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Program for Unique Holidays: June 2023

Program for Unique Holidays: June 2023

by David Klemt

"Think about things differently" neon sign

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

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

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

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

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

For our May 2023 holidays list, click here.

June 3: National Repeat Day

This holiday is the perfect time to encourage guests to buy the ever-important second drink. Likewise, it’s the right day for encouraging people to order a dish or two to take home.

June 8: World Oceans Day

Leaders around the world are committed to the 30×30 initiative: protecting 30 percent of our oceans, waterways, and land by 2030. World Oceans Day is about focusing on this initiative, which people can do, in part, by filling out this short survey.

You and your guests can also support the oceans and conservation efforts by supporting brands like Gray Whale Gin. This award-winning gin is produced with sustainable, ethically, and locally-procured ingredients. Additionally, Gray Whale supports Oceana and 1% for the Planet by donating a portion of their proceeds.

June 10: National Black Cow Day

For those who may not know, a Black Cow is a float. It’s incredibly simple to make: drop a scoop of vanilla ice cream into a mug, add root beer.

Of course, you can also get creative with the Black Cow. One way is to make an adult version, perhaps with a vodka like Vodkow, or a cream liqueur like Vodkow Cream. Another option is to feature craft root beer and local vanilla ice cream.

June 13: National Kitchen Klutzes of America Day

Look, some people just aren’t great cooks. Some aren’t good in the kitchen. In fact, some aren’t even mediocre when it comes to cooking—they’re complete disasters.

Luckily, you probably have a kitchen inside your venue. So, give the not-so-great cooks in your area a reprieve from cooking with excellent lunch and dinner LTOs.

June 14: National Bourbon Day

Hey, do you have bourbon? At the risk of being too assumptive, I bet you do. Guess what you should do on this holiday.

June 16: National Take Back the Lunch Break Day

What a perfect day to motivate people to have lunch in your venue. It’s also a great day to motivate people to order delivery, carryout or pickup from you.

June 21: National Daylight Appreciation Day

This holiday does exactly what it says on the tin, as they say: it celebrates daylight. Venues that take advantage of sunlight—great windows, garage-style roll-up doors, amazing patios—should do what they can to entice guests to visit in the morning and afternoon. So, small-bite and lunch LTOs and promotions; sessionable beer, wine, and cocktails; and healthy, refreshing zero-proof beverages are the order of the day.

June 26: National Coconut Day

Summer and coconut go hand in hand. An LTO menu that shines a light on summery drinks and bites is the perfect way to celebrate the coconut.

Feel free to rile up guests by asking them a “simple” question: Is a coconut a fruit, a nut, a seed, or a drupe?

June 27: National Onion Day

Onion rings. Onion dip. Bacon-onion bites. Onion pinwheels… And those are just appetizers. The humble onion is, as we all know, a powerhouse in the kitchen. For some, onions are also cocktail garnishes.

I think you know what to do on National Onion Day.

June 28: Tau Day

For the most part, we’re taught in school that Pi—a circle’s circumference divided by its diameter—is rounded to 3.14. Pi Day is March 14 each year and the holiday (and mathematical constant) tends to get the meme treatment.

Well, some believe Pi is incorrect. Instead, these people use the constant Tau, which is a circle’s circumference divided by its radius. Tau, with a value of 6.28, is celebrated on June 28. One of the simplest ways to celebrate this holiday is to enjoy twice the amount of pie as one would normally. So, a smart promotion that celebrates Tau Day could be one that encourages couples to come in to enjoy two slices of pie for dessert.

Image: Ivan Bertolazzi on Pexels

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The New Wave of Plant-based Foods

The New Wave of Plant-based Foods

by David Klemt

 

Chef Brian Duffy holding a plate with a plant-based shrimp po' boy sandwich on it

A key takeaway from the 2023 National Restaurant Association Show is this: a new wave of plant-based foods has made landfall.

In fact, given how many booths had plant-based items on offer, more waves will be crashing ashore. Plant-based items had a presence inside every building at McCormick Place in Chicago. For those who haven’t attended to show, McCormick Place has well more than two-million square feet in exhibit space.

There were, of course, the plant-based standards to which we’ve all grown accustomed. Burger patties, breakfast sausages, “chicken” nuggets, “pepperoni” pizzas… However, we now know there’s more innovation on the way.

Years ago, F&B experts declared seafood alternatives as the “holy grail” of plant-based foods. The race has been on to “crack the code” and offer seafood alternatives that look, cook, and taste like their animal counterparts.

One brand that appears to have reached their goal? New Wave Foods. And their staunchest culinary supporter? The revered and iconic Chef Brian Duffy.

Seismic but Sensible Shift

Those who are familiar with Chef Duffy know he’s unafraid to share his views on all things culinary, service, operations, and hospitality. The same people also know that he’s demanding when it comes to ingredients, distributors, and partners.

I say that to say this: Some people are shocked Chef Duffy is championing a plant-based food. However, I don’t share that reaction. Chef Duffy has never been anti-plant-based—he has been waiting for plant-based items to rise to his high standards.

During his 2023 NRA Show demo, the acclaimed and in-demand chef made shrimp-fried rice. Of course, he replaced shrimp with a plant-based alternative produced using mung bean and seaweed. That product is New Wave Foods Shrimp.

The demo proved so engaging that Chef Duffy was asked to repeat it on the final day of the show. I, for one, am not surprised—Chef Duffy is an incredible speaker and chef.

This seismic shift—not just in Chef Duffy’s embrace of plant-based foods but also throughout the industry—is sensible when you consider something said during the demo.

Boiling it down to the basics, Chef Duffy asked why operators wouldn’t want to offer high-quality plant-based items to their guests. It’s simple: Increasingly, this is what guests want. So…give it to them.

Succeeding with Plant-based

According to a 202o Datassential report, nearly two-thirds of operators have shrimp on their menus. Further, two-thirds of operators have at least expressed an interest in offering more plant-based alternatives.

And why wouldn’t they want to do so? It’s simple business: fulfill consumer demands and desires. If people want something and it’s feasible for a business owner to offer it, that’s good business.

However, it goes beyond just business for Chef Duffy. Taking things further, he believes that culinary professionals and operators have a responsibility to their guests.

There’s a responsibility to learn about what’s new and educate kitchen staff. A responsibility to help guests eat healthier. And absolutely a responsibility to innovate. As Chef Duffy said during his 2023 Bar & Restaurant Expo live menu read, operators can only justify charging premium prices if they’re truly innovating in the kitchen.

Diving deeper, meeting guest demands for plant-based foods fulfills a financial responsibility. If an operator has partners or investors, they need to meet their expectations. Equally as important, failing to innovate or keep up with guest demands puts the business at risk, therefore risking the livelihoods and career progression of staff.

Brands like New Wave Foods are sourcing their ingredients ethically and sustainably. Another brand, Meati, is using mushroom root sustainably. Additionally, New Wave Foods Shrimp is cholesterol-free, is free from shellfish allergens, and is kosher. Meati, a complete protein, is also cholesterol-free and is also free from nine major allergens

I also came across a whole-cut steak alternative called Chunk that tasted like beef. Interestingly, there was also a plant-based egg alternative that allows for the social-media-famous yolk poke, YoEgg.

Own the Operator Responsibility

An operator doesn’t have to be vegetarian or vegan to appreciate the plant-based movement. They don’t even have to be interested in a plant-based diet.

All an operator needs to understand this shift in consumer behavior—between 60 and 70 percent of US households are having at least one plant-based meal per week—is their responsibility to their guests and teams.

If offering plant-based options is viable for an operator (in most cases, it is), it’s good business to do so. Stubbornly refusing to offer guests what they want flies in the face of hospitality and service.

Offering plant-based options doesn’t suddenly make a concept a vegetarian or vegan brand. Chef Duffy puts one or two of his famous “dippy” eggs on his plant-based shrimp fried rice. He also cooks the dish with butter. It’s decidedly not a vegan dish.

To that point, Chef Duffy doesn’t dedicate menu sections to vegetarian or vegan diets. As he explains, doing so is a self-imposed limitation, and likely a mistake.

Targeting vegans means attempting to succeed with a very small (for now) pool of consumers. Attempting to appeal to vegetarians means targeting a larger base but still, it’s limiting.

Instead, operators can simply make it known a plant-based alternative is available for a given dish. Simple, to the point, and appeals to the greatest number of guests.

Succeeding with plant-based foods has never been easier. By the time the next plant-based wave surges, it will be even easier. Operators have very few excuses remaining for refusing to participate in the movement.

Image: New Wave Foods

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The Art of the Preparation

The Art of the Preparation

by David Klemt

Overhead view of chef slicing and chopping ingredients

Chef Brian Duffy‘s take on preparation and its overall impact on the guest experience extends to every aspect of operations.

In one sentence during his 2023 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago cooking demo, Chef Duffy sums up the power of the proper mindset.

“The art of the preparation creates the experience,” says Chef Duffy.

Now, he was preparing plant-based shrimp from New Wave Foods at the time. After preparing a pan, the revered chef was readying a pound of FABI Award-winning New Wave Shrimp for Duffified Shrimp Fried Rice.

 

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A post shared by Chef Brian Duffy (@chefbriduff)

When making this dish, Chef Duffy chops roughly half the New Wave Shrimp in half. He does so to enhance the dish’s texture, and therefore the guest experience. Additionally, Chef Duffy likes to toast basmati rice before adding it to the pan with the shrimp and vegetables.

Again, Chef Duffy shared his view on the guest experience when cutting animal-alternative shrimp (the product is made with sustainable seaweed and mung bean).

Preparation

Okay, so what does slicing or chopping shrimp have to do with the guest experience? It’s the attention to what others may consider a tiny detail. In fact, some may deem important details “optional.”

Whether front-of-house, back-of-house, or back office, everyone’s mindset matters. How one views their role and how they approach their responsibilities impacts every element of a restaurant, bar, nightclub, or hotel’s success.

Choosing to halve half the shrimp because it will deliver a better experience speaks volumes. It’s a commitment to perfect the “small” details so every guest walks away wanting to return.

If an operator wants to know if they have a chef or an executive chef, this is one way to tell. Is the chef teaching their brigade? Guiding them? Implementing policies around preparation? Or are they just punching the clock, making sure the rest of the team shows up, and sending out food that’s “good enough”?

Operators can apply versions of those questions to every role in the house, including their own. Is their pride in preparing every element of service and operation? Or is the team just muddling through each shift?

There are no Small Details

Interestingly, most guests likely won’t ever be aware of every detail operators and their teams get right. However, they will feel every choice each team member makes. They may not know precisely what goes right, but they take home with them that their visit was exceptional.

Pulling the threads tighter separates operators and their brands from one another. Guests can get a bite and a drink anywhere. They reward outstanding service and experiences with their time and money.

It’s a simple equation to understand: Operators want to create an army of loyal guests, guests expect exceptional experiences. The operators who deliver on guest expectations are rewarded with loyalty.

Chef Duffy isn’t “just” slicing shrimp. He’s not “just” toasting rice. Chef’s not “just” making “the world’s most perfect dippy egg.” In reality, he’s ensuring every decision he, his teams, and his clients make enhance the guest experience exponentially.

There are no small details. There are no small decisions. The art of the preparation, as Chef Duffy says, creates the experience. Indeed, preparation also separates the mediocre from the exceptional.

Image: Jonathan Borba on Unsplash

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Raise the Bar: The 3 Ps of Hospitality

Raise the Bar: The 3 Ps of Hospitality

by David Klemt

Three hands holding up three pineapples

No, one isn’t “pineapples.”

Nightlife, bar, and cocktail experts Mia Mastroianni, Phil Wills, and Art Sutley want operators to focus on what they call “the Three Ps.”

The engaging trio shared their trio of Ps recently in Las Vegas at the 2023 Bar & Restaurant Expo.

So, what are the Three Ps of hospitality? People, Place, and Product. Operators who pull the threads tighter on each of these crucial elements will be well on their way to improving operations and the guest experience.

People

Remember all the way back to a week ago when I shared Mastroianni, Wills, and Sutley’s thoughts on service versus hospitality? Consider the first P a deeper dive into that topic.

Operators need to focus on two categories of people who help their businesses succeed: their teams and their guests.

Addressing the former, the trio feels that operators are centering a disproportionate amount of their attention on guests in comparison to staff.

“We’re not lacking for people who want to work in the business and are outperforming other industries, but we’re not focusing on staff like we focus on guests,” says Wills. “Treat everyone with respect, including through the hiring process. If you don’t engage your staff, you won’t retain them. You need to show them they can grow in your business.”

According to Sutley, 89 percent of operators say that labor costs present a “significant challenge.” It follows, then, that committing to treating staff with respect and nurturing their careers isn’t just the right thing to do, it’s smart business.

Look for people with passion, those you can motivate to go above and beyond so you’re not stuck with a team full of space-fillers who are just after a paycheck, suggests Mastroianni.

Of course, operators and their teams must also focus on providing exceptional service and experiences to guests.

“Treat ever guest like a pearl in an oyster,” advises Wills. “They’re the pearl, we’re the oyster. We need to ‘protect’ them.” Anything less, cautions Sutley, and guests won’t return.

Place

Interestingly, the trio touched on design, aesthetic, and vibe. However, that isn’t the crux of the second P.

Rather, Place is really goes back to the guest experience. The design, aesthetic, and vibe need to meet guest expectations.

“Make sure your space is what it’s supposed to be,” says Wills.

For example, if a concept presents itself as a high-end cocktail bar, the four walls need to deliver on that expectation. With the exception of a handful of high-level examples, an upscale bar won’t survive if they deliver a dive bar—not neighborhood bar, dive bar—vibe and service. (For the record, I love a dive bar. But I don’t expect to encounter TV trope-style dive bar service if I walk through the doors of a high-end cocktail bar.)

One way operators can ensure their space is what it should be is standardization. Once a concept goes from idea to brick and mortar, when the owner’s vision is realized, the team needs to deliver a matching experience. Steps of service, systems, procedures…standardization is the name of the service game.

“Standardize your opening, shift, and closing procedures and systems to maintain your place,” says Mastroianni.

Every team member—front of house, back of house, leadership—needs to know and buy into an operator’s standards.

Product

Standardization breeds consistency. And consistency is a key element of the third P, Product.

Per Sutley, 76 percent of operators have noticed that guests are opting for more premium drinks. That’s great news, but it’s not the whole story.

It’s great that guests are opting for more expensive drink options. After all, that can certainly help the bottom line.

“However,” cautions Mastroianni, “they won’t come back without consistency in production.”

To drive this point home, consider this story from Mastroianni. A bartender made her a drink, and it was pretty good. She ordered another one from the same bartender and watched him make it differently the second time around. Not only was this second version different, it was better. While one could view this story through a positive lens—the drink was even better the next time!—that’s not the correct takeaway.

If the bartender was committed to building cocktails consistently, the second version of that cocktail would’ve been the first one served to Mastroianni. It would be the best version, and it would always be that impressive version.

When we’re fighting the possibility that up to 70 percent of first-time guests never return, the importance of product consistency can’t be overstated.

“Really focus on the small details to affect big change and get guests through the doors and keep coming back,” says Wills.

Image: Aleksandar Pasaric on Pexels

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Your Discovery Strategy Needs to Change

Your Discovery Strategy Needs to Change

by David Klemt

Black and white photo of person using laptop

A report by guest retention, reservation, and waitlist platform SevenRooms reveals that restaurant discovery is changing.

Per SevenRooms, many operators have looked toward third-party marketplaces to help people discover their restaurants, bars, or hotels. For context, online marketplaces include OpenTable, Resy, and GrubHub.

However, SevenRooms research is indicating a significant slowdown in this method of discovery. Per the platform, just a quarter of consumers still use marketplaces to find restaurants and bars.

So, how are people discovering the places where they want to spend their time and money on food and drinks? And how can you ensure your marketing and discovery strategy evolves alongside today’s consumer behavior? You’ll find out below.

For your own copy of Restaurant Discovery Has Changed: Adapt or Risk Becoming Obsolete by SevenRooms, click here.

Where are Your Guests?

It should come as no surprise that today’s consumer favors social media, influencers, Google, and even artificial intelligence for discovery.

Younger consumers in particular are more likely to discover a new restaurant, bar or hotel via social media.

Per SevenRooms, Gen Z:

  • is twice as likely as other generations to find a new restaurant via Instagram;
  • five times as likely to discover new restaurants on TikTok; and
  • is likely to visit a new restaurant due to an influencer recommending it.

In fact, 39 percent of consumers designated Gen Z have gone to a restaurant because an influencer has gone there.

When conducting this type of research, SevenRooms often works with YouGov. They did so again for their restaurant discovery report, commissioning YouGov to poll 1,185 consumers. Participants indicated they use the following methods or platforms to discover new places to dine and drink:

  • Google (27%)
  • Restaurant’s website (25%)
  • Referral (friends or family) (18%)
  • Facebook (12%)
  • Yelp (11%)
  • OpenTable (9%)
  • Instagram (8%)
  • TikTok (5%)
  • TripAdvisor (4%)
  • Resy (1%)

Three things jump out here: Organic search is crucial, websites still matter, and delivering top-notch service is paramount for word-of-mouth marketing.

Leverage Multiple Channels

If the data is accurate, operators who are relying exclusively or heavily on third-party marketplaces for discovery will be left behind. Instead, operators should seek to implement a multi- or omni-channel strategy.

What does omni-channel mean? In very simple terms, it’s not putting all of one’s eggs in one basket. Check out this article where I dive into omni-channel marketing and tactics for more information.

For their report, SevenRooms breaks omni-channel marketing and discovery thusly:

  • Owned reservation, waitlist, and ordering channels
  • Search and social engagment channels
  • Paid channels

It’s clear what SevenRooms is suggesting here: operators must adapt and meet guests where they are. Guests are relying on Google, a restaurant’s website, and social media for discovery.

The example that the platform gives in their report goes like this:

  • A consumer uses Google and finds a restaurant’s listing.
  • Next, they see a Facebook ad for that restaurant.
  • Finally, they decide to go to the restaurant’s website to learn more.

To that, I’ll add that some guests, those who prefer to order delivery, now seek an ordering widget. It’s wise, therefore, for operators to at least look into how they can implement direct delivery.

The Omni-channel Path

SevenRooms recommends a five-prong omni-channel strategy. Broken down into large chunks, the platform suggests:

  • Google integration;
  • social media engagement;
  • leveraging third-party marketplaces (with caveats);
  • owning direct channels; and
  • direct booking.

Again, this SevenRooms report can be downloaded here. However, I’ll share some details of this SevenRooms approach to discovery below.

Google Integration

SevenRooms isn’t the only one to say this: operators need to own and optimize their Google listing. In fact, they need to own all their listings, which I’ve said for years.

Owning listings boosts discoverability in several ways: SEO optimization, leveraging “near me” search functions, and ensuring guests are receiving accurate information before visiting.

Going further, operators who have marketing budgets can leverage Google ads. According to SevenRooms, Google search ads are also beneficial for becoming discoverable via third-party marketplaces.

Social Media

We’re fast approaching the day when at least half of consumers try a new restaurant or bar because they discovered it on social media. Right now, we’re at 45 percent of consumers finding new restaurants via these channels.

SevenRooms recommends having a presence on at least these channels: TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. What’s more, they suggest using a direct reservation page and linking it to a “Reserve Now” button on a venue’s social profiles.

If an operator has the budget, they can pay for influencers to visit and talk about their restaurant, bar or hotel. However, this type of marketing can be very expensive.

Third-party Marketplace

This “prong” in SevenRooms’ recommended omni-channel strategy isn’t for every operator. As stated above, it’s use is nuanced.

Who should use marketplaces? New venues or venues that find themselves struggling to drive traffic.

Who shouldn’t use marketplaces? Venues seeing consistently strong traffic, and those that perform well via organic search because they’ve done the work to establish their brand.

Direct Channels

To explain this element, I’ll share the following “journey map” from the SevenRooms report:

Own and optimize the Google My Business listing > Ensure the website is user-friendly > Make sure there’s a reservation widget > Send a confirmation email when a guest has booked a reservation > Send a reminder SMS message > Nail the guest experience during their visit > Send a thank you email after the visit > Follow up with a personalized (keyword here) offer to encourage a repeat visit.

Remember, per Ovation CEO Zack Oates, 70 percent of first-time guests don’t come back. It’s more important than ever to invest in earning repeat visits.

Direct Booking

It’s arguable that this step is part of the overall discovery strategy, that it’s a four-prong plan, not five.

However, this step involves implementing its own strategy so that guests become aware of it. Put another way, some guests need to be taught that a restaurant or bar offers direct reservation booking.

For example, SevenRooms suggests printing menu inserts that let guests know they can book directly with the restaurant. Follow-up emails should also include a direct reservation link. Additionally, loyalty programs should encourage guests to book reservations directly.

Finally, here’s an excellent tip regarding direct booking: Operators can turn off listings or at least reduce reservation inventory on third-party marketplaces. This should be done during the busiest days and dayparts.

Operators need to make sure they keep up with shifting consumer behavior. The implementation of a modern discovery strategy is a crucial step toward long-term success.

Image: Sergey Zolkin on Unsplash

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Use this Powerful Communication Style

The Powerful Communication Style You Should Be Using

by Jennifer Radkey

Graffiti that reads, "It doesn't have to be so complicated"

There’s a powerful method of communication operators can learn to use that promotes workplace collaboration and solves problems.

How to communicate with team members is a topic that comes up regularly in my coaching sessions with restaurant, bar, and hotel owners. Most of the concerns center around how to speak to employees when they are not following company policy; their level of service is not meeting company standards; or the quality of their work has decreased.

These are legitimate concerns when you are attempting to not only run a successful business but foster a positive work culture in your establishment.

After coaching my clients through understanding what their current style of communication looks like and how it is or is not working for them, I introduce them to a style of communication that I feel leads to the most effective overall results: the use of declarative language.

The declarative language approach was first introduced to me through a positive parenting online conference I attended. Author Linda Murphy wrote the Declarative Language Handbook, which teaches parents, caregivers, educators, and others how to communicate with children (particularly those with social learning challenges) to feel competent, connected, and understood.

As I dove into learning about this style of communication, I realized just how powerful it would be in the workplace. It is a method that can promote respect, collaboration, and empowerment. It can also, in turn, remove judgment, assumptions, hostility, and blame.

What is Declarative Language?

To answer this question, I’ll need to take you back for a quick grammar lesson.

Sentences can be categorized under four main types: declarative, interrogative, imperative, and exclamatory.

Declarative sentences are statements. These can be a statement of a fact, an observation, or a feeling. For example: “It is raining out.” “I’m going to open a new bar next month.” “Pineapple should never be on pizza.”

Interrogative sentences ask a question: “Why are you late for your shift?” “How can I make a million dollars this quarter?” “Who ever thought it was a good idea to put pineapple on pizza?”

Imperative sentences give a command. “Go clean those tables.” “Follow me.” “Pick off the pineapple from that pizza.”

Exclamatory sentences show something that we would shout or emphasize with an exclamation mark: “I made a million dollars this quarter!” “Yikes!” “Pineapple on pizza is the best ever!”

Powerful Communication

So, now that you’ve had a grammar refresher, let’s take a look at how declarative language can be a powerful method for communicating, and why the other styles may not be creating the results you want to see.

As an owner or manager, you may often find yourself falling into the use of interrogative and imperative statements. The problem with this is that both styles can stir up negative emotions in the person on the receiving end.

Interrogative statements (questions) tend to incite the fight, flight, or freeze mode. People feel put on the spot and may become defensive or anxious.

Imperative statements (commands) tend to be authoritarian in nature and have the potential to create fear and/or resentment. Employees are looking for team leaders who they can respect and turn to for guidance, not someone who is constantly telling them what to do.

Declarative language, when used to state observations, can be a way to open up discussions without defensiveness or fear. It also leaves room for facts instead of assumptions. The declarative language approach that I suggest my clients use looks something like this:

  • Make an observation statement.
  • Be silent.
  • Actively listen.
  • Collaborate.
  • Actively listen.
  • Proactively decide on solutions.
  • Gratitude/Positivity.

The easiest way to demonstrate this practice is through an example or two. First, we’ll look at an example with “Sam.”

Example #1

Sam just showed up for his shift at the quick-service restaurant he works at out of uniform. His manager notices and approaches him. The declarative language approach would look something like the example below.

Manager: Hey Sam, I notice that you aren’t wearing your uniform. (Declarative observation that quietly gives time for Sam to respond.)

Sam: Yeah, sorry, I spilled coffee all down the front of my shirt on the way here and didn’t have time to go home to change.

Manager: Okay, I understand, life happens. Any ideas on how we can resolve this? (Puts power to solve the problem in Sam’s hands.)

Sam: Do you have an extra shirt I can borrow for today’s shift?

Manager: Yeah, I actually do. Great plan. Let me go grab it for you and you can use the staff washroom to get changed.

Sam: Thanks.

Manager: No problem. Have a great shift! See you out there.

As you can see from this exchange, the manager did not make any assumptions as to why Sam wasn’t in uniform. Instead, they demonstrated empathy and respect. By asking if Sam had any ideas for resolving the issue, the manager provided room for collaboration as a team. Further, this approach empowered Sam to take responsibility and come up with the solution.

Example #2

Now, let’s look at “Lisa.”

Lisa is typically very punctual for her shift working concierge at a hotel. However, the past two weeks she has been regularly showing up 10 to 15 minutes late. Below, how the owner of the hotel would use the declarative language approach to discuss this issue with Lisa.

Owner: Hi Lisa, I’ve noticed that you have been starting your shift 10 to 15 mins late the past couple of weeks. You aren’t typically late for work. I’m curious about what’s changed. (Declarative observation; the owner then waits quietly for Lisa to respond.)

Lisa: I’m so sorry, I had to switch my child’s daycare and it’s on the other side of town. I’m struggling making it here on time with traffic.

Owner: That sounds stressful. What do you think we can do to work with this change to ensure that you can still arrive on time for your shifts?

Lisa: Would it be possible to switch my shift to a later time?

Owner: Let me look into that option for you. You are an asset to our team and I’m sure we will find a solution to this. I’ll get back to you later with some options, and you can let me know what would work best.

Lisa: Thank you so much for understanding.

In this exchange, the owner does not make assumptions as to why Lisa has been late. Rather, they show genuine curiosity as to what’s going on. Again, the owner empathizes with Lisa’s situation and then places power back into Lisa’s hands to think of a solution. The conversation ends on a positive note with gained clarity, respect, and appreciation.

Lead by Example

If you are looking to build a team of empowered individuals who can solve problems and collaborate, you need to lead by example. The use of declarative language can help you accomplish exactly that.

However, it is crucial to note that if you decide to try this method of communication, your intention needs to be positive. Declarative statements will not be as successful if your tone is sarcastic or accusing. Your approach must be casual, caring, respectful, and matter of fact.

Additionally, not every conversation will go smoothly using this method. You may receive “I don’t know” or “I’m not sure” as an answer. But for the most part, this method of communication allows for respectful discussion that acknowledges facts, promotes responsibility for one’s own actions, and decreases assumptions.

If you would like more information on how to use the declarative language approach, or would like to set up a coaching session to be coached on how to use this communication style with your team, please reach out to me!

Cheers to professional and personal well-being!

Image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

SevenRooms and Marriott Partnership

SevenRooms and Marriott Reveal Global Partnership

by David Klemt

Restaurant staff member using SevenRooms on a tablet

Fresh from launching the innovative Pre-Shift pre-service tool, SevenRooms today announces the platform’s latest partnership.

The announcement, which you can read in its entirety below, shows the confidence that some of the most recognizable hospitality brands in the world have in SevenRooms capabilities.

Specifically, the platform is now a preferred restaurant technology provider throughout Marriott International‘s portfolio. In fact, Marriott is leveraging the SevenRooms suite of tech solutions at several of their brands in more than a dozen countries. This translates to over 8,500 properties using the platform’s powerful booking, relationship management, and marketing tools.

Among the brands utilizing SevenRooms tools are The Ritz-Carlton, JW Marriott, EDITION Hotels, The Luxury Collection, and W Hotels.

The latest news to come from SevenRooms again underscores the platform’s commitment to growth and longevity. After more than a decade in operation and service to hospitality operators, it’s safe to say the company has reached ubiquity.

You may not operate a hotel or operate within a hotel. You may not oversee a multi-unit or multi-concept business. This news should be no less important to you.

When developing your tech stack (a service KRG Hospitality provides) it’s important to choose platforms that are here to stay. Otherwise, your investments of time and money go up in smoke. Likewise, the disruption to operations and service as you seek a new platform are harmful to you, your team, and guests.

So, it can be wise to not just dig into the platforms you’re considering, it can be smart to see what companies trust them as partners.

SevenRooms is a platform that we’re comfortable recommending to many of our clients. And no, we’re not paid or otherwise compensated to do so.

To learn more about SevenRooms partnering with Marriott International, see below.

SEVENROOMS SELECTED AS A MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL PREFERRED RESTAURANT TECHNOLOGY PROVIDER

The global technology platform will power personalized guest experiences to increase revenue while providing deeper guest insights for the global hospitality company 

NEW YORK (May 18, 2023) – SevenRooms, a guest experience and retention platform for the hospitality industry, today announced its agreement with Marriott International to become a preferred restaurant technology provider. SevenRooms is currently live across 25 countries at Marriott brands including W Hotels, The Ritz-Carlton, St. Regis, Sheraton, JW Marriott, Le Méridien, Westin, Marriott Hotels, Renaissance Hotels, EDITION Hotels, The Luxury Collection and Gaylord Hotels. This will unlock additional opportunities at the more than 8,500 Marriott International properties worldwide.

SevenRooms is a data-driven guest experience and retention platform focused 100% on building operator-focused tools. The platform offers solutions to global brands that not only increase revenue generation, but help them build long-term relationships with guests. 

For restaurants, bars, and other F&B outlets in Marriott-branded hotels, the SevenRooms platform offers a suite of tools to help drive incremental revenue, increase operational efficiencies, and offer exceptional guest experiences. Through SevenRooms’ Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Marketing Automation capabilities, Marriott’s hotels are not only able to cultivate meaningful, direct relationships with guests, but access a 360-degree view into the guest journey to foster deeper guest loyalty.

“We’re thrilled to collaborate with Marriott International as a preferred restaurant technology provider, helping them deliver more personalized experiences for their guests around the world,” said Joel Montaniel, CEO & Co-Founder of SevenRooms. “Today, consumers expect more out of their F&B experiences whether they’re staying local or traveling abroad. They want to engage with hotels, restaurants and bars on their own terms, and are increasingly discovering and booking where to eat and drink across an array of channels. With SevenRooms, operators have access to tools that help them reach these guests while driving operational efficiencies by connecting F&B into their overall hotel strategy to generate revenue and increase profitability. Our suite of products not only helps operators of Marriott-branded hotels provide guests with exceptional experiences that enhance positive sentiment and drive increased loyalty, but enables them to do so at scale, automatically. We look forward to working with Marriott as we enable them with technology to build longer-lasting, more profitable relationships with their guests.”

Marriott International properties can now incorporate much of SevenRooms’ suite of tools and solutions, including Customer Relationship Management (CRM), on-premise table management, waitlist management, marketing automation, email marketing, order management and review aggregation. 

“Marriott’s hospitality roots began in restaurants, and we want to provide exceptional, unforgettable restaurant experiences for our guests,” said Matthew Von Ertfelda, Senior Vice President, Food & Beverage at Marriott International. “With SevenRooms, we’re not only able to provide guests with the experiences they crave, but we can leverage a robust suite of tools to help turn one-time guests into lifelong guests.”

To learn more about SevenRooms, please visit www.sevenrooms.com.

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, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas, Wynn Resorts, Jumeirah Group, Hard Rock Hotels & Resorts, Wolfgang Puck, Michael Mina, Bloomin’ Brands, Giordano’s, Australian Venue Company, Altamarea Group, AELTC, The Wolseley Hospitality Group, Dishoom, Live Nation and Topgolf.  www.sevenrooms.com 

Image: SevenRooms

KRG Hospitality tech stack consulting. Tech. Technology. CRM. POS. Restaurant. Bar. Cafe. Lounge. Hotel. Resort.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Raise the Bar: Service vs. Hospitality

Raise the Bar: Service vs. Hospitality

by David Klemt

Several spray paint cans next to one another

During the 2023 Bar & Restaurant Expo in Las Vegas, Mia Mastroianni, Art Sutley, and Phil Wills addressed what separates service from hospitality.

For the sake of those who are unfamiliar, a brief summary of each member of this informative panel. Art Sutley is a nightlife and hospitality expert recognized by Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and Thrillist (among other publications).

Phil Wills and Mia Mastroianni should be recognizable to anyone who has watched Bar Rescue. Wills co-founded Spirits in Motion, a beverage consulting agency. He’s also a bartender’s bartender who’s passionate about hospitality. Mastroianni, equally as passionate about the art of hospitality, is a seriously talented bar professional and hospitality expert who doesn’t take herself too seriously.

It’s difficult to imagine a more qualified trio when it comes to discussing the differences between service and hospitality.

What is Service?

Before they all dove in, Sutley shared a simple but impactful take on the guest experience.

“It’s checking boxes,” said Sutley. “We want each guest to check every box, and a few extra.”

That description helps draw a line between service and hospitality. Per Sutley, Mastroianni, and Wills, service is a transaction and meeting expectations. Reinforcing this idea, Wills said, “Service is black and white; it’s simple.”

Operators and their leadership teams, after developing their steps of service, can literally or figuratively track the service transaction. Training staff—from onboarding to pre-shifts—on the steps of service and an operator’s non-negotiable standards ensures the guest experience transaction is delivered as expected.

Worryingly, Mastroianni expressed her concern that the quality of service appears to be dropping. If that’s true, however, that provides an opportunity.

Per Sutley, the industry is getting more difficult. There are more competitors out there, and guest expectations are becoming increasingly stringent. So, if Mastroianni is correct and more concepts are failing to deliver on the expected service transaction, operators who commit to building and training teams that deliver high-level service will stand out.

What is Hospitality?

If service is black and white, guess what hospitality is?

“Hospitality is color,” said Wills. “And we go above and beyond to relate to guests.”

Going further, Wills said that how an operator and their team chooses to “paint the picture” defines the level of hospitality they deliver.

For Mastroianni, if service is transactional, hospitality is emotional. Hospitality is how a restaurant, bar, nightclub or hotel team makes a guest feel. Drilling deeper, hospitality is how we in this industry connect with guests on a deeper level than simply transactional service.

To throw in my two cents, I like to think that even brand-new operators understand the transactional part of hospitality. It’s the people part, the guest experience element, that catches many operators and their teams out. Service without hospitality is mediocrity in motion.

Regardless of where one stands on the topic of service vs. hospitality, it’s crucial that operators become acutely aware of the experiencing they’re giving their guests. What do they see when they look at the picture they and their team paint each shift?

Image: Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The 50 Best Bars in North America

The 50 Best Bars in North America in 2023

by David Klemt

Double Chicken Please cocktail bar interior

Double Chicken Please in New York City is number one on this year’s list.

The buildup toward this year’s World’s 50 Best Bars is growing with the recent announcement of North America’s 50 Best Bars.

Mexico City, the 2023 North America’s 50 Best Bars host city, is home to several of this year’s rankings. A true cocktail destination loaded with extraordinary bars, Mexico City boasts eight entries. Overall, 14 of the 50 bars on the 2023 list are in Mexico.

Of course, New York City also claims an impressive number of bars earning spots on the list. In fact, NYC boasts 12 of the 50 best bars in North America. More than half of the bars—28—are in the US.

Not that anyone asked, two of the bars on the 2023 list are in the city where I was born, Chicago: Kumiko and Milk Room. And I’m going to give a special nod to Herbs & Rye, number 27 and located in my hometown of Las Vegas (and the US headquarters of KRG Hospitality).

Herbs & Rye cocktail bar and restaurant in Las Vegas, Nevada

Of the 50 best bars in North America, Canada is home to seven. Four of these are in Toronto (where KRG Hospitality’s global headquarters are located), two are in Montreal, and one is in Vancouver.

Just one bar in the Caribbean makes the 2023 North America’s 50 Best Bars list. But what a bar: La Factoría is number 24.

Below you’ll find this year’s rankings; destination awards; and individual awards. Speaking of, congratulations to Julio Cabrera and Christine Wiseman! You’ll see why as you scroll. To review last year’s list, please click here.

Congratulations to all the bars and their bar teams representing the best of North America in 2023!

2023 North America’s 50 Best Bars Destination Award Winners

The Best Bar in Northeast USA, sponsored by Perrier

Double Chicken Please (No. 1; New York City, New York)

The Best Bar in South USA, sponsored by Torres Brandy

Jewel of the South (No. 5; New Orleans, Louisiana)

The Best Bar in the Midwest USA, sponsored by Rémy Martin

Kumiko (No. 8; Chicago, Illinois)

The Best Bar in the West USA, sponsored by Naked Malt

Thunderbolt (No. 10; Los Angeles, California)

The Best Bar in the Caribbean, sponsored by Scrappy’s Bitters

La Factoría (No. 24; San Juan, Puerto Rico)

The Best Bar in Canada, sponsored by Tia Maria

Civil Liberties (No. 12; Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

The Best Bar in Mexico, sponsored by Bareksten

Handshake Speakeasy (No. 2; Mexico City, Mexico)

2023 North America’s 50 Best Bars

  1. Milady’s (New York City, New York)
  2. Youngblood (San Diego, California)
  3. Platform 18 (Phoenix, Arizona)
  4. Brujas (Mexico City, Mexico)
  5. Clover Club (New York City, New York)
  6. Allegory (Washington, DC)
  7. The Dead Rabbit (New York City, New York)
  8. Bar Mordecai (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
  9. Yacht Club (Denver, Colorado)
  10. Bar Leather Apron (Honolulu, Hawaii)
  11. Aruba Day Drink (Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico)
  12. Maison Premiere (New York City, New York)
  13. Milk Room (Chicago, Illinois)
  14. Mother (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
  15. Cure (New Orleans, Louisiana)
  16. Cloakroom (Montreal, Québec, Canada)
  17. Sweet Liberty (Miami, Florida)
  18. Service Bar (Washington, DC)
  19. Atwater Cocktail Club (Montreal, Québec, Canada)
  20. Selva (Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico)
  21. Death & Co. (Los Angeles, California)
  22. Martiny’s (New York City, New York)
  23. Pacific Cocktail Haven (San Francisco, California)
  24. Herbs & Rye (Las Vegas, Nevada)
  25. Kaito del Valle (Mexico City, Mexico)
  26. Café de Nadie (Mexico City, Mexico)
  27. La Factoría (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
  28. Arca (Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico)
  29. Sabina Sabe (Oaxaca de Juárez, Oaxaca, Mexico)
  30. El Gallo Altanero (Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico)
  31. Hanky Panky (Mexico City, Mexico)
  32. Botanist Bar (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
  33. Mace (New York City, New York)
  34. Rayo (Mexico City, Mexico)
  35. Baltra Bar (Mexico City, Mexico)
  36. Bar Pompette (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
  37. Employees Only (New York City, New York)
  38. Attaboy (New York City, New York)
  39. Civil Liberties (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
  40. Zapote Bar (Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico)
  41. Thunderbolt (Los Angeles, California)
  42. Café La Trova (Miami, Florida)
  43. Kumiko (Chicago, Illinois)
  44. Overstory (New York City, New York)
  45. Dante (New York City, New York)
  46. Jewel of the South (New Orleans, Louisiana)
  47. Licorería Limantour (Mexico City, Mexico)
  48. Katana Kitten (New York City, New York)
  49. Handshake Speakeasy (Mexico City, Mexico)
  50. Double Chicken Please (New York City, New York)

2023 North America’s 50 Best Bars Individual Awards

Roku Industry Icon Award 2023

Julio Cabrera (No. 9; Café La Trova; Miami, Florida)

Altos Bartender’s Bartender Award 2023

Christine Wiseman (Bar Lab Hospitality)

Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award 2023

Botanist Bar (No. 19; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)

Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu Award 2023

Allegory (No. 45; Washington, DC)

Disarronno Highest New Entry Award 2023

Bar Pompette (No. 15; Toronto, Ontario, Canada)

Nikka Highest Climber Award 2023

Overstory (No. 7; New York City, New York)

Campari One to Watch Award 2023

Manhatta (New York City, New York)

London Essence Best New Opening Award 2023

Rayo (No. 17; Mexico City, Mexico)

Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award 2023

Yacht Club (No. 42; Denver, Colorado)

Double Chicken Please image: Emmanuel Rosario / Hanna Lee Communications. Herbs & Rye image courtesy of Hanna Lee Communications.

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

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

3 Ways to Build Revenue on Mother’s Day

3 Ways Restaurants Can Build Revenue This Mother’s Day

by Austen Asadorian

Tattoo-style rose with "Mom" ribbon

With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, there’s no doubt that operators across the country are preparing for the celebratory—yet extremely busy—day.

During their preparations, it’s important that operators find and incorporate new tools and innovative marketing tactics. Doing so will not only fill seats, it will ensure they capitalize on a key opportunity to drive incredible revenue.

Below are three simple but powerful ways operators can generate revenue and loyalty on—and beyond—this Mother’s Day.

Encourage Reservations & Offer Upgrades

An easy way to make this busy day seamless for guests—and, ultimately, staff—is to encourage and allow guests to make a reservation before they arrive. Reservations give operators insight into who will be dining with them, help optimize seatings and covers, and provide a idea of how much to order to eliminate food waste if a special menu is being offered.

Using a reservation system also provides operators with the opportunity to offer diners upgrades during the booking process, even including prepayment should they want to go that route. This not only allows operators to earn additional revenue before a guest even visits, but also a convenient way to offer guests peace of mind knowing they’ve handled that “something special” for Mom way before the big day.

These upgrades don’t have to be anything crazy or extreme (although that’s always an option). In fact, according to the National Restaurant Association, consumers want special touches and discounts over everything else. So, an upgrade can be something as simple as a beautiful flower arrangement waiting on the table to a special off-menu dessert brought out at the end of the meal.

Use Email & Social Media to Your Advantage

Properly promoting Mother’s Day offerings to guests is extremely important because if no one knows about it, who will come?

Operators should utilize tools like email marketing to send personalized communications to their guest database promoting the venue’s Mother’s Day reservation availability or special offerings. Better yet, these tools can be used to offer loyal guests reservations before they open to the general public, further creating a special experience for those faithful diners.

In the same vein, operators should harness the power of social media, too. Operators can target paid marketing efforts on social channels like Facebook and Instagram to drive even more awareness and revenue for their restaurant by creating an event, including the details of the activities, specials, or Mother’s Day promotions, and exporting the names of top guests and email data.

Surprise Them with a Second Visit

While Mother’s Day is the focus right now, it doesn’t stop there for operators. To drive the revenue they need, it’s important to turn these celebratory diners into repeat guests.

To do so, operators should consider offering Mother’s Day diners complimentary gift cards or discounts (even via email post-visit) to bring them back. This could be for an upcoming graduation, Father’s Day (so Dad can also get the love), or even for a future birthday.

This “surprise and delight” factor is one of the easiest strategies to capitalize on holiday traffic and get diners to return to a restaurant once again as a loyal guests.

Here’s to You, Mom

Moms should be celebrated every day, but especially on Mother’s Day, and it’s important to make sure they have the best experience when dining out.

By incorporating simple tactics like offering reservations and custom upgrades or even a special surprise at the end of the meal, operators not only succeed in making the day memorable, but create a guest who will return over and over again.

About Austen Asadorian

Austen Asadorian is the Vice President of Sales at SevenRooms, where he is tasked with supporting SevenRooms’ global expansion efforts and accelerating the company’s goal of being the best-in-class solution for hospitality operators globally. Prior to joining SevenRooms, Austen was Peloton’s Director of Sales, leading the company’s go-to-market strategy for retail growth and expansion. He started his career at Hillstone Restaurant Group where he cut his teeth learning how to run efficient and profitable restaurants at scale. Austen was ultimately promoted into an executive role where he oversaw the company’s Manager in Training Program and Back of House Operations. Austen graduated from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA).

Image: grumpymonstergroup via Vecteezy.com

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