Posts Tagged ‘Business’

How to fix your failing restaurant

How to fix your failing restaurant

Please check out my newest Examiner.com article entitled:

How to fix your failing restaurant

There has been a surge in reality TV with programs geared towards fixing a failing restaurant or bar. If you pay close attention, they all have the same message and the same steps to change your establishment from losing money, to being packed with patrons and profitable. Here are a few simple initiatives to align your business on the road to success, without waiting for a TV celebrity to walk through your door…

 

 

Inside out: The chef's perspective article from Examiner.com

Inside out: The chef’s perspective article from Examiner.com

 

I was recently interviewed by Examiner.com about my background as a chef and how it relates to food allergens in restaurants!  Let me know what you think!

Click here to read the interview!

Out of all the reality TV show hosts which pertain to flipping a poor performing bar or restaurant, I feel Jon Taffer is the best of the best.  Not only do you have to be knowledgeable in in the food and beverage industry, you have to know how to motivate and inspire. Here are a few reasons why he is the man:

  • Industry knowledge – Like many of the reality hosts, Mr. Taffer has years of experience and knowledge, however, he knows how to translate this into action.  He knows how to separate his personal opinion against what is needed for each bar or restaurant to be successful.  He looks at consumer data from the area, making sure there is an actual business need for the changes he implements.  Unlike other celebrity chef or bar consultant types, he does not have a cookie cutter standard on each operation. He also knows how to bring in other industry experts to get the job done.
  • Professional Chaos – If you really pay attention to him during his show, you will see that almost every time he introduces himself, he is EXTREMELY professional and proper.  Anyone in the industry should follow this same demeanor.  It isn’t until someone lies, cheats, or puts others in harms way, does he amp up into the beast he is know to be. He is full aware of all his actions and what the response will be.
  • Motivation – Yes, he may verbally abuse a poor performing employee who has a negative impact on his or her establishment.  Yes, he may bring people to the brink of tears or fist throwing.  But what happens, after all of the yelling and screaming, when the unmotivated employee actually starts doing well? He is the FIRST to provide support and praise this action. He will 100% give credit where it is due, and if you have just spent the last 3 days being yelled at by the ‘enemy’ and then the ‘enemy’ becomes your support system, brings out the best in you, and inspires you to achieve   what Mr. Taffer knew you could do all along…that is how you truly change habits, and bring a positive, reassuring attitude to the workplace, while also reassuring the credibility of your actions.
  • Needs no credit – It takes a team to pull off a complete overhaul.  Mr. Taffer always lets you know that company ‘xyz’ was the one who created your new sign in under 3 days, and changed all the plumbing, and added that cool new super cold tap in the bar, and provided all the kitchen equipment.
  • Aware of his surroundings – A skill that many people DON’T have, is being able to spot when a true problem is.  Maybe the chef or the bar staff is not lacking due to motivation, it’s because they haven’t been trained properly.  An employee might continually be hostile to his manager because the manager is actually his brother, and there are underlying family issues involved.  In order to fix a problem, you need to be aware of the root cause before changes can be made.
  • Out with the old – It does not matter if you are an iconic brand, and have been in operation for years. If the establishment is performing poorly, things need to change, and that is sometimes hard to hear.  Your grandfather built this bar from the ground up and it has a nostalgic value to YOU, but YOU are not the customer.  Mr. Taffer teaches people to separate their personal preferences against what is going to ultimately make money and add value to the business
  • Family Matters – A trend with many struggling businesses is that it is family owned and operated.  This makes the manager/employee dynamic very difficult to follow.  No matter the type of business, having a healthy family outside the 4 walls is equally important inside when running the business.  Mr. Taffer always seems to find where the family bonds are broken, and uses the business success to mend it.
  • Not above it – There is a certain expectation when opening a high class martini bar in Vegas, verses a biker bar in the middle of nowhere.  Mr. Taffer is not above serving hot dogs and hamburgers because THAT is his consumer base, that is what the people want, and that is what they are willing to pay for.  He does not expect to serve 10 courses when there is only a closet sized kitchen to work from, but on the other hand, he knows how to produce a high caliber product within any price point.  If you are serving cheap hot dogs, they will be the best cheap hot dog, and they will make the business money.

Mr. Taffer, if you ever need a chef to come in and help a struggling bar or restaurant, i am your man.  I get it :o)

ID-10061999Some times you gotta be fresh…and other times, frozen may be fresher than fresh.  Some studies have shown that frozen fruits and vegetables can contain higher levels of vitamins and antioxidants compared to the fresh varieties from stores or farmers markets.

This is due to the fact that many frozen fruits and vegetables are processed and frozen right at the source, from minutes to hours after being picked or harvested during their peak ripeness.  On the other hand, fresh produce maybe be held for days, weeks, or even months before being sold to consumers, then held at the home for even more time before being used. When these products are held at ambient temperatures or even refrigerated, they slowly and naturally lose some of their healthy properties over time.  When product is frozen, it inhibits the loss of these volatile compounds, and provides more health benefits.  Some fresh produce is also picked before being fully ripened to handle the delay in consumption, which reduces the overall health advantages even more.

Supermarkets and even farmers markets have a list of ways to make their foods look fresh, such as water misting and trimming.  While these practices are normal, the overall health profile of these foods can often time be less than the frozen counterparts. There are even instances that refrigeration will INCREASE degradation of healthy compounds in certain food items, specifically soft fruits.  It is still recommended that foods picked right from the ground are the best, but frozen can be just as good of an option.

And as a side note, if you do want to cook your fruits and vegetables while keeping the most nutritional value in the products, steaming is the optimal way to insure the least about of benefit loss.  This is of course second to eating them raw.

ID-100202053Many people possess a passion for food but don’t necessarily want to spend their nights, weekends, and holidays tucked away in the kitchen for their career choice.  There are a variety of options available for a foodie, not including positions at a traditional restaurant:

  • Catering/Food Truck – In some cases the hours can be better, you are more in control of the volume of work, and can plan ahead as opposed to a flurry of tickets and orders coming at you in a hot, sweaty kitchen.
  • Personal Chef – Famous people, rich people, and some large corporations like to have their own person on staff to cook what they want, when they want.
  • Corporate Chef – Large restaurant chains, food manufacturers, and retail outlets like to have someone at the helm to develop recipes, products, and presentations for the general public or to potential customers.
  • Research and Development Chef – Part chef, part product development specialist, an R&D chef is testing and creating foods and products for retail, foodservice, schools, hospitals, and further manufacturers.
  • Food Scientist/QC/QA – Understanding functionality of food and beverage, quality control, quality assurance, use of flavors, colors, preservatives, gum and starch systems, and analytical analysis of foodstuff.  Basically a ‘mathlete’ for food.
  • Market and Consumer Research/Analysis – Understanding consumer science, food trends, buying practices, and psychology of the food and beverage industry.
  • Consultant – Do you know everything but tired of ‘settling down?’ Many companies look to specialists for temporary or short term projects.
  • Nutritionist – Focussing on health and wellness, speciality diets, nutrient needs in hospitals for patients, or helping athletes achieve fitness goals.
  • Farmer/Forager – Truffles don’t grow on trees…well they do, but you have to find and gather them!  Also, all those fruits, vegetables, and grains don’t just magically appear.
  • Butcher/Fishmonger/Cheesemonger/Sommelier – Be a meat, fish, cheese, or wine expert and have lots of fun interesting factoids to talk about at parties!
  • Chef Instructor – If you have a passion for teaching and a love for food, this is the job for you.
  • Sales – Every industry around the world needs a sales guy to move their products.
  • Buyer – Every industry around the world needs a buyer to find products. Kind of repetitive.
  • Customer Service – Someone is on the other end of the phone when you call the customer service number printed on the package or on the website.
  • Restaurant Designer/Equipment Supply – Build the restaurant, furnish the restaurant, develop and supply the equipment, and know how to use it.
  • Manufacturing – The consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry is $2 trillion strong in the US, plus manufactured products for foodservice and B2B.  LOTS of opportunities.
  • Packaging/CPG Professional – Someone needs to design and engineer the box, bag, package, film and seal.
  • Food Critic – Fancy trying foods or restaurants, then providing honest (hopefully) opinions? This is a fun position but hard to become ‘THE’ food critic without a following or backing of a publication.
  • Food Writer/Marketing – Descriptive writing, tag lines, romance copy, and content development is fun and something I obviously do not possess.
  • PR/Publicist  – This is someone who manages the public image of a brand or product. Finding ad sponsors, creating hype, pitching news releases, and working with writers to create content.
  • Food Stylist – Making food tasty is one thing, but making food ascetically pleasing for pictures, packaging, and promotions is another.
  • Food Photographer – KInd of like Instagram but for real…and better
  • Cook Book Author/Blogger – For those who have the knack for writing interesting and creative recipes in book form! Unfortunately the internet has cut down on book sales, so many have turned to blogging instead.
  • Entertainment/TV/Celebrity Chef – If you are a character and know how to perform in front of a camera, this could be for you.  In fact, many of the current TV chef personalities can’t even cook that well! (BBUURRRNNNN)

There are dozens of job choices I have missed, so feel free to comment with more ideas!

 

  • We usually don’t have a ‘favorite’ dish, so stop asking.  We can cook whatever we want, whenever we want, depending on our mood.  What we have a taste for today, might change tomorrow.
  • Please continue to cook for us!  We are not judgmental and will not critique your food if you are doing it for enjoyment.  We didn’t pay to eat at your house so we won’t complain if our steak is overcooked.
  • We are more than happy to help, but don’t expect us to ‘man-the-grill’ every time you invite us over.  If we wanted to cook today, you would be at our house.
  • Cooking with the best and finest ingredients is expensive! Don’t assume we are eating foie gras, truffles, and saffron for every meal.
  • Most chef’s realize that everyone is entitled to their own opinion and personal taste. Don’t be afraid to tell us what foods you like, or DON’T like.
  • Some chefs cook ALL day and ALL night at work…we don’t ALWAYS cook at home.
  • Our specialty is knowing how to cook.  Don’t assume that a BBQ chef from the south doesn’t know how to cook classical French cuisine.
  • This amazing thing called the internet has a wealth of knowledge about food, cooking, and technique.  Feel free to use it instead of asking us.
  • We can clean stains out of white cloths, and wash dishes & floors much better than you.
  • I would give you the recipe, but we don’t use them. (Excluding bakers!)

Do you have any to add???

ID-100103272

Now you don’t have to wait for a ‘celebrity’ chef to walk through your doors to fix your failing restaurant.  Here are 4 simple things you can do to turn around your failing establishment…

  1. CLEAN – Clean your kitchen, clean your dining room, clean the outside of your restaurant.  For whatever reason people seem to forget that a clean restaurant inside and out is a lot more inviting than a dumpster.  Once you do a massive cleaning job on your place, the general upkeep really isn’t that hard or time consuming.  Once you get a great score from the health department, give me a shout out and post your results for all to see.
  2. SIMPLIFY – Unless you are a high volume, large capacity restaurant, long gone are the days of the 10 page menu.  Streamline your menu so consumers know what your schtick is.  This will also greatly improve your food cost, cut down on prep time, and make it easier for the BOH to execute.  Would you rather be great at a few things or not so good at a lot of things?
  3. MODERNIZE – Go to your local fast casual restaurant, and you will notice many are moving away from that old person basement look of random junk everywhere.  The best part about a modern, open, inviting look to your dining room is that it is not expensive.  Just like in the TV shows, you most likely have plenty of good stuff in your restaurant, you just need to remove the bad.
  4. TRAIN – I had no idea that so many employees don’t know the true meaning of customer service!  Regardless if they know your menu or are knowledgable about your wine list, they should be proper, polite, and responsive to your guests needs.  Since you should already have SIMPLIFIED your menu, it will be that much easier to train your staff.  Make sure there is some type of chain of command for any situation, then your place will start to run itself.

ID-100107994Feel free to send me a check when your bottom line goes from red to green.  If you need someone to come in and do it for you, I am much quicker to respond than those ‘celebrity’ chefs!