All posts filed under “Restaurant Operations

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Ramen Noodles and Poke Bowls – the Latest Food Trends to Explore!

Ramen and Poke, oh my!  These fun fast casual food concepts are popping up all over the place and with good reason – they are delicious, colorful, and easy to execute with high price margins on the food costs.  Plus, neither ramen or poke is anywhere near a ‘new’ food concept – both have deep cultural roots and have been enjoyed for generations in the respective areas they originated in.  If you’re looking for a new restaurant concept to try, consider one of these two options.  Here’s a little more info on both:

Asian Miso ramen noodles with egg, tofu, pork and enoki in bowl on blue marble table.

Ramen: originating in Japan, a classic ramen bowl involves Chinese wheat noodles, a killer broth, and a variety of savory (delicious) toppings.  The ramen craze in Japan originated in 1910, with the first stand along ramen shop opening at that time.  It took, granted, several decades for this classic, easy to execute, and delectable noodle dish to take off in the USA, but it’s now a fast growing industry, with trendy eateries popping up in major cities on the east coast, west coast, and everywhere in between.  Broth is key – essential – to a good ramen bowl – so perfect yours, and then work on a  variety of ingredients which will please a variety of palates and lifestyle restrictions.  Remember to cater to vegetarians with both vegetarian broth and completely separate prep space in order to increase your marketability.

Hawaiian tuna poke bowl with seaweed, avocado, red cabbage, radishes and black sesame seeds

Poke: from the far East to the far West, Poke Bowls hail from Hawaii.  A very simple preparation involves marinating raw fish in a soy sauce marinade, and then creating a ‘bowl’ with various rice and vegetable toppings.  This trend is newer, even, then ramen and appeals very easily to a health conscious consumer, especially if the bowl is prepared with brown rice.  Different types of fish can be used, and because the fish is marinated, cheaper cuts can also be employed.

Want to try out these concepts but not sure how they will do in your neighborhood?  Consider a pop up to gauge interest and also run the kitchen for a night and see how your staff does with either/or concept – or perhaps even a hybrid of both!


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Benefits of Providing Employee Meals

Portrait of 2 restaurant workers

There are very few, if any other businesses that view staff meals as not only a benefit, but rather

a necessity. Labor laws do not mandate that restauranteurs provider meals for their staff, only

that time is allowed for a meal to be consumed. If you choose however to create a wonderful

culture in your business and give sustenance for your employees it will be well worth your while.

Over the course of years, chefs/manager/owner have expressed very mixed feelings about

providing meals for their employees. Recently, there has been a movement that shows a

restaurants commitment to growing their internal community and building a “family” or team

building opportunity. These meals allow the opportunity to inspire and build stronger

relationships and can reference the term,”breaking bread.”

Rather than throwing away overripe produce, day old fish and meat why not offering a daily

family meal for everyone on your staff. Lend your staff your true appreciation and offer either a

staff a lunch or dinner. Dedicated a shelf in your walk-in to your staff meal, and fill this shelf with

leftover ingredients at the end of each day. Although these items placed on the shelf may not be

worthy of your customers, they will be absolutely delectable to your staff.

It may not seem like offering a free meal is worth your time/effort but, there are definite perks

when putting your employees needs/wants first. Not only will you be able to allow your cooks

the opportunity to create new and fresh ideas but, it will reduce your food cost and operate a

more sustainable restaurant.

Recent studies have shown that even if you offer your employees general benefits, when extend

ing those benefits a free meal your employees productivity is likely to skyrocket. They will feel

more focused, happier and are much more likely to stay with the company and recommend the

company to a perspective employee. As such restaurants who make it a priority to feed their

employees demonstrate that they care about those working for them and many have seen that

the best way to an employee’s heart is through their stomachs.

Not only will a complimentary lunch/dinner uplift your internal customers but, it will also make

sure that they are ready for their shift. They are not thinking about how hungry they are, if they

will have time to eat and whether or not they will be allowed to order food from the line. When

you set a designated a specific time every day when your employees can expect food and know

they can

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How to Combine a Restaurant and Retail Store

cracker barrel

Restaurants and retail.  Two different ways to make sales – and when combined – two different revenue streams for you.  But what should you consider if you want to adopt this model?  First – think about the type of retail and restaurant you are looking to combine.  Cracker Barrel’s model works well because it’s a tourist type attraction – often located off a highway – with simple, no fuss food and country style retail products and candy.  If your concept is more fine dining based, chances are it won’t work so well.  Having a ‘destination’ restaurant also helps with this model, as it is more likely to combine people’s desire to shop and eat.  Doing kitschy country retail works well with country style ‘down home’ food, paired with a diner or casual type of atmosphere.

Another option is to place a coffee bar within a retail facility.  This works particularly well with a hip, trendy customer base.  Think Urban Outfitters meets independent coffee shop.  This model will also work well with an art supply store, a bicycle repair shop, or any other type of retail that attracts a hip young consumer.  Getting a latte or a cold brew while they browse is like to appeal to this type of audience – but in this model  - you can’t base your sales around your food and beverage sales.  The coffee bar is most likely only going to contribute marginally to your bottom line, and it will be more or a reason to visit your retail establishment than anything else.

A third popular option exists heavily at amusement parks, themed restaurants, and casinos.  Think Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville.  A heavily themed restaurant with bright, colorful alcoholic beverages pairs well with bright, colorful t shirts and other souvenir type wares.  These restaurants typically have the store not he way out of the restaurant, so that diners can conclude their experience with a memento of the restaurant.  It may be a magnet, it may be a cookbook, but either way, it contributes to your bottom line and also creates a sense of nostalgia that will likely put the entire experience in a positive light.

Have a different concept?  Think carefully before you stray from the tried and true models listed above.  The reason the above restaurant/retails concepts work is that they combine similar concepts in a casual atmosphere.  If you create your own concept, be aware of how the two ideas work together as a whole – and stay away from fine dining,w which is more of an experience in and of itself without the need for a ‘shopping’ angle to it.

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Designing your restaurant: what to take into consideration

Modern restaurant

A new restaurant is an exciting and complex concept.  There are so many factors to take into consideration when planning your kitchen, your menu, your staffing, your permits, your liquor license – the list goes on and on.  Equally important: your dining room space.  Customers eat with their eyes first, and having an attractive and welcoming seating area will greatly improve the experience of the diners.

Restaurant Supply carries a large array of restaurant furniture for both indoors and outdoors – shop our collection here.  And below are some tips to keep in mind and get you started on creating the perfect space:

From a practical standpoint, functionality is key.  Consider the flow of the restaurant closely.  There are so many moving parts in a working restaurant – quite literally – so plan your space carefully and consider what’s going to work best to keep your lunch and dinner rushes flowing smoothly.  Adequate space between tables – an area for a line to form in front of the register (if applicable) indoor/outdoor seating which can be adjusted seasonally – all things to consider as you plan out the amount of tables you want to have and where they will go.  Banquets and communal seating can also maximize the amount of paying customers you can have in the restaurant, but make sure that these new, modern seating tactics fit the flow and the vibe of your restaurant’s concept before implementing them.

Consider working with an interior designer.  Just as you hire a chef to run your kitchen, or an agency to handle your marketing – working with an expert in interior design can drastically improve the quality and caliber of your finished space.  While you may have your own concept in mind, executing your vision will be much easier with a  professional hand.  In addition, a designer can help fill in the gaps if you have some sort of a concept but haven’t really worked out the details.  So regardless of whether you have an entire vision planned or just some basic ideas – working with a good interior designer will help ensure a stylish and well planned space.

Finally: branding, branding, branding.  Your restaurant’s branding goes beyond it’s logo – its the menu,t he design, the overall feel and personality and mission statement of your concept.  Branding should be well reflected in design as well as marketing materials.  Are you more aesthetic or baroque?  Casual or fine dining?  Modern or traditional?  All of these questions should be carefully taken into consideration when executing your restaurant floor plan.  Small details, such as lighting fixtures or artwork, convey a strong presence in design, so be detail oriented and plan well in order to make your vision come to life in an attractive way that your customers will love.


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Thinking about opening a restaurant? Here’s what to know before you sign the lease.

It’s great to have a dream, but what does it take to capitalize on it?  Below are some tips for first time restauranteurs from some of the best in the Industry.  And of course, don’t forget to get the best deals when you shop with Restaurant Supply!

opening soon word under torn black sugar paper1/ Don’t go in underfunded.  Restaurant legend Bobby Flay offers this as his number one tip for new time restaurant owners.  “It takes twice as long and costs twice as much money as you think to build  restaurant.”  Do your research and get the capital first, then build upon that.

2/ Trusts your instincts with design.  Again-  from Bobby Flay.  Sticking with the designer’s vision won’t allow your own brand to shine through.  Don’t be afraid to offer your input and make sure your own execution is apparent in the restaurant concept.

3/ Listen to your staff and support them as they are supporting you.  Your managers, chefs, servers, bartenders and baristas are the backbone of your business.  Make sure you’re accessible to them and listen to and value their input.  They are onsite every day and will know your business like it’s their business.

4/ Play to your own strengths.  As the business owner, you’ll be involved in every part of day to day operations.  Don’t be afraid to play to your strengths and delegate the rest.  If marketing is your thing, then great.  Otherwise hire a marketing firm.  If you’re great at numbers, then do your own book keeping.  But make sure that you don’t overtask yourself or underutilize your staff when you’re planning your role in your own business.

5/ The right equipment changes everything.  Having the correct tools is fundamental to running your business successfully.  Make sure you invest in equipment that will last and is high quality.  (and yes, we recommend you buy it from Restaurant Supply – of course!).