When you train your team, do you rely on managers or key players to oversee the training? Foodable industry expert Andrew Carlson recommends the latter. By pairing your strongest and weakest links, you will either strengthen your weak employees or force them to move on -- either situation benefits you. Your key players' enthusiasm for their role can inspire the weaker employees to adopt a similar attitude. You're also demonstrating you see opportunities to improve but are willing to admit you're not the best person to determine next steps. If a server is a poor performer and you pair her with your lead server who is constantly exceeding goals, the lower performer will be able to see exactly how to improve (from someone who isn't far removed from the situation). You're also giving your key people the responsibility to bring others up to their level -- and if low performers don't respond in turn, it's not worth retaining them.
Know the parameters of tip pooling
While Wahlburgers may be among the most recent brands having to respond to a class-action lawsuit over employee tipping, among other issues, the burger chain is far from the only operator facing disputes over payment practices. FSR says the practice of mandatory tip pools, for example, is more complicated than it seems under the Fair Labor Standards Act. Employees are likely to be included in tip pools if they serve food and drinks, greet customers, take orders, check with customers on their satisfaction with their meal, and refill drinks. But they can also include back-of-house staff assisting cooks with meal prep, cleaning tables, making coffee, washing dishes and restocking stations. You could risk a legal challenge if you exclude back-of-house staff who don't often interact with customers.
Meat consumption on the rise, even as sales boom for substitutes
The campaign to help Americans cut back on meat and bacon has not succeeded so far, according to Vox. While American consumption of meat and pork had been falling over the course of the past decade, it is surging again. A recent analysis from Rabobank found that in 2015, meat consumption in the U.S. climbed 5 percent, the steepest rise in 40 years, and it is not expected to slow down. This comes as plant-based substitutes for meat, eggs and dairy are booming. While it's too early to say that they're making a dent in meat consumption, global sales of plant-based meat substitutes should hit $5.17 billion by 2020, according to the research firm Markets and Markets.
Include traditional flavors on your cold-weather menu
Though the summer heat is still upon us, cooler temperatures are just around the corner. What will your guests want on the menu? Restaurant Business says kale, cranberry, cinnamon and mint will continue to be popular in food and drink as consumers are ordering more foods with traditional flavors than they were last year. Think kale scrambles, cranberries as a complement to spicy or bitter greens, cinnamon-chili combinations in cocktails, rubs and desserts, and mint flavors -- even specifying spearmint or peppermint flavors is coming into vogue with transparency-loving guests.
Use your menu to tell your story
The millennials are powerful consumers who demand transparency and authenticity. You can provide that through the story you tell on your menu. Name the origins of ingredients you use in various dishes -- from the blueberries on the dessert menu to the salt you use to season a popular dish. The more specific you are, the better. SmartBriefs says this suggests to your guests that ordinary ingredients won't do for you and you care enough about the nuances of flavor to seek them out from hard-to-reach places. If you source products locally, you'll present an image as a restaurant that wants to invest in the community. What's more, you'll demonstrate that you care about quality ingredients.
Baked goods supplier accused of circumventing food safety protocol
A federal civil case alleges that Orange Bakery, Inc., whose customers include Whole Foods, Sam's Club and major food distributors, stopped required food safety testing and has been forging third-party certifications for more than a year, Food Safety News reports. The bakery company sells fresh and frozen baked goods and dough to retailers and distributors nationwide, including US Foods and Sysco, who supply thousands of schools, restaurants, hotels, hospitals and other foodservice operations. Orange Bakery has denied the claims.
Reject produce from flooded fields
Beware of produce from flooded regions. Food Safety News reports the importance of discarding produce that has been in floodwater, which can carry pathogens including E. coli, Salmonella and Listeria, as well as sewage and chemicals. Even for crops grown on a stalk above floodwater, it's difficult to ascertain how much of the plant has drawn in tainted water and the FDA says there is no practical way to determine the safety of these foods for human consumption. The National Weather Service reported recently that major flooding was ongoing in states including Louisiana, Mississippi, North Dakota and Oklahoma, with seven additional states experiencing minor flooding.
Kitchen tools to boost food safety
Could some kitchen technology enhance food safety at your restaurant? QSRweb recently interviewed a Culinary Institute chef from Alto-Shaam, a company that develops kitchen equipment focused on warming and cooling as the first line of defense in food safety. The chef works with other chefs across the country to determine their product needs. To help restaurants maximize holding times and reduce waste, he said Alto-Shaam's equipment holds food at a precise temperature so it stays out of the danger zone. The company also produces blast chillers that enable restaurants to cook in bulk and quickly reduce the food's temperature, which can extend the shelf life of the food by five days. He said taking control of the time food spends in the danger zone can reduce waste and minimize food safety risks.
Set a top-tier social media strategy
Is your restaurant among the 20 percent with a strong social media strategy? That's the percentage of restaurant CEOs that the Marketing Zen Group estimates are managing social media correctly, according to Foodable. If you're among the other 80 percent, stay consistent and agile so your employees, customers and shareholders see you on social media and you can take advantage of opportunities that arise from the exposure. Expect that not every tactic will succeed -- test to see what works best. Understand that social media is not about mastering new tools but is instead about making all media social -- it's a mindset change. Finally, reach key demographics with the help of partners like Cooking Fever, for example, a mobile app with millions of young users.
Restaurant marketing via Facebook Messenger
Just three months after Facebook opened its Messenger app to developers and brands, restaurant marketers are experimenting with it too, according to Adweek. Take Pizza Hut, which is rolling out a platform that plugs into Facebook Messenger and makes it easier to order a pizza. The location-based platform lets customers chat with a rep through a Facebook account and get deals from nearby restaurants. It will also automatically fill in delivery information and save their favorite orders. This is on top of the chain's current mobile and Xbox apps, which remember users' orders and offer discounts. The Facebook Messenger app has one billion monthly users.