Uncorkd | Wine, Beverage & Technology Blog for Restaurants
Uncorkd is Helping restaurants improve their beverage program and making wine and alcoholic beverages accessible to the everyday consumer There are weekly roundups about the restaurant industry. That way, restaurateurs don’t need to waste time searching the Internet for the latest news in the restaurant industry.
From surprise proposals to a dozen roses, Valentine’s Day is a special day for many. This takes many on a hunt to find the perfect place to spend their evening. With an average of $143 being spent on a Valentine’s Day dinner and a total of 19 billion being spent, it is one of the biggest nights of the year for the restaurant industry. As a restaurant it can be hard to stand out amongst the competition, but we have complied a list of some of the best ways to attract couples to your restaurant for an amazing experience.
Early Reservation Specials
Reservation! Reservations! Reservations! One of the biggest aspects of Valentine’s Day is securing the perfect reservation time. Things can become chaotic and overwhelming when customers wait till the last second to book a reservation. One way to entice customers to book early is by offering different early reservation promotions.
These deals can range from dessert to drink specials. It’s a simple promotion that will encourage dinners to book well in advance. Simply set a date that customers have to make their reservation by in order to receive the special.
It’s all about the little things! This Valentine’s Day show your customers that you care by going the extra mile. This can manifest in a variety of different ways, but be creative! Below is a short list of different ways to personalize the dinner experience;
Personalized wine list/recommendations
A quick way to receive more information from guest is to ask a few questions about their preferences while they are making their reservations. This also presents the opportunity to showcase different packages such as a proposal or flowers option. One possibility is to partner with a local florist to have flower orders prepared for guest. By collecting all this information during the reservation process it makes the process simple and gives your customers the ability to enhance their overall Valentine’s Day experience at your restaurant.
Valentine’s Day Drinks and Meals
With a large influx of diners on the special day one of the best ways to simplify your menu, without hindering a customers experience is with a price fixe menu. This gives you the opportunity to showcase your chef’s best dishes. Putting a Valentine’s Day spin on them is also a perfect way to celebrate the occasion, such as heart shaped deserts or red garnishes. Guest will definitely appreciate the added touches.
Don’t forget about the drinks! Being able too offer guest with the perfect pairing suggestions is a great way to encourage them to purchase glasses of wine with each course. For pairings with beef and fish options, check out our pairing guide!
There are also plenty of creative cocktails that offer the perfect cocktail experience, along with their creative names. Below is one of our favorites!
Muddle the cucumber, mint and salt, reserving one mint leaf for garnish. Try to mash up the cucumber the most when you’re muddling. Add the rest of the ingredients, then let the drink sit for 30 seconds (time allowing) to better infuse the flavors. Shake with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with one floating mint leaf with one drop of rose water on top of the leaf, and then drizzle three or more drops of Angostura on the surface of the drink.
Valentine’s Day is the busiest day of the year for some and the perfect opportunity to make a great impression on first time diners. One way to enhancing their experience is by providing guest with their own Valentines. These small gifts can be tokens of appreciation or even include special offers to encourage customers to come again.
Think beyond with Galentine’s Day
While February 14th is the main attraction, many groups of friends will be looking for places to celebrate Galentine’s Day. If you are unfamiliar with the term, it is a day around Valentine’s Day dedicated to the girls. With small and large group’s of gals looking to celebrate each other and their friendship. Very few restaurants take advantage of this unofficial holiday, so this serves as the perfect opportunity to stand out amongst the masses. Offering different drink specials or even a special wine tasting opportunity with dinner is a simple, but perfect way to attract groups looking to celebrate Galentine’s Day.
Social Media Promotion
While all of these idea are essential in creating an amazing overall Valentine’s Day experience, it’s just as important to get the word out. One way to do this through social media. Giving sneak peeks to what diners can expect on Valentine’s Night is the perfect way to build up some excitement.
Sneak peeks of the special Valentine’s Day Menu, red speciality drinks, and different flower arrangements. The glimpses into what guest can expect on their evening will help encourage those on the fence to choose your restaurant as the place to be!
The New Year is upon us and so are the endless new year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, for most restaurants and bars this means millions are promising to save their coins and be healthier by eating out less. On top of that, the winter time blues are real and the preference to stay home to avoid the cold and the snow will only grow stronger as the winter progresses. But, there is still hope! No one can resist a great deal or a night of fun, so below is a list different ways restaurants can attract customers during the slow months.
Everyone loves to celebrate their birthday and what better way to do that than with a free birthday treat! The options are endless and completely up to your business on what you think would be the best gift. Some examples are a free drink, a free appetizer, or even a free entrée. This can this bring in a customer, but also most individuals celebrate with friends leading to larger groups and orders. One way to collect birthday information is through your website, which will increase traffic and give you the opportunity to inform customers of other events and promotions being held.
Bringing in new customers is important, but so is retention! It can be a lot easier to encourage previous visitors to come again than constantly searching for completely new ones. One of the best way to increase customer retention is a loyalty program. There are a variety of different loyalty programs but some of our favorite are punch cards, points rewards, and referral programs. These are great starter programs that are not complex but they also allow for increased visits and new customers.
Punch Cards are a great way to encourage repeat visits and can be used for food items or drinks.
Point systems are a great way to reward customers for spending. With each visit customers can earn points based off the amount of money spent. Different points levels can unlock different benefits. A great option for bars during the winter time is to offer skip the line privileges to high point earners. During the winter this can be a deal breaker to customers that don’t want to wait in the cold.
Some of the best individuals to bring in new customers are your current ones. Friends are more likely to take recommendations from those they know and offering referral benefits will surly put your establishment at the top of someones referral list. Discounts for both parties will definitely entice visitors.
While all of these tips are essential, a newsletter is definitely at the top of the list. Hosting new events and different promotions are great ways to drive new customers, but these efforts can be wasted if there is little to no awareness. One way to achieve better awareness is through email newsletters. They provide the prefect way to inform customers of exciting new deals and events.
Happy Hour Mix Up
Happy hour deals are a classic example of a restaurants efforts to increase sales during the slowest periods of the day. However, at most places happy hour menus never change and can get old rather quickly. So changing up your happy hour menu can get customers excited all over again.
What better way to liven up a party than with live entertainment. This can happen with local bands performing on slower nights or even on the weekend. Another option is with open-mic nights. Different performers bring friends and family for support and tons of business for your restaurant or bar.
Themed nights can take many forms. For instance they can focus on your food and drink menu such as Taco Tuesday. On the other hand, themed nights can be aimed at attracting a particular customer. For Instance ladies night, singles night, or a decade night. These fun events can get customers excited to visit your establishment while also having a great time.
Game day is huge money maker and with different sports running year long, this is the perfect way to bring in business during the slow months. Between College Basketball and the NFL playoffs, there are tons of sports fans looking for the best places to watch the game. Game day specials and different sports related events are the perfect way to attract new and old customers a like. Some creative ways to stand out is with speciality game day food and drink menus.
Partnering with local businesses is a great way to build connections within your community. By offering businesses special coupons for their customers allows you to increase your brand awareness within the community and also gain new customers.
Wanting to establish your restaurant or bar in your community can be important in gaining loyal customers. A great way to gain the support of the community is through giving back. From supporting the local baseball team to the local animal shelter, there are several different ways for you to give back. This can be accomplished through re-naming drinks or menu items to fit the occasion and donating a certain percent of the earnings.
While all of these ideas are great ways to bring in more business during the slow months, it is important that effort is also put into promoting the various methods. The best way to do this is through social media. Creating Facebook events and sharing fun pictures of different events is a great way to let potential customers know what is going on at your restaurant.
Visibility is very important and another way to reach a larger audience is to work with local influencers. These individuals have strong follower bases on social media and a able to communicate with their supporters easily through social media. By providing influencers with a special coupon for their supporters or them documenting their experience ,is a great way to bring in new customers and spread the word about different events.
Technology in the restaurant industry is booming and within the next year its impact will be very apparent. The new tech trends that will surely shake up the restaurant industry in 2019, are augmented reality, mobile scheduling apps, and digital beverage management. The 2019 restaurant technology trends will impact almost every step of the dining and running restaurant operations.
A Step Into the Future: Augmented Reality
The future of restaurant menu interactions is here. Augmented Reality (AR) is one of the biggest tech trends to look out for in 2019. This new form of technology will allow customers to have a visual experience like no other. AR allows customers to use their phones or restaurant iPads to view 3-D renderings of menu items. This gives customers not only an image of the food, but to view it as if it was right in front of them.
While this concept sounds very complex and expensive, it is actually quite simple.
Tech start up Kabaq is at the forefront of the AR trend. Its application allows restaurants to add the 3-D experience to their menu within just a few weeks.
With the use of high quality images and other image guidelines, Kabaq is able to process them and create a 3-D food model. The customer is then able to access the 3-D renderings through Snapchat. Customers are first prompted to scan a Snapcode and this gives them access to the 3-D menu items.
There are multiple benefits to adding this technology to your restaurant. The first is sales: A study conducted by Kabaq says that restaurants saw an increase of 25% in dessert sales alone with the use of AR.
Another way AR can increase sales is through increased foot traffic. The AR trend is still in the early adapter phase. As a result those that choose to participate now will have an appeal that other restaurants do not. This can generate all sorts of marketing opportunities that will attract new customers vying for something new.
Tackling the Hassle of Scheduling
One of the biggest hassles of restaurant management is scheduling.
With complex schedules, last minute call offs and vacation time, creating schedules can be complicated and time consuming.
However, with scheduling apps like 7Shifts the process is a lot easier.
The app allows employees to enter their availability and even swap shifts. Users even have the ability to request vacation time. With this information the app is then able to generate a schedule that takes into account everyones availability.
Some applications even have the ability to use previous scheduling data and sales information to assist in the process. This is an added benefit because it can combat the issue of under or overstaffing the restaurant. The scheduling process streamlined with technology it can officially become a hassle of the past.
Going Digital: Beverage Management
Paper menus are quickly becoming a thing of the past because iPad menus offer so many benefits to restaurants.
While the task of replacing paper menus with iPads seems daunting, companies like Uncorkd have made the process cost efficient. Along with its affordability, there are numerous benefits to iPad menus that can save your restaurant money and increase sales.
Restaurants that used Uncorkd’s iPad menus noted a substantial increase in wine sales. The increase in sales can be attributed to menu features like suggested wine pairings, menu analytics, and the ability to feature new items.
The digital menus provide customers with a unique experience that includes tasting notes for wine, bottle images, and even producer details. Which is great in a restaurant climate where customers always want more information about what they’re ordering.
The iPad menus are especially perfect for restaurants with extensive wine lists because customers are able to search by region and color, among other specifics.
From an operational standpoint, Uncorkd’s iPad menus allow restaurants to view various menu analytics reports. These reports can tell managers which items customers are looking at the most and which items are underperforming. This also allows chef’s to add and strike things from the menu within minutes. This avoids the costly process of changing and reprinting menus. The list of benefits to iPad menus seem endless, as they provide benefits to restaurant operaters and the customers.
The days of spending hours taking inventory by hand are officially over. In terms of restaurant operations digitizing, the inventory process was a given.
The use of spreadsheets and taking inventory by hand runs the risk of small mistakes leading to costly outcomes. Inventory can now be completed with the digital inventory program by Uncorkd.
This system allows for multiple individuals to use their mobile phones or tablets to take inventory at the same time.
Beyond saving time, this inventory system gives you access to a variety of different inventory reports. These reports can notify you of inventory inconsistencies along with notifications on when an item need to be ordered. The Uncorkd solution also allows you to place orders with distributors so you don’t have to waste time typing up orders to send to each individual sales rep.
More advanced inventory systems, like Uncorkd, also have POS system integration. This means that whenever a drink is served the amount of product used is automatically subtracted from your inventory. This feature is a big money saver because it can highlight when servers or bartenders are over pouring. This tech trend will be vastly popular with its ability to simplify the inventory process and will take 2019 by storm.
Creativity is taking center stage and that is apparent in the 2019 expected cocktail trends. From garnishes to a twist on classic drinks, this list takes a look at what patrons will be looking for when wanting to enjoy a great cocktail. The cocktail trends for 2019 demonstrate the desire for creating that one special cocktail that will leave a lasting impression.
Topping The Cocktail Trends: All About the Garnishes
Imagine sitting in restaurant and a waiter passes you carrying a cocktail with a garnish lit with a bright blue flame. Immediately, everyones focus has shifted. This cocktail is now the center of attention. This will surely lead to at least one patron ordering that exact cocktail. In a culture where social media is a key component of everyday life, the appearance of a cocktail is essential.
From colorful salt to dry ice, garnishes are becoming as important to a drink as the actual taste. Garnishes are the perfect outlet for a bartender and restaurant to showcase their creativity and skills.
This results in hundreds, if not thousands , of images that flood social media of the most aesthetically pleasing cocktails. Restaurants that take note of this trend will definitely benefit. Instagram and facebook post of creative cocktails are forms of free advertisement and can result in new customers.
Exotic Ingredients Create a Cocktail Experience
From Lychee Martinis to Passion fruit Martinis, expect the summer of 2019 to be filled with exotic fruity cocktails.
Cocktail drinkers are looking for a new experience in 2019 and exotic fruits allows them to experience the world while sitting in your restaurant.
These cocktails can be accomplished in a variety of ways. For instance, some exotic fruit juices are more accessible than most believe and can even be purchased at local grocery stores.
Another way to tap into this growing trend is to use domestic fruit not commonly associated with cocktails.
While the fruit itself is not exotic, it still provides a new and flavorful experience. These flavors can include blueberries and grapefruit amongst others. Both strategies allow for you to prepare for one of next years top cocktail trends.
Bubbly Cocktails Will Pop
While New Years is approaching, champagne is becoming an everyday staple and not just for special occasions. So what does this have to do with cocktails? Well, the increased popularity of casual champagne drinking has lead to the increased popularity of the champagne cocktail.
This bubbly rendition makes drinking champagne and sparkling wine an even more causal occurrence.
Sparkling wine based cocktails can be simple or complex some, but the number one recommendation is that they are prepared with brut champagne for the best bubbly cocktail experience.
Coffee and Cocktails To Wake Drinkers Up
One of the most unique trends to expect for 2019 is the Espresso Cocktail.This takes on two trendy aspects: cocktails and coffee.
It initially appeared in London where the coffee and cocktail culture is taken very seriously. Now its increasing popularity overseas is becoming apparent in the US and is slowly making its way onto cocktail menus across the nation. The popularity of this drink also stems from its role as a great palette cleanser, making it a perfect after dinner cocktail. Made with vodka, freshly brewed espresso, coffee liqueur, and garnished with coffee beans this cocktail will appeal to coffee and cocktail lovers.
This article is apart of our Trends Uncorkd series. Make sure you check out our Wine Trends of 2019 article to uncover the growing wine trends within the industry. For content similar to this subscribe to our newsletter!
2018 is quickly coming to an end and this means it’s time predict the biggest wine trends for 2019. In the last year, we’ve seen various trends in the wine industry. From the continuous love for Rosé to the rise in the popularity of premium wines. The majority of wine consumers are now millennials, and as result, they’re shaping the future of the wine industry. We can officially say that 2019 will be the year of millennial.
The Rules of Attraction Call For Eye Catching Wine Labels
Similar to wine trends we saw in 2018, packaging matters. Millennial wine drinkers are not as interested in brand loyalty as previous generations are. Young wine lovers are focused more on what catches the eye.
In stores with hundreds of different selections, millennials are more likely to go for the bottle with the more creative label. This emphasizes the idea that visuals are becoming more and more important for selling wine.
In a study conducted by Portland State University, they concluded that millennials look at 3 different aspects in determining a wines value:
Size of Logo
Kind of Logo
Ultimately, these factors will impact their willingness to purchase the item. For restaurants, this adds an importance on visual presentation and visual aids being present on their wine menus. With Uncorkd’s iPad wine menus, bottle photos coupled with tasting notes make a big impact with customers, and these visuals have helped restaurants using Uncorkd increase their wine sales by 20% and more.
From Popping Bottles to Cracking Cans: Wine in a Can Still Growing
Typically, wine has been packaged in glass bottles and the occasional box.
But that’s changing with the dramatic increase of canned wine production. Thanks to the rise in millennial drinkers, canned wine is growing strong and saw a 43% increase in sales between June 2017 and June 2018 .
Canned wine offers several different advantages over the standard wine bottle, such as pricing and portability. Feeling intimidated is common for first time wine consumers when faced with the range of wine available, but the relaxed nature of a can eliminates this feeling while also providing a quality wine experience.
With its sudden increase in popularity, larger known brands are jumping on board to produce their own lines of canned wine. These lines range from canned rosé to canned sauvignon blanc. And wine in a can isn’t just growing in retail wine sales. Canned wine has been available and growing on restaurant menus since 2017. In 2019, expect to see the launching of more canned wine lines and their popularity to continue to sky rocket.
Millennials Drink Global With International Wines
Over the last year there has been a steady increase in imported wine. This trend is expected to increase exponentially going into 2019, as more and more millennials begin to explore international wines.
This increase in popularity is happening because of the increase in foreign “gateway wines.” In the past it was common for these gateway wines, a person’s first glass, to be an American brand. But this is starting to change with an increased interest in French, Italian, and New Zealand wines.
So expect to see an increase in imported wines. It will be interesting to see how American producers decide how to combat this growing trend.
For restaurant wine programs, it will be important to appeal to millennials’ international wine tastes to help boost wine sales. Wine buyers should consider adding a few more international selections to their wine lists. Especially adding imported options to the glass pour list as a more affordable and approachable place for young drinkers to make a purchase on a gateway wine.
Increase in Demand for Bordeaux Wine
Wine from the Bordeaux region has always been considered a classic. But tough competition and high prices caused a decrease in popularity, particularly with younger wine drinkers.
Now Bordeaux wines are making a return. Stephanie Libreau, the sales and PR manager with Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion , stated that Bordeaux wines are becoming “more approachable and more drinkable for the customer.”
The new push from the Bordeaux region along with more affordable prices, has prompted a desire to return to the classics. As a result, millennials are flocking to taste the classic wines and experience the rich reds from the region
Wine trends in 2019 will surely be interesting. Being aware of how millennials are impacting the industry is key to keeping your menu up to date.
It’s officially fall and that means it time to make some of the most creative Halloween cocktails around. From a spooky twist on your favorite cocktails to entirely new ones, the list below is bound to spice up your cocktail menu. Give these tasty drinks a try and lets us know what you think!
Unicorns are the mystical creatures we all wish existed. Their supposed pure and fairy like demeanor calls for a sweet and fruity cocktail. Unicorn Blood, known as the elixir to eternal life, is a supernatural twist to the cocktail favorite Purple Rain. A clever way to take purple rain from an ordinary cocktail to a Halloween favorite is ultra fine edible glitter. This takes the purple drink to the next level and allows customers to have a unique visual cocktail experience. Use your signature recipe for a purple rain cocktail or try our recipe below, but don’t forget the glitter!
1 ½ oz. Vodka
3 oz. Lemonade
½ oz. Blue Curacao
1/8 tsp ultra fine food safe edible glitter
Every one loves a well-made Bloody Mary, but nothing is more devilish than a tequila twist on this go to cocktail. This one ingredient change will completely awaken your taste buds for an eye opening and flavorful experience. For this cocktail you must due away with the normal celery stick garnishes and instead use 2 red or green peppers. The peppers transform you normal cocktail glass into one with devil horns. This is a simple change that will allow your customers to have an even spicier experience for Halloween.
2 oz Tequila
1 tsp horseradish
3 dashes Tabasco sauce
3 dashes Worcestershire sauce
1 dash lime juice
3 dashes celery salt
3 dashes pepper
6 oz tomato juice
Garnish: 2 chili peppers on glass rim ( to resemble devil horns)
Vampire’s Bite Shooters
Nothing is as rememberable as a vampire bite and this shooter is no different. With a mix of coconut rum and peach schnapps this shot will surly leave a lasting impression. The best part of this shooter that will leave your guest in the Halloween spirit, is the splash of grenadine to resemble the blood of a bite. Fangs are optional but if you’re really ready to participate in the festivities it will take you Halloween cocktails to the next level.
1 part Coconut Rum
1 part Peach Schnapps
1 part Vodka
Splash of Grenadine (resembles blood)
Optional Garnish: Mini Vampire Fangs
Tequila alone can already be a bit frightening, but nothing takes it to the next level like this Morgue-A-Rita. The recipe calls for a red wine, such as a cabernet, that will definitely add a new flavor profile to the agave flavoring of Tequila. This cocktail is perfect for the Halloween season with a name to match.
This cocktail offers a unique cocktail experience for you guest as the tequila mixture is pour first and the red wine sits on top, creating a 2 contrasting layers of liquid. For the most drastic Morgue-A-Rita experience leave 1/4 inch of room in the glass to layer the red wine on top.
1 ½ oz. tequila blanco
¾ oz. lime juice
¾ oz. simple syrup
Red wine ( such as Cabernet)
The first things that comes to mind when thinking of a mad scientist is a lab full of strange chemicals and an abundance of smoky fog. Well this drink will bring the same spooky Halloween vibe to your bar or party.This cocktail idea has a lot of room for flexibility, but will surely be a hit. The recipe below offers you a fun and fruity green cocktail, but any bright and fun colored cocktail will work to create the mad scientist allusion. The most important aspect of this cocktail is the fog! This can be accomplished in a variety of ways but the most popular is with dry ice. But beware, dry ice can be a little tricky to handle. Below is the recipe for the cocktail itself and click here for advice on how to add fog to any cocktail on your menu.
It’s difficult to be a restaurant manager. The position requires long hours. A gumbo of personal, organizational, and strategic skills. And it is often considered thankless. But restaurant management can also be incredibly rewarding. Providing quality service and memorable experiences to your guests and employees can make the stress worth it. The leadership skills and qualities needed to be a restaurant manager take time to build and train. This post will give you guidelines to become a good restaurant manager, or to recognize one when you work for them.
Restaurant Management Skills Pyramid
While researching the topic of restaurant management skills, I came across a helpful and insightful guide on the qualities of a good manager. The Management Skills Level Pyramid was developed by Dr. Kammy Haynes, who has a Ph.D. in Industrial Organizational Psychology and is the CEO of her own management consulting group. She knows her stuff.
Uncorkd’s visualization of the Management Skills Levels Pyramid
Why a pyramid?
The pyramid system is useful because it shows the skills that you need to adopt in order grow and become more successful as a manager. It acknowledges that building skills, and growing a career, take time and effort.
For this post, we’ll separate the different levels of the management pyramid in order to put them in context of the managing a restaurant. Here’s a link to read more about the management skills pyramid if you’re interested.
Level 1 of The Restaurant Management Skills Pyramid
The foundational level of the pyramid deals with more tangible skills like planning, organizing, and directing your employees and restaurant. That means the core traits of a successful restaurant manager have to do with being proactive, mindful, and a strong communicator.
Skill 1: Plan
This is most basic level of management. It essentially describes the basic job functions of a manager. Working in a restaurant means the unexpected is to be expected. It’s crucial that a manager takes the time to plan and account for the resources needed to operate a restaurant, such as:
Maintaining inventory levels
Hiring and utilizing proper staff
Preparing for events
Proper planning comes down to being mindful of what your restaurant requires to run properly each and everyday. When I was still bartending, one manager constantly repeated a mantra, “set yourself up for success.” A good manager sets his employees up for success with proper planning.
Skill 2: Organize
After planning comes organization. How will the plan be executed? It comes down to organization. This includes organizing staff and co-workers into a system that is primed for success and handling the unexpected.
Here are some ways to a restaurant manager establishes organization:
Setting up standard operating procedure
Steps of service for managing guests
Assigning server sections and necessary service staff
Establish consistent schedules for breaks or staff meal
Putting floor managers in a position to assist service
Establishing a chain of command
Who reports to whom?
Who should staff talk to about certain complainants?
What role does a lead server or bartender play?
Create work flow
What tasks are employees responsible for?
What side work needs to be done to maintain quality service
How are check outs performed at the end of the night?
Skill 3: Direct
Direct is the first interpersonal skill in the pyramid. It’s the communication of what you’ve planned and organized. It’s about providing guidance for your staff on a daily basis to ensure they know what the standards and expectations of working at the restaurant are.
Direction is a crucial element of management, and it requires being proactive and open with your employees so there isn’t any uncertainty with the day-to-day tasks they’re responsible for.
Communicating goals in pre-shift meetings
Building a proper training program
Applying consistent standards
For example, if you require your servers to get their side work approved by a manager or lead server, then make sure each server knows the procedure when they begin working for you. You will be able to avoid many issues this way, and also be able to spot underachieving employees quickly.
Skill 4: Control
Control is the myriad systems put in place to monitor and evaluate how the restaurant is operating. Whether it’s tracking financial performance, establishing a depreciating budget for liquor and food purchasing, or ensuring that service is consistent and employees are performing.
Here are some examples of control:
Analyzing sales and service reports from POS system
Using and reviewing checklists for server and bartender side work
Inventory and financial reporting
Food waste controls
Level 2 of the Restaurant Management Skills Pyramid
If the first level of the pyramid was the head of a good manager, then Level 2 is the heart. This level deals with less operation and clerical skills than level 1. It focuses more on promoting a positive work environment that creates professional and personal growth for your employees.
Skill 5: Motivation
Motivating your employees isn’t an easy task. And there’s no single tactic that will motivate every employee. Sometimes it’s easier to start by identifying things that de-motivate employees than it is to spot successful motivational tactics. Things like a lack of effort from management, poor planning, poor organization, will create a sour work environment.
Essentially, a de-motivating environment is created when management doesn’t display any of the characteristics of a good restaurant manager listed in level 1 of the pyramid.
It’s important to remember that motivation doesn’t have to take the form of rah-rah sports motivation often seen in pop culture. Consistent, good work and responsibility is a good way to motivate people, for example. Motivation doesn’t always require the high energy of a tense moment in a crucial game, or the victory speech before a big battle in Game of Thrones.
Here are some good ways to motivate staff:
Employ and reward a high performing staff to motivate others to work hard
Allow professional growth by promoting from within
Recognize good and hard work, or employees who exceed their basic job duties
Listen to feedback from employees and implement their ideas to improve operations
Be competent and reliable yourself
You can also implement more competitive elements of motivation to persuade employees to work harder.
Sales competitions with a reward
Share server or bartender sales numbers
Promote good employees to work large parties, events, or other opportunities to earn more money
Skill 6: Training
Training has a lot to do with organization and planning. But execution of training requires good communication and motivation to improve employee skills.
For example, providing insightful wine training is a great to engage employees by giving them the opportunity to learn new information skills that will help them upsell to guests and earn more money.
Here are some ways to implement productive training:
Create a training manual and employee handbook
This establishes standards right away and can be referenced later
Provide helpful information on the wine, beer, spirits, and food served in your restaurant
Detail the company culture and expectations for both new employees and management
Conduct ongoing training
Invite producer and distributor reps, local influencers, and others to come into the restaurant to train staff in different areas
Skill 7: Coaching
Coaching and training sound similar, but the goals associated with them are different. Training is focused more on practical knowledge and operational procedures. It relates specifically to the products you service and the way your restaurant functions.
Coaching, on the other hand, is focused more on performance and professional growth. It could be giving guidance on how to deal with stressful situations, or dealing with co-worker disagreements.
Coaching also provides insights into how to improve performance, and the logic behind handling situations in order to achieve the best outcome.
Here are some ways to implement coaching in your restaurant:
Be observant of your employees moods, behavior, and stress level
This allows you to approach staff who are dealing with a problem and coach them through it before the problem escalates. It can also help prevent staff burnout that can lead to turnover.
Explaining why something is done behind
Putting their work in the context of achieving goals
Mentor employees who want to grow within the restaurant industry
Skill 8: Employee Involvement
This is a key skill of being a good restaurant manager. Employees want their voices to be heard. No one wants to feel like they’re just a body at work. Giving employees the opportunity to make suggestions, improve operations, and impact their workplace will go along way towards employee satisfaction and limiting turnover.
Hold regular meetings to get feedback from employees
When new procedures or features of a restaurant are introduced, survey employees to get their feedback
Promote from within
Utilize employees non-restaurant skills
The restaurant industry is full of multi-talented people. Have someone on staff who is into graphic design create promotional materials for events. Or have a musician on staff curate playlists for the dining room.
Level 3 of the Restaurant Management Skills Pyramid
This set of skills is focused on the manager themselves. While the bulk of management is managing others, how you manage yourself is also important. It will dictate your ability to execute all the skills involved in the first two levels of the pyramid.
Skill 9: Self-Management
This is about knowing yourself. Your strengths, weaknesses, and your limits of endurance. Understanding the skills you need to improve on, or which tasks should be delegated is important.
The restaurant industry can be overwhelming for managers. So it’s important not to becoming a load bearing structure, where if you collapse, the whole thing comes crashing down. Taking on a larger work load than possible is not a noble thing, because you’re shorting yourself and your employees.
Here are ways to improve self management:
Take time away from the restaurant
Understand your triggers and paint points
Communicate issues with other managers
Focus on areas you need to improve on
Establish personal goals to work towards
Skill 10: Time-Management
When you work in a restaurant, time disappears faster than shift meal. So it’s important to understand how to invest your time when you’re at the restaurant.
Create a schedule that works for you. If lunch service is hectic and it pulls you away from office work, then plan your day accordingly so you can get office tasks done without interruption.
Here are some strategies to improve time management:
Make a to-do list each day
Set calendar reminders to remind you to finish weekly or unique tasks
Delegate tasks that others can do
Invest in technology that will ease your workload
Keep a consistent schedule when possible
Top Level of the Restaurant Management Skills Pyramid
Congratulations, you’ve reached the summit. Once you can learn to handle the technical, organizational, motivational, and self-management skills required to be a successful restaurant manager, you can focus on the bigger picture.
Top Level: Leadership
Leadership is more than simply managing employees and operations. It’s having the ability to inspire people to work with and alongside you. A good leader executes all the skills of a good manager, but they do it consistently, and with passion, so people are willing to follow them.
It means that your overall vision for the restaurant – what you want to be known for, how you want to be viewed within the community, what experience you want to provide your guests – is consistently served by the strategies employed through the lower levels of the pyramid.
Essentially, a good leader holds their vision accountable to the work that needs to be done to achieve it.
The flavors of fall are comforting and familiar, like an old sweater pulled from storage or the back of your closet. But fall cocktail flavors also give bartenders a chance to get creative. If you’re turning the page with your cocktail menu this fall, then think of flavors that are warming and ripe with nostalgia. Spice and apple, smokey and nutty; fall cocktails should boast big flavors without being overwhelming. Let’s dive into the leaf pile to explore 5 fall cocktails that are perfect for warming your guests on a cool night.
A Classic Twist: Walnut Manhattan
This twist on the Manhattan adds walnut liqueur to the simple cocktail recipe of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. Walnut adds a rich, dessert like flavor to play off the cocktail’s herbal dryness. It’s a perfect after dinner drink. The most recognizable walnut liqueur is Nocino, hailing from Italy. But if you’ve got the DIY spirit then you can make your own walnut liqueur in-house.
2 oz. George Dickel Rye Whiskey
.75 oz. Dolin Sweet Vermouth
.5 oz Nocino Walnut liqueur
2-3 dashes of angostura bitters
Garnish with lemon swath*
Method: Add all ingredients to cocktail mixing glass, add ice, stir 25-30 seconds, or until the mixing glass is cold to the touch. Pour into martini glass or rock glass. Ice is optional for rocks glass. Express lemon swath and drop in drink.
*Lemon swath is a better fit for this manhattan variation because it balances the rich and oily texture of the walnut liqueur.
What makes it a fall cocktail: The nutty sweetness of walnut liqueur has light spiced notes and the overall taste is like that of a baked good.
Fall Favorites: Apple Brandy and Bourbon
Like all brandy, apple brandy’s popularity has declined, with the spirit buried deep on the bench of go-to spirits for American drinkers. Which is a shame, because it makes a damn good cocktail. Mixing it with a spicy, high-rye bourbon will combine two of the best fall flavors: apple and spice.
.75 oz. Laird’s Straight Apple Brandy*
.75 oz. Four Roses’s Bourbon
.5 oz. Yellow Chartreuse
.5 oz Ginger Simple Syrup
.5 oz. Lemon Juice
Garnish with apple slice**
*You can substitute Laird’s Applejack for the apple brandy here. Applejack is a mix of apple brandy and neutral spirits.
**For efficiency you should pre-cut your apple slices. To keep cut apple slices from browning, keep slices in a mixture of lemon juice and water.
Method: Add lemon juice, ginger simple syrup, and then liquor to cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake for 15 – 20 seconds. Fine strain into an old fashioned glass and add large ice cube.
What makes it a fall cocktail: Well, the apple brandy certainly captures fall with its deep fruit sweetness. And the spice from the ginger syrup is the perfect pairing for the honey flavors in yellow chartreuse.
Smokey Surprise: Mezcal and Pomegranate
Mezcal and particularly, tequila, are generally thought of as summer or warm weather spirits. They come from Mexico, after all. And the most popular cocktail in the United States is the Margarita, certainly a drink that comes with visions of a summer getaway. But the smokey seduction of Mezcal and the toasted sweetness of agave in a barrel-aged reposado tequila is what fall tastes like in 2018.
1 oz. Fidencio Mezcal
1 oz. Espolon Reposado Tequila
.5 oz. Lime Juice
Top glass with Pomegranate juice
Garnish with candied lime wheel
Method: Add ice to collins glass or old fashioned glass. Add lime juice, followed by mezcal and tequila. Top with pomegranate juice. Quickly stir to incorporate ingredients and then garnish with candied lime wheel.
What makes it a fall cocktail: The smoke of mezcal, the soft sweetness of reposado tequila, and the deep red fruit of pomegranate juice combine for a smokey and jammy drink that offers a new avenue to reach the nostalgic flavors of fall.
Squash Cocktail: Rye Whiskey and Butternut Squash
Yep. Butternut squash in a cocktail. There are a few ways to utilize squash in a cocktail. The most common way is to roast the squash, cut the cooked squash into small squares, and then infuse it in a neutral spirit like vodka.
But we don’t want to do that. For this cocktail we’ll make a puree that will mix into the cocktail to give it a heavy body and capture all the roasted flavor of butternut squash.
Squash Puree Instructions:
Place oven rack in center position and preheat oven to 400˚F. Cut butternut squash in half, lengthwise, and remove seeds with a spoon. Brush 1 tablespoon of maple syrup over flesh of squash. Set squash halves on a baking sheet, cut-side down, and bake squash until the skin is easily pieced with a knife or fork. About 45 minutes – 1 hour.
Once cooled, remove squash skin. Cut squash into 2 inch segments and add it to a food processor or blender. Process until smooth.
2 oz. Rittenhouse rye
1 spoonful of Butternut squash puree
.5 oz Lemon Juice
.5 oz Demerara simple syrup
2 dash Peychaud bitters
Garnish with sage leaf
Method: Add all liquid ingredients and puree to shaker. Add fresh ice. Shake vigorously for 30 – 40 seconds. Add sage leaf garnish.
What makes it a fall cocktail: The deep sweetness of the roasted butternut squash puree makes it the quintessential fall ingredient. The Demerara sugar used for the simple syrup has a toasty, caramel flavor that plays off of the maple syrup in the butternut squash, and the sage leaf tops off this savory cocktail.
Autumn in England: Gin, Sherry, and Mulled Simple Syrup
Gin is a polarizing spirit. But when paired with mulling spice and a sweet, nutty sherry, gin’s botanical bite is dulled, but still present.
1.5 oz. Sipsmith Gin
.75 oz. Amontillado Sherry
.5 oz. Mulled Simple Syrup*
Top with Tonic Water
Method: Muddle 2-3 orange slices in shaker tin. Add simple syrup and quickly stir to incorporate ingredients. Add gin and sherry. Shake briefly, 10-15 seconds. Strain into old fashioned glass. Add fresh ice and top with tonic water.
What makes this a fall cocktail: The combination of mulling spices – clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger – has the warming power that you look for in fall flavors. And the nutty richness of Amontillado-style sherry is the perfect balance to Sipsmith’s classic London Dry gin.
Liquor cost is a bedrock metric for identifying expected profits in your restaurant. Knowing your numbers and achieving the right liquor cost can help you increase earnings by returning higher profits on alcohol sales. That’s why it’s important to know the industry benchmarks for liquor costs in restaurants. What should liquor cost be in a restaurant? It depends on a few variables. But we’ll cover what the standard liquor costs are so you can compare your numbers to the restaurant industry as a whole. This will let you find a healthy intersection of cost and sales to help your restaurant maintain success.
Why Benchmarks for Liquor Costs are Useful
Industry benchmarks are useful because they are a guideline against which you can weigh your restaurant numbers. They are especially useful for new restaurants who are uncertain of what to realistically expect for their business. And for struggling restaurants that need to discover areas to improve operations and tap into higher profits.
Standard liquor costs (or pour costs) are an average range of cost percentage that restaurants cost falls into.
The range is helpful because there is no single standard for costs that will apply to every restaurant type. Understanding the focus, limits, and variables of your beverage program will give you a better idea of where you should land in the standard cost range.
Which Variables Impact Liquor Costs
Depending on what your focus is for your bar program, you can decide which standard costs are important for your business.
For example, a neighborhood wine bar is focused on selling wine by-the-glass and boutique bottles and won’t expect to do high volume business. So a wine bar like this shouldn’t expect to have the same liquor costs as a night club that pours a high volume of low cost spirits and charges a premium price.
Variables to consider:
Size of restaurant – larger restaurants will often have higher sales and higher costs
Size of beverage program – a larger volume of wines, beers, or spirits will have higher costs
Alcohol sales – The dollar amount of sales generated will have an affect on the cost percentage
Beverage focus – Wine often has higher costs than spirits
Location – The cost of purchasing items and the price point you can charge your customers are dependent on location
What Should Liquor Cost be in a Restaurant?
First. What is liquor cost? It’s also referred to as a pour cost. Though Uncorkd has covered what liquor cost is and how to lower your liquor cost, here’s a quick overview:
Liquor Cost is the cost of a drink ( and a drink’s ingredients) divided by it’s sale price.
Most industry figures cite that the standard pour costs for restaurants is 18% – 24%.
But that number has many skeptics. And it leaves out some useful information by combining the different components of a beverage program into a single statistic.
It’s helpful to take a look at the average pour costs of differently beverage types to determine what range your bar or restaurant should strive to hit.
Average Pour Costs for Wine
Wine is often found on the higher end of the beverage cost scale.
Bakery Tilly’s Industry Benchmark Report shows wine costs generally run between 35% – 45% of total wine sales.
If your restaurant is focused on wine sales, or you run a small wine bar, then your target liquor cost will be higher than other venues with spirit-based or a beer-centric sales.
Though wine has a higher pour cost which leads to smaller profit margin, wines can yield higher revenue than beer, which restaurants should keep in consideration when pricing their wine selections.
Average Pour Costs for Beer
The main thing to consider when looking at beer is whether it is a draft beer or bottled. Buying beer by the keg is a great way to maintain a competitive liquor cost.
The industry standard for draft beer cost is 15% to 18%. Beer on draft is good for building high margins, and is also useful for moving through inventory quickly.
On the other hand, bottled beer has a much higher pour cost at 24% – 28%.
Average Pour Costs for Spirits
Spirits, like draft beer, maintain some of the lower liquor costs out of any alcoholic beverage segment. The benefit of spirits over draft beer is that they often sell at a higher dollar value so you benefit from the combination of large margins and high price points.
Industry liquor cost standard for spirits is 18% – 20%.
High volume in spirits is one of the reasons that night clubs can generate some of the highest profits in the hospitality industry. That and features like bottle service, for which night clubs can sell liquor bottles with mark ups of 200% or more!
How You Can Lower Your Pour Costs
Uncorkd Mobile Inventory App
A Good Inventory System: Spreadsheets are the most common tools used to perform and track liquor inventory. But adopting a mobile inventory solution like Uncorkd can reduce the time spent on inventory by 50% when compared to spreadsheets. Uncorkd and other inventory systems provide you with detailed financial reports and inventory analytics that are necessary to tracking and lowering your liquor costs.
Purchasing Budgets: Coming up with a budget for alcohol purchases will help keep your costs manageable. It’s great for making sure you don’t overspend and aren’t stuck with overstock or inventory you can’t sell. You’ve just got to make sure you stick to your budget.
Analyze Your Data: We mentioned above that reporting and analytics are a great way to lower liquor costs. Knowing your numbers is key to success in the restaurant industry. Having data to analyze will give you good insights for making the right decision to lower costs.
Find a frozen caveman. Thaw the caveman out. When they are conscious and alert, offer the caveman a Coors Light or a local IPA. He”ll choose the IPA. Studies show that 9 out of 10 recently-frozen-cavemen prefer IPAs to domestic lagers.
The point of this fake experiment and fake study is to point out that most everyone in the beer drinking world is developing new preferences when it comes to beer. And breweries continue to expand the beer styles they offer. Changing tastes and expanded offerings in beer is a big reason why it’s important for bars and restaurants to train staff on basic beer knowledge. Staff must keep up with the evolving beer market. So let’s dive into the basics of beer training for bar staff and servers.
Why Spend Time on Beer Training for Staff?
As mentioned above, the beer market is an ever-changing, mercurial industry. Trends peak and diminish, tastes change. But there is consistency when it comes to beer. And there are standards and styles that are worth understanding so you can communicate with guests to inform and sell.
Money to Make
Profit margins on beer can be high. Draft beer costs run on average between 15% – 18% of draft beer sales. And bottled beer comes in a little higher at 24% – 28%. Comparatively, industry benchmarks for wine show average costs running between 35% – 45% of wine sales.
The industry turnover rate for restaurants was 73% in 2017. Losing employees is one of the biggest challenges that restaurants face. Training is a great way to keep employees engaged and feeling like they are getting value from the job outside of income.
In what seems like a slap to the grizzled face of craft brew lovers, 2017 marked the first year that the top 3 selling beers in the U.S. were all light beers. Bud Light led the way, followed by Coors Light, and Miller lite.
With that in mind, it’s important to remember that many drinkers still prefer light and mass produced pale lagers. This is important when considering how to train servers and what to train them on for beer.
Training for Beer Service
Strip away condescension – Knowing the small market size of craft beer, it’s safe to assume that despite the growth of craft beer, many people are not regular craft drinkers, and may prefer a bud light to a megadeath-hopped IPA. Being unassuming when dealing with beer drinkers new to craft goes a long way to making them feel comfortable and helping them find a beer that they enjoy. Teaching staff to be patient and open minded is key to stripping away pretension.
Ask Questions – If a customer is unsure of what to order, the best practice is to ask questions to determine their preferences. Make the experience about the customer, not your own preferences or what the newest, hippest beer on tap is . Leading with questions puts the guest in charge and allows them to make their own decisions.
Give Tastes – Tasting is important for deciding on a beer. Especially if you have a large draft beer selection. Training staff on how to handle giving out beer tastes is important. Limit tastings to 1 or 2 per guest, and make sure that there is a standard pour size for tastings. A taste should lead to a sale, not a free round.
Beer Basics for Training
Ale vs Lager
One of the most fundamental elements of beer knowledge is the difference between an ale and lager. It’s helpful for identifying certain characteristics of a beer and what traits you can reasonably expect from a beer without actually tasting it.
The type yeast used and the traits of that yeast is what yields the majority of differences between an ale and a lager. The yeast used for ales ferments from the top down, while the yeast used in lager ferments from the bottom up.
The different types of yeast used in the two basic beer styles will handle alcohol differently. Ale yeasts can survive in an environment with a higher level of alcohol than lager yeast can. Which results in ales having typically higher rates (or at least the option for higher rates) of alcohol by volume than lagers.
Lager yeasts can survive at colder temperatures than ale yeast. The colder the fermentation is, then the slower the fermentation process, and the clearer the beer will be. Additionally, lagers undergo a period of cold storage, which separates solids so they can be filtered out, adding even more clarity to the beer. This results in lagers having a lighter color compared to ales.
Color: Gold to copper colored. High alcohol IPAs, or double IPAs, can be darker.
Taste: Bitterness, rounded by some malty sweetness
Background: The India Pale Ale originally started as a British ale, but the common version found in America is a hopped up, ultra bitter version of the Brit’s brew. British IPAs are less bitter, with more malt presence, but still maintaining a dry mouthfeel.
Popular Examples: Dogfish Head 90 Minute, Bell’s Two Hearted
Color: Deep golden to copper or light brown
Taste: Low malt character, resulting in less balance than IPA. Medium to medium-high bitterness, often “piney” resin flavor that is commonly found in American hops, especially California style pale ales.
Background: One of the most popular beer styles, again, originating as a British style. American pale ales are more aggressively hopped than the original British ales. Pale ales, particularly those with less hop character, ie., bitterness, are great beers for drinkers who are used to pilsner and other hoppy lagers.
Popular Examples: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Dale’s Pale Ale
Color: Straw to pale
Taste: Low maltiness, no perceived hop flavor, with a creaminess from the wheat. Some light notes of fruity flavors, and spiced with coriander and orange peel (Belgian style, witbier) , which impart a slight spiciness.
Background: These beers are of Belgian origin. Wheat beers are also represented by German styles like Hefeweizen, Berliner Weisse, and Weizen beers. They are generally cloudy beers that still contain yeast solids from being “bottle-conditioned.” A practice where fermentation is finished while in the bottle instead of prior to bottling.
Popular Examples: Allagash White
Color: Deep copper to very dark brown
Taste: Notes of roasted malt, hints caramel and chocolate aromas. A brown ale tastes like a baked good, balanced by a bitterness from hops.
Background: Another import from Britain. And it hits on another theme, American brewers love hops and bitterness. The British style is much less hoppy, with toasty, biscuit-like characteristics. This is a great fall beer.
Popular Examples: Funky Buddha French Toast
Taste: Coffee notes, roasted malts, some sweetness with hints of caramel and chocolate. Some hop flavor, often a full bodied beer.
Background: Stouts are big, bold beers. They are dark, even black in color. The deep color of stout is why a pale ale is called pale, even though it’s often a rich copper color. In the early days of English ale making, beer choices were limited, and so the comparison between pale ales and stouts was much more clear.
Popular Styles: Founder’s Breakfast Stout, North Coast Old Rasputin,
*A note on Stouts and Porters
These two beers are often confused. And for good reason. There isn’t a big difference between the two styles. The murky origin story leaves us with little insight that feels helpful, but a stout is generally considered a descendent of a porter.
The name stout originally meant strong, or a beer boasting a high alcohol by volume. The same way we use the term Imperial today. The name stout derived from patrons ordering a stout porter, or high-alcohol porter. The only stylistic difference is that porters are often made with unmalted roasted barley, which imparts flavors associated with coffee. Porters are generally made with malted barley.
Lagers are split between two categories: light and dark. Germany might be considered the king of lagers, which is why it’s not surprising that the king of American beers, Budweiser (well, now, Bud Light), is from Anheuser-Busch Brewery, started by German immigrants.
Color: Straw to gold
Taste: Low malt, medium to high hop flavor. Can include citrus and fruity hop notes, noticeable bitterness.
Background: American style Pilsners utilize pre-prohibition styles which use rice and/or corn as significant ingredients. German and Bohemian-style Pilsners have more pronounced malt flavors, with less hop flavor than American styles.
Popular Examples: Victory Prima Pils, Firestone Walker Pivo Pils
Color: Straw to gold
Taste: Low malt, low hops, fruity notes, a dry and crisp beer.
Background: A German style of beer.
Popular Examples: Trillum Sprang, Metropolitan Krankshaft
Color: Pale to golden
Taste: Malt flavor, very lightly toasted, low hops with a medium body
Background: Originated in Munich in Germany to compete with Czech Pilsner’s popularity. More malt and bready-ness than a Pilsner with less hop bite.
Popular Examples: Surly Helles
Color: Light brown to brown
Taste: Low maltiness but it imparts chocolate and roasted flavors without presence of hops.
Background: This beers gets its color and distinct roast flavors from the Munich malt.
Popular Examples: Not a lot of popular dunkel style beers are brewed in the States. Try the Surly Schadenfreude.
Color: Copper to dark brown
Taste: Toasted malted barley, some caramel and coffee flavors, no hop flavor. High alcohol.
Background: These are high alcohol beers, the doppel meaning “double,” like Double IPAs.