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50 Great Ideas

50 Great Ideas

50 Great Ideas

In today’s hypercompetitive restaurant industry, the slightest edge can make a difference. The ideas collected here range from small tweaks such as dedicated gum-disposal slips to transformational changes such as solar-powered restaurants. But each one has the potential to make a positive impact for operators.

50 Great Ideas

50 Great Ideas 2019

Each of this year's 50 Great Ideas has the potential to make a positive impact for operators.

When CaliBurger introduced robotics into its back of house, it repositioned both staffer tasks and training. Tasks that staff don’t love doing—scrapping on the grill, working the fryer, etc.—are being automated, and jobs are being repositioned to “chef tech” roles, with training programs in place for how to run automated equipment.

An optional surcharge on customers’ bills at Daisies in Chicago helps pay for workers’ health insurance, adding up to about $100 a month per employee. The restaurant pays the rest, which helps recruit and retain talented employees.

In a package targeted at part-time employees, Chipotle announced it will award crew members bonuses of up to a month’s pay over the course of a year. The quarterly bonus program, which awards bonuses equal to a week’s pay to staff on teams that meet certain sales, cash flow and throughput targets, is designed to help attract and retain top workers.

Sandwich chain Jersey Mike’s has a lingo that not only helps staffers but also makes loyal guests feel like insiders. Diners can ask for “CPR” for cherry pepper relish, “light juice” for light oil and vinegar or for their sub to be “gutted” if they don’t want all the bread.

Diners at Del’s Hideout in San Diego receive call buttons upon ordering at the counter. The push-button technology features a GPS device that quickly notifies servers via a smartwatch if a guest requires attention. Del’s three-button system allows guests to easily order another round of food and beverages, request the bill and more without the hassle of waiting in line or having to flag down a server.

In a clever way to market to parents who come in with fussy kids, hotel restaurant Fager’s Island Restaurant & Bar in Ocean City, Md., calls its kids menu “Kid Friendlies,” with items named for kids’ moods. The “I don’t care” is a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich, the “I don’t want that” is code for french fries, and the “What?” is a cheese quesadilla, among other offerings. As an added perk, when a child tells a parent they aren’t hungry, the adult can say there’s something on the menu for that.

At University of Wisconsin-Superior, Sous Chef Sandy Thompson makes use of excess food with dog treats. She puts leftovers such as sweet potatoes, oatmeal, turkey bacon and peas in the freezer and whips up a batch of treats when she has 16 quarts’ worth, adding just egg and flour. The operation donates most of the treats to the humane society.

Known for its french fries served with a wide range of toppings, Hopdoddy Burger Bar serves up its loaded fries in large metal bowls. Not only do the large bowls make for easy sharing, but they also make it easy for the kitchen to top and toss the fries.

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