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50 Great Ideas

50 Great Ideas

42. Personalized weekly messages

The foodservice director at Coppell Middle School in North Coppell, Texas, boosts morale by writing a personalized weekly message to staff, expressing gratitude for their work.

50 Great Ideas

48. Throughput-boosting equipment

To increase efficiency, Firehouse Subs’ new prototype kitchen is 25% smaller than the original, and that means smaller equipment. New custom-designed sandwich steamers have drawers that can be stacked to save space and steam more subs at once.

Every week, Woodhull Public House in Yarmouth, Maine, offers a new taco, allowing customers to be the official tasters and decide if the item will join the menu permanently.

Inspire Brands, the parent company of Buffalo Wild Wings, Sonic Drive-In and Arby’s, fired up a new website that details the chains’ economic and social impact on each state where they operate. The site shows how much its brands donated to philanthropic causes state by state and nationally, as well as how many jobs are provided and recently created in each state by its restaurants, how much economic activity is generated, how many franchisees are located in the market and how many restaurants have been built.

Third-party delivery drivers are the in-person representation of a restaurant brand, even though they don’t work for that concept. So restaurants should think about winning those drivers over: Make them feel welcome and treat them as guests, said Skip Kimpel, VP of IT for Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza, at the Restaurant Innovation Summit.

Upscale-casual chain Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurants rewards general managers and executive kitchen managers with free BMW leases for three years based on their ability to develop staffers. At a time when good labor—especially at the management level—is hard to come by, the program encourages managers to develop and mentor quality employees and build new leaders, even as they work on the day-to-day business.

“Social media needs to be personal. I’ve seen voices that don’t match the brand,” said Donnie Madia, partner of One Off Hospitality in Chicago, at the National Restaurant Association Show. The in-house social media experts for the multiconcept operator develop feeds for each individual concept, following the three C’s: consistency, content and community.

Customization options continue to expand. Jose Andres’ Mercado Little Spain in Hudson Yards in New York offers a gazpacho bar displaying several varieties in pitchers set on ice. Customers choose their variety, it’s poured into a cup and they get a choice of garnishes.

Golden Corral looked at how it retains high-potential workers who want a career with the brand. The chain adjusted its trainer and management education to teach them not just the tactical skills of running a restaurant, but also soft skills such as giving feedback and alerting a manager to a red flag, said John Aiken, senior director of learning and development, at the Restaurant Leadership Conference. One way the chain is doing this is by incorporating in-person classroom learning, bringing GMs to its headquarters in Raleigh, N.C., for a week.

Burger King is aiming to win over coffee customers by creating repetitive guest patterns. The $5-per-month subscription program brings diners back on a regular basis, getting them into the store and increasing the potential that they’ll purchase something else in addition to coffee.

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