Elevate your wine list
Warmer weather makes the idea of alfresco dining over a glass (or three) of wine all the more appealing. Does your wine list bring out the best in your food, as well as boost your bottom line? To get your wine list right, Foodable recommends you consider several factors: Create the perfect marriage between food and drink by having your chef and wine director partner to identify the best tastes to bring out the flavors in your menu, with the understanding that the public may need your guidance in selecting the best pairings. Make your list easily understood – group by color, grape variety, country/region and style, for example, while providing extra notations to identify any special attributes of the wine. Next, consider your brand and make sure your wine list conveys the same message and offers a selection in line with what your clientele expect (a farm-to-table establishment would likely focus less on international selections than on wines produced in the region). Your by-the-glass wines should be exclusive to you and not the same ones offered by your neighbourhood competition. When pricing your list, make your prices fair and customer-friendly but not necessarily even across the board: for example, while a markup of between 200 and 300 percent is fairly standard, consider marking up more expensive wines at a lower margin while increasing the margins on your bottles priced between $10 and $20 and your selections offered by the glass. These rules even hold true if you’re a fast-casual establishment. In those cases, choose a handful of options with enough variety to complement your menu and consider offering them on tap so you can deliver a carafe or glass in short order.
What’s your pre-fall awareness?
Slips, trips and falls are the most common injury to foodservice workers – and they can result in substantial financial losses and labor challenges. To minimize these accidents, review your cleaning procedures, equipment maintenance protocol, employee training and footwear to anticipate hazards. In a recent report in EHS Today, Jeff Nelken, a food safety expert and trainer, said he works with clients to create “pre-fall awareness.” You can do the same by asking yourself what accidents or near-accidents you have experienced this year. What led to them? Spilled food or water, condensation, grease, fast-moving workers, improperly maintained floor mats, hot plates and appliances can all play a role in causing accidents if you don’t take precautions. Keep floors clean and dry. Mop up spills right after they occur. Look for cleaning agents with ingredients that both clean the floor and give it traction – Trader Joe’s uses one such cleaning agent in stores. Much like other fields requiring specialized footwear, hospitality work requires footwear that is slip-resistant and offers protection in case of contact with hot liquids or kitchen tools. When helping clients identify potential hazards, Nelken focuses on 10 areas: the surface composition of floors and how they respond when wet, dry or soiled; foreign substances on floors and the best methods for removing them without making the problem worse; surface conditions of floors, including raised edges or loose carpeting; surface changes, such as a floor that changes from carpet to tile; level changes; obstructions including cords or signs; visibility challenges due to lighting or color contrasts; human factors such as physical abilities; stairs; and unusual features that could distract a walker, including loud noises or flashing lights.
Snap up new followers
Snapchat hits a sweet spot for many restaurants: 71 percent of its users are younger than 34 years old and 30 percent of Millennials in the U.S. are regular users, according to the digital marketing agency Omnicore. If you’re trying to market to those demographics, Social Media Week suggests you try Snapchat to generate buzz around a special event or promotion. Plan a flash sale and send a snap to My Story to alert followers. Promote events using an on-demand geofilter, which allows you pay for an announcement according to a geographic coverage area and time span. Snapchat is a good platform for posting casual videos that connect with your community – try posting a video pop quiz, a behind-the-scenes look at your chef making today’s special, or an answer to a question you regularly hear from guests. If you and a neighboring business would like to reach a similar audience, joining forces on Snapchat can help you gain new followers.
Cooler water may do the job
Hot water and soap are best for washing hands, right? New research from Rutgers University that was published in the Journal of Food Protection calls that belief into question. Medical News Today says the study, which examined the effects of hot- and cold-water handwashing, along with factors like soap volume, lather time and handwashing efficacy, found that water temperature did not have a significant impact on reducing bacteria. Whether the person washing hands did so with water at 38˚C or 16˚C did not matter, as long as the person was comfortable with the temperature. The findings, if they lead to a policy change, could result in an energy savings for restaurants since cold water requires less energy than warm or hot water.
Seven steps to minimize food risks
To prepare and store food safely, even small foodservice operations need procedures based on HACCP – hazard analysis and critical control point principles – to identify and control food safety hazards including microbiological, chemical and physical risks. The Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends you remember these principles when setting your strategy: Conduct a hazard analysis to uncover risks. At every step along the way to the occurrence of a hazard, identify critical control points. Set the critical limits that you must meet to make food safe – from cooking temperature to cooling guidelines and storage temperature. Determine monitoring procedures to ensure you keep food safe at each step. If and when you deviate from the critical limits you have set, determine your corrective actions required to prevent a health hazard. Set procedures to ensure your corrective actions are working as intended and document your actions so you have evidence to present to hygiene inspectors that proves you have taken necessary precautions.
Be equipment wise
When it comes to your kitchen equipment, do you have the right tools of the trade? Before you make a purchase, Foodable recommends you consider these areas: First, review your budget and menu to identify the most critical pieces of equipment you need to deliver a quality menu. That will help you decide if you need a premium piece of equipment or can get by with a refurbished item. Next, are these items as green as they could be? As your utility costs will likely rise, investing in equipment whose energy output can be readily controlled will minimize your future costs. Your supplier should offer a range of items within the same category so you can easily identify the pros and cons. If not, shop around. Finally, consider the future growth of your menu before you make a purchase to ensure the items you buy can accommodate changes in scale. If you use a lot of fresh ingredients, ensure your equipment meets your needs for storage and refrigeration.
Create a collaborative community
Building your business is all about creating community, online and offline. And like the famous movie line states, “If you build it, they will come.” (Assuming you deliver quality food and service once they arrive, of course.) To develop a supportive community, Social Media Week recommends you produce personalized content of high quality – engage your community by starting a conversation, entertaining them or sharing a piece of information. Post consistently so your followers know you haven’t disappeared and follow through on what you say you will do. Prove your authenticity and show you care by responding to comments, both positive and negative. When things go wrong, politely show you’re trying to make them right. If someone shares your content, give them a mention. Above all, listen more than you speak – you’ll make a bigger impact on your clientele if you show you are absorbing what they tell you.
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