Your lease can help you – or haunt you – for years. The National Restaurant Association recommends you take steps to protect yourself:
Maintain control: Avoid agreeing to give your landlord a percentage of sales above a certain level, or to allowing radius restrictions that could prevent you from opening nearby locations. Aim to get a one-time right to cancel your lease if the location doesn’t meet expectations. Does the lease hold you responsible for taxes, insurance, operating expenses? Have a lawyer review it so you’re not surprised by unforeseen charges.
Preserve flexibility: Landlords may agree to delay rent during the build-out phase or until you have building permits. You’ll also want the right to find another tenant or adapt the space if the location doesn’t work as expected. Negotiate renewal terms early (e.g., have future rents increase according to percentages versus market values to help you budget).
Whole Foods builds partnerships with restaurants
Could your next restaurant open inside a Whole Foods? If it shares the retailer’s focus on natural, organic, sustainably produced ingredients, it might happen. Nation’s Restaurant News says Whole Foods is expanding beyond its quality prepared food stations by bringing select restaurant brands into its stores. Whole Foods has invested in the fast casual brand Mendocino Farms, which will appear in select Whole Foods stores this year. The company also plans to launch a value-based grocery brand that will feature restaurants within its stores. Whole Foods co-founder and co-CEO John Mackey has signaled there could be more to come.
Times are good for franchises
Both quick-service and full-service restaurants could see sales rise by 6.3% over last year. That’s according to a new report from the analytics and economic forecasting firm IHS Economics. The report cites personal income growth, wage increases, low gas prices and advances in food delivery as factors contributing to sales growth among franchises. Retail food locations are expected to have weaker results due to those factors. Watch for the National Restaurant Association’s 2016 forecast covering the industry as a whole – it’s expected soon.
What the U.S. can learn from Denmark
U.S. food producers aiming to increase efficiency often have to weigh whether to sacrifice the welfare of employees, animals or the environment. But according to Civil Eats, U.S. producers need only look at Denmark to see efficiency without sacrifice. Organizations partner with supermarkets to sell soon-to-expire food and develop technology to find agricultural uses for it. The government earmarked funds to double its amount of organic farmland by 2020. An employers group and a union have agreed to pay fast food workers no less than $20 per hour. The country’s measures to avoid foodborne illness have helped it go years between cases of salmonella and have kept animal antibiotic use low. Denmark’s seemingly
small tweaks to pork production have also substantially improved the welfare of pigs. Sure, it’s a small nation with high government revenue, but it provides some food for thought.
Buy almonds on the cheap
Between 2005 and 2012, demand for almonds grew 200%, according to the Washington Post. They’re now the most popular nut consumed. Farmers have planted more almond trees to take advantage of historically high prices for the crop. But now an overabundant supply paired with a strong dollar are bringing prices down. Depending on how El Niño affects yields – heavy rain at the right times could be a boon to production – almond prices may have even farther to fall in coming years, especially if a strong dollar curbs foreign demand.
Salmon prices reach 30-year high
If salmon appears on your menu, expect to mark it up in the next few months. A parasite infected salmon in Norway, which supplies about half of the world’s salmon (nearly all of it from farms). As a result, salmon pens had to be cleaned and the fish harvested earlier than usual at much smaller sizes, according to a Bloomberg report. The Seafood Council estimates that 30,000 tons of salmon were affected. This will inflate prices as other markets cash in on the boost in demand.
Minimum wage fight continues on the campaign trail
Hourly employees of quick-service restaurants including McDonald’s KFC, Wendy’s and other chains planned to walk off the job as part of the “Fight for $15” movement to urge restaurant operators to pay their employees a $15 minimum wage. The protests have been scheduled to coincide with major events in the presidential campaign. This protest follows a recent announcement that Shake Shack would be making its third price increase in 18 months due to increased labor costs (Starbucks, Panera and Chipotle increased prices last year).
Handwashing technologies keep contamination in check
Poor handwashing practices account for 89% of foodborne illnesses in which workers contaminate food, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Restaurant Hospitality says two technologies, the Clean Hands Advanced Handwashing Monitor and the Ecolab Syncra Total Hand Hygiene System, take aim at that figure. The first device requires employees speak their name and a four-digit code every time they wash up. The second uses a three-step process to ensure employees wash correctly. Workers place their hands under the faucet, which splashes an initial dose of water onto hands, drops a set amount of soap and then shuts down while the worker scrubs. Managers can adjust the scrub period and then the faucet releases a final dose of water for a complete rinse.
Consumers can comparison shop for food delivery
Consumers use aggregator websites to comparison shop for airfares and car rentals, so why not restaurant delivery services? The delivery industry has become so saturated that Bootler, a Chicago-based startup, launched a site that allows consumers to compare the delivery deals they get from the
likes of Delivery.com, DoorDash, EatStreet, GrubHub and Postmates. The company plans to add Uber, Amazon and other players to the mix soon.
Domino’s makes it even easier to order pizza
Domino’s has a digital offering that any technology geek would love: Customers can order a pizza via smartphone, SmartTV, voice-activated technology, Pebble Watch, and even by plugging a pizza emoji into a Tweet or text. The company’s latest move, just in time for Superbowl Sunday, was to partner with Amazon Echo to allow customers to place and track their pizza orders. Wired, which has said the service could rival Apple’s Siri, predicts consumers will like being able to ask Echo to repeat their latest order, prepare a pre-loaded “Easy Order” and alert them as their pizza leaves Domino’s and approaches their door.