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SevenRooms Reveals Revenue Management Tool

SevenRooms Reveals Revenue Management Tool

by David Klemt

Closeup view of buttons on vintage, antique cash register

Just when you think SevenRooms is done launching new solutions for the year they announce a new tool that will excite operators.

That new tool is Revenue Management. Much more than “just another” plugin, SevenRooms Revenue Management is an engine.

This new engine is feature-rich and automates a number important tasks. In fact, one feature in particular has our attention: the “do-it-for-me” function.

What does that feature give operators the power to accomplish while saving time and labor costs? Below are just a handful of benefits:

  • party size recommendations
  • dining duration configurations
  • decrease last-minute cancellations via cancellation policy implementation
  • floor plan configuration recommendations

Should this automation feature prove easy to understand and use, we can see that this latest tool may become the most popular among SevenRooms users.

To learn more about Revenue Management, scroll down to the latest SevenRooms press release.

Growth Recap

Let’s take a look at just some of the growth SevenRooms has achieved over the course of just the past few years.

  • March 2021: SevenRooms appoints Pamela Martinez as the company’s chief financial officer.
  • September 2021: SevenRooms announces a multi-year partnership with TheFork. The partnership is big news for operators throughout Europe and Australia. Further, the partnership illustrates how the company is pursuing global growth.
  • October of 2021: The company forms a partnership with Olo. This ensures clients who also use Olo are able to capture data from a key group: off-premise customers. That data creates profiles for such customers automatically. That means operators can learn more about—and effectively market to—customers who engage with them via online orders.
  • December 2021: SevenRooms and ThinkFoodGroup—the hospitality company behind Chef José Andrés’ portfolio of restaurants—make their partnership public. Interestingly, this partnership also includes ThinkFoodGroup joining SevenRooms in an advisory role.
  • January 2022: The platform announces the hiring of a chief revenue officer, Brent-Stig Kraus.
  • December 2022: SevenRooms enters into a partnership with Competitive Social Ventures.
  • January 2023: The company announces the appointment of their first-ever chief marketing officer.
  • March 2023: SevenRooms announces that Danny Meyer and EHI are investors in the platform. Following that announcement, SevenRooms launches Email Marketing Integration less than two weeks later.
  • May 2023: The company drops their Pre-Shift tool. Two weeks after that launch, SevenRooms announces a new global partnership with Marriott.

Most platforms launch a new solution or announce new partnerships once or twice per year. Not SevenRooms. And it’s this constant growth that encourages us to recommend the platform to our clients.


Automated revenue management solution will provide restaurants with the tools they need to optimize their operations and fill more seats, more often

NEW YORK (September 28, 2023) – SevenRooms, a guest experience and retention platform for the hospitality industry, today announced the launch of a new solution for restaurants: Revenue Management. The product serves as an engine for operators to generate more sales and profitability from the same seats, using data science to recommend how to optimize availability and increase table utilization.

To survive current economic conditions, restaurants need solutions that can save them time, reduce their labor costs and increase their sales and profits. Inspired by effective revenue management strategies long-used by the travel industry, Revenue Management extends this practice to the restaurant industry. The product automates these processes without the need for analysts, additional staff or high-priced consultants to manage changes, helping to:

  • Fill more seats, more often to increase sales by reducing the time seats sit empty
  • Save time and reduce burdensome labor costs by automating in-depth analysis, quickly making changes with a ‘do-it-for-me’ option
  • Provide operators with easy-to-digest insights along with ready-to-use actions that demystify proven steps taken by revenue leaders

Other systems on the market today may offer reporting on a handful of insights, but none help operators immediately action revenue-focused suggestions with a ‘do-it-for-me’ option that has an instant impact on their operations. Sample actions include recommendations on party size or dining duration configurations, when to institute cancellation policies to decrease last-minute cancellations, floor plan configuration recommendations and more. Diners also benefit, with more available reservations, a better dining experience (e.g. being sat on time and not being rushed out the door) and more unique experiences and offerings to choose from when dining out as operators have more time to focus on the guest experience.

Notably, Revenue Management also gives operators insights into how much demand was missed across booking channels by summarizing data on recent reservation attempts. This helps operators better manage these channels and optimize their books to offer more reservations across their most profitable channels.

“With Revenue Management, we are delivering on our promise to help operators make more money, providing a product that automatically executes on strategies used by the most successful hospitality brands throughout the world – without having to add team members or search out implementation experts,” said Angela DeFranco, VP of Product at SevenRooms. “This tool is both proactive and reactive, helping operators uncover untapped opportunities while simultaneously working to identify potentially harmful configuration issues that may restrict venues from maximizing sales and profitability. Today’s operators are busier than ever, and we are excited to bring Revenue Management to hospitality operators, helping them automatically fill more seats, more often while continuing to elevate their guest experiences.”

For more details on SevenRooms’ newest innovations, please visit sevenrooms.com/new.

About SevenRooms

SevenRooms is a guest experience and retention platform that helps hospitality operators create exceptional experiences that drive revenue and repeat business. Trusted by thousands of hospitality operators around the world, SevenRooms powers tens of millions of guest experiences each month across both on- and off-premises. From neighborhood restaurants and bars to international, multi-concept hospitality groups, SevenRooms is transforming the industry by empowering operators to take back control of their businesses to build direct guest relationships, deliver exceptional experiences and drive more visits and orders, more often. The full suite of products includes reservation, waitlist and table management, online ordering, mobile order & pay, review aggregation, email marketing and marketing automation. Founded in 2011 and venture-backed by Amazon, Comcast Ventures, PSG and Highgate Ventures, SevenRooms has dining, hotel F&B, nightlife and entertainment clients globally, including: Marriott International, MGM Resorts International, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group, Wynn Resorts, Jumeirah Group, Hard Rock Hotels & Resorts, Wolfgang Puck, Michael Mina, Bloomin’ Brands, José Andrés Group, Union Square Hospitality Group, Australian Venue Company, Altamarea Group, AELTC, The Wolseley Hospitality Group, Dishoom, Live Nation and Topgolf. www.sevenrooms.com

Image: Erik Mclean via Pexels

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Canadians Preparing for NHL Opening Week

Canadians Preparing for NHL Opening Week

by David Klemt

Vintage tabletop hockey game toy

Now nobody can accuse me of showing any NHL teams favoritism. Go Knights Go!

As one should expect, Canadian hockey fans are preparing for the 2023-2024 NHL season opener, and those preparations include on-premise visits.

On Tuesday, October 10, three teams will face off to start the regular season.

First, the Nashville Predators take on the Tampa Bay Lightning. Then, the Chicago Blackhawks will face the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Finally, after raising their brand-new, first-ever Stanley Cup championship banner, which they won just six seasons after their founding, the fastest an expansion team has accomplished this feat, the Vegas Golden Knights will welcome the Seattle Kraken to T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

According to on-premise data from CGA by NIQ, Canadian hockey fans are planning to celebrate the start of the season at bars and restaurants. That means operators have less than two weeks to finalize plans to attract these guests to their venues.

In particular, operators in four provinces need to ensure their NHL opening week plans and promotions are good to go. Per CGA’s data, consumers in Québec are showing the greatest interest in watching this season’s opening games in bars and restaurants. Following and driving on-premise interest are British Columbia, Ontario, and Alberta.

Of course, operators throughout the provinces who serve sports fans should be ready to welcome hockey fans.

For our Canadian readers, the Montréal Candiens will take on Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, October 11. On that same day, the Ottawa Senators face the Carolina Hurricanes; the Edmonton Oilers face off against the Vancouver Canucks; and the Winnipeg Jets will battle the Calgary Flames.

Click here for the full opening week schedule.

Why Does this Matter?

I may catch some flack for this but technically, any bar with televisions events can be a sports bar.

Yes, I understand that’s a very simplistic view. And yes, of course that comes with the caveat that sports should be authentic to a given concept. Also, showing sports should take into account the expectations of bar or restaurant’s guests.

In other words, most bars and restaurants can benefit from sports but they’d likely be a hindrance to some high-end cocktail bars and fine-dining concepts.

With that out of the way, operators who want to establish themselves as the go-to spot for sporting events need to nail opening week. That means having all of their ducks in a row.

Do they have the proper business TV packages in place? Will promotions and programming appeal to the target audience? Are the screens and audio system high quality for the best viewing experience? Does the menu offer sports fans what they want for great value? Is the team pulling out all the spots to make viewing fun?

Regarding the menu, CGA by NIQ has a couple of valuable insights. First, beer is the top beverage alcohol category among those planning to celebrate NHL opening week on-premise. Second, among those who plan to consume spirits, tequila is the top pick. Sounds like offering beer and tequila shot pairings could perform well.

However, operators should certainly take into account their own data. What F&B items are selling the best? Which items performed the best this same time last year?

Between 15 and 16 million Canadians follow hockey. That’s a vast pool of potential customers to convert to loyal guests. The importance of becoming their sports home base, their third spot, cannot be overstated.

This coming opening week, lay the groundwork to become the go-to place for hockey fans, fantasy sports competitors, and sports bettors.

Image: cottonbro studio via Pexels

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Time to Rethink Your Loyalty Program?

Is it Time to Rethink Your Loyalty Program?

by David Klemt

Two pepperoni pizzas in open boxes

So, you have a loyalty program in place. That’s great, but is it time to review its performance and implement meaningful changes to improve engagement?

I know, I know—that feeling of “if it ain’t one thing, it’s another” never seems to go away. That’s part of operator life.

The good news is that, if you have a loyalty or rewards program and it has been working, you’re a step ahead of many other operators. In that way, it’s similar to implementing an actual onboarding process and including an employee manual.

But what should you do if you notice engagement dropping? Well, it may indicate that while there’s interest in your program, it’s getting stale. Or, perhaps people don’t like the rewards or think they’re earning rewards quickly enough.

If engagement isn’t at the levels you want or is noticeably declining, it’s time to review your program with a critical eye.

In fact, it’s a great idea to ask your team for their feedback regarding loyalty. After all, your team hears guest feedback in real time. Also, they likely have some ideas of their own that can help refresh the program. After all, some people on your team may be members of loyalty programs themselves and have some thoughts.

Engagement via Gamification

The word “gamification,” much like “pivot,” may be a word that annoys you. That doesn’t make it any less relevant.

Millions of people are on their phones nearly every waking moment of the day. And millions among those millions engage with brands and apps via games or game-like features. It keeps these people coming back for more.

One restaurant chain that understands the power of gamification is Jimmy John’s.

First, the brand’s loyalty and rewards program has an interesting name: Freaky Fast Rewards. Second, they issue challenges that drive member engagement.

For example, for Q1 2023, Jimmy John’s threw down the Gauntlet via the Freaky Fast Rewards program. Members had until the middle of March to purchase every sandwich on the menu. The reward? A branded beanbag chair that looks like a bag of Jimmy Chips.

Of course, the program engages its members in other gamified ways. There are achievement badges to earn, for instance. And there have been challenges that were narrowed down to daypart to drive traffic and engagement.

Free food and merchandise are common rewards, but there are also surprises that members can earn to keep things fresh.

Program Updates

Another brand giving their loyalty program a refresh is Domino’s.

Rather than do what some other companies have done, the pizza giant is lowering the threshold to earn rewards.

Around a year ago, Chipotle experienced significant backlash from loyalty program members when they went the other direction. In response, one would think, to rising costs, the brand increased the amount its members had to spend to earn rewards.

That went about as well with many of their customers as you’d expect, of course. Loyalty and rewards programs are meant to increase traffic and spend per guest, not alienate them and drive them away.

Enter: The Domino’s Rewards refresh.

“We are thrilled to give the brand’s loyal customers additional ways to earn free Domino’s items more often,” said Mark Messing, Domino’s vice president of digital experience and loyalty, via press release. “At a time when most brands are scaling back their loyalty programs and making it more difficult to earn and redeem points, Domino’s is doing the opposite. We want to make it easier to reward our customers and give them more options so they can get rewarded faster.”

Members can not only earn points more quickly (every $5 spent equals 10 rewards points), they can redeem more quickly as well. For example, a 16-piece Parmesan bread bites is just 20 points. Free stuffed cheesy bread is only 40 points now. And that’s to say nothing of offers that are exclusive to members.


Only you, of course, can know how to adjust your loyalty program. You need to look at your data to understand the best solution for waning engagement.

The last thing you should do is lower points thresholds without knowing your numbers. And if you’re considering gamifying your program, you need to know if that’s an approach your guests will actually like.

In other words, don’t rush to upgrade or update your loyalty program. Take time, collect relevant data, engage your team, and move forward with any changes with strategic clarity.

Image: Polina Tankilevitch via Pexels

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The Best Hotel in the World is in Italy

The Best Hotel in the World is in Italy

by David Klemt

The Passalacqua hotel on Lake Como in Italy

An intimate, 24-key property with extraordinary views of Lake Como holds the number-one spot on the first-ever World’s 50 Best Hotels list.

Unquestionably, every hotel on the list is incredible. Clearly, the World’s 50 Best is making their standards clear. Truly, I don’t envy the task the voters and academy chairs will face in organizing the 2024 list. (I do envy their travels and hotel stays, of course.)

Passalacqua, once a villa owned by a count, has earned the World’s 50 Best Hotels crown.


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Interestingly, a number of the hotels on the inaugural World’s 50 Best Hotels list are similar in size to Passalacqua, as far as number of keys goes. Like the number-one hotel, Aman Venice (no. 14) also has 24 keys. The Singita Lodges (no. 15) at Kruger National Park have 23 keys. Finally, Nihi Sumba (no. 18) has 27 keys, though they’re all separate villas.

Of course, Passalacqua also features separate buildings.

At the top of the property sits the Palazz, a decadent but elegant country home. Heading toward Lake Como from the Palazz, guests encounter the luxe Villa. Following are the bar, pool, fitness center, bocce court, tennis court, and acres of immaculate gardens. Overlooking the alluring waters of Lake Como is the Casa al Lago, literally “the House by the Lake.”

Through the Palazz, Villa, Casa al Lago, and seven acres of gardens, Passalacqua delivers a unique interpretation of luxury.

La Villeggiatura

I’m certain that when some people hear “best hotel” they immediately picture opulent temples built to deliver the highest level of hospitality to the elite among elite guests.

However, luxury, opulence, elegance, decadence… In the hospitality world, particularly in the five-star segment, there are multiple interpretations of those words.

On one end of the spectrum a concept can be ostentatious, pretentious. And on the other, an operator and their team can take great pains to ensure they deliver an experience that simply whispers luxury.

Passalacqua approaches luxury and indulgence with intention. There’s no question that the villa, built in the late 1780s for Count Andrea Lucini Passalacqua, is opulent. Villa Pasalacqua was put up for auction by its previous owner, an American banker, and purchased by the De Santis family in 2018. The family, who also operate the stunning, 84-key Grand Hotel Tremezzo, partnered with interior design studio BAMO for a three-year restoration. The results, of course, are breathtaking.

Breathtaking but restrained. Passalacqua’s guiding principle is to allow its guests to experience la villeggiatura. While some English speakers translate this concept to a vacation or getaway, it’s much more than that to Italians.

La villeggiatura, traditionally and to the Passalacqua team, means to leave one’s city home and travel for a stay in a country home, often for an entire season. The De Santis family delivers on this concept, adhering to their mission to ensure that Passalacqua guests feel as though their relaxing and recharging at their home in the country.

Considering what the collective at BAMO has to say about the property, the villa itself dictated that they honor la villeggiatura during the restoration of the property.

Quiet Luxury

Luxury and indulgence go beyond interior and exterior design, of course. Those elements are also about more than simply anticipating and catering to a certain level of guest’s every whim.

One of my favorite components of Passalacqua is the approach to food and beverage.

We’re talking about a property in Italy that has been ranked the best in the world; F&B must be part of the discussion.

The approach, according to Passalacqua, is to immerse guests in a feeling. That feeling is that they’re staying at their own country home or the elegant home of an Italian friend.

So, a guest may find their way to the kitchen. And that guest may find themselves chatting with the brigade, and then learning how to make pasta or tasting through wines that were just delivered.

Forget the chef’s table—this is an invitation to the chef’s home.

From what I can find, the F&B program at Passalacqua is incredible but unpretentious. It’s a carefree breakfast, an airy lunch with new friends, and an intimate yet convivial dinner with one’s favorite people.

This is quiet luxury and indulgence, and, to me, is what sets Passalacqua apart.

What World’s 50 Best Hotels Says

For further insight into why Passalacqua boasts the title of Best Hotel in the World, consider the following:

“Set within spectacular terraced gardens and unfolding over just 24 rooms in an 18th-century villa, Passalacqua is a showcase of the finest Italian craftsmanship in a sumptuous riot of ornate Baroque elegance. Ceiling carvings, original frescoes, Murano chandeliers and perfectly manicured gardens: it all comes together in a sublime retreat.

“The hotel is the creation of the De Santis family, whose history in hospitality is manifest throughout the Passalacqua operation. Each element of the hotel, from its lauded design to its formidable staff and breathtaking location, works in total symbiosis to earn the establishment the inaugural title of The World’s Best Hotel 2023.”

The World’s 50 Best Hotels continues:

“From its perch amid private grounds in Moltrasio, the hotel’s 24 rooms are spread out over three buildings: the main villa, the eight-room Palazz (housed in the former stables with giant original exposed beams) and the four-suite Casa al Lago down by the lake. Inside, Italian craftsmanship abounds with original frescoes and ceiling carvings that are further embellished with gilded mirrors, 19th-century portraits, lacquered antique tables, Murano chandeliers and Il Bronzetto light fittings. Outside, seven acres of perfectly manicured terraced gardens with olive groves, mimosa, roses and magnolia lead to the sexy pool terrace which is dotted with vibrant JJ Martin-designed parasols that add a cheeky, fashionable flair to the otherwise classic opulence.”

Congratulations to the owners and team behind Passalacqua! And congratulations to the 49 other spectacular hotels and resorts on the list.


Image: Stefano Anzini / Passalacqua

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The World’s 50 Best Hotels: 2023

World’s 50 Best Reveals the top Hotels

by David Klemt

The Guildhall in London, England

The inaugural ceremony took place at Guildhall in London, England.

The World’s 50 Best launches their inaugural World’s 50 Best Hotels list and recognizes the finest hotels and resorts across six continents.

Mark Sansom, content director for the World’s 50 Best Bars, revealed this new list on episode 90 of the Bar Hacks podcast. That episode was published in January of this year.

Adding the World’s 50 Best Hotels to the World’s 50 Best portfolio makes perfect sense.

The organization first began ranking restaurants in 2002. In 2013, the World’s 50 Best Restaurants introduced regional lists, including Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Then came the World’s 50 Best Bars in 2009. In 2012, the list celebrated its inaugural awards ceremony. The first regional list was launched in 2016, and North America’s 50 Best Bars was kicked off in 2022.

F&B, of course, pairs perfectly with travel. To have food, beverage, and travel under one umbrella shows the World’s 50 Best’s commitment to evolving and celebrating the best of hospitality as a whole.

As you’ll see below, this inaugural list is undeniably impressive. The World’s 50 Best Hotels have set an incredible standard with this list of properties.

That begs a question: If these are the winners for 2023, what amazing hotels and resorts will earn placements on the list in the coming years?

Congratulations to the first 50 winners to earn spots on the list!

The World’s 50 Best Hotels 2023: 50 to 11

  1. Hôtel de Crillon (Paris, France)
  2. Six Sense Ibiza (Portinatx, Ibiza, Spain)
  3. Equinox New York (New York City, New York, United States of America)
  4. The Savoy (London, England, United Kingdom)
  5. NoMad London (London, England, United Kingdom)
  6. The Oberoi Amarvilas (Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India)
  7. Atlantis the Royal (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
  8. Badrutt’s Palace (St. Moritz, Switzerland)
  9. The Siam (Bangkok, Thailand)
  10. Eden Rock (St. Barths)
  11. Desa Potato Head (Seminyak, Bali, Indonesia)
  12. Hoshinoya Tokyo (Tokyo, Japan)
  13. Amangalla (Galle, Sri Lanka)
  14. The Newt (Bruton, England, United Kingdom)(winner of the Carlo Alberto Best Boutique Hotel)
  15. Soneva Jani (Maldives)
  16. Four Seasons Astir Palace (Athens, Greece)
  17. Cheval Blanc (Paris, France)
  18. Hotel Du Cap-Eden-Roc (Antibes, France)
  19. Gleneagles Hotel (Auchterarder, Scotland, United Kingdom)(featured on the Bar Hacks podcast)(winner of the Art of Hospitality Award)
  20. La Réserve (Paris, France)
  21. Park Hyatt Kyoto (Kyoto, Japan)
  22. Le Bristol (Paris, France)
  23. Capella Singapore (Singapore)
  24. Rosewood São Paulo (São Paulo, Brazil)
  25. The Maybourne Riviera (Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France)
  26. Aman New York (New York City, New York, United States of America)
  27. Four Seasons Madrid (Madrid, Spain)
  28. Royal Mansour (Marrakech, Morocco)
  29. The Connaught (London, England, United Kingdom)
  30. Borgo Egnazia (Savelletri, Puglia, Italy)
  31. Le Sirenuse (Positano, Campania, Italy)
  32. Hotel Esencia (Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico)
  33. Nihi Sumba (Wanokaka, Sumba Island, Indonesia)
  34. Raffles Singapore (Singapore)
  35. Claridge’s (London, England, United Kingdom)
  36. Singita Lodges – Kruger National Park (Kruger National Park, South Africa)(winner of the Flor de Caña Eco Hotel Award)
  37. Aman Venice (Venice, Veneta, Italy)
  38. Chablé Yucatán (Chocholá, Yucatán, Mexico)
  39. The Calile (Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)
  40. Capella Bangkok (Bangkok, Thailand)(winner of the Nikka Best New Hotel Award)

The World’s 50 Best Hotels 2023: 10 to One

  1. Mandarin Oriental Bangkok (Bangkok, Thailand)
  2. Four Seasons Firenze (Florence, Tuscany, Italy)
  3. One&Only Mandarina (Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico)
  4. Soneva Fushi (Maldives)(winner of the Lost Explorer Best Beach Hotel Award)
  5. La Mamounia (Marrakech, Morocco)
  6. Aman Tokyo (Tokyo, Japan)
  7. The Upper House (Hong Kong)
  8. Four Seasons Bangkok at Chao Phraya River (Bangkok, Thailand)
  9. Rosewood Hong Kong (Hong Kong)
  10. Passalacqua (Moltrasio, Como, Italy)

The Lodge at Blue Sky, a property in the Auberge Resorts Collection, in Park City, Utah, USA, earned the Lavazza One to Watch Award. Also, 28-year industry veteran Sonu Shivdasani OBE, the co-founder and CEO of Soneva, took home the SevenRooms Icon Award.

This year’s top hotel, Passalacqua, has been welcoming guests for barely a year. However, the property itself was built in the late 1700s for Count Andrea Lucini Passalacqua.

After undergoing a three-year restoration, the intimate hotel proudly offers guests stunning views of Lake Como. Owned by the family behind the 84-key Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Passalacqua features just 24 keys. The suites are spread out between the primary villa, the country-house-styled Palazz, and Casa al Lago, which is located close to the waters of Lake Como.

This is truly a deserving winner, an ultra-luxe but relaxing resort. Moreover, Passalacqua shows that a resort with just two dozen keys can compete against hotels several times its size.

Image: David Holbrook

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Indies in the US & Canada: The Numbers

Independents in the US & Canada: The Numbers

by David Klemt

Canadian and America flags flying together

Operators who wonder how many independent restaurants there are throughout America and Canada finally have their answer thanks to Datassential.

The well-known food and beverage research and intelligence platform’s recent infographic reveals the state of indies in both countries.

For the purposes of their infographic, Datassential splits restaurants into two overarching categories. One major category is full-service restaurants, the other is limited-service.

From there, the platform organizes restaurants into five segments: casual, QSR, midscale, fast casual, and fine dining.

To my understanding, QSR and fast casual fall under Datassential’s limited-service designation. Casual, midscale, and fine dining are full-service restaurants.

To review the infographic yourself, please click here.

Number of Indie Restaurants: America

According to Datassential, there are 483,885 independent restaurants in the US.

Of those restaurants, 57 percent are full-service. It follows, then, that 43 percent are limited-service.

Close to half—44 percent—of full-service restaurants in the US boast more than five years of being open. Just a quarter of limited-service restaurants (26 percent) can claim the same.

This does, anecdotally, make some sense. QSRs and fast-casual brands have been on the rise over the past couple of years. In fact, some casual chains are developing and launching QSR brands off the strength of the category.

Finally, 21 percent of full-service restaurants in the US see annual sales under $500,000. That number climbs to 27 percent for limited-service restaurants.

Now, let’s take a look at independent restaurants in Canada.

Number of Indie Restaurants: Canada

Per Datassential, there are a total of 59,914 independent restaurants throughout Canda

The split between full-service restaurants and limited-service restaurants is just about even. Fifty-one percent of indie restaurants in Canada are full-service. Forty-nine percent are limited-service operations.

A little under 40 percent of full-service independent restaurants in Canada (36 percent) can say they’ve been operating for more than five years. That number is 28 percent for limited-service restaurants.

Interestingly, just five percent of independent full-service restaurants in Canada bring in less than $500,000 in sales annually. That number jumps to 34 percent when we look at the limited-service category.

Indie Restaurants by Segment

The breakdown of the five Datassential independent restaurant categories is the same for America and Canada.

Most independent restaurants in either country are casual. Following, in descending order of number of restaurants, are QSR, midscale, fast casual, and fine dining.

For America, the numbers are as follows:

  • Casual: 37 percent
  • QSR: 34 percent
  • Midscale: 19 percent
  • Fast casual: 9 percent
  • Fine dining: 1 percent

And for Canada the breakdown is nearly identical:

  • Casual: 37 percent
  • QSR: 30 percent
  • Midscale: 18 percent
  • Fast casual: 14 percent
  • Fine dining: 1 percent

There are eight times as many independent restaurants in America as there are in Canada. But as you can see, the industry segmentation by country is nearly the same.

Future independent operators can look at this information a few different ways. They can choose to join the most popular segments and differentiate themselves from the competition. They can look for and fill a need for an indie fast-casual or fine-dining concept. Or they can shoot for the middle and go midscale, a segment that’s gaining traction across several hospitality industry sectors.

For you own copy of Datassential’s infographic, follow this link.

Image: chris robert on Unsplash

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The Top-performing New Restaurant Type

The Top-performing New Restaurant Type

by David Klemt

A bowl of ramen with beers in the background

According to a midyear Yelp report, one category of new restaurant is experiencing a surge in growth across the US unlike any other.

No, it’s not ramen, as the image above suggests. Instead, it’s pop-up restaurants.

We can trace the growth of this category, at least on the operator side, to cost. Sure, pop-ups were popular before 2020. However, they grew even more popular during the pandemic.

One can argue the life cycle of the pop-up is fad to trend to cost-saving adaptation to proliferation.

There are even those who transform shipping containers into mobile, pop-up restaurants and bars. With the right permits and hookups (water, electricity, etc.), an operator can test a new market or an entirely new concept before committing fully to a brick-and-mortar location.

In other words, the pop-up simply makes sense for our industry. This category of restaurant (or bar) clearly doesn’t cost anywhere as much as its permanent brick-and-mortar counterparts, for one. Secondly, a pop-up doesn’t (shouldn’t, anyway) require more than a skeleton crew. And thirdly, they do seem to enjoy pops in interest whenever they come to a new market or new address.

There are, of course, other benefits. However, the low(er) cost is the most attractive element for most operators.

Keep in mind that Double Chicken Please started life as a pop-up cocktail concept. In fact, DCP is the current Best Bar in North America according to the World’s 50 Best Bars.

Covering more than 10,000 miles and serving over 1,200 cocktails, the DCP pop-up toured the US for three years before finding a brick-and-mortar home. And what a home. The concept is now a jewel in New York’s Lower East Side F&B crown.

Top Restaurant Types by Opening

According to Yelp, the following restaurant categories are experiencing the most growth.

The numbers below represent the changes in business openings from April 2021 to March 2022 in comparison to April 2022 to March 2023.

  • Pop-ups: +105 percent
  • Ramen: +45 percent
  • Noodles: +40 percent
  • Tacos: +28 percent
  • Chicken shops: +28 percent
  • Food stands: +23 percent
  • Japanese: +20 percent
  • Breakfast and brunch: +20 percent
  • Sushi: +13 percent
  • Steakhouses: +9 percent

As the numbers above show, the growth of pop-ups far exceeds that of any of the other categories. In fact, they’re growing by nearly three times that of the second-place category, ramen restaurants.

Make a Pop-up Work for You

For a pop-up to work the concept must be realized fully. The brand and its story must be communicated clearly.

And while the menus can perhaps change more easily, signatures should be dialed in to generate buzz.

At KRG Hospitality, our view of pop-ups is a popular one. We think they’re excellent branding tools and are a viable way for new operators to test the waters.

However, we believe that a successful pop-up should be paired with a fully customized feasibility study and in-depth concept development. Both are core services offered by KRG Hospitality, and both are specialties that set us apart.

They may be mobile, they may feel niche and “temporary” or experimental, but they’re still a business.

A pop-up can only transform into a brick-and-mortar concept with a shot at longevity if the operator treats it as a roving proving ground.

Image: Diego Lozano on Unsplash

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

FAST Act Fight Appears to be Over

FAST Act Fight Appears to be Over

by David Klemt

Tray with In N Out burgers and French fries

Well, that was fast: If recent reports are accurate—and it appears they are—the battle over the FAST Act has come to a close.

Rather than fight on the ballot, fast-food chain operators and labor groups have struck a deal. Per some reports, this puts a halt to a referendum battle that could have cost more than $100 million in campaign funds.

On its face, the deal is quite simple. AB 257, known as the Fast Food Accountability and Standards Recovery—or FAST Act—is dead. That is, dead save for one provision: the creation of the Fast Food Council will move forward.

The council will have a total of eleven members. Nine will have the power to vote, two will be non-voting members. The breakdown will be as follows:

  • two representatives of the fast-food restaurant industry (2);
  • two franchisees or restaurant owners (2);
  • two restaurant employees (2);
  • two advocates for fast-food restaurant employees (2);
  • member of the public who is not affiliated with either side (1, will serve as chair); and
  • members from the Department of Industrial Relations and the Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (2, non-voting)

Their first meeting is on the schedule for March 15.

In exchange, fast-food workers will see the minimum wage bump up to $20 per hour should they be in the employ of a fast-food chain with more than 60 locations throughout the US. That pay rise will come in April 2024.

When it comes to further pay rises, the council has two options:

  • An annual wage increase of 3.5 percent; or
  • An increase based on average changes to the consumer price index each year.

As one might expect, the rise will be whichever number is lower.

What was AB 257?

To summarize, FAST would’ve done the following:

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

Click here to review the bill’s text in its entirety.

Why is this Important?

It’s entirely possible that similar bills will pop up in other states in the coming years.

If this result is anything go by, such bills may be used by QSR operators and labor groups as negotiating tactics. The most recent news regarding the FAST Act should have the attention of both operators and hospitality workers. In California alone, the pay rise is expected to affect at least 500,000 workers.

However, there is one provision of the FAST Act that workers may find less than encouraging. The deal that has been struck kills a notable provision: fast-food operators, at least in California, won’t be held legally responsible for labor violations that occur in franchise locations.

Operators in other states should keep an eye out for similar bills, as should all hospitality professionals.

Image: Kenny Eliason on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Drink Donnybrook: Let’s Talk Daiquiri

Drink Donnybrook: Let’s Talk Daiquiri

by David Klemt

Red Daiquiri with lime wheel garnish on bar

Like some other simple cocktails, the Daiquiri makes the case for building drinks with but a few elements and with the proper technique.

The keys are the quality of the ingredients, technique, and hospitality. Made with just three items—rum, lime juice, and sugar syrup—the Daiquiri has etched itself onto Cocktail Mount Rushmore. That imaginary cocktail landmark also includes the Margarita, of course.

So simple is the Daiquiri that it’s used to gauge bartender proficiency, much like its peer the Margarita.

Many a well-known bartender—revered, infamous or otherwise—will throw down the Daiquiri gauntlet after encountering an upstart boasting about their latest 10-ingredient, split-base cocktail tomfoolery.

Sure, they can make you a drink that takes ten minutes to build, and you’ll likely remember the experience, for better or worse. But can they knock your socks off with a simple Daiquiri?

But where does the Daiquiri come from? Just like I’ve done with the Martini, Piña Colada, and Whiskey Sour, let’s dive into this classic’s history.

History Lesson

I’m sure you’ll be absolutely aghast to learn that the exact origins of the Daiquiri aren’t crystal clear. However, it’s widely accepted that the cocktail was invented in Cuba two years before the Spanish-American War kicked off in 1898.

The creator was Jennings Cox, a claim backed up by the discovery of a recipe card signed by Cox and dated 1896. It’s believed that the drink was named for the port town of Daiquiri.

Just over a decade later, the Daiquiri was introduced to the United States in 1909 by Rear Admiral Lucius W. Johnson. After trying one in Cuba and liking what he tasted, he brought the recipe back to the Army and Navy Club in Washington, DC. Members introduced others to the Daiquiri, and it eventually became one of the most popular cocktails in the world.

That is, unless you choose to believe the rumor that the drink found itself in New York in 1902.

Going down this path of Daiquiri lore, US Congressman William A. Chanler (D-NY) bought iron mines in Cuba. While he was in Cuba he was introduced to the Daiquiri. In turn, Chanler brought the Daiquiri to New York City, sharing it with several clubs of which he was a member, such as the New York Yacht Club and Knickerbocker Club.

Recipe Refinement

The Daiquiri’s story doesn’t end there, however. There are two important bartenders who deserve credit for refining the original recipe.

First up is Emilio “El Maragato” Gonzalez, who tended bar at the Hotel Plaza in Havana, Cuba. Whereas the Cox build was served in a tall glass over cracked ice, El Maragato is credited as the first to shake and strain the Daiquiri, serving it up it in a coupe. And while Cox used brown sugar in the original, Gonzalez used white sugar.

Then, we have Constantino “Constante” Ribalaigua Vert. Constante owned and worked behind the stick at a bar you may have heard of, El Floridita, also in Havana. If you can’t quite put your finger on why you know that bar’s name, it’s because Earnest Hemingway plays a role in its fame.

Ribalaigua invented the frozen Daiquiri, and subsequently the Papa Doble or Hemingway Daiquiri, which was Constante’s original build with less (or zero) sugar and double the rum.

Jeff “Beachbum” Berry says in his book Potions of the Caribbean that Hemingway once put down 15 Papa Dobles. In another book, To Have and Have Another: A Hemingway Cocktail Companion, author Phillip Greene says Hemingway managed seventeen.

Those who have visited Herbs & Rye, one of the best cocktail bars in America, know that the first cocktail under the Prohibition Era section of the menu is a Hemingway Daiquiri.

Below you’ll find a traditional Daiquiri recipe and the Hemingway Daiquiri build. Cheers!


  • 2 ounces Light rum
  • 1 ounce Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¾ ounce Demerara sugar syrup
  • Lime twist to garnish

Either fill a coupe with ice or pull a chilled coupe from your refrigerator. Set aside. Add all ingredients minus the garnish to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into the prepared coupe, garnish, and serve.

Papa Doble aka Hemingway Daiquiri recipe

  • 2 ounces White rum
  • ¾ ounce Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ ounce Freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • ½ ounce Maraschino liqueur
  • Lime wheel to garnish

Follow the build instructions above; it’s that simple!

Image: Tai’s Captures on Unsplash

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Fantasy Sports, Sports Betting on the Rise

Interest in Sports Betting and Fantasy Sports Grows

by David Klemt

Wall full of American footballs behind large NFL logo

A recent CGA by NIQ On Premise Impact Report for August, 2023 reveals an interesting insight into consumer behavior and expectations.

To be clear, all the data on this new one-pager is useful. However, a particular revelation stands out from the rest, for me.

The CGA by NIQ US On Premise Impact Report for August 24, 2023 addresses:

  • total on-premise sales;
  • dining versus drinking occasions;
  • cost of living impact in the past month; and
  • consumer interest in fantasy sports and sports betting.

It’s that final bullet point that I find compelling. However, let’s check out the numbers for the first three points before we jump into sports.

To download your own copy, please click here.

August by the Numbers

In comparison to August 20, 2022, check value is up one percent to $50.09. Ticket count, however, is down one percent to 1,569.

As one would expect, dining occasions outweigh drinking occasions. Seventy percent of consumers have dined out in a restaurant or bar in the past two weeks.

Compared to July 2o23, that’s a two-percent increase in dining traffic.

Over the course of the same amount of time, 40 percent of consumers have gone drinking in a bar or restaurant. That’s a decrease of one percent in comparison to July 2023.

Considering that many families travel in the month of August before kids head back to school (or to drop them off at university), these numbers make sense.

Of course, cost of living may also be impacting dining and drinking occasion. Most consumers report no changes to the frequency with which they go out for drinks. Some consumers even report going out more frequently for drinks. But some are also cutting back.

For example, 28 percent of consumers have decreased how often they go out for drinks. Eleven percent are consuming lower quality drinks when they do go out, and nine percent are decreasing the “quality” of the establishments they visit.

That said, 20 percent of consumers are increasing drink quality and 21 percent are increasing establishment quality per visit. Seventeen percent are increasing how often they go out for drinks.

Fantasy Sports & Betting

This, as you may have guessed, is the statistic that I find most compelling.

Fantasy sports and sports betting has been on the rise for some time in the US. Who among us isn’t the target of sports-betting-app ads when streaming or watching sports?

Sports bar operators and operators who can position themselves as sports fans’ “third spot” will find this next number interesting.

According to CGA by NIQ’s latest report, 63 percent of consumers revealed they had plans for NFL week one. Those plans included participating in daily fantasy sports or sports betting.

So, it would be wise for operators who will air NFL games this season to ensure they’re catering to fantasy football and sports betting fans. Becoming the hub for fantasy sports groups in your area can increase traffic, sales, and loyalty. And, of course, it opens up the door to many traffic- and revenue-generating sport- and team-themed LTOs.

Again, to download this new report for yourself, please click here.

Image: Adrian Curiel on Unsplash

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