Restaurant News's "Flavor of the Week"

Small additions and changes that make a big impact on your menus

By Sarah Ann Noel - June 23, 2017

Think one tiny little green or garnish won't make a difference on your plates? Think again!

Restaurant News keeps up with trending menu additions with their "Flavor of the Week" feature. This week, they take a look at arugala--what it is, who knows about it, and how it can change your dishes. 

The feature is one of our restaurant consultants' favorites because it looks at single, easy flavors that matter to those keeping an eye on food trends. Switch out your green side salad for an arugala one, and now each of your sandwich options is a little more on-point. "Flavor of the Week" pinpoints the trends but also breaks down who they are most important to, so you can consider what to take and what to leave for your restaurant. 

It goes to show that menu development rarely has to do with being "all things to all people." The subtlest switch can make all the difference, and make a bolder statement than adding more and more to your menu in an attempt to keep up. Simplicity is key.

Our restaurant consultants are experts in menu development. Often, this is a struggling restaurant's top need--a well formulated menu that focuses on the right things. Contact our consultants today for help with your menu.

Photo by Paul Morris.

The Best Summer Cocktails

Some trending options to jazz up your summer cocktail menus

By Sarah Ann Noel - June 14, 2017

We're a week out from "official" summer, but with schools out in Denver; temps in the 90s in New York; and the sun always shining in L.A., diners are already in a summer state of mind. Make sure you've got the patios open, the outdoor fireplaces roaring, and consider freshening up your menu with a taste of summer.

An easy way to take people there? Consider creating a summer cocktail list. There is no better way to unwind than to take in the late afternoon sun on your favorite patio, with some friends and a great drink--so make your spot the go-to place for delicious cocktails.

Here are a few easy ways to get your happy hour and cocktail menus summer-ready with what's trending this season.

1. Fruity Drinks. Fruit-based cocktails will forever remind people of summertime and vacation. Because they tend to be nostalgic, find ways to dress up the classics for definite crwod pleasers. Here are three ways to make a mojito from Delish; a recipe for boozy sour watermelon slushies, for a resort-like take on a favorite summer flavor; and Food & Wine's version of a Lemoncello Collins

2. Whiskey-drinks. Our Top Trends show the rise of whiskey cocktails, especially as there is a movement from craft breweries to distilleries; but whiskey doesn't necessarily scream "Summer!" Here are a few ways to cool it down, like a seared apricot-ginger cooler or the Martha Stuart version of a mint julep.

3. Gin cocktails. Obviously clear liquors are more common in the warmer seasons, and for the second summer in a row, our restaurant consultants recognize the diners' affinity for gin. The juniper bite is refreshing on a warm night. You could go the standard route with a gin fizz, a gimlet, or a gin and mint--but people can order those on their own. For a fresh gin twist on your cocktail menu, make your own version of Saveur's Gallagher Smash

Our restaurant consultants are experts in menu development and create signature cocktails for restaurants all the time (like this one!). If you need help with your summertime menu, contact a consultant today!

4 Tips for Automating Social Media

How to maintain a social media presence AND get everything else done

By Sarah Ann Noel- June 8, 2017

For now, social media remains an important part of any business marketing strategy--and it is especially important in the restaurant industry. As our restaurant consultants continue to find trends based on the Millenial generation's need and wants, your establishment needs to accommodate their preferred means of communication. 

But "social media" is a broad term, and there are lots of channels to keep an eye on. Many businesses have full-time staff positions dedicated to social media management and engagement. Running a restaurant is a busy, fast-paced endeavor, which can make social media marketing tricky.

Don't let the time commitment scare you from participating, however. There are ways to manage your social media accounts and get everything else done. Trevor Noel, the accounts and partnerships director of Wander Unlimited, a Denver-based creative agency, offers up these tips on how to automate--therefore maximize--your restaurant's social media. 

1. Create a content calendar. Half the battle is figuring out what to post. If you create a content schedule in one shot, you have to spend less time generate posts for each day. "For example," says Noel, "Reserve every Friday for a post about a weekend deal; feature a happy hour cocktail each Monday. Knowing what you have to post makes it easier to get it done quickly." (Denver-based graphic designer Andrea Crouse creates an Instagram planner each month. Sign-up for the free download to plan your aesthetic and schedule--that way you're always on brand and on time.)

2. Streamline your quality control. To have a good social media presence, you have to have exceptional content. Most of what is on the internet, particularly on social platforms, is very visually-driven. Any old iPhone snapshot will not do. To save time in creating interesting, high-quality graphics and promotions, use free stock images or photos from Unsplash to keep your content beautiful but easy. (Skeptical? The image for this post is a free download from Unsplash--found and grabbed for the post in under a minute!)

3. Automate the posting schedule. There are many different platforms for pushing scheduled content to social media accounts. Noel says that Wander Unlimited prefers to use "It's a free service for posting to Instagram. You schedule the instagram post, complete with text and hastags, and then you can share across your other platforms through the app."

4. Make promotion and engagement easy--for you and your followers. Social media doesn't work without followers, and it doesn't work if you don't engage your followers. Often, this is the biggest time requirement in managing an online presence. First, promote your posts. "You can boost posts on Instagram and Facebook on a shoe string budget," says Noel; but you can be very selective about to whom the messaging is promoted. As your following increases, make them long-term followers and turn them into guests with good engagement. "The best way to engage your following with very little output is to host contests," suggests Noel. "Incentivize mentions and geo-tags by doing a contest for a coupon or a gift certificate." Easily choose a winner at random using

Our restaurant consultants highly encourage attention to social media and how it can work to your advantage to build a business. But it isn't the only thing that needs tending to. Use these tips to make your online practices healthy and effective for your business.

Have more questions? Contact a restaurant consultant today.

Business Culture in Your Restaurant

Why your company culture says everything about your business

By Jared Flowers - May 25, 2017

As restaurant consultants, we could easily list the most common mistakes we come across in the restaurant industry. It's easy to do--running a restaurant is very multi-faceted. You have to navigate the unpredictable trends of the market and consumers, while remaining steadfast to good business operation. 

But our senior consultant, Jared Flowers, says there is one aspect that effects the health of your business more than any other: Your company culture. "What does your culture look like?" he asks of his clients. "If you don't know, then it's not healthy."

To read more about assessing and managing your business culture, read Jared's article, "What is the health of your company culture?" on LinkedIn

Or ask our consultants a question. Use the contact form to get in touch today. 

Summer Food Trends

Add these trending items to your summer menus

By Sarah Ann Noel - May 17, 2017

Normally originating in food hubs like New York City, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, and London, trending food items are sweeping the market faster and faster. Perhaps it's a renewed interest in food from the Millennial set; or maybe the use of social media grants merit to food adventuring and documentation. Whatever the reason, "food trends" are a thing, and the self-proclaimed food lovers are on the hunt to find the hottest bites in their city.

Not for the faint of heart, these trending dishes are brightly colored and Instagrammable. Refinery29 created a "food bucket list" for the summer, most options catering to a sweet tooth. From rainbow bagels and over-the-top milkshakes, their finds are guaranteed to look great in your feed--and send you into a sugar coma. Eat This, Not That created a more savory list, with particular focus on exciting new ethnic-inspired trends. 

Truth be told, you don't have to reinvent yourself to appeal to the trendsetters or trendseekers. We've always found, the best way to stay on-point is to be willing to move with the seasons, with just a hint of what's in fashion. Here are a few easy options for dressing up your summer menu, without having to swirl food coloring into everything.
  1. Cocktails. The summer trends will favor flora-inspired tastes, as well as clear liquors. This pink drink, originally from Juniper + Ivy, and featured in Town and Country magazine is a great jumping off point. 
  2. Salads. We're seeing asparagus everywhere--from the base of salads to shavings on the top. Delish has ten great recipes to get you inspired. 
  3. Small plates. The best small plate this summer is flatbread. From there, you can let your imagination run wild--just start with a great crust and incredibly rich toppings. We found a lot of inspiration in this summer appetizers list from the Food Network.
  4. Desserts. People everywhere are craving lemon! We've seen it in drinks, entrees, and desserts; but these cheesecake parfaits in Food and Wine looked too good to not feature. 
What's on your menu for the summer? Need a little help beyond these tips? Our restaurant consultants specialize in menu development and current food trends. Contact us today for ideas! 

Photo by Victoria Marano.

5 Reasons You Need a Restaurant Consultant

Our services are vast, but these are five scenarios you don't want to go alone

By Sarah Ann Noel - May 9, 2017

"I was pretty sure I was a smart restauranteur after having opened 42 [restaurants] in my career," says Shawn Ellis, a National Restaurant Consultants client. "Then I met David and Richard from NRC." 

There are lots of reasons to hire a restaurant consultant, and we offer a broad variety of services. In New York, we've sorted out real estate and design concepts; in Portland, we've opened new restaurants from the ground up; in Denver, we've fixed failing businesses and made them beyond successful.

Maybe you just need a menu consultation--a restaurant consultant can help with that. Maybe you need help navigating social media or the latest interior trends--a restaurant consultant can help with that. But we've got five scenarios that you should never go alone, where a consultant's guidance could make or break the success of your business.

Ellis says, "David and Richard opened my eyes to what I had forgotten, what I had not yet learned, or what I'd chosen to ignore."

If you fall into any of these categories, contact National Restaurant Consultants right now!
  1. You're opening a new concept. Maybe you've been in the food service industry; maybe you've run a business. But if you're trying something new, it's always a good idea to do due diligence--so why not turn to the people who have already done it? New concepts are big risks, which reap big rewards when done right.
  2. You're a chef with a new business venture but no business experience. Chefs are the creative geniuses of the restaurant world--but that doesn't always mean they are equipped for the business side of things. When a chef opens up a restaurant, we always recommend he or she enlist the services of a consultant to navigate financial, real estate, and promotional situations.
  3. You're opening in a new market. It stands to reason, what works in New York won't necessarily work in Los Angeles. And this becomes even more true the further away from metropolitan areas you roam. A restaurant consultant makes it his business to understand the needs and wants of your neighborhood, along with the permitting and license requirements of your city and state.
  4. Your restaurant is not making money. Maybe you have experience in all of these areas, but your restaurant is not turning a profit. You can't be a business that doesn't make a profit. Our consultants can come into existing restaurants and determine the budget leaks, plus provide tangible, workable solutions to those issues.
  5. You cannot describe your restaurant concept in a few words or under a single genre. One of the bigger problems we find in existing restaurants is that they are trying to be all things to all people. A thriving restaurant business operates under an "elevator pitch" mentality. If you can't explain your restaurant to guests in a few words--or if they have to flip through pages and pages of menu items--your business isn't focused. Our consultants are experts at identifying the strengths of your concept and helping you to market just those strengths--a simpler road to success.
These are all important reasons to contact a restaurant consultant; but we offer expertise in other areas as well. Read our full list of services and then contact a consultant today. As Ellis says, "Even the best athletes need a coach, even the healthiest people need a doctor sometimes--and even the smartest restauranteurs need a consultant from time-to-time."

Summer Food Festivals

Consider yourself a true foodie? Here are food festivals across the U.S. this summer!

By Sarah Ann Noel - May 4, 2017

One of the great things about a career as a restaurant consultant? Research can be really fun! It's not just for the professionals though. If you consider yourself a true foodie, then perhaps your should plan for some destination eating this summer. We've hunted down lists of food festivals across the United States and Canada this summer--and of course, Colorado has it's gems. But we found hot spots in Tennessee, Texas, Alaska, and California too!

First things first, you may know of the Aspen Food & Wine Classic; but there are a long list of other Colorado food and wine events worth looking into. 

Fodorś Travel narrows your options down to ten festivals--all top knotch to make the list. If you need a little more to work from, consider these 24 awesome food events, as named by Food & Wine.

And if you're feeling ambitious, National Geographic has found a fantastic food event in every state in the U.S. this summer. Read the full list here!

This sort of research is fun; but, of course, there is the business of food too. Whatever your restaurant business needs, contact one of our restaurant consultants today--we'll take a load off so you can do more food travel!

Photo by Roman Kraft.

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.