Follow Toast | Restaurant Management Platform on Feedspot

Continue with Google
Continue with Facebook


Ask a current restaurant owner whether you should open a restaurant of your own, and you’ll likely hear, “don’t waste your money!”

But why? Well, it’s hard, it’s demanding, there are so many moving parts, and there are way more challenges in this industry than in any other I’ve come across.

Though the restaurant industry is the perfect place for those passionate about food and hospitality, it can take its toll on your well-being.

I probably sound like an old guy here, but had someone shared with me the eight ideas listed below a dozen years ago or more, I could have saved a lot of time, money, brain cells, hard feelings, and plenty of other negative things that kept me from achieving my true potential — especially in the early years.

Take it from someone who knows: Here are eight ways to stop  the restaurant industry from destroying your life. 

Subscribe for More 1. Be Intentional and Set Professional Goals 

A lot of us began working in a restaurant it at a young age because we needed a summer job, some way to pay the bills, or a way to sustain ourselves while attending college.

Most of us keep finding ourselves being pulled back into restaurants even if we promise ourselves   never again!

Why? Sure, you need a job, but ask yourself —  why am I working here? Does this job put me one step closer to achieving my long-term career goals?

We all should have goals that we set out to achieve in life  —  those goals are the “mountains” we’re continuously climbing. The question to ask yourself is: Does this job help me get closer to summiting the my goal mountain? 

No one can answer that question for yourself but you.

Sometimes we have to make sacrifices, sometimes we have to take jobs we don’t want to because they’ll create better opportunities for us in the future. 

Your restaurant job  can be a lot more than just a paycheck — even a stepping stone to future places in your career — if you’re intentional about it. If you realize your restaurant job isn’t a stepping stone toward achieving your future goals, look for another opportunity that is.

2. Focus on Yourself

 It’s easy to get frustrated with fellow employees who aren’t pulling their weight , especially when  they show up late, clock out early, don’t clean their station properly, or they aren’t attentive with guests.

 The thing is...you can’t control them: The only thing you can control is yourself.

So, focus on what you can control  —  the energy you’re putting into your work and the way in which you manage the relationships around you. 

The minute you own your shortcomings and focus on what you could have done differently when things go awry , you’ll notice a shift. You can’t hold yourself accountable for others’ mistakes or missteps, just yours.

3. Appreciate The Other Jobs People Around You  Do 

The better you can understand the people with whom you work – including their working style and their responsibilities – the better you’ll understand the way the company works as a whole.

It’s easy to get frustrated with the kitchen when they’re dragging tickets on a Friday night and table 20 just asked for their meals  for the third time. It’s a lot harder to put yourself in the shoes of your restaurant’s kitchen staff who are doing their best to get the food out and manage the other orders they need to tend to.

Maybe that busboy isn’t lazy,  maybe something bigger is going on in his life beyond the walls at work that you can be empathetic towards. 

I’m a big believer in giving the benefit of the doubt. If you take time to appreciate the people around you, I guarantee you’ll become a better person because of it,

4. Be Mindful of Who You Surround Yourself With 

"You're the average of the five people you spend the most time with." Here’s a simple way to visualize this iconic quote: If you want to be a millionaire, go hang out with five millionaires.

If you set goals for yourself (which you should – refer to advice tidbit #1 above), a great way to go about achieving those goals is to learn how others who  have been in your shoes were able to create success.

If you want to be a great chef,  find a great chef to study under. If you want to be a great bartender,  find the best mixologist in town and shadow them.

Ask: What did they do in their career to get to that point?

All too often in this industry — I’m speaking for myself as well — the five people we are around most are the five we work with closest, which we don't always have a say in. 

We do have the luxury of living in a world where proximity to mentors isn’t an issue . Find a great YouTube page or restaurant podcast that will help you achieving your vision, mission, and goals.

5. Don’t Settle For a Paycheck 

 Every day that you walk into work, you have an opportunity to hone your craft, learn new skills, grow professionally, and move your career forward.

Don’t just settle for a paycheck .

 I firmly believe that employers should provide their employees with the best opportunities possible to succeed; you, too, should be looking for these opportunities daily as you go into work.

If you work for a company that doesn’t push you,  you’re not growing and moving closer to the goals you want to achieve in your life.

Fix this by asking for more responsibility in your role. If your boss won’t give you more responsibility or opportunity to grow, it’s time to find someone else to work for.

6. Go Home After Work and Save Your Money 

While in college, I got job waiting tables at a prestigious restaurant in Atlanta where I’d easily walk out with 200–300 bucks a night.

I can’t recall a shift at the restaurant that wasn’t followed with a few drinks and shots with the crew at the bar next door. We got to know the bartenders pretty well  —  they took good care of us and as a result we took good care of them. 

Nights ended with me leaving the bar bleary-eyed with substantially less money than what I had when I walked in. It pains me think how much money I could have saved had I not gone out after working all of those shifts.

I know it’s hard, especially when you’re young and want to have fun.

My advice to you? Start a savings account, especially if you’re FOH and walk out with tips every night. Instead of stopping by the bar on your way home, stop by the bank.

Put money aside that goes toward your future and don’t blow all your cash on the cold-as-ice Jager machine next door.

7. Disconnect  

When you get off of work, get off of work!

Spend time with family and friends and do things that are important to you: The things that make your soul happy .

As long as you’re plugged into work, you’ll always be partially on the clock  —  which I think is unhealthy.

There was a three or four year stretch in my own career where work was all I thought about and all I did . It was an obsession. I’d get off of work and still be thinking of specials we could be running for the following day or what I needed to do in the morning when I got back to work.

This was almost the end of me — it became a dark period in my life and ended up, ironically, causing me to temporarily fall out of love with the work that I was doing in the kitchen.

8. Take Care of Yourself

As a whole, those of us in the restaurant industry don’t take the best care of ourselves.

There are the obvious ways  — in my experience, restaurant staff are known for  drinking too much, smoking cigarettes, and maintaining unhealthy relationships with drugs.

All three of those vices can and will ruin your life. Though you may feel like you’ve got a handle on your habits now, they will catch up to you. The most important thing you have on this earth isn’t your family, your bank account, your creativity or anything else related to work  —  it’s your health, both physical and mental.

If you take anything at all away from this list, let it be this: take care of yourself.

Don’t Lose Sight of What’s Most Important in Life 

At the end of the day your career is just that, your career.

 Your partner, your kids, your friends, the pieces of life that make it worthwhile (in addition to doing the work you love)  those are the things that matter.

It’s a balancing act — sometimes you’ll slip too far in the wrong direction — just know that you can always get back on track.

Now that you’re done reading this list, pass it on to someone else in your life.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

The restaurant industry is an already crowded marketplace that just keeps getting more crowded.

Every business — from restaurants, to breweries, to distilleries, and more — is trying their hardest to reach their target customers, but it’s getting harder and harder to stand out above the noise.

Though the restaurant industry is a highly competitive marketplace, the “every (wo)man for himself” approach could be hurting your business more than it’s helping.

Ever heard the phrase “a high tide floats all boats?” With few exceptions, it’s sound advice. Well, restaurant community involvement is the high tide you’ve been waiting for.

Community involvement allows you to expand into new audiences and grow your brand reach by establishing profitable, professional relationships. Connecting with other strong brands in your local restaurant community and collaborating on events, initiatives, and campaigns will lift you both to mutually beneficial (read: profitable) success. 

Here are a few examples of real restaurants using community involvement and the power of professional connections to market and grow their business. 

Take A Field Trip

Pairing food with drink is one of the most basic functions of a restaurant; guests count on it.

Some restaurants will enlist the help of a sommelier to shape a wine menu that is attractive to their guests’ palates and offers a suitable pairing for every dining option available on their menu.

Enterprising restaurateurs and managers can take this one step further by pairing the people behind the food with the people behind the beverages.

Last winter, Serie Keezer, Culinary Director at Sea Level Oyster Bar, with locations in Newburyport and Salem, Massachusetts, took the entire staff from his restaurants to visit Privateer Rum, a distillery in nearby Ipswich, Massachusetts.

While there, Serie’s servers, cooks, and managers were able to chat with accomplished distiller, Maggie Campbell, about her craft, the importance of rum to the area, and about the Privateer products available in the Sea Level restaurants.

After the visit, Sea Level posted about the experience with pictures and a public thank you to Privateer Rum for their hospitality. Those posts received higher than average engagement both because of the novelty of the content, and because Sea Level was engaging fans of the Privateer Rum who may not have been aware of the restaurant previously.

This savvy take on community involvement enabled Sea Level to convert Privateer Rum’s fans into new fans of their restaurants, and fans of both brands into brand evangelists.

Sea Level plans to return the favor by inviting the Privateer team for dinner one night this spring, giving an the distillery the opportunity to conduct a similar social media campaign and convert Sea Level fans into Privateer Rum fans.

The Power of Positivity

Sharing praise and showing appreciation for others in your local restaurant community is a great way to make strong, positive, professional connections. Giving compliments also feels good.

Every October, Salem is flooded with tourists who want to experience the “Witch City” during the Halloween season (yes, it’s a whole season in Salem, not just a day).

The Halloween season is great for local businesses (generally speaking) but tourists tend to be less kind than locals when it comes to online reviews given during this uncharacteristically crazy time of year.

The thing is, people often leave reviews when something goes wrong, but fewer remember to leave good reviews when things go right. A restaurant in Salem may be the victim of a backlash of bad reviews; without positive testimony from a regular patron, it will stay that way.

To help boost the ratings (and staff morale) of local Salem restaurants that may be affected by these poor Halloween season tourist reviews, OctoCog created a new local holiday called Five Star Friday, which falls on the first Friday after Halloween. They invite residents throughout Salem and neighboring cities to give 5 star reviews on Facebook to their favorite local establishments.


We're launching a new annual tradition on the North Shore: Five Star Friday. This is our chance to take back the review pages from the autumn tourists. Don't let them have the last say. This Friday, we are asking everyone to pick just one restaurant that you love (and haven't reviewed before) and give them 5 stars on FB...along with a short description of why you love them. That's it! The 60 seconds you spend on the review is going to make a local business owner and their staff feel loved. We promise. Tag the business you're going to review in the comments! . . . . . #octocog #salemma #northshorema #boston #cooking #food #restaurant #local #nyceats #foodstagram #cookstagram #eatfamous #marblehead #foodblogger #fooddiary #eatstagram #foodbeast #dailyfoodfeed #buzzfeast #chef #truecooks #foodisee #dailyfood #nomnom #forkyeah #eatlocal #cheflife #foodshare #lynnma #beverlyma

A post shared by OctoCog. Eat. Drink. (@octocog) on Nov 1, 2017 at 11:16am PDT

The good people of Salem responded in a big way.

The reviews contained glowing, often personal, praise for staff and owners alike; one restaurant owner was even moved to tears.

It was an emotional, positive day in the Salem restaurant community that capped an otherwise notoriously stressful month.

By getting involved in our local restaurant community and solving problem that affected the Salem restaurant community as a whole, the Salem business community views Octocog as  proactive, productive, and positive. 

This Little Piggy Went To Market

A "beer dinner" is an event held by a restaurant or brewery where the focus is for guests to enjoy a specific selection of beer that is perfectly paired with an accompanying prix fixe menu.

Tony Maws of Craigie on Main in Cambridge, Massachusetts, decided to present a new take on the old classic.

Maws teamed up with Notch Brewing to offer a special, ticketed event where guests would accompany him to a local Farmer’s Market and pick out ingredients for their lunch at Craigie and Main. The meal they helped create was then paired with beers from Notch Brewing.

Guests got the chance to interact with one of their favorite chefs — which doesn’t happen often given the nature of busy kitchens —  and were able to learn more about the chef’s thought process with ingredients when putting together a menu on the fly.

Working together on this beer dinner was a great way for Craigie on Main and Notch Brewing to lean on one another’s audiences for increased brand exposure and new customers. It was also a positive experience for the vendors at the local Farmer’s Market who were thrilled to engage with a group of people discussing innovative ways to use the produce and products they made.

Since the event was such a big hit, Craigie on Main decided to turn it into a series called Burger & Beer Friday Lunch. They've since involved more breweries, including Somerville, Massachusetts' Aeronaut Brewing

  Surprise & Delight

For the past few months, Flatbread Company has been delivering lunch to one area school each month.

They coordinate with the school’s administration to feed the entire staff and post photos of the delivery process on their Facebook and Instagram accounts. This initiative allows them to thank their community’s teachers for the hard work they do while introducing their brand at the same time.

Last month, Flatbread delivered free lunch to Hadley School in Swampscott, a K-3 school with about 50 staff members. The teachers were overjoyed. Some didn’t know that the restaurant had a location nearby, while others knew about it but weren’t aware Flatbread also has a bowling alley at the restaurant.

The social media posts garnered plenty of likes and shares because the public was happy to see an act of kindness being paid from a local business to a local institution.

Side note: Free food is preferable to discounting! Discounting isn’t always a cost-effective play because it anchors the value of your product lower in the minds of your guests; offering free items does not have the same effect because there is no price associated with the food.

Everyone's A Winner

This past December, Rumson’s Rum came up with a brilliant idea.

They built an enormous version of a Christmas Advent Calendar and asked members of their local community to get involved by donating gifts to hide behind each of the doors in the calendar.

The contributions were creative and diverse: Local restaurants gave gift cards, retailers sent clothing, and an area hotel even sent a free night’s stay.

Every day, Eric Glass and Steve Orne, co-founders of Rumson’s Rum, opened a door on their massive calendar and made a video which they then posted to social media. Any fans who engaged with the post were entered in a drawing to win that day’s prize.

Rumson’s saw a huge increase in their social media reach throughout the usually sleepy month of December and local retailers felt a boost in brand recognition and sales. 

Make That "Me, Me, Me" a "We, We, We" Approach

Community involvement is often a great way to engage new audiences and turn them onto your brand.

Using the relationships you have with businesses around you is not only a low cost idea, but you can make new connections in the process and turn your neighborhood or region into a more tightly knit community.

What does your restaurant's community involvement ideas? 

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

True restaurant professionals realize they were blessed with the gift to create lasting memories in their guests’ lives, making it their purpose to offer true hospitality.

But when you feel overwhelmed by the many ongoing challenges involved in running a restaurant, it’s easy to lose sight of this.

That's why all restaurant professionals – even the very best – need to stick to a set of systems to follow restaurant best practices.So, how do you stay focused on your why and not let the challenges of running a restaurant beat you down? 

Let’s take a look at how to best follow restaurant best practices so you can stress less and focus on your ability to make lasting memories in your guests’ lives.

What Is A System?

A restaurant system is a process – a way of doing anything and everything in your restaurant – to guide you towards following best practices.

And what is best practice? It's creating a system or process for everything you do in your restaurant. These systems allow others to run the restaurant how you want without you having to be there. This way, you can work on your business, rather than in it.

Systems must be two things:

  1. They must be trainable.
  2. They must meet the needs and expectations of the restaurant owner or manager.

When everyone is trained your way, following your systems, you no longer lose years of experience and knowledge when a seasoned person leaves your business. This uniformity also ensures you hold people accountable. When someone moves on — whether it be for good or bad reasons — there is another person who moves up easily because they have been trained your way.

This is huge, and one of the biggest reasons why some chain restaurants are able to maintain thousands of locations around the world that have zero owners in them. They have a system, a process, a way to doing anything and everything in their restaurants: their way.

Setting Your Systems For Following Best Practices

Adhering to systems in the name of following best practices will only work if you have two things in place:

1. You hold your restaurant to high standards.

You consistently score A grades in Restaurant 101: our hot food is hot, cold food is cold, you have a clean and safe environment for guests and team members, great service, and great food and beverage choices.

As restaurateurs, this is what we were called to do, and only by doing it with excellence can we ensure we follow best practices in our restaurants.

2. You have a company culture where details matter.

Cash controls and checklists: These are the foundation of all your systems.

Cash controls ensure every penny makes it into the till and then into your bank account.

Checklists ensure your restaurant is kept incredibly clean and ready for each shift to operate.

Without cash controls and checklists, you’re not going to get your chef to count your inventory accurately, your cooks to follow recipes and portion controls, or your front-of-house staff to care about your guests’ experiences.

When you consistently follow proper cash handling procedures and your management team ensures all of your checklists are followed to the T every shift, you will have created a culture in your restaurant where details matter.

Only then are you ready to put systems in place for everything you do in your restaurant, allowing you to working on your business, rather than in it.

What Systems Should You Create to Follow Best Practices?

Here’s a sampling of the systems you need in place:

I know this list looks overwhelming, that’s because it is.

The crazy part? That’s only a partial list of systems to help you follow best practices.

By systemizing your business, you can be comfortable that your day-to-day operations are always being done your way by everyone and anyone on staff.   

When you have systems in place and managers executing those systems your way, there will still be challenges; people will always make mistakes. With the organization and clearly outlined processes these systems provide, your team will be able to get back on track immediately when they stumble.

Management, front-of-house staff, and back of house staff will each know what their job is, how to do it, how well you want it done, and by when. This enables you to hold each of them accountable against their outlined responsibilities.

Having effective systems in place will free up your schedule to focus on what’s important: your ‘why’, including growing your business, showing your passion, and leading your team to success.  

Learn more about restaurant best practices in Toast's Restaurant Success Report
Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

If you’ve cracked open an issue of Bon Appetit recently or scrolled through your Instagram feed, odds are you’ve seen everyone from top-tier chefs to your old friend from middle school boasting about the latest dish they’ve created with the help of (yet another) nerdy kitchen device - the sous vide tool.

But what exactly does sous vide mean – particularly for a restaurant owner?

What is a sous vide cooker?

The latest crop of sous vide tools – from the Electrolux-owned Anova to the approachable Nomiku to the sleek and minimalist Joule by ChefSteps – are offering restaurant-quality equipment at an approachable price point to home cooks around the world.

The makers of these devices promise everything from textural perfection to unending creative menu possibilities. 

These devices' roots are in the restaurant world, and they're arguably more important to restaurant success than ever before. 

Cooking sous vide in the home kitchen has gotten even simpler thanks to companies like Joule. | Credit: Joule by ChefSteps

In this article, we’ll do a deep dive into how and what chefs are cooking sous vide in restaurant kitchens all across the country and why your restaurant may want to be the next to adopt this innovative technique.

What is sous vide?

Sous vide directly translates to “under vacuum,” referring to the technique of sealing food an airtight plastic bag and then cooking it in temperature-controlled water bath.

The technique first emerged in the world of fine dining kitchens in the 1970s after its initial development in the NASA laboratory as an astronaut food preparation technique.

Restaurant chefs have geeked out for decades over the highly precise temperature control they can get from this method, which can unlock the perfect texture and flavor from proteins and vegetables alike.

During the rush of service, kitchen managers are laser-focused on delivering the perfectly-seared piece of meat on precisely the right schedule. By pre-cooking say, a pork chop, sous vide, line cooks can drastically reduce hands-on prep time by simply pulling the chop from the packaging to sear and serve as the order comes in.

Credit: Alex Lau for Bon Appetit

The most ardent devotees of sous vide have called it  the “most important technological advance in the kitchen since the microwave.” And though the technique does have some detractors, the market for commercial-grade sous vide machines is projected to rise 5.65% between 2018 and 2022.

How can cooking sous vide impact a restaurant’s success? 1) Better Taste

Many chefs have leaned on the sous vide methods to transform the texture of tough, low-cost cuts of protein (think: oxtail) into finished products with silky textures reminiscent of premium-priced cuts.

By cooking “low and slow,” chefs are rewarded with dishes that have lower food costs without worrying about sacrificing flavor or quality. And with individual proteins pre-portioned into the sous vide plastic bags, line cooks are less likely to waste product throughout service. 

2) Quicker, Safer Food Prep

Sous vide methods also eliminate much of the active prep time required by line cooks. After several hours left cooking unattended at a low temperature, proteins only need a quick finish on the grill before being plated; this frees up more members of the kitchen team to focus on other tasks.

An added bonus: Water baths of the same temperature can be leveraged for multiple dishes, maximizing the efficiency of kitchen staff. 

3) Efficiency Through Technology

Some sous vide products offer wifi functionality, which allows chefs  to experience the ultimate in labor efficiency: working remotely.

“With an app, you could be on your way to the kitchen and turn on the machine remotely so that the water was hot enough to drop in your proteins as soon as you walked in the door,” says Patrick Wong, former head of marketing at Nomiku

Examples of Sous Vide in Restaurants 

Many esteemed fine dining chefs were quick to see the revolutionary potential of incorporating sous vide into their restaurant kitchens. Let's take a look at what's made their decision to incorporate sous vide techniques and technology so successful (and delectable). 

1) Thomas Keller's Per Se and The French Laundry

Over two decades ago, Thomas Keller introduced sous vide  technology to the kitchens of his three-Michelin-star restaurants, The French Laundry and Per Se. You'll  see his team regularly using their sous vide devices in their pursuit of culinary perfection.

At fellow three-Michelin-star restaurant (and Toast customer) Coi in San Francisco, chef Daniel Patterson praises sous vide for allowing him to serve a duck breast dish in which, “the proteins have denatured but are soft” before receiving a final sear to get a perfectly crisp skin.

Credit: Liz Halifa for San Francisco Chronicle, 2007

2) Kenji Lopez Alt's Wursthall

Restaurateurs and chefs are taking sous vide beyond it's typical functionality by using the technique for preparations beyond just the protein for an entrée. Resident food nerd Kenji Lopez Alt, Food Lab author and chef at Wursthall in San Mateo, can be found sous vide-ing just about anything he can get his hands on, from bacon to tempering chocolate.

Credit: Kenji Lopez Alt for Serious Eats

3) Kenny Arbuckle's Cassia

Kenny Arbuckle, the bar manager at Cassia in Santa Monica, has leaned on the technique to efficiently infuse spirits and liquids for his top-notch cocktail program. His “Hop Sea Negroni” features Cocchi Americano infused sous vide with hops, which are then strained and added to a mezcal-oyster infusion.

Credit: Natalie B. Compton for LA Weekly

Sous Vide Meets Fast Casual

Sous vide isn't confined solely to the realm of fine dining. Recently, several big names in the fast casual space have announced they’re using sous vide techniques and technology in their kitchens – and it’s not always for menu creativity purposes.

1) Chipotle Mexican Grill

In the wake of several E. coli and Norovirus outbreaks, Chipotle announced in 2016 the introduction of sous vide preparations for its steaks as part of new food safety measures. The centralization of food prep and the use of sous vide devices provides added assurance that meats are held at the precise temperature dictated by food safety regulations.

Since then, it appears their beans, which incorporate a sauté of onions, garlic, cumin, chipotle chili, and other herbs are being prepared sous vide.

2) Starbucks

Even coffee giant Starbucks has launched menu items prepared with the help of sous vide cooking techniques.

According to their 2017 press release announcing the arrival of Sous Vide Egg Bites, Starbucks tested several cooking methods during their search for a high-protein breakfast item that wouldn’t feature bread. They landed on sous vide for their egg bites because, “it makes eggs velvety and creamy – almost like you’re eating something indulgent, but you’re not,” said Starbucks brand manager Eveline Chao-Rivera.

Credit: Starbucks

It’s even rumored that the sous vide method inspired the ChickenShack Sandwich at Shake Shack

It’s clear restaurant chefs are choosing sous vide as a preferred technique in recipe development for its creative potential. However, as Starbucks and Chipotle show us, there are noticeable operational benefits to deploying this technique in restaurant kitchens.

So what’s next? 

Whether you choose to invest in sous vide devices, or adapt another up-and-coming trend to fit your restaurant, make sure you’re keeping track of your success with Toast's Menu Engineering Guide.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

At the rate we’re going, in 2050 there will be more plastic in the ocean than fish.

And the kids are not alright with that.

New legislative measures banning the styrofoam products commonly used in restaurants are taking effect in cities, counties, and states across the country; restaurants found in violation of a styrofoam ban face up to $1,000 in fines for failure to comply.  

Local to Baltimore? Sign up for our Free Restaurant Success Talk on Monday, March 19!

In the in the wake of the United States’ withdrawal from The Paris Climate Accord, grassroots organizations across the country have doubled down on their efforts to fight for environmentally conscious policy.

In some cities and states, community-driven environmental advocacy groups are spurring support for legislation on the local level. One specific area of concern for these organizations is the negative ways that polystyrene (the artist formerly known as styrofoam) food service products impact the environment at home and at large.

Baltimore, Maryland is the latest large United States metropolitan area to entertain a city wide ban on stytofoam food service products, specifically taking aim at the styrofoam takeout food and drink containers used by restaurants. 

Let's take a look at the styrofoam ban movement picking up steam in Baltimore and beyond, including how these styrofoam bans stand to affect the international restaurant industry. 

Styrofoam in Restaurants

What is polystyrene foam, you ask?

Best known as “Styrofoam”, a brand name copyrighted by Dow Chemical, polystyrene is a non-biodegradable, synthetic, hard plastic used to make many household items including plastic car parts, packaging material, house insulation, hair dryers, and more.

In restaurants, the most common types of polystyrene you’ll find are EPS [expanded polystyrene]  and XPS [extruded polystyrene], the plastic that common takeout containers, disposable coffee cups, single use utensils and dinnerware are made of.

You know, these guys:

 How do you know if a product is made of polystyrene? This symbol:

While it may be waterproof and durable, two “must-haves” in the takeout cutlery job description, they are also very difficult and costly to recycle — if they’re recycled at all.

If you think styrofoam is costly now, get this:  A new bill given preliminary approval by Baltimore City council could cost restaurants up to $1,000 in fines for using styrofoam dinnerware products.

The Baltimore Styrofoam Ban

What’s so unique about Baltimore’s proposed styrofoam ban is that the  initiative was spearheaded by a group of Baltimore city students.

Image from Baltimore Beyond Plastic's Online Gallery 

Baltimore Beyond Plastic is a local, youth, grassroots organization composed of Baltimore are elementary, middle, and high school students who advocate “against single-use plastics and for a trash-free Baltimore”.

“Our goal is to reduce plastic pollution in Baltimore while empowering the youth voice, a demographic that is frequently underrepresented in our city and across the world,” their website reads.

At present, the group is focused on preserving the health of the Chesapeake Bay and its inhabitants by advocating for a city wide ban of polystyrene foam products from use at local food service establishments. Bill 017-0177, the official name of the bill proposing the ban,  is the culmination of their long term environmental-advocacy efforts.

The law will fine food service businesses up to $1000 for each violation.

If passed, this styrofoam ban will have a huge impact on the restaurants in Baltimore, many of whom will have to negotiate new deals and purchase new products from (potentially new) vendors and suppliers. Since there are over  11,000 restaurants in the state, the new styrofoam ban will surely complicate matters for multi-location restaurant chains in Maryland - though styrofoam bans have not been passed in every town. 

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Rihanna

“Polystyrene plastic foam is one of the biggest sources of marine litter and costs the state and local governments millions of dollars each year to collect it from beaches, road sides, and storm drains” writes Mariel Garza in a recent opinion piece she authored for The Los Angeles Times about her city’s own bill to ban polystyrene foam products.

Since polystyrene is not biodegradable when it becomes trash (meaning the styrofoam is not able to be broken down or consumed by living organisms like bacteria or fungi), products made of polystyrene foam can’t decay naturally so they just sit as is. Oftentimes, polystyrene foam products will break down into small pieces that and fragments that then pollute our land and waterways; fish and land animals will mistakenly eat these small bits and pieces of polystyrene foam and fall ill or die as a result.

In Baltimore’s case, polystyrene  dinnerware like foam coffee cups, soda cups, and foam takeout containers became litter that caused both the Inner Harbor and greater Chesapeake Bay ecosystem grave harm.

Thanks to Baltimore Beyond Plastic, there’s hope. On February 28, 2018 the Baltimore City council voted unanimously to give Bill 017-0117 preliminary approval, putting the city one step closer to banning polystyrene foam takeout containers, utensils, and dinnerware at Baltimore restaurants.

“We look at all the litter in our waterways. It’s not biodegradable. It’s not actually being recycled,” said Councilman John Bullock, the lead sponsor of Bill 17-0117. “For the most part, it’s ending up in landfills or being incinerated. In water, it breaks apart into small pieces, which makes it very difficult to clear up the water and dangerous for wildlife.”

Your Restaurant Will Be Affected - But There's Help

45 minutes outside Baltimore is the town of Takoma Park, Maryland. In 2014, they enthusiastically passed an initiative introduced by the Young Activists Club at Piney Elementary School seeking to ban polystyrene food service products.

Understanding and anticipating the impact on local businesses, Takoma Park researched and rolled out a resource section for restaurant decision makers filled with sustainable alternatives they can purchase at comparable rates to the polystyrene versions. They break down the cost difference between sustainable alternative products and the styrofoam originals, as well as what the change is going to cost your restaurant overall.

Baltimore and Takoma join a growing, thriving list of cities and states banning polystyrene foam food service products from use in their cities. “Already in Massachusetts, 32 towns and cities have passed bag bans or fees,” writes Ben Adler for Grist. “ So have at least 88 localities in California, including the cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, plus cities and towns in more than a dozen other states and more than a dozen other countries.”  

In a similar vein, the international grassroots push to ban plastic stirring straws in bars and coffee shops is currently picking up steam: The EU intends to ban single use plastic products, like plastic straws and stirring straws by 2030.

Lonely Whale's #StopSucking PSA - YouTube

This new adoption of sustainability policy, as in the case of styrofoam bans,  will impact your restaurant over the next decade.

How the Styrofoam Ban Will Affect Restaurants

Naturally, the food service industry — specifically businesses with a significant take-out/delivery presence— stands to be the group most drastically impacted by the national grassroots movement to ban single-use polystyrene products.

Not sure if your city or state has a polystyrene plastic foam (styrofoam) ban? Groundswell.org  has the most up to date list of all cities, counties, and states with a polystyrene foam ban; they update it regularly with new names. From our research, the majority of cities and states taking part in the ban reserve the right to fine violators up to $1000 for being found in violation.

If your city, county, or state is considering or enacting a ban on styrofoam cups, takeout containers, and other dinnerware items, there are a variety of comparable cost, sustainable substitutes you can purchase for your business.

This chart created by the Takoma Park, MD Public Works division lists compostable and recyclable units you can purchase at a wholesale shopping center like Costco, or through your restaurant’s distributor. If your supplier for disposable cutlery and dinnerware does not have cost-effective, sustainable alternatives, shop around! Webstaurant Store and Tundra Restaurant Supply are two restaurant supply wholesalers who sell a variety of options  in the recyclable, disposable dinnerware and cutlery category.

Coordinating your restaurant’s switch from styrofoam-based disposable products to sustainable alternatives may be a headache at first, but the benefits will quickly add up in dividends for the environment and your business' bottom line. 

In a 2015 study conducted by The Nielsen Company that analyzed the relationship between consumer behavior and social/environmental sustainability, it was found that 75 percent of the global millennial population are willing to pay more for sustainable products, and 66 percent of the global millennial population are willing to pay more to support brands “committed to a positive social and environmental impact.”  A comparable study done in 2015 by Cone Communications found that millennials would be 87% more loyal to a company that supports social or environmental causes.

Use your local styrofoam ban to your advantage by marketing your restaurant’s environmentally conscious operations to existing and prospective customers alike. Using the reporting from your restauran't POS system, run a social media campaign in time for April's Earth Day that showcases how many pounds of plastic you’ve saved from ending up in local landfills and  waterways by making the switch to sustainable alternatives. 

Your restaurant also might be helping to save the environment without you even knowing it! This past year, the Toast POS restaurant community saved 2,500 trees by adopting the use of digitial receipts for customers and KDS screens in their kitchens. Technology not only helps restaurants streamline operational processes, but it also allows these same restaurants to cut down on their paper costs and waste.

Along with switching to biodegradable or recyclable carry-out products, encourage your customers to bring reusable bags and containers with them when they come to your restaurant, in the event they have leftovers they’d like to take home. It’s another positive step in the direction of reducing the restaurant industry’s disposable plastic product waste, and a great way to get your restaurant’s name associated with the sustainability movement.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Here we are, almost a quarter of the way into 2018. How are things going so far?

Still plugging away at those New Year’s resolutions, or have you found yourself losing motivation after a couple months? It happens; you’re only human.

Or were you overwhelmed when you put plan to action on those big dreams of yours? This is also very common.

It’s not too late to get back on track to have a stellar 2018. You just need to refocus and commit to a well thought-out restaurant action plan.

Here are a few items to add to your restaurant action plan that will set up 2018 to be the best year ever for your business.

Raise Your Standards 

“That’s just how it is” is never an acceptable answer for a business owner.  

If you feel as though your restaurant is not performing at the level you know it can, it’s time to raise your standards.

First thing’s first: What are your standards now?

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself and other members of your restaurant management team:

  • How should hosts answer the phone?
  • How long should it take for a server to greet a table?
  • How long should it take for a server to get a table drinks?
  • Should your servers do check-ins after the main course has been served? How many check ins?
  • What is your action plan in the event that something goes wrong with a customer?

You might think these are fairly easy questions to answer. In fact, you may already have answers to a few of them.  Many restaurant owners, however, do not have written business and behavioral standards in their restaurant training manuals, nor do they post these standards in employee areas.

Do you have standardized recipes and plating specifications for everything on your menu?

“Doesn’t every restaurant” you reply. Surprisingly no, they don’t.  

Do you think Apple has specifications on every product they make?

Of course they do.

You would be shocked to know how many restaurants do not observe codes of conduct, and likewise don’t train their staff in the adherence of these standards. That is not only sad, it’s bad business.

Make A Solid Restaurant Marketing Plan

True or False: The best time to market your restaurant is when business is slow.

FALSE. That’s the worst time to market your restaurant.

Restaurant marketing should not be a once-in-a-while activity. Great restaurant brands understand that marketing is a daily commitment. With more and more restaurants entering the market each year, you cannot afford to sit back and hope that your amazing food and service will be enough to keep guests coming back. 

"Restaurant marketing should not be a once in a while activity... It's a year-long commitment."  Click Here to Tweet 

Back in the 1970s, the average consumer was exposed to approximately 500 ads per day. In today’s hyper-connected world, that number is closer to 5000. If you don’t have a plan to stand out, you’re just going to blend in with the masses.

A solid restaurant marketing plan takes into account not only the platforms you’re going to advertise on, but also:

  • community involvement
  • menu pricing strategy
  • competition analysis
  • special events
  • loyalty and preferred status clubs
  • guest engagement plan

Having a detailed yearly marketing plan (that is actually followed) can help reduce some of the extreme peaks and valleys that all restaurants experience in a business cycle.

Update Your Management Toolkit

Have you heard? There’s a “war for talent” being fought in our industry.

I disagree — it is more of a “war with talent” scenario. Owners, managers, and chefs have not genuinely taken the time and energy needed to improve and expand their managerial skillset. As a result, they still employ outdated restaurant management techniques and styles that repel people from wanting to work at their restaurant or any restaurant.

Learning effective employee retention tactics may be a time suck, but remember: A solid investment in your company’s culture is a solid investment in your company’s bottom line.

Take a class, download an ebook, or listen to an audiobook about today’s millennial employee.

It’s very hard to motivate and attract a specific group of people if you have no idea what is important to them.

In today’s job market, restaurant staff want to work for companies that treat employees fairly, offer career growth opportunities, benefits, and job perks, promote work/life balance, and try to make a positive impact on their community and the world at large.  Tailor your professional growth as a manager to meet these needs.

When your team is able to see and experience your personal and professional growth as a business leader, you'll be more likely to retain your existing staff and attract new employees

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe said it best: “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.”

Cultivate Your Culture

Like water, culture flows down, not up. Culture also always starts with you, the restaurant manager.

Think of company culture as the glue that binds leaders and employees together.  A strong company culture will keep your employees connected as a unit and engaged in moving the business forward, even in the face of any and all market fluctuations that will affect your restaurant.

Culture is an organic and living thing that absorbs energy from the people who feed it, including the restaurant manager. As a leader or owner in your restaurant, you are "the culture catalyst," responsible for laying the culture seed and putting extra effort toward seeing it sprout and grow into a strong, beautiful tree.

Since company culture is a living thing, this means it can get sick or die. There is a popular saying among surfers: “Don’t turn your back on the ocean.” This easily applies to the culture in your rstaurant: Don’t forget about it and always check in on it’s wellbeing.

Your behavior and energy are what shape the culture of your restaurant. What you feed your culture is what you will get in return.

Update Your Menu

It’s not a bad thing to freshen your brand up a little bit by throwing a new coat of paint on the walls or updating your menu (even just a little bit).

If you’re going for a full menu revamp, make sure you do it right.  It’s important that you make educated, data-informed decisions when tweaking your menu — it is your bread and butter after all.

Menu engineering is a healthy blend of art and science.  Try out a menu engineering bootcamp to better understand what stratification each item on your menu falls into. Do you know what your stars, workhorses, puzzles, and dogs are? Yeah, sign up for the bootcamp.

Maximizing your menu requires understanding both popularity and profitability of every item on your menu.  

A common mistake many restaurateurs make is that they only approach their menu from one side or the other. Just because an item is not selling well does not mean you should take it off the menu; it could be a result of where it appears on your menu.

Conversely, just because an item is costly to make does not validate its removal.

Lean on the sales reporting available in your restaurant POS to get a better lay of the land and see who your stars, workhorses, puzzles, and dogs are.

Get a Coach or Mentor

Change is hard. Staying on track is hard. It’s so easy get distracted.

We’re nearly three months into 2018, and most people left their resolutions by the wayside weeks ago. The chief reason most fail at their New Year’s resolutions is that they don’t hold themselves accountable. This can be remedied by asking for third-party help: A coach or mentor.

If you truly want to have a stellar year, you need to have someone to hold you to your word. Honestly reflect on whether or not you are a self-starter. If you are, that’s great; if not, that’s also great! Self-awareness is imperative to your long-term success.

If you’re one of those who would benefit from bringing on a restaurant coach or mentor to help you achieve your goals, do it. While many Fortune 500 companies use executive and business coaches frequently, it’s a relatively underutilized tool in the restaurant industry.

Would you be surprised to learn that Steve Jobs had a life coach? People at the top of their game are always looking for an edge to give them an advantage in their market; Tiger Woods, one of the best golfers in the world, had five coaches helping him.

“Every famous athlete, every famous performer, has somebody who’s a coach.  Somebody who can watch what they’re doing and can give them perspective. The one thing people are never good at is seeing themselves as others see them. A coach really, really helps.” – Eric Schmidt, Former CEO at Google

Looking Ahead

The best thing you can do to ensure 2018 will be a stellar year for you is to write down exactly what you would like to accomplish in detail.

Write down the tasks you will need to address and complete to move you closer toward accomplishing that goal. When looking over the list, if there are tasks you don’t feel equipped to tackle on your own, ask for help.

We all get stuck — some people just stay there. Being helpless is a mindset. Being average is a choice — and so is breaking free from it.

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

One of the biggest benefits of modern technology is that it frees up time normally spent on tedious, less important tasks so that you can shift your focus to more important priorities. 

This is especially beneficial for restaurant managers.Most restaurant managers hate the idea of toiling away doing work in the back office when they could instead be on the floor creating memorable experiences for guests.

Thankfully, modern technology has a wide array of solutions for restaurant managers looking to free up time and break out of the back office.

Got a problem automating something in your restaurant? Well remember what we were taught last decade: there's an app for that

These programs and platforms allow restaurateurs to roll up their sleeves and be involved in the hustle and bustle of their restaurant’s meal service without worrying about falling behind on other managerial duties.

Let’s take a look at how restaurant managers can use technology to free up time so they can get back to doing what they love: delighting guests.

1. Inventory Tracking

Having a sense of what is in and out of stock is imperative to the health of your business. There are a number of inventory monitoring solutions available to track the the amount of food, beverage, and other supplies necessary to your restaurant’s operations.

BevSpot is a cloud-based, bar management software that allows restaurant and bar managers to track bar inventory live, dive into sales performance and metrics, and manage orders and invoices with vendors. They even recommend when you should place an order with a vendor for a specific product. Talk about a time-saver.

MarketMan is another popular cloud based restaurant inventory management platform that enables restaurant managers to stay on-top of inventory gaps, perform sales and COGS reporting, make and track purchases in platform with suppliers, and more.

2. To-Do Lists

To-do lists are a classic, effective way to map out tasks and projects that need to be addressed and are most effective when they indicate the level of priority and owner for each tasks.

For example, inventory tracking may be a high priority task that takes 30 minutes every day and should be done by the kitchen manager.

Todoist is a favorite task management app of the Toast Blog team. It allows you to create your own to-do lists across all your devices, indicate the level of priority for individual tasks, set deadlines, measure your progress, and collaborate with others on team oriented tasks.

3. Staff Scheduling

Remembering individual employees’ availability, factoring in local and federal labor laws, and accounting for busy/slow shifts always take way more time than you think they will. That's why staff scheduling software can save you up to 3 hours a week

Here are a few of our favorite resources for time-saving scheduling software.

7shifts is a robust employee scheduling platform that allows restaurant managers to easily create and update their staff’s schedule based on employee availability and shift needs, quickly communicate with staff members, and manage labor costs. Staff members can indicate their availability within the platform, request time off, pick up and drop shifts, and track how many hours they have worked in a week.

Bizimply is an employee management platform that provides staff members with a unique four digit pin for clocking in and out of shifts and breaks; this unique code solves the problem of friends clocking in for one another. Timesheet data is then sent automatically to the restaurant manager’s account so you can access real-time attendance data anytime, anywhere.

4. Communicating With Staff

Facebook GroupsIf you’re interested in a free solution for restaurant employee communication, create Facebook groups for all front-of-house staff, all back-of-house staff, and all kitchen operations staff members. You can post updates to the group’s page, send out messages to individual members or the team as a whole, take polls, make events, and more.

Slack (pictured below) is a popular messaging platform in which you can create specific “channels” for different groups of your staff members (ex: an all front of house channel, and all bar staff channel, an all line cooks channel). The platform allows users to share a variety of file types, message the group or individual members, and send out meeting or event invites. If your restaurant has a corporate office, this would be an ideal communication solution. 

Another great communication tool is the manager’s log within your restaurant’s POS (pictured below). You can leave updates and important notes for staff to see and set visibility permissions so that content reserved “for managers eyes only” won’t be broadcast for the world to see.

5. Restaurant POS System

With the right restaurant POS system at the helm, your restaurant’s operations will run seamlessly.

Rather than scribbling orders down on paper in some illegible shorthand, servers can enter their guests orders, note food allergies, track the status of their tables’ orders, take note of 86’d items, split checks, take multiple forms of payment, redeem loyalty rewards, and more...all in one system.

With KDS screens, kitchen staff can track the real time progress of orders, delegate tasks to different members of the line, tweak fire times so that dishes will be delivered at a certain temperature, and get updates on how much product they have in stock to create future meals.

Toast POS does all of the above. Read more about why a POS terminal is worth the investment

6. HR Software

Attracting and retaining quality employees is an industry-wide pain point in the restaurant space.

Employee engagement and retention are made much easier with the help of an HR or HRIS platform. These platforms enable restaurant managers to showcase a restaurant employee benefits program, distribute schedules in advance, track clock-in’s, and measure employee performance.

Harri is a solid “human capital management” platform that allows managers in the hospitality and restaurant industries to do all of the above and more, including offering hiring solutions for businesses looking to bring in new talent.

7. Industry Blogs

Staying on top of industry trends and news is a best practice for all professionals. Taking a few minutes to read up on a new story or skill could shave time off your mundane tasks every day. 

These blogs are a dream come true for restaurant managers who want to stay on top of industry trends, but can’t find the time.

Subscribe to a restaurant industry blog that'll do the legwork for you. The publication will typically send updates in the form of daily emails and push notifications on your phone.

Time, Time, Time is On Our Side

What are your favorite apps, websites, and platforms to use to free up time on your schedule? Leave your recommendations in the comments below! 

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

As painful as it is to hear, none of your customers enjoy paying full price. 

That's why restaurant discounts and combos are key to bringing in customers for pizzerias, bars & pubs, fast food restaurants, and casual eateries.

Don't think your customers are looking for discounts at your restaurant? These stats might make you think again. 

  • 80% of diners are likely to try a restaurant if a deal is available (RetailMeNot).
  • 76% of U.S. adults said they’d try a QSR they’ve never been to if it offered a discount (YA).
  • 57% of millennials seek out restaurant coupons (Valassis).
  • More than 1/3 of restaurant-goers search for deals before choosing where to eat (RetailMeNot).

All that said, not every discount strategy is right for your restaurant. Let's explore six different types of restaurant discounts you should consider offering to your diners.

Disclaimer: Discounts can quickly add up, so be sure to record them in your restaurant marketing plan

1. Restaurant BOGO (Buy One, Get One)

We all know the classic BOGO, but we rarely think of the possibilities here. BOGO can mean so much for your restaurant than you might think. 

Is the extra item free? Half off? Can you increase your profit margin by requiring the "buy one" item to be more expensive than the "get one?" You can test multiple BOGO discount options and see the results directly in your POS system. 

If you can't afford to give half your inventory away for free, require a bigger upfront cost from your customers. Papa Gino's, for example, offers a free small pizza with the purchase of two large pizzas. Using the idea of BOGO, this discount pushes out more inventory and leads to a larger average ticket size. 

  • Pro of this discount: Customers could feasibly save 50% on their entire check, helping to build a solid base of repeat guests
  • Con of this discount: Depending on how much you give away for the "get one" part of this deal, it might not be cost-effective in the long run. It's wise to use this discount sparingly and on menu items you can afford to lose margin on.  
2. Combo Deals

Popularized with value meals at fast food restaurants, combos offer benefits to both restaurants and their guests. Guests want a full meal and most restaurants are happy to oblige.

These days, however, restaurants are using combos to upsell even larger-sized meals for parties and events. Wings Over, a popular wing delivery restaurant, offers combos for anywhere from one to 12+ people, with their largest discounts on bigger orders. 

For small parties or events that don't quite call for catering but will feed more than a handful of people, combo deals are the way to go. 

  • Pros of this discount: It's effective at bulk selling and churning through inventory. 
  • Con of this discount: The bigger the combo, the more profit margin you may be forced to sacrifice. 
3. Time-Based Discounts

Happy hour is all too familiar to bar owners. Lowering prices on food and drink is a tried and true way to bring in the after-work crowd.

Happy hour menu for Cuca's Mexican Food. 

Not a bar? No worries. A happy hour approach can work for your restaurant even if it doesn't serve alcohol. Plus, according to Technomic, happy hour food prices are actually more important than drink prices to consumers. 

You can also use this discounting strategy for off-peak hours – maybe from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. – to even out your busier and slower times for a more balanced work day.

  • Pros of this discount: Happy hours can bring in foot traffic when your day is slow and can capture the popular after-work crowd. 
  • Con of this discount: Guests may become accustomed to cheaper food prices and only choose to visit during cheaper times because – in their eyes – you've devalued your own food and prices. 

Warning: In many states, happy hour is illegal. For the most part, however, this ban only applies to alcohol – not food – so feel free to change your meal and app prices as you see fit. Check with your local jurisdiction for more details.

4. Percentage-Based Comps

This discount is mainly offered on an ad-hoc basis. Your restaurant may have a standing rule that all public safety officials who come in with their uniform get a 20% discount, or that servers can offer a 10% friends and family discount. Your restaurant may also have a policy of discounting meals for customers that complain, have to wait too long, or are regulars. 

If this is part of your restaurant discounting strategy, make sure you have a restaurant point of sale with accessible discounting options and permissions-based discounting so those who enter the discounts are held accountable for them.  

  • Pro of this discount: It's a simple way to show appreciation for certain professions, groups, and your regulars.  
  • Con of this discount: The system can easily be abused with the press of a button by a server who is quick to apply the friends & family discount. 

5. Calendar-Based Discounts

Let's say you've identified Tuesday as your slowest day. (Want to learn how to do that sort of restaurant analysis? Check out this post.) To help boost sales, you decide to offer a discount available only on Tuesdays.

Westwood Pizza in Massachusetts has mastered this approach. They have individual specials on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, plus a special available all three of those days to help sales outside of the weekend. 

Taking it a step further, try applying discounts for specific months or for special events. If you offer calendar-based discounts like a special Super Bowl savings event or a Christmas-themed deal for the month of December, you might boost restaurant sales.

  • Pro of this discount: Calendar-based discounts can boost your sales during slower times of the week and the year. 
  • Con of this discount: Like happy hour, these discounts can create a perceived devaluation of your menu items when you price them lower on certain days.  
6. Dollar Off Discounts

Want to reward customers who make big purchases? Keep it simple with a "Buy $X, get $X off" promotion. Common in pizzerias, this strategy is helpful in getting that family of four to spring for the extra side of fries after all.

Here's an example of a coupon for this discount from Express Pizza in Norwood, Massachusetts. 

If your restaurant caters or hosts large events, consider offering a discount for these big orders. The promise of $200 off banquet checks of $2,000 or more can fill up your bigger rooms and help you keep the inventory moving. 

There's also an opportunity to combine discounts. Maybe you don't want this large-order discount to apply in May or June because you know you'll book up for graduations or in November or December because you'll be busy enough with holiday parties. In that case you'd be using both calendar-based and dollar-off discounts. 

  • Pro of this discount: It incentivizes guests to place larger orders, meaning you're selling more. 
  • Con of this discount: Sometimes the math doesn't work out here. Let's say someone was planning on ordering $25 worth of food, but sees a $5 off $30 coupon. To take advantage of this, they order something else for $5 to apply the coupon – but since they just met the requirements of the discount, you basically gave that customer $5 worth of free food. For that reason, making these discounts one-time or limited-time offers might be more effective. 
How to Make the Most of Your Restaurant Discount Strategy

Every decision you make in your restaurant should be purposeful and revenue-driving. That's why we suggest you plan through what any discount idea would look like instead of picking one of the above ideas and running with it. 

To make your restaurant discounts profitable and efficient, remember these best practices to adhere to within your restaurant POS system. 

1. Discount Rationale

Restaurant theft is an issue plaguing the hospitality industry. If your servers, bartenders, and cashiers are too fast and loose with their discounting, it will eat right into your bottom line. Make sure your technology supports a feature that tracks who gives discounts and for what reasons. 

For example, if a percentage-based discount is consistently applied at dinner when the guest has a bad experience, make sure you can go one step further and learn what those mistakes were. Are servers dropping food? If so, maybe you should revisit staff training ideas. Is food consistently sent back for being too cold? Check in with your kitchen managers to see if something is wrong with meal prep

When discounts are applied as you intended, there shouldn't be a problem, but realistically speaking, this won't always happen. Keep a close eye on your staff with mandated discount rationale to keep track of mistakes and areas of improvement. This way, you build a stronger staff and keep the discount protocol from being abused.  

2. Auto-Apply Discounts

Your employees are only human. Sometimes, they'll enter in a large cheese pizza and a large pepperoni and completely forget that this combo qualifies for the large cheese, large one topping for $14.99 special. 

When the customer pays, they may look at their receipt and notice that it doesn't include the combo discount they thought would apply to the order. Next thing you know, the manager has to come over and void the order, while the customer is now questioning the integrity of your team from an honest mistake. 

Make sure you're working with a restaurant POS system that auto-applies any applicable discounts. That way, your servers and cashiers don't need to remember every single promo code or combo special and can focus on the speed and accuracy of ordering.

3. Maintain Creative Control

No POS provider should tell you what kind of discounts you can or can't offer in your restaurant. 

If you want to offer BOGO discounts and percentage-based comps, you should be able to do just that. That's why we recommend working with a restaurant POS with an open discounts feature, like Toast POS, so you can build discounts that are best for your business and your customers. 

Click here to log your restaurant's discount strategy in your 2018 restaurant marketing plan
Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

As any restaurateur already knows, opening a restaurant is no easy feat.

Between coming up with a solid business plan and scouring the best location, there’s a lot to get done. But despite all these hoops and hurdles to open a restaurant, there’s over a whopping 1 million restaurant locations in the United States alone. 

So what’s the draw to starting a business that requires so much effort just to open, and a constant eye on things like inventory and staffing?

In short...why did you open?

Aside from opening up shop in a lucrative $800 billion dollar industry, restaurant owners are oftentimes fueled by universal goals and passions:

  • Garnering a strong sense of community with their business.
  • Providing for their families. 
  • Creating new opportunities

As I mentioned above, the constant rush of day-to-day activities like labor reporting, managing public relations, and handling restaurant finances makes the life of a business owner a chaotic one.

To understand our customers in the restaurant world better, we wanted to know what fueled their decision to embark on the journey towards opening a restaurant. These restaurant onwers took a moment to sit and reflect with us on how their passion has shaped their careers.

We call this "I Opened Because...", and we'll be highlighting our favorite inspiring stories on our social media pages over the next month.

Now, it's your turn to join the conversation! Comment here with your story, and follow us on social media @toasttab on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram to post your #IOpenedBecause story and to see more videos from the restaurants using Toast! You can also submit your story here

I Opened Because....

1) Opportunity 312 Beef and Sausage, Freeport, Illinois

“I opened because I have always had a passion for the restaurant industry and saw a void in the market that I thought I could fill.”

– Adam Talbert, Owner  

Backbar, Somerville, Massachusetts
I Opened Because ...with Sam Treadway - YouTube
  Lucky Slice, Utah

“I opened because I was an upstart kid that worked in restaurants my whole life and was convinced I could do it better.” 

– Nick VanArsdell, Owner

2) Family Bernie O’s, North Muskegon, Michigan

“I opened because I wanted to build a legacy for my family.”

– Addam Oliver, Co-Owner

(swah-rey), St. Petersburg, Florida

“I opened because I couldn’t find my wife good chocolate cake, and trust me, I looked hard.”

– Gregg Ciccone, Co-Owner

3) Community 1894 Lodge, New Washington, Indiana

“I opened because I wanted to bring something to my community that they would be proud of.”

– Logan Hostettler, General Manager

The Corner Q, Lorton, Virginia

“I opened because I wanted to introduce and share delicious Filipino cuisine to everyone in our community. My daughter has been in the restaurant business for many, many years and I thought it would be great to use her talent and skills managing our own full-service restaurant.”

– Teresita Herradura, Owner 

Costa Vida, Various Locations

“My partners and I opened our first restaurant because we love food and serving people. We love the fast pace of a restaurant. We saw it as an opportunity to earn a living doing what we love.”

– Jeff Jacobson, COO (pictured)

Sutton Legion, Sutton, Nebraska

“I opened because there was a need in my community to keep the American Legion Ball open and my wife and I are good at this business. It provided an opportunity to become part of our new community, as well as create jobs for it.”

– Brian Bonnell, Owner 

Koehn Bakery, Butler, Montana

“I opened because I was looking for a local opportunity to make people smile!”

– Kim Wilhelmson, Owner 

Share Your #IOpenedBecause Story 

We know that opening a restaurant isn’t a walk in the park, and because everyone is a food critic now, sometimes it can seem like a thankless job.

As an owner, we encourage you to look back and remember exactly why this journey is so important to you. We hope that some of the answers from these passionate restaurateurs resonate with you, so that you can keep the fire inside you (and your kitchen!) burning.

No matter what your reason for opening is, Toast invites you to be a part of our restaurant community by sharing your unique story with us.

Follow @ToastTab on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram and use #IOpenedBecause to join the conversation!

Read Full Article
Visit website
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

When you opened your restaurant, you probably saw yourself greeting guests, whipping up delicious eats, and rallying your troops for the inevitable dinner rush.

You probably didn’t imagine all the back office work you’d have to do.

Schedules have to be built. Timesheets have to be collected for payroll. Inventory has to be checked. These pesky processes are essential to your business, but man, they take up a lot of your precious time.

Unfortunately, when it comes to running a successful restaurant, you can’t have a packed dining room without a busy back office. Achieving success is all about striking a balance between your passion and the processes that keep it running smoothly. And technology is here to help.

So here are three ways you can use technology — like automated scheduling software, employee time tracking software, and inventory management software — to streamline and simplify your back-office processes and get back to doing what you do best: running your restaurant.

Learn how restaurant owners are using technology in the Restaurant Technology Report. 1. Online Scheduling Software How does it help? Faster scheduling, eliminate no-shows, open up lines of communication with staff.

A recent survey of 500 US business owners and 1,000 US shift workers explores the challenges faced by employees and their employers. According to the results, employers are spending more time building the weekly schedule than they’d like to admit.

Eight percent say they spend at least half a workday building the weekly schedule; others say they’ve spent as many as 12 hours on the task.

This is upsetting, but shouldn't be surprising – building the weekly shift schedule is nothing short of a balancing act. Employers have to keep each employee’s availability in mind while also preparing for unexpected rushes or absences. 

That’s a lot of mental juggling to do, but the truth is many business owners make scheduling harder than it has to be.

  • Over half of employers surveyed say they use pen and paper to build the weekly schedule.
  • Another 10 percent build their shifts using a spreadsheet.
  • 9 percent either write the schedule out on an erasable whiteboard or don’t write it down at all, relying only on verbal communication.

These business owners aren’t just wasting precious time on this complex task — they’re also losing money. Missed shifts cost employers an estimated $7,500 each year


There areonline scheduling software solutions for this problem that are both cost-effective and time-saving . You can easily shave hours off your scheduling process and curb missed shifts with automated, cloud-based employee shift scheduling software.

Build the weekly schedule, share it instantly with your employees, and make changes as needed. The perks of tech like this lies in the accessibility for both you and your staff, taking the stress out of everything.

2. Automated Payroll Technology How does it help? Quicker paychecks for staff, more accurate wage distribution for you.

Nearly 80 percent of small business owners admit they regularly have to make corrections before they can run payroll.

But that’s not surprising, given so many employees are tracking their hours using pen and paper and/or the honor system. This leaves business owners responsible for collecting, deciphering, and manually entering employee time data before running payroll.

If this sounds anything like your time tracking and payroll process, you’re not just wasting time. You’re losing money.


Try using an automated time tracker for your payroll. 

With automated time tracking, employees can clock in and out with just one click or tap. Time data is stored safely and securely in the cloud, so it’s always there and always accurate when you need it, while collecting and approving employee time cards is as easy as just one click.

3. Integrated Inventory Tracking  How does it help? More accurate menu engineering, more profitable menu.

Nearly half of small businesses either don’t track inventory at all or use a manual method (like a par inventory sheet) to keep track of food, suppliers, and prices. However, those inventory numbers change all the time, and keeping that handy spreadsheet up to date can be a full-time job.

Unfortunately, without those numbers, you’d have no idea what to reorder or when. And with hungry people rioting over food shortages at various restaurants around the world, failing to reorder the ingredients for a popular dish could be a huge mistake.

Enter: automated inventory management software.


With real-time restaurant inventory at your fingertips, you have the power to make smarter business decisions using clean data to improve your bottom line. 

Theoretical vs. actual inventory depletion is one of the biggest variances that restaurant owners need to address. Automating inventory tracking takes the headaches out of back office management and makes the day a bit more tolerable. 

A Win-Win for Passion and Process

These processes run your business and your restaurant back office, but they don’t have to come between you and your passion. With a little help from innovative new technology, you can streamline back-office processes, turn your minutes into moments, and raise your bottom line.

Read Full Article
Visit website

Read for later

Articles marked as Favorite are saved for later viewing.
  • Show original
  • .
  • Share
  • .
  • Favorite
  • .
  • Email
  • .
  • Add Tags 

Separate tags by commas
To access this feature, please upgrade your account.
Start your free year
Free Preview