Food and Restaurant Publications We Love

Where do you get your food and restaurant news?

By Sarah Ann Noel - August 15, 2017

In Denver, we like to celebrate all the good food and culture that exists in the city, and so it can be relatively easy to access solid, interesting restaurant news. Our restaurant consultants' favorite sources for local information on food, drink, and restaurants are 5280 Magazine and the Denver Post. Less frequent local publications, like Nourish and Fellow, often feature fantastic restaurant guides or interviews as well.

There are also great city-by-city resources, like Dining Out Magazine, Thrillist, and, that we like to use in our own town, but also when we travel. When skipping from town-to-town, it can be helpful to look at the featured spots on Yelp and TripAdvisor too. Sometimes, our travels will take us to places we've read about in national publications, like Food & Wine, Bon Appétit, or the Food Network Magazine.

While it's great to read up on all the trending restaurants around the country and the world, we all know that running a restaurant business (and being a restaurant consultant) is much more than the flavor-of-the-month venue. So we stay informed about other news effecting the industry with resources like Nation's Restaurant News, the National Restaurant Association, and Modern Restaurant Management. There are also some great blogs out there--besides this one, of course!--like Uncorkd, Reserve, and Restaurant Den.

If you need to go deeper than what you find in the restaurant news, however, a restaurant consultant can help you with all areas of your restaurant business, from startup to menu development to accounting. Contact a restaurant consultant today!

Photo by Mattias Diesel on Unsplash

Vegan Restaurants in Kansas City

These restaurants focus on a tight niche--and are thriving

By Sarah Ann Noel - August 8, 2017

Throughout the summer, we've sent restaurant consultants to Nashville, Portland, Indianapolis, New York, Kansas City, and beyond. Even when traveling for business, we like to make it a point to visit other restaurants in the areas we're staying. For one, it's a good way to learn about the restaurant culture specific to the cities where we are working with clients. But hey! We're restaurant consultants because we love food, so it's nice to have a little fun too!

One of our consultants was recently in Kansas City, and she visited not one, but two vegan-only restaurants. The food was inventive, themed, and delicious; but we also like seeing restaurant businesses that know how to fine-tune their focuses. Inexperienced business owners may see the vegan market as too niche; but actually learning to trim down your menus so that guests know what they're getting--that's the key. You'll become a go-to spot for loyal groups that way. 

The vegan restaurants in Kansas City were Cafe Gratitude, which stays true to its creed via solar power and community mindedness; and FüD, with lots of raw options and famous jack fruit dishes so that even the vegans can have some Kansas City barbecue. 

If you need assistance with menu development or fine-tuning your business plan, contact our restaurant consultants today! 

Photo via Cafe Gratitude.

Time Management in the Restaurant Industry

The best way to manage your time is to delegate--our consultants share how.

By Sarah Ann Noel- July 28, 2017

In the restaurant industry, while our guests come to slow down, unwind, and be present in time, we find ourselves hustling, rushing, and swirling around to keep up with everything. Running a successful restaurant is a busy profession; and in order for our guests to have their best experiences, it's something we should be doing with an effortless precision. 

Like most things that appear effortless to the untrained eye, a lot happens behind-the-scenes at a restaurant; and time management can be a challenge. The best tactic? Delegation, says National Restaurant Consultant David Kincheloe. "Ask yourself, 'Is this actually the best use of my time? Or can someone else do it?'" he says.

To dig a little deeper into the concepts of delegation in time management, we got some tips from our consultant, Jared Flowers.

"We often find that general managers or owners are ineffective because they're trying to do too much," explains Flowers--exactly why delegation is needed. "We also find, in these situations, assistant managers or shift leaders have low morale and are ineffective because they're not being used to their full potential." 

According to Flowers, here are tips to break this cycle and ensure that you're utilizing delegation for the best time managemnt in your restaurant. 

1. Weekly meetings. Hold a team meeting, once a week, for no more than an hour. Allow no calls or interruptions during these meetings. "It's important that you set the tone by being present, prepared, and focused on only your team," says Flowers. Use the tmeeting to discus financials, upcoming events, maintenance needs/opportunities, and then assign specific tasks. "This is important," Flowers says, not just because it delegates the task, "But at the next weekly meeting, team members can report on their tasks." The whole concept of a weekly meeting keeps everyone on the same page and makes everyone feel a part of the bigger picture.

2. Opening/Closing checklists. "Your checklists should be tools, not tasks," says Flowers. A checklist should spread the responsiblity across the entire leadership team, customized to the needs of your business. This way everyone can pitch in, and everyone can be keeping an eye on the health of the business. "It encourages fresh eyes on multiple areas of the business."

3. Use your employees. In an effort to save management from tedious inspections or line checks, allow the employees to report directly. "Have each employee present their station prior to opening or going home. It gives them a sense of pride and incentive to work hard to prepare."

4. Manager log book. "This is a communication tool, and a very powerful one." This keeps the lines of communication open across the whole management team. When used properly, each member of leadership can stay on-task and organized, knowing what is going on in each aspect o the business.

"One person can simply not do everything," Flowers says. The singular leadership mentality must be eradicated for succesful time management. From there, "Commuincation and delegation are key."

If you have questions about time management or the health of your restaurant's business and work flow, contact a restaurant consultant today! 

Photo by Han Chau on Unsplash

What It Means to Franchise

Our restaurant consultants offer thoughts on when, why, and how to franchise

By Sarah Ann Noel - July 14, 2017

Does your city have a Pie Hole pizza joint? There's one in Denver, but it's not the same spot featured in the photo of Restaurant Hospitality's feature on franchising. The RH feature interviews Lindsay Heffner, owner of Pie Hole in Los Angeles, which has since franchised since it's original opening.

As the article goes on to explain, franchising Pie Hole was a big undertaking, with a lot of unforeseen time commitments and not a lot of return; but it also took the small brand in its earliest stages, and propelled it both into the international market and new concepts. There are now holdings in New York, Qatar, and Dubai.

With an opening like this Cinderella story, franchising, at any stage in the game, might seem to make the most business sense. So we asked one of our senior advisors, Richard Weil, to offer some advice on whether or not to franchise.

"Franchising requires a dedication and commitment to your brand and core competency," Weil says, "And in help your franchisees succeed too." Franchising will absolutely require more work, and to manage the workload, you must have a handle on what you already possess. 

It isn't a cut-and-dry line between success and failure. "Some of the best ideas come from franchisees," Weil continues. "Listen carefully to their input. Often their solutions are based on store experiences that could benefit your systems as a whole." 

The flip side, of course, is that while franchisees can be full of ideas and solutions, there can be an equal number of problems, from the franchisees themselves, as well as from a management standpoint. "You have to be able to say no. You have to maintain the consistency and marketing promises of your brand. Corporate stores and franchise stores must be managed similarly, but separate."

A lot of this is buy-in from the franchisees, Weil explains; so how you build your brand from the start matters most. "Franchisees buy into a system they believe works." But once they do buy-in, you have to make sure they can execute.

"Ultimately, a franchisor must be a great communicator and a great coach. You must be firm, but fair," Weil explains, showcasing how, to franchise, is really more about additional management responsibility than anything else. "The success of both the corporate and franchised stores rests with the franchisor."

If you are considering franchising your establishment, or would like to speak with a restaurant consultant for more information on the topic, contact us today!

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

5 Tips for Dinner Lighting

A few tips to easily create a warm glow for your dinner guests

By Sarah Ann Noel - July 6, 2017

Our restaurant consultants often talk about the mechancis of the restaurant business; but we can't forget that, for guests--our customers--dining out is an experience. To make sure it's a good one, sometimes we need to step outside of the cogs and wheels of operations and take a moment to dress it all up in a beautiful, lovable package.

For dinner guests, lighting becomes an important consideration. Often dinners out are romantic, celebratory, or intimate. To create the right ambience, to make the evening feel special, build a soft, warm glow around your restaurant space. There are many ways to accomplish this, and none are too complicated. It's an easy opportunity to make your space unique and creative too. 

Our consultants have pulled up some inspiration from different restaurant phots online. Click through and be inspired to recreate in your restaurant! Or, if you need help decided what to do or how, contact a restaurant consultant today!

1. It could be as simple as tea lights or votive candles--inexpensive and easy to keep up. (You can always swing for a battery powered option too.)
2. Twinkle lights are more and more popular on patios for outdoor dining; but don't forget, you could hang them inside too. They come in different shapes and sizes to inspire creative arrangements.
3. A simliar spin on decorative lighting, consider making an art installation out of lantern-inspired lighting. Use mason jars for a rustic appeal or consider something metallic for a heavier, fancier look.
4. Though theyr'e a little pricier to maintain, Edison bulbs are becoming a go-to option for the hipster watering holes. Not only do they look vintage-cool, they emit a soft, orangey light for a good after-hours ambience.
5. There is nothing more romantic than a fireplace, and if you have a way to swing it in your restaurant, it will not go unnoticed by your guests. 

Photo by:
  Mikael Kristenson

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.