by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Empower Your Team to Make Decisions

Do You Empower Your Team to Make Decisions?

by Kim Richardson

Chess pieces on chess board in grayscale

Empowerment is about so much more than trusting someone to follow clearly defined rules; you must learn to trust your team’s judgement.

Yes, even when things don’t go according to plan. If you’re only training your team on the “rules,” you’re doing a disservice to them and yourself. So, let’s have a little chat about empowerment. What does it mean to you? What are your expectations of your team when you tell them they are empowered?

Looking back throughout your own work history, have you ever had a job where your boss told you that you were empowered to make decisions, but you didn’t actually know what to do or how to make decisions? Did anyone ever explain “the how” of decision making to you?

Now, look at yourself as a leader. Have you ever had employees that you’ve told are empowered to make decisions, yet they get a manager every time someone needs something out of the ordinary? Are you explaining to your staff “the how” of decision making, along with your expectations?

It’s frustrating to feel like the house might fall down when you’re not in it. That’s no way to operate a business. We all want our staff to be able to make educated decisions when we’re not around. We shouldn’t have to hold their hands and be part of every single decision.

Still, there are times when, left to their own devices, a team member doesn’t make the decision you’d want them to make. This makes owners and leadership team members feel as though they must be at work every second.

So, how do you move away from micromanagement and learn to trust your team’s decision making?

Leverage Teachable Moments

You’ll never be able to give an example of every possible situation that may arise. Therefore, you’ll never be able to train your team on everything that they’ll encounter on any shift.

How do you tell someone how to handle situations when you’re not around? You don’t, and I don’t suggest you even try. Instead, you need to instill a sense of empowerment in your team.

However, “empowerment” is just a word if you’re not educating your team. You need to teach staff how to make good decisions. And how do you even start to do that? Cash in on all the teachable moments that happen throughout the day!

Once upon a time we were all new to this industry. I’m sure you have a few stories of some mistakes you’ve made along the way. I know I certainly do.

Think back to those situations. Did someone explain to you why you made a mistake? More importantly, did they then help you understand what to do next time? Or did they just get mad and make you feel like a failure?

I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing people over the years. There are several people that really put effort into teaching me. The different things they taught me helped me to understand the ins and outs of decision making, even in situations I know very little about.

Example 1: The Restaurant

For my first job ever, I was a hostess at an Italian restaurant and pizzeria. During the training process I was told to rotate sections when seating tables. That’s easy enough, right? Well…maybe not.

Sometimes I’d see exceptions to this rule. The same section would get sat twice in a row, for example. I watched exceptions to “the rule” get made with no clue as to why.

One day, I sat the same section twice in a row. I don’t remember why, but I do remember the server’s reaction.

Right after seating the second party in the server’s section she let me know how annoyed she was by my decision. Now, I knew I messed up immediately—she let me know. But I didn’t know why it wasn’t okay that I had double-sat her this time.

All I knew is there was a rule I was expected to follow…unless I wasn’t supposed to follow it. Sometimes it was okay to disregard the rule, sometimes not. The rule wasn’t clarified before I began my role as a hostess, it wasn’t explained during training, and it wasn’t explained in the moment I “broke” the rule.

At some point it was explained to me that there were several factors that influenced the “double-seating rule.” For instance, you might skip a section in the rotation if they were just sat a big party. You might double-seat someone if they were regulars, family or friends and the server was able to accommodate an additional table. Of course, there were several other factors that could come into play.

The biggest issue is that none of that was explained to me during training. Moreover, I was left to figure out the nuances of seating on my own.

Example 2: The Hotel Sales Office

I worked at a hotel in the sales office for my first job out of college handling group room blocks.

The contracts I sent out to clients had cutoff dates 30 days prior to the event. Again, sounds pretty simple, doesn’t it?

One day a bride emailed me asking if she could extend the cutoff date. The cutoff date fell on a holiday weekend and she was concerned that people might not have time to book their rooms. I wrote her back and very politely told her no. So she reached out to my boss, Jill, who told her yes.

And then I got called into Jill’s office.

I remember that conversation like it was yesterday. Jill was very nice about the situation and explained that it was okay to make exceptions for people sometimes. Sometime later, I extended a cutoff date for another group. Should be an acceptable exception, right?

Nope. I got my hand slapped on that one. There was a citywide event going on over those dates. The hotel was fully sold out and turning away business. In this circumstance, it was actually a huge problem to extend the cutoff date.

Great—here we go again with a rule that exists in a gray area, and no one explained its nuances. As it turns out, there are factors that go into extending a cutoff date, such as how many rooms the group has already picked up; how busy the hotel is over the dates of their room block; and the relationship you have with the client.

I don’t know if anyone ever flat out explained these gray areas to me. Instead, I was left to figure out the nuances through trial and error.

Example 3: The Dish Tub Incident

At that same hotel several years later I started handling banquet events. One day, a client told me their registration desk needed dish tubs lined with cloth napkins. I threw it on the banquet event order.

Well, I happened to work at a Five Diamond hotel. Dish tubs with napkins sitting out in view of the public? That’s not how we did things. Enter: Bruce the Banquet Manager.

No detail, however small, escaped Bruce. Referring to the dish tubs and napkins, Bruce asked me why they were necessary. I actually had no idea what the client wanted with the tubs and napkins. So, I reached out to the client.

Turns out all she needed was a way to store welcome packets for event attendees. These days, we just put up a QR code and call it good. Once I let Bruce know what the containers were actually for, he understood. However, we weren’t about to load unsightly dish tubs with welcome packets. Instead, we found something more aesthetically pleasing and in line with our level of service.

I spoke about the Dish Tub Incident with Jill. To her credit, she helped me understand that people who are planning meetings so frequently are sending standard specs. Sometimes there would be a request on a BEO that wouldn’t make sense for the venue. Crucially, she taught me that if I ever saw something that didn’t make sense I needed to ask questions.

Truthfully, I don’t remember if it was that conversation or another but Jill taught me one of the best lessons: Ask the client what goal they’re trying to achieve. By understanding their goals we could provide solutions that made sense for us and honored their wishes. Additionally, we’d deliver the excellent service they had come to expect.

Example 4: The Hotel Cafeteria

Let’s take a little break from talking about my mistakes and talk about somebody else’s.

Many years later, I was working at another hotel. One day, I went to the cafeteria and the fruit bowls had Asian pears in them. I love Asian pears, so I was really excited about those bowls.

Now, those particular pears were probably a day away from being spoiled. I went to the cafeteria the next week and there were the Asian pears again! This time, they were perfectly fresh, crisp pears.

Well, I certainly enjoyed that. You want to know who didn’t enjoy that? The executive chef!

As it turns out, Chef sent the pears that were about to go bad to the cafeteria because they were leftovers from something else. He didn’t want them to go to waste. But the fresh, crisp pears that were out the following week? Those were a different story.

There was a kitchen team member who saw the Asian pears go down the week before. When he was setting up the cafeteria the following week he threw some in the fruit bowl. No one had told him that Asian pears are expensive. Also, no one had told him the pears were just going down to the cafeteria because they were close to spoiling. They’re not typically the type of thing set out in the employee cafeteria.

While I would never expect Chef to stop and explain every single decision he’s making, it’s the perfect example of seeing one of your superiors doing something and thinking you’re supposed to do the same.

Leaders Teach

When I look back on some of the mistakes I made, they seem pretty obvious with many years of hindsight.

The solutions to unexpected situations are common knowledge to me now. If you also have some years in this industry, they’re likely common knowledge to you.

And that’s my point.

I was young. I was inexperienced. People didn’t always tell me the things they had learned that were common knowledge to them. So, they also didn’t share their expectations with me.

I can only assume that you have people on your team that are young and inexperienced. As seasoned hospitality professionals, we all make decisions every day that can be teaching moments. These moments are part of the learning experience. Using them to shape your team will help your business run better.

Have you implemented an onboarding process? Do you have a detailed employee manual? Do you have actual systems in place? If so, great—you’re ahead of the curve.

But do you think that you’re training new and existing employees on every situation that will ever pop up during their shifts? Really, that’s impossible. Instead, be on the lookout for teachable moments. Put people on your leadership and empower them to do the same.

In turn, they’ll help empower your staff to make the “right” decisions for your business. And importantly, they’ll feel empowered to learn from mistakes so they don’t repeat them. Over time, and it won’t take long, you and your leadership team will be able to step away and work on other parts of the business. In fact, you’ll find that you can step away from the business from time to time.

People are going to make mistakes. That includes you. Don’t let these teachable opportunities go to waste.

Image: Hassan Pasha on Unsplash

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

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KRG Hospitality now Serving Midwest Region

KRG Hospitality adds Midwest Region

Marina City Towers in Chicago, Illinois


Toronto-based hospitality industry consulting firm with offices throughout Canada and the USA now serving the Midwest through Chicago office.

CHICAGO, IL (March 17, 2023)—Today, KRG Hospitality announces the addition of the Midwest region of the US to their North American service area. The team will operate out of an office in Chicago, Illinois. However, the agency will serve Midwest markets outside of Chicago as well.

KRG is excited to announce their presence in the region and their ability to serve clients effectively. The agency will offer the full suite of their proven hospitality solutions, including: hourly consulting and coaching; complete feasibility studies, fully customized concept plans; in-depth, focused business plans; project support and management; food and/or drink menu development and consulting; and personalized F&B education.

“I was born in Chicago and first entered the hospitality industry in the Northwest Suburbs. I got my first taste of nightlife in Chicago’s incredible bar and nightclub scene,” says David Klemt, partner and director of business development of KRG Hospitality. “Those experiences shaped my entire hospitality career trajectory. It will be an honor to serve the great people of the Midwest and bring their hospitality visions to life.”

“2023 is turning into quite the growth year for KRG, with the addition of team members Kim Richardson and Jared Boller, and now an exciting new market,” says Doug Radkey, KRG Hospitality founder, president, and project manager. “We see great opportunity in the Midwest, not only in Chicago, but many of the surrounding regions. The food, beverage, and hotel scene is incredibly strong, and we’re open to the challenge of not only helping launch new hospitality brands but helping transform existing brands scale and be successful in the new era ahead.”

KRG is ready to work with clients of all experience levels in the Midwest. The consulting agency’s suite of solutions serve new operators looking to open their first concept and veterans seeking a rebrand or expansion. From independent pizzerias and QSRs to multi-unit regional chains and boutique hotels, and everything in between, the KRG team is eager to take client visions and transform them into brick-and-mortar realities.

To schedule an introductory call to learn how the KRG Hospitality team serves clients, please follow this link.

About KRG Hospitality

KRG Hospitality is a storied and respected agency with proven success over the past decade, delivering exceptional and award-winning concepts throughout a variety of markets found within Canada, the United States, and abroad since 2009. Specializing in startups, KRG is known for originality and innovation, rejecting cookie-cutter approaches to client projects. The agency provides clients with a clear framework tailored to their specific projects, helping to realize their vision for a scalable, sustainable, profitable, memorable, and consistent business. Learn more at Connect with KRG Hospitality and the Bar Hacks podcast on social: KRG Twitter, Bar Hacks Twitter, KRG Media Twitter, KRG LinkedIn.

Image: Tobias Brunner from Pixabay

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Crucial Role Systems Play

The Crucial Role Systems Play

by David Klemt

Pink neon

Having efficient systems in place does more than just streamline day-to-day restaurant, bar, and hotel operations and increase productivity.

Of course, that’s an excellent reason for operators to ensure they implement multiple systems. Front-of-house, back-of-house, and leadership team members need systems to perform at their best.

Six Sigma, kaizen, the technology stack, checklists, manuals, marketing strategies, the guest journey… Each of those systems and more are key to the long-term success of restaurant, bar, and hotel operations.

In fact, these systems should be developed and ready for implementation before the doors ever open for the first time.

Further, effective systems communicate the expectations for roles and tasks. Onboarding and training systems improve recruitment and retention. Also, they provide the transparency that today’s professionals expect from their employers. On top of that, systems help develop consistency, which keeps guests coming back.

A strong leadership team is effective at implementing and following systems. Overall, a strong team is one that understands, embraces, and adheres to a systematic approach to operations to achieve shared goals.

Simply put, the only way achieve success is to be strategic. One can’t be strategic without the implementation of systems.

But there’s another crucial role that systems play in restaurants, bars, and hotels.

Get Out

This topic is the byproduct of a recent KRG Hospitality client call. While explaining our approach to projects, our team touched on the importance of systems.

However, the topic wasn’t brought up simply to detail what systems the client would need to have in place.

A crucial role systems play in a successful operation is getting an owner away from their four walls. More importantly, allowing them to confidently and comfortably leave their business.

If an owner—be they a sole proprietor or business partner—can’t step away from their restaurant, bar, or hotel without worrying, something is wrong. Either the systems in place are ineffective, they don’t address every element of the business, they aren’t being adhered to, or they don’t exist.

Effective systems allow an owner to take time away from their business without micromanaging staff. Systems should also be in place so the owner or owners don’t feel anxious when they’re not working on the business.


Stepping away to pursue a hobby, engage in self care, spend time with family and friends, or just because one wants to take a “lazy day” is necessary.

The strategic implementation of systems makes it possible for someone to take time away from their business. They can take that vacation, pursue that goal that doesn’t relate to their business directly, recharge, etc.

Of course, having systems in place also mean an owner and members of their team can travel. They can comfortably attend industry shows, make a guest appearance at a peer’s bar, or host a pop-up without worrying about the business. Having systems in place also makes it possible to travel to discover new F&B items, learn new techniques, and forge relationships with industry peers.

In other words, systems help owners and operators do something they likely haven’t done in months, if not years: breathe.

Image: Fabian Møller on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Wendy’s Looks to Ghosts for Growth

Wendy’s Looks to Ghosts for Growth

by David Klemt

Wendy's fast food restaurant exterior and sign

Wendy’s is the latest foodservice company to announce plans to open ghost kitchens in Canada, the US and the UK.

The fast-food giant’s scheme is large-scale and part of an expansive growth strategy.

Per the company, Wendy’s plans to open 700 ghost kitchens.

Embracing the Trend

Here’s a question for you: Do you hear and read the word “pivot” or the phrase “ghost kitchen” more often these days?

Ghost kitchens seem to be the pivot of choice for restaurant groups and enterprising tech companies looking to leverage the next big thing. (There, a sentence with both “pivot” and “ghost kitchen” in it,)

The trend also appears more often than not to be the domain of Big Business.

Former Uber executive Travis Kalanick is the founder of CloudKitchens. DoorDash is also entering the ghost kitchen space, running a trial in California to see if pursuing the idea is viable.

Now, enter Wendy’s, not exactly a mom-and-pop shop in the restaurant space.

Ghost vs. Virtual Kitchen

We don’t revel in the semantics game, necessarily. But we know people are going to refer to Wendy’s ghost locations as “virtual” kitchens as well.

However, ghost kitchens and virtual kitchens have unique definitions and characteristics.

Wendy’s isn’t creating a new brand with new items they’re preparing in their existing brick-and-mortar locations. Nor do they plan to do so with their new locations under constructions currently.

Were that the case, their strategy would be a virtual kitchen plan.

Instead, the 700 locations will be separate facilities without storefronts. Also, the units will focus solely on delivery, leveraging on-demand consumer behavior.

So, the lack of storefront is arguably the greatest defining characteristic of a ghost kitchen.

Conversely, a virtual kitchen operates in a location with a storefront. However, the brand on offer exists online and not in the brick-and-mortar world of an established brand. In essence, an existing brand is offering a brand that they don’t want to dilute what they’ve already built.

That’s a Lot of Ghosts

Per reporting, Wendy’s is joining forces with Reef Technology to open and operate their ghost kitchens.

At least 50 such locations are in the works to open this year. The other several hundred locations will open between 2022 and 2025.

That means we should see more than 150 Wendy’s ghost kitchens going live per year across Canada, the US and the UK.

Partnering with Reef Technology is an interesting and telling maneuver. Reef, per their website, focuses on “urbanization” and reshaping “our urban infrastructure.”

And as CEO Todd Penelow stated last week, Wendy’s doesn’t isn’t strong in urban areas. The vision for Wendy’s new strategy is to penetrate urban markets, adding new stores and new franchisees as the brand moves forward.

Should things go according to plan, Wendy’s expects to expand from 6,500 units worldwide to somewhere between 8,500 and 9,000 in 2025.

Image: Michael Form from Pixabay

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Leadership: What is the 10 Second Rule?

Leadership: What is the 10 Second Rule?

by David Klemt

Message icon and emoji in form of white neon sign

Anyone who spends any time reading publications that focus on business will come across the “10 Second Rule.”

So, what is this rule? And why should you care?

After all, many entrepreneurs who enter hospitality do so partially to reject “corporate life.”

Adapt Rather than Reject

First, let me say that we understand the allure of eschewing the traditional business world. KRG Hospitality is itself a rebellion against corporate life.

However, we believe that some proven business strategies absolutely have a place in independent restaurant and bar operations.

Indeed, there are lessons independent and boutique operators can learn from their chain and corporate counterparts.

Conversely, independent and boutique entrepreneurs can teach chains quite a few things.

In fact, there are chain operations out there that go to great lengths to appear independent. They strive to leverage the perception that they’re local and small.

So, rather than outright reject corporate strategies and tactics, operators should adapt them to streamline operations, reduce costs, maximize profits, and thrive long-term.

Ten Seconds

Hospitality and foodservice are fast-paced—that’s not news. When front and back of house find themselves in the weeds, passions rise quickly. Often, a blow-up is on the menu.

The same can be true during shift and staff meetings. Perhaps one or two employees aren’t engaging, or maybe there’s a long-simmering issue that’s close to boiling over.

Or, perhaps a change to operations and expectations—the reason for the meeting—immediately ruffles feathers. This rule also applies to one-on-one discussions between ownership, management, and staff.

Engaging in a dust-up can be tempting. Not many people appreciate having their authority questioned or perceived slight left unaddressed.

The 10 Second Rule I’m addressing pertains to communication. Of course, we all know communication is often two things: crucial and difficult.

Simply put, the 10 Second Rule tells us to be quiet for ten seconds. If tensions are rising (often accompanied by volume), put an end to the situation by shutting up and counting to ten.

According to people who champion this rule, a few things happen: the person who implements stops feeding the tension; that same person can now respond without emotion; it provides time to remember that the other party isn’t just an opponent; and the other party tends to also cool off.

It’s a simple rule that can have a huge impact on workplace culture. A healthier, more positive culture leads to happier staff, which improves recruiting and retention. That’s a huge payoff for just ten seconds.

Image: Jason Leung on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Introducing the KRG Start-up Calculator

Introducing the KRG Bar & Restaurant Start-up Calculator

by David Klemt

The KRG Hospitality Bar & Restaurant Start-up Calculator banner

We are incredibly excited to announce the launch of a helpful new tool for new and veteran operators alike: the KRG Hospitality Bar & Restaurant Start-up Calculator.

It couldn’t be simpler to use, and it will give users an idea of how much funding their project will require.

Just enter the square footage you desire or that you know you’ll need. Then, our brand-new calculator generates more than 40 key costs for your review.

Know Your Numbers

New or veteran, single unit or multi, success in this business requires an obsessive knowledge of numbers.

Costs, in particular, are operators’ eternal opponents. People incur the greatest costs before they ever open their doors for business.

Now, that’s just common sense on one hand. Securing a location, kitting out a kitchen, building out the front of house—these are five-, six- and sometimes even seven-figure endeavors.

However, on the other hand, the massive costs that come with opening a new restaurant or bar are often the result of surprises or insufficient planning.

That’s where our calculator comes in.

Here to Help

There’s a reason that the KRG Bar & Restaurant Start-up Calculator populates more than 40 fields.

That reason is simple: preparation is key.

For instance, does your current plan budget for utility deposits, business insurances, opening F&B inventory, soft opening and launch month strategies, the complete array of construction or renovation costs?

Here’s a real-world example of our calculator at work:

Let’s say you want to open a 2,200-square-foot pub. At the minimum, you should budget at least $2,547 for business insurances and nearly $8,200 for opening F&B inventory. And you’ll likely want to set aside at least $14,806 for emergencies.

Try it out for yourself today!


As with any online calculator, this free calculator is to be used as an initial reference point. Every project is unique in its own way. Property and leasing costs, equipment, and renovation costs will heavily fluctuate based on market, concept, and the status/condition of a chosen property.

Image: KRG Hospitality

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

How to Address Temporary Restaurant and Bar Closures: 5 Social Media Examples

How to Address Temporary Restaurant and Bar Closures: 5 Social Media Examples

by David Klemt – 12/1/2020

Repeated restaurant and bar closures have, tragically, become a hallmark of 2020.

Operators have had to learn how to communicate closures to potential indoor guests, as well as delivery and takeout guests.

For most operators, the possibility of closing their doors—temporarily or otherwise—has moved well past “if” territory. At this point, it’s not even a question of when a restaurant or bar will have to close, it’s a matter of when it will happen again.

There are a few reasons a F&B business will have to close due to the Covid-19 outbreak: official mandate, reduced indoor and outdoor dining capacities, and voluntary temporary closures.

Mandated closures are, on the surface, straightforward. Government officials decree that certain types of businesses must close their doors by a specific date and time, and owners are expected to comply.

Closures induced by capacity restrictions are less straightforward. It has become woefully apparent that most lawmakers don’t understand (or don’t care) that at a certain threshold, reducing indoor and outdoor dining capacities is as good as forcing a restaurant or bar to close; the value proposition of remaining open simply isn’t there.

A voluntary temporary closure can come about because of capacity limitations, but they can also be the result of other factors. A significant workforce reduction, lack of traffic, rising costs of goods, or an internal Covid infection.

The stark reality is that the likelihood today’s operators are going to have to craft social media posts and emails announcing temporary (and possibly extended) closures is anything but slim.

Below are four examples of effective closure announcements that bars across America have posted to Instagram recently.

Machine, an upscale cocktail bar and restaurant in Chicago, made the difficult decision to close their doors to in-person dining guests throughout the remainder of 2020. The post addressed the reason for the decision but made it clear that Machine would continue to operate for delivery and curbside pickup orders placed online. Community health and safety was held up as a priority, and though the news was disappointing and no doubt difficult to break, Machine’s post was positive.

Award-winning Chicago cocktail bar Lazy Bird, located in the basement of the Hoxton hotel, was forced to close due to indoor dining restrictions. The post image was short and to the point, with the caption explaining in detail why the bar was closing temporarily. Lazy Bird is part of the Boka Restaurant Group and their post included a call to action for people to support venues within the portfolio that would still be able to offer outdoor dining, delivery and takeout.

Three days ago, award-winning restaurant Compère Lapin announced a temporary closure due to a team member being exposed to Covid-19. Like the Machine post, Compère Lapin’s message explained their decision was based on safety. Similar to Lazy Bird, the restaurant urged guests to visit James Beard Award winner Chef Nina Compton’s other restaurant, Bywater American Bistro (BABs).

In Woburn, Massachusetts, just ten miles northwest of Boston, the Baldwin Bar alerted guests to their temporary closure because a staff member tested positive for Covid-19. The message, like that of Machine’s, was transparent, straightforward, reassuring, and positive overall. Not only did the Baldwin Bar share that the venue was undergoing a deep clean, they named the company tasked with providing the service.

The Baldwin Bar, thankfully, got to post the following message a little more than a day after posting their closure announcement:

Operators who find themselves in the terrible and frightening position of having to announce a temporary closure would do well to follow the examples above. While hope isn’t a viable business strategy, a hopeful tone can help garner support from the community.

Equally important are an emphasis on health, safety and cleanliness so guests feel comfortable placing orders for delivery and takeout, and returning when the doors open once again. As difficult as it may be when faced with closure, focusing on the well-being of the guests can help ensure there are guests lined up upon reopening.

Image: Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash