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    7 Restaurant Equipment Maintenance Tips for Commercial Kitchens

    Written by: J. Vigotsky

     

    Owners spend countless hours researching restaurant equipment before deciding what’s right for their commercial kitchens. When their new equipment arrives, it’s like the kitchen chefs have a shiny new toy to play with. But soon that initial excitement wears off. And that equipment becomes just another tool in the kitchen. If not cared for properly, the unit will start to break down. Instead of ceasing operation completely, it might just become less efficient. The equipment will work harder to compensate, and this can lead to a more expensive electric bill as well as some more serious issues.

    When restaurant equipment stops operating, it often requires repairs that are quite pricy. And if that’s not bad enough, restaurants can also lose significant revenue from the break down. Consider a walk-in freezer full of steaks. If the unit breaks down and the steaks spoil, that restaurant will be fighting an uphill battle to recover those lost profits. A restaurant might even need to close down temporarily until its equipment is back up and running.

    Thankfully, there’s a way to minimize the risk of equipment failure. This post will cover 7 restaurant equipment maintenance tips that will keep your commercial kitchen operating at its full potential.

     

    Commercial Refrigeration Equipment

     

    refrigerator maintenance

     

    Whether you’re maintaining a refrigerator or a freezer, protocol is going to be similar. Here are a couple of maintenance tips that will help you get the most out of your refrigeration equipment:

    Gaskets – Gaskets are the part of a freezer or refrigerator that provide a tight seal when the unit is closed. They help keep cold air inside the unit and prevent it from escaping. If gaskets start to weaken over time, the refrigerator will have to work harder to keep its temperature cold. Regularly inspect your gaskets for splits or cracks and replace them as necessary. You’ll also want to keep your gaskets clean, as dirt and grease can cause problems down the line. It’s common for restaurants to pay services that come in and regularly replace gaskets. But if you want to save some money, you can also change gaskets yourself.

    Coils – Condenser coils are what keep your refrigerator or freezer cold. They do so by taking any hot air inside the unit and blowing it out. This is why it’s often hot right outside a refrigerator’s condenser. If a condenser gets clogged with dust and other debris, your refrigerator will struggle to maintain lower temperatures. This is one of the most common reasons why commercial refrigeration units malfunction and require maintenance. And it’s why you should try to clean your refrigerator’s condenser coils once every 3 months.

     

    Commercial Fryers

     

    commercial fryer maintenance

     

    Cleaning your commercial fryer not only prolongs its lifespan, but it also ensures your fried foods taste better. Furthermore, allowing excessive grease to pile up in your gas floor fryer can result in contaminated fried food. Something you certainly don’t want.

    Daily Cleanings – At the end of each night, wipe down your commercial gas deep fryer’s exterior and clean its baskets of any lingering grease. The best way to do this is by simply running the baskets through your dishwasher. Always make sure that the fryer baskets are completely dry before they’re returned to the tank.

    Boil Outs – To remove the stubborn fat that adheres to your fryer’s tank, you’ll need to execute a complete boil out. Protocol for boil outs vary from unit to unit. So be sure to reference your owner’s manual before performing one.

     

    Commercial Ranges

     

    commercial range maintenance

     

    Similar to fryers, range ovens have different designs and should be maintained according to what’s outlined in the owner’s manual. That said, here are a few cleaning tips that every range owner can follow.

    Burner Maintenance - If grease gathers in the burner of a commercial gas range, it can lead to incomplete combustion. This results in your range functioning less efficiently and an increased risk of a carbon monoxide leak. A lethal gas that’s both scentless and odorless, carbon monoxide is the last thing you want in your kitchen. And that’s why it’s so important to clean your ranges’ burners on a daily basis.

    Clean the Grates – A build-up of stubborn grease will often form on your ranges’ grates. If a simple wipe down does not remove the grease, you’ll have to soak the grates in warm soapy water. And if that doesn’t work, you might have to use something stronger like ammonia and let the grates soak for a few hours. Grates that are left dirty can prematurely age your unit and also present a fire hazard.

    Check Your Exhaust Hoods – If too much grease builds up in the exhaust hood, your kitchen will not ventilate properly. Its air will be thick, and your chefs will be uncomfortable. Even worse, a greasy exhaust hood will lead to an increased risk of a kitchen fire. Depending on the amount of cooking you do, an exhaust hood should be cleaned once every 30-90 days.

     

    Knowledge can be helpful when it comes to restaurant equipment maintenance. But the only thing that really matters is that you’re diligent about taking care of your equipment. It takes hard work to maintain a thriving commercial kitchen. And getting educated is just the first step. Now it’s time to roll your sleeves up and put your knowledge to work!

    5 Things to Know Before Opening a Rooftop Bar

    Written by: J. Vigotsky

     

    Rooftop bars are becoming increasingly popular in big cities. By offering a truly unique dining experience, they give patrons more reason than ever to spend a night on the town. This post will cover 5 things you need to know if you’re thinking about opening a rooftop bar.

     

    Why People Love Them

     

    rooftop bar manhattan

     

    The View

    The first question anyone asks about a rooftop bar is, “How’s the view?” Food, cocktails, and service are important. But they all take a backseat to the all-mighty “view.” Perched high atop cities, rooftop bars offer incredible sight lines of impressive buildings and the bustling pedestrians below. Dinner and a show has long been heralded as a classic night out. Eating and drinking while taking in a brilliant view of the city is just that.

     

    The Fresh Air

    There’s a reason why outdoor eating areas see the most competition for seating. When the weather is nice, nothing complements a delicious meal like some beautiful fresh air. And while sidewalk dining areas in the city are sometimes plagued with the smell of car exhaust, a rooftop bar allows patrons to escape the stench. The air on top of a building is cleaner and more breathable, which leads to a better overall experience.

     

    The Environment

    Even though a rooftop bar might be only a few stories above ground level, it can feel like a different world. For a patron who had a rough day at work and is frustrated with the city, a rooftop bar can help him see things from a different view—both literally and figuratively.

     

    Climate is Key

     

    rooftop bar miami

     

    If you’re thinking of opening a rooftop bar in a colder part of the country, keep in mind it will likely be closed for half the year. A few outdoor heaters can make the cold weather more bearable in the fall and spring. But nobody wants to relax outside in sub-freezing temperatures. During times like those, it won’t matter how spectacular your view is. Your rooftop bar will not be on anyone’s to-do list. On the flipside, places in warmer parts of the country are perfect for year-round business.

     

    Design Plan

     

    rooftop bar waterfront

     

    If you decide to take on the task of opening a rooftop bar, you’ll need to determine whether it will also serve food or just beverages. If you opt to serve food, you’ll need to designate more space for tables and seating. But if your rooftop is drinks only, you’ll have more room for other things. Cozy couches are a popular choice. And you might even have enough space for a dance floor. Club-like rooftop bars can be tricky though, as you’ll likely need to monitor your music’s volume closely.

     

    Consider Your Clientele

     

    rooftop bar clientele

     

    Every bar and restaurant has a different set of regular customers. Keep these people in mind when designing your rooftop bar. For instance, you won’t want to open a club-like rooftop area if the majority of your patrons are older. And if your customers like to order food with their drinks, you’ll want to offer food in addition to drinks on your rooftop area.

     

    Get the Right Permits

     

    rooftop bar construction

     

    As you might expect, there’s plenty of red tape when it comes to opening a rooftop bar. If you’re leasing space, you’ll need to speak to your landlord about doing construction. And when the rooftop bar is completed, your lease will likely need to be re-negotiated. Elevators, gas hook-ups, and restaurant equipment are just a few things you’ll need to account for when altering space of the roof. Many of these require permits and can take a long time until they’re completed. So plan accordingly.

     

    Like any restaurant endeavor, opening a rooftop bar comes with its fair share of risk. But if you do your research, know your customers, and collaborate with the right construction company, your rooftop bar has a good chance of being the talk of the town.

    What is a Coney Dog?

    Written by: J. Vigotsky

     

    Each year, thousands of spectators flock to Brooklyn on July 4th to witness the Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating contest. But despite the contest’s location in the heart of Coney Island, none of the eaters will be consuming actual Coney Dogs. If you’re now asking yourself, “What is a Coney Dog,” then keep reading. This post will answer just that.

     

    Coney Dog Ingredients

     

    coney dog ingredients

     

    The foundation for a Coney Dog is made with a hot dog or sausage that's been grilled or boiled. But aside from that, there is no one recipe. Some Coney Dogs are topped with chili or ground beef. Others feature mustard and onions.  And some have all three! Sauces are also often used to give the dish a little extra kick. Since different regions of the country have their own preferences, the ingredients used in each Coney Dog largely depend on where you’re located.  

     

    Coney Dog Origin

     

    coney island early 1900s

     

    The term “hot dog” was often misinterpreted in the early 1900s. To many immigrants who spoke little English, a dog was a furry friend with four legs. So when a piece of meat was advertised as “dog,” people raised a few eyebrows. As a result, the Coney Island Chamber of Commerce outlawed the term “hot dog.” Vendors adjusted, and the food item soon became known as a “Coney Island.” The modern day Coney Dog is a variation of that. Greeks and Macedonians who passed through Coney Island upon immigrating are credited with taking the classic “Coney Island Hot Dog” and making it the “Coney Dog” people know and love.

     

    Where are Coney Dogs Most Popular?

     

    detroit michigan

     

    Today, Coney Dogs are most popular in the South and Midwest United States. States like Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Texas all put their own unique spin on the dish. Ingredients used even vary by each city within a given state.

    Take Michigan for example. Ground zero for Coney Dog lovers, the state generally uses Vienna-style sausages rather than hot dogs. Despite that, there is still plenty of variation in how Coney Dogs are prepared and served.

    • Detroit – The biggest metropolitan area in the state is known for serving bean-less chili sauce atop its Coney Dogs.
    • Flint – Coney Dogs in Flint are topped with finely-ground beef heart. Trimmed from the muscles of the heart wall, beef heart is considered a muscle but still has blood vessels in it. So if that’s not your thing, you might want to opt for another city’s Coney Dog.
    • Kalamazoo – These Coney Dogs are made with a topping derived from a local product called Koegel’s Skinless Frankfurter.
    • Jackson – Despite Michigan’s reputation for using Vienna sausages, Jackson’s Coney Dogs are made with traditional hot dogs. Along with onions, spices, and mustard, these Coney Dogs are also topped with ground beef or ground beef heart sauce that’s especially hearty.

     

    If you’re ready to take the leap and try a Coney Dog, be sure to do some research first. Since different restaurants have their own way of making the dish, you’ll want to scout them out beforehand. See which Coney Dog is best for your specific taste and then have at it.

    Hack Your Expenses! 13 Ways to Cut Restaurant Costs ASAP

    It’s tough out there for restaurant owners! Labor and food costs are on the rise, and competition for customers is fierce. The next time you’re feeling the squeeze on your bottom line, just try these 13 penny-pinching moves. From a “secret” employment tax credit to tactics for trimming food waste, get ready to cut restaurant costs…right now. 

     

    Tackle Food Waste: The Top Way to Cut Restaurant Costs

     

    cut restaurant costs

     

    If you’re like most restaurants, you throw away between 25,000 and 75,000 pounds of food each year. That’s a lot of money going down the drain – and into the garbage. Here’s how to cut restaurant costs related to food waste:

     

    1) Rethink Waste: Are those overripe tomatoes really unusable? Or, could you turn them into a gazpacho soup or house-made bloody Mary? Stale bread gets a second life as croutons, bread pudding, or a soup thickener.

     

    2) Portion Control: Do some detective work to cut restaurant costs. Spend an hour in the kitchen tonight during the dinner rush. Are plates coming in still loaded with food? Your portions are too big! Cut restaurant costs by reducing portions, and then keep them consistent. Instead of eyeballing portions, staff should use portion control scales.  

     

    3) FIFO for the Win: Expired or spoiled ingredients often make up the bulk of a restaurant’s food waste. That’s where FIFO comes in – and it’s one of the easiest methods to cut restaurant costs. FIFO stands for “first in, first out.” That means the oldest ingredients should be kept in the front of storage areas so they’re used first. When new inventory arrives, clearly label it with an expiration date to simplify the FIFO process.

     

    Look for Labor Savings

     

    cut costs

     

    Here’s another staggering statistic…the average annual cost of restaurant employee turnover is $146,600.To cut restaurant costs, get staff smart using these strategies:

     

    4) Get Turnover Under Control: The restaurant biz is notorious for a high turnover rate of 70%, according to a 2017 report by the National Restaurant Association. So, what can you do to keep your star employees happy? Try implementing some of these 13 creative ways to reward restaurant staff (and cut restaurant costs along the way). Simple ways to show your team some love include “employee of the month” programs and small gift cards for meeting goals.

     

    5) The “Secret” WOTC Tax Credit: In 2015, the U.S. government launched the Work Opportunity Tax Credit (WOTC) to incentivize businesses to hire certain individuals like U.S. veterans, residents in lower income areas, and even SNAP recipients. The WOTC program is an awesome way to cut restaurant costs related to labor – and help out folks in your community. Bonus: If you’ve hired employees that fall into the WOTC guidelines, you may even qualify for a retroactive tax credit. Talk with your accountant ASAP!

     

    Give Yourself a Marketing Makeover

     

    restaurant marketing strategy

     

    Maybe your social media campaign is getting tons of “likes” but it’s not moving the needle on your bottom line. Or, you offer online coupons but no one is redeeming them. To cut restaurant costs – and boost marketing ROI – consider swapping in these low- and no-cost tactics:

     

    6) Find an Influencer: Influencer marketing is a smart way to cut restaurant costs on social media. Essentially, you pay a person or another business with a big social media following to talk up your restaurant. Look for influencers with followers who are similar to the customer you’d like to reach. Do you run a sports bar? See if there is a local sports blogger who could write a blog about your bar. To find the influencers near you, use www.BuzzSumo.com. Influencers often charge between $25-$75 per thousand followers for a mention.

     

    7) Get Eventful: Live events give guests a reason to come in, making them one of the most powerful marketing strategies. But why pay a cover band big bucks, when you could host a live event yourself? If you’re serious about ways to cut restaurant costs, try these events (they’re more fun than a live band anyways!):

    Live trivia night is trending nationwide, but trivia hosts can be very expensive. It’s time to cut restaurant costs again! Join thousands of restaurants and bars that run trivia night themselves using a digital trivia platform like Buzztime. Buzztime gives you everything you need to run live trivia: up-to-date questions, all the answers, tablets for automated scoring, plus training and marketing support.

    On top of running trivia night, your staff can host other live events. What about a weekly Mixology 101 course led by your best bartender or a cooking class workshop with your chef?

    Another popular way to cut restaurant costs but still offer up awesome entertainment is with a Plant or Paint Nite workshop. Guests pay the workshop host directly, who then provides supplies and step-by-step instructions for potting a terrarium or painting a masterpiece. There’s no cost to you.

     

    8) Think Cooperatively: Want to cut restaurant costs involving marketing even further? Take a collaborative approach. Make a list of 10 local businesses that cater to the same audience as you. If you run a trendy bistro, maybe there’s a nearby clothing shop or yoga studio? Reach out to these businesses and ask if you can set out menus or flyers in their business. In exchange, you’ll do the same for them! You could also promote each other on Facebook.

     

    Smarten Up Your Sourcing 

     

    farm to table

     

    Hopefully, you’ve already talked to your food and liquor distributors, asking for their help as you cut restaurant costs! For example, ask your liquor distributor if they know of any wine or spirits brands offering promotional pricing. Some brands will also send in a rep to run a tasting or event (for free). To cut restaurant costs, it’s also a good idea to diversify your sources. There’s no need to ditch your primary distributor, but you may be able to get better prices using these tips…

     

    9) Focus on Local Farms

    The farm-to-table trend is only getting more popular with customers. And that’s good news if you’re trying to cut restaurant costs. Local, in-season produce is often cheaper than what your distributor can provide. Why? Because you’re not paying to have it shipped in from across the country. Use these 11 best resources for sourcing local food.  

     

    10) GIY (Grow It Yourself)

    As you seek out ways to cut restaurant costs, look to your own backyard…or rooftop. “Hyper” local sourcing is also a major trend cropping up at restaurants. From rooftops filled with potted herbs above NYC eateries to vegetable gardens behind suburban pubs, savvy restaurateurs are reducing costs by growing ingredients themselves. Plus, if you grow it yourself, you can justify a higher markup on the menu…after all, it’s homegrown and harvested by hand!

     

    Get Energy Efficient  

     

    energy efficient

     

    Going green is still a buzzworthy concept for customers – and it’s also an excellent way to cut restaurant costs. Here’s how to do it!

     

    11) Beware of Vampires: These are energy-sucking appliances that can ruin your efforts to cut restaurants costs. You may have turned a machine or appliance off, but it’s still guzzling energy on standby. To cut restaurant costs, cut off the power supply when the appliance is not in use. Common vampires include TVs, ranges and ovens, POS devices, and audio equipment.

     

    12) Become an Energy Star: Federal, state, and local government are all on a mission to help you reduce energy consumption (which will cut restaurant costs). You may qualify for some pretty big grants, rebates, and tax incentives just for upgrading to an Energy Star or energy-efficient appliance.

     

    13) Lighten Up: Still using those incandescent bulbs? They may be cheap but only last for 1,000 to 2,000 hours. Compare that to 60-watt LED bulbs which last up to 25,000 hours – and don’t cost much more. As you look to cut restaurant costs, you could also try CFLs (compact fluorescent lights) which last for 5,000 hours and use a quarter of the power of incandescent bulbs.

     

    Now that you have 13 ways to cut restaurant costs, the next step is putting a plan in place. It’s alright to start small. In fact, little cost-cutting measures can add up to a major boost in your bottom line!

    3 Ways Your Bar or Restaurant Can Increase Customer Loyalty

    One of the best ways to ensure long-term success in the foodservice industry is by fostering customer loyalty. According to Bain & Company research, a 5% increase in customer retention can lead to a 25-95% increase in profits. So while most diners come and go, earning repeat visits from a select group of customers should be a big point of emphasis. This post will explore 3 things bars and restaurants can do to increase customer loyalty.

     

    Rewards Programs

     

    rewards programs

     

    Customers love to feel appreciated. So what better way to express your gratitude than by offering a rewards program? Also known as loyalty programs, these promotions originated as cards that were punched or stamped with each visit. But since the advent of social media, many restaurants are updating the programs so they fit seamlessly into the digital world. Today, computer-based platforms make it simple to track the amount of money customers spend at your restaurant. When the time comes to reward customers for reaching a certain plateau, giving customers 10-15% of the money they’ve spent at your establishment is standard.

    When rewarding customers for their loyalty, try to keep things simple. If you’re offering a free meal or drink, don’t include stipulations that can lead to confusion and possibly resentment from customers. For example, some restaurants might only offer the reward of a free meal during weekdays. If a customer doesn’t read the fine print and arrives on a Saturday night to redeem his free dinner, he’s not going to take the news well. It might prevent him from returning to your restaurant in the future.  

    If you still have reservations regarding a rewards program, consider this 2017 report from Bond Brand Loyalty. According to the report, 81% of customers said they were more likely to do business with a brand that had a loyalty program. Perhaps even more amazing, 73% were more likely to recommended brands that offered good loyalty programs. So not only does a rewards program help ensure customers will keep coming back, but it also increases the likelihood they’ll recommend your restaurant to a friend or family member.

     

    Online Engagement

     

    online engagement

     

    Email, texting, and social media make it easier than ever to keep in touch with customers. Whether you want to offer exclusive discount coupons, announce an event your restaurant is hosting, or just send holiday well wishes, the online medium lets you do so with the click of a mouse.

    Since customers use different types of social media, try to maintain accounts on a variety of platforms. Post often, as a simple picture Instagram can be enough to convince a customer to dine at your restaurant that night. Also keep in mind that some customers might get overwhelmed by constant notifications—especially when it comes to text and email. So don’t overdo it. And leave an opt-out feature that makes it simple for customers to get off your mailing list.

    Your staff should be diligent about reminding diners of your online presence. They should be able to tell customers about the advantages of signing up and even offer to sign them up on the spot if they’re so inclined.

    If someone complains about your restaurant through one of your social media channels, do not simply ignore them. Engage with them, if only to apologize for the experience and assure them it was not the norm. Better yet, offer a free drink or dessert to remedy the situation.

     

    Value Your Customers’ Opinions

     

    value customer opinion

     

    A small but simple way to show patrons you care about them is by asking for feedback. Restaurants can always improve on something, and often customers can see the blind spots that you can’t. Granted, not all customer suggestions will be brilliant. But they should be respected nonetheless. And as the owner/operator of the restaurant, it’s your job to decide whether their feedback is worth integrating or is better left as an idea.

     

    There’s no hard and fast way to ensure customer loyalty. If it were that easy, no restaurant would ever go out of business. The 3 recommendations listed are pretty common throughout the industry. So it falls on you to put your own unique spin on them. By differentiating yourself from competing bars and restaurants, you’ll already be ahead of the game.

    5 Things to Know About Millennial Dining Habits

    Written by: J. Vigotsky

     

    In 2019, millennials will be between the ages of 23-38. So while we think of the generation as being young, the fact is millennials are becoming an important demographic for bars and restaurants. So if you’re located in an area that’s popular among young adults, you should be doing all you can to win them over. Here are 5 things to keep in mind when it comes to Millennial dining habits.  

     

    Customization is Key

     

    customization is key

     

    There’s a reason why Chipotle and Pieology have been so successful. It’s because they allow customers to customize their orders. It doesn’t matter how experimental you want your pizza or burrito to be. These restaurants are happily willing to oblige. And that’s something millennial diners appreciate. Offering custom meals might not be easy for all restaurants. So if you can’t offer complete customization, at least give diners a bit more control of their side dishes. Refrain from adding an extra charge to their check, and you might just have their loyalty for life.  

     

    Healthy Eating is Important

     

    healthy eating

     

    Millennials love natural, organic, and locally-sourced food. If it’s farmed sustainably, even better. Compared to other generations, Millennials are far more likely to adopt plant-based diets. Meat, dairy, and eggs are no longer the diet staples they once were. So what does this mean for restaurants? The most obvious takeaway is restaurants should feature several vegetable-based dishes on their menus. Preferably locally-sourced. Offering a standard salad of greens might’ve been enough ten years ago, but now is a different story.

     

    Good Wi-Fi is a Must

     

    good wifi

     

    A 2018 study, 39% of Americans between the ages of 18-29 report being online almost constantly. Needless to stay, staying connected is extremely important for Millennials. If your bar or restaurant doesn’t provide quality Wi-Fi, you’ll likely rub some of these customers the wrong way. The solution is to ensure customers can always stay connected. Offer free, quality Wi-Fi, and Millennials won’t feel a pressing need to avoid your restaurant. They might even tag you on Instagram.

     

    They Crave New Experiences

     

    new experience

     

    Known as open-minded and curious by nature, Millennials love to try new things. So when they go out to eat, they’re not likely to order the same dish over and over. Instead, they’ll branch out and try anything that catches their interest. A good way to appeal to this curious nature is by offering sampling platters and drinks. Even better, rotate your restaurant’s offerings based on the season. And since Millenials prefer fresher food, a rotating menu kills two birds with one stone.

     

    Dining Should be Social  

     

    social dining

     

    The Millennials’ obsession with social media is well documented. That’s why it might come as a surprise that the age group appreciates a communal dining experience. Instead of sitting in booths and at small tables, they often prefer seating at long tables where they can sit with friends and strangers alike. These tables encourage a friendlier atmosphere and help turn the meal into more of a social experience.

     

    If you’re considering making changes to your bar or restaurant in hopes of attracting Millennials, be aware that there is a downside. A few years ago Applebees overhauled its menu in an attempt to satisfy the younger demographic. They started offering modern dishes that were trendier than the standard fair. Unfortunately for Applebees, Millennials didn’t take to it. And even worse, the changes alienated a large portion of the restaurant’s regular diners. So if you’re going to update your bar or restaurant for the sake of Millennials, make sure there are plenty around who will appreciate it. And think about whether your regular customers will be put off by the changes.

    5 Awesome Post Ideas for Your Restaurant’s Instagram

    Written by: J. Vigotsky

     

    Engaging with customers through social media is becoming increasingly important for bars and restaurants. Not only is the practice free, but in many cases it’s just as effective as paid marketing. If your bar or restaurant isn’t already posting on Instagram, then it’s time to start. This post highlights 5 ways you can use your restaurant’s Instagram to win over customers.

     

    Food Pics

     

    instagram food pics

     

    Amazingly, research shows that people aged 18-35 spend an average of five days per year looking at pictures of food on Instagram. So what better way to represent your restaurant than by posting pictures of its most delicious meals? While it might be easy to just snap a picture and post it online, you’re better off putting tender love and care into each photo you share. First consider what meals are most photogenic. A rack of glazed ribs certainly looks more appetizing than a bowl of white rice. Next, make sure your lighting is perfect. Use a reflector if you have to. Better yet, opt for natural lighting. If you or someone in your restaurant is savvy with editing, play around with different settings to help your pictures look good as possible.

     

    Outdoor Eating Areas

     

    outdoor eating areas

     

    Especially during the warmer months, people love to eat outside. If your bar or restaurant have an outdoor eating area, there’s no shame in showing it off through Instagram. Pick a beautiful, sunny day and snap a photo of it. If there are already people dining there, make sure they’re okay with you taking a picture. To make your outdoor eating patio most appealing to customers, take your picture during the golden hour. This is the time before sunset or after sunrise when the sun’s light is softer and better for photography. Since your bar or restaurant likely isn’t open during sunrise, your best bet is to snap that photo a little before sunset.


    Unveil New Menu Items and Special Deals

     

    food and drink specials

     

    Before social media was around, making customers aware of new menu offerings could be very difficult. Word of mouth could get to them or you could advertise in the local paper. But now sites like Instagram make it easier than ever to make announcements. If you’re unveiling a new food offering or a drink special, simply make an Instagram post about it. You can even hint that something will be announced in the near future to keep your customers waiting anxiously. After all, a little showmanship isn’t the worst thing.

     

    Behind-The-Scenes Photos

     

    chef preparing food

     

    Consider giving customers a glimpse behind the curtain by posting pictures of your staff in action. Maybe your chefs want to demonstrate how they prepare a restaurant specialty. Or your bartender wants to show off the liquor offerings of his bar. It’s easy to think of a restaurant as just a place to get food. But pictures like these remind customers of the people who make your bar or restaurant what it is.

     

    Re-Share Your Customers’ Content

     

    instagram reshare

     

    Sometimes customers will have already taken pictures at your restaurant and shared them. To see what’s out there, simply look up your location on Instagram or search to see if your restaurant has been hashtagged. If you come across a picture that you’d like to repost, contact the original poster and make sure it’s okay if you re-share the picture from your account. The last thing you want is to repost the photo without permission and find out the customer didn’t appreciate it. If you want to reward customers for letting you use their photos, consider offering a free drink or dessert.

     

    The ideas listed in this article only scratch the surface of what can be done with your restaurant’s Instagram account. Keep in mind that as we move further into the social media generation, marketing strategies will continue to evolve. For bars and restaurants that are looking to stay ahead of the curve, maintaining a strong online presence can help in a big way.

    What are Michelin Stars? And How Do You Get Them…

    Written by: J. Vigotsky

     

     

    Deciding where to eat isn’t always. Especially when dining with a large group, it’s common for people to prefer different restaurants. Maybe one person heard good things about a restaurant, but someone else heard a horror story. Luckily, there’s a sure-fire way to pick a place with great food: Michelin Stars. Reserved for only the best restaurants Michelin Stars have been used since 1926. This post will answer the question, “What are Michelin Stars,” and explore what you need to do to get them.

     

    The First Michelin Stars

    The Michelin Guide was first published in 1900 to help drivers in France locate mechanics, restaurants, and other roadside amenities. To help readers decide where to eat, the Michelin Guide began rating restaurants in 1926. They initially assigned single stars to recommended restaurants. But by 1933, the guide’s rating system expanded to include 2- and 3-star restaurants. As per the guide:

    -One-star restaurants are “very good”

    -Two-star restaurants feature “excellent cooking that is worth a detour”

    -Three-star restaurants have “exceptional cuisine that is worth a special journey”

     

    Why do Michelin Stars Matter?

    Although websites like Yelp and Tripadvisor are the first place most people look for restaurant reviews, Michelin Stars remain the gold standard. The rating system is based on food and food alone. Quality of the ingredients, combination of flavors, creativity, consistency, and value are all taken into account. Other variables like the restaurant’s ambiance, décor, and service are rated via fork-and-spoon symbols.

     

    How are Michelin Stars Given?

    michelin stars

    There are 80 full-time Michelin inspectors who each evaluate 240 restaurants per year. Eating anonymously, the inspectors don’t notify the chef or staff that their food is being evaluated. This ensures that the inspector is treated like any other customer. If the inspector is unsure of what rating the restaurant deserves, a second inspector is sent on behalf of Michelin for a second opinion. If a restaurant is assigned Michelin Stars, inspectors are sent on follow-up visits to ensure the restaurant is still serving Michelin-worthy meals.

     

    How to Get Michelin Stars

    If you want your restaurant to be assigned a Michelin Star or three, know it won’t be easy. If your restaurant’s city isn’t located on the Michelin map, then you don’t have much of a chance. For restaurants in areas on the map, the next step is getting rave reviews from respected local publications. Michelin needs to know you exist somehow, and this is the best way to get their attention. If someone from Michelin sees the review and is interested in your restaurant, an inspector will be assigned to test it out. But you’ll never know when he’s coming, so it’s on you and your staff to churn out delicious meals every day. If the inspector dines on a day when your restaurant doesn’t bring its A-game, you’re not likely to receive any stars.

     

    What Michelin Stars Mean for Business

    Michelin Stars mean more than just respect for restaurants. According to chefs in New York and San Francisco, getting a Michelin Star can lead to a 10%-25% increase in revenue. Local diners will want to what the big deal is, so they will likely flock to your restaurant.

     

    A lot of luck is involved when it comes to getting Michelin Stars. While it would certainly be nice for your restaurant to be listed in the guide, it’s not worth worrying about. All you can do is provide delicious food to your customers. Let the rest take care of itself.

     

    michelin man

    How to Throw a New Year’s Eve Party – For Bars and Restaurants

    Written by: J. Vigotsky

     

    new year's eve party - bar

     

    New Year’s Eve is the second-busiest bar night of the year. So with December 31st right around the corner, bars and restaurants should be gearing up for what can be a very profitable night. But planning a New Year’s Eve party is different from celebrating other popular holidays. This post will explore why that is and also share a few helpful tips for how to throw a New Year’s Eve Party.

     

    Make Your Party an Event

    While popular bar nights like St. Patrick’s Day and Thanksgiving Eve are marked by bar hopping, New Year’s Eve is generally enjoyed in a single venue. The whole day and night lead up to a singular moment when the ball drops. As a result, people prefer to just stay in one place while waiting. It’s in your best interest to provide food, drinks, and whatever entertainment people might need. That might be music, comedy, games, or something else entirely. If you know your customer base well, you should be aware of what entertainment they’d enjoy on New Year’s Eve.

     

    Have Plenty of Champagne

    Even if you don’t usually stock your bar with champagne, it’s important to make an exception for New Year’s Eve. People have been ringing in the New Year with champagne since the 1800s. When the clock strikes midnight, they expect to make a toast to the New Year. So it’s on you to help make sure they can.

     

    Get the Word Out

    restaurant and bar marketing

    Perhaps the most important part of throwing a New Year’s Eve party is ensuring people know about it. Starting time, ending time, dress code, and what’s included with the entry fee are all important to note. Will your party be an open bar? Maybe just one free drink ticket and a buffet is included? These are all things to consider when planning your party and getting the word out.  

     

    Safe Rides Home

    Even in a world where Uber and Lyft have done their best to keep rides affordable, New Year’s Eve traffic can lead to surge pricing. Consider hiring driver(s) for the night who can help customers get home safely without breaking the bank. This will result in goodwill from customers and improve the chances that they return to your bar or restaurant in the future.  

     

    New Year Discounts

    Once the ball drops and the calendar turns to a new year, it’s common for customers to head home. If you want to keep them around, offer special drink discounts in honor of the New Year. Another idea is to hold a 50/50 raffle whose drawing takes place at 12:30 or 1:00 AM.

     

    All Hands on Deck

    bar staff for new year's eve

    If you’re expecting a large crowd of people, be sure to have enough staff members so that every patron can be accommodated. New Year’s Eve is a long night that can get quite hectic, so you want to be prepared for anything. If you’re unsure of how many staff members should be working, keep in mind that it’s better to have one too many workers than one too few.

     

    Above all, remember that patrons want to have fun. So despite the heightened stress of the night, it’s important for you and your staff to maintain a positive environment. Always smile and do whatever you need to ensure customers are enjoying themselves.  

    How to Get a Liquor License

    Written by: J. Vigotsky

     

    bar drinks

     

    Despite the taxes that accompany it, liquor is extremely profitable. So it’s no wonder why there are so many bars and pubs scattered throughout the world. And although not all restaurants offer alcohol, there’s no shortage of those that do. But before any establishment can sell liquor, it needs to get a liquor license. This post covers the different types of liquor licenses and explains how to attain one.  

     

    Each State is Different

    States all have their own rules and regulations regarding the sale of alcohol. For instance, some states limit the amount of places that can sell liquor. To better understand your own state’s laws, get in touch with your local Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) agency.  

     

    Different Types of Liquor Licenses

    Most states offer three different kinds of liquor licenses.

    -A tavern license is for businesses that make most of their revenue by selling alcohol. Bars, pubs, and clubs fall into this category.

    -A beer and wine license is for establishments that sell beer and wine but not liquor. It is usually reserved for locales that want to complement their food offerings.

    -A restaurant license allows any alcohol to be sold but limits the revenue you can make from the sale of alcohol. The limit is usually a revenue percentage rather than a gross amount. So the more money you bring in from food and other sources, the more you’ll be able to earn from alcohol.

     

    On-License or Off-License

    beer and liquor store

    An on-license is required if you’re serving alcohol that’s consumed on your premises. Restaurants, bars, and pubs fall under this category.

    Off-licenses are for places selling alcohol that will be consumed away from the establishment. So liquor stores, convenience stores, and supermarkets fall under this category. Micropubs that offer growlers and cans that can be taken home will require off-licenses in addition to a standard on-licenses.

     

    Applying For a Liquor License

    Once you know what type of license you need and understand your local laws, applying for a liquor license is easy. Simply get the proper forms from your local ABC agency, complete them, and submit them for review. Personal information along with your food menu, restaurant drawings, and other relevant information are usually required by the agency. Since the time to review the application often exceeds a month, be sure to submit your forms early.

    If your surrounding area has already met its local liquor license quota, you likely will not be able to get a license from the government. However, you can still buy a license from another local business. Just be aware that buying a license this way will likely cost significantly more. 

     

    Once You've Secured Your License

    Be sure to come back and browse our website for all the glasswarebartending supplies , and bar refrigeration you'll ever need.

     

    how to get a liquor license