2014 has seen a significant increase in food prices so far, affecting both the home consumer and food businesses. Drought in California has affected farmers as well as cattle herders, leading to food prices rising across the country. Raising cattle has become more expensive as water and grain prices rise. The higher prices of raising cattle have made it extremely difficult to buy meat at the price it once was. A recent article from CNN claims that beef prices have risen 56% since 2010. Such drastic changes in the numbers have a direct effect on food businesses, who must respond by finding beef alternatives or raising prices. Quite a few businesses have already found creative solutions designed to keep profits up, while keeping customers satisfied.
Balancing Beef Options on Restaurant Menus
The most obvious solution to the rising beef price per pound is to replace some of the beef options on restaurant menus. Since beef is a consumer staple, restaurants should be wary about completely eliminating it from the menu. However, adding more alternative protein options such as vegetarian entrées, or other meats such as chicken, can lower the overall menu food costs. Reducing portion sizes of beef dishes is another cost-shaving option. However, in this case, businesses must ensure that customers are not disappointed with smaller amounts of food on the plate. Adding creative, gourmet, homemade side dishes containing more affordable ingredients can fill in the gap where extra beef had been. For example,
Selling gourmet food to supermarkets is a dream goal for many food businesses as well as home chefs. However, the market is tough to succeed in and even tougher to break in to. Food businesses looking to expand their sales may want to consider taking a chance in the retail food market. Not only do restaurant brands offer a potential profit increase for the owners from direct sales, the packaged meals named after the restaurant instantly provide marketing for the venue. Businesses considering selling to supermarkets should be prepared to plan meticulously and invest time and effort into pushing the product into the markets.
Understanding Selling to Supermarkets
The first step in food branding is developing an idea. Without a vision of what the retail food will be and how it will stand out from the millions of products already available, aiming to create retail food is pointless. Once an idea for packaged meals, chef products, or any other gourmet food is ripe, research must be done about the local markets and opportunities for sale. FDA regulations for packaged products must be understood and followed as well. Restaurants can start out with experimenting with gourmet food in-house. Perfecting a recipe can be easier when an already existing consumer group is eager to sample it and provide feedback. However, once a product has been chosen, the retail food will usually have to be prepared in a separate venue, to allow both businesses to run efficiently and according to FDA standards. Tests will have to be done to determine proper nutrition facts labeling and sell-by dates, and proper packaging will have to be chosen. Once irresistible tastes and packaging for restaurant brands have been developed, businesses will have to think about how to market their products to stores, as well as consumers.
Marketing Restaurant Brands
Businesses wishing to sell chef products, packaged meals, or gourmet food to supermarkets must start the marketing process before the product is complete. Packaging is the best way to market, before even having an outlet to sell to consumers. Once a retail food product is complete, many brands choose to start selling at a local gourmet food store, or small markets. This is a great way to test the waters before going big, and gain a good reputation which will make it easier to convince larger stores to sell the product in the future. Supermarkets can be approached personally, or by using brokers. Brokers have connections and can therefore raise the chances of success and shorten the process of selling to supermarkets.
Be prepared for rejection. There are many products out there that are alternatives to your products. Have a catch phrase explaining how your product is different and better than other options available. Mention any local, gourmet food store selling your product, and successes of sales rates. Once a market has agreed to sell you product, you must aggressively, but subtly, win over the public. Offering samples in supermarkets and at community events can help consumers fall in love with the product before having to commit to a purchase. The steps to success demand hard work and unwavering belief in your product.
Creating gourmet food and chef products to develop a retail brand can expand a restaurant business by making it famous and providing the owners with an additional source of income. Packaged meals and other gourmet food are tough to sell when selling to supermarkets. Creating a truly unique product and starting out by selling to a local gourmet food store can increase the chances of success.
Menu innovation is the best way to improve the reputation of a venue, keep cooks interested in their jobs, and create restaurant menu ideas that will become the next bestsellers. Whether inspired by the latest culinary trends, or unusual flavor combinations, unique flavors on restaurant menus are daring additions which can lead to high rewards. Food business owners must have full confidence in their kitchen staff in order to allow them to freely go with their creative cooking ideas. However, by seasonally drafting new restaurant menus inspired by fresh produce, with unique flavors and food presentation in mind, businesses can create interesting meals that will make their venue stand out.
Finding Creative Cooking Ideas
Inspiration for restaurant menu ideas can come from a variety of sources. Putting twists on culinary trends, creating unusual flavor combinations from local ingredients, and reinventing ideas learned from other chefs, can create roots for dishes that can be improved and developed into bestselling menu items. The most unique restaurants around the world are famous either for their restaurant concept or innovative menus, proving the importance of investing time and energy into planning the best menu possible. Of course, businesses know the typical dishes that are popular in their
Offering programs and customer service which are conducive to attracting and winning over senior customers can lead to an increase in business for family-friendly venues. Finding effective advertising outlets is one of the biggest challenges in targeting seniors. By publicizing the venue on a senior discount list venues can gear themselves towards senior diners as well as their families, drawing in new customers. Having patient and flexible restaurant staff will help boost customer service in-house, creating positive experiences for diners and increasing customer loyalty, which can lead to a permanent boost in business.
Senior Discounts Restaurants
Advertising to potential senior customers can be challenging because social media and other free advertising platforms are usually ineffective. However, getting listed on a senior discount list and buying print or radio ads can get the word out about your venue. In order to draw in senior diners, businesses may want to consider publicizing about senior citizen discounts. Programs which offer deals such as free kids’ meals on certain days of the week ,“Happy Hour,” and senior citizen discounts, usually increase restaurant business. By offering senior discounts restaurants provide a deal that can attract seniors as well as their families. However, advertising senior citizen discounts is just the start. Having patient restaurant staff, with impeccable customer service skills, is a critical factor in gaining customer loyalty. In order to increase restaurant business overall, new customers need to be won over. Serving great food, offering wonderful customer service, and having a pleasant restaurant ambience, are the best ways to gain customer loyalty.
Senior Citizen Discounts and Customer Loyalty
Senior citizen discounts will be most profitable for a venue if the diners drawn in by such deals become loyal customers. Customer service, high-quality meals, and restaurant ambience are the keys to gaining customer loyalty. Even little touches such as having a coat check option and cleaning the tables with a crumber between courses can improve the customer experience. Restaurant staff should be attentive and polite, ready to make the customer happy by accommodating special diet requests and switching meals that are not to the customer’s liking.
A senior discount list can get the word out about a venue, but when it comes to drawing senior customers, word of mouth may be the best strategy. In order for venues to draw new customers by word of mouth, customers need to have the best dining experience possible. Though this can sometimes mean lots of extra work for restaurant staff in tweaking and replacing dishes to meet the expectations of picky customers, other times simple touches such as checking up on customers to make sure everything is to their liking, can create a positive customer experience. By offering senior discounts restaurants can increase restaurant business and profits by drawing in new customers.
Sourdough starter is the key to how to make sourdough bread. The sour flavor of sourdough bread varies from bakery to bakery, thanks to the starter. Making sourdough starter takes little time commitment and has the potential to expand the fresh baked section of a restaurant or bakery with interesting flavors, unique to the venue. The flavor of the starter will depend on the environment in which the business is found, as well as the sourdough starter recipe. Though some bread baking enthusiasts are disappointed, at first, by the flavor of fresh baked bread made with their sourdough starter, by experimenting with different sourdough starter recipes and storage conditions, most can create delicious bread.
The Right Sourdough Starter Recipe
The right sourdough starter recipe will depend on the taste preferences of cooks and customers and environment of the place it is being prepared. Sometimes it can take a lot of experimentation for a cook to come up with his/her ideal sourdough starter recipe. A sourdough starter recipe always includes flour and water as the basic ingredients. Flour and water, and even air, can be sources of yeast for starters. Starters rise because of the presence of yeast, microorganisms which break down the flour as a source of energy and produce carbon dioxide which causes dough and starters to rise, along with lactic and acetic acid which give the dough its
Pesto sauce and caprese salad are probably the foods that come to mind most often when one thinks of basil. However, the applications for basil leaves in the kitchen are unlimited. Basil can be easily grown in a restaurant garden and added to dishes to provide unusual flavor combinations and health benefits.
The Health Benefits of Basil
Basil is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin K, essential minerals such as iron and manganese, and plenty of antioxidant compounds. Like most herbs, it is also low in calories and fat, making it attractive to health-conscious diners. Aside from the health benefits of basil, it’s relatively easy to grow as well, boosting the restaurant garden as well as the menu.
Growing a Basil Plant
Growing herbs can be challenging and time consuming, depending on the size of the restaurant garden and the types of herbs being grown. However, the basil plant is relatively resistant to weather and watering conditions, making it easier to grow than many other types of herbs. Additionally, since it repels bugs, it can greatly improve the customer dining experience during outdoor dining. Some flowers, herbs, and trees attract insects. This not only makes the restaurant garden dining experience less pleasant, but also makes growing herbs and other plants aesthetically, very difficult. Growing basil can help repel insects in the area, making it easier for other plants to grow in the garden as well. However, under ideal environmental conditions, basil can grow like a weed. Therefore, it is recommended to grow it in pots or in an area where it is unlikely to damage other herbs. A basil plant in the restaurant garden can provide a constant, fresh supply of the herb for use in restaurant dishes.<!–more–>
How to Use Basil Leaves in the Kitchen
Cooking with herbs is one of the easiest ways to created unusual flavor combinations in the kitchen. Basil is obviously a great base ingredient for pesto and salads, but can also be used in soups, drinks, pastas, and desserts. Peach-basil sangria can be a refreshing alternative to the staple during the summer. Strawberry, sweet balsamic, basil tarts and lemon-basil sorbet can be great hot weather desserts. Basil leaves can even be ground with olive oil, left to sit for a few days, and then strained, creating basil-infused oil with a bright green color that is perfect for garnishing. Chefs and cooks can develop creative, usual flavor combinations when it comes to cooking with herbs, and basil leaves are an ideal option.
Basil leaves are an excellent culinary tool for adding unique flavors to menus. Growing basil plants is relatively simple and can boost the outdoor dining experience for diners by helping to repel insects.
There is nothing like a hot, fresh baked brioche in the morning. Morning is arguably the busiest selling time for fresh baked pastries, making it crucial for cafés, bakeries, and other venues to make sure they have a supply available for purchase at opening time. Inconveniently for bakers, artisan foods such as pastries tend to stale relatively quickly compared to industrial brand pastries. Their lack of preservatives and other stabilizing ingredients make them susceptible to the wear of time. However, difference in quality between homemade food and industrially-bought foods is usually recognizable. Therefore, it is usually very worthwhile for businesses, whether a bakery or just a restaurant bakery, to find a way to make fresh baked pastries available at their venue at all times.
Pre-made Pastry Dough
The process for how to make pastry dough is often long and time-consuming, depending on the type of pastry. While breads usually require short rising times, products like crepes usually rest for a few hours before frying, and croissants require refrigeration and rest times between each step of folding in butter. If the cooks at a venue do not know how to make pastry dough, the result of all the time investment may not even be presentable for sale. However, for hotels, restaurant bakeries, and other bakery venues with employees who know how to make pastry dough, having fresh baked pastries for sale can lead to a significant boost in morning sales. These venues can prepare the pastry dough in advance and store it in the freezer, baking fresh pastries as needed. By having a supply of pastries in the freezer, if sales are high, the cooks or bakers can easily defrost some more for baking and sale later in the day. Other venues may choose to purchase the pastries already shaped and frozen, requiring baking only.
Fats are important to health, as well as food preparation. Fats help give diners a feeling of satiety and contribute to cellular functions and vitamin absorption in the body, making them critical despite the bad rep they have received from dieters over the years. In food preparation, fats are used for inducing browning, creating emulsions, developing textures, and adding flavor. Fats, or lipids, are a group of molecules in which most types of cooking oil and cooking fat are included.
The Chemistry of Cooking Fat and Oil
Cooking oils and fats are made up of molecules containing chains of fatty acids. Saturated fats are fats that have no double bonds within the fatty acid chains. This causes the chains to be relatively straight and able to stack on top of each other, creating a solid structure, as seen in butter and other cooking fats from animal origins, at room temperature. Unsaturated fats contain double bonds within the fatty acid chains, which bend the molecular structures and allow fluidity or freedom of movement between the chains, as seen in many plant fats, or oils. Though double bonds and fat fluidity are associated with healthier fats, they also make the molecules more susceptible to oxidation and smoking when overheated both undesirable processes in the commercial kitchen and in terms of health.
The lengths of the fatty acid chains affect the properties of the fat as well. Shorter chains are more likely to be liquid at room temperature, while longer chains tend to be solid. Longer chains are also less soluble in water, the effects of which are seen with separation of oil from other ingredients in foods such as salad dressing and in the process of clarifying
How to prevent bacteria in the kitchen is an issue that concerns every cook, whether at home or in a commercial kitchen. Bacteria have become infamous for causing food spoilage and sicknesses, but they’re not all bad. There are millions of species of bacteria, and though some of them can cause illness, and even death, others are used in the cosmetic, biotechnology, high tech, environmental, and petroleum industries for various purposes. Yogurt, cheese, wine, beer, and many other foods, could not be prepared without the help of specific types of bacteria. In a commercial kitchen, however, restaurant staff should create a restaurant kitchen cleaning checklist to prevent the spread and growth of unwanted and damaging bacteria.
Strategies for How to Prevent Bacteria
Microbial growth usually slows in cold temperatures. Therefore, keeping foods in refrigerators and freezers can help slow the spoilage process. Most chefs know that it is not recommended to refreeze thawed food, especially meats, poultry, and fish. Though this piece of advice helps prevent texture deterioration, the main reason for not refreezing thawed foods is that when food is defrosted, bacteria on it and in it are given good conditions to grow, with a food source and comfortable temperatures. If the food is then refrozen and re-thawed, those bacteria that grew the first time around are given a chance to multiply, increasing the bacterial count in the food, and increasing the chances of spoilage and harmful side effects or sickness as a result of eating the food.
Bacteria in food can spread to surfaces that come into contact with it, including cutting boards, knives, workers’ hands, and counters. Therefore, keeping the restaurant kitchen clean and organized is of the utmost importance. Commercial kitchen appliances and all kitchen equipment should be washed frequently with hot, soapy water. Restaurant staff should frequently wash their hands with warm water and soap, especially after handling raw ingredients and before handling cooked or ready to serve foods. Some bacteria, when faced with tough conditions such as heat, can develop spores. Spores are dormant forms of bacteria that can survive extreme conditions and cleaning processes. Though spores themselves aren’t harmful, when placed in a compatible environment once again, spores can develop into bacteria which can lead to food spoilage or sickness. Cleaning kitchen equipment and
Customer service is one of the deciding factors for the success of a restaurant. Wait staff pagers are slowly cropping up as a better way to serve customers, but are they the right way to solve the puzzle of smoothly running the dining room? Waiter call buttons are a useful way for customers to let wait staff know they are ready to order, need something, or want to pay the bill. Restaurant pagers are also an efficient way for chefs to notify restaurant staff that dishes are ready to be delivered to tables. However, restaurant pagers may be uncomfortable for customers to use, eliminating the personal contact and challenge of getting the attention of wait staff, and replacing bad customer service with a foolproof technological solution.
Customer Service and the Restaurant Ambience
Top notch customer service is a very impressive characteristic for venues to have. Hiring caring and attentive restaurant staff is a sure-fire way to improve customer loyalty. Restaurant pagers enable customers to notify staff when they need something, providing the table location to wait staff for the fastest and most efficient service possible. However, to some extent, restaurant pagers also eliminate the challenge of providing good customer service, making it less impressive to customers. If waiters know exactly when and where a table needs service, can serving those tables quickly be labeled as good customer service? On another note, when a venue is packed and wait staff are obviously having a hard time juggling all their tasks, pressing the call button may be uncomfortable for customers, but they may not have a choice. If restaurant pagers are present, wait staff will not necessarily check on a table if not summoned by the call button, making use of