When it comes to restaurant culture, owners, guests and staff want to know, "what's the secret ingredient" in Mama's cooking; or in ramen. Restaurant owners ask specifically for the secret ingredient in the CULTURE of a place”. This is the question I posed of Erin Moran. She is Chief Culture Officer at Union Square Hospitality Group--Danny Meyers' company. We had a short interview on company culture. Here are the nuggets from our conversation.
Communication and the Ideal Millennial Workplace: By the year 2020 millennials will make up 40% of the overall workforce, so it’s wildly important to the future success of your business that you understand how to go about attracting and retaining members of this oft-written of and just as frequently misunderstood demographic. The overriding key to any healthy work environment is good communication, but that can be a broad directive to follow. Here are some factors to consider when envisioning the ideal workplace for today’s entry level employees...
Cashflow, for restaurants in the winter.
Millennials make up the largest segment of today’s labor force, with even higher representation in the food and beverage service industry, which means it’s becoming increasingly important to have a good idea of who we are and what we expect and desire in a workplace. By now I’m sure you’ve grown used to the tired portrayals of a generation entirely composed of lazy, entitled snowflakes, the reality is (would you believe it?) a bit more nuanced than that. Let’s pull apart some common myths and see what the data really has to say about the most written about and puzzled over generation to date.
Understanding and keeping up with your businesses health is, frankly, necessary to your success. It's important to know how various benchmarks for your specific restaurant, cafe or brewery. Prime costs benchmark is 60%. Now, you might be reading this and saying, "Now, remind me, what is prime cost again?" That's why I am writing this blogpost. Here are the four things you need to know, to get out of financial panic, and into financial calm and success.
8 Ideas for you to refresh what stories you are telling. Put those stories in your restaurants' newsletter.
A regular newsletter is your best, most direct contact with your guest in between their visits. A newsletter has one main purpose: now regulars and new guests can keep in touch with your restaurant. That newsletter needs to be written with intention. You are proactively inviting guests to visit.
But what do you tell them? You need to tell them your stories. It takes effort to maintain your monthly newsletter, but your efforts will pay off.
It can all be daunting.
So here's help. I’ve collected some of the formulas you can use to create the type of news your potential and returning customers will want to read. Use them exactly or tweak them to fit your unique restaurant.
SIX WAYS TO IMPROVE FOOD COSTS:
This topic is always fresh, always necessary. If you want better profits, focus on food costs.Double checking your food costs never goes out to style. It’s the most direct way to profitability. Any good independent or chain is forever working on improving food costs.
1. RECEIVING PROCEDURE—do you know that your staff is checking in items, checking dates, rotating products whether it is for dry storage or in the walkin. START NOW: stand with your staff member in charge of orders. Observe and check how they take in the order. Correct anything that is not done correctly. This techniques reminds the driver that you do check the orders. Nothing can be missing or too close to “out-of-date”.
2. RECIPE COSTING—do you know the cost of your best seller and your worst seller. Can you recite that food cost now? Don’t make this a daunting project for your chef of your staff, until you’ve done some good analysis yourself. START NOW: look up your best and worst sellers. How is you food cost? 25%? Congrats, and begin to market and sell more! 40%? Well, now you need to start deciding—raise the price or determine how you can make your food cost work… maybe “add a drink for $1” will make the combination price work. Make sure you have a Recipe Costing Card in a kitchen prep book so staff can review and check for accuracy. Double check on how a recipe is being made, just so you know new staff are being trained, and long-term staff are not shortcutting.
3. YIELD—do you really know what your yield is on a batch of cookies/soup/mac-n-cheese? You need to follow a recipe all the way from prep to completion. You may learn that there is waste happening along the way, that you never knew was happening. START NOW: Let’s say you have a chili recipe. Weigh and check ingredients at the beginning. Observe how the prep people are preparing it, and measure out the yield. That chili may yield 3 or 4 more portions with the appropriate prep.
4. PORTION CONTROL—do you spot check portions? Your staff should want portion control so that food is served consistently no matter who is on staff, and no matter which customer is being served. START NOW: Order an item from the kitchen. Check that the portion is correct. Compliment the prep staff and chef, when it's correct. Set a time to correct it, if the portion is wrong, because correcting in the moment will not change the kitchen habits.
5. WASTE SHEET—do you have a waste sheet? If so, is it in use? Do staff reach for that clipboard daily? Does staff report to you/supervisor to discuss waste on a daily basis? You change your buying habits based on the waste. START NOW: Here is an example of a waste sheet. Put it onto a clipboard, hang it in the kitchen, assign a manager to filling it in, and check your results daily, with the manager.
6. INVENTORY—do you have regularly scheduled inventory? It’s necessary. It’s the best way to check that food is moving through your establishment. START NOW: use your order sheets as inventory sheets, marking it "INVENTORY date/year" so everyone understands what is being done. Make sure you do a monthly check of every item in the house. Some odd items on the shelf? Talk with your chef to decide how best to use that item—on a lunch or dinner special. Don’t throw items away, if you can possibly avoid it.
Your staff, once again, is your biggest ally in putting these food cost checks in place. You lead your staff by showing them how to complete these six ways to improve your food costs. Staff should be encouraged to talk about each of the new methods, allow them to digest the material. Always help your staff by guiding them to the best practices. You’ll need to share “why” they should follow the six ways to control food cost. It they understand the "why" of good food costs they will ensure that food costs stay under control, and will alert you when food costs derail. Put these into action over a month. Slow and steady..
GUEST BLOGPOST - Andrew Gazdecki
Mobile Isn't Just for Starbucks - Mobile Solutions for Independent Restaurants. There is no better food or drink ordering mobile app than the Starbucks app. It has more users than any other restaurant app and has a lot of competitors, including titans like McDonald's, taking notice and looking to replicate a similar mobile experience for their own customers. For an independent restaurant owner, this may feel like an impossible task. After all, Starbucks has a lot more resources at its disposal and a team of mobile-focused developers to continue ensuring the future growth and success of the Starbucks app.
Training staff in a busy restaurant, cafe, or bar is not hard if you are consistent, and you give your staff a reason to come to work. Again, it's the "why" -- why did we hire you? why do you love working here? If your staff aren't asking those questions then you should read on!
Some owners don't know what this hipster term means: Mindset. Or perhaps you don't know how it works in restaurants or cafes. That's because there are so many tasks for a cafe or restaurant owner: improving sales, marketing, keeping up with changing food costs, changing the register keys, and training staff. This list goes on! You know that! This blog is not trying to be the Encyclopedia Brittanica of ownership. This blog is to help you in very real ways. Help you know what to do when you get stuck. Help you when you feel blue. Help you when you need help on sales, marketing, etc. You CAN be the boss, and be happy, and profitable. On a mediocre Monday, or a disappointing Thursday all you'd like is someone to remind you of exactly what you need. Help to stay motivated. Help to keep your eye on the prize. Hence, MINDSET TRAINING.
This post takes you inside Curry Leaf Cafe in Kemptown, and it's chef-owner Kanthi Kiran Thamma. He is building on the momentum of two ongoing restaurant successes. The latest incarnation of Curry Leaf Cafe is shared plates and small plates, of the street food of southern India. There's even a small masala dosa on the menu.
Marketing for your restaurants is an individual journey. Yes ,it's your story to tell. The story is central to growing your business. You'll be developing your story, which in turn creates a florishing business. Make that action active, but not urgent. Do it right, don't keep doing it over and over. Be patient. Slowly and consistently share your story. In fact, it's alot like a slow food dinner--where the food takes hours to prepare, bring good people to the table, and community arises and is nurtured. If that image, that tiny story, helps you start to market your restaurant, awesome. Now, read on, and you'll find that you have it inside you, but it's about to develop into your unique skill set, that works for your exact restaurant!