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6 Key Elements that Make a Strong Brand

When you hear the word brand, what do you think of?

Maybe BMW or Google comes to mind. Others may envision Wal-Mart or Coca-Cola. People all over the world would recognize these brands after just a glimpse and immediately associate it with past experiences. For BMW many people think of luxury and fine automobiles; while for Wal-Mart discounts and enormous retail stores comes to mind.

A brand is a promise. It’s a consistent message to the consumer about what the company does, how they do it and why they do it. This message should be so clear and obvious to the public that just seeing a logo or a sign will immediately provoke specific thoughts and emotions connected with the company.

Branding is a very important step along the path to success for any business. No business is too small for branding. Creating a unique and consistent experience for customers every time they visit the business will keep your loyal customers coming back and also attract new customers. A brand provides a sense of security to consumers; it’s comforting to know what you will get from a business every time, no matter what.6 Key Elements that Make a Strong Brand

Branding is especially important for restaurants. A strong restaurant brand can build a loyal customer base that a company can rely on. One of the best examples of a strong restaurant brand is Chipotle. Chipotle has built a brand that stands for organic, quality ingredients. This is clear every step of the way. The name Chipotle refers to a jalapeno pepper, the company’s tagline is food with integrity, the ingredients are in clear view for diners and even the bag is covered in text about the quality ingredients. Chipotle has many devoted customers and some of them can absolutely be attributed to the strength of the restaurant’s brand.

Establishing a strong brand is a process and takes time to be successfully completed. Before any branding can begin the company needs to set a clear message from which the brand will be based. Remember this message is a promise to customers about what to expect when dealing with the company at any point in the future. Once this message is clear, branding can begin. A company’s brand should be evident during every aspect of a customers experience with that company.

Business Name

In most situations a business’ name is the first piece of branding a customer is exposed to. The business name in most cases will become the most recognizable piece of the branding strategy. The name needs to logically correspond with the desired brand.

Logo

A logo is another extremely visible part of your branding campaign. This design should be symbolic of the company’s overall message or theme that has inspired the brand. The keys to having a great logo are consistency and awareness. This decal should be easily recognizable by customers so that just catching a glimpse of it will remind them of your business.

Color Scheme

It is important to pick the appropriate color combination for your brand to help set the mood and feeling that customers experience during every visit. Different colors have different effects on people. For instance, many restaurant chains utilize warm colors (red, orange, yellow) because they are known to stimulate hunger. Choosing a color scheme gives you the opportunity to influence what customers will feel when walking through your restaurant’s door.

6 Key Elements that Make a Strong Brand Uniforms

Uniforms add to the customer experience and a brand’s consistent presentation in two ways. First, uniforms add to the brand’s presentation simply because all of the employees are dressed in company designed clothing that complement the restaurant’s atmosphere. A dress code also positively impacts workers’ attitudes. Marilyn Schlossbach , principal partner of Kitschens Hospitality Group, says, “Being in uniform puts you in a frame of mind of being at work and getting into the role for your theater production.” The theater production is employees playing their role and doing their part in the effort of presenting the brand in a positive fashion.

Tagline

A good slogan is something a company can hang their hat on. This is a brief message that sums up the company’s mission in a few words. A good tagline must be original and creatively specific to the company. Some good examples of successful slogans are:

•    Nike-Just Do It.
•    Wendy’s-Where’s the beef?
•    M&M Candies-Melts in your mouth, not in your hands.

Customer Experience

The final and most important element is customer experience. This includes the way the food is cooked, how customers are greeted at the entrance, average time they have to wait and every other experience they have while at the restaurant. This experience needs to be consistent every time the customer is in the restaurant. This will make customers more comfortable visiting your restaurant because they know what to expect each time they come in.

A superior branding strategy has to be unique and consistent. Straying away from the overall theme or message at any point in the process can result in a weaker brand. Maintaining a strong cohesive brand throughout all company media elements will give your restaurant an advantage and set it apart from the competition.

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E.M.P.L.O.Y.E.E.: How to Spell Hired in the Restaurant Industry

Any restaurateur knows that hiring the wrong employee can be very costly for business. Not only will a bad employee cost you literally, by spending the money to hire and train them and the employee that eventually replaces them, but the level of work they bring to the table in your restaurant can also be very costly. While employed this problem employee is representing your business to the public. This can be more costly than the money spent to hire and train them because your company may lose current or potential customers as a result of the poor customer service.

E.M.P.L.O.Y.E.E.: How to Spell Hired in the Restaurant Industry This makes employee interviews and knowing how to recognize a good worker when you see one an important skill for a restaurateur to master. This skill does not come easy; people can seem like a very capable candidate in an interview and turn out to be a below average employee after they are hired.

Before starting an interview it is always important to be prepared. First thing to do before an interview is know exactly what characteristics and experience you are looking for in a potential candidate. Setting a clear list of required skills and work experience will help you judge the candidates and find the ideal employee. Also, before the interviews, review each candidate’s resume carefully and form a list of questions for each one. It is important to ask open-ended questions that require the candidate to do most of the talking. This will give you a better insight into the person’s personality and work history. Some key questions are asking them to describe previous jobs, how they preformed and why they left.

It is not always easy to identify a good candidate in an interview but there are a few personality traits to look for that can indicate a good restaurant worker. The characteristics of a successful restaurant worker can be outlined by the acronym: E.M.P.L.O.Y.E.E.

Engaged

When working in a restaurant atmosphere it’s always important for an employee to be engaged with their work and the customers they are serving. This means that they are always focused on the task at hand and are ready and capable to handle any problem that may arise. A good way to test if a job candidate possesses this quality is to judge the way they carry themselves in the interview, an engaged person will not only give you their full attention but also capture yours with their answers.  Also talk with past employers to get a feel for if this characteristic was evident in their past working experiences. This includes being engaging with customers who come into the restaurant by being able to interact with them and keep them comfortable and satisfied throughout their visit

Mature

Many workers in the restaurant industry are students and young adults. This demographic can be tricky to judge and manage in a work environment. If you aren’t careful it can be very easy to hireE.M.P.L.O.Y.E.E.: How to Spell Hired in the Restaurant Industry someone in this age group that simply is not mature enough to thrive or even survive in a work environment. An employee like this can be very toxic to a restaurant’s work environment.  An immature employee will struggle to carry themselves in a professional matter when dealing with coworkers and customers which will hurt customer service and staff teamwork. This may be the easiest personality trait to identify in an interview by judging the way they carry them self and looking at the quality and importance of their prior responsibilities.

Positive

Attitude is contagious in a work environment. The way one employee carries them self in the restaurant affects the attitude and work ethic of the staff around them. For example, if an employee is constantly complaining it will bring down the morale of the whole team and negatively affects productivity. And the opposite is true as well; a positive attitude can raise the staff to another level. This personality trait will be evident in the interview and when checking on past work experience.

Leader

Having leaders on a restaurant staff is crucial. It is important for staff members to know what they need to do at all times and be willing to take the initiative when they know something needs to be done. An employee that always needs to be told what to do and needs help with simple tasks is not a very productive employee. Leadership skills will be evident when looking at a person’s extracurricular activities and other tasks that they have voluntarily taken on.

Organized

Being well organized in any professional setting is crucial to an employee’s success. In a restaurant this skill is paramount. A restaurant worker needs to be organized in order to stay on top of incoming orders and customer requests. An unorganized restaurant staff can be a big headache for a restaurant manager. A well-organized candidate will be very easy to spot. A well put together resume and appearance are good indications of this skill.

Yes Sir”

A restaurant employee must be able to take orders from managers, customers or anyone else in a position of power without resistance. This is especially important when dealing with customers. In the restaurant industry the customer is always right; even if they really aren’t. When customer makes an employee aware of a mistake that has been made it is that employee’s job to accept the complaint, admit they made a mistake, apologize to the diner and immediately fix the mistake. Many people struggle with this and it can be very detrimental to customer service if an employee can’t swallow their pride and fix the problem. This characteristic may be hard to spot in an interview but can be verified by checking with the candidates past employees.

Efficient

E.M.P.L.O.Y.E.E.: How to Spell Hired in the Restaurant Industry As stated before jobs in the restaurant industry are demanding. Restaurants are fast paced environments where timeliness and quality of the product being served are very important and is commonly how a restaurant gains an advantage over the competition. Employees must be able to complete tasks quickly and without mistakes. Efficient employees help the business run smoothly and make up for the inefficiencies of others on the staff. This is another trait that will be obvious upon contacting the candidate’s references.

Energetic

The last but absolutely not the least important trait is energetic. Having energy in the work place can be contagious just like attitude. One employee’s level of energy can either bring others down or raise them to new heights. An energetic candidate will bring energy and great work ethic to your restaurant and help to positively influence workers around them. Energetic people will obviously bring energy to the interview and come across as extremely active on their resume.

These are in no way set in stone as qualities that every good employee must possess, but this is a good place to start when judging the quality of a job candidate. Some potential employees may be very well organized but not possess any leadership skills or they may be highly energetic and not as efficient. These types of candidates can still be highly successful but combining all of the qualities together should describe the ideal employee.

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How To Earn a Passing Grade on Food & Health Inspection

How To Earn a Passing Grade on Food & Health InspectionRestaurateurs have a lot on their plate; hiring and training employees, attracting new customers, providing quality ingredients, keeping diners happy, treating workers well to start, but the list never ends. On top of all this these businesses must also make sure that their restaurant can pass a health inspection with flying colors.

Restaurant owners know this is harder than it sounds. It is well known in the industry that inspection requirements and transparency differ by state, county or even city. Different parts of the country grade on different scales with different requirements that need to be met.

Health departments across the country are also making these inspection scores more visible to the public. Health scores are revealed in the newspaper, online or are even required to be posted in the front window of a restaurant in some cities.

Restaurateurs must be educated and completely aware of their jurisdiction’s health codes and inspection policies in order to protect their business from the wrath of a bad inspection score.

Health inspections focus on food temperatures, food handling, employee hygiene, facility maintenance and pest and rodent control. A restaurant can receive a low grade for anything from food cross contamination to missing ceiling tiles to cockroaches.

Restaurant health inspections can be a good thing or a very bad thing for a business depending on how its operation is run. With the public’s heightened interest in good food with quality ingredients health inspections are as important now as they have ever been. A couple good or bad reviews could quickly swing consumer opinion on a restaurant and affect its business.

A new restaurant grading system was implemented in New York City in July 2010. This grading system requires restaurants to post their health inspection grades in the front window of the business. This makes receiving a good grade that much more important for restaurant owners.

The problem is some of the cooking requirements in the health code are hard for cooks to work with while still trying to maintain good tasting food. These cooking requirements indicate temperatures at which food must be stored and served at. Some temperature requirements go against decades of cooking practices.

Table d’Hote, a French Bistro in New York City, serves a country-style terrine that is best served at room temperature to give the dish a soft texture. The city’s health code requires the restaurant to serve terrine frozen, which William Knapp, the restaurant’s owner, knows is not appetizing. He says serving the dish according to regulations, “just not a satisfying experience for our customers.” Even though Knapp knows the dish is not the same, he is forced to serve it this way in order to avoid a 7 point violation that would bring his restaurant’s health inspection score down to a B.

Other restaurant owners risk violations for the sake of better tasting food. Some chefs decide that some requirements are not completely necessary and decide to ignore them in favor of their own discretion on what is safe. An example of this is a chef allowing steak or poultry to reach room temperature before throwing them into the pan. The city requires them to begin cooking these meats while they are still frozen. This is something that people do while cooking at home and doesn’t seem like a serious infraction but could actually drop a restaurant’s grade down a letter or even two and greatly affect the business’ public image.

One way to avoid health regulations and prepare a dish in a different way is by customer request. If a diner requests a meal be prepared outside of health department regulations, only then can the restaurant disregard regulations.

There are a few ways restaurateurs can help induce these requests from customers:

  • Train servers to inform customers about the regulations and how they changed the traditional cooking method
  • Add a note below menu items that are prepared differently because of health inspections
  • Post a list of health regulations somewhere in the restaurant to spread awareness on the issue

The key for restaurateurs in the case of health inspections is to be aware of your jurisdiction’s requirements. This can be done by simply doing some online research about your state’s health inspection guidelines. These requirements vary by region and can be altered when deemed necessary. Knowing what is required is the first step toward meeting all of your health department’s guidelines. With public awareness on the issue at an all-time high a good score is all the more important.

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Eat Responsibly: Support Ethical Treatment of Restaurant Employees

Eat Responsibly: Support Ethical Treatment of Restaurant EmployeesSeveral different factors can help market a restaurant to the public. Quality ingredients, good service and of course tasty food are the first to come to mind. Other standards must be met or exceeded to maintain a good public image. These are factors like food safety and ethical employee treatment.

Failure to meet expectations in theses areas can result in bad publicity and loss of business. Today diners are very interested in the ethical treatment of animals in the food industry and now they’re beginning to focus some of that attention on human rights in the industry. Creating a quality working environment for a restaurant staff is not only the right thing to do, it also helps market your business.

Some businesses in the restaurant industry have been exposed for poor treatment of employees, which draws diners’ attention to the issue. Providing workers with paid sick leave and proper wages will give you a leg up on the competition for all the right reasons.

According to the 2012 Diners’ Guide by Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC), some popular restaurants in America are not providing proper wages, benefits or advancement opportunities to their employees. ROC United is a nationwide organization that is dedicated to improving wages and working conditions for the low-wage restaurant workforce. The organization was founded after September 11, 2001 in New York City. ROC NY experienced a great deal of success and in 2008 the founders decided to take their cause to the national level. The organization currently has 8,000 low-wage restaurant workers and is growing fast.

The Problem

The report states that many restaurant employees do not get paid sick leave. The ROC surveyed more than 4,300 restaurant workers and in this group 90% said they aren’t offered paid sick days. 2/3 of these people reported cooking, preparing or serving food while sick, potentially putting diners’ health at risk.

Some restaurant workers are not only denied paid sick days but they also receive extremely low wages while working. As reported in the Diners’ Guide more than half of restaurant workers nationwide are below the federal poverty line.

The last troubling trend highlighted by the Diners’ Guide is occupational segregation. The report says that employees are discriminated based on sex, race and immigration status in some restaurants when being considered for career advancement opportunities.

ROC United conducted 4,000 surveys in 8 American cities for a report entitled “Blacks in the Restaurant Industry Brief.” The brief found a gap in pay between black and white restaurant workers of more than $4.00/hr. ROC also discovered that in fine dining restaurants bartenders were 3 times more likely to be white than black and servers were 4 times more likely to be white.

ROC United Takes a Stand

The Diners’ Guide is an attempt to bring awareness to this growing issue and as a result fight back against poor working conditions. The ROC’s ultimate objectives for the Diners’ Guide is to raise the federal minimum wage for tipped workers, provide workers with paid sick days and to eliminate occupational segregation in the industry.

The federal minimum wage for tipped workers is currently $2.13. ROC believes this is not nearly enough for people trying to earn a living working in a restaurant. They are teaming with congress members and other organizations to pass the WAGES Act. This act would increase tipped minimum wage to $5.

ROC United is also teaming with a large group of organizations to support the Healthy Families Act. This bill would offer all people working in the United States 7 paid sick days. The bill would help support our public’s health by not forcing sick restaurant employees to report to work while they are sick and endangering the health of their customers in doing so.

ROC is also fighting back against occupational segregation by urging employers to have clear promotion policies that are based on time worked at the establishment and the quality of that work.

The Other Side of the Story  

As a restaurateur the ROC’s Diners Guide must be troubling. If your restaurant is above the problem and treats employees correctly then this report is troubling because your business is being portrayed in a negative light by being grouped into the problems of the industry as a whole.

For restaurants that are not treating employees fairly this is eye-opening because of the possible repercussions in the form of lost business. Either way this is the time for restaurant owners to take a stand and make their own statement on how restaurants treat employees. Fair treatment of employees is both ethical and constructive. If your employees are treated right the quality of their work is likely to increase because they care more about the company and doing their part to improve business.

A few organizations opposed to the Diners’ Guide findings include the National Restaurant Association, Darden Restaurant Group and other advocates for the restaurant industry. These groups believe that the Diners’ Guide is an unjustified attempt to tarnish the industry’s image. They say that the restaurant industry is one of the largest job providers in the country and that they do not deserve this bad publicity.

Darden Restaurant Group restaurants were rated as some of the worst for ethical employee treatment in the Diners’ Guide. The company is accused of several different cases of wage theft, worker discrimination, paying poverty wages and not providing paid sick leave. An example of this alleged employee mistreatment comes from a Capital Grille located in Chevy Chase, MD. Employees claim that several African-American servers were fired because they didn’t “fit the company standard.”

Darden Restaurant Group is closely reviewing its own policy and evidence of how their employees are treated daily. According to Rich Jeffers, Darden’s director of media relations and external communications, the company believes the accusations of wage improprieties and racial discrimination from former employees and ROC are “baseless.”

The world’s largest full-service restaurant company says that to their knowledge they have done nothing wrong and point to awards they have received in the past in support of their case. Darden Restaurant Group has received awards from Black Enterprise and Diversity Inc. for being one of the top companies for diversity in the country. The company was listed in Forbes “100 Best Companies to Work For” in 2011 and 2012. Finally, Darden also received the National Restaurant Association’s “Faces of Diversity Award” in 2007. Darden believes that its awarded track record is proof that it treats employees ethically.

The National Restaurant Association is standing behind Darden and other restaurants that were negatively exposed in the Diners’ Guide. NRA spokesman Scott Defife says the guide is a “transparent attempt to disparage” the restaurant industry. He goes on to point out that the industry has continued to be a leading job creator in the country.Eat Responsibly: Support Ethical Treatment of Restaurant Employees

These groups are united in their belief that ROC has not provided enough evidence for their findings and that the restaurant industry has not earned this negative publicity.

What You Can Do

Restaurant owners and managers are in a position where they can directly help solve this problem. It is pretty simple. If you are ethical about your employment practices then great, keep doing what you’re doing, but if not then fix them by doing what you know is right. Doing so will be obviously beneficial to your employees first of all but it will also be good for your brand’s public image.

With the new information circulating about poor treatment of restaurant employees diners will seek eateries that are above the problem. If you treat your workers right, then let people know and your business will be positively impacted.

The low wages and poor conditions that restaurant workers have to endure is a serious issue. In a time where the restaurant industry is beginning to take a stand for animal rights and sustainable farming practices it is time we stood up for the workers. Read the Diners’ Guide today and fight back by improving your employee treatment standards and informing others in the industry of this serious problem.

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Iced Coffee: More Expensive and Totally Worth It

Iced Coffee: More Expensive and Totally Worth It On a hot summer day in a coffee shop most customers don’t want to drink hot coffee. They want something cool and refreshing. Coffee drinkers still want their caffeine fix without the steaming hot cup of joe. This is where iced coffee comes in, it’s cold, refreshing and satisfies customers coffee needs. This popular coffee option helps businesses maintain coffee sales in the warm months.

Iced coffee season is a major shift in business for restaurant owners or coffee shop managers. Iced coffee requires separate brewing processes and different packaging materials. As a result, the iced beverage is more expensive to produce and purchase.

The additional costs can make it seem that iced coffee may not be worth offering but this is not the case. Iced coffee is widely popular and getting more popular every year. In 2009 iced coffee sales accounted for 1/5 of all American coffee consumption, according to business week magazine.

Grubstreet, a daily food news provider for New York Magazine, broke down the reasons for iced coffee being more expensive. They did this by comparing a 16-ounce cold-brewed coffee to a 14-ounce hot coffee; the ice displaces about 4 ounces in the cold beverage.

Grubstreet estimated that the iced coffee costs 25 cents to a dollar more than hot coffee to produce.  This is due to a few added expenses. First, iced coffee calls for about twice as many beans as hot coffee. According to Grubstreet this difference is about 35 cents worth for hot coffee and 62 cents worth for iced. The next hike in price for iced coffee beverages is for the plastic cup the drink is served in. On average, the paper hot coffee cups are about half the price of the plastic ones. The lids and straws that go with these cups add another cent or two to the production cost.

On top of these extra costs that roll in for iced coffee season there are also other miscellaneous items your business may need to rent or purchase like an ice machine to accommodate iced coffee production. When it’s all said and done Grubstreet estimates the added cost of making iced coffee is about 80 cents.

If you are serious about your coffee making, iced coffee is a worthy investment and is no longer limited to the hot weather months. The summertime drink has broken through its seasonal barrier. More people are drinking iced coffee in the winter. According to a survey by Dunkin’ Donuts 84% of consumers said they drank more iced coffee this winter than last. Half of people surveyed said they feel cooler and trendier when drinking iced coffee.

If your business is going to sell iced coffee it’s important to offer the highest quality, best-tasting iced coffee possible to justify extra costs. There are several methods businesses use to make iced coffee. Two of the most common methods are known as cold brew and ice brew. Both of these brewing processes end up producing an iced coffee but the process and resulting taste can be very different.

Cold brew (also known as Toddy for the machine used to prepare it) is a process where the coffee grounds are stirred into cold water and left in the refrigerator for 12 hours giving it time to blend. After 12 hours the grounds are strained from the mixture and it’s ready to serve. This method lowers the acidity of the coffee. One of the keys to cold brew is that the coffee is never heated during the process. Other methods may brew the coffee at a high temperature and then let the drink cool after. Cold brew keeps the mixture cool the entire time to improve the flavor of the blend.

Ice brew is believed by some experts to produce better tasting coffee than cold brew. This method involves brewing the coffee hot and dripping it onto ice, cooling the drink and helping capture all of the coffee flavor in the process. This is also a good method because it’s ready right after it’s brewed.

There are also some tricks that you can apply to improve the flavor of iced coffee. Muddy Dog Roasting Co. provides a list of tips for iced coffee professionals. These tips include using premium coffee beans and making iced coffee on the strong side because in most situations the mixture will be watered down. They also recommend making ice cubes out of frozen coffee which will help to keep the coffee cold while not adding extra water to the coffee drink.

Coffee is the most popular drink in the world with approximately 400 billion cups consumed every year. Don’t limit your potential coffee sales by not offering iced coffee.  This menu item will help you maintain some of your coffee sales even when it is too hot for a hot beverage and still be popular when the heat is gone.

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Food Service Gloves: Pros and Cons

Food Service Gloves: Pros and Cons A line cook at a bar and grill is preparing a hamburger. He puts on food service gloves and grabs a handful of raw ground beef and forms a patty. Without changing gloves the worker proceeds to top the grilled patty with lettuce, tomato and onions. After sending out the burger the line cook starts the process over without changing his gloves. This is just one example of food service glove use gone wrong. The problem is that this scenario is probably not uncommon and is just one of the many ways food can be contaminated through improper glove use.
 

The Food Service Glove Problem

Food service gloves can provide a false sense of security for employees and customers. Once the gloves are on people feel as though the food being handled is safe and not being contaminated by the server’s hands. This can be true if the server closely follows the right protocol but the majority of the time the gloves are not helping and in some cases they are hurting the situation.

Studies have found that improper glove use can be a bigger problem than poor hand hygiene. This is true for a few different reasons. Gloves do not provide the level of protection that many people think they do and still require hand washing. Also workers tend to become more careless and take more risks when wearing gloves.

The Journal of Food Protection studied food service glove use in 2007 and 2010. The journal reported that hand washing was less likely to occur when employees were wearing gloves. This is a frightening trend for restaurateurs because these gloves will not fully protect food from being contaminated when the hands they are covering are not clean. In fact, gloves can act as a breeding ground for bacteria and actually raise the risk of food contamination. In their 2010 study the Journal of Food Protection concluded that the warm, moist conditions inside a glove are necessary for microbial proliferation and can increase pathogen transfer onto foods through leaks in the gloves, exposed skin or just by taking the gloves off.

Using food service gloves in a restaurant on a daily basis can also be very wasteful. Most of these gloves are disposable and pairs can be discarded a dozen times an hour just by one employee. These numbers start to add up fast. This is wasted money for your business and more trash in the environment.

During food prep a server or line cook can be handling several different types of food at the same time. If one of these foods is raw meat then the server is required to change gloves before picking up a different piece of food. Or if the worker opens a refrigerator, sneezes, coughs, handles money or touches any other contaminated surface they are required to change gloves. If servers are changing gloves as often as they are required to, which most of the time is not the case, they will be using a large amount of disposable gloves and slowing down the food preparation time.

Having said this there are some positive reasons to wear food service gloves. One situation where glove use can be important is when preparing sushi. Because these workers are handling raw fish they need to take certain precautions to ensure customer safety and gloves make it easier to do so. For example, if a sushi chef is preparing a roll with shellfish and a customer orders a different roll and is allergic to shellfish, gloves make it easy for the chef to switch materials safely.

Food service gloves also create a positive customer perception about the cleanliness of your business operation. This as mentioned before may be a false sense of security for the customer but either way they have a positive outlook about the restaurant.

Types of Gloves

There are currently many different options when buying food service gloves. From latex to polyethylene they’re all a little different and they all have their own benefits and problems.

Latex

Latex gloves are frequently used in the food industry. They can withstand exposure to high heat, feature a tight fight and good dexterity. The main problem with latex is that some people are severely allergic to the material and use of these gloves has been banned in 3 states.

Nitrile

Nitrile gloves are durable with good dexterity. The problem with this material is these gloves often contain DEHP. DEHP is a potential carcinogen and could be harmful to customers and servers.

Polyethylene

Polyethylene gloves are the cheapest of the group. These gloves may be affordable but are far from durable because they tend to tear easily and can not be exposed to heat.

Vinyl

Vinyl gloves tend to be considered an acceptable alternative to latex but they have problems of their own. These gloves have been described as “infection control nightmares” by Food Safety Magazine. This is because they can begin leaking sometimes as soon as they are donned by the worker.

The Centers for Dieses Control and Protection (CDC) recommends that instead of requiring businesses to use food service gloves it would be better to revise food prep methods to reduce the number of times an employee needs to wash their hands. This can be done by limiting the number of times the worker has to handle raw meat or other contaminating materials.

The issue of food service gloves and their safety is important because it can directly affect the public’s health. Food borne illnesses can be very dangerous and detrimental to diners’ health.

As a restaurateur you are in a position to positively impact this issue. Whether you decide it is better for your servers to use gloves or practice regular hand washing it is important to commit to making sure your food is safe. This can be done by training the staff on the correct way to use food service gloves and on maintaining proper hand hygiene. Make all of the necessary equipment readily available to make this easy for your employees. Do this by always having a supply of gloves near the food prep area or by always making sure your sink is stocked with enough soap and towels.

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Tap into Better Drink Service with Keg Cocktails

Tap into Better Drink Service with Keg Cocktails Busy nights at a restaurant bar can be hectic. The chaotic atmosphere will test your bartenders’ skill and your customer’s patience. Cocktail orders and other hand-crafted concoctions act as roadblocks in the bartender’s effort to keep up with the barrage of incoming drink requests. These specialty drinks require more time and effort for the server to prepare and are often a favorite among customers.

One way to continue accepting these complicated drink orders and improve the efficiency of your service is to hire another bartender to help out with mixing cocktails. This may help but it will also add another server to your payroll and creates a crowded space behind the bar. Thankfully this is not your only option.

Keg cocktails offer a trendy solution to your service problem. Large batch cocktails allow your restaurant to continue offering all of those tasty drinks your customers love without slowing down your drink service. From red and white wine to vermouth and sangria to house cocktails, serving specialty drinks has never been easier.

Now I know what you’re thinking: these cocktails can’t possibly be of the same quality as fresh drinks made right at the bar. Not so fast! Drinkers have given these large batch cocktails good reviews. Customers at Mercadito Restaurants in Chicago and Miami reportedly preferred an almost week-old batch of kegged margaritas to those that were made fresh at the bar. The theory behind this is that the ingredients have more time to sit and blend together making the cocktail taste better.

Restaurants that already started using these keg cocktails have some methods that will help keep the drinks fresh and tasting as good as new. Tavernita in Chicago serves up to six on-tap cocktails at a time and currently practices a few different preservation methods to keep drinks fresh.

Tavernita stores large batch cocktails in 50 gallon containers that are pumped with carbon dioxide to keep the drinks fresh. The restaurant also attaches cocktail kegs to agitators that periodically shake the large batches to keep the cocktails mixed well.

Quick service is not the only advantage to keg cocktails. Enabling bartenders to get drink orders out faster large batch cocktails also free up more time for customer service. Serving specialty cocktails in large pre-mixed batches allows bartenders to offer samples to customers as well. Cocktail samples are very rare and could give your bar a unique advantage over the competition.

Get on board with this trend before everyone else does. Keg cocktails are an innovative way to improve your service and offer something drinkers have likely not seen before.

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6 Cool Ways to Use New Technology in Your Restaurant

6 Cool Ways to Use New Technology in Your Restaurant When you think of a restaurant you don’t normally think of modern technology. Usually these businesses are manually run and operated. Restaurant owners typically rely on outdated computers or old-fashioned books to manage their business.

Times are changing. In this day and age of cutting-edge technology there are far more efficient ways to compile information and manage your company. Apple’s iPad is a device that can help your restaurant jump out of the stone and make your operation much more efficient in the process.

The iPad can help you and your staff track and manage daily activity, helping to increase efficiency and profitability.

This technology is also attractive to your customers. People love what’s new and cool and by integrating iPads into your restaurant’s operations your business will be described in this way.

By employing iPads in your restaurant you can improve many different parts of your business including customer loyalty, inventory tracking and marketing.

Customer Loyalty Program

Go cardless with your loyalty program. An iPad in your restaurant will allow you to discard your current program and revamp customer interest in the process. Instead of burdening customers with the task of carrying around a loyalty card and bringing it with them every time they come in, allow them to simply enter their email address into your restaurant’s iPad to access their loyalty program. This will increase customer participation and also give your restaurant a more modern feel as a bonus.

Manage Your Budget

Bring your spreadsheets straight to your fingertips. An iPad will offer spreadsheet programs that you can use to manage your budget. Other computers will do this as well, but iPad is sleek and transportable which will allow you to work on the go. Make this information very easy to take with you to meetings, presentations or to your home. Budget information will also be very easy to transfer to other devices with an iPad.

Track Your Inventory

The iPad is a great device to use to compile information. Similar to managing your budget the iPad allows you to manage inventory information on the go. This can be very helpful for inventory. You can take this portable device with you while surveying the storage room. You can even take pictures of inventory items with your iPad and add them to the database!

Improve Your Menu

iPad provides you with the technology to make your restaurant’s menu more interactive than ever. You can take high-definition photos of menu items and display them to customers. This is a great way to improve customer service and satisfaction by displaying exactly what they are ordering before they make their final decision.

Take Customer Orders

Providing servers with an iPad to record customer orders is a great way to make your service more efficient. The device helps to eliminate the human error involved in the customer order process by allowing servers to send order directly to the kitchen. Also as mentioned earlier an iPad will allow your servers to display high-definition photos of menu items to diners as they make their final menu decisions. An added incentive to this is the modern presentation your customers will notice.

Improve Your Marketing

iPad will also help improve your restaurant’s marketing. It offers an easy way for customers to provide their contact information. Placing an iPad by the front of the restaurant gives customers an opportunity to sign-up for email marketing and promotions while they wait to be seated or place their take-out order. Give customers incentives to offer this information in the form of coupons, deals and specials.

Now is the time for your restaurant to integrate technology into its everyday business. This will improve your restaurants functionality and presentation. Invest in an Apple iPad today and help develop every facet of your restaurant’s operation.

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The Church of Cupcakes

The Church of Cupcakes Priests. Prayers. Candles. Confessionals. Cupcakes?

Are you looking for a new place to worship? Need a way to fill the void in your spiritual life? The Church of Cupcakes may be the delicious solution to your problems. This is not your typical church. This culinary cathedral will satisfy even your sweetest tooth.

The Church of Cupcakes is religious in its cupcake construction; comparing it to the indescribable sensation experienced after hiking a mountain, kayaking a river or rafting through raging rapids. They welcome all worshippers to join in the “euphoric bliss” gained through preparing and enjoying a cupcake.

The Denver based company recently changed its name from Lovely Confections. The Church of Cupcakes is very excited about the new direction of the business but could use some extra funding to get this plan in action. They are currently registered for a grant contest and could use your help. The contest is sponsored by Chase and Living social and designed to award 12 small businesses with a $250,000 grant. In order to be considered for one of the grants each small business needs at least 250 votes.

The Church of Cupcakes brings a new and exciting approach to the world of cupcakes. They are dedicated to providing tasty treats made with organic, local and sustainable ingredients and making sure their entire operation is environmentally safe. This is clear when reading the company’s “Ten Commandments.” This is a list of ten culinary laws that the company cooks by. These commandments vow that the company will always bake from scratch, never use artificial colors or flavors, use renewable packaging and always celebrate the cupcake for bringing joy.

Along with offering fresh local ingredients the company’s style is unique because of their ironic humor and clean, vintage design. The colorful store is complete with glitter floors, a foosball table, photo booths and scripture chalkboards in the bathrooms. The company also sells custom t-shirts and bumper stickers as well.

The store isn’t the only unique aspect the Church of Cupcakes offers to customers. The menu is one of a kind because of its ingredients and clever names. From rapture raspberry to sprinkle salvation and pillar of salted caramel all of the menu items are fun and delicious. The cupcakes are baked in small batches throughout the day in order to offer customers the freshest cupcake every time. The Church of Cupcakes offers a “virgin” cupcake that is gluten free and available in chocolate or vanilla which can be paired with any frosting option.

The Church of Cupcakes is located at 1489 Steele Street in Denver. The store’s hours of worship are Tuesday-Friday 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m.-5p.m. You can also visit churchofcupcakes.com or call (720) 524-7770 to place an order.

The church bells are ringing, come in to the Church of Cupcakes today and enjoy a little piece of heaven in every bite.

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Local Produce: A Fresh Marketing Approach

Fresh. Organic. High-quality.

These are a few ideas associated with local produce. They are also three reasons why your restaurant should invest in the local food movement today. Not only will you improve your ingredients but you will also communicate that your restaurant supports the surrounding community and is aware of what diners want.

Thousands of restaurants nationwide are embracing this trend and investing in local produce. According to a study from the National Restaurant Association, 90% of fine-dining establishments offer some form of local produce on their menu.

But this trend is not limited to upscale restaurants. The NRA also reported that 63% of casual dining, 56% of family-owned restaurants, 45% fast-casual chains and 28% fast food restaurants have all invested in local produce. Two examples of restaurants that already use local produce are Chipotle and McDonald’s.

Here are some of the reasons a local produce campaign will market your company to customers.

Support of the Local Community

This is very simple; investing in local farming shows you are part of the community. This may be the most beneficial marketing point for investing in local produce. People like to support their local community and when they see a company doing the same they will return the favor and help support that company. Communities tend to take care of a company they can call their own and investing in local produce will make your restaurant one of those companies.

High-Quality Ingredients

Using local produce also means using high-quality ingredients. The quality of industrial farmed produce suffers because it is mass-produced. Locally grown food is sustainable and isn’t exposed to the pesticides, hormones and harmful farming practices factory farms frequently use.

Some factory farms do not rotate their crops, like sustainable farms do, but instead they will continue growing on the same land repeatedly without giving the land a break. This practice reduces the nutrients and minerals the crops contain. Another example of harmful industrial practices is rBGH, an artificial growth hormone that is used in milk production on some factory farms. If you are buying your produce locally from a farm practicing sustainable methods it will be higher quality and your customers will appreciate this.

Giving the Public What they Want

Bon Appétit Management Company, a large food service provider that makes $350 million worth of food purchases per year, recently demanded a food and farm bill that would change harmful farming practices and improve food quality. The company supply’s kitchens in 31 states and made it clear that they would no longer buy from farms that did not meet their food standards.

Bon Appétit  is not alone in their demand for higher quality food.  American diners are becoming more interested in the quality of their food and knowing where it is coming from. In a national poll last year 78% of people said they believe making healthy food more affordable and accessible should be one of the main objectives in the new farm bill.

These are just a few of the advantages to supplying fresh local produce in your restaurant. Diners will appreciate and respond to your investment in sustainable produce. So make a bold statement today to improve your brand image along with your ingredients and buy locally.

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