Cocktails, Food, Trends

Table-loids: Controlling Overhead, Eating to Your Health, and More Industry News You Should Know

I can’t believe it’s November already! My inbox was inundated with Halloween-themed news and trends this week, but I dug my way through them to bring you five un-themed “table-loids” from the last week of October.

1. Raising the bar
We all know by now that bar programs can make or break a restaurant’s success. Just because you hire the best of the best and dole out delicious, handmade concoctions hour after hour does not mean you’re guaranteed to rake in the dough. A lot of inexperienced bar managers will simply raise the price of their libations in order to wiggle out of the dreaded red. Will that raise your profits? Perhaps, although you may also lose customers. Last week Liquor.com provided bar professionals with their expert advice on how to run a profitable bar program. It’s a great read for anyone working BOH in the restaurant industry. Controlling overhead is a smart idea for restaurant managers in all realms. Among other ideas, the article talks about menu planning or balancing costly cocktails with ones that boast a tiny price tag, and making use of ingredients that the kitchen is already utilizing. I recommend reading the full article for more ideas. Imagine the profits you could bring in if you start implementing these suggestions during the onset of the busy holiday season! Money, money, money, money … MONEY!

2. Markets vs. restaurants
Restaurant Business Online recently reported that more and more restaurant industry money is being lost to grocery stores. Supermarkets are upping their game and incorporating some really delicious and dare I say, gourmet, ready-to-eat food items to their repertoire. I’d be lying if I said I don’t regularly hit up Whole Foods’ buffet. It’s less expensive than dining out and a lot quicker. In order to cushion the losses that some restaurants are feeling, they have created their own markets within their venues. Basically, it’s the opposite of what grocery stores have done. One example is the Tavern by Sweetgreen in DC. They’ve created a literal food market within their fast-casual restaurant where they sell fresh produce from the same farms where they get the ingredients to make their salads. This is smart thinking. I wonder how long it will take to see this trend spread into the upscale casual, and fine-dining markets? Food for thought for sure.

3. Bistro du Walmart?
On the same spectrum as grocery stores offering ready-to-eat food, Walmart just announced that they are planning to turn their Superstores into open-air community centers incorporating restaurants, food halls, and food trucks. And I’m not talking Walmart-branded restaurants. There will be popular, established restaurant brands, including Tripleseat customer Pinstripes. The idea is to create the feeling of a town center where people can shop, eat, and play, as the new “Reimagined Centers” will also include skateboarding parks, jogging trails, and bicycle sharing stations. The developments are already underway at eight sites in seven mostly southern states. Here’s hoping it spreads to the Northeast. In my opinion, the Walmart Superstore could use a serious makeover and this type of transformation would benefit entire communities.

4. Pure Enhancements
Earlier this week, Technomics released its annual forecast of restaurant industry trends, and 2019 looks to be a very pleasing year. Well, pleasing in the sense that your food will most likely contain some type of natural wellness enhancement that claims to heighten your beauty and health. We watched this trend kick up steam in the latter half of 2018, but things will really intensify in 2019. According to the restaurant gurus, ingredients such as collagen for beauty, karkade for stress relief, and cannabis for relaxation among others will be showing up on menus across the country. You won’t have to go any further than your local bistro for a full body makeover. Yes, bring it on, 2019!

5. Here’s a tip for ya…
You’ve all seen them, they look like plain old iPads until your server turns them around to reveal a sneaky tipping machine where the options are most times over 18% and absolutely never 0%. Skift Table reported on this phenomenon, specifically on POS provider, Toast’s tipping screen. In order to complete your transaction, you’re asked to choose from three tip amount options or to type in your own. Most people don’t waste time typing in their own and simply choose from one of the three. They’ve proven to be a very profitable outlet to FOH staff. Being a restaurant industry professional, I think these machines are amazing and I truly wish I had them when I was a bartender. You’re pretty much guaranteed to get your 18-20% off of every customer. Not to say that I didn’t usually get that — I was a professional of course — but there are always situations when tipping doesn’t go your way and you have no clue why. These machines may put a stop to shabby tipping when it’s unwarranted. And let’s be honest, if you’re that bad at your job and you deserve a crappy tip, the patron will put in the time to type their own amount in.

Interested in more trends?
Check out Tripleseat’s posts on trends and information for the event industry.

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