1. How to Reduce Theft in your Restaurant

    Lots of people in and out. Lots of customers. Numerous people handling money. It's easy for restaurants to fall prey to theft and fraud. Here are some tips to reduce the fraud in your restaurant with tips from Winny Daud and Philipp Laque of Revenue Management Solutions:

    1. Identify where you are at risk. This can be any area where cash is exchanging hands or a lack of supervision is common. Where are employees issuing refunds for example? Is a supervisor or card required to issue a discount or void out an item? Establish a system of checks and balances to safeguard from this.

    2. Look for a pattern. Is there a particular server who always seems to be present when a high amount of refunds take place? Patterns like these can help stop fraudulent behavior and identify and dismiss the perpetrators.

    3. Make it known that you're watching. Whether by security cameras or company meetings, people are less likely to steal when they know that someone is watching. Although that may seem like common sense, it means that by simply posting rules against fraud, monitoring activity and keeping an eye on your employees, you can cut down on theft.

    4. Watch out for cash. This makes fast casual restaurants especially vulnerable to theft, but the truth is the overwhelming majority of voided transactions are cash based. You can't refuse cash, of course, but be mindful of cash transaction and be ready to question a large number of voids that take place on them. Questioning your servers and rely on your managers to monitor and watch out for any suspicious activity.
  2. Why Salad Is King and Why it Matters to your Business!

    Salad is fast leaving behind its humble roots as a small, perhaps wilted, side dish to the main course and becoming the star attraction of the dining experience! Health conscious consumers are craving fresh greens, vegetables, and low carb options, and restaurants across the country are catering with a variety of healthy options.

    Putting an emphasis on super greens, kale remains king of the game, but other micro greens such as arugula and seasonal watercress are key components to creating a salad that will impress. Regular romaine is fine, but offering different options will keep your customers happy (and healthy!) In addition, organic bibb lettuce is a gourmet option well suited to fine dining establishments. Sprouts, which can be easily grown in house, are another super food that the health conscious crowd will quite literally eat up.

    In terms of toppings, healthy vegetables take center stage also. Good bets are seasonal and colorful - pomegranate seeds in the winter and radishes in the spring for example. If you work with local farms, putting the names of your suppliers on the menu will also increase your social equity and allow for a higher price point - and profit margin! for your business.

    In terms of protein, offering several options at different price points is always a great option. A simple fried egg at a low price point is a classic and delicious bistro edition to almost any salad. Scallops are delicous, simple, and can elevate the price of a salad entree to that or a regular entree. A simple steak, chicken, and salmon option will give your guests variety and ensure that their leafy greens provide a full and balanced meal. If you have a large vegetarian crowd, consider adding seasoned tofu to your menu options so that they can choose something to satisfy their dietary needs - tempura fried buffalo tofu is simple to make and delicious!

    Need more proof that salad should take center stage? McDonalds - a chain usually associated with very UNHEALTHY foods - is revamping its image and menu offerings with a salad which now includes red leaf lettuce and colorful carrots. If the food giants are taking notice of the health conscious consumer - chances are you should too! Up your salad game and stay on top of this delicous, healthy summer trend.
  3. Industry Trends from the National Restaurant Association

    The National Restaurant Association has released some of their new industry trends for 2016! Here are some of our favorite highlights to keep you current with your business:

    Guava: a long time staple of Latin American and Caribbean cuisine, the guava is going mainstream. Featured in multiple national lines, including a GS Gelato which was the recipient of a FABI award, guava is breaking out as an unusual flavor which almost any palate can appreciate. Guava empanadas, also known as pastelitos, are an easy and fun way to incorporate this trend into your restaurant menu.

    Craft Soda: big company names are getting behind a trend that the folks at Avery and Browns Soda have been doing for years: providing higher quality, lower batch soda options. Coca Cola recently released the Blue Sky line to stay competitive with smaller, more boutique offerings. Much like craft beer, craft soda appeals to those who seek higher quality and more local options than the typical 'big batch' stores. This is a great opportunity for bar menus to get creative with favorites such as Jack and Coke - perhaps a Black Cherry Coke and Bourbon?

    Clean meat: recent outbreaks of ecoli and the clean eating trend have customers asking for smaller batch, antibiotic free, grass fed options on their dinner table. From cage free chickens to ethically treated cows to more exotic, smaller produced wild game, ethical meat is all the rage. Although markedly more expensive, if marketed correctly the higher cost can be passed on to the savvy consumer who isn't afraid to pay a premium for a higher quality product.
  4. Patriotic Cocktails for Memorial Day!

    It's a three day weekend! Celebrate in style with your family, friends and customers with the following patriotic cocktails!

    Red White and Blue Margarita

    1 cup ice
    1/2 cup fresh or frozen strawberries
    3 ounces tequila
    2 ounces lime juice
    1 ounce Triple Sec or Cointreau
    1/2 ounce simple syrup

    Blend strawberries and freeze for several minutes. Combine and blend remaining ingredients and pour the strawberry back into the blender. Top with limes and blueberries for color.

    Captain America Slushie (courtesy of Giraffes Can Bake)

    Ice Tray
    Food Coloring

    2 oz Irish Whiskey and 1 cup frozen sprite cubes (for white layer)
    2 oz Blue Blue Curacao and 1 cup frozen sprite ice cubes (for blue layer)
    1/3 cup frozen strasberries and 1 cup sprite (for red layer)

    Put sugar and blue food dye in a zip lock bag and shake to make the garnish. Wet rims of glasses and dip in sugar. Combine each layer in the blender and spoon into glass. Serve with a patriotic straw.

    Red White and Blue jello shots

    1 6-oz package strawberry Jell-O
    Blueberry vodka
    1 14-oz can sweetened condensed milk
    2 envelopes unflavored gelatin
    1 6-oz package berry blue Jell-O
    Whipped cream

    Combine strawberry jello and 2 1/2 cups hot water. Add 1/2 cups blueberry vodka and stir to combine. Fill shot glasses 1/3 of the way and set in the fridge for one hour. Repeat with unflavored (clear) jello and add sweetened condensed milk. Repeat one more time with blue jello. Set in the fridge for one hour between each color. When complete and ready to serve, garnish with whipped cream and sprinkles.
  5. Thinking about Buying an Ice Machine? Here's What You Need to Know!

    No matter the shape, size, or type, we have an ice machine to suit your needs!

    There are some very basic considerations to take into place before purchasing an ice machine for your business. If you plan on serving cold drinks - you're going to need ice. If you plan on having seafood - you'll need to keep it cold If you have a bar with mixology, you may want different ice shapes and sizes. So it's pretty apparent that yes, you'll need an ice machine. But what sort of a machine to buy? There are many shapes, sizes, and models available, and unless you have unlimited budget/space, you're not going to want to get anything bigger than what you need for your space. Here are some of the basic factors to consider before you buy:

    Air cooled vs. water cooled. The two main types of ice machines are air cooled or water cooled. Air cooled will heat up the temperature of where you store them, and water cooled require a water recycling system or they will be very cost prohibitive. Do research on the infrastructure of your space before you buy, and if you choose air cooled, make sure you have adequate air conditioning in place in order to offset the extra heat produced by the unit!

    Next up: what size ice machine do you need? There are several factors to consider here. The first is the average volume of your restaurant, bar, or other hospitality space. This can be tough to factor in if you are considering a brand new business concept. Volume wise, you'll need about a pound of ice per soft drink and two-three pounds per mixed drink (behind the bar). Calculate this by the average number of covers you think you'll have and you can come up with the size machine you need fairly easily. Make sure you don't lowball either the number OR the quality of the machine you purchase - nothing will slow down service faster or make your customers less happy than not being able to get a basic glass of ice water when they sit down to dine! Running low on ice during a dinner rush is a major disaster, and the best way to plan around it is simply to purchase the right size equipment to begin with and make sure it's quality. We do, of course, carry a large range of machines for you to choose from, so shop with us and ensure you're receiving a machine that fits your space, budget, and can carry the capacity of your business even during the very busiest f dinner rushed.
  6. Restaurant Tech - Here's What You Should Know!

    How is your restaurant tech? Chances are, you might need an update. The National Restaurant Association reports that up to 30% of restaurants are in serious need of a tech upgrade, but have held off doing so. The main reason? Cost of course. But consider the benefits of keeping updated tech. When your tech is updated, your labor costs go down. With labor being the largest - by far - cost for most restaurants, anything you can do to improve efficiency will also improve your bottom line - long term at least. With that in mind, here are the areas that can certainly be helped by top of the line technology:

    Supply Chain - this is especially important if you have multiple locations. The Darden Restaurant Family is currently rolling out updated Supply Chain Software across all of their locations. How can this help your bottom line? By standardizing the experience at all of your restaurants, making smarter decisions when ordering product, and increasing efficiency for your Operations Manager. Overall, investing in good Supply Chain software will improve the flow of your restaurant in vital, physical areas.

    Point of Sale - your front of the house will thank you - over and over again - for an updated, customized POS System. Not only will they benefit from something which is easy to use and intuitive, but your customers will appreciate the faster service and higher attentiveness they receive when your servers aren't wrestling with outdated equipment vs. taking their dinner orders. Your cooks and line chefs will also benefit from clear, easy to read tickets which will cut down on errors and ensure, overall, happier customers!

    Email Marketing - a strong email system will go far towards retaining existing customers as well as increasing your marketing reach with them! Your own email marketing will allow you to capture addresses from your core customer base and market to them directly with specials, particularly for the holidays and special occasions. Choosing the right hosting software is very crucial - you'll want something which allows you to upload customer's email addresses easily and also design attractive email templates. Shop around and choose one that you know will be efficient so that you don't waste time working maintenance of it when you could be doing - well - everything else that needs to be done every day in a busy restaurant!

  7. Five Slushy Cocktails For Summer

    It's finally hot outside. Celebrate with the type of drinks which are perfect for patio season. We are talking frozen drinks of course. Although they were out of style for a while, 'ironic' frozen tiki style drinks are making a come back. The more elaborate and quirky, the better. Here are five of our favorites to wow your customers with during the hot summer months ahead:

    Simple and yummy! And for the Big Lebowski generation - definitely ironic. Combine Milk, Kailua and Vodka with ice. And you're done!

    Margaritas are pretty standard - but spicy margaritas offer a fun twist and are perfect for the summer months! Fresh mango puree, a little bit of chili paste (adjusted to your heat preference), agave syrup, tequila, and ice is all you need for this - plus a nice chili/salt garnish of course.

    Frozen sangria? Yes please. Combining two summer classics is a sure crowd pleaser. Use fruit sorbet, your choice of red wine, and garnish with berries. Simple and fun!

    Frozen Jack Daniels slashes are a fun way to riff off a popular bar drink. Jack Daniels, coke, and ice is all you need. Add a lime garnish if you're feeling fancy.

    Frozen Orange Julio with a twist. Make a more sophisticated version of this classic when you combine Gin, Aperol, Orange Juice, and ice. A little less sweet and a little more complex than your standard daiquiri!
  8. Throw Back Thursday - Antique Ice Machines

    The ice machine has come a long way since its inception in 1880! The first ice maker was produced and patented by in 1844 by John Gorrie as a device to cool down his patients. The first patented ice maker for food was filed by John Gorrie in 1851. Far from the large machines of today, early ice makers relied on relied on a mechanical compressor and, of course, no electricity. Only very small amounts of ice could be created by the earliest machines

    Before the invention of the ice machines, freezing water was harvested from lakes and rivers when available. This meant, of course, that only those living in cold climates would ever have refrigeration, and then only for several short months out of year. Home ice machines did not begin to be popular until the 1920s, when improvement to technology and the advent of electricity in virtually every household allowed this once luxurious item to be readily accessible.

    Ice machines had a style hey day in the 1950s, when post war America focused on the home and domesticity. Housewives would pose proudly before their innovative machines, stuffed with every type of imaginable food as a sign of prosperity. Home refrigerators tended to come in bright sherbet colors and be as sought after as computers and other tech devices are today.

  9. Hot Dessert Trends in 2016

    Sometimes, your customers want something cold and sweet. And when they do, make sure you're giving them cutting edge options - the world has moved on from flourless chocolate cake and creme brûlée. It's totally OK to keep the classics on the menu, but stay on top of these upcoming flavor profiles to give them something that just maybe they haven't seen before:

    1/ Fusion. The 'cronut' may be a bit played out, but at the same time, it's a cool idea that customers will respond to well. Put a cake and a pie together, or a cookie and a brownie. How about an ice cream sandwich with unusual cookie combinations? Don't be afraid to be playful and give your hybrid a fun, quirky name when you have finished your creation.

    2/ Extreme milk shakes. Originally hailing from Australia, an extreme milk shake is an instagram worthy and fun focal point of your dessert list. Throwing giant pieces of candy and other elaborate toppings - even a whole ice cream sandwich! on top of a milkshake is an easy way to jump on this trend - just make sure you have a good blender to handle the demand!

    3/ Spices. Customers are responding well to heavily spiced dessert dishes. Play around with savory spices, such as curry, as well as the traditional classics, such as nutmeg and allspice. It's not just about cinnamon anymore!

    4/ Healthy options. Virtually everyone is body conscious now a days, and some folks may want a sweet bite without the calories and indulgence associated with a traditional dessert. Experiment with agave syrups, coconut milk, and other healthy alternatives to traditional sugar and dairy to create delicious, guilt free options for your customers.

    5/ Nostalgia. If the healthy trend isn't your thing - move int he exact opposite direction and take a trip down memory lane with some deeply classic confections. The classics are classics for a reason. Try making old school pies, cakes, and cookie recipes to remind your customers of their grandmothers' kitchens.
  10. Thinking about opening a food truck? Here's what you need to know?

    So, you have a great restaurant concept, but you want to start a bit smaller than a brick and mortar store. Food trucks have been growing in popularity as more social media savvy consumers utilize Twitter and Facebook to follow their mobile food stations and find gourmet meals at great price points. However, there is still a lot that goes into a food truck operations. Here's what you should know:

    1/ Commissary, commissary, commissary. Even though you may be a mobile operation, you still have to practice strict food safety guidelines when working with the general public. You will need a commercial grade kitchen with current grade health inspections in order to operate your truck. Instead of opening your own, find a local one willing to rent out space. Most commissaries are in large warehouses and will welcome the additional business!

    2/ Equipment, equipment, equipment. Although you can find a decent food truck second hand, make sure your equipment is top of the line. Especially in the summer months - and heat - you'll want an AC system and ice machines that can stand up to a large lunch rush. Your customers - and staff! will thank you for thinking in advance, and by planning early on, you can avoid gaining a bad reputation when faulty equipment breaks in the middle of a busy lunch rush. Equally important: a small heating device, open flame, and dishwasher. Everything must be scaleable and custom, so shop with us and secure the best possible equipment at the best price.

    3/ Location, location, location. Where to go? Where the crowds are is an obvious answer, but there is more to a good location then simple volume. Make sure you have the proper permits and also that you are in an area known for its foodie scene. Food trucks thrive together - but if there's another grilled cheese truck in the park, consider going elsewhere. Fairs, festivals, and even food truck specific events are also great spaces for high traffic and exposure. If your town or city has an arts scene, or a sports stadium, consider looking into permitting to park outside before or after a big event. A large venue will draw in a big crowd!

    4/ Marketing, marketing, marketing. Letting people know WHO you are is important for any restaurant, but letting them know WHERE you are is equally important as a mobile food truck! Keep your customers up to date via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. Make sure your social media info is updated regularly and displayed prominently on your truck and marketing paperwork. It can be a fun to be elusive, but it's better to keep folks in the know, and if you develop a fan base, they will find you given the proper tools!
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