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I’ll never stop trying out new ideas—that’s how I invented the Cronut. But I learned early that you should use an idea when you come up with it. When I started in a professional kitchen at age 16, I worked 16-hour days for $25 a week. I finally saved up enough money to...

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You have to look at everything with the customer’s eyes. There are things you can’t see unless you’re looking at the menu while sitting in a chair and relaxing for a minute. It’s not just looking at price points but the sensibility of the menu. [For example,] are there...

When it comes to getting national recognition, social media, especially Instagram, has given us the best return. But to reach out to local customers in my neighborhood in a cool way, I decided to try USPS direct mail. To promote our new wine list, I had a local artist...

We always have our new employees sit down to a full seven-course dinner with beverage pairings. By experiencing the “grand menu,” they learn what fine food tastes like and excellent service feels like. This, in turn, inspires them to perform at a higher level and take...

Since we operate multiple concepts, we use an inventory system with automatic updates, synced with both our point-of-sales system and our analytics platform. This allows us to run a daily analysis of food costs and labor costs. Daily diligence is the only way to keep...

Atlanta diners are not too adventurous, but I want to get my customers to accept new trends that start in New York or San Francisco. It spurs my creativity in the kitchen. There’s a particularly steep learning curve when it comes to menuing seafood. We can’t serve a...

We change our menu specials weekly and like to constantly alert our regular customers to encourage return visits. Sending out weekly e-blasts to our guests who have opted in is the most effective way to do this. Nothing flashy or wordy—just a simple blast of the weekly...

I try to source locally as much as possible for my seven locations. To improve the quality of our produce and lower food costs, I found it pays to contract directly with a farmer for the season ahead. It’s likely you will pay a bit up front to help share the cost with...

Every once in a while, re-engage with food. [When developing JBar, opening in Iowa this summer], I started to get involved with chefs in testing some menu items. I recommend it for anyone in the restaurant business at my level at a multiunit operation who might spend...

By pricing your by-the-glass sparkling selection at a lower price point you will entice guests to drink more, resulting in less waste and more rapid turnover of inventory. Sparkling wine becomes stale more quickly than still wine. When pricing your by-the-bottle...

The best ceviche is not made with a specific type of fish or the most expensive catch, but rather with the freshest fish you find in the market. For example, during Florida’s stone crab season, I make my ceviche with crab claws. First, I submerge the claws in boiling...

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