Here We Go Again
Inflation, recession, and old lessons learned. While I typically tie my monthly column into QSR’s concurrent cover story, I’m making an exception this July. Please don’t interpret this diversion as a dismissal of the importance of sustainability. Rather, it is a reflection of the shifting economic tide we are wading through, and its contemporary impact on our lives and businesses. For many reading this column, today’s economic conditions are unlike anything you’ve experienced before. And that is for good reason. As I write, inflation is at a 40-year high. The number reported for May was 8.6 percent. The last time we saw a rate that high was December of 1981, when year-over-year inflation was 8.9 percent. It is noteworthy that inflation was falling at that point; the high point of that turbulent cycle occurred in March of 1980, when year-over-year inflation reached a staggering 14.8 percent. If you are searching for a rate of inflation higher than that, you need to retreat all the way back to the 17.6 percent of June 1947 (a decline from the 19.7 percent recorded in March of that same year). To find anything worse than that, we need to go back over 100 years to June of 1920 when inflation peaked at 23.7 percent.
Restaurants Face an Extortion Threat
A bad rating on Google. In a new scam targeting restaurants, criminals are leaving negative ratings on restaurants’ Google pages as a bargaining chip to extort digital gift cards. Restaurateurs from San Francisco to New York, many from establishments with Michelin stars, said in recent days that they’ve received a blitz of one-star ratings on Google, with no description or photos, from people they said have never eaten at their restaurants. Soon after the reviews, many owners said, they received emails from a person claiming responsibility and requesting a $75 Google Play gift card to remove the ratings. If payment is not received, the message says, more bad ratings will follow. The text threat was the same in each email: “We sincerely apologize for our actions and would not want to harm your business, but we have no other choice.” The email went on to say that the sender lives in India and that the resale value of the gift card could provide several weeks of income for the sender’s family. The emails, from several Gmail accounts, requested payment to a Proton mail account.
8 Lessons Chain Restaurants Can Teach Independents
From better bookkeeping to more concrete paths for advancement. Sandwiched between early restaurant gigs in her native Colorado—waiting and bussing tables, washing dishes, and bartending at different mom-and-pop eateries—and the 2003 launch of her Denver-based culinary syndicate alongside chef and business partner Jennifer Jasinski, Beth Gruitch gained an unofficial degree in restaurant operations from Chicago-based Levy Restaurants and the Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants enterprise. As Gruitch reflects on her experience working at Levy-owned hotspots like Bistro 110 and Voila, as well as the Kimpton Monaco Hotel’s Panzano restaurant in downtown Denver, she uses words like “grateful” and “valuable.” Those experiences, after all, provided Gruitch with rich lessons into the disciplined operations, meticulous systems, and calculated processes powering successful hospitality concepts. “I got to see systems created and refined many times over,” Gruitch says. When Gruitch left Panzano with Jasinski in 2003 to open the Mediterranean-influenced Rioja in Denver, she did so armed with an education provided by two hospitality industry standouts. Nearly two decades later, Gruitch and Jasinski’s Crafted Concepts group features five heralded Denver restaurants: the still-flourishing Rioja, as well as Bistro Vendôme, Stoic & Genuine, Ultreia, and Flavor Dojo.
NJ Brewers Frothing Over New Restrictions
Breweries in New Jersey are facing a new set of restrictions. Legislation issued by the New Jersey Division of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) that went into effect on July 1 has breweries and other legislators upset because it places new restrictions on the beverage companies. The new legislation brings new conditions to breweries licensees, including the number of events they can host and attend each year. Microbreweries can have up to 25 on-site events and 52 private parties each year. Breweries can attend up to 12 off-site events. The new law also requires breweries to give a walking or virtual tour of the facility before allowing patrons to consume alcohol. In addition, there is to be no food served, or any coordination with, mobile food trucks. The ABC says its intention is to “increase stability in the alcoholic beverage marketplace and to foster realistic competition that ultimately will benefit all residents of the State.” Kat Garrity, who along with her husband operate the Death of the Fox Brewery and Coffehouse, said the legislation will have the opposite effect. “They are crippling the breweries by telling us we can’t have events; we can’t do fun things. Why is anyone going to want to come here? They’re trying to make an environment that no one wants to come to,” Garrity said.
How Restaurants Can Improve Customer Retention and Profits
Through a digital-first loyalty program. Today’s customers are strongly influenced in their shopping decisions by loyalty programs, incentives, and personalized promotions, yet many restaurants and quick-service restaurants (QSRs) have not fully utilized these tools. 1 As a result, they are missing out on repeat business that drives growth.2 The good news is it’s not too late. With just 22 percent of customers satisfied with the level of personalization in their loyalty programs,3 there is a tremendous opportunity to increase customer loyalty and the bottom line. If restaurant patrons are anything like the 60 percent of U.S. grocery store loyalty program members who say that their program’s financial incentives influence where they shop and how much they spend, 4 then restaurants have a huge untapped opportunity before them. Restaurants first need to be able to recognize customers by offering them personalized experiences, privileges and promotions that will help them feel valued and create new ways to pay. Ways to do this include:
7 Ways to Improve Your Customers’ Takeout Experience
A category surging in usage needs new tools and best practices as well. Restaurant takeout has been around for decades, but it has recently surged in popularity thanks to food delivery apps like DoorDash and the sudden outbreak of COVID-19. More people are ordering meals to go, and restaurants must provide a better takeout experience to maximize their profits and maintain a solid reputation. Here are seven ways to improve the customer takeout experience. 1. Ensure Order Accuracy – Order accuracy is crucial for all aspects of any restaurant, but it’s especially important for takeout because they only have one chance to get the order right. They can’t correct a mistake unless the customer notices a problem with the food before leaving. People will likely never order from a restaurant again if the staff gets it wrong. Advanced point-of-sale software and effective staff training are the two most straightforward ways to minimize mistakes. Restaurants should get their employees into the habit of double-checking orders before they leave the restaurant. Make sure the main course, sides, condiments and utensils are present. Read on for ways 2-7.
The Busy Bartender’s Guide to Fast Craft Cocktails
Recipes may call for an experienced bartender and an extended time commitment. Nowadays, that’s not necessarily the case. Establishments challenged by labor constraints or unable to employ a highly skilled bartender can still prepare these higher-ticket beverages efficiently. All that’s required for fast craft cocktails is specialized blending equipment, optimized recipes and knowledge of a few insider – but simple – approaches. The best way to fast-track these premium beverages is to use a high-performance blender to strategically simulate or speed up a variety of mixing techniques that are traditionally done by hand or with the help of highly specialized equipment. For example, the right blender can handle jobs like muddling, aerating and processing frozen ingredients, allowing you to significantly reduce the time and effort required to prepare each drink. Another key tip: Use the blender’s preprogrammed blend settings so you can multitask and increase both efficiency and consistency.
Did You Know?
Architect who designed Pizza Hut’s ‘red roof’ restaurants made a ton of money thanks to unusual deal. What do architects Frank Lloyd Wright, I.M. Pei and Antoni Gaudi have in common? Well, it’s likely you’ve never eaten a Stuffed Crust Pizza in any of their buildings. The same can’t be said of Richard D. Burke, however. Burke is responsible for the design of every red-roofed Pizza Hut restaurant throughout the world, having created the concept in the late ‘60s for Dan and Frank Carney, the two brothers who founded Pizza Hut. But Burke — a fraternity brother of Dan and Frank Carney during their days at Wichita State University — had almost priced himself out of a job after the Carneys approached him for his services, according to Pizza Hut.
NJ teens can work expanded summer hours under new law. Effective immediately, 16- and 17-year-olds can work up to 50 hours per week during the summer under a recently signed law, which was strongly advocated by NJBIA. The expansion of work hours gives teens an opportunity to earn more money and helps employers cope with a labor shortage that has led to increased wait times for customers at seasonal businesses. Gov. Phil Murphy signed the law, A-4222/S-2796, sponsored by Assemblyman Roy Freiman (D-16) and Senator Vin Gopal (D-11), late Tuesday afternoon. The law also requires the state to create a central database where teenagers and employers can register online for work, instead of continuing to use the cumbersome paper employment certificates that must be issued by schools every time a student seeks a new job or changes employers.
Bielat Santore & Company – Restaurant Industry Alert
CAMDEN COUNTY, NJ “RESTAURANT – BAR – BANQUET COMPLEX” FOR SALE
Four-acre property; 11,000 square foot building with indoor dining for 85 + 80 seat bar/lounge; accommodates banquets up to 250 guests; picturesque lakefront outdoor seating for 320 including ceremony setting and booming outdoor Tiki-Bar; property has onsite solar energy system producing $100K+ in free electricity; grossing $3.6M+ – 60% food/40% liquor; $750,000 in available cash flow; you can have it all in this one-of-a-kind turnkey package.
Contact Richard Santore, 732.531.4200 for additional information.
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 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.