Consumers’ demand for quality ingredients has spanned to include the bar – and restaurants are increasingly bringing inventive produce, herbs and other “farm to glass” flavors onto the beverage menu. Looking to boost your bar business? Try moving your cocktail prep to the kitchen. Uncorkd says giving bartenders kitchen space allows them to access a much broader array of ingredients, from basil to jalapenos, to add pizzazz to cocktails, as well as equipment like the grill, which can help them infuse beverages with smoky flavors. Setting the stage for collaboration between your bar and kitchen staff can also encourage them to share ingredients, minimize food waste and expense, and adopt new techniques for enhancing flavors and presentation.
Take your restaurant to the top of a Google search
If your restaurant doesn’t appear at the beginning of a Google search, chances are a large percentage of potential guests are missing you. Restaurant Engine recommends you create a Google+ page and state your city or neighborhood clearly on your site to maximize exposure. Your site must also be mobile-friendly – with text that doesn’t require zooming or scrolling and links with ample space between them. Fine-tune your keywords and don’t overload your site with them (if you’re using Wordpress for your site, an SEO plug-in can help you manage these items). Finally, if you don’t have time to wait for your web traffic to build over time, you can always take a shortcut and pay for Google AdWords, which charges you when someone clicks on a link in the search results that leads them to your site.
Quick-service continues to innovate with quality ingredients
Upscale menu items could be appearing in quick-service restaurants soon, if tests at McDonald’s and Wendy’s are any indication. CNBS reports that McDonald’s recently concluded a test of a pesto mozzarella melt with baby spinach and kale, priced at $4.99, and Wendy’s is testing bacon truffle fries and truffle bacon cheeseburgers, which include truffle aioli, truffle parmesan and a croissant bun. Analysts said the changes could be the result of both decreased same-store sales and consumers’ push for quality ingredients.
The top better-for-you brands
Foodable’s Restaurant Social Media Index recently tracked the restaurant concepts outperforming competitors in the healthy sector and the industry overall. Their top three brands? Tender Greens offers the sensibilities of fine dining at a lower price point – everything on the menu is under $12.50, has a farmer’s-market style authenticity and a presentation that inspires posting to social media. Veggie Grill may have a vegetarian menu but 70 percent of its guests don’t identify as vegetarian – the brand has a hip voice, uses artistic imagery online and has a social media presence that encourages guests to get creative with the menu. Finally, Modern Market has developed a loyal following by providing quality ingredients at a reasonable price – they share the origins of menu items and health facts with guests on social media, as well as user-generated content.
When a restaurant is an apartment building’s new tenant
More restaurant operators are opening outlets in high-end apartment and condo buildings, a common practice in cities like New York and Boston that is now spreading to other cities as real estate has become more scarce, Restaurant Hospitality reports. The arrangement can work well, giving building owners an amenity to offer residents and providing the restaurant with a captive audience. Those who have tried it recommend partnering with the building tenants so both parties understand how the relationship will work and benefit from it, ensuring you have infrastructure in place to prevent kitchen smells from permeating the building all day, and doing your best to prioritize tenants’ reservations.
Do you know food safety fact from fiction?
Food Safety News debunked some common food safety common myths. Care to test your knowledge? Microwaves kill bacteria in food, making it safe. (The heat actually kills the bacteria and because microwaves may heat unevenly, beware of cool pockets in food where bacteria can lurk.) Cross-contamination doesn’t happen in the refrigerator. (Bacteria can grow in the refrigerator and even survive freezing temperatures so separate produce from raw meat, seafood, poultry and eggs, and clean the refrigerator regularly – including produce bins – with hot water and soap.) Once a hamburger is brown inside, it’s cooked to a safe internal temperature. (Ground meat should be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 160˚F and only a food thermometer can determine its safety.)
Consider these fire precautions
Fires in restaurants and bars cause hundreds of injuries and deaths, and lead to an average of $246 million in property damage each year, according to the National Fire Protection Association. How do you protect your business? Food Safety News recommends you consider these potential safeguards: Water wash hood systems reduce the risk of fire spreading through the restaurant and the cost of labor associated with hood cleanings. Ultraviolet pollution control systems provide those same benefits and also minimize the odor of exhausted air and kill mold, mildew, fungi and bacteria. Quencher systems provide an endless supply of water to extinguish a fire. Demand ventilation systems, which have heat and smoke sensors located inside the ductwork, can reduce energy costs and automate air balancing in multi-hood kitchen setups.
Restaurants face the resurgence of home cooking
Low food prices, paired with nutritionists’ claims that it’s healthier for consumers to cook meals at home, are encouraging consumers to do just that. The New York Times reports the rise in meal kit services and the improved quality of prepared foods in grocery stores is making restaurants less of a draw. Still, there’s room for hope. In the past two decades, food spending by consumers has leaned toward restaurants and even surpassed home cooking for the first time in 2014, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And the factors that made that happen – an increased number of women in the workforce, higher disposable incomes, longer working hours – are not going away any time soon.
Experts weigh in on future of restaurant tech
Last month, tech experts gathered at FSTEC to take a look into the future of restaurant technology. Among the top hypotheses for the changes coming to restaurants in the next few years: guests paying by voice via a new Google service that detects a selfie on a guest’s phone and uses face-recognition technology to verify the person’s identity and approve the transaction, as well as smartphone technology being used to engage and entertain restaurant staff in addition to guests. The experts predicted rapid changeover for restaurant technology – many tech tools will become obsolete within six to 12 months – so operators will need to pick and choose where to focus their energy and investment.
Operational efficiency with the help of a watch
Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group and Resy, the reservation system company, have teamed up to enhance front-of-house restaurant service and efficiency using the Apple Watch, Eater reports. At Meyer’s Union Square Café, each floor manager and sommelier will soon wear an Apple Watch, which will enable a manager to alert a coatroom attendant when a guest is ready to leave, or ping a sommelier as soon as a guest has ordered a bottle of wine, eliminating the need for a manager to print a ticket for the order. The restaurant group’s vice president of technology sees the move as a way to smooth out operational hiccups.