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The USA is Lead-Free – but is your restaurant?

Check that your faucets are compliant with lead-free laws.

Check that your faucets are compliant with lead-free laws.

Lead exposure is among the most well-documented toxic contaminant today, and health officials have determined that there is no amount of lead exposure that could be considered healthy.

U.S. Senate Bill No. S.3874 modified the Safe Drinking Water Act (amended in 1986) and redefined “lead-free.” Affecting pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures, S. 3874 requires there is no more than .25% lead when used with wetted surfaces of pipes and its fittings and fixtures. Put into effect nearly 18 months ago, S.3874 requires your business to be compliant.

But this national law shouldn’t be a surprise.

The California Assembly bill 1953 (referred to as “AB1953”) was signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2006, and went into effect on January 1, 2010. The new law re-defined the term “lead-free” to mean “not more than a weighted average of .25% lead content in pipe and fittings.” Products that dispense water for human consumption through drinking and cooking must be lead-free; this affects products such as: kitchen facets, bathroom faucets, bar faucets, glass fillers, pot fillers, bubblers, and supply stops (to name a few).

In addition to AB1953, Vermont passed its own Senate Bill S.0152 mandating that all products containing lead must “clearly and conspicuously post a warning at the point of sale, stating that these products contain lead and shall also provide to each buyer prior to sale information on the risks of lead exposure.”

Manufacturers are already updating their product lines to be compliant with these new laws. As more states follow suit with California and Vermont law, you can expect that your restaurant will also need to be lead-free, even if you’re not located in the California or Vermont areas. Check your plumbing fixtures in front of house (bathroom faucets, bar facets, etc) and back of house (kitchen faucets) to confirm that you’re AB 1953 Compliant.

Purchase S.3874 compliant parts at Tundra Restaurant Supply >>

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Chefs Creatively Tackle California’s Drought Laws

When Mother’s Day looks like this in your state…

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4 inches of snowfall on May 10th in Louisville, Colorado.

…it’s hard to imagine other parts of the country are facing the most severe droughts on record. California is entering its 4th year of drought, which has depleted snowpacks, rivers, and lakes. Last Tuesday, May 5th, the California State Water Resources Control Board adopted an emergency regulation requiring an immediate 25% reduction in overall potable urban water use; that 25% is anticipated to save more than 1.2 million acre-feet of water over the next nine months.

The National Restaurant Association reports that quickservice restaurants consume 500 to 1,500 gallons of water a day, with full-service restaurants clocking in at an astonishing 5,000 gallons. Water conservation should be a priority for your restaurant, whether or not you’re located in an area with government-imposed sanctions. Why? Because issues concerning water and other valuable resources affect the industry as a whole, so it’s good to plan ahead and utilize best practices now. Here are a few ways that you can start practicing water conservation (from The National Restaurant Association).

Conserve water now:

  • Serve water to guests upon request
    How often are you dumping out an entire glass of water simply because a guest left it behind and you need a fresh product for the next party? Those 16oz add up quick over a shift.
  • Run dishwashers only when full
    Seems like common sense, but wait to wash those dishes until you can’t even fit a spoon in there.

Long-term investment: Energy Star-rated equipment
Next time you need to replace your refrigerator, dishwasher, combi ovens or other equipment, make sure it’s Energy-related. Energy-efficient equipment can save you thousands of dollars a year.

You can also get creative
As reported by Eater, California chef John Cox, executive chef of Sierra Mar at the Post Ranch Inn, got creative in his water efficiency—he replaced his restaurant’s dish sprayer with an air compressor. “Sierra Mar uses approximately 3,500 gallons of water per day,” Cox says. He continues on his Facebook page, “One of the single largest uses is for spraying off dirty pans and dishes before loading them into the dish machine. That spray handle uses close to 1,000 gallons of water per day.”

The air compressor reduces the sprayer use to 80%, or saves nearly 800 gallons of water a day.

The video, which he shared on his Facebook page, is an appeal to other restaurants to follow suit as an easy way to conserve water.

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For more information on how to set up your own “Kitchen Compressor Hack” visit Chef Cox’s blog here »

Is water conservation a priority at your restaurant? What are ways you conserve water in your kitchen?

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Cleaning Behind Heavy-Duty Restaurant Equipment

Restaurant Kitchen & Heavy Duty Equipment

I’ve watched too many TV shows on restaurants that fail to clean under their heavy duty equipment, that it seemed fitting to write a post on exactly how easy it is to clean in a place that may seem hard to reach. Not only is it absolutely disgusting to ignore cleaning underneath and behind kitchen equipment, it violates health laws. Working with our friends from Dormont, here’s a list of how to move that heavy equipment out of the way for easy cleaning.

Moving Equipment for Cleaning

  1. Before moving anything, make sure the equipment is powered off.
  2. Your equipment should have casters or Stoveshoes, either of which will easily help move the equipment away from the wall. Stop the equipment when the cables (electric, gas, etc.) become taut.
  3. Reach behind the equipment and unplug the electricity cord.
  4. You’ll also want to shut off the gas supply at this point. The valve can be found on the main gas line. The valve needs to be turned to the off position.
  5. To disconnect the gas line, pull back the sleeve of the quick-disconnect coupling (on Dormont lines). Take care with the coupling and electrical cord, as dropping it on the floor could cause damage to these parts.
  6. Detach the restraining cable – the cable that prevents the equipment from rolling or being pulled too far away from the wall.
  7. At this point the equipment should be disconnected from the wall and can easily be moved out of the way, which makes cleaning a bit easier. Don’t forget about the wall while cleaning – it needs to get scrubbed too.
  8. When cleaning, make sure that no cleaners or detergents get into the electrical outlet, gas line (coupler), or the quick-disconnect coupling.

Reattaching Equipment After Cleaning

  1. Make sure none of the lines you are reattaching are kinked. If they are, simply untwist them.
  2. Reattach the restraining cable.
  3. Reattach the quick-disconnect coupling by inserting the plug end into the coupler.
  4. Turn the gas valve back to on.
  5. Re-plugin the electrical cord.
  6. Carefully push the equipment back into place, making sure one of the cords get twisted up and they aren’t being run over by the equipment.
  7. Light the pilot, if need be, and turn the equipment back on.
Shop Dormont
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Globe Mixer Shopping Guide

Globe Mixer Shopping GuideWhen shopping for new equipment, it can be overwhelming to weed through the differences from one piece to the next, but the good news is that when it comes to shopping for new Globe mixers, we can help make that decision a little easier.

Estimated Price Bowl Quarts Placement Speeds Horsepower Electrical Output Amps
Globe – SP5 Mixer $650 5 Countertop 10 800 watts 115/60/1 4
Globe – SP8 Mixer $1,000 8 Countertop 3 0.25 115/60/1 5
Globe – SP10 Mixer $2,500 10 Countertop 3 0.33 115/60/1 5
Globe – SP20 Mixer $2,800 20 Floor 3 0.5 115/60/1 6
Globe – SP25 Mixer $3,500 25 Floor 3 0.75 115/60/1 11
Globe – SP30 Mixer $4,500 30 Floor 3 1 115/60/1 16
Globe – SP30P Pizza Mixer $5,500 30 Floor 3 1.5 220/60/1 12
Globe – SP40 Mixer $7,800 40 Floor 3 2 220/60/1 & 208/60/3 12 & 7
Globe – SP60 Mixer $10,500 60 Floor 3 3 220/60/1 & 208/60/3 23 & 9
Globe – SP62P Pizza Mixer $12,500 60 Floor 2 3 220/60/1 & 208/60/3 18 & 12
Globe – SP80PL Mixer $15,000 80 Floor 4 3 208/60/3 10

Globe also has a handy mixer selection guide that allows you to pick the perfect mixer based on the type of ingredients you’re mixing together and the average batch weight.

All Globe Mixers Come With

  • Internal gears and shafts built to add longevity to the mixer’s transmission
  • Cast iron body that allows for the mixer to hold up to commercial kitchen use
  • The slide away bowl guard helps save precious kitchen space
  • The interlocked bowl guard and lift adds extra safety precautions
  • A complete mixer package that includes the bowl, beater, hook, whip, timer, and #12 attachment hub
    • 60 and 80 quart units also have a bowl truck included
    • 60 and 80 quart pizza mixer includes a power bowl lift

Shop Globe Mixers

Need more help shopping for a Globe Mixer?  Use our Live Chat feature on our main website or call us at 888-388-6372.

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6 Tips on Boosting Your Restaurants Most Profitable Items on the Menu

Server at Restaurant

Profit margins are notoriously slim in the restaurant world, but boosting the volume of drinks and desserts you sell can be one of the simplest ways to generate more profit from every customer served. Here are six simple ways to sell more of the items that stand to put the most cash back into your restaurant.

1. Package your meals appropriately.

Offering some meals in a prix fixe format can be a symbiotic tactic you can leverage to sell your most profitable items in a way that feels like a value to the customer. Additionally, custom menus encourage diners to try profitable items that they love, but wouldn’t typically consider without the “package” deal, including a specialty cocktail, dessert or dessert wine.

2. Redesign your menu.

Effective menu design is an art and science; the images and layout you use to “tell a story” while guiding the diner’s eye where you most want it to go is a key piece to selling more of the items you want. Because the upper right corner of the menu is generally where the eye travels first, your most profitable items should be featured there. If you can avoid indicating prices (or at best, can minimize the level of attention they get on the menu), you also stand the best chance of convincing customers based on imagery and language, versus price alone.

3. Tweak your language.

Revamping the language you use to relevantly appeal to your customer’s motivations, needs, and desires can have a significant impact on your ability to sell profitable items. In fact, Brian Wansink, professor and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab at Cornell University estimates that using descriptive terms on your menu can boost sales by as much as 27 percent. Likewise, training wait staff to approach profitable items as a sales-oriented conversation versus a closed-ended question (“Do you want to hear our specials?”) can change the outcome of the order, too.

4. Give a complimentary “introducer.”

Boosting your profits by offering free food may seem counter-intuitive, but when you offer complimentary items like freshly baked bread, chips, or olives, they ideally make people want to order something even more profitable as an accompaniment. You establish a “win-win,” e.g. tasty basket of chips and salsa presented alongside your mouth-watering margarita menu can act as a natural food pairing.

5. Make the customer feel valued.

Free food on the table doesn’t just appease a hungry customer, it can make them willing to order at a certain threshold at your restaurant in exchange for your generosity — especially if the “freebie” is perceived as high quality. In a Freakonomics podcast about free appetizers, Cornell University professor Michael Lynn supported that theory, stating that “by giving away free items you’re increasing the appeal of what you have to offer to the public.”

6. Create a feeling of celebration.

Wansink also explains in the Freakonomics podcast that diners have different mental scripts based on the dining occasion, and will typically “perform” appropriate to that script and corresponding “consumption norms.” For example, because desserts and drinks typically accompany special occasions and celebrations, a diner who may not typically order dessert may do just that when the meal is for a special occasion, simply due to social norms. You can boost the likelihood that diners consider your profitable drinks and desserts by leveraging celebrations to your advantage. Train servers to ask if a special occasion brings diners in, and suggestively sell based on that response. (For example, a recently engaged couple will likely respond to champagne, while a couple who just found out they’re having a baby girl will likely respond to the opportunity to indulge in cake with pink icing.) In addition, you can create a lively and celebratory atmosphere supported by appropriate music, scents and sounds that generally make diners feel like they want to stay longer for dessert and drinks.

There may be limits to the prices you can negotiate with your suppliers, or the price you can command for various items from customers without hurting demand, but there are many small yet mighty tactics restaurant owners can leverage to drive profitable drink and dessert sales. With the collective impact of these small changes, you can have a significant impact on your bottom line, and the brand image you form for your restaurant in the customer’s mind.

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What’s the Deal with Infrared Burners?

Cooking a Better Steak with Infrared Burners

Infrared burners are found in a wide range of commercial restaurant equipment, including salamanders, char grillers, broilers and fryers. These types of burners are most commonly used to sear, brown, and caramelize food products. Any chef or serious cook knows that the best way to prepare a juicy, succulent steak is to sear the outside as quickly as possible to keep the juices and moisture locked inside.

Infrared burners are mostly recognized for their ability to bring on the Maillard reaction (the reaction of sugars with aminio acids during the cooking process that turns meat brown and gives it flavor and aroma, i.e. “the flavor reaction”). Some units are able to reach sustained temperatures of beyond 2,100⁰ F and can heat up to 600⁰ F in less than 4 minutes. That’s hot enough to melt some metals, and definitely hot enough to put a little brown on a pork roast.

But most probably already know that infrared burners can get extremely hot, extremely quick. So, what else do they do that separates them from other types of burners? That’s a burning question, indeed.

Infrared burners produce more radiant heat.

Cooking results with infrared technology differ from those produced by an open gas burner or an electric heating element, mainly because they produce more radiant heat – the same type of heat energy that the sun produces. Rather than transferring heat through the air (convective heat transfer) or across a solid conductive object (conductive heat transfer), heat energy is transferred through heat waves onto the food product. This type of heat transfer is ideal for preparing a perfectly cooked steak.

Ever wondered why some people may leave the door of an oven slightly cracked when using the broiler portion? Many, like me, assume that this is done as a reminder to not burn whatever is under the broiler. Contrary to this belief though, the main reason the oven door is kept ajar is to maximize radiant heat energy by minimizing convective heat energy transfer. With the door kept open, hot air is allowed to escape and therefore does not circulate throughout the oven cavity as it normally would if the oven door was closed. This allows for whatever is being cooked to receive more radiant heat rather than convective heat.

So, why is radiant heat better than convective heat?

Well, radiant heat is not always better to use than convective heat, but in the case for cooking meats, it’s definitely best to maximize radiant heat. This is because convective heat tends to move moisture off of foods, unless whatever is being cooked has already been seared or browned.

Consider how a hand dryer or blow dryer works: these devices continuously move hot air across the surface of an object to remove moisture and eventually leave the object dry. They are using convective heat to create dryness.

With that said, common sense would suggest that cooking a steak using mostly convective heat or the “blower dryer” method is likely not the best idea around, that is, unless you like your steak dry. To avoid customers “yelping” about how leathery and chewy your steaks are, use more radiant heat. Equipment with infrared burners creates more intense radiant heat and is therefore able to cook meats without zapping their moisture.

Keeps heat evenly distributed.

Hot spots can be a problem with some cooking equipment, especially char grillers. Hot and cold spots occur because heat is not evenly distributed. This causes some portions of food to cook quicker than others and burn. Infrared char grillers are able to completely eliminate hot spots with a design that projects heat waves evenly and uniformly across the entire cooking surface.

Infrared burners are able to achieve even heat distribution through their design. Even radiant heat transfer occurs as heat from an atmospheric burner is absorbed then re-emitted across a perforated glass, metal, or ceramic plate, known as an emitter panel, onto the food product. Because heat is being emitted from a panel and not directly from a flame, char grillers and other equipment using infrared burners will give operators more usable space, helping to increase production.

A typical gas char griller will create a cooking surface with some spots being 40⁰ to 50⁰ F different from other areas; however, char grillers that use infrared technology only allow for 10⁰ to 20⁰ F of varying temperature differences across the entire, usable cooking space.

Increased energy efficiency.

Although cooking equipment using infrared burners is generally more expensive, they do use less energy, while also increasing production rates. They’re able to shave cook times by up to 50% and do so by using less than a 1/3 of amount gas.

Deep fat fryers that use infrared burners have been proven to improve their heating efficiency by roughly 80%. Traditional gas burners lose heat energy by heating the air between the burner and the heating plates that heat the oil; however, in the models of fryers with infrared burners, the burners are either in direct contact with the heating plates or very close which helps to minimize heat loss that occurs by heating the air.

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How to Restore Cast Iron Cookware [Video]

Whether you find it at a neighbor’s garage sale or in your grandma’s attic, cast iron cookware is everywhere! It can rust and pit, but with a little care (and sometimes a lot of elbow grease) a good cast iron pan cast last for generations. In this video lesson, we take a pan recovered at a garage sale and see how easy it is to restore!

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Title photo courtesy of David Reber and licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

 

Transcript:

Hi, i’m Chris Tavano for Tundra Restaurant Supply and we’re here in our test kitchen. In today’s episode I’m going to show you how to turn your garage sale treasure finds into something restored and beautiful.

Here we got some nice cast iron rusted-away pans we found at a garage sale. What I’m going to do is show you how to restore these back to some nice beautiful cast iron. Essentially what you really need to do is you need to scrub away all the rusted iron. That way we can start from scratch of reseasoning this pan.

Now we’re actually going to season our cast iron. You could use lard, you could use oil, some sort of fat. We need to cover every piece of surface area of your cast iron with the fat because that’s what’s going to bake in to season our cast iron pan. Use the handles. You can get bits of the outside again. Now that I got a nice coat of fat on that I’m going to turn my burner. Obviously that’s high; we’ll cut it back about half way, about medium high. We’re just going to let that bake in, round one.

Once you got that first layer of shortening or fat seasoned in there, kind of cooked out, give it a wipe, get all that residual stuff out of the there. Let it cool down properly. Then what you’re going to want to do is do that same process one more time. Just because you’ve refurbished the entire surface you’re going to want to put a nice good layer of seasoning in there to protect your food.

That’s how you properly restore your cast iron. I’m Chris Tavano for Tundra Restaurant Supply from our test kitchen. Please comment below, and please subscribe, and call our sales floor directly if you’ve got any further questions. Until next time.

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Food Allergy Awareness in the Restaurant

Food Allergy Awareness poster

In honor of Food Allergy Awareness Week, May 11-17, 2014, I thought I’d pull together some food allergy facts and how you can better prepare your restaurant for food allergen customers.

First, I think I’ll start with my own story on food allergies.  My youngest son has a severe allergy to tree nuts, pistachios and cashews specifically, but we stay away from all nuts because we’ve experienced the unfortunate of him going into anaphylactic shock.

We were at our favorite summer place to grab a quick snack and take a scroll down the Grand Lake beach. At this time, we knew that my son had an allergen to tree nuts, but he was fine with peanuts, so when my mother ordered herself an ice cream sundae with peanuts, she double checked with the counter attendant that there was indeed no tree nuts in those peanuts.  The girl confirmed, and we set off for our stroll down the beach.  At one point my little one wanted to taste Grandma’s ice cream, and she obliged.  Within seconds of him swallowing down a spoonful of that ice cream, his throat started to close.  We were miles away from the hospital, but had our Epipen Junior on us.  We gave him a full dose and began our way to the hospital.  Before the shot, he was gasping for air, and it was quite frightening.  He was terrified, we were scared, and I just kept holding him on the way to the hospital.  The good news is that he’s fine now, but he won’t touch a single nut ever again – not even peanuts.

The reason I tell you this story is so that you get an understanding of the importance of checking food labels so that you know where it comes from.  Odds are those peanuts had listed on the back that it was made in the same factory as tree nuts, and that’s why my little one had an allergic reaction.  In some cases, people may choose to sue for incidences like this, we didn’t, but it could happen, which is why it’s important to know what is in each and every ingredient that you serve to your patrons.

A Background on Food Allergies

You may have a basic understanding of what allergies are, but to define how and why the body reacts the way it does is quite intense.  If a food is consumed that the person is allergic to, their immune system kicks in to protect them.  Think of the food as a germ or virus trying to attack the immune system.  Now, for most of us, our immune system knows that it’s just a food, but for those with allergies, their immune system has an abnormal response to the food protein and goes into full attack mode.  Odd, right?  When the bad food protein enters the body, histamine and other chemicals are released to help defend the body.

There is no cure for food allergies, but for most mild allergies, children can grow out of them.  However, for the top 8 food allergens (that contribute to 90% of the total allergies across the nation), those typically stay with the child for life.  The only way to prevent an attack is to strictly avoid the food, which also means being aware of cross-contamination, breathing the food in the air (mainly with dust in the air with nut allergies), and sometimes even touching the food.

Food Allergies by the Numbers

Speaking of those top 8 food allergens, the list is: milk, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.  According to the NRA, nuts cause 4 out of 5 food allergy fatalities, and twice as many people are allergic to shellfish as nuts.

According to FARE (Food Allergy Research & Education), the organization that helps to promote food allergens in businesses such as institutions, restaurants, and the corporate world, and who puts on the annual Food Allergy Awareness week, 4% of the US population (or 12 million people: 1 in 25) have a food allergy.  Children are the largest group affected by allergies, with 1 in 13 kids being affected – that’s about 2 kids per classroom on average.

Food Allergies in the Food Service Industry

There are many organizations out there to help your food service business learn how to appropriately handle allergens and how to train your staff. It is your duty to know what ingredients are in each food item you serve, before there’s a bigger issue at hand.

A few resources to help with training, include:

There’s also this handy site to help people with food allergens find safe places to eat.  This is a great opportunity for you to list your restaurant if you think you’re a fit.  It’ll help drive business, get links back to your site, and you’ll be helping the allergen community learn more about your business.

In closing, I’d like to mention that most families that have an allergy sufferer joining them when dining out, do take precautions before picking just any restaurant or any dish.  They don’t want to go through the hell of feeling their throat close up and not knowing if they’ll recover.  Believe me, we take every step we can to ensure our little one stays out of harm’s way; in fact, using sites like I mentioned above to find an allergy free restaurant is what families would typically do; if not just call the restaurant ahead of time.  When your life revolves around having an attack because of something as tiny as a nut, you definitely do your research before taking a bite.  Here’s a great example of a dining out guide that most allergy sufferers follow before choosing a place to eat.

Let me know, how does your restaurant prep for food allergens?  Do you use the purple coded knives and cutting boards to help separate?

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Top 6 Items to Add to Your Spring Shopping List

Spring Buying Guide Collage

Spring is in the air and a lot of us are thinking spring cleaning, but it doesn’t all have to be left to dusting and scrubbing this month.  Here are a few of our favorite spring items that remind us that there’s more to March than just cleaning.

1.    Food Scales

Food scales are used in the food service industry quite a bit by chains, but we’ve found many small business that still haven’t heard of the money saving benefits behind these items (we wrote about it here and here).  This is why we had to kick off our spring list with food scales – well that, and they have springs, get it?

2.    The Cooler Sno Cone Machine

Get a head start on summer with this lightweight, portable sno cone machine from Paragon.  Weighing in at a little under 11 pounds and measuring 16” wide x 24” high, don’t let its cuteness fool you – it’s capable of producing 500 pounds of shaved ice per hour!  Now you just need to decide on your favorite flavor of syrup!

3.    Springs

Springs for spring, of course!  With over 500 springs in stock, odds are we can keep you stocked up on springs for quite sometime.

4.    Flowering Onion Cutter

Ever wondered how the “Awesome Blossom” was made?  With this unique tool called the flowering onion cutter.  Simply place a colossal sized onion on the machine and slide the handle down – bam, a perfectly, awesomely cut blossom.

5.    Flower Vegetable Trays

Sure, veggie trays are great for game day serving, but cool veggies can be served poolside too.  That’s why we added this simple vegetable tray to the list – in flower design!

6.    Sno Cone Flower Holders

If you’re getting ready for sno cone season anyway, why not get these fun sno cone holders too?  They keep the syrup from dripping over the sides and the adults love them too – seriously, we used them at our last team member sno cone event and they were a hit!

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Why is Restaurant Concept Important?

Wood Restaurant Interior with Yellow Wall

Finding a restaurant concept is often times under-appreciated, which is likely one reason why so many restaurants fail within the first couple of years.  In truth, the concept of a restaurant is just as important as finding the right chef and location.  It helps you discover more about the environment and economic status of the location, the target audience, the menu, the aesthetics, the marketing, the service type; essentially, it’s putting all of your ideas down on paper so you have a guide as you proceed forward.

Why do so many people not figure out concept before they start building?  Because it’s not as easy as it sounds.  Serious entrepreneurs looking to open a restaurant often confide into a restaurant designer to ensure the concept is concrete, before even moving into the design phase.  And when success is so reliant on concept, it’s unsettling to know that so many of you will read this, and continue to open your doors without thinking critically about concept.

Outside of the importance of finding your concept, let’s chat about what it is.

It’s Research.

If you don’t already know about the economic, environmental, and demographic status in the area, you should do your research first.  You’ll need to know what your target audience is willing to spend, when they’re going to spend, when you should be open, when weather is going to force you to close, etc.  Ask yourself a couple of questions:

  • How many cars pass by the location in a day?
  • When is busy time for the area?  When is down time for the area?
  • What is the weather like?  Does it rain a lot?  Snow?  Will that affect your business?
  • How are you going to be seen by patrons?  How can you increase visibility?
  • Does the location you’re planning on using already have equipment, or are you going to have to invest in new equipment?
  • What other details do you need to research to ensure this is a good choice?

It’s About Competitors.

If you know that there are restaurants that are already successful around you, learn what they’re doing right.  Dine at their establishment, notice the staff, the aesthetics, the food, the smells, the sounds, everything – and take note.  Also, remember the restaurants that aren’t quite as successful, and find out why they aren’t winning – learn from their weaknesses.

It’s About Finding Your Service Type.

You may know what type of food you want to serve, but have you thought about what size the menu should be?  How about the prices you’ll have on the menu that will be in line with your target market?  Have you thought about what type of restaurant service you’ll be offering: fine dining, casual, fast food, delivery, catering, food truck, carry out, etc.?  Knowing these answers before beginning to make restaurant decisions can save you money in the long run.

It’s About Atmosphere.

What is atmosphere?  It’s how you want people to feel when they come into your restaurant.  The smells they encounter, the sights they see, the flavors they taste, the sounds they hear, and the feelings of what they touch.  It’s about how you prepare your food, how the staff treats the people, and the culture of the restaurant.   It’s the experience you want your patrons to have when they visit – and it’s important.

It’s About the Target Market.

You could create a list of ideas around your concept, but if you don’t know your target market, you’ll be missing a big part of bringing it all together.  You need to know who the ideal customer is that will be coming in your doors.  How old are they?  When do they eat out the most?  Do they have kids?  How much money are they likely to spend?  If you’re planning on opening a family-friendly restaurant in a downtown area that primarily caters to patrons that are grabbing a bite to eat during lunch or sipping cocktails during happy hour, you will likely not get as much business as you would if you would have opened up in the burbs.

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