If your restaurant needs some positive (and preferably free) publicity, securing a feature in the press can get you immediate attention along with a positive ripple effect across social media. But first you need to make a strong case for your restaurant. FSR recommends these tips: Host an invitation-only tasting event for media VIPs to introduce a new chef or promote a grand opening. Do you have a story to tell about your restaurant that would interest the broader community? Offer an exclusive interview with a writer at the news outlet you’d like to feature you. Even if you have no story, you can create a feel-good angle by partnering with a nonprofit you admire and donating proceeds to it in a given time period. Seasonal recipe changes can also be good fodder for cooking coverage in a variety of media – pitch to broadcast outlets two weeks in advance, newspapers and online outlets three or four weeks in advance and monthly magazines four months out to maximize your chances of getting covered.
Delivering great hospitality goes beyond service
As Danny Meyer’s book “Setting the Table” says, service is the technical delivery of a product – hospitality is how the delivery of that product makes the recipient feel. Restaurant Owner says while great hospitality can make up for poor service, the reverse is not true. Do your customer-facing employees show enthusiasm for their work and a genuine interest in giving the customer a great experience with you? Restaurant Owner recommends employees call return guests by name, ask about their families and pay attention to how they might need assistance. Helping a parent calm a boisterous child or a disabled person maneuver over steps can go just as far as – or perhaps farther – than making sure their food arrives promptly.
Dairy Queen aims for untapped female millennial market
Dairy Queen has its sights set on millennial women, according to Eater – and why not? Research from ad agency Barkley, Inc. found that 64 percent of millennials making more than $100,000 annually are women. What’s more, millennial women tend to influence women in other segments, like Gen X-ers and Baby Boomers – and the segment has lots of room to grow. To appeal to this profitable population, Dairy Queen plans to launch a “Hardest Working Happy Hour” featuring deals on smoothies, iced coffees and frappés during a set timeframe on weekday afternoons. They will back this up with a social media campaign, a partnership with Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson and an effort to enlist blogging moms as influencers, since this population regularly takes in the commentary of other women in the segment.
What’s the right price for healthy food?
Consumer demand for healthy, natural food has motivated the restaurant industry to comply – but how do you determine how much more your typical guest will pay for it? Restaurant Business studied the behavior of consumers in several categories. It found that even though women said they’re more likely to frequent a restaurant with more better-for-you options, men are more willing to pay higher prices for those options. Across generations, millennials are the most likely to pay more for healthy food. Of the types of people who frequent restaurants most according to Technomic, the “busy balancer” population – people who embrace healthy eating and convenience – are the most willing to pay higher prices for better-for-you options. Overall, 60 percent of consumers are willing to pay more for natural ingredients and are open to paying up to $2 more per check for the healthier options.
Signs point to a strong 2016 for restaurant operators
How is the restaurant industry doing so far this year? Industry reports are showing some mixed results but according to a Restaurant Hospitality report, the overall trend is positive. The National Restaurant Association’s Performance Index for March said 46 percent of operators reported same-store gains. Expense account dining firm Dinova found that business spending increased 6.9 percent in the first quarter for its network of primarily full-service restaurants. And according to the U.S. Census Bureau, sales at foodservice and drinking establishments are up 7.4 percent over the same period last year.
Would you charge for a prime table?
Consumers want to reserve their own table at restaurants. That’s according to a National Restaurant Association survey that found 45 percent of adults would pick their exact table when making an online reservation – 14 percent said they’d even pay a fee to get a better table. Online reservation companies are looking into providing that capability. Restaurant Business reports that OpenTable, for one, is testing the option in select cities to let guests choose their seats, where they’re on the patio, at the bar or at a table in the front of the restaurant.
Beat the summer heat with hydrating menu options
This summer, you can help guests cool off while adding extra flair to your menu. The National Restaurant Association shared these ideas as food for thought: Offer popsicles in unique molds with sliced fruit, 100 percent fruit juice and even spices like ginger. Shaved ice and slushies can help you create an eye-catching presentation when served up in glasses, bowls or cones. You can also add interest to plain water by submerging sliced fruit in a container of water – fruit-infused water is a top beverage trend according to a National Restaurant Association survey – or freezing juice cubes in a variety of shapes and flavors.
Chefs get creative to feature the whole fish on menus
Salmon filets are a popular menu staple but many chefs – especially those with sustainable practices – find they’re wasting food (and money) if they don’t use the entire fish on their menus. Nation’s Restaurant News reports that many are getting creative, like chef Beau Schooler, who won the Great American Seafood Cookoff for his nose-to-tail sockeye salmon preparation, which included fried collar, salmon skin chips, salmon chorizo made from ground salmon scraps, and even dehydrated salmon bones ground into a salmon-flavored salt. Other ideas to consider: poached, marinated salmon scraps served chilled, salmon tails with salsa verde, and salmon ’nduja on crostini with pickled peppers and chives.
Remember health risks when tenderizing meat
If you tenderize meat in your restaurant’s kitchen – or if your restaurant receives meat that has been mechanically tenderized – the meat may pose an increased risk of foodborne illness. The USDA reports that when meat is mechanically tenderized with needles or blades, any pathogens on the outside may be transferred to the inside, which makes it especially important for the meat to be cooked properly. For raw beef steaks, that’s a minimum internal temperature of 145°F as measured with a food thermometer before removing meat from heat.
Rewards platform promises low-maintenance upselling for full-service operators
Jetti Rewards’ new rewards program for full-service restaurant operators is winning raves for its ability to generate rewards club members and increase sales – all while minimizing employee involvement. FSR reports the program provides a physical display for each table (customized to the full-service brand) with an NFC chip, QR code and URL so guests can scan the screen with their mobile devices. That links to a web-based app that lets them earn points. When guests sit at their table, their server might say that if they join the restaurant’s rewards program, they will earn an additional 20 points for ordering an appetizer, for example. Then the restaurant has automatic information about who dines with them and how much they add to their bill. One new user, the owner of Bierkeller Tavern in Michigan, says in four months with the rewards program, his 70-seat restaurant has signed up 185 guests and the upsell rate of guests checking in to the restaurant using the program is 48 percent.