Zagat Stories – Restaurants 21/22
The year in review + the year to come. Zagat Stories presents Restaurants 21/22, a collection of interviews with leading voices in dining, hospitality, food, tech, politics and more. Each story takes the turning of the calendar as an inflection point to consider what happened in 2021, or what’s likely to happen in 2022, in the world of restaurants and food. he movers, shakers, thinkers, makers, and innovators in this year’s stories are engaging with a restaurant industry radically changed by the pandemic. Last year’s pivots to delivery and outdoor dining have given way to major shifts in how the restaurant business talks about itself—from labor and compensation to kitchen culture, supply chains, pricing, and customer relations. Long-held assumptions are being re-examined and sometimes discarded in favor of ideas that would have been unthinkable just two years ago. And many people who work in hospitality are finding new strength and inspiration in reconnecting with community, service, passion, and purpose at the most personal level. As different as 2021 was from 2020 in the world of restaurants, 2022 promises no letup in the dizzying pace of change. Explore the Restaurants 21/22 storytellers below.
Restaurant Menu Price Inflation Hit a 39-Year High in November
Annual menu price inflation was the highest since 1982. Menu price inflation hit a 39-year high in November as soaring costs for labor and food led restaurants around the country to increase their charges to customers. The food-away-from-home index rose 0.6% in November and 5.8% over the same period a year ago, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics said on Friday. That was the highest annual rate of increase for that index since 1982. And even that undersells just how much restaurant inflation there actually is because the index includes prices for food at schools that have fallen 45% over the past year. Prices for limited-service restaurants, hit hardest by the labor shortage, have risen 7.9% over the past year. Prices for full-service meals are up 6% over the past year. Restaurant inflation is due to a combination of factors, namely a labor shortage that has led to a dramatic spike in wages. According to Restaurant Business sister company Technomic, wages are up 14% this year, nearly three times the overall rate of inflation.
86% of Restaurants May Close
Without an RRF refill. Over 86% of restaurant and bar owners believe they will close without a Restaurant Relief Fund grant, a survey from the Independent Restaurant Coalition emailed to Restaurant Dive finds. This marks a 4% jump in operators who reported the same belief in September. Nearly one in five restaurant owners report having their credit scores reduced below 570 during the pandemic, meaning they cannot take on any more loans, including from Small Business Administration programs. This mounting restaurant debt comes as the cost for goods continues to rise and wages spike, with labor costs at their highest level in 20 years. The IRC has been lobbying for additional RRF grants for months. Operators’ cost and debt pressures are even more challenged now, too, due to rising consumer anxiety over the COVID-19 omicron and delta variants.
Why Your Favorite Restaurant Also Has a Butcher Shop
The growing trend of restaurant and butcher shop hybrids. Every part of the chickens, pigs, cows, lambs, and goats that arrive at Grass & Bone in Mystic, Connecticut, get used. Take the fat: It gets turned into beef-fat chocolate chip cookies, made into candles, and used to cook with instead of butter or canola. “It’s easy for us to sell the New York Strips, filet mignons, and ribeye’s, but you’ve got also rumps and shanks and neck and fat and bone and oxtail and liver,” says co-owner Dan Meiser. “Not only do we not want to be wasteful, but we’re also paying for all of it, and to make the model work, you have to sell every pound.” Instead of simply selling meat, Meiser and his business partner, James Wayman, opened a butcher shop with a restaurant inside. The two-year-old eatery serves not only as a place to pick up hamburgers or learn how to cook a new cut of meat, but also as a place to get a meal. All the while, the owners and staff are working tirelessly to reconnect area residents to their local meat producers. “We’re really lucky in this part of the world,” says Wayman. “We have a very strong and historic farming tradition, with lots of families farming for generations.”
What Are Key Challenges Restaurants Will Face in 2022?
Experts weigh in. We know we are not alone in navigating the labor crunch restaurants are facing. Knowing this will continue into 2022, we are continuing to focus on implementing technology that will help on-site team members streamline and efficiently perform their work to the best of their ability. Our company welcomes technology that will help our team members maximize time and efficiency and make their jobs more doable and enjoyable, creating a better experience for them and customers alike. The challenges our teams have faced over the last two years specifically has made us value our employees now more than ever. We have historically and continue to offer competitive pay, thorough training programs, flexible hours and a fun work environment so that we can continue to staff our locations as we grow. We were among the first to offer our crews the opportunity to be paid the day after the shift you worked through a program called Instant Pay and will continue to identify and implement initiatives that will help us provide our customers the best customer service while retaining employees and keeping them happy.
Four Trends for Restaurant Operators to Consider in 2022
Ample opportunity exists for restaurant operators to prepare for a year of constant change. With 2021 nearly wrapped up, restaurant operators across the country are looking to the New Year with cautious optimism. On one hand, the industry disruption over the past 18 months has provided many new opportunities to look at ways to optimize business operations. However, the uncertainty and desperate regulatory environments at the state and national level present seemingly relentless headwinds. Numerous shifts in both consumer behavior and the labor market have already left a lasting impact on restaurateurs. The GDP recovered to its pre-COVID level this past July, but with this growth arrived a more unsettled labor market, intensified competition for talent, spiked inflation and exacerbated ongoing supply chain pressures. This is the frothy backdrop against which restaurant HR professionals are working to recruit, cultivate and retain the right talent.
Lawyer Who Targeted NYC Small Businesses
Gets court suspension. A Big Apple attorney who sued hundreds of New York City’s restaurants and delis for failing to pay their workers has been suspended from practicing law after he was found to have stiffed his own clients. Michael Faillace received a two-year suspension from practicing in federal courts in the Southern and Eastern Districts of New York, according to court orders issued on Nov. 8 and 9. A grievance committee of judges in the Manhattan-based Southern District found that “on numerous occasions” Faillace “disregarded court orders” and “took funds to which clients were entitled into the Faillace Firm’s business account as attorneys’ fees in excess of the amount awarded.” In one case, the Faillace’s firm collected an additional $75,000 in settlement money beyond what was allotted, and in another, took half of a $100,000 settlement rather than the court mandated one-third, according to the court order.
Philadelphia Will Require COVID-19 Vaccine
For anywhere food is served indoors. Proof of COVID-19 vaccination will be required to eat indoors, see a movie, attend a wedding, or go to a Sixers or Flyers game in Philadelphia starting in January, officials announced Monday, as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations continue to surge in the city and state. Anyone entering an establishment where food is served indoors will need to show proof of vaccination at the door as of January 3rd. This winter looks like it could be very difficult,” said Philadelphia Health Commissioner Cheryl Bettigole. “We have to do something to slow the spread now before it’s too late.” The announcement comes as Philadelphia’s rate of new cases of COVID-19 has doubled and hospitalizations have increased 50% in the past few weeks — a spike that officials blame on Thanksgiving, cold weather, and indoor gatherings. They are also bracing for the spread of the omicron variant, which is rapidly spreading through other countries and been found across the United States — including a few cases in Philadelphia.
Did You Know?
The hottest new bars in the country. Bars are back. Across some of the biggest cities in the country, bars are re-opening after a long shutdown. And new bars in particular are bursting onto the scene. After a long break that included the introduction of to-go cocktails and rules about food and alcohol being consumed at the same time, bars have finally re-opened, and consumer demand seems to be meeting the moment. New York City nightlife guru David Rabin recently told Nation’s Restaurant News that guests are drinking more but earlier. He also said guests aren’t balking at high prices (think $20 cocktails). “Nobody seems to be blinking at the cost,” he said. These are some of the newest bars across the country that are capitalizing on nightlife’s reemergence.
Bars rebound with more intimate spaces, emphasis on experience.
Despite the uncertainty of the holiday season and the potential rise of yet another coronavirus variant, bars are coming back across the country. Arguably hit harder than restaurants by COVID-related restrictions over the past year and a half, many beverage-focused concepts coming to fruition now were poised to debut in the spring of 2020 but shuttered when many states decided bars were not conducive to the social distancing and mask wearing necessary to prevent spread of the virus. Now, however, bar operators are opening their venues in droves, drawing in pandemic-weary guests with rich experiences and innovative beverage menus, finding balance between the need for space and separation with the pent-up desire to gather for a drink. For many new bars opening this fall, that means allowing — or even requiring — guests to make reservations.
Extended Unemployment Benefits set to expire for 80,000 NJ workers. Approximately 80,000 New Jersey workers receiving extended Unemployment Insurance (UI) are due to exhaust these state benefits in coming weeks, as they reach the 13-week maximum, according to the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL). Claimants who exhaust extended benefits will have received up to 88 weeks of unemployment – a maximum of 26 weeks of regular state unemployment, up to 49 weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) that ended Sept. 4, followed by up to 13 weeks of state Extended Benefits. No further unemployment assistance is available to these claimants until new earnings and work history requirements are met, according to the law. State extended benefits were triggered in July 2020 due to the state’s unemployment rate.
Bielat Santore & Company – Restaurant Industry Daily Alerts
A voice for our industry. If you are finding these weekly bulletins informative and beneficial during this pandemic, 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.
A CHRISTMAS GIFT FOR YOU
In 2021 Bielat Santore & Company released a handbook to aid small businesses in obtaining commercial financing. “The Little Black Book on Small Business Financing” contains information on commercial financing, SBA financing, alternative financing, private investment, as well as tips on how to create a professional loan requisition presentation for a lender and/or investor.
Click here for your gift; “The Little Black Book on Small Business Financing”
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 on our work and our service within the restaurant industry.