33. Instant icebreaker
Former Chili’s COO Kelli Valade starts conversations with line employees by asking them about their tattoos. It establishes an instant rapport, she says, and serves as a good conversation starter between hourlies and corporate officers.
36. Dinnertime delivery-only menu
To build business during its slower dinners hours, fast-casual chain Fresh & Co. in New York City is testing Fresh & Co. After Dark, an exclusive delivery dinner menu that customers can’t get in stores. The curated, scaled-down menu includes composed salads prepped for delivery as well as entrees, a few desserts and small plates.
Around Valentine’s Day, Corner Bakery Cafe created shareable cards highlighting certain menu items. The cards, with messages such as “I Ham Yours” and “Avacadon’t Ever Leave Me,” were shared across multiple social media platforms. “We really drove guest engagement via social during this time,” said CMO Donna Josephson during the National Restaurant Association Show.
California Pizza Kitchen is targeting families with catering packages specially designed for this group. It offers Dinner for 4 and Dinner for 6 options to ease ordering dinner for a family. The chain also offers a CPKids catering package that includes some of its classic pizzas and pastas for up to 12 diners.
Farmhouse Tavern in Toronto has found a way to attract customers on typically slower Sundays while also reducing food waste with its F*** Mondays program. The concept runs eight hourly promotions every Sunday, reducing prices and discounting items until all of the food is gone. The restaurant can close with an empty refrigerator until it reopens midweek.
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.