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December 2011 Ideas Index

Menuing: A tablet menu that allows customers to filter items based on their dietary needs or cravings

Marketing: Add QR codes to your menu that link to videos of the chef preparing different dishes

Beverage: Locally sourced isn’t just for the plate. Get on the locally sourced soda bandwagon

Marketing: Looking for an out-of-the-box marketing idea? Follow Chipotle’s lead and develop an iPhone game

Promotion: Bartender spins a wheel to determine a 30-minute LTO drink special

Menuing: A French fry sampler featuring fries cooked in different oils, like duck fat, rice bran oil and a fruity olive oil

Back of the house: Want to go beyond the trend of “whole animal” cooking? Cook with blood. Hey, it’s an idea

Back of the house: Give your housemade pickles an international update with fish sauce, Mexican peppers, ginger, yuzu or the like

Beverage: There’s always a place for bars with a big selection of all kinds of beer or spirits, but what about going a different route: stock only one kind of spirit, but have every brand there is

Operations: Get in on mobile payments. Customers pay with their phone, avoiding credit card companies—and credit card fees

Marketing: Localize your social media effort.

Let individual units have their own pages separate from the corporate page

Marketing: Print up a business card that says, “You were really terrific. If you’re ever looking for another job, please give me a call.” The next time you encounter great customer service, hand that person one of those cards. That and 28 other ready-to-deploy marketing ideas

Hiring: Don’t worry about hiring someone who makes clear they want to eventually open their own restaurant (making them a future competitor). Just make sure you take proper precautions. You might get a future franchisee out of it

Marketing: Get more bang from your tweets by adding relevent hashtags, like #restaurant or #vegan

Menuing: No more local fruit available? Dig into sweet potatoes to create seasonal desserts that are hard to resist

Menuing: Looking for LTO inspiration? Revisit favorite menu classics like Bertucci’s did and update them for today’s tastes

Beverage: Hard cider—on tap and in the bottle—is a lower-alcohol drink that pairs well with a range of foods.

Buying: Check out the new push-button oatmeal dispensers to get breakfast customers in the door. Oatmeal will continue to be a hot trend in 2012

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