Engage Your Audience On Instagram Stories

National Restaurant Consultants says, beat the algorithms with Instagram Stories

By David Kincheloe - August 16, 2018

Like it or not, social media is the medium of the times, and our restaurant consultants think your restaurant should use it to your fullest advantage. Through hashtags and geotagging, Instagram is home to like-minded communities--communities of people who might LOVE what you have to offer, if only they knew. Sure, social media is confusing, time consuming, and a hopeful shot-in-the-dark; but it also has changed the restaurant industry

We've taken you through the gamete of the platforms you can use and what is best for restaurants. And like anything else rooted in technology, those things have changed. Transformed. Progressed. Phased out. Not too long ago, Instagram changed their algorithms. Users no longer view content in a chronological feed, rather are fed content from the accounts with which the have or are most likely to interact. The greatly affects the reach of your static account--your grid. You can pay to boost posts (a feature added since Facebook took over); but it's really most important to make sure your grid is a brilliant snapshot of your restaurant brand and experience. Pay for reach, blast fantastic content, and, according to Later, make sure you're set up like a business using social media: Enable the business account. Use the geotags. Engage users with hashtags and comments. 

Aside from a professional account, the next best way to increase your reach, in spite of the new Instagram algorithms? Use those Instagram Stories! More and more, social media is going the way of video. And with a more temporary life, disappearing video mediums, like Instagram Stories and Snapchat, you can be more personal, more casual, and really communicate a brand personality. You're not convinced? Here are 13 Reasons Why Instagram Stories is it!

Our branding and social media teams can help your restaurant with your online presence and Instagram strategies. Contact a restaurant consultant to find out more. And while you're at it, follow us on Instagram and Facebook!

Photo by Rob Hampson on Unsplash

Back-to-School Happy Hour

Kickoff the 2018 school year with a family-friendly happy hour menu

By National Restaurant Consultants - August 9, 2018

It's that time of year! In the Midwest, kids are heading back to class; near our Colorado offices, students have only a week or so before the first day; and maybe the east coast kids get until Labor Day; but the empty school supply aisles at Targets everywhere are telling: it's time for back-to-school.

While the summer season can bring restaurants big waves of new customers, with the return to the school year comes a sense of normalcy that is sometimes comforting to guests. You may see a more steady attendance at dinner time or filling up your weekend reservations. Diners will be more structured in their routines--and they'll also be busy with clubs, programs, and classes, which means grabbing a bite while they're out and about.

Have a little fun with this time of year, and offer a celebratory menu! May our restaurant consultants suggest an apple-inspired theme in honor of teachers everywhere, and something that will please both parents and kids alike. 

1. Pour a tall apple juice for the kids dreading the start of classes, and maybe something a little stiffer for the parents who are so ready to send them back. Here are a few apple-based cocktails to try, via Serious Eats.

2. Surprise your guests with a savory apple snack. Smitten Kitchen makes apple and cheddar scones that are crowd pleasers for sure!

3. Don't make dessert fancy, just go for that all-American tradition that makes everyone feel good: Martha Stewart's apple pie!

We found some bonus apple recipes on the A Night Owl blog, and don't forget our restaurant consultants' ideas for kid-friendly tables to keep the good times rolling. 

Whether you need great ideas for a special event or time of year, or maybe your restaurant business needs some everyday help, our restaurant consultants are experts in every facet of the industry. Contact us today!

Photo by Cel Lisboa on Unsplash

How To Keep Your Employees Happy

National Restaurant Consultants say, if you have high employee turnover, the problem could be you

By David Kincheloe - August 1, 2018

Our restaurant consultants know that one of the biggest challenges facing restaurant owners and managers, especially in big, transient cities like Denver, New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, is hanging on to good staff. It takes time and money to interview, hire, and train employees, and if there is high turnover, that's a major loss on the business side.

Many managers are quick to blame turnover on bad, undedicated employees; but our consultants say, that's actually almost never the case with employee retention issues.

"Most employees want to do a good job," says NRC president David Kincheloe. "And the problem with employee loss usually has more to do with training and management."

Kincheloe says, if there is an issue with an employee, ask these three questions:
  1. Did this employee understand the expectations?
  2. Was this employee properly trained to meet those expectations?
  3. Has the employee received the tools necessary to carry out the tasks?
"When there is a problem, chances are, the answer to at least one of these questions is a no," says Kincheloe. "If you can't say that you've set your employees up in this way, then the problem isn't with the employee. It's you."

Recently, our Phoenix restaurant consultant shared an interesting AZ Central article by Paula Hubbs Cohen. Cohen write about the top 2018 companies to work for, and breaks down why they have high employee retention. Of course, articles about happy employees are nothing new, but our consultants were drawn to a list of key drivers included in the article, and how those ten items relate to the questions we tell restaurant managers they must be able to answer. Cohen's list included points such as:
  • feeling valued at work
  • having confidence in the leadership
  • being treated with respect
  • and making good use of skills and abilities
(Read the full article and list here.)

Managing employees, ultimately, comes down to leadership skills and operational systems. These are things our restaurant consultants are experts in. Save yourselves time and money by making sure you're adequately training and valuing your employees. Contact a restaurant consultant and stop your employee turnover today.

Photo by Crew on Unsplash

The American Colony in Israel

A peek into our restaurant consultant's trip to Israel and a fine dining experience

By National Restaurant Consultants - July 26, 2018

Recently, National Restaurant Consultant president David Kincheloe took a tour through Israel. While the holy land tour was much more than a culinary experience, when your work is the restaurant industry, you can't help but take a peek into what's new in cuisine in different cultures.

At a recommendation, Kincheloe visited the upscale American Colony in Jerusalem. The restaurant has received high praise, and Kincheloe says it holds up. 

"We sampled the open-faced kibbeh and the best falafel I've ever tasted," he said. "Sure, it was on the pricey side, but it was well worth it for the experience. And the service was great."

Of course, our restaurant consultants talk a lot about how a restaurant experience isn't just about the food. That proved true especially at American Colony, where the real draw is the setting.

"What really topped it off," Kincheloe recalls, "was the courtyard and open-air garden."

Our restaurant consultants travel all over the world, and we take notes whereever we go. Our decades of experience spans the globe and all varieties of restaurants, and we are proud to use that expertise to help our clients succeed. Contact a restaurant consultant today and find out how we can improve your restaurant business.

Red Hen and Politics for Restaurants

National Restaurant Consultants shares advice after the Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Red Hen fallout

By National Restaurant Consultants - July 20, 2018

In the wake of fallout for the Red Head in Lexington, Virginia, after the restaurant refused service to White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, our restaurant consultants wanted to share thoughts and advice about the place of politics in a restaurant environment.

Obviously, as business owners and citizens of our respective countries, we all have opinions about the current political arena. But we have to ask questions about how we express those opinions, especially in our places of business.

National Restaurant Consultants president David Kincheloe says, first and foremost, consider the industry. 

"As individuals who have chosen the hospitality industry, it's important to remember that the profession is serving others. Politics should have nothing to do with how someone is welcomed and served in a restaurant. Politics should be checked at the door."

The fact is, drawing political lines around individual guests is bad business. The Red Hen actually closed for a two-week hiatus after their refusal to serve Ms. Sanders sparked and fueled an explosive, polarized debate about the political picture in business. 

A restaurant owner should be focused on the overall experience for all guests in the restaurant. "The sole goal should be to ensure that every guest that walks into the restaurant is treated with respect and given service with a smile," Kincheloe says. 

Our restauarant consultants stay on top of industry legislation and governmental developments that affect business; but that is the only necessary marriage of your business and politics. If you have questions about how to balance the political arena with your business, reach out to a restaurant consultant. We create black-and-white plans designed to make your business thrive.

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5 Ideas for Kid-Friendly Tables

Eliminate the kids menu hassle and waste with these options for fun, easy pre-meal entertainment

By Sarah Ann Noel - July 13, 2018

Our restaurant consultants have written before about the importance of kid-appeal in your restaurant to help make your guests comfortable. A large percentage of your guests will be families and groups with kids. Keeping a few tools on-hand to mitigate a family-friendly experience makes it easier on you, the family, and your other guests.

But it can be a hassle and a large cost to stock and handout special kids menus and crayons or other toys. It generates a lot of waste and extra costs in your budget. So our restaurant consultants have come up with a few options that lessen waste and spending, while still making for a welcoming family environment. In fact, these ideas actualy have a more personal touch than a generic activity paper, and can be a great way to increase the neighborhood vibe of your restaurant.

1. Book baskets. Start simple and crowdsource a broad range of kids hardback books. If you need to make purchases to fill in your collection, check used book stores and secondhand childrens stores for affordable options. Ten or so books in a small basket are perfect to set in the middle of a table of kids.

2. Pizza dough. Set aside small portions of your day's pizza dough and deliver small balls to each kid waiting for their meal. It's as good as playdough and doesn't require any outside resources. (If your restaurant doesn't serve pizza, consider a simple saltdough recipe.) 

3. Table games. Instead of sending a few pre-drawn tic-tac-toe boards to the table, supply the table with games. They could be a permanent installation on each table, not only fun for kids, but adults, too. A great example is the peg game on every Cracker Barrel table--iconic. Or, consider a library of simple table games that whole families can "checkout" while they wait.

4. Conversation sticks. This requires a little up-front effort, but supply tables with jars of "conversation sticks." You can use large popsicle sticks or a predesigned option, like these dice. It's a great way to keep kids entertained but without disconnecting them from the table. Engage whole families at once.

5. Make Your Own Meal options. Let the kids participate in the meal making. For kids meals, consider things like mini-pizzas, tacos, or sandwiches, and deliver the pieces ahead of time. Let the kids "decorate" their pizza, top their tacos, or build their sandwiches to keep them occupied until the adult meals arrive. (This especially works for parents who prefer the kids meals to precede their own.)

What ideas do you employ in your restaurant? Do you have a lot of kids and families? To discuss these and other options--both for kid menus and adults--contact a restaurant consultant today. There's always a way to make your restaurant even better.

Photo by Daiga Ellaby on Unsplash

La Bottega

National Restaurant Consultants enjoy great Italian food in the heart of Vail Village

By Sarah Ann Noel - June 13, 2018

Our restauarnt consultants love working with Vail Resorts, and are proud to have had a longstanding relationship with the organization. But it's also nice to escape to the mountains simply for pleasure, and earlier this week, some of our consultants spent the day in Vail Village. It's hard to go wrong with food in Vail--try lunch at Up the Creek, and definitely make the short trek to Lionshead for a hearty breakfast at The Little Diner.

For dinner, our consultants chose traditional Italian at La Bottega. With ample dining space, including a beautiful patio right in the heart of Vail Village, La Bottega has been serving up a broad range of warm, Italian dishes for several decades now.

We loved seeing a sign out front for a drink special--it was a quick way to draw in all the passersby yet to make their dining decisions, and it convinced our consultants, too: a glass of the housemade sangria each. For an appetizer, try the baked goat cheese with garlic crostini. The consultants selected pasta dinners as entrees, and offer a big recommendation for the truffle gnocchi especially. And you can't order an Italian dinner and skip dessert--the famous tiramisu lives up to its reputation.

While we know delicious food is key, what made the La Bottega experience so exceptional was the service. The wait staff was quick, knowledgeable, and didn't deliver a single word without a smile. Sitting in the the back dining room, surrounded by dark wooden tables, opulent red curtains, and a view of the village outside, one might imagine that they were dining out in Tuscany.

If you get the chance to visit, we highly recommend La Bottega. For more ideas about what makes a restaurant space great, contact a restaurant consultant today.

Photo by Jorge Zapata on Unsplash

Anthony Bourdain's Passing

Honoring one of the most celebrated chefs of our time

By Sarah Ann Noel - June 8, 2018

It is with heavy hearts that we mourn the loss of the restaurant industry treasure, Anthony Bourdain. Bourdain passed away in his hotel room in France, as it was reported by CNN earlier this morning; and now fellow chefs, restaurant owners, travelers, writers, and food-lovers all mourn the loss of this revered man.

Known for his food and travel writing and programming, like the book Kitchen Confidential and his CNN program "Parts Unknown," Bourdain brought all of the best and most daring parts of dining around the world to the masses. He was known to inspire wanderlust and an adventurous spirit, encouraging everyone to see the world around them, and to experience it. For Bourdain, that was through food and the culture that is created through food.

"Move," Bourdain was quoted. "As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. Walk in someone else's shoes or at least eat their food. Open your mind, get up off the couch, move."

Bourdain's legacy will largely include how accessible he made the world to others, and the importance the role of food and dining plays in understanding cultures that are different from our own.


Simple Menus for Summer Crowds

3 reasons to pare down your summer menu offerings

By Sarah Ann Noel - May 30, 2018

With the Memorial Day holiday behind us now, we see all the markers of summer--school is out in Golden, where our main office is located; and the splash pads are turned on in Denver. In New York, our friends have made their escapes to the eastern beaches, leaving the city practically empty. Soon our consultants will travel to Chicago and Nashville where the Midwestern humidity is starting to creep into the air--but it won't keep the crowds away from all the al fresco dining and events.

National Restaurant Consultants aren't the only ones hitting the road--we're about to begin June and professionals will ramp up travel for food festivals and openings; families will embark on great vacations across the country. While summer may mean a decline in your regulars or in a steady flow of locals, chances are, you'll see increases in new guest traffic that matches travel trends.

Our restaurant consultants are menu development experts, and at this time of year, this is our best menu advice: keep it simple. 
  1. It makes for happier guests. When diners are trying out a new spot or just passing through, they'd rather it be an easy, pleasant experience. Trimming down a menu to simple offerings of your specialties make the choice clear--and especially for someone visiting you for the first time.
  2. It drives the price point. When you only have a few dishes of the same caliber, it is easier for you to set your price points. There's no need to "please everyone" with your menu. Simply decide where to be and what to specialize in, and do exactly that. Summer is an especially easy time to do this because of the abundance of produce and seasonal offerings.
  3. It sets a seasonal tone. In the summer, appetites are lighter and taste buds are nostalgic. You're already keeping your costs down buying up seasonal produce, so find a way to arrange your menu around a few of those ingredients offered in abundance. Diners-in-the-know prefer seasonal menus, and so the expectation is that it will be smaller and specialized.
Because our consultants are experts in menu development, we can take a look at what you've got and tailor it with small adjustments so that your guests are happier and you're making the most money possible from your restaurant business. Contact a restaurant consultant today and get your summer menus into shape.

Photo by Igor Ovsyannykov on Unsplash

8 Important Items for Your Restaurant

National Restaurant Consultants partners with Webstaurant to review the major ticket items that are worth investing in for your restaurant.

By David Kincheloe - May 21, 2018

One way that our restaurant consultants like to expand our knowledge-base and help clients is by getting to know other businesses and publications through partnership. Our consultants have used WebstaurantStore on some of our client projects; and we have also linked to their site from time-to-time because of their relevant content. This week, Webstaurant shares with National Restaurant Consultants readers directly with their list of the top eight needs for outfitting your restaurant.

Opening a new restaurant requires juggling a huge number of tasks: designing your kitchen, decorating your dining area, training staff, and more. Of course, you’ll need to make sure that you cover the basics—the essential restaurant equipment every new operation needs to be successful. It’s critical to spend time weighing and exploring your options to ensure you’re purchasing the best-fit equipment for your restaurant’s needs. Here are the top eight pieces you’ll need before opening your doors to the public.
  1. Restaurant Furniture. Your restaurant’s décor not only makes a statement about the type of business you want to run, it can also have an effect on the spending and consumption of your patrons! The furniture you choose affects the overall ambience of your restaurant. Choosing the right furniture will allow you to seat guests comfortably and stylishly. Make sure that the choices you make are on-brand and that they speak to the type of establishment you want to create.
  2. Restaurant Signage. What kind of image do you want to present to the public? The signage in your restaurant will enhance your visibility and  differentiate your brand from your competitors. Your signage is more than just a billboard advertising your restaurant—you can post outdoor menus, specials, carry-out or dine-in options, and more. Think strategically about color and placement to ensure maximum impact.
  3. Kitchen Supplies. A well-stocked kitchen is the restaurateur’s best friend. You’ll want to make sure you are stocking the most useful kitchen supplies to maximize your space and profitability. This umbrella category covers all of your tools for prep work, maintenance, dispensing, and serving. Buy your products from a reputable manufacturer, and invest in high-quality tools so that you’ll be able to prep, create, and serve food in perpetuity. The durability of your tools can make a huge difference!
  4. Commercial Grills. When looking for a commercial grill, pay close attention to the specs—you’ll want one that can meet the demands of your restaurant’s capacity. Grills are versatile and come with a wide range of options in numerous sizes and styles to accommodate your restaurant’s unique needs, from commercial induction griddles to small charbroilers suitable for food trucks and concession stands.
  5. Restaurant Dinnerware. Something as simple as dinnerware can make quite a statement. Are you an upscale establishment seeking to cement your place as the go-to restaurant for a Friday night date, or an eco-conscious food truck service looking for a biodegradable or compostable option? Either way, the type of dinnerware you choose for your dining space can speak volumes about the type of brand you’re creating. It’s often a good idea to get inspiration from restaurants within your niche, but be sure that you settle on an aesthetic that speaks to the unique experience you plan to create for your diners.
  6. Refrigeration Equipment. Commercial refrigeration equipment and commercial freezers are critical to a restaurant’s operations, with every pub, deli, and grocery store having particular needs to service their clientele. Blast chillers allow you to prepare large amounts of food well in advance and thaw it when you’re ready to use it. Ice machines and storage bins offer functionality and convenience for your operation. Needs for commercial refrigeration vary greatly between types of businesses and should be specified and installed with care.
  7. Commercial Shelving. For storage and organization, your establishment’s shelving will see a lot of use. Ensure that you’re getting high-quality equipment so that your shelves stand the test of time, and that they’re rated for the amount of weight you’ll need to store without buckling or bending. Rust-resistant shelves often feature an epoxy coating that will stand up to the conditions of your back-of-house, with many rated to withstand the temperatures of walk-in coolers and freezers.
  8. Grease Traps. Although grease traps aren’t the most glamorous appointment in outfitting your restaurant, they are critically important. They protect your pipes and drainage systems from becoming clogged and unusable due to the accumulation of waste solids any food operation is likely to produce. Remember when choosing a grease trap system that you’re safeguarding your business from costly repairs down the road and invest in something that will stand up to your business’s use.
Thanks to WebstaurantStore for their contribution and partnership. If you have questions about outfitting your restaurant, contact a National Restaurant Consultant today.

Photo by 
Ali Yahya on Unsplash