Teamwork

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2024

5 Books to Read this Month: May 2024

by David Klemt

Flipping through an open book

Our inspiring and informative May book selections will help you improve your life and outlook, get a handle on operations, and build your leadership team.

To review the book recommendations from April 2024, click here.

Let’s jump in!

Now That I have Your Attention: 7 Lessons in Leading a Life Bigger Than They Expect

This book is listed as a pre-order but I was able to purchase mine a while back, and it arrived a couple of weeks ago. Nicolas Hamilton has overcome a lot in his life, to put it mildly. He has gone from being told he’d never walk to defying that expectation and driving in the British Touring Car Championship. In Now That I Have Your Attention, you’ll learn lessons, like rebelling against the rulebook, always walking the hardest path, and seeing rock bottom and never going back.

From Amazon:Now That I Have Your Attention follows Nicolas’s remarkable journey and shares the valuable, tough, and often surprising lessons learned throughout his life.

“Nicolas’s journey has at times been hostile and has forced him to navigate periods of anger and resentment, but by building his mental strength and pushing himself beyond the physical limits of what anyone had ever expected of him, Nicolas has changed his life – and believes you can too.”

Pre-order your copy today.

Creativity, Inc. (The Expanded Edition): Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration

Among other lessons, Creativity, Inc. drives home the importance of building an incredible team. However, that also includes building a culture of support and development.

From Amazon:The co-founder and longtime president of Pixar updates and expands his 2014 New York Times bestseller on creative leadership, reflecting on the management principles that built Pixar’s singularly successful culture, and on all he learned during the past nine years that allowed Pixar to retain its creative culture while continuing to evolve.

Purchase here.

The Cocktail Parlor: How Women Brought the Cocktail Home

On the surface, this is a recipe book. There are 40 “main” cocktail recipes along with 100 variants. But when we really dive in we see that The Cocktail Parlor is about giving women credit for shaping the past and present of cocktail culture.

From Amazon: “Journeying through the decades, this book profiles a diverse array of influential hostesses. With each historic era comes iconic recipes, featuring a total of 40 main cocktails and more than 100 variations that readers can make at home. Whether its happy hour punch à la Martha Washington or a Harlem Renaissance–inspired Green Skirt, readers will find that many of the ingredients and drinks they’re familiar with today wouldn’t be here without the hostesses who served them first.”

Pick it up today!

The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to Do About It

Do you feel like you’re working at your business but not on your business? If you have a sense that you feel more like you’ve created a job for yourself than a business, this book may just help you turn things around as an entrepreneur.

From Amazon: “An instant classic, this revised and updated edition of the phenomenal bestseller dispels the myths about starting your own business. Small business consultant and author Michael E. Gerber, with sharp insight gained from years of experience, points out how common assumptions, expectations, and even technical expertise can get in the way of running a successful business.”

Order here.

Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business

As Doug Radkey, founder and president of KRG Hospitality says, a leader in this space needs strategic clarity. This book can provide insights into how to achieve that clarity, improve processes, and build a leadership team that can actually lead others.

From Amazon: “In Traction, you’ll learn the secrets of strengthening the six key components of your business. You’ll discover simple yet powerful ways to run your company that will give you and your leadership team more focus, more growth, and more enjoyment. Successful companies are applying Traction every day to run profitable, frustration-free businesses—and you can too.”

Buy it today.

Image: Mikołaj on Unsplash

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

North America’s 50 Best Bars: 2024

Cheers to the 50 Best Bars in North America in 2024

by David Klemt

AI-generated image of a cocktail with an ice cube branded with the number 50, resting on a white coaster that reads "North America"

I’d drink that, and probably steal that coaster.

Cheers to the 2024 class of North America’s 50 Best Bars, freshly crowned after an evening of celebration, recognition, community, and hospitality.

Launched in 2022, this year marks the third edition of the World’s 50 Best Bars list that recognizes standout North American concepts and the teams behind their success.

For the 2024 ceremony, North America’s 50 Best Bars returned to the city of San Miguel de Allende in the state of Guanajuato, Mexico. Actor Diego Alfaro, known for The Ultimate Mixologist and The Law of the Jungle, took on host duties.

This year’s Campari One to Watch Award went to Toronto’s Simple Things. As a refresher, the One to Watch is a bar that voters believe has an excellent shot at breaking into the 50 Best Bars list.

The acclaimed Jewel of the South took the Michter’s Art of Hospitality Award home to New Orleans. Jewel of the South also grabbed spot number six on this year’s list, along with being named the Best Bar in the South in the US. Chicago’s Meadowlark earned the 2024 Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu Award. The bar is a new entry to the list and also clinched spot 32. A new award, the Bareksten Best Bar Design Award was presented to Avondale Bowl from Chicago.

Cheers to Claudia Cabrera, this year’s winner of the Roku Industry Icon Award. Voted by her peers, Kate Boushel earned the Altos Bartenders’ Bartender Award.

For all of you out there who have a strong sense of civic pride, New York boasts 12 entries on this year’s list, Mexico City claims nine, and Toronto is home to three. Host city San Miguel de Allende lays claim to the bar at number 27 on the list.

North America’s 50 Best Bars, 2024

  1. Atwater Cocktail Club (Montréal, Québec, Canada)
  2. The Keefer Bar (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
  3. Best Intentions (Chicago, Illinois, US)
  4. Cure (New Orleans, Louisiana, US)
  5. Mírate (Los Angeles, California, US)
  6. Brujas (Mexico City, Mexico)
  7. M’lady’s (New York, New York, US)
  8. Angel’s Share (New York, New York, US)
  9. Hanky Panky (Mexico City, Mexico)
  10. Maison Premiere (New York, New York, US)
  11. Bar Mordecai (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
  12. Cloakroom (Montréal, Québec, Canada)
  13. Pacific Cocktail Haven (San Francisco, California, US)
  14. Arca (Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico)
  15. Century Grand (Phoenix, Arizona, US)
  16. Library by the Sea (Grand Cayman, Greater Antilles, Caribbean)(London Essence Best New Opening Award)
  17. Selva (Oaxaca, Mexico)
  18. The Dead Rabbit (New York, New York, US)
  19. Meadowlark (Chicago, Illinois, US)
  20. Attaboy (New York, New York, US)
  21. True Laurel (San Francisco, California, US)(Ketel One Sustainable Bar Award)
  22. Bar Pompette (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
  23. Kaito del Valle (Mexico City, Mexico)
  24. Bekeb (San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato, Mexico)
  25. Baltra Bar (Mexico City, Mexico)
  26. Herbs & Rye (Las Vegas, Nevada, US)
  27. Botanist Bar (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada)
  28. Allegory (Washington DC, US)
  29. Service Bar (Washington DC, US)
  30. Civil Liberties (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)(The Best Bar in Canada sponsored by Naked Malt)
  31. Dante (New York, New York, US)
  32. Kumiko (Chicago, Illinois, US)(The Best Bar in Midwest USA sponsored by Torres Brandy)
  33. La Factoría (San Juan, Puerto Rico, US)(The Best Bar in the Caribbean sponsored by Amaro Lucano)
  34. Café de Nadie (Mexico City, Mexico)
  35. Aruba Day Drink (Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico)
  36. Employees Only (New York, New York, US)
  37. El Gallo Altanero (Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico)
  38. Café la Trova (Miami, Florida, US)
  39. Katana Kitten (New York, New York, US)
  40. Zapote Bar (Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, Mexico)

The Top Ten

  1. Tlecān (Mexico City, Mexico)
  2. Licorería Limantour (Mexico City, Mexico)
  3. Thunderbolt (Los Angeles, California, US)(The Best Bar in West USA sponsored by Rémy Martin)
  4. Double Chicken Please (New York, New York, US)
  5. Jewel of the South (New Orleans, Louisiana, US)(The Best Bar in South USA sponsored by Tia Maria)
  6. Rayo (Mexico City, Mexico)
  7. Martiny’s (New York, New York, US)(Highest Climber Award sponsored by Nikka Whisky, from number 29 to 4)
  8. Overstory (New York, New York, US)
  9. Superbueno (New York, New York, US)(Highest New Entry, The Best Bar in Northeast USA sponsored by Disaronno)
  10. Handshake Speakeasy (Mexico City, Mexico)(The Best Bar in Mexico, The Best Bar in North America sponsored by Perrier)

Image: Shutterstock. Disclaimer: This image was generated by an Artificial Intelligence (AI) platform.

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

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Fourth Member of Your Team

The Fourth Member of Your Team

by David Klemt

Black puzzle piece slotting into illuminated puzzle

When looking at your organization, it’s crucial to realize ownership, leadership, and staff aren’t the only members of the team.

There’s another key member, and their input is among the most valuable. And you rely on them for the success of your business. They’re your guests.

It may seem painfully obvious that your guests are integral to the success of your business. After all, your registers won’t ring without guests coming through your doors, placing orders online or via phone, and spending their money at your venue.

When they become regularsparticularly vocal regulars who tell others about your great businessthey transform into unofficial brand ambassadors. That’s fantastic marketing that tends to cost you nothing.

However, their importance goes beyond the monetary. Further, it’s more than just free marketing.

Menu Streamlining

Do your guests provide you with feedback? Actually, scratch that; let’s start again.

Do you provide your guests with a simple, convenient way to give you feedback? And do you seek more than a thumbs up or thumbs down for their experience at your restaurant or bar?

It can be difficult to streamline your menu, particularly if you’re unable to look at every item objectively. There are operators and chefs out there who get attached to their personal favorite menu items. That’s fine, until it’s not.

Perhaps a dish took a long time and a lot of work to get just right. Maybe it was a family thing and you’re proud of it.

But if you’re too proud of it and it’s not selling, it’s just costing you money. Keeping it on the menu hoping it will become a hit is bad for business.

A while back, when Bar & Restaurant Expo was Nightclub & Bar, Chef Brian Duffy shared a simple method for streamlining a menu. You run a product mix report, then separate them into three categories: rock stars, solid performers, and dogs.

The former are your top-selling items, and the middle category perform consistently. But the latter…they don’t sell. Worse, if they require ingredients that you don’t cross-utilize to make other dishes or drinks, they aren’t just stagnant, they’re costing you money.

If an item isn’t selling, that’s your gueststhe fourth member of your team—letting you know they don’t want it. Removing such items is an easy way to begin the streamlining process. Some of the best bars and restaurants in the world audit their highly anticipated menu launches a few months after their release. Items that aren’t selling are refreshed or removed.

So, when you encourage your guests to give your feedback, ask them what they think about your menu. Also, ask your staff what guests are telling them about your food and drink.

Your Vision

If you’re anything like our clients (or you are one of our clients), you’ve spent a ton of time envisioning your perfect restaurant, bar, cafe, eatertainment concept, nightclub, or hotel.

With that comes a hypothetical but informed vision of the guest journey. You’ll have an idea of how your guests will use your space.

Well, what if your guests turn that idea on its head? How will you react if guests see your vision in a different way?

On today’s episode of the Bar Hacks podcast, guest James Grant says something that I have also been saying for quite some time: like me, he sees guests as an integral member of the team. They do, to a degree, have influence over your concept.

To paraphrase, Grant says guests are half of the reason people open and operate restaurants, bars, cafes, nightclubs, hotels, etc.

As an example, we have a client who saw their space a certain way. We helped develop their bar concept with their vision in mind. However, not long after opening, our client’s guests showed that they had a different perception of the bar. Our client adapted, and the bar team and guests are happy.

The brand didn’t change. Neither did the space, physically. Nor did the cocktail program. However, one key element did change, as far as the type of bar it was intended to be.

As another example, friends of mine opened a bar years back. The space was meant to be an upscale cocktail bar with a relaxed and sophisticated vibe. That vision was achieved, but influential guests added an element: the bar became a high-energy after-hours spot.

At first, my friends weren’t sure about this change or if they should encourage it. But when they saw that revenue and profits were up, well…sometimes change is a good thing.

Adaptation

You may be very proud of items you have on your menu. Along those lines, you may have a very specific vision for your F&B programs that tell the story of your brand and space.

If an item here or there doesn’t catch on, it doesn’t make you a failure. It can be disappointing if your personal favorite turns out to be a dud with guests; don’t take it personally. It’s just business. The items on your menu should earn money, not lose it.

And if a guest reads through your highly curated cocktail, beer, or wine menu and then orders something “basic,” that shouldn’t be seen as a personal affront.

Now, guests deciding your concept is something you never intended it to be is something else. If this happens, it requires looking at the experience, service, brand storytelling, and even the design with a critical eye.

That said, if none of that is “off,” and if your team is happy and profits go up because your guests see your business in a different way, it may be smart to adapt. This is particularly true if your team is making more money and the unexpected new direction is safe.

Operators have usually been creating their concepts in their minds for years. It can be a shock for guests to transform the business into something else.

But if the business is successful because of how guests decide to use it, is that a bad thing?

Only you can answer that question. It may be best for you to identify the “why” behind the possible concept disconnect and stamp it out. However, it may be best to lean into the unexpected new direction.

Image: Edge2Edge Media on Unsplash

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by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Sixth: Art of ITALICUS Returns

The Sixth: Art of ITALICUS Returns for 2024

by David Klemt

ITALICUS bottle surrounded by citrus fruits

Your bar team members have the opportunity to participate in the sixth-annual Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge and win an invaluable prize.

There are multiple prizes, really. For example, national finals winners take the title of ITALICUS Bar Artist for their country, for 2024. They also walk away with a ticket to the global finals, which take place in Rome.

After the global finals, one winner will earn the title ITALICUS Bar Artist of the Year 2024. However, taking nothing away from this title, there’s another prize that I feel should drive every competitor to truly outshine their competition.

The ITALICUS Bar Artist of the Year will head to the incredible Cafe La Trova in Miami to participate in a mentorship program. Given that Julio Cabrera is such an influential member of the hospitality world, this prize represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Now, as an operator or leadership team member, you may wonder what this news has to do with you. It’s simple: Encouraging your bartenders to participate in this competition and others like it shows you care about their career progression.

Bar team members who want to take part in competitions get to show off their creativity to a wider audience, become known to brands, and network with peers outside of their local communities. They can also discover and bring back tips, techniques, and lessons to your bar, restaurant, nightclub, or hotel.

In this case, one bartender will return to their bar or restaurant with lessons from the Cafe La Trova team. That’s priceless insight that will benefit their entire team.

For crucial competition details, please read the Art of the ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge press release below.

Good luck to all of the participants!

ART OF ITALICUS APERITIVO CHALLENGE RETURNS FOR 2024 IN PURSUIT OF THE BEST ART-INSPIRED APERITIVO COCKTAIL

New York, NY (January 9, 2024) – Today, The Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge returns for its sixth edition, inviting bartenders from around the world to create an original and unique aperitivo cocktail inspired by any form of art and crafted using ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto.

The Winner of the renowned industry challenge will be crowned ITALICUS Bar Artist of the Year 2024 and win a trip to Miami for a once in a lifetime mentorship program with Cafe La Trova by Julio Cabrera. Nominated in 2023 as one of the World’s 50 Best Bars, Cafe La Trova is the true embodiment of hospitality, welcoming guests with impeccable warmth, attention to detail and service, crafting a truly memorable experience for anyone who visits. The “cantinero culture,” which is synonymous with the venue, embraces the most important values of the cocktail industry, making it the perfect inspiration for the new Art of Italicus participants. As part of the prize, the 2024 ITALICUS Bar Artist will have the opportunity to experience what makes this bar truly special and discover one of the most vibrant art cultures in Miami’s iconic surroundings.

Reflecting the brand’s passion for Italian art and design, The Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge is built on the belief that bartenders are artists and offers them the opportunity to expand their creativity whilst experimenting with new ingredients, techniques and glassware to showcase the versatility of ITALICUS. Each recipe must be in an aperitivo style and can be inspired by any form of art such as sculpture, painting, fashion, music, architecture and much more.

The competition will welcome entrants from 13 countries including Croatia/Slovenia, France, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Swiss, United Kingdom and the United States. Bartenders from other countries will be able to apply through a Wild Card entry, offering them the opportunity to win a spot at the global final in May in Rome.

Giuseppe Gallo, founder and CEO of ITALICUS, comments:

“Now in its sixth year, The Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge celebrates aperitivo culture while encouraging bartenders to express their creativity, looking to art in its various forms as way of inspiration. Meeting with the industry’s emerging talent through this program gives me a great deal of pride and is something I hope continues for many years as a way of keeping our community connected, working together and empowering one another.”

The 2024 Competition

Competitors are tasked with creating an original aperitivo cocktail using a minimum of 40ml (1.5oz in US) of ITALICUS Rosolio di Bergamotto and a maximum of five ingredients. Participating bartenders must upload their unique recipe alongside an image of their creation including measurements, garnishes and glassware recommendations to the competition website before February 20, 2024 in order to be in with a chance of winning. Competitors are also required to share their inspiration and the story behind their aperitivo cocktail and encouraged to suggest food pairings for their recipe.

Applications for The Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge 2024 will be open from January 9 through February 20. Recipes can be submitted via the website: https://imbibemagazine.com/art-of-italicus/.

Entrants are also encouraged to share their creations on social media ahead of the competition, using the following hashtags: #ITALICUS #ROSOLIODIBERGAMOTTO #ARTOFITALICUS #AOI24

National Finals

The national finals will take place throughout March and April (March 4 – April 12) where the eight shortlisted bartenders will present their cocktail creation to the judging panel across eight minutes and including at least three serves. The winner of the national final will receive the title of ITALICUS Bar Artist of their country 2024 along with a ticket to participate in the global final which will be held in Rome.

Global Finals

On May 12, the national finalists will compete against one another in Rome in a bid to earn the coveted title of ITALICUS Bar Artist of the Year 2024 as well as a once in a lifetime opportunity and mentorship with one of the world’s most influential bars, Cafe La Trova by Julio Cabrera. During the trip to Miami, the winning bartender will be accompanied by a film crew who will document their experience and create a documentary video which will later be released on social media.

For further information on The Art of ITALICUS Aperitivo Challenge, please visit www.artofitalicus.com.

Image: ITALICUS

Bar Nightclub Pub Brewery Menu Development Drinks Food

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

2023 World’s 50 Best Bars: 51 to 100

2023 World’s 50 Best Bars: 51 to 100

by David Klemt

ARCA bar in Tulum, Mexico

ARCA in Tulum, Mexico

Check out the back half of the 2023 World’s 50 Best Bars list ahead of the one through 50 reveal taking place in Singapore on October 17.

In terms of single-country performance, the United States of America claims the most spots on this list with six. Unsurprisingly, four of these bars in New York. Rounding out the six American venues are one in Chicago and one in California.

However, in combination with Mexico and Canada, North America earns 11 places. Unfortunately, Canada earns just one spot with a bar in Toronto. Mexico City, however, is home to two of the best bars in North America (and the world).

It’s Europe as a whole, though, that boasts the most positions, with 17 bars on the list. Five of the 17 are in England.

Asia comes in second as a continent with 14 venues on the back half of the 2023 World’s 50 Best Bars. It should come as no surprise that Singapore claims five spots.

Congratulations to the bar teams below!

To review the 2022 51 to 100 list, click here.

The World’s 50 Best Bars 2023: 100 to 51

It’s only a matter of time until a number of these incredible venues break through to the top half of this list.

  1. Artesian (London, England, UK)
  2. Employees Only (New York, New York, USA)
  3. The Bar in Front of the Bar (Athens, Greece)
  4. Dark Side (Hong Kong)
  5. Lost & Found (Nicosia, Cyprus)
  6. Schofield’s (Manchester, England, UK)
  7. Sin + Tax (Johannesburg, South Africa)
  8. Tjoget (Stockholm, Sweden)
  9. Donovan Bar (London, England, UK)
  10. Maison Premiere (New York, New York, USA)
  11. Mirror Bar (Bratislava, Slovakia)
  12. Thunderbolt (Los Angeles, California, USA)
  13. Red Frog (Lisbon, Portugal)
  14. Ruby (Copenhagen, Denmark)
  15. Nouvelle Vague (Tirana, Albania)
  16. Camparino in Galleria (Milan, Italy)
  17. Svanen (Oslo, Norway)
  18. Native (Singapore)
  19. Kumiko (Chicago, Illinois, USA)
  20. Kaito del Valle (Mexico City, Mexico)
  21. La Sala de Laura (Bogotá, Colombia)
  22. High Five (Tokyo, Japan)
  23. Analogue Initiative (Singapore)
  24. Velvet (Berlin, Germany)
  25. Swift (London, England, UK)
  26. Bar Cham (Seoul, South Korea)
  27. Hope & Sesame (Guangzhou, Guangdong, China)
  28. Civil Liberties (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
  29. Rayo (Mexico City, Mexico)
  30. Penicillin (Hong Kong)
  31. Barro Negro (Athens, Greece)
  32. Ergo (Dubai, UAE)
  33. Martiny’s (New York, New York, USA)
  34. Side Car (New Delhi, Delhi, India)
  35. Tropic City (Bangkok, Thailand)
  36. El Gallo Altanero (Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico)
  37. Nutmeg & Clove (Singapore)
  38. Manhattan (Singapore)
  39. Hero Bar (Nairobi, Kenya)
  40. Byrdi (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia)
  41. ARCA (Tulum, Quintana Roo, Mexico)
  42. 28 HongKong Street (Singapore)
  43. SubAstor (São Paulo, Brazil)
  44. Attaboy (New York, New York, USA)
  45. Tan Tan (São Paulo, Brazil)
  46. Vesper (Bangkok, Thailand)
  47. Lyaness (London, England, UK)
  48. The Bellwood (Tokyo, Japan)
  49. Lady Bee (Lima, Perú)
  50. Danico (Paris, France)

The World's 50 Best Bars 2023, numbers 51 to 100

2023 New Entries

Among these 50 bars are 14 new entries:

  • Lady Bee (No. 52)
  • Arca (No. 60)
  • El Gallo Altanero (No. 65)
  • Martiny’s (No. 68)
  • Ergo (No. 69)
  • Rayo (No. 72)
  • Civil Liberties (No. 73)
  • Bar Cham (No. 75)
  • Velvet (No. 77)
  • Kaito del Valle (No. 81)
  • Svanen (No. 84)
  • Nouvelle Vague (No. 86)
  • Mirror Bar (No. 90)
  • The Bar in Front of the Bar (No. 98)

Remember, the World’s 50 Best will reveal bars one through 50 in Singapore on October 17 at 8:25 PM UTC. Cheers!

Image: The World’s 50 Best Bars / ARCA

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

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Hospitality Mindset: Restaurant Edition

Hospitality Mindset: Restaurant Edition

by Jennifer Radkey

Chef in commercial kitchen handling a pan on fire

Have you ever wondered why you just can’t seem to get ahead regardless of what you do, or why you appear to be developing a negative team culture?

Maybe you wake up with a sense of dread or anxiety about what lies ahead of you each day, or maybe no matter how hard you try and how much money you pour into your restaurant it never seems to be enough to get you where you want to be.

The cause of these problems may stem from your—and your team’s—mindset.

But what is mindset exactly?

Simply stated, mindset is an individual’s usual attitude or mental state. It reflects someone’s way of thinking and motivates their actions. So, why is it important to be aware of your mindset?

Well, if your mindset dictates how you show up in your life each and every day, then it will influence all parts of your life. Your thoughts about yourself, others, your business, your opportunities, and your challenges are all influenced by your mindset.

Your mindset can either hinder or promote your overall well-being and success in life.

The good news about mindset is that you can change it – if you want to. It can also be contagious—in a positive way.

These facts led me to question if the different sectors of the hospitality industry face unique mindset challenges and what can be done to overcome them.

To find answers and gain further insight I decided to turn to our team at KRG Hospitality for their thoughts. In turn, I’ve written a series of hospitality mindset articles, including one for bar operators and one for hotel operators.

In this article I’ll explore the restaurant industry, with thoughts from chef consultant Nathen Dubé.

Let’s dive in!

The Restaurant Industry

The restaurant industry is massive, employing 12.5 million in the US and 1.2 million in Canada.

Ranging from quick service to fine dining and offering every type of cuisine imaginable, the industry is a staple in any community. And while many enjoy being guests at these establishments, the same can’t always be said for working in them.

The restaurant industry faces constant challenges, ranging from mental health issues to labor shortages and rising costs.

So, what makes a restaurant succeed despite these challenges? While there are many ingredients involved in running a successful restaurant, arguably one of the most important is a strong operator.

Successful Operators

Operating a successful restaurant takes a certain mindset. You need to be organized, open-minded to growth strategies, resilient, and responsive to the needs of your team.

Interested in what makes a restaurant operator stand out, I asked Nathen what contributes to operator success:

“The key strength for a restaurant owner, first and foremost, is resiliency. You need to stay even keeled during the good and bad times. Things will fluctuate between busy and slow. You will experience great staff, not-so-great staff, shortages, bad reviews, good reviews, equipment breaking, orders delivered late, plumbing issues, electrical issues… The list goes on and on.

“But at the end of the day, when you say you’re open at noon or 5:00 PM or whichever, you better be ready on time, every time. That can give the strongest characters stress and anxiety over the long term. I think being resilient and able to do what is in your control and let go of the rest will help an owner maintain one’s sanity.

“The second strength needed is empathy. Without empathy for your staff, your customers, the many other people in the food and alcohol chain, the risk of becoming a tyrant no one wants to work for or associate with is real, and I’ve seen it happen. Your staff are people too, who have doctor’s appointments, family gatherings, and trouble at home. Some may suffer from addiction and mental illness, and some live in borderline poverty, which is a truly sad reality for many hospitality workers.

“The third characteristic is good business sense. As much as restaurants and bars are about hospitality, engaging customers, and providing great service, if you can’t run a business properly, that is all for naught. Money management, accounting, marketing, the whole lot is important to your success and longevity.”

Operator Challenges

Operators need a positive, strategic, growth mindset to be successful in the restaurant industry. Maintaining this kind of mindset takes self-awareness and consistent cultivating. There will be challenges every day that will test you and if you aren’t checking in with your thought patterns, it can be easy to fall into a negative mindset.

When asked what specific challenges hotel operators face that may affect their mindset, Nathen shared some insights.

Financial Risk

Opening and operating a restaurant comes with inherent financial risks. Sometimes it may feel as if more money is going out than coming in.

“When dealing with perishable food items in a time-sensitive environment, there will be plenty of challenges,” says Nathen. “Some are temporary, some are constant, and some are one-offs, but they all need careful attention. There is obvious financial risk and stress that comes with that. Labor costs, food, and alcohol are the main culprits of financial strain for the back of house. The kitchen setup costs (equipment, construction, etc.) are also in this category. Money can be a great source of stress for anyone, and more so for those who are risk averse.”

The Human Element: Guests

As a restaurant operator you rely on guests. Your efforts are almost always focused on how you can get more guests through the door and how you can get them to return.

Besides the stress of keeping them happy, sharing, and returning, guests can create another level of stress.

“Dealing with customer feedback can affect well-being,” Nathen says. “Not everyone who comes into your establishment will love everything. There will be complaints, there will be disagreements, poor online reviews, and there will be outright rude guests. This causes stress to staff, as well as the owner’s state of mind. Keeping staff motivated, calm, and on the same page when dealing with these guests and reviews is a lot of emotional work. It takes a strong-willed individual to let it roll off their back while still learning from it.”

The Human Element: Staff

Without your team there would be no restaurant. Your team is key to your success and can also be a cause of stress to your overall well-being.

“Issues can and will arise in dealing with the human element of labor,” explains Nathen. “Concern and care for staff is a full-time job in itself, and that’s in a best-case scenario. In a worst-case scenario you can experience shortages, theft, drama, and the like that will need to be dealt with or it can drag down a good establishment and create an exodus of good staff. Not to create a bleak picture, but management can take a toll.”

Employee Challenges

Your team experiences their own unique set of challenges that can affect their well-being and mindset as well. Being aware of these challenges is important if you are hoping to create a culture of respect, collaboration, and trust.

When asked what specific challenges restaurant staff face, Nathen had some insights:

“It’s well documented that working in a professional kitchen is difficult work when things go perfectly well. Long hours standing, hot kitchens, short time constraints, and difficult customers can be draining on a person. Mix in stress, poor health habits, and skipped meals, you get the perfect recipe for very hard work. Managing stress and employee wellness within the kitchen team is important to an overall successful business. Not paying attention or implementing ways to help will lead to a difficulty hiring and retaining staff.”

A Living Wage and Safe Environment

The restaurant industry has faced criticism for low pay, unsafe working environments, and an unsupportive culture.

While this is not the case in all establishments, it occurs enough in the industry to make potential employees wary.

“Pay in the industry is notoriously low for entry level positions,” Nathen says. “There is typically limited room to grow on the pay grade, and a lack of insurance, health, and dental care can compound the issues.

“Workplace standards including safety and culture are another common pain point for restaurants. Dirty, unsafe conditions create a dangerous work environment. It will also make it difficult to pass health inspections. Allowing a toxic culture to develop creates an environment that no good staff wants to work at. All of these issues can drain the pride from a good, well run, happy environment that employees want to stay and thrive at.”

Harmful Beliefs in the Restaurant Industry

Your belief system directly impacts your mindset. If you have negative beliefs regarding your team, your guests, or your community, it’s time to sit down and recognize where those beliefs are coming from and how to change them.

The restaurant industry has a few specific common, harmful beliefs that are prevalent in many establishments. Being aware and knowing how to acknowledge and combat these beliefs is crucial to creating a more positive work environment.

Stigma

When I asked Nathen what one of the most prevalent harmful beliefs operators have about their team, he discussed the stigma restaurant employees often face:

“Unfortunately, there is still a stigma around restaurant staff being uneducated, working in this industry only because they can’t do anything else in society. Often, they are seen as doing this job until something better comes along. Why should they invest in their staff’s well-being if they will vanish in a moment’s notice?

“The next stigma is that all workers are just lazy drunks, addicts, and thieves out for a paycheque to drink away at the bar. While there is a prevalent issue of substance abuse in the industry, it can be a tough challenge to address, and unfair if everyone is painted with the same brush.”

Selfish/Uncaring

Operators are not the only people in the industry who harbor negative or false beliefs.

Staff can do so as well. One primary negative belief is that management and/or ownership doesn’t care about them.

“In terms of ownership, kitchen staff can feel ripped off, or that they are doing all the work while the owner gets rich,” explains Nathen. “Staff will make accusations behind closed doors that they do all the work while the owner does nothing.”

To overcome negative beliefs, says Nathen, “[a]n engaged owner can eliminate the walls between staff, customers, community, and themselves. Talking to those in your business circle and including everyone squashes resentment, misunderstandings, and most complaints will be solved immediately, eliminating potentially bad situations.”

Toxic Culture

The last thing that any hospitality business needs is a toxic culture. A toxic workplace culture encourages and breeds negative mindsets on all levels.

I asked Nathen what creates toxic culture in a restaurant and he shared his thoughts and experiences:

“It starts with ownership. Defining a clear set of core values and standards in the workplace—and adhering to them from the hiring process all the way to daily operations—will dictate the type of people you hire and attract. Toxic environments can be created by just one employee. My experience with toxic kitchens was based on there being no consequences; there wasn’t even a lack of standards enforcement because there were no standards to begin with.

“Things like bullying, harassment, poor attitudes, low morale, lack of leadership, and poor working conditions—whether physical, emotional or both—are the typical causes of toxic culture. To blame is also the negative actions of others, and equally the lack of action from management. Bad eggs are left to rot and quickly poison the whole omelet, so to speak.

“Define a concept clearly, every step of the way, and then find the people to fit that vision. But also deal with problem employees immediately; there is nothing worse than losing good employees to bad ones.”

Moving Forward

Understanding the challenges that operators and staff are currently facing, and acknowledging the importance of growth mindset and the need for change, I asked Nathen what positive changes have been occurring in the industry as a whole?

“Restaurant work environments have improved over the last few decades but still have a long way to go. When I started in the mid ‘90s, belittling, yelling, and screaming—general abusive treatment of anyone and everyone—was commonplace. There was no compassion for the environment that staff worked in. The culture, the workload, pay… Literally everything was just ‘take it or leave it.’ ‘If you don’t like it, leave,’ was repeated everywhere to any staff who raised concerns.

“Over time, a stand has been made in response to a mass exodus, tales of burnout, and at the worst end of the spectrum, severe addiction, and even suicide. It was time to look from within at where the actual problems were, and what could be changed. The veil of toughness finally came down, and an honest conversation has led to slow changes.

“One of the more prevalent changes is an overall less-abusive environment. No longer is it tolerated to show anything less than human decency to staff and guests. Genuine care for staff well-being is starting to be seen almost everywhere. It’s leading to a new excitement among hospitality professionals and can hopefully attract new individuals to the field.”

Room for Improvement

Although awareness of the well-being of those working in this industry is increasing, there are still changes that need to happen.

Nathen believes that improvement lies in focusing on balance and respect:

“There is no way around the fact that cooking and serving is hard, long work, regardless of concept. This is unfortunately the entry point for all those who claim to want to change the industry or make it better. In my opinion, this is the wrong approach. Enhancing the whole experience of the employee, leadership team, and guest will make everyone happier and, hopefully, healthier.

“Balancing the workload for everyone, finding creative ways to increase pay, and offering benefits leads to a strong sense of job safety. Rotating schedules, for example: four nine-hour days; or two on, three off; or something away from the traditional 10-, 12-, or 14-hour days and five- to six-day work weeks, reduces burnout, gives employees a chance at a social and family life, and still allows everyone to earn enough income to live. Throw in benefits and some sort of bonus pay, and you will have a brand everyone wants to work for.

“Another big contributor to improving the industry—and we have made big strides already—is the respect for people and creating an environment or culture void of bullying, harassment, intimidation, and general mistreatment of the people who make this the best industry to work in.”

Final Thoughts

In a highly competitive industry facing consistent challenges and harmful beliefs, it will come down to developing and maintaining the right mindset to truly succeed both professionally and personally. It starts from the top with a positive, resilient, growth mindset.

I’ll leave you with a few last words of wisdom from Nathen:

“Hopefully, there is a sense of urgency in the fight to change the industry for the better. It’s important to recognize and praise positive contributions and not just positive people because everyone needs encouragement. It’s equally important to handle negative contributions quickly and correctly.

“A positive attitude can go a long way toward creating a strong team player who can make the best of stressful times and have a coachable attitude. A positive person can help change the culture of a workplace and pick up other teammates who may need a boost. They share their optimism and passion for the job and can make management’s life easier.

“A negative person will contribute to a toxic environment. Resentment begins to build on both sides as a negative person sees things not being done their way, contributes less to the success of the kitchen, and spreads their toxic beliefs to other employees who may start to feel similarly.

“I recently heard a saying, and I don’t recall by who so I can’t quote it, but it goes, ‘It’s important to get the right people on the bus, but it’s just as important to get them in the right seats.’”

Cheers to personal and professional well-being!

Image: Helmy Zairy on Pexels

KRG Hospitality. Restaurant Business Plan. Feasibility Study. Concept. Branding. Consultant. Start-Up.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The 50 Best Bars in Asia in 2023

The 50 Best Bars in Asia in 2023

by David Klemt

Bartender presenting cocktail in upscale setting

2023 Asia’s 50 Best Bars Bartenders’ Feast.

Join us in congratulating each of the bars and their teams earning placements on the 2023 Asia’s 50 Best Bars list by the World’s 50 Best Bars.

As is often the case, Hong Kong and Singapore claim an exceptional number of bars. I fully expect to see a handful of the bars on the list below on the World’s 50 Best Bars list this year.

Speaking of which, that ceremony, the 15th edition of the list, will take place on October 17 in Singapore. Again, I expect the host city to claim multiple spots.

Cheers to Asia’s 50 Best Bars for 2023!

To review the 2023 Asia’s 50 Best Bars, 51 to 100 list, please click here.

By the Numbers

While Singapore doesn’t claim the number one spot this year, the island country does boast 11 entrants. Further, three of Singapore’s bars hold spots in the top ten.

Hong Kong is home to eight bars on this year’s Asia’s 50 Best Bars list. Like Singapore, three bars in Hong Kong are among the top ten.

There are seven bars in Japan (five in Tokyo), one earning a top-ten slot. Six of the bars on the 2023 list are in Seoul, South Korea.

Thailand and India both have four bars on the list. The former boasts two bars in the top ten.

There are three bars in Taiwan among the fifty.

Malaysia and Indonesia each have two bars among Asia’s 50 Best Bars in 2023. Both of Malaysia’s bars in Kuala Lumpur, and both of Indonesia’s are in Jakarta.

Mainland China, the Philippines, and Sri Lanka each have a bar on this year’s list.

100 Incredible Bars

When we take the back half of this list into account, Singapore continues its domination, with 19 bars earning placement.

Hong Kong boosts its number of bars to 13, and Japan adds seven bars to bump its total to an even dozen. Seoul, South Korea, claims eight bars total.

Thailand, counting both lists, has eight amazing bars, as does Taiwan. In total, there are nine bars in India. Six bars in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and there are a total of four bars in China.

The Philippines have one bar on the one to 50 list, and one on the 51 to 100 list, for a total of two bars among Asia’s 100 best.

The Best Bar In:

Hong Kong: Coa

India: Sidecar

Japan: Bar Benfiddich

Korea: Zest

Mainland China: Hope & Sesame

Malaysia: Bar Trigona

Philippines: The Curator

Singapore: Jigger & Pony

Sri Lanka: Smoke & Bitters

Taiwan: Indulge Experimental Bistro

Thailand: BKK Social Club

See the list below for the Best Bar in Asia.

Asia’s 50 Best Bars: 50 to 1

  1. Penrose (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)*
  2. The Bellwood (Tokyo, Japan)*
  3. The Living Room (Mumbai, India)*
  4. The Old Man (Hong Kong)**
  5. Soko (Seoul, South Korea)*
  6. High Five (Tokyo, Japan)**
  7. Bee’s Knees (Kyoto, Japan)
  8. The Public House (Taipei, Taiwan)*
  9. Native (Singapore)**
  10. Vender (Taichung, Taiwan)*
  11. Smoke & Bitters (Hiriketiya, Sri Lanka)(The Best Bar in Sri Lanka)
  12. Hope & Sesame (Guangzhou, China)(The Best Bar in Mainland China)
  13. Copitas (Bengaluru, India)
  14. Southside Parlor (Seoul, South Korea)*
  15. Bar Trigona (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)(The Best Bar in Malaysia)
  16. The Bombay Canteen (Mumbai, India)*
  17. The Curator (Manila, Philippines)(The Best Bar in the Philippines)**
  18. Mostly Harmless (Hong Kong)*
  19. Stay Gold Flamingo (Singapore)*
  20. Quinary (Hong Kong)
  21. Employees Only (Singapore)**
  22. Pantja (Jakarta, Indonesia)*
  23. Alice (Seoul, South Korea)
  24. Atlas (Singapore)
  25. Penicillin (Hong Kong)
  26. Le Chamber (Seoul, South Korea)
  27. 28 HongKong Street (Singapore)
  28. Lamp Bar (Nara, Japan)
  29. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar (Bangkok, Thailand)(London Essence Best New Opening)*
  30. Manhattan (Singapore)
  31. Virtù (Tokyo, Japan)(Disaronno Highest New Entry)
  32. The Cocktail Club (Jakarta, Indonesia)(Siete Misterios Best Cocktail Menu, the Best Bar in Indonesia)
  33. Sidecar (New Delhi, India)(The Best Bar in India)
  34. The Aubrey (Hong Kong)
  35. Republic (Singapore)
  36. Analogue Initiative (Singapore)(Ketel One Sustainable Bar)
  37. The SG Club (Tokyo, Japan)
  38. Cham Bar (Seoul, South Korea)
  39. Vesper (Bangkok, Thailand)
  40. Indulge Experimental Bistro (Taipei, Taiwan)(The Best Bar in Taiwan)
  41. Sago House (Singapore)(Michter’s Art of Hospitality)
  42. Darkside (Hong Kong)
  43. Argo (Hong Kong)
  44. Nutmeg & Clove (Singapore)
  45. Tropic City (Bangkok, Thailand)
  46. Zest (Seoul, South Korea)(Nikka Highest Climber, the Best Bar in Korea)
  47. Bar Benfiddich (Tokyo, Japan)(The Best Bar in Japan)
  48. BKK Social Club (Bangkok, Thailand)(The Best Bar in Thailand)
  49. Jigger & Pony (Singapore)(Rémy Martin Legend of the List, the Best Bar in Singapore)
  50. Coa (Hong Kong)(The Best Bar in Asia, the Best Bar in Hong Kong)

Congratulations to each of the operators and bar teams above! Cheers!

* Denotes new entry, ** denotes re-entry.

Image: The World’s 50 Best Bars

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

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Hospitality Mindset: Hotel Edition

Hospitality Mindset: Hotel Edition

by Jennifer Radkey

Red neon "hotel" sign in Copenhagen

Mindset can dictate one’s level of happiness but what some people don’t realize is that it also impacts their business and everyone in it.

Moods like happiness or hostility. Growth or fixed worldviews. Positivity versus negativity. For operators and leadership team members, mindset doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Rather, one’s attitude affects and influences staff, guests, and others.

So what is mindset exactly?

Simply stated, mindset is an individual’s usual attitude or mental state. It reflects someone’s way of thinking and motivates their actions. So, why is it important to be aware of your mindset?

Well, if your mindset dictates how you show up in your life each and every day, it will influence all parts of your life.

Your thoughts about yourself, others, your business, your opportunities and your challenges… All influenced by your mindset. Your mindset can either hinder or promote your overall well-being and success in life.

The interesting thing about mindset is that it has the ability to changeif you want. It can also be influenced by your environment and those around you. These facts led me to question if the different sectors of the hospitality industry face unique mindset challenges.

To find answers and gain further insight I decided to turn to our team at KRG Hospitality for their thoughts. In turn, I’ve written a series of hospitality mindset articles. To read the first entry in this series, the Bar Edition, please click here.

In this article I’ll explore the hotel industry, with thoughts from hospitality consultant Kim Richardson. Follow the series as I explore mindset in restaurants, hotels, bars, and start-up operations.

Let’s dive in!

The Hotel Industry

The hotel industry is vast and can be segmented into different sectors. These sectors include: lodging and accommodation, food and beverage, travel and tourism, entertainment and recreation, and timeshare and meetings.

Not only is the industry vast in its sectors, there are an array of categories. There are motels, inns and resorts, and independent, boutique and global brands. Budget, midscale, and luxury properties, and everything in between.

Different types of hotels will vary slightly in their management styles and success challenges, but most will share common mindset themes.

Successful Operators

Operating a successful hotel takes a certain mindset. You need to be organized, open-minded to growth strategies, mindful of your sectors and how they interact with each other, and responsive to the needs of your teams.

Curious about what makes one hotel stand above another, I asked Kim what contributes to a successful operator. She responded with the perspective of a general manager of a large hotel, and then from the perspective of an owner of a small boutique hotel.

“One thing that really sets the hotel world aside from the rest of the hospitality industry is the multiple facets of the different departments,” says Kim. “You’re essentially running several businesses inside of one business. All of these different departments’ successes and failures impact the other departments. I think it’s important for operators and general managers to truly have a pulse on what’s going on throughout the building and, more importantly, when a department has a success or failure, how the other departments contributed to that.”

When it comes to smaller boutique hotels or inns, Kim believes that “the ability to wear many hats and jump in as needed” is a crucial success skill for owners as they often work with a much smaller team and may need to be more hands on. Hand in hand with the ability to multi-task and wear many hats is having excellent time management skills.

Whether you are the GM of a large hotel or an owner of a small boutique hotel, it is essential to constantly “have a pulse on the business coming in the door.”

Operator Challenges

Operators need a positive, strategic, growth mindset to be successful in the hotel industry. This is a mindset that needs to be consistently cultivated, as there are challenges that will affect your daily thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes.

When asked what specific challenges hotel operators face that may affect their mindset, Kim shared her thoughts, again from the perspectives of a large hotel GM and that of a smaller boutique hotel owner.

Accountability

Being responsible for and held accountable to all levels of positions in your establishment can be exhausting, stressful, and frustrating.

“A general manager of a hotel has a lot of people to answer to. They have people above them in corporate making demands of them on a daily basis (budgets, goals, etc.). They have staff that they employ and need to keep happy. They have guests they need to keep happy,” Kim says. “With this many responsibilities, time management alone can be stressful. Finding a happy medium is close to impossible. Not every decision you make is going to please all three parties. This position can suffer from burnout just as much as the rest of their team.”

Overwhelm

Operators of boutique hotels and inns fall into danger of taking on too much themselves while feeling the success of their venue lies entirely on their shoulders.

Burnout, fear, and exhaustion are all possibilities in this situation.

“In a small boutique hotel, the owner and operator wears many hats,” says Kim. “They are often having to jump in and run many departments. If you’re short staffed in one area, you’re going to have to jump in. This can create a situation where you’re spending so much time working in the business that you struggle to work on growing the business. The overall stress of the success of the business is much more when you own your own hotel. Competing against big hotels with larger marketing budgets and known names can be a challenge.” 

Employee Challenges

Your team also experiences their own unique set of challenges that can affect their well-being and mindset.

Being aware of these challenges is important if you hope to create a culture of respect, collaboration, and trust.

When asked what specific challenges hotel staff face, Kim had some insights.

On Demand

It’s no secret that the hotels operate in a 24-hour industry. No matter what time of day or night, a hotel never truly “sleeps.” This on-demand atmosphere can be stressful for your team.

“Since the building is open 24 hours, guests tend to think you are also available 24 hours,” Kim says. “There is always the possibility that you could get a call at any time when you’re not working. Not only does the guest perceive you as always available, some managers expect the same from you, too.”

Broken Telephone

Working in a 24-hour environment means that you may not always be working with the same people every shift. In establishments with several departments, you may never have direct interaction with a lot of your team.

This can all lead toward miscommunication, frustration, and blame.

“Communication can fall short,” explains Kim. “There can be people who work in other departments that you are never in the building with at the same time. There are typically many procedures in place to communicate between departments, but things still get missed.”

Harmful Beliefs in the Hotel Industry

How you feel about the people you work with and/or work for can have major impacts on your overall mindset.

If your daily thoughts regarding your team are negative, it suddenly becomes very challenging to create a successful hotel. Why would they be excited to come to work and proud of your hotel if their efforts are only ever met with negativity?

The hotel industry has a few specific, common harmful beliefs that are prevalent in many establishments. Being aware and knowing how to acknowledge and combat these beliefs is crucial to creating a more positive work environment.

Assumptions

When I asked Kim what one of the most prevalent harmful beliefs operators harbor about their teams, she discussed the assumptions that are often made.

“I think proprietors sometimes think that what they’re asking is easy and doable,” posits Kim. “When a business is not doing well they tend to look at the quality of their staff versus quality of the processes.”

Assumptions without clarity or reason can be extremely harmful to your workplace culture. Not only are operators holding assumptions about their team, but their team holds assumptions about leadership.

Staff often feel that operators and members of the leadership team are out of touch with the reality of their market, and that they place unrealistic expectations on them. There are assumptions made that leadership does not want them to succeed personally.

“Revenue goals are increased just because they want more money but haven’t put thought into whether or not it’s attainable to make the money,” says Kim. “Operators don’t want to see people get bonuses, so in turn they raise goals. Doing well one year will only hurt you in the next year because all goals will be raised. Staff feel overworked and underpaid, leading them to believe that ownership is cheap and always giving a two-person job to one person.”

Toxic Culture

The last thing that any hospitality business needs is a toxic culture. A toxic workplace culture encourages and breeds negative mindsets on all levels.

How can you be successful if your team dreads coming in for their daily shift?

I asked Kim what can create toxic culture in a hotel, and she shared her thoughts and experiences.

“One of the biggest challenges that I always felt in hotels is the divide amongst departments. It’s very similar to the front-of-house, back-of-house animosity that often exists in restaurants,” shares Kim. “One department always feels that another department was not mindful of how their decisions impact their department. What I came to realize is sometimes that’s true and sometimes it’s not.  There’s always going to be that person who decided to make the decision that was best for their day or made them look good in accomplishing their own job.”

“However, I don’t think that is the intention of most people,” continues Kim. “With so many different types of roles in a hotel, you will never understand all of the inner workings of another department. Each department has to make the decision that best accomplishes their goal for the guest and their department. When the communication breaks down between departments and there is no understanding of how they impact each other, animosity is created.”

Moving Forward

Understanding the challenges that operators and staff are currently facing and acknowledging the importance of a growth mindset and the need for change, what positive changes have been occurring in the industry as a whole?

“Some hotels have increased wages. Some have been more open to hybrid positions of remote and on-property work since the pandemic,” Kim says. “However, there are some that are now trying to do away with those. Also, there are only a few departments in the hotel that can benefit from this as many of them need to be on property to do their jobs.”

“Overall, I haven’t seen a ton of change. There are still so many people struggling with work-life balance in the hospitality industry,” Kim continues. “I just talked to a friend the other day who has told me for years that she’s a lifer in hotels and she’s never going anywhere. She is the last person I thought I’d hear this from, but she’s feeling burnout and is not sure how much longer she can last. This is someone who is excellent at their job. Really understands the business, is a hard worker, team player, willing to go the extra mile. How many people do we find like that, that we are throwing away by putting unachievable standards on?”

Room for Improvement

Although some operators are becoming more aware of the well-being of those working in this industry, there are still many changes that need to happen. Kim believes that there are three simple changes that need to happen.

“We need to stop losing people that want to be lifers over things like burnout and lack of work-life balance. Genuine gratitude and respect from superiors goes a long way. Better communication and accountability are a must,” says Kim.

Final Thoughts

Hotels are a complex entity with many moving parts. It takes a strategic and positive mindset to ensure success and a happy work environment.

The reality is that there will always be challenges that will affect your thoughts and behaviors. You will have bad days but that is all they are: bad days.

It is the leader who can recognize these setbacks as temporary and use them to fuel their mindset towards making positive change who will come out on top.

I’ll leave you with a few last words of wisdom from KRG Hospitality hotel and restaurant consultant Kim Richardson.

“When guests come to stay at a hotel, it is their home for the duration they are there. They are there much longer than grabbing a cup of coffee or a night out to dinner. They can feel the demeanor of the staff,” says Kim. “Positive work environments exude happiness for the guests. When the employees are unhappy, the guests leave unhappy. Mindset can be contagious, and while the internal feelings trickle down to the guests, it starts way before that. If a positive energy is being given off from the leaders in the building, it can have a great impact on the staff, which then impacts the guests.

Cheers to personal and professional well-being!

Image: Marten Bjork on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality Mindset Coaching, 2023 Icon

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Hospitality Mindset: Bar Edition

Hospitality Mindset: Bar Edition

by Jennifer Radkey

Stylish bar and bar stools

Messages about the importance of mindset flood our social media feeds but what exactly does the word mean, and why is it so important?

You’re told you need to have a growth mindset to be successful. You must have a positive mindset for a happy and fulfilling life. Both are true statements, but what do they mean?

Simply stated, mindset is an individual’s usual attitude or mental state. It reflects someone’s way of thinking and motivates their actions. So, why is it important to be aware of your mindset?

Well, if your mindset is your usual attitude or how you show up in your life each and every day, it will influence all parts of your life. Your thoughts about yourself, others, your business, your opportunities, and your challenges are all influenced by your mindset. Your mindset can either hinder or promote your overall well-being and success in life.

The interesting thing about mindset is that it can change—if you want it to. Your mindset can also be influenced by your environment and those around you. These facts led me to question if the different sectors of the hospitality industry face unique mindset challenges.

To find answers and gain further insight, I decided to turn to our team at KRG Hospitality for their thoughts. In turn, I’ve begun a series of hospitality mindset articles.

In this first article I’ll explore the bar industry, with thoughts from master mixologist Jared Boller. Follow the series as I explore mindset in restaurants, hotels, and start-up operations.

Let’s dive in!

The Bar Industry

In the US, the bar and nightclub market is valued at an estimated $36 billion for 2023. The industry as a whole employs close to 600,000 people.

With businesses built off drinking culture, what unique challenges do operators and those working inside these establishments face?

Successful Operators

Operating a successful bar takes a certain mindset. You need to be flexible, open-minded to growth strategies, mindful of your market and competition, and compassionate to the needs of your team.

Interested in what makes a bar operator stand above their competition, I asked Jared what makes a bar operator successful.

“First and foremost, I think that every bar owner needs to understand their product and how they are going to differentiate themselves from the competition. Ultimately, it is up to the owner to realize what their goal is in owning a bar. It requires digging deep into themselves to ask what they want out of their business.

“Are you looking for a way to make extra cash? Are you looking to provide a local hangout for you and your friends? Do you want to win awards and have a buzzworthy place everyone wants to visit? This is a tough business that requires a lot of time and energy, and thick skin.

“Be organized, clean, a good leader, efficient, and provide a home that your employees want to come to. Try to know all aspects of the business: financials, technology, culinary, bar, service, management, etc.”

Operator Challenges

Operators need a resilient, positive, growth mindset to be successful. It’s the only path forward to running a bar they are both proud to work in and enjoy working at every day.

This is a mindset that will need tending to as there are challenges that will affect your daily thoughts, beliefs, and attitudes.

When asked what specific challenges bar operators face that may affect their mindset, Jared shared his thoughts.

Labor Shortage

Dealing with labor shortages as an operator can create feelings of frustration, stress, and resentment.

“It’s getting increasingly difficult to gain a competitive edge because of numerous factors, one of the biggest being labor shortage. It’s not a labor shortage where there’s not enough jobs, it’s an unwillingness to work and/or want to work in the hospitality industry because, quite frankly, ‘It’s tough.’

“I think that with inflation happening in the world, as well as the majority of establishments working off the Tips Blueprint, it doesn’t allow people to know what they’re making day in and day out. People are turning to different jobs or jobs outside of hospitality because they don’t want to be on their feet everyday working long hours and not knowing their future.”

Competition

If a bar operator isn’t careful they can very easily become lost in the game of comparison.

Yes, it is important to know what your competition is up to, but if the constant comparison leads to negative feelings about you, your team, and your establishment without any action for improvement, this is a surefire way to hurt your mindset and chances of success.

If you truly want to be competitive without getting lost in the comparison game, focus on your team.

“The time of pumping out commercial food and drink is gone, and legitimate professionals who are educated and professionally trained are few and far between. Additionally, there’s even a creative youth movement with ambition, but they have not been classically trained in their respective outlets.

“It’s difficult to be competitive without education, training, and bringing together a group that can keep an establishment afloat with similar perspectives. It takes an army to be competitive with everyone speaking the same language, understanding the establishment inside and out, and able to execute night in and night out with the same integrity.”

Social Media/Online Reviews

As a bar operator, you rely on your reputation within your community for the success of your business. This also holds true for your online community.

How you react and your thoughts about online reviews can affect your mindset. A negative online review can very easily incite feelings of anger, disappointment, and blame.

“We live in a world driven by star ratings, thumbs up, and everyday critics writing novels about how there was ‘too much ice in my drink,'” says Jared. “If you read too many negative comments, that could affect one’s mental health and hurt confidence.”

Coming up with a strategy for dealing with negative social media posts/reviews is critical for keeping a clear perspective and maintaining a positive mindset.

Employee Challenges

Your team experiences their own unique set of challenges that can effect their well-being and mindset as well.

Being aware of these challenges is important if you are hoping to create a culture of respect, collaboration, and trust.

When asked what specific challenges bar staff face, Jared had some insights.

Long Hours/Physicality

Bars are often open late into the night, with bartenders in particular being front and center at all times. This can lead to both physical and mental exhaustion if appropriate breaks aren’t provided.

“The physicality alone will eventually take a toll on the employee who is shaking drinks for eight to ten hours a day, working doubles, having minimal break times, and standing on their feet for the same amount of hours. On top of that, you are constantly on stage and typically in a vantage point of someone either sitting across from you at the bar or observing from a table. You are constantly having to engage, take care of, and put on a happy face even if you might be dealing with something in your personal life. Not being able to take a step away or breathe can make you feel claustrophobic or trapped at times.”

Job Security/Growth

If you are working in an unsupportive environment that does not feel safe and makes you feel as though your future with the business is unsure, it can create feelings of discomfort, resentment, anger, worry, and even fear.

Bar employees need to feel respected, heard, and valued.

“Every employee—pending they do the job well—should feel safe in their workspace. I also believe that employees should be able to grow in their workspace if they have the desire to learn and/or be promoted in the future.

“I think that if an employee does the work, and has mastered the role, they should be considered for advancement. Employees in this industry need to identify what speaks to their personal interests and try to master that. I personally wanted to master the craft of bartending so that’s the path I took. Employees should never be scared if they’re interested in growing with the brand.”

Harmful Beliefs in the Bar Industry

How you feel about the people you work with and/or work for can have major impacts on your overall mindset.

If your daily thoughts regarding your team are negative, it suddenly becomes very challenging to create a successful bar with a team who shows up wanting to do their best each and every day.

The bar industry has a few specific common harmful beliefs that are prevalent in many establishments. Being aware of these and knowing what to do with these beliefs to change them is critical to creating a more positive work environment.

Paranoia

When I asked Jared what one of the most prevalent harmful beliefs operators have about their team, he discussed the belief that everyone is taking advantage of you. Many owners believe that everyone is stealing from them.

“In all of my years working in bars and restaurants there was always this sense that employees would be taking money from them or pouring ‘free products’ off to their friends/family. Truth be told, it happens, but I think that employees wouldn’t do that if they were offered a simple ‘comp tab.’

“I’m not saying that offering a free drink here and there to a friend is right, but I think for an owner to say, ‘Buy your friends a drink every now and then to show you appreciate them coming here,’ is a nice gesture.

“I’ve worked in places where owners are transparent, honest, and trustworthy with their employees, and the employees are happy so they don’t go behind the owner’s back. I think ownership needs to be realistic and give back to their employees and visitors every now and then, because that will boost morale.”

Feeling Unappreciated

When it came to harmful beliefs that staff have about ownership, Jared shared that employees feel that ownership does not care about them. While in some cases these beliefs may unfortunately be valid, in many cases owners may just be legitimately unaware that there are issues or concerns that need to be addressed.

“A lot of hospitality employees don’t feel appreciated by their bosses. Employees often feel like they can’t have a voice. Sometimes owners are so tied up in everything else to maintain the business and they won’t recognize you unless you speak up and engage in conversation over frustrations. Staff members need to not overstep their boundaries, but if there is something that could potentially move the business forward, express your concern.

“I’ve always had a good relationship with owners because I try to throw out ideas they don’t see, and come up with a potential solution to an issue. Owners don’t know everything and a lot of time are caught up in the day-to-day business. You were hired there for a reason: because they trust you to do a good job.”

Moving Forward

Understanding the importance of cultivating and maintaining positive, growth mindsets will allow you to move forward with your team towards shared goals and dreams.

Nobody wants to hate where they work, and with commitment to tackling challenges and harmful beliefs, this won’t be likely to happen.

So, what positive changes have been incurring in the industry as a whole?

“Simple things. Team-building events, like a picnic, an annual dinner to celebrate the staff, a field trip to a farm, quick getaways, etc. When the ownership/management team gives back to their team they end up enjoying coming to their second home everyday.

“Ensuring there are appropriate breaks during the long days, and potentially offering a ‘family meal’ to boost energy and give them food they might not be able to afford at home. Promoting ‘in-house’ competitions, such as the person who has the best wine sales at the end of the week gets a free bottle of wine. Leveraging different companies—spirits, wine, food purveyors—to do in-house demos and educationals. Allowing the staff to be hands on and learn something that will provide value to their personal growth.

“With less and less people choosing to take the hospitality path, it creates a lack of talent or people willing to roll up their sleeves and do the work. That’s why it’s important that the venue gives back every once and awhile.”

Room for Improvement

Although we’re starting to see more awareness of the well-being of those working in this industry, there are still many changes that need to happen.

“There needs to be sustainable and livable wages established universally amongst staff. With a world of inflation and prices on everything sky-rocketing, people are not going to be able to work in this industry and survive.

“There needs to be more meetings amongst staff to ensure that everyone has a voice and that everyone is on the same page when it comes to their jobs. There are a lot of mental health issues to this day because the hospitality industry is a crazy, tangled-up web when there is no guidance and good leadership. Our industry still has substance abuse issues, with people self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to help numb their pain, in addition to consuming too much caffeine to stay afloat.

“There needs to be more support and coaching programs available to new operators—similar to what we offer through KRG—to ensure they understand what they are signing up for. Education, leadership, guidance, inspiration, and providing a great work/life balance need to be a primary focus. Out with the 70-hour work week—back to a sustainable work timetable.”

Final Thoughts

Winning mindsets create winning concepts and winning teams. Having a positive mindset doesn’t mean that you don’t experience challenges or that you don’t experience any negative feelings. We are all human; of course we are going to have negative thoughts now and again.

It’s what you choose to do with those thoughts. If you allow them to become your predominant attitude, that will determine your overall mindset. The bar industry may have it’s challenges but it is also a place of excitement, entertainment, and creativity, a hub for social interaction with a never-ending hum of humanity.

I’ll leave you with a few last words of wisdom from KRG’s master mixologist Jared Boller.

“Understand that every day is going to be different than the previous, and you have to constantly adapt to what’s being thrown at you. If you’re not adaptable and can’t bend to spontaneous requests you might find yourself going into a dark space. Know that everyone is different, with unique upbringings and alternative perspectives on life. You are not always right, nor are they.

“Establish your rules in this bar environment. Educate yourself so you know more than everyone else in the room about your business and your craft, and open your mind to learning new things. Don’t be a know-it-all because that’s just downright annoying.

“And, finally, my rules that I live by behind a bar: ‘If someone wants to speak religion, decline. If someone wants to get your beliefs on politics, decline. And when a woman asks you their age, don’t answer, or politely decline.’ Everything else is an open conversation.”

Cheers to personal and professional well-being!

Image: Rachel Claire on Pexels

KRG Hospitality Mindset Coaching

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Kitchen Parlance, Part One

Kitchen Parlance, Part One

by Nathen Dubé

Chef handling flaming pan in commercial kitchen

Entering a professional kitchen might seem like a whole different realm with its own governing rules, and certainly its very own language.

“Clopen?” “All day?” “Behind?” “Covers?” “Deuce,” “dying on the pass”… If these terms sound foreign and made up to you, you’re not alone!

A busy kitchen can be a hot, intense, and stressful environment. Having a full-on conversation takes up valuable time when minutes and even seconds are the difference between a perfectly cooked plate of food and trash.

When actions need to be conveyed quickly and efficiently between two parties or a full team in a loud and fast-paced environment, slang develops out of necessity. Kitchens are no different, with their use of a creative and interesting lexicon.

New owners and operators opening their own concept may find many words and phrases they hear from the kitchen and servers strange at first. This is particularly true of owners and operators who may have little to no back-of-house or serving experience.

To lend a hand to hopeful operators or those opening their doors for the first time, let’s take a look at some of the more popular kitchen terms.

Operational & Equipment Terms

First, let’s take a look at the structural element of a restaurant and how they’re referred to.

Floor

The dining room (or whatever is deemed as guest seating in your establishment) is referred to as “the floor.” When someone asks, “who is on the floor tonight?”, they’re referring to the staff—usually servers—working the floor. Managers will walk the floor to check on guests and aid in service.

Note: The bar area, although it may have counter seating and its own tables, is referred to separately from the floor.

Low Boy

An under-counter refrigerator is called a “low boy” for its below-the-waist positioning, requiring cooks to bend down low to gather ingredients. This can include freezers as well. There are a variety of door configurations, including swinging, and drawer-style. Some even have salad tops where ingredients are kept in the top, under a lid.

Walk-In

A (very) large fridge or freezer, often constructed on site. It has a big swinging door that can be opened from both sides for safety reasons. The majority of raw ingredients—plus some prep and leftovers—are stored here. If you’re wondering where the word comes from, the clue is in the name: it’s so large, you can walk into it.

The walk-in is also notorious for being where restaurant staff go to scream some stress away, as the excellent insulation creates a nice sound barrier from guests.

Mise

The word “mise,” pronounced “meez,” is a slang term for “mise en place.” Mise en place is the French term for “having everything in its place” prior to service. Cooks use “mise” to refer to their own specific set of prepared ingredients, whether in terms of having it ready or not, or even worse, missing.

On the Line

The line, and the term “on the line,” refers to the area in the kitchen where the cooking equipment is located. Of course, this where chefs do most of the cooking during service. A typical line includes a walkway where the cooks work, and a flat table space—usually at the “window” or “pass” (see below)—where they plate, on the opposite side. Not surprisingly, that opposite side is referred to as the “plating area.”

If a concept requires it, there are separate “hot” lines where the hot cooking is done, and “cold” lines, where dishes that don’t require cooking are prepared. Deep fryers, ovens, and ranges are located in the former, and salad stations are located in the latter area. In classic French terms, the garde manger cook usually prepares most dishes on a cold line.

Pass / Window

The pass or window is the area opposite the cooking line where completed orders are placed for server pick-up. Think of passing dishes from the kitchen and you’ll understand this term immediately. Sometimes it will be referred to as a “window” in restaurants that have actual windows into the kitchen line from which food is passed to servers. The pass area is typically where the heat lamps are located, meant to keep dishes warm during a busy service.

The Rail / Board

The term “rail” or “board” refers to a strip of metal mounted to the food window that holds the food tickets (orders) from the kitchen printer in place. This keeps the flow organized and is normally overseen by the chef or line supervisor.

“Calling the board” means the person in charge reads out tickets as they come in, and directs cooking traffic to the other line cooks. Doing so helps to avoid disagreements and chaos in the kitchen. This position is reserved for the highest-ranking or most-talented cook, as it requires excellent cooking and communication skills. “Clear the board or rail” means completing all orders that have come in for the time being.

Chit / Ticket

When a server enters an order into the POS system, a chit or ticket, or even “dupe” (meaning “duplicate,” from the fact that some systems use three-color paper that prints a kitchen copy, a server copy, and an expo, bar, cold line, or pasty section copy), is printed to the kitchen. That ticket is then read aloud to the cooks before being placed in queue on the rail or board. When the food on the order is complete, the copy is marked in some fashion (stamp, marker, pen) and placed under the plate in the window. The server then picks up the food and the chit is “stabbed” on to a spike.

Don’t let spiked tickets fall out of the rail or all hell can break loose and derail a service!

Two-Top / Three-Top

Dining room tables are referred to as “tops” and are identified by how many guests they can accommodate (seats). A table with two chairs is a “two-top” or “deuce.” Tables with four or six chairs are “four-tops” and “six-tops,” respectively.

Covers

Each person who enters the restaurant is a cover: they “cover” one seat. The more covers, the busier a service will be, and vice versa. These numbers are used to project future numbers, staffing requirements, and inventory required. Covers are also a point of pride for kitchen staff. The more covers, the busier the service, and if you can navigate it with few mistakes, the adrenaline rush can directly convince yourself of your own talents.

Dead Plate

A dead plate is a dish of food that’s no longer worthy of the dining room. Sitting in the window too long, incorrect preparation, or even worse, being sent back by a guest results in a dead plate. Untouched dead plates are usually given to dish washing staff or porters; those sent back by guests are tossed in the bin.

Section

A section is how the floor is divided amongst serving staff. Typically, the more talented or senior staff get a bigger section. Designating sections, with all their tables in one close area, helps servers move efficiently during busy periods and keep close tabs on guests. Managers and floor captains will oversee a few or all sections and offer help to the individual servers during busy times or for large parties.

Server Alley

The front-of-house equivalent of the kitchen hot line. This is where everything servers need to do their jobs is located. Extra napkins, spare side plates, cutlery rolls, and cleaning supplies for clearing tables can all be found here. There are usually a few POS terminals here for entering orders.

Team & Guest Terms

These next few slang words are used to talk about certain people.

Expo

“Expo” is the shortened term for “expediter,” or the position of organizing, plating, and (in some cases) garnishing food at the pass. The main responsibility is to makes sure each dish is correct before the food runner or server brings it to the table. This role can be the liaison between front of house and back of house, allowing both teams to do their jobs without having to stop and coordinate.

Busser

Part of the porter team, the busser is the person who clears dishes from a table when guests leave, and drops them in the dish-washing area. The term refers to the bus bin or large plastic tub into which the bussers put all the dishes, flatware, glasses, and debris. They might also be tasked with wiping down tables and resetting them for new guests. Sometimes, the busser will pull double duty and also wash the dishes they bring back to the kitchen.

Trail / Stage

Note: In the foodservice world, “stage” is pronounced “staahj.”

A trail is essentially a training shift during which new team member will “trail” behind a cook or server. This provides the new hire the ability to learn, get comfortable with SOPs, and mitigates any potential mistakes. However, not all establishments have the staffing to offer this scenario and will train a new hire during live action.

A stage is a longer-term trail for a designated period of time. This can be a couple of weeks, a month or two, or an entire season at destination-style dining places, like Michelin-starred restaurants and hotels. The expectation is that this is a learning experience for the cook, who is exposed to new ingredients, recipes, and techniques. An agreed upon time frame is set and the cook trades labor for education.

A Personal Note on Stage

The short-term stage commitment includes the understanding that the restaurant won’t reward you monetarily. We all know the costs of training staff. Imagine investing all that effort and having that person leave after just a month or two.

Now, I despise the term “free labor” for the kitchen or benefiting restaurant. There’s a new argument that has been surfacing over the last few years that stages should be paid internships. I have two problems with this thought process.

One, these are often highly touted restaurants that operate at an elite level, and they’re extremely busy. Having a new body takes up valuable focus and resources from somebody in that kitchen. They are willing to work with you and share all their knowledge and experience.

Often times, there isn’t a chance in hell in getting a job there, and this can be the only way to get a chance at learning from these masters of the craft. Having gained valuable career experience from stages myself, they can be a great alternative if you can’t gain employment with the venues.

Two, those who raise these arguments have no experience in doing them; think they have learned nothing from the stages they may have done; had a bad experience overall; or really have no other alternatives to the points I just mentioned.

Hot tip: If you don’t like working for free, don’t! If you the value in stage, go for it!

Campers

This is a term for people who linger at their table well after they’ve finished and paid. While all guests are welcome to make themselves at home, the problem with campers is that they can take up valuable real estate during busy periods. This is the reason for table time caps at operations that run on the reservation system. They also prevent servers from “turning” tables to serve more guests and increase their tips.

Action Terms

These are some random terms that indicate actions and requests.

Fire

The process of finishing a dish. When an order is printed out, it may have courses such as appetizer, main, and dessert. All courses might be started and cooked to 80 percent completion and then held. The main wouldn’t be fired until after the appetizer. When the person in charge of the line says, “Fire table six mains,” that means finish cooking, plate the dishes, and send them to the pass.

All Day

A very quick way for a cook to request a tally of all the dishes ordered from their section. The line lead will provide totals of each dish, instead of reading out each table’s order. For example, a cook will ask for an all-day on fryers, and the lead will call back, “Six large fry, three medium fry, two poutine, and one chicken nugget.” The cook can quickly add up what they have cooking or need to prepare to fire.

Behind

As you can imagine, in a busy, happening kitchen, there are people racing in all directions in tight spaces. One quick way to avoid collisions around hot equipment and sharp objects is to yell “behind” when passing someone or a station of people. It gives them time to either move out of the way or stay in place to avoid catastrophe.

Other variations include “hot” to indicate hot pots or pans, or the potential of getting burnt. “Sharp” means a knife, and “corner” means coming around the corner. “Behind hot” and “hot, corner” are combinations which mean exactly what you think they mean.

Flash

To reheat a dish, or an item on a plate that sat under the heat lamp too long, or if a guest has requested something cooked further. Usually under a salamander, a convection oven, or a deep fryer for fried food. I’m sure for some establishments (I started out in places where this was the norm), “flashing” means “cooking” an item to well done via microwave.

Heard / Heard That

The acknowledgement that an order has been read by the person running the pass or the line and understood by all in the kitchen. Also works for a direct order to an individual.

In the Weeds

When one station is receiving the majority of the orders at any given time, or the dining room has filled up all at once and all the orders are coming in together, this can create a downward spiral between starting to cook and plating or finishing existing dishes. This is known as being “in the weeds.” The only way to survive is to put your head down and cook your way out. I’ve experienced surviving the weeds and having it ruin an entire service. It all depends on the resilience and talent of the cooks, servers, and leaders involved.

On the Fly

The request for something that is needed quickly. Perhaps the item was missed, dropped, or incorrect, and the rest of the dishes are at the table. Whatever is needed “on the fly” takes precedence over everything else or, worst-case scenario, gets shoehorned into orders coming up.

Stretch It

Kitchen lingo for getting as many portions out of something nearing its end as possible. For example, a saucepan only has enough for four steaks but five are needed. The sauce has completed cooking and the plates are waiting. So, the kitchen needs to “stretch it” and make it work or be down five plates of food.

Waxing a Table

This means giving a table special treatment. This person or these people could be VIPs, return guests, the owner’s family and friends, or an influential food writer. Whoever the are, they’ve been identified and are given a little extra attention by staff.

86

When a menu item has completely run out, the kitchen manager will say the item has been “86ed.” It’s important for the kitchen staff to communicate this to servers as soon as possible so that no more orders are placed for the item.

Family Meal

The pre-service meal enjoyed by all staff on premises. Usually made by the staff from leftovers as a way to showcase creativity and skill.

Comp

Referring to items removed from the bill for an error or because the guest didn’t like it. A comp also comes from waxing a table, of course. It’s important to track comped items for accounting purposes. Comps can be a great way to make guests happy in a pinch. However, owners, operators, executive chefs, and lead bartenders need to be aware of how often comps are being handed out; they can be indicative of quality-control problems or employee theft.

Clopen

This is a portmanteau of “close” and “open.” The dreaded weekend brunch shift comes to mind. Working a busy late Friday or Saturday service and having to come back in the following morning to sling eggs to hungover patrons is a difficult and thankless task. In short, a team member who works back-to-back closing and opening shifts is working a clopen.

FIFO

This stands for “first in, first out,” and references inventory organization, crucial for perishable items. The new items go behind the older ones so that the items that were there first get used first, ensuring freshness and quality. I once had a chef who decided that “FIFO” stood for “fit in, or f*ck off.”

These are just some of the slang terms in the culinary lexicon used to convey quick understanding when under fire. You might also hear differences in dialect between cultures and regions. I’ve worked in both Toronto and Montréal, and there are similarities and differences between terms used in Ontario and Québec, French and English, and English and South American Spanish.

So, next time you’re out dining and you hear one of these words or phrases, you might be able to figure out what’s going on behind the scenes. Tip well, be polite, and try something new!

Image: lasse bergqvist on Unsplash

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

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