NJ Restaurant Association Customer Survey
Update on the fight to replenish the RRF. Today, we are releasing a new customer survey of restaurant dining behavior in light of the Delta variant of COVID-19. The results are troubling; a significant number of customers have stopped using restaurants altogether, and a growing number are only using outdoor dining or take-out/delivery. Our industry is already under financial strains, rising labor costs, workforce shortages, increased food and supply prices, capacity restrictions and mounting debt. This challenge is particularly tough on the 177,000 restaurants still awaiting grants from the depleted Restaurant Revitalization Fund (RRF). The positive growth many restaurants have had in recent months is in danger of being wiped away. We are using this data in a new letter to Congressional leaders renewing our ask to replenish the RRF. There are a number of legislative vehicles to complete the mission and provide real restaurant relief. It’s time for Congress to find a path and get the job done. This task could take weeks – possibly months, so we need to be focused and vocal now.
Restaurant Owners Sue New York City
Hoping to block its ‘ridiculous’ vaccine mandate. The lawsuit argues that city officials are unfairly singling out restaurants, gyms and other businesses with overly rigid restrictions. A group of small businesses is suing New York City, hoping to stop the city’s first-in-the-nation vaccine mandate for restaurants, gyms and other indoor public venues. The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday in Richmond County Supreme Court, has the support of prominent Republican elected officials, including Representative Nicole Malliotakis and Joe Borelli, a City Council member; both represent Staten Island. The city is requiring patrons and employees of restaurants and certain other businesses to show proof of vaccination. The plaintiffs say the city is unfairly targeting businesses that are struggling during the pandemic, and that there should be exemptions for people with certain medical conditions or religious beliefs.
No Vax, No Service
How vaccine enforcement is impacting restaurants. Restaurateurs were a bit uneasy about having to determine whether their customers had been vaccinated against COVID-19, but now more are wishing all cities would take a page from places like New York, New Orleans and San Francisco, which issued vaccine mandates for people who want to dine in, as the Delta variant wreaks havoc around much of the country. That makes restaurants the new COVID enforcers, but they already were enforcing drinking-age measures. The National Restaurant Association offers a training module to help restaurant employees handle situations where customers refuse to wear masks. “Checking someone’s vaccination status doesn’t have to be any different than checking for ID. What is missing is an easy and reliable way to authenticate what a person might show when they are asked for it. The paper card we are given in the U.S. is virtually useless because it can be easily counterfeited,” Bob Vergidis, founder and chief visionary officer at pointofsale.cloud, told The Food Institute.
Full-Service Restaurant Tickets Up 20%
Report shows. Despite the rise of coronavirus cases related to the delta variant and an increase in safety regulations, diners continued to go out last quarter, especially for special occasions. Mentions of celebrating these events were up three times compared to two years ago, with fine dining capturing the highest percentage of mentions related to special occasions. Full-service restaurant tickets increased nearly 20% during Q2 2021 on a two-year basis due to fewer small orders and higher menu prices related to cost inflation, according to Black Box Intelligence data released on Wednesday. The number of transactions of $70 or higher surpassed what it was two years ago, while orders under $30 are down by almost 40% as of the second quarter. As demand for dining out has increased since the start of the year, so have large party orders, which are up 32% quarter over quarter. Diners going out for special occasions such as birthdays, holidays and anniversaries are also up, according to Black Box Intelligence.
Restaurant Power Outages
How to prepare and recover. Power outages are never fun, and in a restaurant or foodservice operation it can be especially problematic. According to Atmospheric and Environmental Research, power outages costs US businesses over $70 billion per year. The costs come from damages, food waste, loss of customers, loss of operational hours, and cleaning. Establishments may lose power for any variety of reasons. Sometimes it may be as simple as a blown fuse. It may be wildfires or storms, blizzards, hurricanes, tornados that can knock down power lines and cause outages. During the summer, there may be blackouts due to heat and the overworking power grid. We never know when a power outage can happen, so it’s important to plan ahead. There are some major food safety concerns during restaurant power outages. Refrigeration will not work, cooking and hot holding may not be possible, machine dishwashers will not function, and there will likely be no hot water (if there’s water at all). Being prepared for any type of emergency will help limit the chaos, risks, and damages. To minimize the costs and disruption at your establishment, follow these tips to help you prepare, take action, and recover.
Restaurants Brace for Delta Surge
Survival tactics yet again. Restaurants are beginning to battle headwinds from the Delta variant. While the industry extended its streak of positive sales growth to 21 weeks, according to Black Box Intelligence, sales and traffic trends softened for the fourth straight period (week ending August 8). In addition, off-premises numbers bumped compared to the previous week. While that might sound like a nice spin, it mirrors COVID-19’s most disruptive trend line—dine-in sales sliding in favor of business taking place outside the four walls of restaurants. Proof, Black Box said, “that consumers are reacting to the rapid rise in U.S. COVID cases driven by the Delta variant.” Just this week, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced Americans who received the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, regardless of age, would need booster shots eight months after getting their second jab. This process could begin nationwide as early as September 20, pending FDA approval. People who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will also likely require a booster.
The Next Wave of Restaurant Innovation
Must take place in the kitchen. For more than two decades, the restaurant sector has been on an incredible run of innovation, the likes of which the industry has never seen. The modern restaurant operation bares almost no resemblance to the institutions of the past, and the list of innovations and transformations now in the hands of restaurant management runs long and wide. Some of these innovations are institutional. New categories like fast casual have emerged. Restaurant menus have embraced new cuisines, both international and experimental. The farm-to-table movement has influenced new standards in menu transparency. Advancements in technology have also played a dramatic role, specifically in ordering technology and how consumers receive their food. The tech landscape in restaurants now boasts multiple devices to receive online orders, host stations displays, bright large touch-screen menus, and even electronic ordering stations that entice diners with delicious imagery and a plethora of “would you like fries with that” options. The latest offerings promise to recognize a consumer from their license plate and have their favorites ready even before they pull up to order.
Playa Bowls Scores Investment Funding
To fuel its growth. Fast-growing fast-casual chain Playa Bowls on Monday announced a “strategic investment” from two private investment firms. The undisclosed cash infusion came from private equity fund Tamarix Equity Partners and Pacific General Holdings, a private investment firm. “Their operating skills and financial acumen will help Playa Bowls execute our existing growth plan and attract more franchisees over the coming years,” CEO Rob Guiliani said in a statement. Playa Bowls started six years ago as a sidewalk stand on the Jersey shore. Now a 126-unit chain, its menu features health-focused meals in bowls, including acai, coconut, pitaya, kale and banana. The bowls are topped with fruits, nuts and seeds. The chain also sells smoothies, cold-pressed juices and coffee drinks. In 2020, Playa Bowls ranked as one of the country’s fastest growing small chains, according to data from Restaurant Business sister firm, Technomic. The Belmar, N.J.-based franchised concept notched three-year average sales growth of more than 51% and unit growth during the period of 56%, according to Technomic.
Did You Know?
Four reasons workers are staying away from the restaurant industry and what you can do about it. More than two-thirds of current and former restaurant workers said disrespect from customers is a factor in the industry’s labor shortage, according to a new report by Black Box Intelligence released Monday. But, even more disturbingly, almost half of those workers cited emotional abuse from their managers as a factor in the decision to stay in the industry — or leave it. In fact, 15% said they were sexually harassed by managers or co-workers, and another 15% said they were sexually harassed by customers. The report taps data from a survey of more than 4,700 current and former hourly restaurant workers conducted with Snagajob. The goal was to look more closely at the factors that are contributing to the current labor shortage that has restaurant operators across the country struggling to find new workers and keep the staff they have. The report identifies four key driving factors causing restaurant staffing shortages — and Black Box offers possible solutions for restaurant operators to address these challenges.
Every employee has a role in innovation. Innovation is a cool word, but at its heart is change. So, you have to be intentional about encouraging and enabling innovation. The ideal—whether yours is a restaurant of two employees or two hundred—should be universal participation. Anyone can have the next great idea. Here are four keys to seeing that happen. You’ll need a process for gathering, consolidating, evaluating, and tracking ideas. Without a thoughtful approach, ideas will get lost, become separated from the contributor, or blocked from going further. Should that happen, employees will for a time ask, “What happened to my idea?” They’ll then quickly give up: “Why bother?” On the other hand, where they see ideas firing everywhere, they understand innovation isn’t just a passing management focus—it’s a critical and expected part of the culture.
Bielat Santore & Company – Restaurant Industry Daily Alerts
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