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Can’t Eat Here: Is Your Restaurant Sending the Right Message to Guests With Dietary Restrictions?

Cant Eat Here: Is Your Restaurant Sending the Right Message to Guests With Dietary Restrictions?

Imagine sitting down at a restaurant and being met with disgust when you question a menu item; unfortunately, that’s what a lot of people with dietary restrictions are being met with when they dine out.  The message here isn’t that every restaurant is this way, but rather that you should think about how your restaurant is making certain patrons feel, and why they are choosing to eat elsewhere.

Examples Are Always Good

My son has tree nut allergies, and I’ve been there when his throat started to close up simply because the person serving the food said that there was absolutely no nuts in any of our meals (we are nut-free altogether, because his allergy is so sensitive), and we trusted them when they said that.  I’ve also seen how the server rolls their eyes when I tell them how important it is to not have nuts anywhere near our plates.

I have friends that are vegetarian and vegan and get the cold shoulder when it comes to being choosy on their menu choices.  They have specific needs and have to ask questions like whether the soup broth is vegetable or meat based, if the grease used was vegetable or bacon grease, and if butter was used to grill the veggies.  And at some restaurants they visit, they know that these types of questions will likely result in a bad dining experience that includes eye-rolling and a Chef that’s less than happy to adjust the menu choice – who wants to eat food from an upset Chef?

I’ve also been the waitress that had to chat with the Chef about what’s in a certain dish, and have the Chef reply, “Just tell them what they want to hear;” meaning, even if the soup has meat based broth, I’m supposed to say vegetable broth.  I’m sure those of you that are vegan or vegetarian are cringing right now – I did when I was told that – but I did the right thing; I told the customer that the soup probably wouldn’t be a good choice for them.  I can’t say this incident happens all the time, but I’m sure it happens more often than not.

Changing Up the Menu

Your restaurant can decide not to serve people with dietary restrictions, but with the way things are going, the number of people with a limited diet is only going to grow and this could be a potential loss in revenue.  Currently, 10% of Americans consider themselves to be Vegetarian, Vegan, or Vegetarian-Inclined, and 7% of Americans have food allergies that fall into the “Big 8”: milk, peanuts, shellfish, tree nuts, eggs, fish, soy, and/or wheat.  That’s a total of 17% of Americans that must be a bit more cautious when picking what restaurant to dine at, and there are plenty more diets that fall under the “special menu” umbrella:

  • Asian
  • Bland
  • Children
  • Diabetic
  • Gluten-Free
  • Hindu
  • Japanese meal
  • Kosher
  • Low-Calorie
  • Low-Cholesterol
  • Low-Fat
  • Low-Sodium
  • Muslim
  • Passover

…just to name a few.

If you’re thinking to yourself “There’s no way I’m changing my menu to accommodate every new diet that pops up,” I’d recommend taking a look at how other companies are successfully doing this:

People don’t expect you to be everything to everyone, but they are going to do their research to see if dining at your restaurant is worthwhile for them; and believe me when I tell you that there’s site after site devoted to helping people with dietary restrictions find the right restaurants.  Some are national sites, but most are local, and do a great job of keeping up on the latest restaurant openings and where to eat: like Vegan Coloradical, a site that has almost 500 pages devoted to Vegans eating, living, and traveling in Colorado.

He’s Just A Hungry Man

The next time someone walks into your restaurant and asks for a menu choice that’s just a little different than what’s listed on the menu (as my Vegan co-worker said),

“The one vegan who eats at your restaurant isn’t trying to tell you you’re wrong for the way you do things, or the way you eat. He’s just a hungry man looking to grab some food with friends who aren’t vegan.”

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50 Honey & Bee Facts

50 Honey & Bee Facts

  1. There are ancient Sumerian and Babylonian records that date back to 2100 BC that describe honey, but this was only the first record of the sweet stuff.  Historians believe that honey is likely way older than this.
  2. When the Spaniards arrived in the Americas in 1600 AD, they found that the natives had already developed beekeeping.  So, odds are that the practice of humans using honey (for consumption or health reasons) was much more wide spread than records show.
  3. Honey never expires – never!  Supposedly, there was a 1,000 year old jar of honey found in an Egyptian tomb, and the brave soul that dared tasting it said it was delicious.  We’ll take his word for it.
  4. To produce 1 pound of honey, the honey bees have to visit an estimated 2,000,000 flowers and fly an estimated 55,000 miles.
  5. 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey is produced per honey bee during its entire lifetime (which is a short 45 days during the summer).
  6. A bee colony can consist of 30,000 – 60,000 bees, and only one those bees can be the queen.
  7. Each colony has a unique odor so the bees always know where home is.
  8. The worker bees and honey bees are 99% female.  So, what do the male bees do all day?  They’re reserved for the queen, and they’re called drones.
  9. The brain of a worker bee and honey bee tiny, but they have the densest neuropile tissue of any animal.
  10. When the honey bees return to the hive (which they find easily because they have an impeccable sense of smell), they do a little dance to communicate with the other honey bees.  That dance helps the other bees find where the flowers are.
  11. To get the nectar, honeybees pull the liquid from the flower with its long, tube-like tongue.  It then stores the honey in one of its two stomachs.  Think of the stomach as a kangaroo pouch for honey; it makes it not so gross when you read what’s next.
  12. The amount of honey 1 bee can hold can equal her total weight, but to get to this point, she must visit 100-1,500 flowers.
  13. When the honey bee returns to the hive, she opens her mouth and a worker bee comes up and sucks the nectar out of her stomach honey pouch.  The worker bee then chews on the nectar for a while to fill it full of enzymes; in other words, she’s turning those natural complex sugars in the nectar to simple sugars that makes the honey more digestible and keeps bacteria away.  It’s not bee vomit.
  14. Nectar is 80% water, so the bees have to work together to pull some of the moisture out of the chewed up, enzyme goodness; to do this, they spread the soon-to-be-honey over the honeycombs.   This helps the water evaporate much more quickly and leaves a yummy, gooey honey.
  15. A honeycomb always has six sides.
  16. Actually, these bees mean business when it comes to drying out the honey.  They don’t just sit back and let Mother Nature take its course with the evaporation process; heck no, these girls know how to get things done!  After the honey is spread-out over the honeycombs, the worker bees get to flappin’ those wings to help speed up the drying process.
  17. And once the honey is nice and gooey, the girls seal off the honeycomb with a bit of beeswax.
  18. Bees are totally self-efficient.  A colony of bees can eat around 120-200 pounds of honey per year.
  19. 2 tablespoons of honey can fuel a honey bee long enough to fly 1 time around the world.
  20. The queen only eats royal jelly, which is created by the worker bees and helps plump up the queen.  It is unknown if it’s this jelly or because the queen is overly-spoiled, but she lives 50 times longer than any of the other bees.  We need to get our hands on this royal jelly stuff.
  21. Out of about 20,000 bee species, there are only 4 that make honey.
  22. There are over 300 distinct types of honey available in the US.
  23. A typical beehive can produce 400 pounds of honey per year.
  24. That “honey thing” is called a honey dipper (also honey wand and honey drizzler).  If you surf the web you’ll see that many people don’t quite get why a honey dipper is better than a spoon, but for those that grew up with one, they know that it’s the ONLY way to serve honey.
  25. In 1 tablespoon of honey, there are 64 calories, none of which are fat calories.
  26. Honey is the only food humans eat that is produced by an insect.
  27. Honey is the only food that includes everything humans need to sustain life, including water, enzymes, minerals, and vitamins.
  28. When honey hits our tables, it’s typically 17% water.
  29. Remember we said that honey never expires?  Well, that’s true, but it has to be properly stored.  If moisture is reintroduced to the honey, it can begin to ferment.
  30. 30 years ago, the average honey price was $.30 per pound.  Today, the average price is pushing $6.00 per pound.  Let’s say you stumbled upon grandpa’s secret stash of honey – a 30 year old 50 gallon bucket to be exact.  That bucket of honey was only worth $125 back then, but today it’d be worth $2,500!  Thanks grandpa.
  31. Pediatricians warn against giving children less than 1 years of age honey because there has been harmful bacterium Clostridium botulinum spores found in honey.  These spores can cause botulism in young children because they don’t produce the stomach acids and protective digestive bacteria needed to break down these spores.
  32. 1 cup of sugar can be replaced by ¾ cup of honey.  Just make sure to reduce liquids in the recipe by ¼ cup.  If you aren’t using sour cream or sour milk in the recipe, make sure to throw in a pinch of baking soda as well (this helps reduce acidity levels in the honey).
  33. When making particular recipes with honey, there are additional things to note.  Like jellies and jams should be cooked at a higher temperature and candies should be beaten longer.
  34. But higher baking temperatures are not recommended for most recipes.  To keep recipes from getting to brown, lower the oven temperature by 25⁰ F.
  35. In stored honey, if crystallization occurs, it doesn’t mean the honey is bad.  Just stick the container in hot water until the crystals dissolve away.
  36. But don’t boil it: getting honey too hot can change the flavor and withdraws the pollen that’s naturally present.
  37. Ever heard of mead?  Referred to a lot in older novels, mead is a wine made from honey.
  38. There are a lot of honey fakes out there.  It has been found mixed with sugar syrup, corn syrup, glucose, dextrose, molasses, invert sugar, flour, starch, and many, many other fillers.
  39. To slap on a “Pure Honey” label, manufacturers have to add an unidentified amount of pure honey.  So, the “Pure Honey” could be only 5% pure honey, and the other 95% just fillers, but you’ll still pay the price of expensive honey.
  40. All of those fillers that go into honey have to natural ingredients. They may be fillers, but by law, they’ll always be natural fillers.
  41. It’s rather hard to test for pure honey, but there are a lot of different methods that people have come up with to test for pureness.  Unfortunately, none of these have been proven to be 100% accurate, so make sure you do your research to find out the truth.  Hint, use the Internet to find the real stuff, we thought Honey.com was a great resource.
  42. To help soothe allergies, take 1 teaspoon of honey per day.  The honey helps your body develop a resistance to pollen, which helps reduce overall allergies.
  43. Skin burns can also be soothed with honey.  Mix an even amount of honey with cod liver oil and rub over the burn.  Keep the burn wrapped up, and change daily.  You should see that the healing process is much quicker.
  44. It’s believed that the use of honey to help heal wounds dates back to the ancient Greeks in 50 AD.  We don’t know how the Greeks knew it had medicinal powers, but medical professionals have found that honey creates a barrier to moisture and prevents dressings from sticking to the wound.  It’s also believed to provide other nutrients and chemicals that help to speed up healing.
  45. Try a teaspoon of honey to help soothe a sore throat or bad cough.
  46. Honey is lower in glycemic than normal table sugar; meaning, it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels as quickly as sugar does.
  47. Athletes take honey to help improve endurance, strength, and performance.  During a work-out, a teaspoon of honey can help give you the extra boost needed to keep going.
  48. Athletes that take honey before and after workouts show to have faster recovery time than those that don’t take honey at all.
  49. Ever heard, “…we can put a man on the moon, but we still have no idea how a bumble bee can fly?”  Yeah, that’s not true, sorry.
  50. Bees are being used to sniff out bombs.  Seriously, a team at Los Alamos National Laboratory has formed the Stealthy Insect Sensor Project where bees are being trained to detect explosives.


We’re no doctors around here; we just dig into the Interwebs and find all of this fun information.  We tried our best to give credit where credit was due, but when it comes to medical information, you should ALWAYS contact your doctor before following advice you find online.

Other honey articles on the Back Burner:

Chefs Make Their Own Honey
FOOD ALERT: Be Wary of These Controversial & Fake Foods

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Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

Weddings have classically been known as a formal affair with rooms filled with round tables, elegant place settings that include seating cards, and a wedding cake large enough to be seen by everyone.  And even though a few wedding parties still opt for a more formal setting, there are many that have ventured over to the social side.  The idea is to add “foodertainment” to the mix – a perfect blend of culinary visual appeal and taste that allows for guests to mingle, instead of being locked at a table.

From drinks and finger foods to late night munchies, here are a few wedding catering trends that we hope to see more of this wedding season.

1. Creative Beverages

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

There’s definitely never a lack of alcoholic beverages at most weddings; in fact, the majority of us go for the wedding, but stay for the party afterwards.  Drinking and mingling with friends and loved ones always makes for a perfect night, but when a little fun is brought to the mix, what can go wrong?   A few fun beverage trends  we’ve seen at recent weddings include a bloody Mary bar, bubbly bar (make a custom glass of bubbly, which includes fruit juice and fruit slices), specialty cocktails and a variety of draft brews.

But don’t forget the guests that prefer not to divulge in alcohol for the evening.   We’ve also seen an increase in hot drink stations and water infused stations.

Lastly, when serving food, try recommending a paired beverage – a nice shot of Hefenweizen always goes great with salty finger foods.

2. Finger Foods & Small Plates

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

It’s easier for guests to mingle when they don’t have to sit at a table as they dine, which is why we’re guessing there’s been a huge increase in finger foods and small plates at weddings.  When the caterer offers to walk the room with plated food that can be easily grabbed and munched as guests carry on conversation, the night seems to flow much better – which sets even Bridezilla at ease.

3. Food Trucks & Picnics

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

We love this trend, it marries simplicity with great food where you least expect it.  If you would have told us a few years ago that food trucks would be making their way into weddings, we would have likely laughed, but the only thing laughable about this new trend is how much it encourages people to have their own laughs.

Yes, it’s informal, but how fun and easy is it to have a food truck for dinner and another for dessert.  Spread out some beautiful linen on the grass (or on tables) and the entire event can be picnic style.

4. Farm-to-Table

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

Farm-to-table isn’t just for residents anymore.  In fact, Lyons Farmette, located in Lyons, Colorado, has seen an increase in weddings that want to take place at the farm (and the wedding party has no issues mingling with the wandering farm animals).  But it’s not just about farm animals here, the culinary experience offers guests the freshest ingredients, while also being able to entertain guests with special dietary needs  – vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, and other allergies.

Think about a table in the middle of a farm surrounded with the rustic beauty that the land brings – it’s hard not to fall in love with the setting and food, even if it does involve a few goats and chickens.

5. Chef Stations

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

A lot of what attracts people to finger foods and farm-to-table trends is seeing the masterpiece of food on the plate.  It’s not just about the food, it’s an interaction that involves all of the senses, and getting food prepared right in front of you helps improve that experience.  Chef stations offer a great way for guests to be able to ask questions as they watch their meal being prepared.  They also get restaurant quality food that is served hot and fresh.

6. Family-Style

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

For those brides that still want a sit down dinner, there are always meals that can be served family-style to encourage guests to keep the chatter going.  Family-style catering delivers meals to the table in big dishes that are then passed, and helps to boost guest interactions.

As a word of caution, having big dinner plates and bowls on a table takes up a lot of room – the bride should remember to keep the centerpieces small so the table doesn’t get too crowded.

7. Dessert Bar

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

Sorry wedding cake lovers, brides are keeping the social train moving right on through dessert time.  We’ve seen some interesting dessert choices lately, like smores bars, frozen yogurt bars, fondue bars, and other extravagant dessert buffets.

But cakes aren’t entirely out the window.  We’ve also seen cake pops, rice crispy treat cakes, cheesecake bars, and mini-cakes.

8. Late-Night Snacking

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

Once dinner is done, it’s time to dance the night away, but all of that drinking and dancing leads to late-night munchies.  We love seeing that more caterers are offering to entertain the night-owls of the group by serving late-night snacks, like mini pretzel bites, sliders, meatballs, and other fun finger foods.  And don’t worry about going over the top; keeping it simple is perfect for this hungry bunch!

9. To-Go Bags

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

Bless those that are able to rock-the-night-away, but not all guests can stay up into the wee hours of the night to experience those late-night munchies, so opt for helping to cater for guests on the go as well.  Think of easy-to-pack foods like trail mix and cookies.  You can have the food pre-packed or setup buffet style so they can dip up their own grab-bag.

Top Wedding Catering Trends of 2013

For more fun wedding catering ideas, visit us on Pinterest.

 

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10 Things That Make Restaurant Websites Great

If you thought that throwing up a picture of the front of your restaurant and contact information made for a great website, then you my friend need to see what other restaurants around the country are doing to encourage diners to walk their way.  Here’s a list of 10 things we’ve seen restaurants doing that keep guests coming back for more.

1. Food Photography

Give me pictures that make me say yum!  If I’m hungry, I don’t want to see pictures of the outside of your building, or the employees at your restaurant, I want to see tasty dishes that persuade me to come on in and dine, or at least check out what else is on the menu.

10 Things That Make Restaurant Websites Great

 2. Menus

I don’t know why this is such a big deal for restaurants, but there are two big things that restaurants do wrong when it comes to their menu: it’s not posted at all or it’s in PDF format.  If I can’t find the menu on your website, my first thought is that you have something to hide… why would I want to even venture in your establishment if you’re too embarrassed to share your menu?  And PDFs are bad news for your site.  Mobile users hate downloading anything – it takes too much time – and that downloadable PDF is killing your restaurant’s style.  And remember those search engines that you’re trying to compete in?  Yeah, they can’t see PDFs, so you’re wasting your time.

10 Things That Make Restaurant Websites Great

Vesta Dipping Grill also has their menu in PDF format, just in case their guests want to download it.

3. Special Menus

If you haven’t noticed yet, more and more restaurants are paying attention to their guests that have allergies, which, of course, is a good thing.  My son has tree nut allergies and can go into anaphylactic shock if he even touches a cashew or pistachio to his lips.  Are you willing to risk his life and your business because you don’t think it’s important to have an allergy menu?  I hope the answer is no, because you never know who’s going to walk through your door with allergies.  Make sure you have special menus set aside and online for allergy guests – help people make a choice on where they should eat before they even walk in your door.

And don’t forget about our vegan and vegetarian friends, they also like to know that they have different options when visiting your restaurant – Chipotle got it right with this one page menu.

10 Things That Make Restaurant Websites Great

4. Calories & Diets

Speaking of menus, giving calorie count and other dietary information can help your health conscious guests learn more about the foods they choose.  And don’t worry, showing big numbers doesn’t always have to be bad, people just want to know what it is they’re eating.  Make sure to include an online calorie menu so that guests that are counting calories, fat grams, or sodium can find the dish that works best for them.

10 Things That Make Restaurant Websites Great

5. Reservations

The majority of the things already mentioned can be figured out with online reservations.  Let me clarify.  If there are online reservations, perfect, I don’t have to call you and I can get everything done from my phone.  I can also enter in any special information (that is, if you have a comment box available for me), like that we have someone in our party with food allergies, or someone that may need help finding suggestions for lower sodium meals.  What if you knew that information before the party every arrived, and the server came to the table with the right choices without the party ever asking – I’d say you’re one step closer to creating evangelists for your restaurant!

10 Things That Make Restaurant Websites Great

6. Groups

Guests need to know your rules for groups of people.  How many people are considered a group?  Do you take reservations?  Should I call ahead of time?  Make it easy for groups to know what they should expect when visiting your website.  Linger, a restaurant in Denver, makes it nice an easy with an inquiry form – of course the group could always call, but who has time for that anymore?

10 Things That Make Restaurant Websites Great

7. Happy Hour

Bring on the deals!  One of the easiest ways to encourage people to come in during happy hour is to show them the deals.  Don’t be shy, share it all, including food and drink specials, times, and any bonuses – like getting special promotions on social media.  And believe me, your guests are smart enough to sniff out the deals, even if it means they’re standing at your front door and notice your competitors online happy hour menu is better than the one you don’t even have posted.

10 Things That Make Restaurant Websites Great

8. Social Media & Email Marketing

Speaking of social media, it seems these days everyone is dabbling in social media.  But the true winners in the restaurant industry are the ones that keep us coming back for more.  I’m a huge fan of Noodles & Company simply because they take care of their audience.  I don’t mind listening to what you have to say if I get freebies once in a while, and you mix up that sales-speak with some fun content (hint, sign up for the Noodlegram to get some great deals throughout the year).

10 Things That Make Restaurant Websites Great

One of our Tundrites said they checked-in at Foursquare at a local restaurant here in Boulder called Harpo’s and ended up getting 15% of the table’s entire meal – do you think that they’re going to get return business out of her?  You betcha, and she probably inspired new customers to head in as well!

9. Directions, Contact Information & Hours of Operation

For the love of the Internet, please don’t forget to put up your directions, contact information, and hours of operation.  And please don’t make it an image where it’s next to impossible for me to do anything from my phone.  Your contact information should be in plain HTML so that I can push your phone number and call with just one touch of my smartphone.  And the directions should be linked to Google maps so that I can tell my smartphone to go straight to your location.  This one sounds easy, but I’ve seen so many of you get it wrong.

10 Things That Make Restaurant Websites Great

10. Content

Okay, I mentioned in the first post that when your guests are hungry they want to see good food pictures, but those that are really interested in who you are will want to be able to learn more about your story.  How did you get to where you are today?  Who are your Chefs?  Do you source your food locally?  Is your building historical?   Do you have any special events that you put on?  Do you give back to the community?

There are tons of great examples of content you can put on your site or in a blog, just remember who your audience is and make the content relevant for them.

10 Things That Make Restaurant Websites Great

Fruition Restaurant does a great job of sharing their farm to table story over at Fruition Farms, which is linked to in their main navigation.

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Tax Day Word Search

Fun Fact: The IRS reported receiving 131,543,000 individual income tax returns in 2009. If each return were processed at the rate of one per minute (and that’s fast!), it would take more than 250 years for one person to do the job.

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