The Best Cocktail for 2018 Holidays

National Restaurant Consultants tracks down the throwback drink bartenders are loving for the holiday season

By Sarah Ann Noel - November 19, 2018

These days, it seems like all the trends are nodding backwards--from vintage-inspired furniture and floral patterns to 80s and 90s pop-culture references, influencers are find what's good in what used to be. Speaking of 90s throwbacks, our restaurant consultants chatted with some of our favorite Denver bartenders this weekend about the go-to drink for the holiday season. 

We all remember Jeff Bridges iconic role as The Dude, and what was his drink of choice? That's right: A White Russian. The mixologists at Racine's reported a trend back to this drink made popular by the loafer in an oversized sweater; but we think it makes sense all the same. A White Russian is a simple drink, traditionally made from just three ingredients, so it lends itself to the more minimal trends we're seeing in pop-culture. ( has the verified traditional recipe here.) As for its holiday resurgence, it's an indulgent treat, creamy and sweet, perfect for an end-of-year celebration. 

Our restaurant consultants see it as a trending win for your restaurant business: There's no learning curve, nothing fancy required, but you can really dress it up on your happy hour menus and for marketing purposes. What do we mean? Well, Saveur has 6 Must-Try Variations on the White Russian, BuzzFeed found 11 Twists. Better yet, follow the trends, but it in your own way: SuperCall has 7 drinks to love that are like a White Russian.

All of those recipes are great jumping-off points; but let's not forget that our bar experts are calling it the drink of the holiday season. So, you could go the traditional route (which is a fine bet--people like traditional at the holidays). Or you could really capitalize on the themes of the season! Try a Peppermint White Russian! A Gingerbread White Russian! Get crazy with an Egg Nog White Russian! Better yet, offer all three and make it a special. If Starbucks can have 15 different holiday drinks, you can have three holiday White Russians.

The point is this: pay attention to trends, and pay closer attention to how and when to use them. Seems like a lot to keep track of? Contact our restaurant consultants--they're experts at it.

Photo by Dio Septian on Unsplash

10 Must-Try Restaurant Bathroom Ideas

National Restaurant Consultants President David Kincheloe shares expert advice on restaurant bathrooms to win over your guests

By David Kincheloe - November 12, 2018

Building out a restaurant is a large undertaking, and it can be made so much easier with the guidance of a restaurant consultant. Restaurant consultants are skilled in big picture visions, but they know about the details that can other times go overlooked. Details are tied to a whole experience, and when guests visit your restaurant, that's what they're looking for. They don't just want to be fed; they want a whole dining experience.

One expected place where this is so evident: the bathroom. From a big picture standpoint, a restaurant bathroom seems necessary, needs to be functional, and should be tended to once in awhile. This week, National Restaurant Consultants president was interviewed on the blog to expand on the idea of a restaurant bathroom. Why? Because it's important to get it right so as not to detract from the restaurant experience.

You can read all 10 Must-Try Restaurant Bathroom Ideas here. The points where Kincheloe is quoted brings together exactly what a restaurant consultant is good at. Yes, a bathroom needs to be functional, which is the big picture; but there are important nuances to get exactly right, because the details matter. 

Whether you're moving into an existing restaurant space or beginning from scratch, it's important that you get all of your details right in a functional, efficient, and affordable way. Our restaurant consultants can make a plan to do exactly that. Contact us today.

How Your Restaurant Can Give Back This Holiday Season

National Restaurant Consultants shares ideas for service during the holiday season

By Sarah Ann Noel - November 9, 2018

As we enter this season of celebration and gratitude, it's easy to forget how many there are in our communities that will not feel the warmth of the holiday season. Part of being a great restaurant, a place people love to discover and come back to, is being a part of the community. Our restaurant consultants think there are many ways to do this, but the holiday season presents a special opportunity to give back. 

Charity during the holidays doesn't have to mean a large chunk out of your budget (although, keep in mind, it can also be a plentiful time of year for your business if you plan and market correctly). In Denver, Denver Rescue Mission is often looking for volunteers to servce meals, or you could participate in the Turkey Drive and invite guests to do the same. Last year, Eater Denver took a look at all the good restaurants were doing around the community

It's not just Denver with needs, nor is it only Denver with businesses looking to invest in their communities and give back during the holidays. The Webstaurant Store and Gather each have blogged about ways that restaurants, specifically, can help. 

When we as businesses choose to pay attention to needs, not only are we caring for our neighbors, but it's a great way to engage guests and invite them to do the same. It shows the spirit and personality of your business, demonstrates your commitment to the people who support you, and ultimately brings humans together for a bigger cause. Sure, it's good for business, and you can feel good about it too.

For more ideas about how to change up your business plan for the holiday season, contact a restaurant consultant today.

Photo by Rohan G on Unsplash

100+ Cocktails Perfect for Autumn

Pick a produce, pick a spice, and add some of these picks to your fall happy hour menus

By Sarah Ann Noel - October 30, 2018

The second snow is falling in Colorado, and tomorrow it's Halloween. The grocery stores are merchanidising for Thanksgiving dinner, and the local Target stores have started trickling in the Christmas fare. We're deep into autumn and a nostalgic season. It's a time when sights, flavors, and scents mean just a little bit more, and we think that makes for a great opportunity in your restaurant.

This week, our restaurant consultants have focused on some of these traditional aromas and found cocktails based on each. They're the perfect addition to turn your happy hour and special cocktail menus toward "seasonal." Connect with a guest over some profound memory or holiday happiness, and maybe they'll even order two cocktails instead of one.

Cinnamon is a great ingredient any time of the year, but it's the scent of cinnamon when the air turns cold that really tugs on the heartstrings. Bustle has ten warm cinnamon cocktails here, and we were especially drawn to the caramel cinnamon martini for its strong hints of cinnamon and nods toward dessert.

Not so much in Colorado, where the apple orchards are few and far between, but in New York, Boston, and other New England spots, they're wrapping up apple-picking season. Apples are the quintessential taste of summer-turned-fall, juicy, fruity, and just a little bit chilly. The Spruce Eats shared a whole host of apple cocktails here, and the Homecoming Caipirinha, but maybe we're partial to it since it came out of Denver's own Root Down.

Ginger is a traditional holiday flavor--gingerbread cookies, anyone?--and usually paired with another distinct flavor like cinnamon or molasses. But on it's own, with a little sugar perhaps, ginger has the best bite. We like this simple gin and ginger from The Little Epicurean for exactly that reason: It features the ginger, and even though it's iced, it brings just the right amount of heat.

We don't mean to be obvious, but you simply can't leave pumpkin off of a list of autumnal flavors. Pumpkin Spice may feel tired to you, but others would call it tried-and-true. Cosmopolitan has 15 grown-up pumpkin spice options, including a pumpkin spice negroni!

Fireplaces, candles, grandfather's pipe. In most ways, in most seasons, smoke isn't especially welcome. But during the autumn holiday season? In a cocktail? Our restaurant consultants are all about that. If you're in the Denver area, head to Millers + Rossi speakeasy for great smoked bourbon. If not, The Kitchn fills you in on how to smoke your drinks at home.

Some will shy away from this flavor because of it's pure sweetness; but if you're not going to indulge your sweet tooth during this season, when can you? Food & Wine serves up seven maple syrup cocktails that are perfect for a sugary pick-me-up. For a little savory touch, try the salted maple! 

Still didn't find what you're looking for? Hard to believe, but try this list of 32 more drinks from Country Living. Or better yet, contact a restaurant consultant today and perfectly customize your drink menu to your aesthetic and the season.

Photo by Jennifer Schmidt on Unsplash

Sustainable Coffee and Permaculture Farming

Our restaurant consultants visit with the coffee farmers at El Toledo to discuss their progressive practices

By Sarah Ann Noel - October 22, 2018

Recently our restaurant consultants had the chance to take a private tour of family-owned El Toledo coffee farm in Atenas, Costa Rica. Three generations of coffee farmers have been harvesting coffee beans from this farm, and our consultants jumped on the opportunity to learn about the newer organic and permaculture techniques the owners are using to create a good product, as well as to become more sustainable. 

Settled into a hillside of the thick, lush forest, the family switched their methods to be strictly organic several years ago. The change was not an easy one, and many of the coffee plants suffered. It was so important to the growers, however, to make the change, that they sought supplemental income to support the farm as they made chemical-free adjustments. 

The solution they found was permaculture. Now their coffee beans thrive alongside all sorts of other plants and produce--from lemons and oranges to raspberries and even apples. They let the forest trees grow tall, and they collect the produce that drops from the vines and bushes that are protected underneath the canopies. This produce feeds their family, and the rest is sold at market.

In the midst of all this vegetation, decades-old coffee plants yield pounds and pounds of fruit, which is harvested and roasted on-site. El Toledo's farmers have also kept an eye on water conservation when harvesting the beans, a process that is more laborious but important to the integrity of their final product. They save more than 500L with each batch of coffee using eco-friendly machinery. 

One way in which this farm is especially unique is a lab they have developed to experiment with coffee-fruit products. Coffee, which is actually a cherry fruit, is normally only recognized as what we call the "bean" but is actually the seed. The rest of the fruit is typically discarded in the harvesting process. El Toledo is making a point to conserve the fruit, which has nutritional value, and finding unique ways to use it, including making coffee flour and coffee wines. 

El Toledo's farmers were very open about the difficulties of permaculture and organic farming. They also acknowledged the nature of selling a luxury product like coffee. But they were enthusiastic about the good work that they are doing, the small measures they are implementing on their farm that make a world of difference in both product and thinking. It was refreshing to see some traditional practices revisited and to hear how these local farmers were eager to stay on top of their practices.

Do you know where your food comes from? Where do you buy your coffee? One thing that the El Toledo farmers stressed was getting to know your local agriculture professionals. Our restaurant consultants specialize in farm-to-table options, and we can aid you in forming relationships with your local distributors. Contact a restaurant consultant today.

National Restaurant Consultant Meets Celebrity Chef Blais

Jared Flowers, Senior Consultant for NRC Scottsdale meets a personal and industry hero

By David Kincheloe - October 10, 2018

Several weeks ago our Senior Consultant Jared Flowers from our Scottsdale, Arizona office, had the opportunity to meet Richard Blais between cooking demonstrations at the Shamrock Foods Expo. Chef Blais’s take on modern American cuisine has been inspirational and revolutionary. The science that he adds to cooking is nothing short of genius.

Jared has been a fan of Chef Blais for several years, and this admiration has influenced his approach to our clients' culinary issues. He felt privileged to finally meet Chef Blais. We want to thank the chef for continuing to challenge culinary rules and for being an inspiration to both chefs with tremendous experience, like our consultant, Jared, as well as up-and-coming chefs in the industry.


Two New Instagram Features Your Business Should Be Using

National Restaurant Consultants demonstrates how to integrate new social media into best business practices

By Sarah Ann Noel - October 8, 2018

In many posts before, our restaurant consultants have stressed the importance of social media in business. It used to be that social apps, primarily Instagram, were the way to reach Millennials and urbanites dining out in big cities like New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Denver. But now, Instagram has more than one billion users worldwide--it's safe to say that your customer base falls under "social media user" no matter what type of guests you attract.

As the number of Instagram users increases, so do best practices in engaging your social media following--or potential social media following. Recently, we explored using Instagram Stories to beat the new algorithms, which continues to be a praised method for growing an audience. 

There are a few new features, however, that we think make for great connection and conversion, whether converting guests to social media followers or social media followers to guests. 

The first is the "call to action" feature in the contact options on a business account. If your restaurant's Instagram profile isn't a business account, it should be. Then, follow these steps to integrate immediate calls-to-action, such as orders on ChowNow or GrubHub; reservations on Open Table; or reviews on Yelp. 
  1. Select "Edit Profile" on your account page.
  2. Under "Business Information", click "Contact Options."
  3. Beneath location, select "Add an action button," then use the list to choose what feature to integrate.
This is a great way to connect your social media presence to actual customers and potential conversion. Watch these platforms start working for you when you engage follows and potential followers, then give them the chance to make a reservation right from your Instagram profile.

Similarly, make sure your current guests are following your account. The larger the following, the more social media users will want to engage. Instagram has just rolled out a "Nametag" feature, allowing app-users who aren't following you to simply scan your nametag and opt-in to follow your account. It's something servers and managers can easily display to tables of guests when greeting or collecting the check.

To create your Nametag, click the menu (three lines) in the top right corner of your account page. Just below the insights page, there's a new option to make a Nametag. Follow the prompts to customize it to your own aesthetic, and simply pull it up when a guest wants to follow your account. Similarly, you can reverse the nametag function and follow the accounts of your faithful guests by scanning their nametags.

Our restaurant consultants make sure to stay in touch with new technologies to make sure that your restaurant marketing and communications are relevant to your guests. To learn more about how to engage a social media audience, contact a restaurant consultant

Photo by Luke van Zyl on Unsplash

Chatting with Celebrity Chefs

National Restaurant Consultants meets celebrity chef Blais and Samuelsson

By National Restaurant Consultants - September 27, 2018

In the past month, our restaurant consultants have been making the rounds at food expos and restaurant conventions. It's one of the many ways that we ensure our consultants' years of experience don't stale our approach to the restaurant industry. In September, we had consultants both at the Shamrock Food Expo in Phoenix, as well at the Colorado Restaurant Show, held in Denver, and there were exciting outcomes at each convention.

In Phoenix, our local restaurant consultant is Jared Flowers, who has many years of experience working with chefs. He was honored to meet and chat with celebrity chef Richard Blais at Shamrock this year, and he has shared with us why Chef Blais's career is so important to the restaurant industry as a whole. 

"As a chef, I've had the opporutnity to cook with many celebrity chefs. There are so many different styles of cooking, so to say there is one that stands above the rest would be irresponsible," says Flowers. "But Richard Blais is up there! His take on modern American cuisine is inspired and revolutionary."

When it comes to creative ventures in the restaurant industry, a niche helps, and, most importantly, you have to be a risk-taker. You can't make a splash without being willing to try something new. Flowers remarks on Blais's scientific, but friendly approach to cooking that has made him stand out.

"The science he adds to cooking is nothing shrot of genius," he says, "And he's also just a nice guy. I had the opportunity to meet him in between cooking demonstrations at Shamrock, and he was just as cool as I had hoped. It's awesome how he continues to challenge the rules of food."

We also sent restaurant consultants to the Colorado Restaurant Show as sponsors of the "Ask An Expert" area. It was a privilege to field questions from dozens of food service professionals, and to engage in conversations with other speakers.

One such presenter was Marcus Samuelsson, a highly acclaimed chef and owner of New York City restaurants Red Rooster, Streetbird Rotisserie and Marcus B&P. Recognized as one of the industry's top chefs, Samuelsson's background is especially unique because of his formative years in Ethiopia and Sweden. He touched on this in his key note address, as well as a few key takeaways that our consultants plan to highlight for clients.
  1. Remember that your restaurant is a provider to the public. It feeds the public, but also has the opportunity to educate the public about food and nutrition.
  2. Understand the relevance of heritage. A person's roots, there family, are the cornerstones of their humanity, and staying human, celebrating that uniqueness is important to the industry.
  3. Remember your passion for food. Enjoy the work. It's not just a job--the dining industry is experiential and holistic. 
Our restaurant consultants make it a point to stay on top of industry trends and information. For more about what you can do for your restaurant, contact a consultant today. 

Photo by U.S. Embassy Bangkok, Thailand from Thailand (Chef Richard Blais at Baagadin) [CC BY 2.0  (], via Wikimedia Commons

The Workforce of Generation Z

Start gearing up for the next wave of employees to follow the Millennials

By Sarah Ann Noel - September 21, 2018

Our restaurant consultants have spent a lot of time over the last few years researching Millennials and what their generational traits mean for business, both as guests and employees. Millennials have been a generation of strong characteristics, and they have made their mark on how we conduct business and approach practices in dining, marketing, and global living. What has made this generation is their coming-of-age in a digital era, seeing and utilizing the new social media tools, and expanding their reach and voice while the world gets generally smaller.

Now it's time to turn attention to Generation Z, however, as they come up in years and prepare to enter the workforce. This generation will be wholly unique because they've never known a world without these tools and social concepts. They are not a novelty to them, but a norm. Following in the Millennial's footsteps, a generation that serached for work and redefined moneymaking, the younger generation is going to seek a greater sense of stability. They are hungry to make money, and they're ready to work for it.

But they will also lack a sense of social grace expected from older generations. They've grown up on screens, and with role models who have made a living by carving their own paths. If Generation Z is to enter the traditional workforce, these traits will have to be taken into careful consideration, in terms of expectation and training. Young and old will have to work together to find a meet-in-the-middle ground. This generation isn't breaking out against tradition; they were raised without a sense of it.

The Wall Street Journal published an interesting take on this new workforce generation, calling on employers to be ready to adapt. We'll all be learning as we hire, and learning as we begin serving this wave of decision-makers and trendsetters.

What have you seen from Generation Z so far? How will you adapt in your business? Our restaurant consultants are devoted to following trends and making predictions about where to go next. Stay tuned for our end-of-the-year trends forecast; and until then, contact a restaurant consultant today to begin your Generation Z preparations. 

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Denver Food & Wine Festival 2018

National Restaurant Consultants checks out the 14th annual Denver Food and Wine festival

By Sarah Ann Noel - September 10, 2018

We were glad for the chance to send some of our restaurant consultants to the 14th Annual Denver Food & Wine Festival this past weekend. This is a great event for foodies and restaurant owners a like. It's a fun snapshot at the broad range of foods available in the Denver-metro area, with a particular emphasis on drink pairings, from whine to whiskey. 

Here are some photos from the things that caught our eyes. It's always great to get out in the community and celebrate how much a food town Denver truly is.