April 2014

In This Issue

April 2014

The Power 20: Change agents facing the greatest challenges in the restaurant industry today. Plus, new hiring tactics and pop up secrets.

Digital Edition

Features

In every food town there’s a restaurateur who helps set the bar for the entire city—not just for the excellence of the food, but for the very culture. In New Orleans, it’s John Besh; in Chicago, Paul...

Among a seemingly endless list of food, beverage and hospitality jobs posted on Craigslist’s Denver site in early March, one stands out: “Lucky Pie LoDo Seeks Solid Human Beings.” The listing’s tone...

Think your job is a trial? Meet the individuals whose challenges earned them a place among this year’s leadership elite. The measure of a leader is not merely how profoundly he or she inspires, but...

In the Know

Buildouts often present a challenge in terms of design, layout and logistics, especially when the space previously housed something other than a restaurant. But a wave of operators have embraced the...

When Pizza Patrón rolls out its new spicy pepperoni pizza in early April, the company expects 15 percent of its franchisees to stand on the sidelines. It’s not the food or pricing that they have a...

Keeping a franchise system focused on the same priorities can be a challenge, especially when the chain is expanding at a dizzying clip, says Dickey’s Barbecue Pit President and CEO Roland Dickey Jr...

Why Sodikoff? Taking a less-than-traditional approach to restaurants, Sodikoff has launched a growing empire in Chicago in just over four years. His portfolio includes, among others, a hipster...

Carmike, operator of 252 movie theaters, recently reported a 7.3 percent fourth-quarter increase in sales and a $4.29 average spend per customer at concessions. The entertainment company says it...

In a sweeping announcement March 5, the Treasury delivered the news the business world had been waiting for: rules telling employers how they will need to track and report health care information to...

There are no more than 10,000 people in the country who possess Google Glass (those high-tech spectacles that allow wearers to take pictures and video and search the web with the sound of their voice...

Sure, you can toss around terms like “daypart” and “value added” with the grayest of long-timers. But a vocabulary update could be needed if you want to stay current on industry lingo. The standard glossary is being recast in terms and phrases that read like Greek to the uncool, as any attendee of COEX and other recent industry conferences can attest. Especially the cut-ups who sat in the back. Here are a few words to master if you don’t want to sound so yesterday: Occasions. The term is...

Best Practices

Whether your restaurant specializes in four-star, white-tablecloth service or authentic street food from the side of a truck, you would do well to think of it as a tourist destination. Having...

Pop-up restaurants have obvious marketing appeal for chefs—you’re getting your name out there through a different channel. A chef might want to introduce a new concept before it launches, as seen by...

Question: 
I want to open a restaurant but I lack knowledge about it. How do I start?
Answer: 

You started the best way, by acknowledging there is more to learn. I spend a lot of my time talking with people who have plans to open restaurants—some are ready and most...

Question: 
Why do restaurants promote the brand of ketchup on their tables but not their own brand?
Answer: 

What you’re asking about is brand equity. That is, how much do consumers value a given brand over a private label or generic?

Some products have high brand equity...

Question: 
We are a lunch restaurant that is very busy with a check average of $12 per guest.  We opened for dinner a few years ago and have had trouble getting the same crowd in at night.  The menu has some of the best sandwiches from lunch along with a handful of higher priced entrees.  We experience a disconnect between the two services and can't seem to get a cohesive crowd for dinner.  The restaurant is Modern American and the facility is very attractive.  Should we make our dinner menu more like the lunch menu, or should we add some of the dinner entrees to the lunch menu?  We would like your opinion about branding/cohesion for a restaurant where lunch always beats dinner revenues!
Answer: 

You answered your question about why your lunch and dinner services aren’t cohesive in your opening line, calling yourself a “lunch restaurant.” If you think of yourself...

Question: 
I heard about Dumb Starbucks. How is that even possible? And is it legal? What’s to prevent me from doing the same thing?
Answer: 

For those who missed the media blip this week, Dumb Starbucks was a parody restaurant in Los Angeles that used many...

Buying

The busier parts of the Boston metropolitan area are notorious for the parking challenges they pose to visitors. When Beat Hotel , a brasserie and bar in Cambridge, Mass., opened last year, it...

Design

A food hall “can only succeed if all of the operators work together and present a unified front for guests,” says Chris Jaskiewicz, COO of parent Gotham Organization, a real estate firm. For Gotham...

After an estimated $17 million, over a year of construction and several delays, New York City’s Tavern on the Green is ready to be unveiled. What customers and curious onlookers will see is a pared-...

Despite the technological advances in modern pots and pans, many restaurants are turning back to the time-tested traditional favorite, cast-iron cookware. Chefs cite some clear culinary advantages to...

Menu Innovation

Americans are drinking more wine on-premise and are more knowledgeable about it—two trends that are spurring interest in private-label bottles. In 2013, wine volume nationwide jumped by 1.5 million...

While happy hour conjures promises of $5 margaritas and two-for-one beers, this universal ploy for boosting beverage sales is by no means limited to the bar—or to a mere 60 minutes. Quick-service...

Ever since Black Bear Diner opened in 1995, made-from-scratch desserts have been important to the brand. The Redding, Calif.-based restaurant’s first offering, Blackbeary Cobbler, is still the No. 1...

Because Families make up the bulk of visitors to the Disney theme parks, it’s a challenge for food service operations to accommodate every type of food sensitivity. “Gluten-free requests have started...

It wasn’t long ago that kale would have been laughed off the menu. Now it’s the darling in the produce bin, showing up in pizzas and wraps, smoothies and frittatas and more. The leafy green has grown...

Leadership

Until The Home Depot opened its 500th store, co-founder and then-CEO Bernie Marcus personally trained every manager. “I don’t mean I spent a few hours with them and gave them a speech,” says Marcus,...

How do you stand out? Operators are pondering this question these days, because nobody wants to be a me-too restaurant. We asked some executives how they differentiate themselves, and this is what...

Growth is what every restaurant operator wants, be it in sales at a single operation or multiple units of a large, franchised chain. We asked Steven S. Little , author of “The 7 Irrefutable Rules of...

One thing restaurant industry folks always want to know when traveling is where to eat. As operators descend on Scottsdale, Ariz., for the Restaurant Leadership Conference, they’ll find a plethora of...

Editorials

There’s a good reason Ray Kroc was never recruited to be a lifeguard for the All-Industry Pool Party. When asked why McDonald’s didn’t deal with other chains, or even acknowledge their existence, he famously barked, “If a competitor was drowning, I’d stick a hose in his mouth.” Romeo’s House of Fruit Leather never really caught on with consumers, while Kroc’s restaurant venture … well, it fared better. But in this respect, I think the Zeus of our industry was wrong. As he himself said elsewhere...
Search for “job titles” on Google, and within the Top 3 hits, you’ll trip over a link for the Job Title Generator at bullshitjob.com —really. Not that I’m looking to redo my business card any time soon, but if I were, a click of the button on the website tells me that “dynamic accountability liaison” should reside next to my name. Nice, but “dynamic problem solver/latte lover” might be more accurate. Restaurant companies have done pretty well generating their own unconventional job titles, even...

Web Exclusives

The National Restaurant Association has said that stimulating tourism is crucial to restaurants’ growth , and one in four restaurant sales dollars can be attributed to tourism. So, understanding how...

As attendees of past RLCs can attest, many of the event’s management lessons come not from any stage, but from the 1,200 restaurant chain executives who pack the Westin Kierland. Conference...

Recipes