All posts by Brian Hampton
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,
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.
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
It’s kind of ironic how whole wheat flour is more expensive than white flour, even though the preparation process in the factory is identical, except for white flour going through various extra steps. The explanation for this absurdity lies in the popularity of healthy eating culinary trends. Restaurants offering meals with high nutritional value can be extremely successful, depending on their target market. However, restaurants hoping to appeal to a large and varied customer base must find ways to work within the framework of culinary trends such as healthy eating, while keeping their prices down. Obvious options include offering low food-costs meals made with in-season produce and slightly cutting down portion sizes. However, many businesses invest in nutritional value in areas that are not necessarily worth the investment. Despite the faulty ideas behind some of these trends, a few of them are worth keeping, for purposes of restaurant marketing.
Trends to Keep
Organic food is one of the culinary trends that has gotten major attention over the years. Pesticides are a proven danger, and no one will argue that it is best to stay clear of coming into contact with them. However, despite the beliefs of an overwhelming percentage of the public, organic farms do use pesticides: organic ones. Organic farms do tend have some practices that are better for the environment than other, larger industrial farms, but not using pesticides is not one of them. So why is organic food a trend to keep? Offering organic food or having an organic restaurant is a great way to increase restaurant business among customers concerned with healthy eating, if only because the lack of public awareness as to the definition of organic food. Despite the higher price of organic foods, businesses with a healthy restaurant focus should consider splurging on this gimmick in order to increase restaurant business
Customers are demanding in today’s day and age. Not only are they looking for unique foods, they simultaneously seek healthy restaurant options. Various articles have cited that unusual cuts of meat such as rabbit, pigeon, and goat meat, will become culinary trends in 2014. It turns out that these meats have higher nutritional value than typical types of meat, and can be prepared in a wide variety of preparation methods. By learning and experimenting with various unusual cuts of meat, restaurants can set themselves apart and expand their menus.
Rabbit meat is a rather versatile type of meat that is often compared to chicken in terms of flavor and texture. It can be prepared in a variety of cooking methods, similarly to chicken. It is generally considered an excellent source of high quality protein, and promotes healthy eating by being leaner than chicken, beef, and pork. Sometimes rabbit meat gets a bad rep for its association with various health concerns due to its lean composition and lack of essential fatty acids. However, for customers looking for healthy restaurant options, rabbit meat is a great choice. Even restaurants such as Chez Panisse and The French Laundry have taken to using rabbit meat in various dishes, such as buttermilk-fried rabbit.
Goat meat is widely consumed worldwide. Similar to lamb and veal, different parts of the animal can be prepared with different cooking methods which include grilling, braising, frying, and slow-cook cooking methods. Goat meat usually (but not always) has a stronger, gamey-er flavor than other types of meat, making it appeal to a smaller sector of customers compared to beef. Despite this potential drawback, customers concerned with healthy eating will be drawn to cuts of meat
Vegetarianism has been looked to in recent years for more than just ideological reasons. Vegetarian, or largely vegetarian diets are culinary trends often associated with higher health benefits when compared to meat-centered diet alternatives. Hard-core meat fans sometimes have a hard time grasping the idea that a hardy meal can be created without meat as the main. However, many delicious meatless protein alternatives exist that are making their way onto menus in venues other than the typical vegetarian restaurant, expanding the taste profile of the dishes, and expanding the possible customer base by providing meals for vegetarians and health-conscious diners.
How to Plan Meatless Meals
Meatless protein foods are usually considered the biggest challenge when it comes to planning meals for vegetarians. However, by researching and getting to know ingredients, chefs and cooks will have no problem conjuring balanced vegetarian meals that contain a variety of vegetarian health benefits. Below are just a few examples of meatless proteins
The food industry is plagued with high restaurant job turnover rates. Though cooking jobs seem ideal to many aspiring chefs, history has shown that newcomers to the field often do not stay in it for long, and experienced chefs tend to move around from venue to venue. Rarely does a cook dream of working in one venue for his/her whole career. Usually he/she does so in order to gain experience in the hopes of eventually starting a restaurant business. If a restaurant kitchen is lucky enough to have an outstanding cook or chef, it should go out of its way to keep him/her on staff.
How to Spot a Good Restaurant Kitchen Employee
A good restaurant employee is responsible, clean, talented, and motivated. With the frequency of issues such as restaurant theft and the high restaurant turnover rate, a restaurant kitchen with good employees should hold on to them. The person in charge of restaurant hiring should keep an eye on restaurant employees, especially restaurant kitchen staff, and take note of the qualities of each one.
How to Keep Employees Happy
Cooking jobs are tough. But coping with the stress and sweat of a restaurant kitchen can be enjoyable, especially for motivated employees. In order to reduce the restaurant turnover rate of excellent restaurant kitchen staff, the business owner, chef, and manager should make sure that employee satisfaction is as high as it can be. An employee satisfaction survey is a great way to get an honest idea about how happy employees are, while allowing them to do so through a safe, anonymous platform. An alternative to an employee satisfaction survey is to have an open, close relationship with restaurant kitchen staff, discussing issues with them and showing that that they are trusted and appreciated. Having such a relationship will make a restaurant kitchen employee
In the third quarter of 2013, tourists purchased about $903 billion worth of goods, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The tourism industry is huge, and, luckily for restaurants, includes dining out. In fact, culinary tourism is gaining momentum. More and more, tourists are choosing dining locations for the purpose of learning the food and culture of a country or region. Authentic restaurants, as well as high-end venues, can benefit from this trend directly. However, any venue can create a restaurant marketing plan that will focus on bringing in tourists and getting a piece of the profits that can be had from the tourism industry.
Here are 5 tips for drawing tourists to your venue:
1. Get a Tripadvisor Business Listing
Tripadvisor business listing and other tourism marketing sites are great ways for tourists to hear about your venue and read reviews written by past customers. Consumer apps that show menus of venues in different areas are also effective in getting the word out about a restaurant. Venues should get intact with these platforms to find out how to get listed. If a venue serves good food and has a high level of customer service, such free restaurant advertising sites can be extremely effective tourism marketing by making the venue seem appealing.
2. Have a Website and/or Social Media Page
Once tourists have read about a venue on a tourism
Chefs like Eméril and Paula Deen are now the faces of branded retail chef products. Wolfgang Puck has his name on dish sets as well, and Taco Bell co-Branded with Doritos to make the popular Doritos-flavored taco shells. For budding chefs, who have yet to make a name for themselves, chef products will not succeed based on name alone. But, in regards to restaurant brands, is it worth it for more modest businesses to pursue branded retail food product lines? The answer depends on the business’s goals, interests, and funds or investors.
Going Big in Food Branding
Selling branded retail food products in supermarkets is not as simple as it sounds. Businesses will need to make sure they have all the proper licenses for operating a food manufacturing business, as well as ensure they are aware of all the food safety regulations related to preparing and packaging retail food. Though homemade food such as artisan bread and homemade sauces are great additions to a restaurant, restaurant brands of retail food will be subject to a lot more regulation and requirements. In addition, supermarkets will usually only buy from suppliers that have the ability to keep up with their demand. This means that a business must be prepared to invest in equipment to facilitate large quantities of production. For some restaurant brands, projecting an appearance of offering homemade food is extremely important. However, even retail food marketed as homemade sauces or artisan bread will
Some of the public has a romantic notion that the best food can be found in a food truck, at anytime, anywhere. Food truck owners enjoy relatively low venue expenses, and freedom to operate as a gourmet fast food venue, mostly having to worry about quick restaurant service and rounding up customers. Those thinking of starting a food truck business, though, should be careful to read up on legislation, as each city has its own regulations about where a food truck can operate, among other logistics. Winter weather should also be taken into consideration, as business and convenience of operating decrease significantly in unpleasant weather. A food truck should be focused, simple for customers to understand, and offer food that is simple to serve, in order to be most successful.
The Concept of a Restaurant…In a Food Truck
Since food trucks offer such a small workspace and are under pressure to sell quick meals, most of the components of the dishes will have to be prepared in advance. More than the food though, they must be able to draw customers who want a particular type of food, and advertise accordingly. A food truck that offers a little of this and a bit of that will not be focused enough to draw customers craving a specific type of food. Customers of a food truck are usually looking for fast food because they are in a rush, or on-the-go, so they should be able to guess or