by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Intersection of Streaming & Sports Betting

The Intersection of Streaming and Sports Betting

by David Klemt

Closeup shot of the NFL logo painted onto turf or grass

The popularity and ubiquity of sports betting is exploding throughout the US, and its seemingly inescapable presence is due in large part to streaming.

This is one topic we learned about during our first visit to the Global Gaming Expo, also known as G2E.

It’s true that gaming and hospitality are two distinct, different industries. However, they’re inextricably connected. And with gaming platforms and mobile devices making it even easier to place bets on sports, that connection is only getting stronger.

Now, I’m going to take a moment to make my relationship with gaming clear. First, I’m not an expert on the industry. Second, I rarely partake in gaming even though I live in Las Vegas. I’ll throw the odd twenty into a small handful of specific slot machines, but that’s the extent of my gaming experience. I think it has been a decade since I last played craps.

So, I’m going to do my best to share what I learned during G2E. The show is an educational experience for me, and I feel that hospitality business operators can benefit from its sessions.

As far as the hospitality-gaming relationship, however, I certainly believe they’re complementary industries. This is absolutely true in Las Vegas, and it’s true in other markets as well. If casinos weren’t aware that hospitality is crucial to keeping guests returning and risking their cash on games, they wouldn’t bother focusing on dining, drinking, nightlife, and other hospitality amenities.

I’m also confident saying Las Vegas in particular wouldn’t have generated nearly $15 billion in 2022. And casinos throughout America wouldn’t have generated over $60 billion last year.

In summary, the connection between hospitality and gaming is what drew me to G2E this year.

Watershed Moments

One of the sessions I attended was “Streaming X Sports Betting: The Future of Engaging Gen Z.” Adam I. Kaplan, the chief operating officer of SportsGrid, was the speaker.

SportsGrid, I’ve since learned, is multimedia sports betting network. According to Kaplan, the ad-supported network is available on more than 40 platforms and accessed by millions upon millions of mobile devices

Users can access SportsGrid 24/7 via smart TV or their dedicated app. Additionally, people can stream SportsGrid via other platforms, such as:

  • Roku;
  • Prime Video;
  • YouTube TV;
  • Sling;
  • Freevee; and
  • Plex.

Per Kaplan, we can trace the creation of SportsGrid to two genesis points: the creation of Napster, and the introduction of the iPhone.

The launch of Napster in June of 1999 was, of course, a watershed moment. And its influence on society is undeniable. According to Kaplan, the platform’s influence included the belief that content should be free.

When the iPhone hit the scene in January of 2007, it, too, was a massive milestone. Part of its success, as Kaplan pointed out, was how easy it made for users to engage with content.

Taken together, Napster and the iPhone have “taught” people that content should be free and easy to access. And their launches have led to the rise of iGaming and sports betting.

Sports Betting Repeal Day

Like hospitality, sports betting has their own Repeal Day. Whereas bars and restaurants celebrate on December 5, gaming would celebrate May 14.

That’s the day in 2018 that the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992. Essentially, PASPA banned sports betting in the US, with narrow exceptions for four or five states.

When PASPA was overturned on the basis that the act violated the Tenth Amendment (states’ rights), several states made moves to legalize sports betting. Currently, sports betting is legal in some form in more than 30 states and Washington, DC.

During the five-year period following the end of PASPA, sports betting has gained massive traction throughout the US. Several publications report that the NFL in particular sees the most betting action.

According to the American Gaming Association, 73 million Americans plan to bet on the 2023-2024 NFL season specifically. That’s up from 46 million in 2022, a huge leap.

Of all adults who said they’d bet on sports this year, 14 percent (more than 35 million people) plan to place their bets online.

Per SportsGrid’s Kaplan, people aged 40 and under—so, Millennials and legal-age Gen Z—make up the majority of sports bettors. Looking at sports betting as an engagement driver, businesses should see the opportunity to attract sports bettors as customers and keep them loyal.

Skin in the Game

As Kaplan points out, one reason that sports betting drives engagement is the sense a bettor has of having “skin in the game.”

Well, they aren’t the only people who want skin in the sports betting game.

Since PASPA ended, hospitality venues across the country have attempted to get in on the sports betting phenomenon. This makes perfect sense, particularly for sports bars.

What operator in that space wouldn’t love the ability to stream content from a platform like SportsGrid, FanDuel TV, or DraftKings Network, with their guests permitted to place bets while inside the venue, legally?

That opportunity could prove incredibly lucrative, generating significant traffic and sales. And that’s to say nothing of the marketing, promotions, and guest loyalty opportunities. Think of what legalized on-premise sports betting could do to attract fantasy sports league participants…

Additionally, venues that can stream sports betting content and encourage betting on-premise (again, legally) could prove incredibly popular with one of the age groups operators focus on the most: the 21- to 34-year-old segment.

So, it appears one of the next frontiers for hospitality is pushing for the legalization of sports betting on-premise. Operators in favor of guests being allowed to place bets while onsite can either wait and see or actively engage their lawmakers.

What a time, eh?

Image: Adrian Curiel on Unsplash

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Mastering the Art of Knife Skills

Mastering the Art of Knife Skills: A Culinary Journey

by Nathen Dubé

Collection of various vintage knives surrounding a cutting board

In the realm of culinary arts, the knife is not merely a kitchen tool; it’s the extension of a chef’s hands, the paintbrush for a culinary masterpiece.

In the hand of a skilled chef, a knife is the instrument that transforms raw ingredients into delectable works of art.

Therefore, knife skills are the backbone of every great chef’s repertoire, and they form the cornerstone of culinary excellence.

In this exploration, we embark on a journey to unravel the significance of knife skills, the techniques that define them, and the artistry they enable in the culinary world.

The Role of Knives in Culinary Excellence

Knives are the most fundamental tools in any kitchen. They are the bridge between raw ingredients and the final dish, and their importance cannot be overstated.

Here are some key aspects of the role knives play in culinary excellence.

Precision and Consistency

Imagine a chef creating uniform, paper-thin slices of cucumber for an elegant salad. The precision required for such delicate work comes from mastering knife skills.

Consistency in slicing, dicing, and chopping ensures even cooking and a visually appealing presentation.


In a bustling restaurant kitchen, time is of the essence. Efficient knife skills enable chefs to prepare ingredients quickly and streamline the cooking process.

The ability to swiftly and skillfully handle a knife can make all the difference in meeting the demands of a busy service.


Knife safety is paramount in the culinary world.

Proper knife skills not only enhance efficiency but also minimize the risk of accidents. A chef with well-honed knife skills knows how to handle the blade safely, reducing the likelihood of cuts and injuries.


Beyond their utilitarian functions, knives are tools of artistic expression in the culinary world.

A chef’s ability to craft intricate cuts and designs with a knife can elevate a dish from ordinary to extraordinary.

From garnishes to decorative vegetable carvings, knife skills allow chefs to showcase their creativity.

Essential Knife Techniques

Knife skills encompass a range of techniques, each serving a specific purpose in the kitchen.

Let’s delve into some of the fundamental knife skills that every chef should master.

1. The Pinch Grip

The pinch grip is the foundation of proper knife handling. It involves gripping the knife handle with three fingers while using the thumb and index finger to pinch the blade near the bolster.

This grip provides control and precision, allowing for accurate cuts.

2. The Rock Chop

The rock chop is a rhythmic cutting motion during which the knife’s blade rocks back and forth on the cutting board. It’s ideal for chopping herbs, garlic, and onions.

Mastering this technique involves maintaining a consistent rocking motion to achieve uniform cuts.

3. The Slice

Slicing is a technique used to create thin, even pieces of ingredients.

The key is to maintain a smooth, forward and backward motion of the knife while keeping the fingers tucked safely away from the blade.

4. The Julienne

Julienne is the art of cutting vegetables or fruits into long, thin strips, resembling matchsticks.

Achieving uniformity in julienne cuts requires precision and practice. This is a technique often used in salads and stir-fries.

5. The Dice

Dicing involves cutting ingredients into small, uniform cubes.

Chefs use this technique for creating perfectly diced onions, tomatoes, and other vegetables. It’s a fundamental skill in many classic recipes.

6. The Chiffonade

Chiffonade is a technique for slicing leafy greens or herbs into thin, ribbon-like strips. This technique is commonly used for garnishing soups, salads, and pasta dishes.

7. The Tourne

The tourne, also known as “turned” vegetables, involves creating seven-sided, oblong shapes from root vegetables like potatoes and carrots.

This technique showcases precision and artistry.

8. The Batonnet

Batonnet cuts involve creating evenly sized, rectangular sticks from ingredients like potatoes and cucumbers.

This technique is often used for making French fries and crudités.

The Journey to Mastery

Becoming proficient in knife skills is a journey that requires dedication, practice, and a commitment to precision.

Below are a number of essential tips for aspiring chefs on their path to mastering this art.

1. Start with the Basics

Begin by mastering the fundamental techniques, such as the pinch grip, slice, and rock chop.

These skills form the building blocks for more advanced cuts.

2. Invest in Quality Knives

A chef is only as good as their tools.

Invest in high-quality knives that are well-balanced and comfortable to handle. Regularly sharpen and maintain them to ensure optimal performance.

3. Practice, Practice, Practice

Knife skills improve with practice.

Set aside time to hone your cutting techniques regularly. Consider using inexpensive ingredients like potatoes and carrots for practice to minimize food wastage.

4. Seek Guidance

Don’t hesitate to seek guidance from experienced chefs or culinary instructors.

Taking a knife skills class or watching instructional videos can provide valuable insights and feedback.

5. Prioritize Safety

Safety should always come first.

Pay close attention to hand placement, keep your fingers tucked away from the blade, and use a cutting board with a non-slip surface.

6. Embrace Creativity

Once you have mastered the basics, allow your creativity to flourish.

Experiment with decorative cuts and intricate garnishes to add flair to your dishes.

Knife Skills in the Professional Kitchen

In professional kitchens, the importance of knife skills is not up for debate. Chefs in high-end restaurants are expected to demonstrate exceptional precision and speed when handling knives.

Here’s how knife skills come into play in the professional culinary world.

Speed and Efficiency

In a busy restaurant kitchen, the ability to prep ingredients quickly and efficiently is essential.

Knife skills enable chefs to meet the demands of a fast-paced environment while maintaining quality.


Consistency is crucial in ensuring that every dish leaving the kitchen meets the restaurant’s standards.

Uniform cuts, achieved through precise knife skills, contribute to consistent cooking times and presentation.

Artistry and Presentation

Fine-dining establishments often emphasize presentation as much as taste.

Knife skills allow chefs to create intricate designs and garnishes that enhance the visual appeal of each dish, turning it into a work of art.

Safety in High-stress Environments

Professional kitchens can be high-stress environments.

Chefs with excellent knife skills can handle the pressure more effectively and safely, reducing the risk of accidents.

Knife Skills for Home Cooks

While professional chefs rely on knife skills in their daily work, these skills are equally valuable for home cooks.

Whether you’re preparing a simple family meal or hosting a dinner party, below you’ll find how knife skills can elevate your home cooking.

Save Time and Effort

Efficient knife skills allow you to prep ingredients more quickly, making meal preparation a breeze even on busy weeknights.

Elevate Home Cooking

Mastering knife skills enables you to create restaurant-quality dishes at home.

You can impress your family and guests with beautifully plated meals.

Safety and Confidence

Proper knife skills at home reduce the risk of accidents and boost your confidence in the kitchen.

Experimentation and Creativity

With the right knife skills, you can experiment with different cuts and techniques, adding variety and creativity to your home-cooked meals.


In the world of culinary arts, knives are not just tools; they are extensions of a chef’s creativity and skill.

Knife skills are the foundation of culinary excellence, enabling chefs to transform ingredients into works of art.

Whether you aspire to be a professional chef or simply want to elevate your home cooking, mastering knife skills is a journey worth embarking on. It’s a journey of precision, creativity, and the pursuit of culinary perfection—a path that leads to the heart of the culinary world, where the artistry of knives comes to life.

As you embark on your own culinary journey, remember that every slice, chop, and dice brings you one step closer to mastering the art of knife skills—an art form that transcends the kitchen and allows you to create culinary magic with every cut.

So, sharpen your knives, practice your techniques, and let your culinary creativity flourish. The world of flavors and possibilities awaits at the tip of your blade.

Image: Sergey Kotenev on Unsplash

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Restaurant Fees Facing FTC Scrutiny

Restaurant Fees Facing FTC Scrutiny

by David Klemt

The Federal Trade Commission Building in Washington, DC

The focus on rising costs and hidden or “junk” fees over the past few years is bringing the Federal Trade Commission’s attention to the restaurant space.

Really, it was only a matter of time. Consumers are quite clearly fed up with being hit with unexpected fees. Whether purchasing concert tickets or popping into a QSR for a quick bite, they’re over the perceived nickel and diming.

That’s to say nothing of the other businesses that consumers feel are going too far with fees.

However, much of the public conversation about junk fees revolves around restaurants, and in some instances bars, as well. A common refrain on social media and online communities is, to paraphrase, “Just tell tell us what it costs on the menu!”

Of course, there are consumers who don’t want businesses to raise their prices at all. There’s no reasoning with these people, and they see all increases and fees—even those that aren’t hidden or bogus—as ripoffs.

But there are those who understand the challenges operators are facing. Understandably, these people just want transparency. And they want to have a clear idea of what it will cost to dine and drink somewhere before they plan their visit or are handed their check.

These consumers now have allies in state and federal governments.

FTC Focuses In

Some people may be surprised to learn that the FTC’s focus on junk fees isn’t entirely new. In fact, the agency has been digging into this topic for nearly a year.

Last November, the FTC asked for the public for their opinions on deceptive and unfair practices. Specifically, practices that relate to junk fees. Per the FTC, American consumers are paying tens of billions of dollars in junk fees annually.

According to the agency, they received 12,000 comments.

Now, with the support of the White House, one would assume, the FTC is asking for public input again. This time, the agency is seeking comments about a rule their proposing to address junk fees.

Last week, both the White House and FTC proposed rules that will make it mandatory for businesses to disclose all fees up front. Additionally, the White House wants to curtail “excessive” bank fees for basic services.

Put simply, the FTC’s proposal will ban hidden fees, require transparency regarding all fees, and allow the agency to impose penalties.

And now, after zeroing in on airlines, landlords, utilities, entertainment, and banking, the FTC is looking at hospitality.

Restaurants Under Scrutiny

As they did in November of last year, the FTC is once again asking for the public to comment on fees. This time, however, restaurants have been included by the agency.

To be sure, this focus isn’t exactly new. Washington, DC, for example has addressed junk fees in the restaurant space. As with other jurisdictions that have tackled this topic, restaurants must be conspicuous and make guests aware of all fees before their checks arrive. Additionally, operators must be clear about their intended use for fees.

In Washington, DC, a violation of these rules can lead to a $5,000 fine for a first-time offense. That penalty can rise to $10,000 for additional violations.

California has also passed Senate Bill 478, signed into law by Governor Gavin Newsom. This law, which also targets hidden fees, takes effect on July 1, 2024.

Most likely, the FTC is seeking comment to make adjustments to their proposed junk fee rule in order to include restaurants. From what I’ve seen, restaurant delivery fees in particular are drawing the ire of consumers and attention of state and federal agencies.

“All too often, Americans are plagued with unexpected and unnecessary fees they can’t escape. These junk fees now cost Americans tens of billions of dollars per year—money that corporations are extracting from working families just because they can,” says Lina M. Khan, FTC Chair.

Consumers will have 60 days to submit their comments to the FTC.


Proactive operators who haven’t already done so should make their in-person dining and delivery fees obvious.

Best practices for fee transparency include highlighting them on menus; announcing them via table tents or talkers; including fees on websites; and including a notice or disclaimer on reservation pages.

However, operators should avoid viewing being transparent about fees through a lens of compliance. Rather, being clear and upfront with guests is just good business. In fact, it’s in keeping with the spirit of hospitality and service.

If the final experience a guest has with a restaurant is being unpleasantly surprised by their check due to junk fees, how should be expected to respond? Their perception of the venue or brand will plummet, and they won’t return. How long can a restaurant sustain that guest reaction before the damage is irreparable and an operator has to close their doors?

Operators are being asked to thread a needle every day. Costs are rising and there are only so many solutions available to most operators that can keep their doors open, keep guests and staff happy, and pull the business toward long-term success.

To be clear, fees are generally fine—if consumers feel they know what to expect ahead of their visit. Nobody wants to be surprised, and that shouldn’t be difficult to understand.

So, operators need to be transparent about fees. They need to consider dynamic pricing for menus. That requires an absolute understanding of costs, guest tolerances for pricing, and the market.

The payoff, however, is happier guests who are far more likely to return for in-person dining and to place delivery or takeout orders. Savvy operators will put the work in now to get ahead of the junk fee fallout.

Image: Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash

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These are the 50 Best Bars of 2023

These are the 50 Best Bars of 2023

by David Klemt

Tres Monos bar in Buenos Aires, Argentina

Tres Monos in Buenos Aires is number 11 and the winner of the Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award.

According to the World’s 50 Best, these stunning examples of operations, service, and atmosphere from around the globe are the best bars of 2023.

For the first time, the incredible collection of bars was revealed during a ceremony in Singapore. I watched this year’s ceremony via the World’s 50 Best Bars live stream and the energy was palpable just through the screen. We’ll have to consider attending the 2024 ceremony in person.

The 50 bars that have earned placement on this list should serve as inspiration for operators and hospitality professionals throughout the world. Whether considering operations, service, building a top-performing team, menu, design, or atmosphere, these bars are reaping the rewards of hard work and a commitment to hospitality.

As we’ve had the incredible honor of speaking with a number of the bars on this year’s list for our Bar Hacks podcast, we’ve linked a few of the bars below to their episodes.

The Numbers

The 15th edition of World’s 50 Best Bars ranks bars in 28 cities from around the globe.

Among individual cities, London claims the most bars on this year’s list with five. Further, two of those bars are in the top ten.

Mexico City is home to four bars on the list, while New York boasts three, plus the winner of the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award. These two cocktail bar titans will go head to head for some time from what I can see, and we’re all the better for this friendly rivalry.

Overall, the UK is home to six venues on the 2023 list. Also performing well are the US and Italy, with each claiming five bars on the 2023 list. With four bars, each in Mexico City, Mexico also does very well for 2023.

This year’s host city, Singapore, boasts three bars, along with the Bar Design Award recipient. Greece also earns three spots, with one bar taking home the Legend of the List Award. There are three bars on the list in Argentina as well, all in Buenos Aires. One of these bars offers such outstanding service that it’s this year’s Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award recipient.

Another country with three bars on the list is Spain. Not only can the country now boast about being home to the bar holding the number one spot, it’s also where number four is located. Oh, and the number four bar just happens to be last year’s top bar in the world. Clearly, Barcelona is staking a claim to the Cocktail Capital of the World.

Sadly, Canada isn’t represented on this year’s list. However, Civil Liberties in Toronto does hold the number 73 spot.

Congratulations to the bars and their teams on the 2023 list, and the individual award winners! Cheers!

The World’s 50 Best Bars 2023

  1. Galaxy Bar (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
  2. Jewel of the South (New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America)
  3. Atlas (Singapore)
  4. The Clumsies (Athens, Greece)
  5. Locale Firenze (Florence, Italy)
  6. Baltra Bar (Mexico City, Mexico)
  7. L’Antiquario (Naples, Italy)
  8. Carnaval (Lima, Perú)
  9. 1930 (Milan, Italy)
  10. Scarfes Bar (London, England, United Kingdom)
  11. Mimi Kakushi (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
  12. Panda & Sons (Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom)
  13. The Cambridge Public House (Paris, France)
  14. Bar Benfiddich (Tokyo, Japan)
  15. The SG Club (Tokyo, Japan)
  16. 🔶🟥🔵 A Bar with Shapes for a Name (London, England, United Kingdom)
  17. Argo (Hong Kong, China)
  18. Freni e Frizioni (Rome, Italy)
  19. Sago House (Singapore)
  20. Röda Huset (Stockholm, Sweden)
  21. Florería Atlántico (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  22. Wax On (Berlin, Germany)
  23. Satan’s Whiskers (London, England, United Kingdom)
  24. Katana Kitten (New York, New York, United States of America)
  25. CoChinChina (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  26. Baba Au Rum (Athens, Greece)
  27. Café La Trova (Miami, Florida, United States of America)
  28. Caretaker’s Cottage (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
  29. Hanky Panky (Mexico City, Mexico)
  30. Drink Kong (Rome, Italy)
  31. Coa (Hong Kong)
  32. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar (Bangkok, Thailand)
  33. Zest (Seoul, South Korea)
  34. Overstory (New York, New York, United States of America)
  35. Salmon Guru (Madrid, Spain)
  36. Maybe Sammy (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)
  37. Jigger & Pony (Singapore)
  38. BKK Social Club (Bangkok, Thailand)
  39. Line (Athens, Greece)
  40. Tres Monos (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  41. Himkok (Oslo, Norway)
  42. Alquímico (Cartagena, Colombia)
  43. Tayēr + Elementary (London, England, United Kingdom)
  44. Licorería Limantour (Mexico City, Mexico)
  45. Little Red Door (Paris, France)
  46. Connaught Bar (London, England, United Kingdom)
  47. Paradiso (Barcelona, Spain)
  48. Handshake Speakeasy (Mexico City, Mexico)
  49. Double Chicken Please (New York, New York, United States of America)
  50. Sips (Barcelona, Spain)

2023 Awards

  • Roku Industry Icon Award: Renato “Tato” Giovannoni
  • Rémy Martin Legend of the List: The Clumsies; Number 47 (Athens, Greece)
  • Best Bar in Australasia (sponsored by Naked Malt): Maybe Sammy; Number 15 (Sydney, New South Wales, Australia)
  • Best Bar in Asia (sponsored by Torres Brandy): BKK Social Club, Number 13 (Bangkok, Thailand)
  • Best Bar in Europe (sponsored by Perrier): Sips; Number 1 (Barcelona, Spain)
  • Best Bar in the Middle East and Africa (sponsored by Amaro Lucano): Mimi Kakushi; Number 40 (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
  • Best Bar in North America (sponsored by Tia Maria): Double Chicken Please; Number 2 (New York, New York, United States of America)
  • Best Bar in South America (sponsored by Scrappy’s Bitters): Alquímico; Number 9 (Cartagena, Columbia)
  • Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award: Tres Monos; Number 11 (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
  • Best New Opening (sponsored by the London Essence Co.): Line; Number 12 (Athens, Greece)
  • Disaronno Highest New Entry: Zest; Number 18 (Seoul, South Korea)
  • Nikka Highest Climber: Himkok; Number 10, climbed 33 positions (Oslo, Norway)
  • Ketel One Sustainable Bar: Röda Huset; Number 31 (Stockholm, Sweden)
  • Altos Bartenders’ Bartender: GN Chan; Double Chicken, Please (New York, New York, United States of America)
  • Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu: The American Bar at Gleneagles; Book of Berries menu (Auchterarder, Scotland, United Kingdom)
  • Campari One to Watch: Lady Bee; Number 52 (Lima, Perú)
  • Bareksten Best Bar Design: Night Hawk (Singapore)
  • The Blend Scholarship: Apoorva Kohli (New Delhi, India) will intern at Sips (Number 1) in Barcelona and Alquímico (Number 9) in Cartagena in 2024.

Image: Tres Monos

KRG Hospitality. Bar Consultant. Nightclub. Lounge. Mixology. Cocktails.

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Chicago to Phase Out the Tip Credit

Chicago to Phase Out the Tip Credit

by David Klemt

Closeup shot of the flag of the City of Chicago with Wrigley Building in background

In a move that some are celebrating and others claim will kill jobs, Chicago will phase out the tip credit incrementally by the year 2028.

Currently, pay for tipped workers amounts to 60 percent of the minimum wage. Starting next year, that will change.

Beginning July 1, 2024, tipped workers will earn eight-percent increases on an annual basis. This will continue until July 1, 2028. On that date, tipped workers must receive the full minimum wage.

Put another way, the city of Chicago will eliminate the tip credit entirely midway through 2028. To add clarification, this phasing out of the tax credit applies to all 77 of the city’s neighborhoods.

Overwhelmingly, Chicago’s City Council voted for the so-called “One Fair Wage Ordinance.” Thirty-six alderpeople voted “yea,” while just ten voted “nay.”

As one would expect, not everyone is happy that the ordinance was passed on Friday, October 6. Nor are they pleased that Mayor Brandon Johnson signed off on the bill a week ago today.

Specifically, Alderman Nicholas Sposato referred to the One Fair Wage Ordinance as a “job and business killer.”

Further, as reported by Restaurant Dive last week, the Illinois Restaurant Association opposes the decision to eliminate the tip credit in Chicago.

“We wholeheartedly disagree with the decision to move forward with the elimination of the tip credit,” Restaurant Dive reports a representative of the IRA saying in a statement emailed to the publication.

The National Restaurant Association also opposes the ordinance, reportedly vowing to fight any such legislation that introduced throughout the country.

However, One Fair Wage and the Service Employees International Union are celebrating the plan to phase out the tip credit. However, the SEIU would like the elimination to apply statewide.

A Compromise

Attempting to negotiate for legislation they found more palatable, the IRA had proposed a different approach.

Their version would have seen tipped workers make a minimum of $20.54 per hour. However, that ordinance would only have applied to restaurants that generate $3 million or more in annual revenue. Additionally, the IRA proposed tripling fines related to violations of the proposed ordinance.

Had that proposal been accepted, the pay situation would have been unchanged for tipped workers in smaller operations.

In the end, the IRA agreed to eliminating the tip credit over the course of five years to make the transition smoother for operators. This is due, in part, to the possibility of a two-year phasing out of the tip credit being passed by Chicago’s City Council.

The IRA, NRA, and others who oppose eliminating tip credits point to hardships on the operator side. Increased labor costs will lead to increases in menu prices, reductions in traffic and hours, the elimination of jobs, and, ultimately, the shuttering of many businesses.

However, those who support such ordinance point to the financial stability of vulnerable people, and those who work throughout the industry to earn a living wage.

The Future

While Chicago is the largest city in America to vote to eliminate the tip credit, it’s not the first pass such legislation.

The city joins Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, and Oregon in doing so. Additionally, Washington, DC, will eliminate the tip credit fully by July 1, 2027. Phase one of DC’s tip credit elimination started May 1 of this year.

Of course, the news out of Chicago also comes on the heels of the FAST Act fight ending in California.

These developments beg the question: Which city or state will introduce legislation next, and how will it play out for workers and operators?

Image: Trace Hudson via Pexels

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Brand Love: BrandVue’s 2023 Rankings

Brand Love: BrandVue’s 2023 Rankings

by David Klemt

Black and white image of a winners' podium under a spotlight

As we near the end of the year, Savanta has revealed their BrandVue’s Most Loved Eating Out Brands 2023 report, ranking 100 restaurant brands in America.

The B2B and B2C market consultancy has been publishing this report since 2019. Their fifth-annual report includes 16 categories, including ranking consumer opinion of third-party delivery services.

As a category, Burger boasts the greatest presence with 17 loved restaurant brands. In second is Italian or Pizza with 13 brands. With ten brands, Specialty comes in third as a category. Tied for fourth are Mexican and Chicken, featuring eight brands each.

Download the full report here.

Top Restaurant in Each Category

Below you’ll find the gold medalist in each category, in alphabetical order by restaurant type.

  • Asian: Panda Express
  • Burger: McDonald’s
  • Café or Bakery: Starbucks
  • Chicken: Chick-fil-A
  • Family Style: Cracker Barrel Old Country Store
  • Frozen Dessert: Cold Stone Creamery
  • Italian or Pizza: Olive Garden
  • Mexican: Taco Bell
  • Sandwich: Subway
  • Seafood: Red Lobster
  • Specialty: Krispy Kreme
  • Steak: Texas Roadhouse
  • Varied Menu: The Cheesecake Factory

Other Categories

There are a handful of other categories on the BrandVue list. Namely, Delivery, Sports Bar, and Meal-kit.

I’ve separated Delivery in particular because it doesn’t represent brick-and-mortar brands. Rather, these are third-party services.

For this year’s list, Savanta ranks five delivery services. Below, the top three:

  1. Caviar
  2. DoorDash
  3. UberEats

However, it’s important to note that DoorDash bought their one-time rival Caviar back in 2019. So, it’s really as though DoorDash claims two spots among the top three.

Of course, UberEats owns Postmates, which is among the five Delivery brands on this list. So is Seamless, owned by Grubhub. However, Grubhub itself doesn’t appear on this list.

The other two categories, Sports Bar and Meal-kit, count just one brand each among them: Buffalo Wild Wings and Plated, respectively.

Top 26 Restaurant Brands

Below, the top quarter of the 2023 BrandVue list. As you’ll see, the gold medalists among the top 25 are in bold.

Why did I decide to show the top 26 rather than the top 25? My reasoning is simple: one of the top 25 is a delivery service, not a brick-and-mortar restaurant.

  1. Domino’s (Italian or Pizza)
  2. Red Lobster (Seafood)
  3. Cold Stone Creamery (Frozen Dessert)
  4. Culver’s (Burger)
  5. Caviar (Delivery)
  6. Cinnabon (Specialty)
  7. Braum’s (Burger)
  8. Auntie Anne’s (Specialty)
  9. Wingstop (Chicken)
  10. Popeyes (Chicken)
  11. Wendy’s (Burger)
  12. Pizza Ranch (Italian or Pizza)
  13. Pizza Hut (Italian or Pizza)
  14. KFC (Chicken)
  15. The Cheesecake Factory (Varied Menu)
  16. Subway (Sandwich)
  17. In-N-Out Burger (Burger)
  18. Dunkin’ Donuts (Café or Bakery)
  19. Taco Bell (Mexican)
  20. Raising Cane’s (Chicken)
  21. Olive Garden (Italian or Pizza)
  22. Krispy Kreme (Specialty)
  23. Texas Roadhouse (Steak)
  24. McDonald’s (Burger)
  25. Starbucks (Café or Bakery)
  26. Chick-fil-A (Chicken)

Unsurprisingly, the top six spots go to gold medalists. In total, gold medalists claim seven slots amongst the top ten. Twelve of the top performers out of all 16 categories are in the top 25.

Interestingly, the list also puts America’s love for burgers, chicken, and pizza on full display. Of the top 25 most-beloved restaurant brands, five fall into the Burger category, and five fall into Chicken. Four slots belong to the Italian or Pizza category.

Notably, there are no Asian or Family Style restaurants among the top 26. However, I expect more Asian and Mexican restaurants to earn places in the top quarter over the next few years.

To see the full list of the 100 most-beloved restaurant (and delivery) brands in the US, click here.

Image: Joshua Golde on Unsplash

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Leisure and Hospitality Adds 96,000 Jobs

Leisure and Hospitality Adds 96,000 Jobs

by David Klemt

"Optimist" graffiti

Update: The figure of 61,000 restaurant and bar jobs was adjusted to 48,300 after revisions.

The latest report from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that the outlook looks promising for hospitality.

Put together, leisure and hospitality added 96,000 jobs in September. However, hospitality certainly leads the way according to the most recent report.

In particular, the news is wonderful for the restaurant and bar sector. Adding 61,000 jobs in September, “food services and drinking places” are back to February 2020 levels.

Put more simply, restaurants and bars are back to pre-pandemic employment numbers. It has taken more than three years, but we can finally breathe a collective (but cautious) sign of relief.

In fact, one in five jobs created in September was in a restaurant or bar. That’s incredible growth and welcome news.

But reaching this point hasn’t been easy. Operators, along with restaurant and bar workers, have clawed their way through the past several years.

The industry has changed, and operators need to avoid the temptation of regressing. Yes, employment levels are back to where they were before the pandemic. Worker and guest expectations will not return to where they were before February 2020. The changes are here to stay.


Unfortunately, not every sector of hospitality is back to pre-pandemic employment levels.

First, the positive news. Lodging (or accommodation, if you prefer) did add jobs in September. Whereas restaurants and bars rose 61,000 jobs, lodging is up 16,000.

That’s good growth and reason to be optimistic regarding that sector. That’s where the good news ends when it comes to hard employment numbers.

On the negative side, lodging hasn’t yet returned to pre-pandemic employment levels. In fact, the sector is remains down by 217,000 jobs when compared to February 2020.

Should lodging/accommodation continue to add jobs at this pace, we could see a full recovery in Q4 2024.

However, the past few years have been an eyeopener for many lodging and accommodation operators. Many hotels, for example, have reduced the sizes of their teams.

It’s possible that as long as guest feedback remains positive, hotels and resorts will continue to operate with smaller teams. Indeed, technological innovations have made it simpler for mid- and large-scale properties to pare back labor.


While returning to pre-pandemic employment levels in restaurants and bars is great news, we must still be cautious.

This is a delicate situation, and one month of growth isn’t enough to shout, “We’re back!” There’s reason to be optimistic, to be sure, but adding jobs is just one part of an equation that features many variables.

For example, the unemployment level in the US remains unchanged at 3.8 percent.

So, be optimistic. Allow yourself to feel some hope. But be cautious. Continue to work toward empowering your teams, increasing traffic and revenue, mastering the guest experience, and achieving short- and long-term goals.

Image: George Pagan III on Unsplash

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

What’s Up with Meat, Poultry and Seafood?

What’s Up with Meat, Poultry and Seafood?

by David Klemt

Barbecue food plate on wooden table

We know how plant proteins are performing with consumers but what do we know about how meat, poultry, and seafood are doing?

Well, because of a recent report from Datassential, we know many consumers are “meat-limiters.” And research from the World Resources Institute shows that plant-based performance is nuanced.

Interestingly, the performance of animal proteins on-premise appears to be following a beverage trend: Moderation. According to Datassential, more consumers are reducing their consumption of meat and poultry than increasing it in comparison with 2021.

So, meat-limiters may be indicative of the future of meat consumption.

Consumer Shifts

As the name implies, meat-limiters are limiting or otherwise reducing their consumption of animal proteins. Importantly, it doesn’t appear that a significant percentage of consumers are eliminating animal proteins from their diets.

Rather, many people are simply increasing the amount of plant-based items they’re eating. However, that increase is more aspirational than real in some cases.

Per Datassential’s survey of 1,500 consumers in the US, just over 70 percent of people are meat eaters. In contrast, nearly 25 percent are “flexitarian.” Just two percent are vegan or pescatarian, and only three percent are vegetarian.

So, the vast majority of Americans are still consuming meat, poultry, and seafood. We just now have reason to believe that more consumers may be leaning toward a flexitarian diet.

A bit over a quarter of consumers consume meat every day. Still, many people aspire to eat more vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, per Datassential.

However, there are more pescatarians, vegans, and vegetarians among Gen Z than the overall population. According to Datassential, this could indicate a shift away from animal proteins in the future.

Meat Performance is Nuanced

Just like plant-based performance, meat performance is nuanced. There are many factors at play.

Shifts in what consumers value are driving changes to the performance of proteins. Health, sustainability, the climate, taste, and affordability have an effect on all proteins, animal and plant.

Undeniably, inflation and shaken consumer confidence are impacting protein performance. Everything, it seems, is more expensive at the moment. Generally speaking, animal proteins are pricier than plant-based items.

It makes sense, then, that some consumers are reducing their intake of animal proteins and filling that void with fruits, veggies, and legumes.

Of particular note are shifts in daily and weekly consumption of animal proteins in 2022. Meat consumption once or more per week—beef, lamb, pork, veal—is up three percent. However, there’s a ten-percent increase in consumers eating poultry once or more per week.

Interestingly, daily poultry consumption is down seven percent in comparison with 2021. Likewise, daily consumption of seafood is also down seven percent, and fewer people are consuming it less than once per week.

Plant-based is Down

Despite what some would think, meat-limiters don’t appear to be driving up plant proteins significantly.

In fact, according to Datassential, the daily consumption of plant-based proteins is down. Per the research firm, seitan, tempeh, and tofu are the experiencing the greatest drop in daily consumption.

The fact is that across generations, more consumers eat animal proteins on a daily basis than their plant-based counterparts. Gen Z, per Datassential, consumes more animal proteins on a daily basis than other generations.

So, how does it make sense that people are reducing their meat intake but plant-based isn’t seeing a sizable jump in consumption?

In part, the answer is the growing popularity of plant-forward dishes. These are items, like bowls, that offer a small amount of meat, poultry, seafood or dairy. The majority of these menu items consists of plants but are not free of animal proteins completely.

The path forward may indeed be a plant-forward menu. Of course, this is heavily reliant on a specific concept or brand. Still, it’s likely many restaurants can do well offering mixed dishes, those heavier on plant proteins than animal proteins.

Image: Peter Pham on Unsplash

Note: This article is based on information from Datassential’s “2022 Plant-Forward Opportunity” report. To access a number of free reports, sign up with Datassential today.