A waiter in Canada could be charged with criminal negligence, Eater reports, for serving his guest salmon instead of beef, sparking a severe allergic reaction. To prevent incidents at your restaurant, FSR Magazine recommends you educate your staff on allergy awareness from their first day of hire. Design training that incorporates role playing so employees must consider how they would manage a guest's allergic reaction using your food safety protocol. Share stories you hear in the news or on social media to open a conversation with your team about safety practices. Share success stories too, with featured speakers who can talk about what happens when policies work well. Try having a team trivia contest or game (with prizes or incentives) to test employees' knowledge in a fun way. If possible, offer extra opportunities for team members to learn outside of work -- a conference, lecture or other event to inspire them to build knowledge and share it with the rest of the team.
Play some menu mind games
Your menu is more than a list of your restaurant's items for sale. It's a tool to boost sales. But if you use too many words, fancy fonts and categories, you risk overwhelming guests and limiting their ability to scan your menu. Toast recommends you use a fewmind tricks to attract guests to items you'd most like to sell. For one, enhance the perceived value of a profitable dish by placing it immediately after a more expensive one. Make a one-point increase to the font size of a menu item to help guests give it a second glance without realizing it. Finally, use boldface type on parts of menu titles and descriptions to enable scanning. Use a clean, easy-to-read sans serif font.
Top tech trends from the National Restaurant Association
The National Restaurant Association's newly released report, Mapping the Restaurant Technology Landscape, studies the state of technology adoption in restaurants. The key findings say: Four in five operators appreciate the productivity technology brings restaurants but half say it complicates the customer experience. More than three-quarters of restaurants (81 percent) use a POS or electronic register system. Most (68percent) offer wi-fi for guests, while just 37 percent offer online ordering and 32 percent accept mobile payment. Looking toward the future, 53 percent of operators said they would use predictive ordering technology if it were available to them and 37 percent believe customer ordering will be the most important restaurant technology development in the next five years.
The price of a nogenetically modified menu
Would consumers pay more for nongenetically modified menu items? That's the title of a newly released study from Washington State University professor Dogan Gursoy -- and the answer is yes (13 percent more, to be specific). But before you increase the price of all non-GMO menu items across the board, the study recommends you focus price increases on certain parts of the menu. "Consumers are much less price-sensitive to signature items, which reflect the uniqueness of a particular restaurant,” the author notes. “Therefore, signature items that are made from non-GM ingredients are likely to contribute higher profits by charging a higher price premium.”
Embrace mobile to attract top candidates
Looking to expand your team? If you're not offering a mobile option for receiving job applications, you're likely missing out on a lot of qualified candidates, according to Restaurant Hospitality. Their report says that as of last year, 59 percent of candidates used phones or tablets to search for jobs and 52 percent used their mobile devices to apply for positions. What's more, 40 percent of job seekers said they would have a negative opinion of a company if its job application process wasn’t mobile-friendly and 65 percent said they would leave a restaurant's careers page if it wasn’t optimized for mobile devices.
Google's mobile site to spotlight reviews of top critics
Google just announced that when consumers search for a restaurant on the company's mobile site (currently just for Android and iOS), restaurants favored by top critics and appearing on "best-of lists from reputable publishers" will appear first, according to Eater. This could be a positive for restaurant operators in that consumers will not have to rely on more amateur reviews to get a sense of their best restaurant choices. Instead, the site will provide a more curated view of expert opinions about the available options in a restaurant category.
Expert in world epidemics helps develop food safety platform
The food safety industry has a new ally who experts believe might help the restaurant industry prevent future foodborne illness outbreaks. Food Safety News reports that Nathan Wolfe, who has developed a reputation for predicting epidemics around the world using big data, is now bringing his comprehensive risk analytics to the U.S. food industry. His company, Metabiota, Inc., has partnered with the startup company Ancera to transform "the production of safe, affordable, high-quality food by bringing integrated, near-real-time diagnostics and big data analytics to the global food supply chain.” The companies are launching a food risk management platform with a team of industry veterans, public health experts and data scientists.
Chefs test salt alternatives
There's plenty of pressure to reduce the salt on restaurant menus lately. The Food andDrug Administration is aiming to reduce Americans' average salt consumption over thenext decade from 3,400 daily to 2,300 mg daily. So a number of food and restaurant companies have been testing and offering a seemingly healthier alternative: potassiumchloride products. But NPR reports that Chris Loss of the Culinary Institute of Americasays using potassium chloride as a partial substitute is one tool, but it's not perfect and there's much more chefs can do with cooking techniques, ingredients and psychology.His research shows that if you sprinkle a little salt on top of a dish, the first thing you taste is salt and the rest of the dish will seem salty even if there's less salt overall. And if you reduce salt but replace it with other seasonings like pepper and chili, for example,you can add flavor and depth that salt couldn't provide. He says if previous quests to remove fat and carbohydrates from food have taught us anything, it's that we can't just focus on removing one vilified ingredient.
McDonald's reshapes its food culture, leads category
While some analysts are warning of a looming restaurant recession, traffic to fast-food and fast-casual restaurants seems to be holding steady, according to Eater. In a reportfrom insights firm Sense360, McDonald’s commanded 17.6 percent of quick-service traffic in June — more than double that of both Subway (at 7.2 percent) and Starbucks (at 6.9 percent) -- and it's expected to trounce its competition in 2016 sales, just as it did in 2015. Its latest moves to improve its food culture may be partly responsible. Nation's Restaurant News reports that the chain is a year ahead of schedule in its promise to remove human antibiotics from its chicken supply and it recently announced plans to eliminate high-fructose corn syrup and preservatives from a variety of menu items.
Chipotle announces its new burger brand
Following months of speculation, Chipotle has made it official: It will be launching a new fast-casual burger concept in the fall. The restaurant, which will be called Tasty Made, will launch first in Ohio and will feature the same "food with integrity" model as Chipotle, offering "responsibly raised brand beef," for example. Much like Five Guys and other brands in the upscale burger space, Tasty Made will offer a simple menu of just burgers, fries and milkshakes.