Reviewing energy costs is a natural way to increase profit margins – and the solutions might be as simple as changing lightbulbs, adding mirrors in lighted areas, or making minor adjustments to faucets and thermostats. Check with your state’s utility companies – they may help you assess your restaurant’s degree of energy efficiency and provide financial incentives for you to join programs that can save you money. If you have good credit, you may be able to qualify for low- or no-interest financing to make improvements like swapping out older appliances or HVAC systems with energy-efficient replacements. Beyond your state, look for guidance from groups like the Green Restaurant Association or the National Restaurant Association’s Conserve program.
Startup helps New York restaurants “veganize” their menus
About 5% of the U.S. population identifies itself as vegetarian or vegan, an increase of four percentage points from five years ago. Now Veganizer, a startup company in New York City, is helping the vegans in that group find more places to eat. The company consults with restaurants and gives them the tools to help them turn their menus 100% vegan for a day. It then helps promote the special vegan menus to spark business – and dialogue about vegan food. The company’s goal is to normalize vegan food for omnivores and show restaurants how to accommodate vegan diets.
Is flex-casual the next restaurant service model?
What does a restaurant do when it wants to provide guests with fast-casual efficiency at lunch and relaxed full service at dinner? Create a hybrid model. Foodable reports that Houston-based Dish Society offers a flex-casual dining experience that capitalizes on how consumers’ service preferences can shift over the course of a day. Come 3:30pm, Dish Society’s cashiers depart and a bartender, host and full-service wait staff start their shifts. Dressed-up uniforms and different plating create additional distinctions from the earlier part of the day. The restaurant’s founder initially envisioned Dish Society as 100% fast casual but once he studied the market, he knew mixing things up was best.
National Restaurant Association hits the campaign trail
In an election year, restaurants take the spotlight as candidates appear at popular dining spots in states with upcoming contests. The National Restaurant Association has taken the opportunity to launch its own campaign on social media to promote the restaurant industry. The campaign, RestaurantsDecide, traces the steps of presidential candidates, sharing the stories of the restaurants hosting them and highlighting their importance to the community. At the same time, the campaign notes the significance of the restaurant industry as a voting constituency (in South Carolina, for example, restaurants account for 11% of the workforce) and publicizes campaign topics like healthcare, immigration and taxation, which weigh heavily on the restaurant industry.
First-class dining flies high
The words “flying” and “fine dining” don’t often appear in the same sentence but American Airlines and Delta Airlines appear to be changing that. Foodservice Director reports American will soon offer complimentary, full-service tableside dining to its first-class customers before they board international flights. The concept will launch at New York’s Kennedy Airport early next year, followed by Dallas/Forth Worth, Los Angeles and Miami airports. Each location will feature its own executive chef, who will design seasonal menus that emphasize local flavors. For its part, Delta will soon serve in-flight meals designed by Union Square Hospitality’s Danny Meyer to all business-class passengers flying internationally via Kennedy Airport.
Serve Maine lobster while you can
If you offer Maine lobster on your menu, expect some changes to the supply. Food & Wine reports that rising ocean temperatures fuel the growth of diseases that harm crustaceans. Lobster fishing in southern New England has already taken a hit because of the rising water temperatures associated with climate change.
Let the best food delivery company win
The food delivery market seems to get more saturated by the day. But the lineup of major players could look far different in coming years than it does now. As a report in Eater says, it’s far easier to break into the food delivery market than to create a successful, sustainable business. It takes time to master the complexity of getting a variety of perishable food to a customer in an industry of slim profit margins. Many companies grow before they master being small. Think of this when you consider potential partners – there will likely be some shifts ahead.
Allset minimizes wait times at full-service restaurants
A new app called Allset promises to make full-service dining more efficient for the customer and the restaurant operator, according to a report in FSR. Created by a tech executive who has already launched a mobile restaurant loyalty program and mobile payment app, Allset allows customers to reserve a table at a restaurant, review the menu, place an order and pay with their mobile phone – all before they even leave their house. The app, which charges restaurants $1 per table, launched in California this past fall following the launch of a similar platform in Europe. For the customer, it eliminates waiting for menus, drinks and meals – time restaurant operators can use to bring in additional customers.
As the drive-thru fades, master digital ordering
QSR says the most critical performance metric for quick-service restaurants to improve in 2016 is the percentage of sales that come through digital orders. Digital is rapidly making the drive-thru obsolete because of its ability to accept and process multiple orders simultaneously, quickly, accurately and as a result, more conveniently than a drive thru. So how do you make the transition? QSR recommends aiming to support a scenario in which 50% or more of your orders come through digital channels from consumers who expect their food to be ready and fresh when they arrive. You’ll likely need a digital ordering platform that offers online, mobile and call-center-based ordering, metrics that pinpoint problem areas and an operational plan that plots out how to continuously improve.
Do you need cyber liability insurance?
Restaurants are the businesses most frequently targeted by cyber criminals. The average cost of a data breach is $188 per compromised record, not counting the public relations costs associated with a breach, according to the Ponemon Institute. General liability insurance typically will not provide coverage if your restaurant is the target of cybercrime, so you may have considered purchasing additional coverage. Of course, there are costs. If you apply for it, you will likely have to purchase systems that reduce your risk. And some policies may not offer you the coverage you need, so it’s critical to scrutinize them. Still, the expense may be worthwhile if you face cyber extortion and steep legal expenses following a breach, or if you need support when contacting and safeguarding affected customers and launching a public relations campaign to recover.