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.


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

KRG Hospitality Start-Up Restaurant Bar Hotel Consulting Consultant Solutions Plans Services

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Chicago to Phase Out the Tip Credit

Chicago to Phase Out the Tip Credit

by David Klemt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Compromise

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Future

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

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

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

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

Image: Trace Hudson via Pexels

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

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

The Science of Flavour Pairing

Unlocking Culinary Magic: The Science of Flavour Pairing

by Nathen Dubé

A red pepper resting on top of a bar of chocolate

In the world of culinary arts, there exists a fascinating and almost mystical aspect that elevates a dish from ordinary to extraordinary: flavour pairing.

The art of flavour pairing is like a symphony of tastes and aromas, orchestrated to create harmonious and memorable dining experiences. As a chef consultant, I invite you to embark on a culinary journey that delves deep into the science and creativity behind flavour pairing.

Whether you are a seasoned industry professional or a curious food enthusiast, this article will unveil the secrets of culinary magic that lie within this art and science.

The Science Behind Flavour Pairing

To truly understand the art of flavour pairing, one must first grasp the science that underpins it.

Flavour pairing isn’t just about randomly combining ingredients. Rather, it’s about exploiting the complex interactions between different compounds that create flavours.

Here’s a brief look at the science.

The Flavour Wheel

Imagine a vast wheel with hundreds of spokes, each representing a distinct flavour. This is the flavour wheel, a tool that categorizes flavours into primary, secondary, and tertiary categories.

Understanding this wheel helps chefs identify complementary flavours and build balanced profiles.

The primary flavours include sweet, sour, salty, and bitter, while the secondary flavours encompass umami, fatty, and astringent notes. Tertiary flavours delve even deeper, encompassing specific aromatic compounds found in various ingredients.

The flavour wheel serves as a roadmap for chefs, allowing them to create harmonious and balanced dishes by combining flavours from different categories.

For example, pairing a salty ingredient like prosciutto with sweet melon exploits the contrast between saltiness and sweetness for a delightful taste experience.

Chemical Compounds

Flavour compounds are the building blocks of taste and aroma. These compounds are responsible for the diverse spectrum of flavours we encounter in food.

Understanding which compounds are shared between ingredients is key to successful flavour pairing.

A well-known example of shared aroma compounds is the presence of vanillin in both vanilla beans and oak barrels used for aging wine. Vanillin is a key aroma compound responsible for the sweet and creamy notes in vanilla. When wines are aged in oak barrels, they can acquire subtle vanilla and spice undertones from the wood, creating a harmonious and recognizable flavour pairing in wines, especially in the case of oak-aged Chardonnay or red Bordeaux wines.

This shared compound, vanillin, illustrates how we can derive the same aroma compound from different sources (vanilla beans and oak barrels) and contribute to the complexity and appeal of various culinary creations, enhancing both desserts and wines.

Contrast and Harmony

Flavour pairing often revolves around the concept of contrast and harmony.

Some pairings work because they contrast flavours, creating excitement and intrigue. Others harmonize, creating a seamless and balanced taste experience.

Consider the classic contrast between sweet and sour in dishes like sweet and sour chicken. The sweetness of the sauce contrasts with the tanginess of vinegar, resulting in a harmonious yet exciting combination.

On the other hand, a harmonious pairing might involve complementary flavours that meld together seamlessly. Think of the classic combination of tomatoes and basil in a Caprese salad. The earthy, herbaceous notes of basil harmonize beautifully with the juicy sweetness of ripe tomatoes.


The fifth taste, umami, has gained prominence in recent years.

Umami is often described as a savory or meaty taste, and it can be used to elevate a wide range of dishes.

Ingredients that are rich in umami—mushrooms, soy sauce, and Parmesan cheese, for example—can enhance and deepen the overall flavour of a dish.

One popular example of umami-rich flavour pairing is the combination of Parmesan cheese with ripe tomatoes. The umami in the cheese amplifies the tomato’s natural sweetness and creates a more complex and satisfying flavour profile.

Classic Flavour Pairings

Now that we’ve dipped our toes into the science of flavour pairing, let’s explore some classic pairings that have stood the test of time.

Salt and Sweet

This classic pairing is all about balance. The saltiness enhances the sweetness in dishes like salted caramel and chocolate-covered pretzels. The contrast is what makes it so delightful.

When it comes to savoury dishes, the addition of a touch of salt can elevate the overall flavour. Consider how a pinch of salt can enhance the sweetness of roasted vegetables or a perfectly seared steak.

Acid and Fat

The acidity in ingredients like lemon or vinegar can cut through the richness of fatty dishes, creating balance.

Think of a zesty vinaigrette dressing on a buttery avocado salad. The acidity brightens the dish and prevents it from feeling overly heavy.

Spicy and Cool

Combining spicy and cooling elements can create a dynamic and memorable flavour experience.

For example, a fiery hot sauce paired with a creamy yogurt dip offers a pleasing contrast of temperature and sensation. The coolness of the yogurt soothes the heat of the spice, creating a balanced and exciting flavour profile.

Savoury and Sweet

The umami-rich savoury notes of ingredients like bacon or prosciutto can beautifully complement the sweetness of fruits, as seen in dishes like melon wrapped in prosciutto.

The salty, savoury elements create a perfect counterpoint to the natural sweetness of the fruit.

Herbs and Citrus

The fresh, aromatic qualities of herbs like basil, cilantro, or mint can be elevated when paired with the zingy brightness of citrus fruits.

The combination of fresh herbs and citrus can add layers of flavour to salads, marinades, and cocktails.

Modern Flavour Pairing Techniques

While classic pairings are timeless, modern culinary innovation has taken flavour pairing to new heights.

Here are some cutting-edge techniques and trends to explore.

Molecular Gastronomy

This avant-garde approach to cooking employs scientific principles to create unexpected flavour combinations.

Techniques like spherification and foaming can transform ordinary ingredients into extraordinary culinary creations.

For instance, the technique of spherification involves transforming liquid ingredients into tiny, flavorful spheres with a thin membrane. These spheres can burst with flavour in your mouth, creating a unique and memorable dining experience.

Imagine a burst of basil-infused olive oil encapsulated in a delicate sphere served alongside a tomato salad.

Global Fusion

As our world becomes more connected, so do our culinary influences.

Chefs are exploring fusion cuisine, merging ingredients and techniques from different cultures to create exciting and unexpected flavour pairings.

For example, Korean tacos combine the bold flavours of Korean barbecue with the convenience of a taco, resulting in a fusion dish that offers a delightful balance of sweet, spicy, and savory elements.

Experimenting with flavors, techniques and combinations both classic and new, and mastering an array of techniques will elevate any kitchen team’s skills. In turn, that team will elevate the menu, restaurant, and guest experience.

Image: Karolina Grabowska via Pexels

Bar Nightclub Pub Brewery Menu Development Drinks Food

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Top-performing Menu Items in the US

Top-performing Menu Items in the US (So Far)

by David Klemt

Barbecue chicken wings, chili peppers, and chili flakes

Thanks to a recent mid-year report from F&B intelligence platform Datassential, we now know the top-performing menu items in the US.

For the low, low price of filling out a handful of fields, you can download a copy of Datassential’s “Foodbytes: 2023 Midyear Trend Report” for yourself.

There’s plenty of useful data packed into this short report. You may find some of the top food items a bit surprising.

But First…

Datassential does more than just list the top mid-year menu performers in their latest report. There are also a couple of interesting datapoints for operators to consider.

The first piece of information is an alarming statistic: 54 percent of consumers are of the belief that “tipping culture has gotten out of control.”

As we’ve reported earlier, it’s likely that a major driver of “tip fatigue” comes from retail. The expectation for consumers to tip at a restaurant, bar or nightclub is ingrained deeply in American culture.

However, consumers throughout America are being prompted to tip after just about every transaction they’re attempting to complete. In fact, it’s not just retail that has been encouraging (in some cases, guilting) people to tip. Some contractors are also adding tip lines when handing over tablets to clients so they can pay their invoices.

One result is that servers and bartenders are reporting lower tips; guests are so over tipping that they’re pushing back against the practice in venues where they’d traditionally have no problem doing so.

Of course, tip fatigue isn’t the only reason consumers are pushing back against tipping. Many people feel that operators should increase what they pay staff. Indeed, some people feel that operators are asking them to subsidize their employee pay. Whether they’d be happy to pay higher prices remains to be seen.

Fads Aren’t Bad?

Whenever we cover trends or discuss them with clients, we caution against chasing too many (or the “wrong” trends). And fads? It can be even riskier to hop on the bandwagon of something that may never even reach the trend stage of its lifecycle.

However, likely due to the ubiquity of TikTok, consumers expect restaurants to embrace fads. According to Datassential, 67 percent of consumers overall “want to see more fads at restaurants and retail.”

That number jumps to 74 percent when focusing on Millennials and Gen Z.

So, while we still caution operators about jumping on fads (or “micro trends”) and trends, that doesn’t mean be too cautious. If a fad or trend works with your brand and won’t cost much to feature, at least give it consideration.

Not sure you’re great at identifying fads that will work for your business? Ask your staff which fads and trends are hot at the moment.

Speaking of Hot…

Alright, let’s take a look at the F&B items Datassential identifies as popular at the midway point of 2023.

Again, I encourage you to download the report in its entirety. You can do just that by clicking here.

But for those who want instant gratification, check out these menu items:

  • Super Duper: Let’s kick things off with the hottest chain LTO, the Denny’s Super Slam. Per Datassential, restaurant chains have already featured in excess of 2,000 LTOs in 2023. The F&B intel agency tests them all, and the Super Slam is wearing the LTO crown at the moment.
  • Chef Chatbot: Datassential tapped ChatGPT to create a burger recipe and had Midjourney create an image for the resulting Caprese Avocado Burger. More than half of consumers surveyed—57 percent—want to try it at a restaurant.
  • Big Winner: Datassential asked consumers a simple question: Which would you rather eat for the rest of your life, a hamburger or a hot dog? A staggering 87 percent chose hamburgers, meaning just 13 percent of consumers would choose a hot dog over it’s burger buddy.
  • What a Pickle: Back in March we checked out Slice’s Slice of the Union report, and it predicted pickle pizzas would be a hot trend this year. Well, Datassential has crunched the numbers and says 40 percent of consumers are aware of this pizza style already. Looks like Slice may be proven right by the end of the year.
  • Speed Demon: Curious about the fastest-growing menu item on the US? Well, wonder no more: Datassential says it’s the barbecue chicken wing. Over the past year, they’ve grown 373 percent on menus across the States. Datassential posits the overall growth of chicken and the embracing of flavor trends like Carolina gold barbecue sauce are contributing factors.

There’s a lot to unpack here, so I’ll leave you to it. Just remember that when it comes to fads and trends, there’s a fine line between what’s hot, what’s not, and jumping on the wrong one. Good luck!

Image: Ahmed Bhutta on Pexels

KRG Hospitality Start-Up Restaurant Bar Hotel Consulting Consultant Solutions Plans Services

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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” 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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Spring Clean Your Business!

7 Ways to Give Your Business a Spring Cleaning!

by Kim Richardson & David Klemt

White mops against red and white wall

In case you’re so busy you didn’t catch it, we’re officially—finally—in spring, and that means it’s time to spring clean your business.

Below you’ll find a spring cleaning slideshow with helpful advice from KRG Hospitality consultant Kim Richardson.

Each slide contains her best advice for reviewing, refreshing, and improving your business. For your convenience, Kim organizes her spring cleaning advice in just seven slides.

It’s time to look at your business through fresh, energized eyes! Your team, guests, and bottom line will thank you.

  • 7 Ways to Give Your Business a Spring Cleaning, cover slide
  • 7 Ways to Give Your Business a Spring Cleaning by Kim Richardson, slide 1
  • 7 Ways to Give Your Business a Spring Cleaning by Kim Richardson, slide 2
  • 7 Ways to Give Your Business a Spring Cleaning by Kim Richardson, slide 3
  • 7 Ways to Give Your Business a Spring Cleaning by Kim Richardson, slide 4
  • 7 Ways to Give Your Business a Spring Cleaning by Kim Richardson, slide 5
  • 7 Ways to Give Your Business a Spring Cleaning by Kim Richardson, slide 6
  • 7 Ways to Give Your Business a Spring Cleaning by Kim Richardson, slide 7

Note: Unable to view the slides above? Each slide is transcribed below.

1 Re-plant Your Core Values

  • Review your core values with your team.
  • Post them where everyone can see them daily.
  • Foster core values through consistent training.
  • What kind of experiences are you offering your team?
  • Hire a coach to help you discover your core values.

2 Tidy up Your Guest Journey Map

  • Walk through your business from the guest perspective.
  • Review your website for content, ease of use, current info.
  • Review your technology and potential pain-points.
  • Touch up items that may have become run down: paint, signage, furniture, equipment, etc.
  • Review your flow of service and communication.

3 Spruce up Your SOP & Training Programs

  • Evaluate how well current SOPs are being followed.
  • Evaluate how well you continuously train your team.
  • Make updates as needed and add any new procedures.
  • Ensure SOPs are easily accessible by your team.
  • Discuss your standards during pre-shift meetings.

4 Deep Clean Your Financial Books

  • Review your budgets and projections for the year ahead.
  • Review and organize the financials tracking processes; receipts, invoices, files, etc. and digitize what you can.
  • Consider updating your financial tracking technology or bringing in a third party to assist.

5 Dust off Your Business Plan

  • Evaluate the progress of your business plan.
  • Acknowledge what you have accomplished.
  • Are you on track to achieve your goals this year?
  • Do all of your goals still make sense?
  • Make any necessary updates and create a game plan to stay on track; review every 30 days.

6 Freshen up Your Marketing Plan

  • Budget time and money to dedicate towards marketing for the next 90 days.
  • Create strategic campaigns that will create awareness, build a database, and retain your targeted customers.
  • Consider working with a third party or having someone dedicated to this role internally.

7 Declutter Your Mind

  • Perform a calendar audit.
  • Review goals and formulate action plans.
  • Practice mindfulness through journaling or meditation.
  • Consider hiring a mindset coach to help you organize your life and your business.

Image: PAN XIAOZHEN on Unsplash / Slideshow Images: Kim Richardson / KRG Hospitality

KRG Hospitality. Business Coach. Restaurant Coach. Hotel Coach. Hospitality Coach. Mindset Coach.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

IRS Proposes New Tip Reporting Program

IRS Proposes New Tip Reporting Program

by David Klemt

"Tax Man" graffiti on red brick wall

The Internal Revenue Service is proposing a voluntary tip reporting program which they’re calling the Service Industry Tip Compliance Agreement (SITCA).

Making the announcement via Notice 2023-13 back in February, the IRS is giving people the chance to comment on the SITCA proposal.

Per the IRS, their intention is to “take advantage of advancements” in POS, scheduling, and e-payment technology. How do they intend to leverage all this tech? In short, the IRS is proposing that POS systems will have to process payments and tips in the same way.

To clarify further, if someone pays by credit card, they’ll have to tip via credit card. If a guest pays in cash, they’ll have to tip in cash. So, should SITCA become the industry standard, the days of paying with a credit card but leaving a cash tip will be over.

However, in my eyes, this isn’t a simple “modernization” of IRS processes.

If the IRS is proposing a new for businesses to process tips, they’re looking to catch non-compliant businesses and tipped workers. A likely culprit or contributing factor to this IRS scrutiny? The retail venues now asking for or suggesting tips when customers check out.

So, it would be wise to reiterate to your team the need to report tips accurately. And remember, business owners need to ensure they’re complying with tip reporting as well. Getting flagged for inaccurate reporting is a great way to catch an audit, penalties, and a huge bill.

Nuts and Bolts

According to the IRS, SITCA will reduce taxpayer burdens. And, of course, the service claims the program will also reduce their own administrative costs.

Additional “features,” per the IRS website, are as follows:

  • The monitoring of employer compliance based on actual annual tip revenue and charge tip data from their point-of-sale system. There will be allowance for adjustments in tipping practices from year to year.
  • Participating employers demonstrate compliance with the program requirements by submitting an annual report after the close of the calendar year. This reduces the need for compliance reviews by the IRS.
  • Employers participating in SITCA will receive protection from liability under the rules that define tips as part of an employee’s pay for calendar years in which they remain compliant with program requirements.
  • Participating employers have flexibility to implement employee tip reporting policies best suited for their employees and business model. Policies must be in accordance with the section of the tax law that requires employees to report tips to their employers.

Requests for Comment

Interestingly, Notice 2023-13 contains a request for comments in four specific areas:

  • By what means a technology-based time and attendance system may be used by tipped employees to report tips. This includes tips in cash and other forms of tipping made through electronic payments methods (other than a credit card), regardless of whether the tips are received directly from customers or through tip sharing arrangements.
  • How tip sharing practices vary across service industries and how the SITCA program can support employer participation while accommodating potential differences in Federal, state, and local labor and employment law requirements.
  • By what methods employers of large food or beverage establishments participating in the SITCA program may meet their filing and reporting obligations under section 6053(c) and also satisfy the SITCA program requirements for compliance, while minimizing the administrative burdens on taxpayers and the IRS.

Those interested in providing such feedback have until May 7, 2023 to do so. The IRS has set up two ways to provide comments on Notice 2023-13:

  • Mail: CC:PA:LPD:PR (Notice 2023-13), Room 5203, Internal Revenue Service, P.O. Box 7604, Ben Franklin Station, Washington, D.C. 20044; or
  • Electronic: Visit the Federal eRulemaking Portal at (indicate IRS and Notice 2023-13) and follow the instructions for comment submission.

Personally, I have more questions than comments. Bear in mind, the IRS will stop accepting comments, feedback, and questions on May 7, 2023.

Image: Jon Tyson on Unsplash

KRG Hospitality. Restaurant. Bar. Hotel. Feasibility Study. Business Plan.

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

American Trends 2023: Technomic

American Trends 2023: Technomic

by David Klemt

Pink pineapple against pink background

Foodservice research firm Technomic has some interesting predictions for the hospitality industry in the United States of America this year.

On the topic of operations, Technomic foresees more negotiating power among workers. Additionally, the firm looks at both the economy and pent-up guest demand.

When it comes to food, the US and Canada have a trend prediction in common. And as the image atop this article signifies, a particular color may be a hit on menus in 2023.

Before we jump in, Technomic’s 2023 Canadian trend predictions are here. Last year’s Technomic predictions for America are here. Curious readers can review the firm’s 2023 predictions in their entirety here.

Okay, let’s go!

Think Pink

I want to address this prediction first. According to Technomic, pink is going to be the F&B color of 2023.

As they explain, the color is fun, nostalgic, and photogenic. Yes, operators must still consider the Instagram-worthiness of their menu items. That may change one day, but it’s not today.

Per Technomic, pink also signals that a food or drink may have antioxidants.

Some of the items the research firm names specifically: pink pineapple, pink salt, pink celery, cara cara oranges, and schisandra berries.

Pickle It

This is the culinary trend that, per Technomic, Canada and America will share in 2023.

Along with fermenting, pickling gives the kitchen and bar teams a unique experimentation method to explore. So, encourage these teams to get creative and add pickling and fermentation to your next menu update.

Of course, that’s not the only reason to consider putting pickling front and center. For many, these preparations indicate a healthy F&B choice. Think kombucha, as an example.

As we know, healthy choices continue to be top of mind for many guests.

One more note: Technomic suggests being transparent and identifying the pickling and fermenting processes your team leverages to produce each menu item.


For those looking for a bit of optimism in these trying times, Technomic may have what you’re looking for. This year’s report, What We Foresee for 2023, says the following about the possibility of a recession:

“There is reason for optimism in the coming year, however, as any recession is expected to be relatively mild.”

Yes, that’s just one source’s opinion. However, Technomic is known for their voraciousness when it comes to data. So, if this firm is optimistic it could be a solid sign that things are looking up in 2023.

“Pent-up consumer demand” and variations thereof have been making the rounds since 2o21. However, it’s still a relevant phrase.

As it pertains to 2023, Technomic believes on-premise dining may “bounce back” this year. In fact, the firm suggests that people want to socialize and dine in person now more than ever.

Also, delivery and pickup times appear to be growing. So, plenty of people will see in-person dining as the more appealing option in 2023.


In part due to legislation addressing minimum wage and workplace conditions, employees may have the upper hand this year.

Add the fact that many people seeking work know many operators are dealing with a labor shortage and their negotiating position looks even stronger.

So, we could finally be in for a significant change when it comes to how the industry looks at compensation. More and more workers—and the guests they serve—are taking issue with tipping. Instead, many people outside and inside of the industry want to see operators pay staff a competitive, living wage.

Of course, there are also the hospitality professionals who prefer tips to minimum wage. In 2023, the industry could experience the start of a sea change. Time will tell.

For more predictions and this Technomic report in its entirety, please click here.

Image: Alex Gruber on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

5 Toxic Mindsets that Hinder Success

5 Toxic Mindsets that Hinder the Success of Your Business

by Jennifer Radkey

Your frame of mind matters, and if you want a team and business that’s thriving and growing, it’s time to examine your own mindset.

How you show up day to day in your business and in your life will either hinder or promote your success. Like the popular phrase goes, “It starts from the top.”

You can set the tone for the day with the energy you bring. As Anese Cavanaugh, author of the book Contagious You, states, “Whatever we put out there and whatever we take on affects our ability to influence, lead, and create the impact we want.”

A positive mindset is contagious: it can inspire, motivate, and make others feel good. A toxic mindset is equally as contagious: it can halt growth, increase unhappiness, and lower productivity.

Here’s a list of five toxic thoughts that lead to a negative mindset and can hinder success.

Blame Game

Always looking for someone else to lay the blame on when things go wrong is a surefire way to a toxic team environment. If you’re quick to blame others when things go wrong, perhaps it’s time to take a step back and examine why something went wrong in the first place.

Was there inadequate training provided? Are there no clear systems to follow? Do you have an environment that’s hostile to asking for help? Fault rarely lies in one person only; there are typically several factors in play.

A positive mindset will examine facts, look at all potential causes, and then come up with solutions. Blame never enters the picture.

Second Guessing

Not being confident in the choices you make hinders growth. Uncertainty in your decision making leads others to question or doubt your role as leader.

If you don’t have the utmost confidence in making decisions, and it’s your business, how can you expect your team to have confidence in you or the work that they do?

This doesn’t mean that you have to make snap decisions without thinking them over. Planning and deliberating over the right move to make is critical to success. But once the decision is made…it’s made. If it doesn’t work out you can then problem solve to get back on the right path.

Second guessing your decisions along the entire way is only going to slow you and your business down.


“It’s my way or the highway.” Absolutism is the inability or refusal to consider others’ ideas. This toxic thought process destroys team culture and growth.

As an owner, you’re heavily invested in your business. Therefore, it can be challenging to let go of how you think things should be done and consider different approaches. However, failing to listen to the ideas of others on your team will build walls and possibly create resentment. That’s definitely not a positive atmosphere to work in.

Be open-minded to doing things differently and show interest in the recommendations of others to promote instead of hinder success.


Sometimes when you want to succeed it’s easy to zone in on the negatives: “This isn’t good enough.” “We aren’t making enough money.” “We don’t have enough followers online,” etc.

The desire to do well can make you hyper-focused on what isn’t right in order to fix it, instead of noticing what’s really great and celebrating that instead. Yes, you need to be aware of areas that need improvement, but you also need to be equally aware of the positive and promote it.

Think of a conversation with two random people you meet at a party. The first person grumbles about the weather, complains about the food, music, etc., and scowls. The second person is smiling, laughing at jokes, and genuinely interested in getting to know you.

Who would you rather be around?

Settling for Average

Nothing will kill growth and success faster than settling for the way things are because “that’s the way it’s always been,” or because “it’s working.” You want more than just “it’s working.”

You want to thrive, to make more money, to gain more followers, to hire more team members, to open more locations. If you aren’t living your absolute best life, if your business isn’t performing at its absolute highest level, then there should be no settling.

Settling for average teaches your team to settle for average, and that means your customer is settling for average. Avoid this toxic mindset by continuously setting goals (even small ones) and looking for ways to do better, feel better, and be better.

While it’s completely normal to fall into these toxic thoughts from time to time, it’s refusing to allow them to become you daily mindset that’s important.

The amazing thing about the human mind is that it can be changed—you can work on improving your mindset. Trust me when I say that you will not regret it.

Cheers to professional and personal growth!

Image: Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

by David Klemt David Klemt No Comments

Tipping is on the Ballot in Washington, DC

Tipping is on the Ballot in Washington, DC

by David Klemt

Folded dollar bills

Out of concern that people who work for tips aren’t making minimum wage in Washington, DC, Initiative 82 is on the ballot.

This is interesting for several reasons. One of which is the fact this isn’t the first time this issue has been voted on in DC.

Back in 2018, Initiative 77 was presented to Washington, DC, voters. The initiative took the $3.33 per hour minimum wage for tipped workers up to $15 per hour, the full minimum wage.

In June 2018, the measure was approved by voters. However, the Washington, DC, Council held a vote and repealed Initiative 77 after if had been passed.

Phil Mendelson (D-Chairman) of the Washington, DC, Council, introduced the bill that ultimately repealed Initiative 77 in October 2018.

“The Council amends laws all the time. And if a law is a bad law it should be amended or repealed,” said Mendelson at the time. “It doesn’t matter if the law was adopted by Congress, the voters, or ourselves.”

Further, Mendelson claimed that tipped workers themselves—bartenders, servers, valets, manicurists, and more—didn’t hold a favorable view of the passing of the initiative.

“77 may be well-intentioned, but the very people the Initiative is intended to help are overwhelmingly opposed. If we want to help workers – protect them from harassment and exploitation – there are better ways than Initiative 77,” Mendelson said.

One council member, Mary Cheh (D-Ward 3), opposed repealing Initiative 77 and addressed claims that it was harmful to tipped workers.

“Although I take these claims seriously, in my view they are speculative and not borne out by the experience of the other jurisdictions that have one wage,” said Cheh.


Whenever increasing tipped worker wages to full minimum wage comes up, we tend to encounter the same arguments for and against.

Currently, the tipped hourly wage in DC is $5.35 per hour. In comparison, full minimum wage in DC is $16.10 per hour.

Now, as the law reads, if a tipped worker’s wages don’t equate to full minimum wage, their employer is expected to bridge the gap.

The key argument for the passing of Initiative 82 is simple: tipped workers should make at least minimum wage. These workers deserve the stability of knowing how much they’ll make each shift and earning a living wage (consistently, hopefully).

Those who support Initiative 82 also say that since the measure doesn’t outlaw tipping, tipped workers would earn more than minimum wage.


Opponents, however, argue that the initiative will harm tipped workers. Some say that operators will cut shifts and increase prices in response to Initiative 82 passing. This will, of course, lead to servers, bartenders, and other tipped workers making much less than they did in the past.

Traffic may also decrease because it’s assumed that operators will increase costs significantly.

There’s also the argument that’s often (if not always) made when this topic comes up: Tipped workers themselves don’t support these initiatives.

“I have not met a single server who wants this,” Washington, DC, bar owner David Perruzza told the Washington Blade. Perruzza added, “The people who support this don’t know anything about the service industry.”

A Few Questions…

I’ve made no secret of my cynicism when it comes to politicians and their relationships with our industry.

My main argument was made for me: the Restaurant Revitalization Fund saga. We watched for months as Congress failed to replenish the RRF, leaving more than 177,000 operators and their staffs to fend for themselves. This, after months of dangling replenishment in front of all of us. Ultimately, they abandoned us.

Tellingly, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) referred to RRF replenishment as a “bailout.” And apparently he doesn’t think much of the challenges operators have faced since the start of the pandemic, asking, “Where’s the emergency?” The closures of tens of thousands of restaurants and bars, often the cornerstones of communities across the country, doesn’t rank as an emergency, apparently.

So, Initiative 77, Initiative 82, and similar measures beg a few questions:

  • Do politicians actually ask their tipped-wage constituents their thoughts on this topic before introducing these ballot measures?
  • When these initiatives are being considered, do people just ask a few operator friends their opinions?
  • Do local, state, and federal politicians really have a grasp of our industry?

One thing is certain: Industry eyes across the country are on Initiative 82. If it passes, we can likely expect similar measures to be introduced in cities and states. Should it fail, it may be a while before another jurisdiction sees this type of initiative again.

Image: Annie Spratt on Unsplash