Your employees are the face of your restaurant and can keep guests coming back. If you’re committed to hiring the best talent, the National Restaurant Association shared these tips to help you succeed: Fine-tune your restaurant’s core values and translate them into traits and skills you desire in your employees. Consider your star employees and what makes them stand out. Once you’re ready to interview, involve other staff members to get their perspectives and ask the candidate behavioral questions that demonstrate how he or she would respond in a situation. Ask your best employees for referrals and offer monetary incentives for identifying people you eventually hire. Having a team culture and offering perks (large or small) for meeting a threshold of working hours or bringing in business will also help you attract go-getters.
Help your guests spot healthy options
Americans have an appetite for the healthy options you’re offering – but there’s room for restaurants to expand on those options and make them more evident on menus. Nearly half of the American public struggles to find healthy items on restaurant menus, according to new research from Mintel. Approximately 68% believe restaurants should emphasize the healthier items featured on their menus so guests are more aware of their options. One-quarter of those surveyed looked for nutritional claims on menus more frequently in 2015 than they did in the previous year.
Farm-to-tables restaurants go under the magnifying glass
An article in the Tampa Bay Times is making national headlines for its scrutiny of restaurants claiming to serve “locally sourced, farm-to-table” food. Food & Wine reports that the newspaper’s food critic, Laura Reiley, spent two months studying the menus of 54 restaurants in her area that make such claims about the origins of the food they serve, then she investigated their claims by visiting farms, interviewing distributors and genetically testing food. Her conclusion was that almost all of the restaurants she surveyed were telling tales, some without realizing it. She advised people who eat out to be skeptical of the sourcing claims they hear.
Chipotle dips a toe into the burger business
As Chipotle strives to steer its signature brand back on course, it appears to be diversifying its portfolio to include burgers. The company recently applied for a trademark for the term “better burger.” While the chain would have serious competition from the likes of Five Guys, Shake Shack and other popular burger destinations, MarketWatch reports that consumers have a growing appetite for higher-quality burgers that have become a staple of the fast-casual space. Americans spent more than $100 billion on quick-service burgers and $23 billion on fast-casual burgers in 2015, up from 2014 figures, according to Euromonitor. Consumer spending on fast-casual food is expected to continue its climb as more people place importance on quality ingredients.
Don’t forget the condiments
In this age of customization, restaurant guests like to know they can create a dish just the way they like it – and they’ll pay for the privilege. How you serve up condiments can make a difference. Technomic research found that 47% of consumers like their sandwich condiments to be served on the side as a dip so they can control their application, compared to 39% in 2012. The research also found that many consumers are willing to pay more for quality condiments, with 27% saying they’d pay more for a sandwich with name-brand condiments, up from 17% in 2014.
Decline in soda consumption could eat into restaurant margins
Almost one-quarter of Americans are ordering less soda in restaurants than they were a year ago, according to new research from Mintel. Soft drink consumption has been on the decline for years but restaurants have tended to be places where guests allow themselves to indulge more than they would at home. That may be changing now, according to a Washington Post report. The decline in overall consumption could challenge restaurant operators to find new ways to entice guests with their drink menu, where many restaurants find their biggest margins.
Crank up your curb appeal
Does your restaurant’s exterior communicate what you want guests to know and feel about your business? Foodable recommends these tips: Use signage and graphics that mesh with your brand, make sure signs are lit well and unobstructed, and don’t use so many of them that guests don’t know what to read first. Consider the exterior structure of your restaurant – landscaping with plants or small trees, painting a mural, using torches or hanging lights, or experimenting with color and texture may help you project your brand image and provide a contrast with neighboring restaurants. Your parking area should be clean and well lit, with clear lines and signage. Piping out music or venting kitchen aromas outside can set the stage too. Create an appealing waiting area outside so guests have a place to congregate and passersby get a positive vibe. Camouflage anything that detracts from that – think trashcans, air conditioning units or distracting signage.
Small suppliers, big food safety obstacles
These days, restaurants win big points with consumers for sourcing their ingredients from small, local producers. But for many of these small suppliers, it’s an uphill battle to adhere to the same food safety standards expected of large suppliers, according to Food Safety News. They need to implement cost-effective standards appropriate for the scale of their business – and those standards must measure up to those of their larger counterparts. A variety of sources of information and training geared to small- and mid-sized farms is available and will likely expand now that the Food and Drug Administration has published final rules for produce and other foods, as the Food Safety Modernization Act directed. Still, small- and mid-sized farms face challenges if they want to boost their wholesale business.
Starbucks makes it even easier to buy a latte
Starbucks is a ubiquitous presence in many cities – and now it’s set to become a regular presence on office computers as well. Through a partnership between Starbucks and Microsoft, Outlook users will soon be able to book meetings at nearby Starbucks locations and also buy and send Starbucks gift cards – all from within the email program. Starbucks is working on a new Microsoft app for its customers to support the offering, according to GeekWire.
It may not sound like the most appetizing idea but several companies are bringing 3D printers to market that can “print” food – and some believe these devices could one day become as widespread as microwaves in restaurant kitchens. Eater reports that one such company, Foodini, has produced a $2000 3D printer that is currently in use in some high-end restaurant kitchens. While it doesn’t create food from scratch, it releases “edible material, following a precise, set pattern.” At this stage, the device seems best suited for streamlining cooking processes – filling ravioli or making a pizza that must then be cooked, for example.