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Archive | 2013

How to Get Customers in the Door on Thanksgiving and Christmas

How to Get Customers in the Door on Thanksgiving and Christmas

Historically, the holiday season is a very profitable time for restaurants, and this year promises to be no exception. As a matter of fact, Experian predicts 2013 holiday spending will increase by 11 percent over last year.

So how can your restaurant really take advantage of this season of spending? Let’s run though some smart holiday promotion strategies …

Communicate with your current patrons

Time to put that email list to good use! Email is an easy way—and quite cost effective—to spread the word and bring in customers over the holidays. If you don’t have an email marketing provider, MailChimp is a great option, and they have a free plan that will accommodate the needs of most small establishments.

Table displays (tents, postcards, etc.) are another good option because they take advantage of your captive audience. Also: train hosts and hostesses to mention your holiday hours, promotions, menu items, etc., when answering the phone.

All the work you’ve put into building your social media presence and attracting a following? That effort is going to pay huge dividends during the holidays! Be sure to beat the drum over Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, et. al, to get folks excited about your seasonal offerings.

Another idea: a direct mail campaign, while somewhat pricey, can be an effective way to reach potential customers over the holidays.

Connect with folks who haven’t dined with you yet

Have you considered running a promotion on a daily deal site? Sites like Groupon and Living Social have gotten a bad rap lately, and there some truth to the notion that these deals can be great for customers but terrible for small-business owners. However, there’s still a time and place for this marketing tool, particularly if you don’t have a large email list or social media following and you want to reach a big audience quickly. What’s more, if you design the right offer you can certainly make the financials work!

Do something special

It’s the holidays, so business as usual won’t cut it. (Nor will simply changing the satellite/Pandora radio station to Christmas tunes.) If you want to attract customers this November and December, we suggest tapping your creative imagination. Maybe new table displays, a cozy cocktail list, or even a totally revamped holiday menu.

Make sure hungry holiday shoppers can find you

These days everyone carries a smartphone, and they’re using them to find nearby bars and restaurants. According to one study from Nielsen, 64 percent of mobile restaurant searchers convert immediately or within an hour!

Does your restaurant show up when customers search online? Improve your visibility and ensure accuracy by updating your important local directory profiles on Google+, Yelp, etc.

Ideally you have a website that looks decent and displays quickly on a 4-inch smartphone screen, but if you don’t … at least try to position the key info that customers need—your address, phone number, hours, menu link—front and center. It’s hard to hunt for information on a tiny screen! Smartphone users are famously impatient, so don’t make them work/wait for it—because they’ll just tap away to competitor’s site.

Another method you might try is slightly “Minority Report”-ish but could be really effective this year: reach nearby shoppers with geo-targeted ads. Google, Twitter and Foursquare currently offer this service. Why not give it a shot?

Last-minute catering services?

In most cases, larger companies have already made holiday-party plans, but if you’re late to the catering party (so to speak), you might still have a chance to pick up some catering business, because this time of year there are always contingencies—companies that forgot to book a venue (small firms are notorious procrastinators) or catering companies that accidentally double booked themselves. You never know!

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How to Replace a Vitamix Drive Socket [Video]

Has your Vitamix blender broken down? If you can hear the motor working, but the blades aren’t spinning correctly, chances are that the drive socket just needs to be replaced. In this video, Chris Tavano walks you through the procedure to get your Vitamix back in working shape!

To be sure that your Vitamix is never down for long, make sure to always keep an extra drive socket on hand!

 

Find more Vitamix replacement parts, and much more, here

Replacement Process:

  • Turn off and unplug Vitamix
  • Remove centering pad
  • Line up the “Vitamix” name stamped on the top of the drive socket with the small hole in the back of the housing
  • Insert the allen wrench at a 45-degree angle into the hole and unscrew the drive socket
  • Remove the old drive socket, and insert the new one in the same position
  • Re-insert the allen wrench and tighten the drive socket into the housing
  • Replace the centering pad
  • Mix away!

 
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Video Transcript:

Hi, I’m Chris Tavano for Tundra Restaurant Supply and in this episode, we’re going to show you how to troubleshoot and fix a common error with your Vitamix Blender.

So a common problem that you can see with your Vitamix Blender is your drive socket gets worn out and therefore, can’t spin your blade assembly correctly. So you may be asking yourself, why is the drive socket so important? Well, first and foremost it is really the only thing between you and the motor and the blade; as well, the drive socket works as a silencer to keep this baby running soft and silent.

So a couple of ways to identify if your Vitamix Blender is not running properly and if it really is the drive socket, is if you turn it on and you hear the motor running, but you don’t see the blade spinning. Common causes for this issue, could be many. You could be taking a container off of the motor before it stops running, or vice versa your putting the container on the motor while it is running. Another commonality would be you have a foreign object in your container, and it’s prohibiting the blade from spinning properly. Also, if you’re running your Vitamix Blender without the centering pad in place. And a last occurrence of why it could grind out the teeth on your drive socket, is you’re trying to tilt the container to move around your ingredients while the motor is running. And also, it’s important to know that you can wear out your drive socket by not using the correct Vitamix component part.

So what you want to do first, before doing any maintenance on your Vitamix Blender is first, be sure it’s unplugged, and in the off position. From there you’d want to remove your container because it’s not going to be needed and then you’re going to want to take off your centering pad, which is really easy, it peels right back. And then from there, you’re going to want to look at the little housing for the drive socket and find the hole, and on top of the drive socket, you’re going to see the brand name, Vitamix and a little arrow. You want to line the arrow up with the hole in the housing. From there, you’re going to take your 5/64 Allen wrench, place it down at a 45 degree angle, righty-tighty, lefty-loosy, and the drive socket should pop right out. Again, if you’re having a little bit of trouble having that drive socket pop out, you can just use a flat-headed screwdriver to help get some leverage underneath there. From there, you want to get your new drive socket, it’s got a square bolt, so it only fits one way in the housing; and again you’ll want to line up your Vitamix brand name with the arrow to the back of the housing where that hole is, place it in place. Again, it only goes on one way on the square nut. Get your 5/64 Hex wrench back at a 45 degree angle in that housing hole. 

And the good news is, that we have these parts in stock in our inventory here at Tundra, as well as, there’s no minimum order and they ship the day you order it. 

Peel your rubber centering pad right back over the drive socket and there you go.

And I’m Chris Tavano for Tundra Restaurant Supply, here’s to a better mise en place!

And if you have any other ideas for DIY videos, Please comment below.

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Lemp Mansion: Haunted Restaurants That Make You Say ‘NOPE’

4. Lemp Mansion | St. Louis, Missouri

Want to dine with ghosts?  How about get married around them?  Or you could decide to spend the night with them; either way, the Lemp Mansion is probably one of the scariest restaurants I’ve had the pleasure of researching, so far.  It was likely all of the ghost pictures I saw, that gave me a scare, well, that and the fact that there have been at least four suicides and one death in the mansion. 

Of the Lemp family, William Lemp Sr. committed suicide in the house, which set an example for his children to follow suite.  Out of five children, three of them also committed suicide, in the house: Elsa in one of the guest rooms, William “Billy” Lemp Jr. in the office (now the dining room), and Charles in his room.  All family members chose to use a gun to pull off their feat. 

It also turns out that William “Billy” Lemp Jr. had a secret in the attic.  His illegitimate child, (crudely called “the monkey faced boy”) Zeke, was born with Down Syndrome, and hidden away in the attic.  Unfortunately, he never left the attic when he lived, and since death, he remains there.

With that much tragedy in one location, you could likely imagine that the hauntings in the Lemp Mansion are very active; so much so, employees of the restaurant don’t often stick around.  Such hauntings include the sound of someone running up the stairs, doors being kicked, a peeping Tom in the women’s restroom (thought to be William “Billy” Lemp Jr.), apparitions appearing and vanishing, voices and sounds, and objects flying through the air.  But that’s not all, there are also doors that are locked and unlocked, lights that turn on and off, a piano being played, and objects that vanish. And don’t forget about Zeke, visitors have said that they see him peeking from the third floor windows, and ghost investigators have gotten him to play with toys they leave for him.  It’s also said that these ghosts aren’t shy, they stay very active at all hours of the day.

At one point, the mansion started deteriorating because guests were scared to stay, but now with so many ghost enthusiasts, it’s booming with business!

Seriously people, you want to get married here?  Nope.

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Brennan’s Restaurant: Haunted Restaurants That Make You Say ‘NOPE’

2. Brennan’s Restaurant | New Orleans, Louisiana

Built in 1795, Brennan’s Restaurant is one of New Orleans most famous restaurants, both for its menu and ghosts.  Chef Paul Blange was known for helping to build Brennan’s menu and inventing choices that are well known around the world today, like bananas Foster.  He was so devoted to what he did, that when he passed in 1977, he was buried with Brennan’s Restaurant menu and a knife and fork across his chest.  But death didn’t stop him from occupying the restaurant.  Chef Blange watches over the kitchen by keeping his eye on the employees, and sometimes reaching out to touch them.  He also bangs pots and pans together at the end of the night, just as the doors are being locked. 

If feeling watched and being touched by something that isn’t there, isn’t enough for you, let’s chat about Herman Funk that dwells in the wine cellar, even though he has also passed.  Mr. Funk was known as a wine master, and makes it very clear that is presence is still around by clinking wine bottles to let staff know which choice would be best for the diner. Although employees could easily ignore Funk’s suggestion, they usually go with his choice to make sure this ghost stays happy (which is probably a good idea since Brennan’s is known for their incredible wine selection).  Wine Spectator magazine named the restaurant as one of the 100 best wine cellars in the world.

Oh, that’s not it, there’s still plenty more ghosts to help make Brennan’s one of the most haunted places in the world.  There have been sightings in the Chanteclair room of an old woman peering through the windows, but it is the Red Room that seems to be the most cryptic.  As one of the original owners continued to feel the grief of financial woes, he felt that his best option to escape the trouble was to murder his wife and child, just before hanging himself in the Red Room.  Of course with such horrific events, the Red Room is now the source of many different hauntings, and the current owner’s don’t make the feeling any easier by keeping portraits up of all three of the previous owners that died in the room.  There are reports of cold spots, portrait facial expressions changing, misty fogs, feelings of being watched/touched, and even the feelings of being hated. 

Want to have dinner now? Nope.

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St. James Hotel: Haunted Restaurants That Make You Say ‘NOPE’

5. St. James Hotel | Cimarron, New Mexico

Out of the 5 restaurants (some within hotels) that I’ve written about so far, this one is likely one of the most famous, simply because of its former, famous guests and the more than 26 murders that occurred in the building.  The guest list of famous people that frequented St. James Hotel, included Clay Allison, Black Jack Ketchum, Jesse James, Buffalo Bill Cody, Annie Oakley, Wyatt Earp, Bob Ford, Bat Masterson, General Sheridan, Kit Carson, Doc Holliday, Billy the Kid, Pat Garret, Frederick Remington, Governer Lew Wallace, and Zane Grey (to name a few of course).  And all of these cast of characters, including the other guests that passed through, definitely left their mark when they stayed: when the roof was replaced in 1901, there were 400 bullet holes found in the ceiling, and today, you can still see 22 bullet holes in the dining room of the restaurant (formerly the saloon). 

Of course today, those 26 murders have led to numerous spirits that still linger around and cause mischief.  Although paranormal activity has been felt throughout the establishment, it is the second floor that is the most active.  People have reported feeling cold spots, smelling cigar smoke (no smoking allowed in the hotel), apparitions (very clear, detailed ones at that), objects flying off the wall and shelves, electrical equipment acting sporadically, lights that turn on and off, feelings of being watched, and guest digital gadgets ceasing to work. 

Room 17 is home to a previous owner’s wife, Mary Elizabeth.  Although guests are more than welcome to stay in the room, they’ll likely be greeted by the smell of roses, insistent tapping when the window is left open, and her apparition. 

A staff once reported that he heard ear-piercing shrieking while working at the front desk, where two other patrons that were in the lobby, went undisturbed.  Yet, another guest got invited to play poker with a round table of gentleman, that were proved to be ghosts – the person that saw the ghosts could have sworn they were flesh and blood people.

Then there’s room 18.  This room is off limits to everyone.  It stays locked, but houses a bed frame without a mattress, a rocking chair, coat rack, a hand of cards, shot glasses, and a bottle of Jack Daniels.  This room remains locked because it is said to be the most haunted room in the building, and is where the angry ghost of Thomas James Wright resides.  Mr. Wright was shot outside of this room, but stumbled inside the door before he slowly bled out.  His ghost is likely uneasy, because he was shot after he had just won the hotel in a poker game, and obviously someone wasn’t willing to hand it over to him.  Mr. Wright makes it very clear that he doesn’t like people to visit his room, as he pushes people to the ground when they enter and appears as a raging ball of light.  It has also been rumored that other deaths have occurred in this room.

Definitely, nope.

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Patsy Clarks: Haunted Restaurants That Make You Say ‘NOPE’

With Halloween around the corner, I thought I’d bring together a list of 5 haunted restaurant stories to get you in the mood for tricks with a little side of treats.  And although I love a great horror movie, some of these tales got me a little frightened, even in the office – you really shouldn’t tap someone on the shoulder when they’re researching haunted restaurants.

1. Patsy Clarks | Spokane, Washington

Let’s start this off with restaurant ghosts that are best described as playful.  If I had to deal with ghost sightings, I’m sure that wine bottles and glasses flying across the room would be better than feeling like you were being watched… oh wait, that happens at this mansion too.

Patrick (Patsy) Clark was the original owner of this mansion, and spent over $13 million to build and furnish this house back in 1897.  Now called the Patsy Clark mansion, it has been known that ghosts like to play pranks on employees by throwing wine bottles across the wine cellar and following them around the building, although no tragedies ever occurred in the mansion.  There were various stories around who haunts the mansion, but it is either three entities that lurk the wine cellar or Patrick’s wife Mary that lurks the entire building.  Either way, expect to get your wine thrown at you if you visit this place.

Unfortunately, the place is no longer a restaurant, but it does offer to host events on the first floor. 

I think I’ll say nope to eating here.

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Catfish Plantation: Haunted Restaurants That Make You Say ‘NOPE’

3. Catfish Plantation | Waxahachie, Texas

Another restaurant with plenty of ghosts to help you enjoy your meal, is the Catfish Plantation.  Located in Waxahachie, Texas, the Catfish Plantation has three ghosts named: Elizabeth, Will, and Caroline. 

Elizabeth was murdered in the house back in the early 1920’s on her wedding day by an ex-lover.  But being murdered on her wedding day wasn’t Elizabeth’s only misfortune, because she still resides in the building to this day.  She’s often found in the bathroom, but has also been seen looking out windows and bursting through doors.

Will was a former owner that died in the building from a sickness, and he too still resides at the plantation.  Will can be seen on the front porch in his overalls and felt touching legs of female patrons.

Then in 1970, Caroline passed away in the building from old age, and she had very set ways that she continues to share with the restaurant’s employees.  She loved cooking, so she usually hangs out in the kitchen, but she hated alcohol, so wine glasses usually don’t last long.  In fact, the staff has to keep wine glasses behind glass in an armoire, to try and prevent Caroline from flinging them across the room.  Caroline also likes to brew coffee herself, and rearrange supplies to her liking.

Other paranormal activity includes banging on the walls, food being flung, doors unlocking themselves, lights going on and off, water being turned on, equipment doors being opened and closed, and dead clocks chiming.  All of which, leaves many patrons leaving before dinner is even served.

Yeah, nope.

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Today’s Food Scraps = Tomorrow’s Soup du Jour

Today’s Food Scraps = Tomorrow’s Soup du Jour

Did you know that here in the United States we toss 40 percent of our food—perfectly edible food—into the trash? That’s a 50 percent increase since the 1970s.

At our nation’s restaurants, a pound of food is wasted per meal created. Food waste is the single most abundant material in our landfills. (Check out this infographic for more food waste stats—it’s an eye-opener.)

You don’t have to be a card-carrying, Greenpeace-dues-paying hippie to see the folly in this extravagance. Anyone with even a smidgen of thrift can see that this level of waste is utterly bonkers.

Here’s the good news: reversing this wasteful behavior isn’t hard, and you’ll save a bundle of money in the process.

So what can you do with your food scraps? An improvised soup—sometimes referred to as “garbage soup” or “kitchen sink soup”—is a good choice, particularly this time of year, with cooler temperatures ushering in the hot soup season.

Tip: Don’t call it garbage soup outside the kitchen. Today’s Food Scraps = Tomorrow’s Soup du Jour

I’ve found that the hardest part is simply getting in the habit of saving your scraps. One strategy is to designate specific food storage bins to collect scraps for later use, either for the fridge or the freezer. That way, there isn’t so much pressure to immediately put them to use.

So what kind of scraps can you freeze and use? Well, if you making stock, the sky’s the limit! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Meat bones (be extra sure to keep frozen until you use them to prevent spoiling)
  • Corn cobs
  • Vegetable tops (e.g. carrots, leeks, beets and fennel)
  • Tomato skins, seeds and juice
  • Potato skins
  • Coffee
  • Shrimp shells
  • Mushroom stems
  • Carrot peelings
  • Cabbage cores
  • Brocoli stumps
  • Pepper seeds and pith
  • Celery root stems and leaves
  • Onion and garlic ends
  • Herb stems

Thrifty Good Life has a helpful warning:

Items to avoid: NEVER use any green parts from vegetables in the nightshade family (tomato, pepper, potato) as these plant parts contain toxic elements. This means – avoid the stems or leaves of bell peppers, tomatoes as well as potatoes with any sprouts on them or green color. Never use any vegetable with black mold or any old/rotten meat. 

Feel free to share your own food-scrap-saving tips in the comments!

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Recipe Measurement Converter & Equivalents

As the holidays start coming closer, we thought it would be a perfect opportunity for our blog team to work together with the graphics team to put together some printable material that would make great gifts for those Chefs in your life. 

Our very talented Audrey Diaz and I thought a recipe measurement converter and equivalent infographic would be a perfect piece to frame and gift.  It would look great in the home kitchen or office;  either way, it’s our free gift to you.  Enjoy.

Recipe Measurement Converter & Equivalents

Click on image for larger view, and PDF version.

Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):

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Are You Ready to Go Lead Free in 2014?

Are You Ready to Go Lead Free in 2014?

The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act takes effect Jan. 4, 2014. Are you ready?

Under the act, signed by Congress three years ago, “lead free” will be redefined as “not more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent lead when used with respect to the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures.”

This is a significant change, folks! The maximum lead content of plumbing products used to be 8.0 percent. When the law takes effect on Jan. 4, it will be illegal to sell or install products that exceed 0.25 percent lead.

If you live in California, Vermont, Louisiana or Maryland, you’re ahead of the curve. These states have already implemented tougher safe drinking water standards with respect to plumbing materials. The new federal requirements play catch up to these states’ regulations.

The Good News

The act does NOT require existing infrastructure to be proactively replaced. But when you eventually need to repair or replace a pipe, fixture or fitting, you’re probably going to have to find a compliant replacement that has less than 0.25 percent lead.

Also, just to clarify, we’re talking about drinking water here. The act doesn’t apply to non-potable-water plumbing systems, such as industrial processing, irrigation or outdoor watering. The law also excludes toilets, urinals, fill valves, flushometer valves, tub fillers, or shower valves.

What to Look for When Buying New Plumbing Supplies

NSF International and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have responded to the updated definition with NSF/ANSI 372, which will go into effect in October 2013 as certification for the 2014 lead-content restrictions.

Are You Ready to Go Lead Free in 2014?

Helpful Resources

Want more information about the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act and how it might impact your business? These sites can answer your questions.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.

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