National Restaurant Consultants for Milwaukee Brewers

Restaurant Consultant Jared Flowers works with successful baseball organization to update Arizona training facility

By Richard Weil - January 16, 2020

National Restaurant Consultants recently worked with the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Club, L.P. Maryville, AZ training facility to create a state-of-the-art food service facility and new integrated wellness menu. The Brewers baseball team is a very successful organization, dedicated to the well being of the entire outfit, starting with nutrition. This means providing high-quality, appealing, delicious and nutritious foods at their Maryville training facility. The task was undertaken by National Restaurant Consultants (NRC) Vice President Jared Flowers who also resides in the “Valley of the Sun”, heading NRC’s Phoenix offices. 

Jared notes, “NRC was contacted at the end of the 2019 baseball season by strength and conditioning management to redesign, remodel, coordinate hiring key management team and staff and to create new menus within a 90-day window. Happily for the team, the time pressures on the project were because the Brewers were in the hunt for their division championship and playoffs this past fall." This cemented the project needs and deadlines.

"Unfortunately, the Brewers did not go as deep into the playoffs as they had aspired," Jared adds, "But the organization remained steadfast in having the new facility up and running the first of 2020.”

Jared and NRC were up to the timeline challenges. Through NRC's vast network in the marketplace, the reopening of the food service training facility happened on time and on budget, to the delight of the Brewers management team and now players. 

Josh Seligman, Brewers strength and conditioning manager, said, "
We are really grateful for the work Jared has done under the extreme timeline and obstacles along the way. Certainly still have work to do, but we couldn’t have been as successful as we have been up to this point without all his hard work."  

“Unreal job with the kitchen and food situation. An absolute game changer for the organization!”  added Jake McKinley, president of player development.

We couldn’t be more proud of Jared’s accomplishments and his ability to create “game changing” solutions for our clients. 

Want to see the same results in your restaurant or business? Contact a restaurant consultant today.

Compliance Changes in Effect Now

January 1 meant three new compliance changes that must be in place at your restaurant

By Sarah Ann Noel - January 9, 2020

This is a reminder that as of January 1, new 2020 compliance changes are in effect in Colorado. This includes the following: 
  1. Minimum wage raises. The state wage is rising to $12, which means the tipped minimum wage will increase to $8.98.
  2. Federal changes to overtime go into effect. Employees must be paid a salary of AT LEAST $684 per week (which equates to $35,568 annually) to be EXEMPT from overtime.
  3. Wage theft becomes a felony. Beginning January 1, 2020, Colorado employers that refuse to pay a wage claim, falsely deny a wage claim with the intent not to pay, or underpay a wage claim to harass or defraud the person owed the wage will be liable for theft, which constitutes a felony if the amount of the unpaid wages exceeds $2,000. 
For more information about these changes and how to ensure your restaurant or business's compliance, visit the Colorado Restaurant Association website or contact a restaurant consultant today. 

Happy 2020 from National Restaurant Consultants

By Sarah Ann Noel - December 27, 2019

From all of us at National Restaurant Consultants, at the Denver offices, the Phoenix offices, and in remote locations around the United States, we want to wish you a wonderful holiday season. We have a had a wonderful year with our restaurant consultants and restaurant clients, and we look forward to what is to come in 2020.

To get a jump on your restaurant plans in the new year, don't forget how much a restaurant consultant can help with. Contact us today and let's make a plan for a great 2020 for us all. 

Holiday Hours + Restaurants Open At Christmas

National Restaurant Consultants offers insight to holiday hours and closures

By Sarah Ann Noel - December 19, 2019

Next week, it's Christmas, and all across the United States and beyond, families and friends will be gathering for holiday festivities. Generally, when we think of holiday celebrations, it's home that comes to mind; but the truth is, festivities happen anywhere. Especially in urban areas, like New York, Chicago, or San Francisco, where residential square footage is harder to come by, people may prefer to host their celebrations outside of their homes. 

When it comes to running a business, hours of operation can be a challenge. You have to weigh the costs of remaining open and paying holiday pay with the business you'll bring in. You have to consider quality of life and who needs time with their families versus who might appreciate the extra hours and earnings. But there is business to be had during the days of Christmas. In fact, Good Housekeeping compiled a list of nationally-known restaurants that remain open over the holidays to serve guests looking for an alternative to in-home parties and dinners. 

So which way does the scale tip? National Restaurant Consultants President David Kincheloe recognizes the positive points on both side of the argument. 

"It can drive in some extra revenue for sure," Kincheloe says. "But it can be demotivating to work on Christmas." 

Ultimately, our restaurant consultants say, it's not worth it. "There can be a huge detrimental effect on your employees. WIth labor being so hard to come by, the cons outweigh the pros. Staying open on Christmas isn't worth the potential extra revenue," Kincheloe advises.

Whether you're open next week or not, from our team to yours, have a wonderful holiday. We look forward to more discussion and food in 2020!

Photo by Rifqi Ali Ridho on Unsplash

Denver's Colt & Gray Set to Close After Ten Years on the Scene

National Restaurant Consultants analyzes rising real estate costs and the trend cycle of Denver dining

By Sarah Ann Noel - December 13, 2019

For years now, we've watched the Denver Boom morph this city's neighborhoods and culture, pushing out even into the surrounding areas. The driving force behind much of the change--socially, culturally--begins with a shift in real estate. As cities grow and change, the real estate markets dictate how people live, work, and play; and it also drives how business is and should be conducted.

Recently, Colt & Gray, a Denver mainstay in finer dining, which also offered specialty cocktails and a butcher, announced that it would close before 2020, after a decade-long run. In urban areas, it's not unusual for restaurants to fall into and out of step with whatever is trending or "of the moment". However, ten years is no short amount of time to find celebrated success, only to bring it to a close. 

Located off of Platte Street on the northwest side of downtown Denver, Colt & Gray was situated in one of the hottest neighborhoods in this last decade. Other small businesses and restaurants have come and gone as the skyscrapers, apartments, and co-working spaces climb higher into the sky above what onces was a smaller commercial district. The appeal of the neighborhood is the neighborhood itself, first and foremost, home to other desirable restaurants, bars, shopping, and high-end convenience. There is also easy access to the interstates, public transportation, and the business district of downtown. 

So when a popular restaurant finds success in a booming area of town, why does it close after ten years?

"Real estate," says National Restaurant Consultants CEO Richard Weil. "Lease rates throughout the country continue to rise along with many overreaching lease language. Operators both with new leases and renewals are facing the challenges of being able to stay under 10 percent occupancy costs."

It costs money to be seen, to be in the hotbed of what's happening--and that's on top of what it costs simply to be in business. 

"There other key factors relating to the rising costs of doing business," Weil continues, "Ranging from wages, to lease rates to even the cost of 'refreshing' a restaurants interior with new wall coverings, lighting, and staying at the top of the mind of food goers." 

For restaurants, it begs the question: are you in the business of running an eatery or are you in the business of staying relevant?  

"The food service and hospitality industry does require attention to details beyond the menu," says Weil.

However, he adds that it's less about trend management and more about good business, best practices, and sticking with what works and keeps guests coming back.

"We work with hundreds of clients throughout the country as a 'refreshing set of eyes'," Weil explains, making the point that sometimes you need an expert from outside the trend to really put things in perspective. "Our Operations Analysis produces thousands of dollars in savings for every client we work with, and we offer detailed reviews on lease negotiations, prime costs, vendor agreements, internaal operations, and much more."

Some restaurants will come and go. Such is the nature of the business cycle, and especially in growing cities, people can be fickle. Still, business is business and a restaurant consultant can help keep your business within that mentality. If you'd like to speak to National Restaurant Consultants about an Operations Analysis or any other concern, contact us here.

Photo by Craig Whitehead via Unsplash.

Christmas Cocktails for Holiday Menus

National Restaurant Consultants rounds-up libations for all holiday celebrations

By Sarah Ann Noel - December 3, 2019

The county capitol looks like a Denver wonderland! There are Christmas parades marching the streets of Golden on the weekends! Soon we'll watch New York City light the Rockafellar tree. And even in Los Angeles, where it might never snow, Christmas lights are starting to dot the palm trees. Oh yes--it's the most wonderful time of year! It's here!

Each season, we love the chance to dress up menus as a means for getting into the spirit--and helping our guests do so too. The best place for that is the cocktail menu, even just a happy hour special. It's not hard to make a festive drink, either in appearance or flavor or both! We have searched our favorite recipe sites for this year's holiday drinking trends, and here's what we've come up with. Apply an idea to your holiday menu, or let this inspire a new, custom cocktail!

Country Living has 55 Christmas drinks to explore in this collection, but it was the Driven Snow Cocktail that first caught our eye. Sweet and spicy: it sounds like the holiday season in a glass!

With a slideshow of 21 drinks, Woman's Day put the focus on entertaining--which is basically what sporting fancy cocktails at your bar is. These specialty cocktails put an emphasis on style, and we think the hint of plum in this Low Country Pousee-Rapière does that especially.

The always delicious Delish has 41 cocktails to explore for inspiration; but might we draw special attention to a PECAN PIE MARTINI??

Bon Appetit promises their cocktails will get you through the holiday drama; and who knows about that drama better than a bartender? All of these put a spin on holiday punches and are bound to please!

The most modern versions of all your favorite holiday classics are up on, the perfect reminder for all that makes people feel nostalgic!

Still need help making plans for the holidays? Our restaurant consultants are here to help! Just contact us today!

Paying with RAIL

National Restaurant Consultants takes a look at pay-at-the-table payments systems

By Sarah Ann Noel - November 26, 2019

Recently, our restaurant consultants visited a tried-and-true Denver favorite and had breakfast at Snooze. Known for their pancake flights and equally delicious savory dishes, dining at Snooze is also an experience beyond the food. There's the atmosphere, with the Jetsons-like tables and quirky accents; the ever-friendly staff, knowledgable and ready with a smile, even in the wee hours of the morning; and the perfect blend of expected favorites with new, seasonal menu items. 

During our last visit, we were met with yet another happy element of the Snooze dining experience--the TableSafe Rail payment system.  According to Toast, pay stations and pay-at-the-table systems are on the rise. Square estimates that 32 percent of diners think restaurants are still behind in tableside terminals, however, despite the many factors that make them both more convenient, as well as safer for both business and consumer.

As technology and the restaurant industry continue to integrate, accepting and utilizing the technology only makes your establishment more appealing to guests. It demonstrates a modern knowledge that keeps your restaurant relevant, while providing a seamless, cohesive experience that encourages return customers.

Our restaurant consultants have worked on many technology integrations in restaurants and are happy to assist your business. Contact a restaurant consultant today.

Updated Fact Sheet for US Department of Labor Wage Exemptions

Restaurants must comply with all pay definitions and exemptions

By Sarah Ann Noel - November 20, 2019

Effective at the first of the year, the US Department of Labor has revised regulations within the wage and hour division that directly affect definitions of pay and applicable exemptions.

"The new overtime pay for exempt employees rate has been long debated and the increase by the Department of Labor (DOL) is a modest increase," states National Restaurant Consultants CEO Richard Weil. So while the changes are not a surprise to any restaurant owner or employer, now businesses must prepare to execute. "The reminder for all operators is to make sure you are in full compliance as of January 1, 2020 relating to functions and duties of exempt staff and that your compensation meets the new thresholds."

The updated regulations, which can be reviewed in this fact sheet, have been held in contention throughout this year's wage debate; but restaurant owners should be aware, not only of the official changes listed here, but the fallout changes after the new regulations take affect.

"There is news that Illinois will be eliminating the tip credit, with Maryland and Virginia possibly following suit," explains David Kincheloe, National Restaurant Consultants president, adding that, without a tip credit, even with increased wages, minimum-wage restaurant employees could end up losing money from their current earning levels. 

Additionally, this will change expectations for new managers.

"It creates a problem for companies looking to promote from within as most shift leaders would be taking a pay cut to take an entry level manager position," says NRC consultant Jared Flowers.

Restuarant owners and managers are advised to understand the full breadth of the changes, as well as how it will create internal and hiring changes within their restaurant and management structures. National Restaurant Consultants are kept abreast on all legistlative and regulatory changes and are experts in implementing new expectations within existing businesses. If you need assistance budgeting and structuring staff as these updates take hold, contact a restaurant consultant today.

National Restaurant Consultants for Menu Development

Why placing an expert on your menu design is crucial for business success

By Sarah Ann Noel - November 12, 2019

When you're in Seattle, you probably expect to eat sea food. Down in Nashville? You're looking for some southern home cooking. There's nothing better than some cajun-something during a trip to New Orleans, or some barbecue from Kansas City (or Texas, depending on your taste). 

Of course, it makes geographical sense that certain parts of the country incite a craving for certain genres of food. But the same reasons why that work--seasonal motivators, natural resources, culture and tradition--can drive a good menu anywhere. A menu should reflect more than just a region, based on a number of factors, and it just so happens that our restaurant consultants are experts in menu development.

Your restaurant's menu design can affect both the guest experience and they're likeliness to revisit or recommend, as well as your restaurant's earnings. Somtimes, it's as simple as designating your audience's favorites: comfort foods, hot ticket items, or something unexpected that they can count on when they visit you. For example, 55 percent of people claim they would order breakfast when it was offered all day long on a menu.

Mostly, when it comes to creating a cravable menu, variety and change are important. While consistency is key in creating a brand, menu updates are important to hold your customers' attention. More than 30 percent of restaurants report updating their menus monthly, and 24 percent do seasonally. 

Crafting seasonally-driven menus is healthier, and this is something that matters more and more to restaurant patrons. 61 percent of people said that they would choose a healthier restaurant option now, whereas two years ago, they' wouldn't have considered it. 

Seasonal menus are also better for the environment, drawing on resources local to your restaurant's region and not forcing food out of season. 51 percent of diners polled said that they would be more likely to visit an eco-friendly restaurant, just based on efforts toward sustainability and conservation.

The good news is, contrary to some rumors, writing an environmentally-friendly menu can actually save you money. Remember, shaving off a few cents per dish can equal large savings at the end of a budget term. These days, restaurants are finding small ways to make big changes, for the environment and for their budgets. 28 percent of restaurants are repurposeing their food trimmigs; 25 percent are composting; and 26 percent are offering a variety of portion sizes on their menus, appealing both to the eco-friendly and the health conscious. 

Recognizing and acknowledings trends is an important part of menu development and running a restaurant business that succeeds in this economic climate. Our restaurant consultants are informed of trends but have decades of experience in best business practices. The two combined mean that we can help you acheive a menu that is fresh, appealing, and not only saves you money, but makes you money. 

Photo by Tayla Brand on Unsplash
Stats via Toast

Restaurants Give Back

National Restaurant Consultants recommends fundraising and charity for your community this holiday season

By Sarah Ann Noel - November 7, 2019

The sun sets earlier and temperatures are dipping to harsh overnight conditions here in mild Denver, not to mention in eastern cities like New York and northern towns with lake effects, like Minneapolis and Chicago. The nights are cold and long, and this should be enough to draw our attention to those in need. Fortunately, these weather changes align with the holiday season, not too far in front of us now, when people open their hearts and search for ways to give.

Restuarants are uniquely positioned in that they are local businesses and also community establishments. Restaurants are the mainstays of neighborhoods, the meetings places for family and friends, which creates opportunity to unite people in a common goal. Have you considered how your restaurant might lead the charge in giving back this holiday season?

According to this blog post by Wiatt Marketing, Nearly nine-in-10 (88 percent) consumers say they would buy a product from a purpose-driven company; and 78 percent of Americans would tell others to buy products from purpose-driven companies. It turns out, what is good for the community--what is community-building--is also good for business. People like to be a part of something, and they like to know that that something contributes to the greater good.

Some restaurants find the best way to give back to the community is to allow fundraisers under their brand for schools and non-profits looking to raise money. There are a lot of recognizable establishments on this list of 53 restaurants that allow non-profit fundraising; but something even a small business could participate in to give back and to bring in new customers. Likewise, here is a list of restaurants that open up school fundraisers, especially important in urban areas or smaller towns where neighborhood living is close-knit and your restuarant could be just down the block from the local school.

Giving back isn't only just becoming a fundraising outlet. Your restaurant and its employees--or patrons--could more actively participate, especially during the holiday season. Spoon University devised a list of restaurants that give back in their communities, from food drives and food donations to donating time to Habitat for Humanity or fundraising for cancer research.

It could be as simple as passing out coffee on cold mornings, to whomever walks by and needs a warm-up and a smile to start their day. Restaurants are community institutions throughout the year; but let's get into the spirit of the season and reap benefits, yes, but also the joy of giving back.

Want your restaurant to plug into the community but not sure how to make it work? A restaurant consultant can help you refresh a business plan and your budget--you have more wiggle room than you think! Contact a restaurant consultant today.

Photo by Kat Yukawa on Unsplash