An Expert’s Guide to Navigating the Modern Restaurant Workforce
A manual for hiring, engaging, and retaining a modern restaurant workforce. The tide on labor best practices for restaurateurs has turned drastically over the past five years, from increased compensation and boosted benefits to flexible scheduling and gamified training. A labor shortage sparked by the pandemic led many workers away from foodservice jobs, resulting in restaurant owners finding clever ways to recruit, retain, and engage team members out of necessity. Restaurant leaders quickly realized just how important human capital is to their operations and the cost of underinvesting in their people and company culture—which has ultimately benefited both employees and employers alike as the entire foodservice industry evolves into the future. “When you first get into the restaurant industry and open your first restaurant, you think that your asset is your restaurant, right? That the space, the building, the kitchen, you think that’s the business,” says Brad Parker, CEO of Chicago-based Parker Hospitality, which encompasses The Hampton Social, Bassment, and Nisos, a modern Mediterranean restaurant. “And as you grow, you really start learning … the spaces are the easy part; it’s the people that become the hard part,” he continues. “When you want to focus on human capital, it’s kind of a scary, risky thing for an entrepreneur or business owner, because it doesn’t see the return that physical capital does. Meaning, if I put $100,000 into my restaurant, I can physically see it looks nicer; it’s refreshed. New customers come and say, ‘Ooh, it’s pretty.’ You see that immediately. With human capital, you have to invest this money, and that takes a long time to pay off.” If restaurateurs commit to investing in their people and culture, employees in turn will also commit to the company at a higher rate, and retention rates will increase, he notes. But that commitment can’t only be talk about core values and being a family, or employees will quickly call your bluff.
A Hospitality Manager’s Guide
Sample scenarios provide guidance to handling leave requests. Properly managing leave of absence requests requires an understanding of eligibility, duration and state laws. Without the proper training and understanding, managers may find themselves in difficult situations with employees and vendors that involve such sensitive topics as race, gender and religion, resulting in an increase in the number of lawsuits filed against employers alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation. These claims are among the most costly and time-consuming an employer and law practice may face. Today, it’s imperative to have a Workplace Absence Management (WAM) handbook and ensure that all managers understand the basics of leave administration. The best leave of absence practices balance employee benefits while maintaining legal obligations. By implementing a WAM program, employers can reduce chronic absenteeism and streamline the process for employees who are experiencing out-of-the-ordinary circumstances to take time off. Common reasons for leaves include childbirth, adoption/foster care, military obligation, caring for an ill family member and serious health conditions. In addition to local, state and federal laws, employers can supplement their legal obligations with voluntary leave policies as a recruitment and engagement tool. Absences planned or unplanned are going to occur. Even the best employee will miss work at some point.
People Are Spending Less on Hotels, Flights and Restaurants
Signs of a consumer slowdown could be good news for the Fed, to hold interest rates steady. Business has been so slow at the Corner Bar & Diner that many nights, owner Serena Rice closes her New Underwood, S.D., watering hole at 8 p.m., six hours early. Fewer people are stopping in — and when they do, they’re ordering $3 well whiskeys instead of their usual $5 pours of Crown Royal. Rice has taken pricier items like steak and ahi tuna off the menu. Now she mostly serves frozen foods — mini corn dogs, chicken strips, breaded pickles — that won’t go bad if customers don’t show up. “Everybody that comes to my place is in the same boat: Costs are high and they don’t know how they’re going to get by anymore,” Rice said. “People are broke. It’s cheaper just to stay home.” Across the country, there are signs that Americans are pulling back on restaurant outings, hotel stays and airline tickets, after months of exuberant consumption. Spending on a range of services, including international travel, taxi rides and clothing alterations, fell in April for this first time this year, according to federal data. People are also spending less on public transportation, child care and funerals. An emerging pullback would be welcome news for the Federal Reserve, which has been taking aggressive steps for over a year to slow the economy enough to bring down inflation. Much of that fight has been focused on curbing persistent price growth in services such as travel, transportation and restaurants.
How Metrics Can Transform Your Restaurant’s Performance
Hit a 15–20% profit margin. Have you heard the term KPI? K-P-I stands for key performance indicator, which is a number you measure to measure your success. It’s a target number you use to help you know what’s working and what isn’t. KPIs are also great for setting expectations with your managers and employees. In the world of restaurant systems, you start with your current results in an important area you need to see improvement. Then you implement a system to affect change in that area, then measure again after the system has been used for a set amount of time. If your number has changed in the right direction, then your KPI is trending in the right direction, and everyone can celebrate. You must create a budget. Your budget is your plan for success. Taking the past 12 months and knowing that if you operate the next 12 months the same way, you can see what you’re likely to make or lose. Then you decide what systems to put in place that can help you lower costs and increase revenue, how quickly you can get each system in place, and who to train and hold accountable to your timely goal. Just about every KPI you put in your restaurant is derived from your budget.
Creating Distinct Identities for Three Concepts
Under one roof. Managing one restaurant is challenging enough, but can you imagine hosting three concepts within a 110-year old historic building? Steve Lewis and Chef Chris Thompson share with Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine how they navigate the unique challenges they’ve encountered while operating Meadowlark Hospitality, which houses three original concepts in Chicago: daytime salumeria/cafe Lardon (MICHELIN Bib Gourmand 2022), beer-centric restaurant Union, and new craft cocktail lounge Meadowlark. They operate out of a single kitchen, accessible via a narrow alley-turned-hallway added by the building’s previous owners over 50 years ago, which now acts as the behind-the-scenes gateway to each of the spots. “When cities run out of room, they build up! However, that’s not an option with our historic building – we’ve had to build in and utilize every nook and cranny of our interior,” said Lewis. “For example, while doing early renovation we decided to save the old window wells in the hallway to use as storage for clean glassware.” I always envisioned having more than one concept at the building — each one is like a creative sandbox that we get to play in, and by having more than one, we’re able to be as authentic as we want to each aesthetic. However, it wasn’t until I saw the building that I realized we had the space to do three concepts.
New York City Sets a Minimum Wage of $17.96
For third-party deliverers. New York City has set a minimum wage for the delivery drivers affiliated with apps like Grubhub and DoorDash of $17.96 per hour, a move likely to raise the cost of delivered restaurant meals. The new rate takes effect July 12. The pay floor will continue to climb to at least $19.96 by April 21, 2025, with adjustments made annually in the meantime to reflect changes in the cost of living. Drivers currently earn an average of $7.09 an hour, according to the office of New York Mayor Eric Adams. That amount is below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and less than half the city’s pay floor of $15 an hour. New York City has set a minimum wage for the delivery drivers affiliated with apps like Grubhub and DoorDash of $17.96 per hour, a move likely to raise the cost of delivered restaurant meals. The new rate takes effect July 12. The pay floor will continue to climb to at least $19.96 by April 21, 2025, with adjustments made annually in the meantime to reflect changes in the cost of living. Drivers currently earn an average of $7.09 an hour, according to the office of New York Mayor Eric Adams. That amount is below the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and less than half the city’s pay floor of $15 an hour.
Inflation Continued to Cool in May
But menu prices remain stubbornly high. For the third month in a row, the inflationary gap between grocery/retail and restaurants continued to widen. The Consumer Price Index experienced a 0.1% increase in May, marking its slowest annual rate increase since March 2021. By comparison, the index rose 0.4% in April and has averaged a 4% increase throughout the past 12 months. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics released Tuesday morning, the CPI is now 4% higher versus the prior year, marking a material slowdown from the 9.1% increase registered in June 2022. That said, the 4% inflationary rate is still above the Federal Reserve’s 2% target and more interest rate hikes could be implemented to continue working toward that number. Categorically, the food index rose 0.2 in May, including a 0.1% increase for the food-at-home index, or grocery/retail, and a 0.5% increase for the food-away-from-home index. Restaurant menu prices continue to outpace grocery and retail, as well as the general index; full-service prices increased 0.4% in May and limited-service menu prices increased 0.5%. Year-over-year, food-at-home inflation was up 5.8% in May, while food-away-from-home inflation was up 8.3%, further widening the gap with grocery/retail that began in March. Indeed, March was the first time food-at-home fell since September 2020 and the first time in which food-away-from-home outpaced grocery/retail pricing since late 2021.
Did You Know?
Opening a restaurant: steps to take. Business owners must know the risks and potential pitfalls involved in setting up a new restaurant so their investment is protected. They have to adhere to a set of common guidelines to ensure their business hits the ground running. Conduct Market Research. Market research helps you define your business purpose. It allows entrepreneurs to gauge customer sentiment, demand, and potential competitors’ business models. Carrying out sufficiently detailed market research with relevant data will help you define your niche and the ideal customer.
Training with intention. Early on a sunny Sunday morning, the air is thick with humidity and the servers are reeling from consecutive busy services. As families flood out of a nearby church and line up at the front door for high chairs and hash browns, it becomes clear that the grill cook isn’t showing up and the computers are down (again). As the manager on duty prioritizes each crisis and puts out literal fires in the kitchen while trying to get the POS company on the phone, a chipper newcomer clad in all black strolls in through the back alley to drop a bomb: “I think I’m training with you today?” If you know, you know. Sans preparation and coordination, many new hires (and managers) endure training experiences in the restaurant industry more akin to improvised circus acts than curated brand experiences.
Bielat Santore & Company – Restaurant Industry Alert
“DINER BOB GILLIS” SELLS ANOTHER NEW JERSEY DINER
Bielat Santore & Company sells the Horizon Diner in Manahawkin, NJ and here is the wrap-up of that sale.
If you are looking to buy or sell a NJ Diner call “Diner Bob” Gillis, 732.673.3436.
We invite you to visit our website, where you will find all our current listing inventory, a library of helpful industry resources and a collection of client testimonials expressing their assessments of our work and our service within the restaurant industry.
A voice for our industry. If you find these weekly bulletins informative and beneficial, we kindly ask that you write a brief Google review providing a vote of your appreciation. Simply Google “Bielat Santore & Company” and when the company name appears click the button on the right to write your review or if you don’t use Gmail, go to Google Maps, type “Bielat Santore & Company” – Allenhurst, NJ into Google Maps; scroll down and you will see an option to leave a review.