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September 2011 ideas index

Promotions: Restaurant week getting tired? Branch out. Cities are finding new promotional life by showcasing local ingredients in addition to local restaurants

Sourcing: Keeping with the local theme: don’t just grow a garden—farm

Design: The big idea behind the industry’s design renaissance is to make more money from existing units by upgrading them—instead of opening new units

“If you walk up to a cheap storefront door, it’s telling you something about what’s going to happen inside”

The color palette you choose says something about your food. Bright yellows, greens and oranges say “freshness”

Different diners have different needs. Split your space up into “zones” catering to your different customers

Portioning: Meals portioned for 6 year olds may not be big enough for 10 year olds

Menuing: Adults get to customize, let kids do it too. Freshii is finding success with it

Promotions: Kids say they like going out to eat because they get to hang out with their parents. Give them ways to interact and have fun together

Marketing: Let mom-bloggers know about your healthy kids menu. They’ll tell their audiences

Recruitment: Pose server jobs as steps to bigger things, whether those steps are inside your organization or outside

Get good service someplace? Carry recruitment cards to hand out to people who show great customer service

Expansion: To find out about near-bankrupt chains to purchase on the cheap, networking is key: investment bankers, franchise networks, landlords and even suppliers can all have valuable intelligence

Operations: You need a clear, consistent dress code for employees. And, like a lot of things, you can get into legal trouble if you don’t watch your step. Always run employee manuals by legal

Cooking: Often-overlooked benefit of sous vide cooking method? A space saver

Purchasing: It pays to broaden and upgrade your appetizer selection. Today’s economy-minded patrons are making meals out of smaller menu items. Think samplers, shareables

Service: Think of unconventional ways to organize your wine list. It can generate interest. One sommelier is organizing based on soil type where the grapes are grown, and he’s finding increased sales

Marketing: Tweeted complaints make you twinge? Show you care about service by asking the disgruntled guest to come for a VIP visit

Recruitment: Instead of focusing on pay, talk up the benefits you provide to new hires. The extras have more value than they ever have

Marketing: Get customers on your website by creating a scavenger hunt, hiding your mascot on a page of your site

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