Another Round Another Rally, Co-Founder
  • Kaiden Hope: New York, NY – Beam Suntory, Multicultural Portfolio Associate
  • Alex Jump: Denver, CO – Focus on Health, Co-Founder and Director of Operations
  • Jesse Maguire: New York, NY – Beam Suntory, U.S. Trade Engagement Manager 
  • Lynnette Marrero: New York, NY – American Bartender, Mixologist, and Philanthropist 
  • Robin Nance: Albany, IN – Strategic Branding Expert
  • John Reyna: Dallas, TX – Texas Hospitality and Non-profit Law Center, Managing Attorney

Government Affairs Manager

  • Tammera Catchings, J.D., M.S.: Ridgeland, MS – Tales of the Cocktail Foundation
To learn more about the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation Policy Initiative and get involved, join the Bar Professional Policy Network. You can learn more about The Foundation via the Tales of the Cocktail Foundation website, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

About Tales of the Cocktail Foundation

Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is a non-profit organization that educates, advances, and supports the global hospitality industry and creates lasting impact in our host communities. Tales of the Cocktail Foundation is the global leader in spirits education and a platform to tackle issues facing the industry. The pillars of the Foundation are to Educate, Advance, and Support the hospitality industry through programs that benefit individuals and organizations in the community and to make a lasting impact in communities that host our events. This year, TOTCF hosts its 22nd Tales of the Cocktail® (TOTC) conference in New Orleans from July 21-26, 2024, and celebrates the theme Inspire.

Image: Cory Fontenot

Bar Pub Brewery Nightclub Club Nightlife Business Plan

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Best and Worst Cities for Servers

Service Wins and Woes: Best and Worst Cities for Servers

by David Klemt

Aerial photograph of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at night

A recent survey from gaming industry site Casinos.US identifies the 25 best and two-dozen worst cities for servers in America.

I can share two details about the methodology that Casinos.US employed.

One, they surveyed 2,000 current and former hospitality professionals. And two, they were asked to rate the overall rudeness of their guests on a scale of one to ten. One is the kindest, ten is the rudest.

Further, I can share that the average rudeness of guests being served in the US is 4.9 out of ten. Unfortunately, the three worst cities on the Casinos.US list rank between 7.0 and 7.6 on the rudeness scale. In fact, 22 of the 24 worst cities come in at 5.0 or above.

No city is perfect. The best of the best earns a score of 2.0, with the next best hitting a 3.0. Still, not bad at all.

Sadly, 45 percent of respondents reported finding themselves interacting with rude guests at least twice per day. As far as the worst of the worst, respondents identified “older adults” as the rudest, and Sunday as the day of the week with the most incidents. Do with that information as you will.

There are two sides to the coin, of course. Impressively, 24 percent of respondents “rarely” encounter rudeness from guests. Even better, 28 percent don’t expect to come across rude guests on a daily basis at work. So, there’s some hope out there.

To review the results of this survey for yourself, click here.

The Worst

Alright, let’s get it out of the way. Below, the worst cities in America for servers, according to Casinos.us.

To the right, their rudeness score. Again, the score is out of ten, with ten being the absolute worst.

  1. Washington, DC (4.9)
  2. Orlando, Florida (4.9)
  3. San Antonio, Texas (5.0)
  4. Sacramento, California (5.0)
  5. Columbus, Ohio (5.0)
  6. Buffalo, New York (5.0)
  7. Houston, Texas (5.1)
  8. St. Louis, Missouri (5.1)
  9. Atlanta, Georgia (5.1)
  10. Louisville, Kentucky (5.3)
  11. Miami, Florida (5.3)
  12. Nashville, Tennessee (5.4)
  13. New York, New York (5.4)
  14. Phoenix, Arizona (5.6)
  15. Detroit, Michigan (5.7)
  16. San Diego, California (5.8)
  17. Las Vegas, Nevada (5.8)
  18. New Orleans, Louisiana (5.8)
  19. Milwaukee, Wisconsin (6.0)
  20. Providence, Rhode Island (6.3)
  21. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma (6.3)
  22. Jacksonville, Florida (7.0)
  23. Cincinnati, Ohio (7.0)
  24. Virginia Beach, Virginia (7.6)

This list, if accurate, leaves me with one question: What’s going on, Virginia Beach? Sheesh. Calm down—your side of ranch isn’t that important, I promise.

It’s tempting to label this a tourist issue. Well over 10 million people—nearly 20 million in 2019—visit Virginia Beach annually.

And, hey, look at the rest of the list; it’s loaded with destination cities that draw millions upon millions of tourists each year.

However, when you look at the list of the best cities for servers below you’ll find more destination cities.

The Best

Now that we know the worst, let’s check out the best.

The cities below rank the lowest as far as rude behavior from guests.

  1. Dallas, Texas (4.8)
  2. Minneapolis, Minnesota (4.8)
  3. Boston, Massachusetts (4.8)
  4. Birmingham, Alabama (4.8)
  5. Salt Lake City, Utah (4.8)
  6. Los Angeles, California (4.7)
  7. San Francisco, California (4.7)
  8. Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (4.7)
  9. Raleigh, North Carolina (4.6)
  10. Riverside, California (4.5)
  11. Kansas City, Missouri (4.5)
  12. Seattle, Washington (4.5)
  13. Charlotte, North Carolina (4.4)
  14. Richmond, Virginia (4.3)
  15. Cleveland, Ohio (4.3)
  16. Indianapolis, Indiana (4.2)
  17. Chicago, Illinois (4.1)
  18. Denver, Colorado (4.1)
  19. Portland, Oregon (4.0)
  20. Tampa, Florida (3.8)
  21. Hartford, Connecticut (3.8)
  22. Austin, Texas (3.8)
  23. Baltimore, Maryland (3.7)
  24. Memphis, Tennessee (3.0)
  25. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (2.0)

Philly may be the City of Brotherly Love but the Steel City, Pittsburgh, is the best for servers in terms of guest behavior. At least, according to Casinos.US.

If you live in one of the cities above, go out to bars and restaurants, and aren’t a jerk to your servers, congratulations on being a decent person.

Takeaway

Let’s say you’re an owner, operator, or leadership team member. And let’s say you operate or work in one of the cities above, whether the best or worst.

If your service team routinely on edge, regularly upset, find out why. Leaders look out for their teams and strive to provide a healthy work environment.

I’m not saying you need to get into the details of their personal lives. What I am saying is that if there are issues in the workplace, you need to get to the bottom of them. More importantly, you then need to engage the team and get their feedback.

How do they want guest issues handled by the leadership team? Are their problematic regulars who need to be “fired” to protect the team? Some guests simply aren’t worth the revenue and tips in exchange for the emotional and mental distress they’re inflicting on the team.

That is, however, something that must be discussed. Most importantly, when the feedback is taken into account and a procedure is put in place, leadership must adhere to it and act accordingly. Any deviation will result in a loss of trust, and that will decimate team morale even more quickly than an encounter with a rude guest.

Lose trust from your team, lose the business.

Image: Venti Views on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality Start-Up Restaurant Bar Hotel Consulting Consultant Solutions Plans Services

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Pizza Today Reveals Top New Cheeses

Pizza Today Reveals Top New Cheeses for 2024

by David Klemt

Cheese pull from cheese pizza

Pizza Today‘s informative 2024 Pizza Industry Trends Report is full of useful information, from top styles and toppings to new cheeses guests can choose.

Two weeks ago we did a deep dive into the top eleven pizza styles going into 2024, per Pizza Today. Click here to read that article.

Last week we checked out what the pizza publication had to say about top pizza styles by region. Additionally, we looked at the top toppings nationally and regionally. You can read that article here.

Now, we’re going to talk about what Pizza Today has learned about the top cheeses operators are putting on their menus.

Top Pizza Styles, Nationally and Regionally

Before we jump into the cheeses, a quick recap of the top pizza styles in America.

  1. New York
  2. Traditional American
  3. Sicilian
  4. Deep Dish
  5. Neapolitan / Napoletana
  6. Chicago Thin / Tavern-style
  7. Detroit
  8. Grandma
  9. California / American Artisan
  10. NEOpolitan / Neo-Neapolitan and Chicago Thick (tie)

And now, the top trending pizza styles.

  1. Detroit
  2. Deep Dish and Grandma (tie)
  3. Sicilian
  4. New York
  5. Chicago Thin

Finally, the top pizza styles by region. For a more detailed explanation of each region, click here.

The West

  1. New York Style
  2. Traditional America
  3. California/American Artisan
  4. Sicilian
  5. Neapolitan

The South

  1. New York Style
  2. Traditional America
  3. Sicilian
  4. Deep Dish
  5. Neapolitan

The Midwest

  1. Traditional America
  2. Chicago Thin
  3. New York Style
  4. Deep Dish
  5. Detroit

The Northeast

  1. New York Style
  2. Sicilian
  3. Traditional America
  4. Neapolitan
  5. Grandma

Top Pizza Toppings, Nationally and Regionally

We’re almost to the cheeses. First, a recap of the most popular items to put on top of cheese.

Well, unless we’re talking a stuffed pizza. Click here and scroll to Deep Dish to see what I mean.

Now, the top toppings across the US.

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Extra Cheese
  5. Bacon
  6. Chicken
  7. Onion
  8. Red/Green Bell Pepper
  9. Ham
  10. Black Olives
  11. Meatballs
  12. Canadian Bacon
  13. Jalapenos
  14. Pineapple
  15. Beef
  16. Basil
  17. Banana Peppers
  18. Fresh garlic
  19. Tomatoes
  20. Spinach

Below, how toppings break down regionally.

The West

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Chicken
  5. Bacon

The South

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Extra cheese
  5. Bacon

The Midwest

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Bacon
  5. Onion

The Northeast

  • Pepperoni
  • Sausage
  • Mushroom
  • Extra cheese
  • Bacon

Top “New” Cheeses

Okay, so we’ve reviewed top pizza styles. We’ve done a recap for toppings.

So, what are some of the top “new” cheeses going onto those pizza styles and being covered in all those toppings?

It may seem odd the refer to the cheeses below as “new.” In this context, “new” means, “not mozzarella” or “not provolone,” for the most part. Or, if you’re in St. Louis, “not Provel.”

  • Ricotta
  • Cheddar
  • Fresh Mozzarella
  • Goat Cheese
  • Parmigiano Crema
  • Cotija Cheese
  • Scamorza
  • Vegan Cheese
  • Blue Cheese
  • Feta

Guests love personalization, and they love the opportunity to try new foods and new takes on foods they know.

Scamorza

For the most part, you’re likely familiar with all the cheeses above. However, if you’re like me, you may be unfamiliar with scamorza. If that’s the case, I looked into it for both of us.

Like mozzarella, scamorza is made from either stretched cow or water buffalo milk cheese curds. This cheese originates from Italy and comes in two styles: scamorza bianca or and scamorza affumicata. The former is white or natural, while the latter is smoked and brownish in appearance.

Further, bianca is a mild, somewhat sweet cheese. Affumicata, being smoked, delivers a more savory and, as one would expect, smoky flavor.

Vegan Cheese

If you aren’t offering vegan or plant-based cheese for your pizzas, you may not know what brands to use.

Well, don’t worry. I’ve also done some legwork into this topic.

Brands to check out are Violife, Diya, Chao, and Miyoko’s. As plant-based alternatives become more commonplace and expected by guests, I expect more commercial vegan-friendly cheeses to become available. Perhaps we’ll see some at this year’s National Restaurant Association Show.

Image: Pablo Pacheco on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality Start-Up Restaurant Bar Hotel Consulting Consultant Solutions Plans Services

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Drink to Dethrone the Espresso Martini

Will this Drink Dethrone the Espresso Martini?

by David Klemt

A coffee cocktail sitting on top of a bar

If we’re to take what industry pundits and cocktail aficionados are saying, 2024 may be the year that the Espresso Martini falls from grace.

Alright, that may be a bit dramatic. However, maybe we won’t read about how the Espresso Martini is having yet another “moment” this year.

Instead, it’s possible that 2024 will be the Year of the Carajillo.

This incredibly simple cocktail is receiving as muchif not morehype than the Negroni Sbagliato did in 2022. Only this time, bartenders may not roll their eyes whenever they hear someone mention it.

Before I dive into the Carajillo, a bit of clarification. I’m not anti-Espresso Martini. It isn’t like I think I’m above enjoying one of these not-Martinis from time to time. And I’m sure it makes registers ring plenty at bars around the world.

However, it seems like we’re told we’re in the midst of the Espresso Martini’s latest moment every time fall or winter comes around. Look, this is a modern classic that has been around for decades. It’s not “having a moment,” it has simply reached ubiquity.

So, the idea that a perhaps lesser-known coffee cocktail can have its moment this year is exciting. (And a bit of a relief.)

Let’s cannonball into the Carajillo!

Not So Simple

When you do a cursory search for the Carajillo you’ll encounter quite a few absolutes.

For example, there are people who say the drink only and always consists of hot espresso and Licor 43. You may read that the ratio is always one to one.

However, there’s more nuance surrounding the Carajillo.

This deceptively simple cocktail comes to us from Spain. From what I can find, it’s often a cold drink that varies from country to country, region to region. In Spain, it’s commonly coffee and brandy in a two-to-one ratio. Order one in Cuba and it will likely be a rum cocktail rather than brandy. In Mexico, while Licor 43 is said to be the standard, it’s not uncommon for mezcal or a coffee liqueur to accompany the coffee.

Now, as I’ve said, you’ll come across sources that say a Mexican Carajillo is espresso and Licor 43. So, let’s go with that recipe for now.

It’s a simple build: Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add two ounces of hot espresso or other hot coffee and two ounces of Licor 43. Shake until well chilled, then strain into a rocks glass. The shake should form a foamy head. Some people garnish with three coffee beans.

Make it Yours

Of course, there’s room to play with this recipe. You and bar team can change the ratio, change the garnish, experiment with glassware, replace the Licor 43 with another liqueur, add an ingredient…

As an example of the latter suggestion, Cazadores produces a coffee liqueur, Cazadores Café. This can replace Licor 43 or work alongside it.

Just know that if you replace the original liqueur, you’re missing out on a blend of 43 botanicals. That means your Carajillo will taste much different than the standard Mexican build. In that case, is it still a Carajillo?

Well, that’s up to your guests to decide, I suppose.

There are bars that make their Carajillo with cream, brandy, and Licor 43. Some serve theirs with a small bowl of sugar so guests can sweeten them to their liking.

At some bars, the build calls for heating the liqueur or base spirit with lemon and sugar. Others make Carajillos with mint and amaro.

So, you and your bartenders can do what has been done with the Espresso Martini: Alter the Carajillo to create your signature version. You can also simply serve the traditional build.

Or, and this is my recommendation, you can serve traditional Carajillos and offer one or more signature variations.

Cheers!

Image: Jeppe Mønster on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality Start-Up Restaurant Bar Hotel Consulting Consultant Solutions Plans Services

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Top Pizza Styles & Toppings by Region

Top Pizza Styles & Toppings by Region

by David Klemt

Person clawing slice of pepperoni pizza

That’s one way to pick up a slice of pizza…

Now that we know the top 11 pizza styles in North America thanks to Pizza Today, let’s see how they break down by region.

Unfortunately, they don’t include regions throughout Canada in their trends report. However, the information is still incredibly valuable.

Pizza Today has put a lot of effort into their 2024 Pizza Industry Trends Report. So, make sure to click this link and check it out for yourself.

Before we jump into the regional breakdown, let’s check out which pizza toppings lead the way across the nation. As you’ll see later, while many regions follow national trends, they also deviate in notable ways.

If you read last week’s article, you already know which pizza styles dominate North America. For those of you haven’t yet read that article, click here.

That said, here are the top 20 toppings in America.

Top Toppings: Nationwide

If you operate a pizzeria or pizza is a significant focus of your business, you probably know the number one topping.

The image at the top of this article is a hint.

Per Pizza Today, these are the top 20 toppings in the US:

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Extra Cheese
  5. Bacon
  6. Chicken
  7. Onion
  8. Red/Green Bell Pepper
  9. Ham
  10. Black Olives
  11. Meatballs
  12. Canadian Bacon
  13. Jalapenos
  14. Pineapple
  15. Beef
  16. Basil
  17. Banana Peppers
  18. Fresh garlic
  19. Tomatoes
  20. Spinach

Due to outright bias, I hope to see meatballs break into the top ten one of these days. That’s my number one topping.

Now that we’ve shared the top 20 toppings according to Pizza Today, let’s check out the regional breakdown.

The West

This region includes two subregions, Pacific and Mountain.

In alphabetical order, the Pacific states are Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington. The Mountain region includes Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

So, if you’re in one of those 13 states, the info below is relevant to you.

Top Styles

  1. New York Style
  2. Traditional America
  3. California/American Artisan
  4. Sicilian
  5. Neapolitan

Number three makes sense, given this region includes California. Otherwise, the West follows the top five pizza styles in the US rather closely.

Top Toppings

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Chicken
  5. Bacon
  6. Extra cheese
  7. Black Olives
  8. Onion
  9. Jalapenos
  10. Pineapple

In the West, the top three toppings are the same as the rest of the nation. However, chicken and bacon overtake extra cheese in the this region.

The South

Pizza Today divides the South into three subregions: East South Central, South Atlantic, and West South Central.

The former consists of Alabama, Kentucky, Mississippi, and Tennessee. The South Atlantic includes Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and West Virginia. And West South Central is made up of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas.

As you’ll see, the top five pizza styles in the South are the same as the top across the US. Further, the top five toppings in the region are also the same top five nationally. It isn’t until numbers six through ten that we encounter deviations.

Top Styles

  1. New York Style
  2. Traditional America
  3. Sicilian
  4. Deep Dish
  5. Neapolitan

Top Toppings

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Extra cheese
  5. Bacon
  6. Onion
  7. Chicken
  8. Red/Green pepper
  9. Beef
  10. Ham

Beef is number 15 nationally, if you don’t want to scroll up and check for yourself.

The Midwest

The Midwest, per Pizza Today, is organized into two subregions. Those are East North Central and West North Central.

Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Wisconsin make up the former. Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, and South Dakota are the states in the latter subregion.

Top Styles

As a proud Midwesterner, I’m happy to report that the region didn’t disappoint when it comes to the region’s top pizza styles.

  1. Traditional America
  2. Chicago Thin
  3. New York Style
  4. Deep Dish
  5. Detroit

The argument that Chicago Thin (a.k.a. Chicago Tavern) rather than Deep Dish is the true Chicago pizza style is bolstered with these rankings.

Top Toppings

Pizza Today shares only five toppings for this region. Notably, extra cheese doesn’t make it in, kicked out by onion.

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Bacon
  5. Onion

The Northeast

The Middle Atlantic and New England are the two subregions of the Northeast.

For their report, Pizza Today identifies New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania as the three Middle Atlantic states. New England is Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont.

Top Style

Number five, given where it was reportedly created, isn’t a surprise.

In fact, the whole list makes sense:

  1. New York Style
  2. Sicilian
  3. Traditional America
  4. Neapolitan
  5. Grandma

It’s also not a surprise that Deep Dish doesn’t make it into the Northeast’s top five pizza styles.

Top Toppings

Further, the top five of ten top toppings in the Northeast are the same nationally.

  1. Pepperoni
  2. Sausage
  3. Mushroom
  4. Extra cheese
  5. Bacon
  6. Chicken
  7. Onion
  8. Red/Green pepper
  9. Meatballs
  10. Banana Peppers

However, as you can see, meatballs (my favorite) and banana peppers break into the top ten in this region.

Takeaways

Obviously, there are more than just 20 toppings finding their way onto pizzas in the US. Pizza Today reports that birria, fig jam, hot honey, pasilla peppers, and pickled vegetables have earned their way onto menus in at least the past 12 months.

And when it comes the top 20 toppings, there’s nuance. For example, there are multiple styles of pepperoni and preparation, and the same holds true for sausage.

All this is to say the following: A blend of popular, traditional toppings along with the unexpected and new is likely a winning combination. This can include exotic ingredients, plant-based analogs, and international herbs and spices.

Remember, it’s pizza; it’s supposed to tempting and fun.

Image: Maksim Goncharenok on Pexels

KRG Hospitality menu development. Restaurant. Bar. Cafe. Lounge. Hotel. Resort. Food. Drinks.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Nachogate: A Lesson in Standards

Nachogate: A Lesson in Standards

by David Klemt

People sharing a plate of nachos

You wouldn’t think a social media post about a plate of nachos could cause a scandal but that’s exactly what’s happening, and it’s known as Nachogate.

Shockingly, this story comes to us from a luxury casino resort in Las Vegas.

A photo of a meager dish with six entire tortilla chips on it has 1.3 million views already. That’s pretty impressiveor unfortunate, depending on which side of the post you’re onconsidering the post is from this Monday.

One of the top comments on the post points out that there’s quite the disparity between chips and accompaniments.

“More condiments than chips. Wow,” reads the comment. To which the original poster responds, “They said it was so you can have the perfect bite.”

It should go without saying that every dish put in front of a guest needs to be as close to perfect as possible. If it’s on the menu, if it leaves the kitchen, it impacts the guest experience. There is no, “Well it’s only [insert item]. It’s not that big of a deal.”

That mindset simply has no place in hospitality.

No, not every dish or drink is perfect. Yes, everyone makes mistakes. The absolute lowest standard should be caring enough to catch mistakes before they affect guests.

Failing that, every operator and leadership team member needs to care enough to acknowledge mistakes that reach guests, handle them gracefully, and fix them. This includes listening to and rewarding servers, bartenders, barbacks, and hosts whenever they catch a mistake.

Of course, there’s another lesson here. When developing non-negotiable standards, aim high. Fountainbleau Las Vegas is a luxury lifestyle brand; I doubt Nachogate reflects the company’s standards.

#Nachogate Fallout

Look, it can feel good to say that we don’t have competitors in this industry, we have peers. In some ways that can be an accurate statement.

However, watch what happens when an operator makes a mistake and it blows up in spectacular fashion.

Case in point, Nachogate. Or, given how the situation went viral, #Nachogate.

It would be bad enough if The Tavern at Fountainbleau Las Vegas took a reputational hit solely with the guests it affected directly. Obviously, it gets exponentially worse when it takes off on social media and alters the perception of potential guests.

But #Nachogate got worse when the venue’s “peers” leveraged the situation to their advantage.

That’s just a handful of posts taking advantage of Fountainbleau Las Vegas’ mistake. And that’s a lot of free marketing leveraging an unforced error that transformed into a viral moment.

Resolution

Alright, so I probably haven’t made any friends at Fountainbleau for sharing this story. Well, allow me to extend an olive branch. After all, I’ve made plenty of mistakes and will make more in the future.

It appears that the issue has been addressed by the property. That says to me that there are indeed standards, and there are people who care enough to respond when they’re not met.

Again, mistakes happen. The key is to correct course and move forward. Fountainbleau has done just that.

That’s a smart move. A mistake was made, people piled on, and instead of ignoring the issue, the company acknowledged and corrected the mistake where it blew up: the public eye.

Fountainbleau Las Vegas is just over a month into serving the public. There are going to be growing pains. Indeed, anyone who has been following the casino resort is aware that there have been much larger issues. For example, the company is dealing with the departures of three high-level executives.

The point of this article isn’t to roast Fountainbleau further. Assuming the viral post is true and the nachos at The Tavern have indeed been improved, a mistake was made and was then addressed.

I’m sharing this story as an example to drive home the need for standards, for non-negotiables. That means sitting down, considering every element of operations and service, writing out standards, and training teams on those non-negotiables. It’s as important as identifying values, sharing them with the team, and adhering to them.

Sit down today and develop your standards. If you’ve done that in the past, review your standards, update them if necessary, and ensure they still have buy-in from your team.

Image: Herson Rodriguez on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality Start-Up Restaurant Bar Hotel Consulting Consultant Solutions Plans Services

Top