Monthly archives of “December 2016

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Prix Fixe for New Year’s Eve

Close-up of champagne explosion

New Year’s Eve is a great night to boost your sales.  It’s, quote, “the biggest party night of the year,” and that means reservations galore.  Expect to pack your tables with customers, both regulars and newcomers, and plan accordingly to give guests what they’re looking for.  Because it’s a big night for celebrating, people are willing to spend a little more, and because you’ll be fairly full, keeping things streamlined in the kitchen is essential.  A great solution to both of these points?  Prix fixe.  Appetizer, entree, and dessert allow for simple course options which will be easy for your kitchen to execute quickly, and also will allow you to charge a premium for a table.  Here are some tips for optimizing your New Year’s Eve dinner flow:

Two seatings are best.  Depending on how early you start, you could (probably) seat three turnovers, but attempting to do so may create havoc for tables that want to linger over coffee, in addition to making an early seating with is too early for many people to arrive.  A 7 pm and 10 pm seating are ideal – this will allow people plenty of time to linger, enjoy wine and and beverages (increasing your table cost per person) and still give you plenty of space.  Consider adding a champagne toast and party favors to your latest seating in order to increase the party atmosphere – and your price point.  For reservations, make sure you are marketing reservations in advance, but accept walk ins at the bar with a regular or lighter menu for those more informal drop ins for folks pre-gaming their evening at your establishment prior to dinner or dancing plans.

Cocktails, cocktails, cocktails.  This is a night for celebrations, so plan accordingly and offer a couple sparkling and holiday themed cocktails at an additional cost, naturally.  Offering a discount on a premium bottle of champagne or sparkling wine will also up your average sale cost.  And be sensitive to road safety – partnering with a local driver service or Uber to ensure that designated driving is a key point for drivers will increase both neighborhood safety and the comfort of your guest.  Consider printing special check presenters, or just let your staff know to push both alcoholic beverages AND safe driving policies for every table you seat.

Finally – menu options.  Rich and over the top cuisine sells a celebration – bust out the lobster or even the foie gras – but ensure that your cover cost reflects a profit while still ensuring your average price point isn’t significantly higher than the average restaurant experience would be.  In other words – if you’re a casual establishment – perhaps offer a kobe burger instead of a $40 dry aged steak option.  Another choice is to create entree options which are pricier, but a la carte.  So if your prix fixe is priced at $70, have the lobster entree option available for an additional $10.  Be sensitive to dietary needs and restrictions also – if you can offer a vegan or a gluten free option – or both! – it will make for a more comfortable dining experience for all.

Here’s wishing you and your staff a Happy New Years!  Enjoy the holiday and we will see you in 2017.

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Chanukah – a special Holiday to Market to your Customers

Glowing Hanukkah Candles

Chanukah is eight nights of celebrations, candles, and gifts.  That gives you eight opportunities to sell your restaurant’s goods and services to consumers looking to celebrate with their loved ones.  No need to put an entire Chanukah menu in place, but consider adding some traditional items to your dinner specials, such as latkes (recipe below).

In addition to dinner plans, your guests will be giving gifts for eight nights in a row.  Gift cards are the perfect way to boost your sales, and eight nights of gifts means small denomination gift cards will be purchased by your customers in multiples.  Consider staging photos with Chanukah chocolates or dreidels, or targeting your gift card Facebook posts to users who are interested in Jewish holidays to boost your gift card sales.

Finally, check your calendar.  The dates of Chanukah vary every year – sometimes earlier, sometimes later – so take time to do a little research in November to ensure your marketing and menu plan and perfectly in place for all eight nights of celebration – and sales for your establishment.

Latke Recipe

INGREDIENTS
YIELD
Makes 12 to 16 latkes
ACTIVE TIME
45 min
TOTAL TIME
45 min
    • 1 pound potatoes
    • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
    • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 to 3/4 cup olive oil
    • Accompaniments: sour cream and applesauce
 Preparation
    1. Preheat oven to 250°F.
    2. Peel potatoes and coarsely grate by hand, transferring to a large bowl of cold water as grated. Soak potatoes 1 to 2 minutes after last batch is added to water, then drain well in a colander.
    3. Spread grated potatoes and onion on a kitchen towel and roll up jelly-roll style. Twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Transfer potato mixture to a bowl and stir in egg and salt.
    4. Heat 1/4 cup oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Working in batches of 4 latkes, spoon 2 tablespoons potato mixture per latke into skillet, spreading into 3-inch rounds with a fork. Reduce heat to moderate and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes. Turn latkes over and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt. Add more oil to skillet as needed. Keep latkes warm on a wire rack set in a shallow baking pan in oven.
Cooks’ notes:
·Latkes may be made up to 8 hours ahead. Reheat on a rack set over a baking sheet in a 350°F oven, about 5 minutes.
·Grating the potatoes, soaking them briefly in water, and then squeezing out the liquid (as we’ve done here) keeps the batter from turning brown too quickly.

 

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All the Little Details

Stainless Steel Equipment in Empty Kitchen

Opening a new restaurant?  Congratulations.  We hope you’re shopping for the best equipment with the best prices with us.  You have so many decisions to make, and we hope this handy check list will help you get everything you need prior to the big day, without a stressful experience:

Big Equipment: do research into every single piece of equipment that you buy.  Make sure the sizes match the sizes of your build out (there’s a big difference between a 48 and a 52 inch cooler if you only have space for 48 inches).  Look into energy efficient designs that will save you money in the long run.  Shop our full collection for the best deals and prices!

Little equipment: chefs knives, dishes, plates, forks, soap dispensers, brooms, mops, paper towels.  The list is virtually endless.  Get organized with a spreadsheet so that you can check items off if you purchase them.  And take advantage of the end of the year – and the end of tax season – to purchase as much as possible before January 1!  It’s all business expense and a write off for you.

Front of house details: decor and design are the finishing touches on your big project.  Take time to research and develop a decoration scheme which complements your brand, identity, and theme.  From succulents to candles, the small accents are the final touches to create a perfect look.

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New Years Day Brunch

Traditional Manhattan brunch

New Year’s Eve is one of the biggest nights for restaurants of the year.  You can’t go wrong with the basics:  a prix fixe menu and champagne toast at midnight.  Simple, effective, and almost universal for a reason, you can pack in reservations and keep your customers happy with a showcase of your menu which will also offer a high profit margin.  But what to do the next day?

“Recovery brunch” is an increasingly popular and easy to execute theme.  The idea is simple – hungover customers will enjoy a meal which will lessen their hangover and allow them to socialize at the same time.  It doesn’t have to be unhealthy – this type of brunch can go two ways.  Healthy and light options allow for a physical recovery, whereas the ‘hair of the dog’ and great and salty comfort food also offers relief – at least temporary.  Look at fun ingredients, like aloe vera and papaya, of go for classic and high alcohol speakeasy cocktails.

Consider adding a DJ or Jazz band to up the entertainment factor of your brunch.  Which direction you go in depends on your personal taste or your establishment’s vibe, but the one thing you can guarantee is that live entertainment, particularly for New Years Day brunch, will up your covers on a very competitive day.  Brunch is increasingly popular, so make sure your guests have a good reason to choose your establishment.

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2017 Minimum wage trends

We have all heard at one point or another that the minimum wage for employees with increase exceedingly in the near future. The questions are though, how much will the minimum wage increase next year and where will the increase happen first? To be an operator in this industry we know the importance of running a lean shift and the importance of planning not only our schedules, but the price of food, drinks and in some instances administrative fee’s.

National news suggests that the future of the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour remains uncertain and restaurant operates must prepare to increase their staffs pay once the new year hits. Certain states have already reported a hike in their minimum wages to $15 per hour starting promptly on January 1st, 2017. The $15 per hour rate has already rolled out in states such as New York and California.

The rate of $15 per hour of course seems high and as operators we question why are we paying all of our employees such a high hourly minimum wage, especially those who are tipped? The answer, wages will be based off of non-tipped employees. This means a tipped hourly employee will see an increase in pay, but it will not be as high as those not tipped.

Now, we do understand that any sort of wage increase is hard to take at first take some number crunching to figure out. But, it is possible and it will help your employees live a better life. All increases are based of the the price to live the state in which you operate in. If you are in a state with exceeding costs, chances are you will be paying your employees more. If you are in a state where the cost of living is low, you an expect a lower increase.

We have seen certain establishments increase their pay rates prior to the state mandates and the reaction have been mixed reviews. Obviously employees greatly appreciate it, you may have a lump in your throat the first time you pay everyone and the businesses around you may hate you. This is because, other local businesses may then feel the pressure to pay their employees the same way. It is important to know that if you think it is right, DO IT. Paying your employees what they are worth is absolutely a necessity and if done before the mandate chances are they will respect you and work even harder.