Restaurant Licenses, Permits, and Insurance

Use a restaurant consultant to get your official paperwork in order

By Sarah Ann Noel - April 26, 2017

When it comes to opening a restaurant, it's important to make sure you have your paperwork in order. From licenses and permits to necessary insurance, requirements can vary from state-to-state. 

NCR Silver interviewed National Restaurant Consultants president David Kincheloe this week for tips on all your permitting and insurance needs, in order to open your new restaurant space. You can read the full interview here.

But even after reading the best "tips", make sure you seek counsel from someone who knows what to look for and what questions to ask. Our restaurant consultants are well-versed in the requirements across the country and know how to help you check everything off your list before opening. Contact us today. 

Photo via NCR Silver.

Two New Restaurants at Ilani Casino Resort

National Restaurant Consultants is pleased to announce the grand openings of Longhouse and Rose + Thorn

By Sarah Ann Noel - April 20, 2017

National Restaurant Consultants is pleased to announce the opening of two much anticipated restaurants, Rose + Thorn and Longhouse. Both fine dining experiences will open this coming Monday, April 24, along with other fabulous dining, shopping, gaming, and entertainment at the Ilani Casino Resort.

Rose + Thorn, an upscale international street food restaurant will feature elegant and creative takes on traditional favorites around the world, including premium cuts cooked over an open flame. A mean at Rose + Thorn is made extra special with elevated mixology, a bourbon library, and local brews on tap, plus custom, refined desserts for a sweet ending.

Longhouse, where the Northwest meets the Far East, will offer ocean fresh sushi and handcrafted noodle dishes. Indulge in an authentic Eastern dining experience with the raw bar and sushi plates; and treat yourself to a beverage from the exclusive sake collection or one of the featured cocktails.

We are pleased to open these restaurants in the Ilani Casino resort, which is located just 16 miles north of Vancouver on 156 beautiful acres of Cowlitz Tribal land. It will be the new premiere gaming and entertainment location for the state of Washington and the Northwest.

For more information, or for questions about your new restaurant opening, contact us today. 

Denver's Sweet Cooie's Ice Cream

The latest venture for the owner of Little Man Ice Cream graces Congress Park in Denver

By Sarah Ann Noel - April 13, 2017

Our restaurant consultants were delighted to visit Sweet Cooie's in Denver's prestigious Congress Park neighborhood a few weeks ago, not just to sample the latest offerings from the famous Little Man creators, but also to take in the soda fountain inspiration and the history behind the place. 

Decked in bright blue walls; a wallpaper made to look like pressed tin; gold accents and lighting; and a custom-built bar back modeled from old-fashioned ice cream parolors, it goes to show what the aesthetics of a restaurant can do for a guest's experience. When we walked through the doors, Gene Wilder serenading the Willy Wonka theme song over the speakers, we were greeted by the smells of baking waffle cones and a smiling face behind the marble counter. Just like Little Man, Sweet Cooie's offers hand-dipped custom flavors, including vegan options; and this location has expanded into chocolates and other sweets, in an effort to capture that candy shop feel. 

Paul Tamburello, owner of Little Man and other ventures, was inspired to create Sweet Cooie's to honor his mother, and he calls the space "precious" and a "jewel box" that encapsulates her essence. He worked with Melissa Friday of Xan Creative to bring the vision to life, and his mother, Cooie, was even able to aid in some design decisions before she passed away. 

If you're in the Denver area, make it a point to treat yourself at Sweet Cooie's, not just for something delectable, but to go back in time a little bit. Lean back into the sit-n-spin inspired booths and just study the little details--which is exactly what Friday and her design team intended. Consider how to be in a restaurant is an experience for all the senses.

Our restaurant consultants are experts, not just in menu development and business, but can also work with you to create a full-blown aesthetic for your restaurant. Contact us today and let us help you turn your vision into something guests can experience. 

6 Tips for Music in Your Restaurant

Background music creates ambience--when you follow a few rules.

By Sarah Ann Noel - April 7, 2017

It was a little pizza joint in Denver, most recently; but I've sat in restaurants from London to New York to Los Angeles and experienced the same thing: music interrupting my meal. This particular experience, the music went from loud to louder, as we sat down; and at that, the unedited hip hop was hardly appropriate for the small children in our party. Our requests for a change were met with snarky responses from the rude manager, and nothing was done to address the issue. 

When it comes to restaurant aesthetics, you can't please everyone. At some point, you say, "This is who we are," and you run with that personality, even if it's not to every guest's tastes. But a restaurant playlist should be a tool to enhance a dining experience, not something that works against you. Here are a few tips for managing your soundtrack so it will help, not harm.

1. Let the music set the mood. In most restaurants, music isn't meant to be entertainment. It's meant to create a tone. If you visit an Italian restaurant, you might expect to see red-checked tablecloths and drippy candles in wine bottles. A trap mix meant for a nightclub would detract from that ambiance entirely. Choose music with environment in mind, the same way you select art for the walls and lighting--to invoke feeling, nostalgia, mood.

2. Volume control is essential. Whatever the music, it's always better to err on the softer side. When people sit down to dine, they expect to also be able to carry on a conversation with their entire party, without having to shout. This may require adjusting the music throughout the day, depending on the number of guests you have at a given time.

3. Consider the audience. If you are a family-friendly establishment, your music needs to be family-friendly too. Make sure that the lyrics and implications of the music are appropriate for all generations. Obvious go-to options would be oldies, radio-edited Top 40, or instrumental.

4. The customer is always right. No matter what pains you've taken to create an enjoyable musical background, if a guest complains that the music is too noisy or inappropriate, it's an easy fix. Attention to these small details--and concerns, if that's what they turn into--can make or break a guest experience.

5. It's okay to be flexible--and it may be a benefit. You can consider different needs throughout different parts of your day. Perhaps you have a busy happy hour full of guests leaving work and coming to unwind--they might prefer upbeat music to laugh with friends to end a day. You can use a shift in music to signal the end of happy hour and the beiginning of dinner. It's a slight, subliminal message that could help retain business from happy hour and carry it into dinner. 

6. Skip the commercials. If you're not using a custom-created playlist, and opting for Pandora or another music service, pay the montly fee to skip commercials. Little is more jarring than sudden advertisement in the middle of a drink or a meal.

What's most important to remember is that a restaurant creates a whole experience--not solely the food or the decor. Pay attention to the big picture. For more tips on music and how to curate a full-blown restaurant experience, contact our restaurant consultants today

Photo by Austin Yoder.

Spring Menus 2017

Get your menu in shape for spring!

By Sarah Ann Noel - March 27, 2017

It's officially been spring for a week, and our restaurant consultants are helping clients get their spring menus in check. Currently working with clients on both the west and east coasts, as well as internationally, one thing is true across the board: guests are ready for the energy and warmth of spring. Give the people what they want with these spring menu ideas for 2017.

1. Main Course
Forbes has spotted five food trends that are trickling through restaurants in 2017. At the top of their list? Vegetarian comfort food. Being a Denver-based company, we saw the need for vegetarian options increase awhile ago, and that has ballooned into other regions. In spring, guests are turning their attention back to health, but still shivering from the lingering chill. Best way to meet both needs? Provide nutritious foods in a comforting way. Another trend on the Forbes list was the "bowl"--think acai, poke, and now take that in any creative direction that works for your establishment.

2. Cocktails
As we've mentioned in our 2017 Top Trends and other posts, mixology is an important trend this year. We're cooking-up custom cocktails for you, like last week's NRC Spritz; but here are ten more cocktails from Paste Magazine that are bound to get your guests in the mood for warmer weather (which means extended happy hours on that patio!).

*Don't forget the wine!
We're all about the cocktails this year, but a good wine selection is always a must. The first hint of spring, and the Millennials are still reaching straight for the rosés. Delish magazine found 16 great, affordable rosés for 2017!

3. Reconsider the bread basket.
The traditional pre-meal bread basket has been evolving anyway; but we see increased bread waste moving into the spring months. The Boston Globe interviewed a few chefs and restaurants about their bread baskets--from gluten-free options to apples and cinnamon butter. It could be as simple as asking guests if they'd like bread or serving carrot sticks and hummus instead, but find a way to reoption the traditional bread for something more interesting or nutritious. 

4. Lighten the desserts.
Probably you'll see a decrease in dessert add-ons come springtime. But that doesn't mean dessert will go away altogether. In the spring, we often watch dessert trends swing toward fruit and light creams; and for 2017, strawberries are still getting a lot of attention. Southern Living has some creat spring-inspired dessert options; and not only are there are lot of berry-based treats, cakes are returning--good for less input but extended output.

5. Add some flowers to the tables and let the light in!
Don't forget that people are savoring the longer days and budding plants! Happy customers linger!

Our restaurant consultants can always help with spring makeovers. If you'd like to spruce things up for the season, or if you have other questions about trends for the year, improving your business, and increasing your profits, contact our restaurant consultants today. 

Photo by Eve Chan.

Mixology: NRC Spritz

A custom cocktail by our restaurant consultants, perfect for your spring menus

By Jared Flowers - March 21, 2017

As we predicted in our Top Trends for 2017, mixology is on the rise. It is the year of the cocktail, and it's not just about the drink anymore. It's an art--from taste to presentation, to the overall creativity. Our restaurant consultants are applying growing trends and developing some custom cocktails for you.

This month, senior consultant Jared Flowers whips up a peach-colored spritz that is perfect for spring happy hour menus. Serve this over ice with some fresh fruit garnish and wow all of your cocktail hour guests.

NRC Spritz

1.5 oz gin
1.5 oz aperol
1.5 oz Yuzu Sour
.5 oz lemon juice
.5 oz Peychauds

Combine ingredients and shake well. Pour over ice in a wine glass. Top with Prosecco.

3 Tips for a Stand Out Happy Hour

Our Top Trends 2017 feature the rise of mixology--here's how to draw a crowd to your happy hour!

By Sarah Ann Noel - February 21, 2017

As our restaurant consultants found and reported in our Top Trends for 2017, mixology is on the rise. No secret to major metropolitan areas like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and London, happy hour is a great way to draw in millennials at what could be a lull before the dinner hour. With increased interest in beverages, and more and more young professionals dining out with expectation, consider adding a happy hour to your schedule.

Our senior consultant Richard Weil shares some quick tips for your best happy hour that’s guaranteed to draw a crowd!

What are your top three tips for a great happy hour?

Use food as the leader and don’t discount the beverages as much—cheap food will attract more guests and spending, but they’ll pay for the drinks anyway. 

Make sure your happy hour menu includes at least one really hot beer, a good wine price, and two to three food items.  

Don’t over extend the time! You can convert your happy hour to dinner with an extra discount or free dessert or discount moving from happy hour to dinner.

What is your recommendation for a stand-out on-trend cocktail? 
Whiskey is still hot, especially if you have a local distillery to feature.

How can you promote a happy hour that sets it apart from others?  
Try starting at a quarter hour and end at a quarter hour or 3:15 -5:59.

Want more tips and tricks from a restaurant consultant? Contact us today!

Photo by Sonny Abesamis.


The Resurgence of Maximalism

Restaurants may want to start dressing up their stark interiors with rich, warm decor

By Sarah Ann Noel - February 14, 2017

For years, restaurants have been employing a minimalist design to appeal to the broad Millennial audience that is paring down and focusing energy on simple living. But like most trends, taste eventually moves on, and in terms of restaurant decor, it's taking a hard swing across the spectrum.

Maximalism reentered the scene in the States a few years ago, the hottest clubs and restaurants in New York and Los Angeles featuring heavy wallpapers, deep colors, and opulent accessorizing, like gold accents and crystal chandeliers. Of course, our restaurant consultants have spotted this design in international locations, cities like London, Paris, and Dubai, for even longer than that. And we now see it working its way across America; even some of our Denver cafes, almost always leaning into the city's casual culture, have opted for extravagances like velvet tufted booths and rich green wall hangings.

Lifestyle influencers are making a push toward maximalism too. No more whitewashed walls on the blogs and Instagram--in fact, many of these culture queens are now self-proclaimed "Maximalists", veering off the path of modern lines and light living. The Wall Street Journal noted the trend a few weeks ago, and even gave tips for effortlessly achieving the look. (You may need to subscribe to read the full article.)

While National Restaurant Consultants places a heavy influence on business and operations, you cannot neglect the experience your restaurant offers your guests. Most diners are on top of current trends; and if they see that you are not, they will move on to an establishment that places importance on what is popular. Our consultants also advise on restaurant aesthetics and interior design, and we are committed to following these trends. 

If you need assistance with your interior design--from the start, or perhaps just a facelift--reach out to our consultants today and let's work together to make your restaurant the spot to be. 

Image discovered via Pinterest.

NRC Announces New Arizona Office

An Historic District office allows our consultants to best serve the Southwest

By David Kincheloe - February 8, 2017

National Restaurant consultants is pleased to announce the establishment of a brick and mortar office in an historic district of Gilbert, Arizona. Managed by lead consultant Jared Flowers, this beautiful location will further our efforts with clients in the southern region of the US.

"This office allows us to better serve clients in the Arizona, Southern California, and Nevada markets," says Flowers. 

While our consultants are mobile, and experts in business markets around the globe, a physical presence helps us to keep a finger on the pulse of an expanding market. Just like we encourage our clients to establish themselves in their local communities, our consultants make sure to advise based on experience.

If you have a business in the southwest and are seeking advice, reach out to Jared Flowers at the new office space. You can call at (480) 696-1672, or stop by for a visit at 207 North Gilbert Road. As always, you can reach a consultant through our website for advice on your restaurant business, anytime, anywhere. 


Colorado State Legislative Update

Senior consultant Richard Weil breaks down legislation effecting restaurants this session

By Sarah Ann Noel - February 1, 2017

National Restaurant Consultants is active in monitoring the political processes effecting the restaurant business industry. Last week, our senior consultant, Richard Weil, testified on behalf of the Colorado Restaurant Association (CRA) before a Senate committee, regarding regulatory reform with SB 001. Weil also monitored a double-taxation bill presented to a legislative committee of nine members.

In today’s blog post, Weil will update us on the legislation and what it means for your restaurant or business.

What exactly is in this legislation?
SB 001 will assist small business owners in removing onerous fines for small omissions and errors with state regulations. These errors will not relate to any health or safety violations, but is aimed at curtailing bureaucratic agencies from fining small business for small clerical errors or reporting components.  

(For a bit more information on SB001, here is the Denver Post coverage.)

The double-taxation bill was placed into law in 2010, taxing essential paper items as if they were non-essential items. This included items such as napkins, to-go containers, and pizza boxes. 

What was the progress of SB 001?
The senators with bi-partisan support approved the bill by a vote of 6-1. The legislation now moves to the senate floor for review. 

And will there be changes made to the double-taxation legislation? 
While the legislators were sympathetic to the small business owners, they voted along party lines to defeat the bill, stating that the assistance to small businesses—mainly restaurants—would not overcome the needs for other social assistance programs.
What other key legislation will you be monitoring this session?
There is proposed language change for a bill to allow liquor license holders to grant permission to managers, who are over 21, to order alcohol. Currently, Colorado liquor laws provide only the agent of record can legally order alcohol. This bill has already passed committee and is expected to move forward in both the state Senate and House.  

There is another positive House bill to control how music-licensing companies push onerous charges to restaurants and to set a protocol of process in place. This particular issue has plagued our industry for years in terms of "money grabs" relating to commercial music and entertainment. While this proposed legislation will not eliminate the need to be properly licensed, it will control the violation and notification process.  

Our consultants recognize the connection between political and business nuances. As a team, we are committed to assisting our clients in all areas of business, and are dedicated to improving the business climate for the restaurant industry. We continue to monitor legislation and business trend, ensuring we can provide the best solutions. If you have questions about these legislative issues, or another business matter, contact our consultants today. 

Photo by Mr. TinDC