restaurant tips and advice

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How to Make a Restaurant Seating Plan

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Creating a restaurant seating plan is one of the crucial steps of the planning stage in opening a restaurant. The seating plan you design depends on several factors. One of the main factors is the type of restaurant you plan to open. Will it be a quick service restaurant, a family-style restaurant such as a diner, a fast casual restaurant, a café or an upscale bistro? Each of type of restaurants will have different layouts. A quick service restaurant will typically feature tables and chairs with easy to clean, fixed vinyl booths along the walls. Family-style restaurants or diners will typically have more booth with comfortable, fabric or vinyl upholstery. bistros will usually have a mixture of chairs, booths and bar stools. Making a seating plan will help you experiment with various seating layouts and find one that meets your needs.

The next important factor is the number of guests you plan to serve. To determine this you will have to take into account space requirements for the dining room and the maximum safe occupancy of your establishment as determined by the local fire department or county planning zone commission.

One of the first steps in drawing up your seating plan is measuring the interior space of your restaurant and its areas such as the dining room, the kitchen, storage, restrooms, server station waiting area and any other area that takes up floor space. The floor area of your dining room and patio if you have one will help determine your seating capacity and your seating layout.

The next step should include a detailed layout of your restaurant’s floor plan. The sketch should make note of windows and doors and include your measurements. The cashier counter and other stations should be included as well as anything else that will take up floor space. (more…)

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Teach Your Servers to Increase Sales

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By investing the time to properly teach you servers how to sell better, you can significantly increase your profits. Waiters and waitresses should be more than just people who take orders and bring the food to the table. They are the restaurant’s sales agents. Training your servers to become sales agents can add to your bottom line and is more important than ever in this sluggish economy when fewer people are dining out. In order to turn your servers in a strong sales force, they will need the proper training.

First of all, servers should be using the menu as a sales brochure. They should not only know everything that is on the menu, they should also know the ingredients of each one. This is all the more important if one of your diners has an allergy which they mentioned and your server suggested a dish that causes a severe allergic reaction. Servers should also know the features and benefits of each dish so they can promote them with confidence.

Suggestive selling is very important when it comes to increasing profits. This is also known in the industry as “padding the bill”. Traditionally this used to refer to servers suggesting an appetizer, dessert or an alcoholic drink. This can also include suggesting a combination appetizers and an entrée to give the diner more of a selection. Servers should also suggest adding meat, poultry or seafood to a salad. Also have serves suggest sides to entrees such as mushrooms or cheese on steak or charging extra for including a small soup, salad, fries or other extra.

The profit margins on alcoholic drinks such as cocktails, wine and beer are big and these drinks can add a lot of dollars and cents to the bill. Servers should be suggesting drinks that quench thirst on hot summer days such as daiquiris, pina coladas or wine coolers on hot days. On cold days, suggest drinks that will warm up chilly customers such as brandy, whiskey, Irish coffee or hot buttered rum. Your servers should also be suggesting a wine to complement the meal, and they should have the proper training to know which wine to suggest. For example, bold red wine such as cabernet should be paired with red meat, cured meats and hard cheese. Rich white wine such as a Chardonnay should be paired with soft cheeses, seafood, starches and white meat. Beer is always popular and you can increase sales by suggesting the table share a pitcher or a carafe of wine. When ordering dessert suggest a night cap, but be sure your staff can tell the signs of intoxication and overselling alcohol. If they see guests are intoxicated,  try to prevent customers from driving home drunk because as the owner of the restaurant, you  could be liable if there is an accident. Suggest a taxi if your guests are intoxicated.

Keep an open eye and an open ear for special customers celebrating special occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries, graduations or other special occasions. Also they should be looking out for special phrases such as “I’m starving” or “what do you suggest”. For someone who indicates they are very hungry, servers should suggest the chef’s platter and a more expensive menu item such a prime rib for a diner that is looking for suggestions. If you have a dessert cart, have serves bring it by because most people eat with their eyes.

Selling may not come natural for all of your servers, so provide training sessions. The more enthusiastic the servers are about the menu items they are selling the more customers will buy. A smile also goes along way and friendly servers will increase profits, as will prompt service. A larger bill means a larger tip, so encourage your servers to sell as this will increase their income as well.

 

 

 

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Restaurant Food Safety – Protect Your Customers & Yourself

food-safety   As a business owner, your number one concern should be the health of your customers and your workers.  Being careless in food safety can cost you more than just profits, it could mean losing your business if someone gets sick or worse dies from food poisoning from your restaurant.  These days with the Ebola virus threatening a worldwide pandemic people are more concerned than ever about getting sick and restaurant that have reputations as being unsanitary or not following health and safety regulations will lose business.

Restaurants in China and Japan like McDonalds have reported heavy losses due to food poisoning due to unscrupulous suppliers selling meat that didn’t follow food safety standards. This is why it is important to know your suppliers and make sure they are following food safety regulations. One of the advantages of buying your food locally is you know where the food is coming from. You can inspect the source of your food or make sure the local health inspector ensures that they are following food safety regulations. Also the less distance your food has to travel from the source to your restaurant the greater chance that it will be more fresh and uncontaminated. When food like meat, dairy and fish have to travel long distances there is an increased change for bacteria or viruses to grow and spread especially if the food has not been properly refrigerated or kept at the correct temperature throughout the journey from the farm to your business. The is also a greater chance of contamination since typically when food is traveling long distances more people are handling the food. (more…)

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Make Your Restaurant Food Allergy Friendly

As a restaurant owner, educating yourself and your staff about food allergies is essential.

Although the number of adults and children with food allergies is relatively small, restaurant owners should be more aware of this unique group of customers. Allergic reactions can result in death in the worst case scenario. Restaurant owners have a responsibility to educate staff about food allergies and to communicate to patrons about potentially problematic menu items.

While restaurant owners are now under a certain obligation to address the issue of food allergies for reasons of social responsibility and legal protection, some restaurants have taken their handling of the issue to another level.

Many local restaurants and popular nationwide chain restaurants, such as Red Robin and California Pizza Kitchen, have instituted special menus for customers suffering from allergies. Being an allergy friendly restaurant can help you win people suffering from allergic reactions and their families as new patrons. The following is some key information on food allergies that can help restaurateurs better and more responsibly serve this community.

In the United States, approximately 6% of all American children under the age of three and about 1.5% of all adults suffer from food allergies. There are eight foods that cause allergies and the FDA has mandated that warnings must be placed on the labels of products containing them. The food allergies which are considered the most common include the following:

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Restaurant Redecorating with Personalized Style

restaurant interior designCheap methods for restaurant redecorating can create excitement for owners and patrons. Designing an overall decorating theme that can be enhanced with accents.

Just as with your home, restaurant redecorating can be tastefully accomplished without breaking the bank. It may increase business as customers return more often to see the latest changes. Develop your personalized style and theme, and then create an overall plan. Some restaurant owners may prefer to implement their scheme gradually, while others prefer a one-time transformation. Seasonal accents are always popular and can be designed using inexpensive accents from nature. Regardless of how it is accomplished, restaurant redecorating cheaply will allow you to create new scenery that customers will appreciate.

Understanding where to scrimp and where to spend the majority of your budget will help create an overall plan for restaurant redecorating. The most important aspect of a restaurant is ensuring that customers are comfortably seated in sturdy durable restaurant chairs with ample space at their tables. This is important visually, for the comfort of patrons and from a liability aspect. This should be where the largest quantity of your decorating fund is spent. Determining the theme and the décor that you want to project with the restaurant, whether French provincial, Southwest, family dining, or any other, will dictate the style of furnishings purchased. Chairs are available in a variety of styles to match any décor and table. The tables themselves can be large or small, round or square, tall or low. Glass covered, wood, tile, wrought iron or covered with wood grain are all popular alternatives that will complement the theme. Benches and dining booths may be used to replace tables and chairs, particularly in small areas where they provide a more efficient use of space. (more…)

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Go Eco-Friendly to Save Money and Gain Customers

 There are many business owners today who are taking the principles of going green at home and applying them in the form of restaurant advice in order to become eco-friendly, save money, and gain more customers in the process. The following tips should spark some ideas on what you can do to create a greener dining establishment.

Start reducing energy costs by saving water in the kitchen – Installing boiler-less steamers, energy-efficient dishwashers, and pre-rinse spray valves in the kitchen will save water and lower monthly energy costs.

Go green when redecorating – One piece of restaurant advice that is overlooked is that finishes and paints with low volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions should be used when redecorating.

Install energy-efficient lighting – If incandescent light bulbs are being used, start switching them over to energy-efficient lights and compact fluorescent bulbs. For accent lighting, use energy-efficient LED fixtures whenever possible. According to the EPA, energy costs can be reduced up to 20% by doing this, which in turn could mean an additional 33% in profitability.

Go greener in bathrooms – Convert sinks, toilets, and urinals to high-efficiency models. Be sure that the fixtures that are purchased and installed exceed efficiency levels mandated by the federal government.

Use caution with cleaning products – Look for cleaning products containing a reduced amount of harmful chemicals. Paper towels and plastic products that are being used should be made from recycled materials. Be sure to replace those older, noisy hand dryers with newer models that operate at high velocity.

Install renewable flooring – One of the best pieces of restaurant advice to consider involves the types of flooring materials used. Bamboo is highly recommended because it exhibits the durability of most hardwoods while at the same time being renewable. It can be grown sustainably and can easily regenerate within a few years. Additionally, always look for flooring materials that are formaldehyde-free.

Increase recycling efforts – Rather than just throwing away those things that would normally get tossed in the garbage, consider recycling by:

o Bundle up recyclable metals along with paper and plastic containers
o Collect burned out fluorescent light bulbs and spent batteries
o Compost food products

Not only is this better for the environment, it will increase the restaurant’s revenue stream.

Replace counter tops – One of the more overlooked tidbits of restaurant advice involves the replacement of counter tops. Materials such as recycled glass and paper are oftentimes used to manufacture some very attractive and durable counter tops. When the time comes, consider replacing those old counter tops with ones made from recycled materials.

Practice greener grounds management – If the restaurant has a lawn area, work on reducing the size of it as well as the chemicals that are being used on it and the irrigation used to water it. Consider adding native plants and planting an organic kitchen garden.

The final bit of restaurant advice could generate additional customer traffic. On the back of the menus, print how the restaurant has taken the necessary steps to become eco-friendly and help to preserve the environment. This is sound advice for customers to take home and apply there as well.

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