Archive for August, 2010

Beef O Brady’s Expands By Creating New Markets

August 11, 2010

With the ever-present need to find new ways of expanding, one restaurant chain has decided to take things to a whole new level and expand their restaurants into nontraditional locations such as college campuses, airports and even roadside stops.

Beef O Brady’s 238 restaurants, which focus on offering a family sports bar style dining experience, will soon be coming to an airport terminal and roadside plaza near you. The plan has been in the works ever since the company was acquired by Levin Leichtman Capital Partners at the beginning of the year. The new owners have also brought in new management in the form of former Cinnabon, Inc. executive Christopher Elliot.

Elliot in turn decided to recruit one of his former colleagues, Joe Uhl, a former owner of some Cinnabon franchises and James Walker who joined the company after a stint at Baja Fresh where he was the chief development officer. The new management has decided that a concerted effort will be made to grow the brand and a big part of their plans involve moving beyond the traditional comfort zone that Beef O Brady’s had occupied until now.

Beef O’Brady’s New Target: Colleges, Universities, and Airports

The move is however not entirely new to the company since they had already established a branch at the University of Southern Florida, though the move into airports and roadside plazas is a first for the company.

Even though Walker is committed to the new strategy he has implemented for the firm, he has also indicated that the traditional restaurants that his company had run until now will still be run and expanded as needed. He added that he does see plenty of room for growth in the traditional format as well.

Change is Good, but So is the Old Beef O’Brady’s Menu

Walker told reporters that he was determined to make sure that no one type of restaurant would be used to define the brand name, committing to expanding into smaller venues while still keeping the larger, traditional family restaurants working at full speed.

One of the areas specifically that Beef O Brady’s hopes to expand to with the new restaurants is the world of breakfast meals, something that traditionally was not served at the restaurants.

Technology Lovers Also Love Eating Out New Study Shows

August 9, 2010

It turns out that all those people plugging in their laptops at your restaurant may be good for business after all. A new study from Technomic shows that people who embrace technology more readily, including such products as smart phones, the new Apple iPad and of course social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter are prime customers for restaurants.

Do Tech Lovers Eat Out More Often?

Technomic surveyed about 1,000 people and found that just 8 percent of them could be called “innovators” or those who actually help create the new technologies while another 15 percent considered themselves “early adopters,” or people who bought into new technology almost as soon as it arrived on the market. The important thing for restaurateurs, however, was that the study found that both these groups of people tended to eat out more than the general public.

The survey showed that 83 percent of those who are classified as “innovators” are regular restaurant eaters and 72 percent of “early adopters” made the same claim. Just 65 percent of the remaining people in the survey said they eat out at least once a week. Even more telling was that 53 percent of innovators and 35 percent early adopters told Technomic that they eat out at fast casual restaurants regularly as opposed to just 20 percent of the general population.

Social Media for Restaurants

This means that restaurateurs need to start embracing new technology by offering various platforms to interface with their customers, including Facebook pages (Starbucks for example, an early adopter of this trend has now reached 10 million fans for their Facebook page) and Twitter updates.

Online Ordering Anyone?

Offering well thought out online ordering options may also help restaurateurs tap into this emerging market of technology buffs. Such innovations have been led by, of all places, the pizza industry, where major players such as Pizza Hut have made it super simple to place an order entirely on the Web.

Restaurateurs eager to tap into this new group of consumers, the Millenials or Generation Y as they are sometimes known can do so by making their restaurants as tech friendly as possible, offering free wifi and laptop plugs for customers to charge their equipment.

Serving Fresh Salsa or Guacamole? Better Make Sure You’re Not Serving E Coli On the Side!

August 7, 2010

If you serve guacamole or salsa in your restaurant, the Centers for Disease Control want you to be extra careful when preparing the vegetables in question. It turns out that improperly prepared Mexican dips are responsible for 1 out of every 25 food borne illness reports from restaurants. In fact, between 1998 and 2008, a study by the CDC found, some 3.9 percent of food borne illnesses were caused by the dips. This compares poorly to a previous study, done from 1984 through 1997 which found just 1.5 percent of food borne illnesses were caused by the same foods.

The report dealt primarily with fresh salsa and guacamole, especially the ones served by restaurants all over the country which prepare their own. The specific ingredients implicated in E Coli outbreaks have included such raw vegetables as hot peppers, tomatoes and cilantro.

It wasn’t always this way however. Prior to 1984, there was not a single reported outbreak of food borne illness related to Mexican dipping foods, perhaps because they were less popular back then.

The reason for the problems has to do with poor storage of the vegetables in question. The CDC found that they were often stored at room temperature, a level which allows diseases to breed more easily thus leading to increasing numbers of outbreaks. In twenty percent of such infections, the problem was workers who were themselves infected previously and who passed along the infection when preparing the foods in question.

The CDC says that all vegetables used in the preparation of salsa and guacamole should be kept refrigerated to minimize the chance of outbreaks and that the batches should ideally be done in smaller amounts so that they will not affect large numbers of diners in case an outbreak does manage to get through.

In essence, the CDC says that fresh salsa and guacamole should be quite safe as long as it is prepared and stored in accordance with proper food handling procedures, something that not all restaurants have been known to do.

McDonalds to Be Investigated by Chinese Food and Drug Administration

August 5, 2010

Leave it to the Chinese to begin an investigation of an American company. After the scandal a few years ago with tainted baby formula and dog food, China started taking things very seriously when it comes to food safety and they have now opened an investigation in food practices of McDonalds restaurants operating in the country.

The investigation surrounds two chemical compounds that are used in McDonald’s McNuggets. The story was first broken by the American CNN cable news channel, explaining how McNuggets include two chemicals, one, tertiary butylhydroquinone, or tBHQ is based on petroleum (yes, the same stuff you fill your car up with at the gas station) and is used as a preservative for the chicken treats. The other chemical in question, dimethylpolysiloxane is commonly used in the children’s toy Silly Putty. It is an antifoaming agent which is also commonly found in women’s cosmetics such as facial cream and mascara.

While McDonalds does not deny that the chemicals are present in their Chicken McNuggets, they do say that in the tiny amounts that they are used, the chemicals are completely harmless. Both the United States and Chinese Food and Drug Administration do allow the chemicals in certain amounts (and the chemicals are used in American Chicken McNuggets as well), however the Chinese Food and Drug Administration, unlike their American counterparts have called for an official investigation into the food safety of the McDonalds staple food.

The chemicals are typically permitted to be present in amounts of 10 mg per kilogram for the dimethylpolysiloxane and 0.2 grams per kilogram for tBHQ.

A McDonalds spokesman speaking to Bloomberg News said that the additives were well within the legal limits and that they were perfectly harmless. According to the same Bloomberg News report, McDonalds has ambitious plans for China, having already opened 1,146 stores with plans for 2,000 stores by the year 2013.

Shares of McDonalds Corporation are up more than three points since the beginning of July indicating that investors are clearly not concerned by this latest minor controversy.

Want to Bring in More Diners? Try an App

August 3, 2010

Kraft Foods has created an iPad application which allows parents to teach their children all about proper nutrition. The application or app as it is known in the industry is a $1.99 program that shows kids fun recipes, teaches them fast facts about nutrition and offers games and videos in order to make the point that food should be fun.

The app is intended to increase the presence of the Kraft brand name for children and their parents. Ideally, they will increasingly consider Kraft when they look for food products to purchase.

If It’s Good Enough for Kraft. . .

Of course, the fact that Kraft Foods has created this app brings up all kinds of possibilities for restaurateurs looking for ways to increase their own advertising without having to invest large sums of money. Put simply, developing a useful app for the iPhone or iPad doesn’t have to cost a fortune but can pay dividends for years to come.

Imagine for example creating an iPhone app which would allow customers to punch in certain common types of restaurant foods and get a rough idea of how many calories they include. While many cities and towns now require this information from larger restaurants, smaller places could easily digitize their entire menu, offering information at the fingertips of diners who have an app phone (typically iPhone or Android phone) available.

New Development Tools Available

For the do it yourself restaurateur who would like to offer useful apps for his or her customers, Google’s Android operating system now offers a way to create custom made apps using an object oriented design program. The idea behind the Google effort was to allow pretty much anyone to create a custom app in just a few minutes.

Imagine if you were to offer a custom app that allows people to figure out the tip they want to offer. While other such apps already exist, such an app would be easy to make and brand with your restaurant name so that you are always foremost in their minds, reminding them to spend their next evening out at your establishment.


Spice Up Your Burger Menu

August 1, 2010

Looking to make your burgers more exciting and thus increase business this summer? Consider spicing up your menu with a variety of ideas. Cargill Foods will even help you out this summer. They’ve arranged for a promotion to offer consumers some new great ideas for using ground beef this summer.

For example, they are asking consumers to consider new types of toppings for their burgers including such things as pineapples, Creole mustard, shredded carrots and buffalo wing sauce.

How You Can Benefit From This New Food Trend

While Cargill, of course, has their own reasons to wish to offer consumers these great ideas, you as a restaurateur can also bring in new and exciting menu ideas. In fact, many consumers first learn about a new and unusual taste sensation when they go out to eat at their favorite restaurant.

How often have you heard customers mention that they wished they could come up with something like what you offer in your restaurant? Why not offer them even more incentives to try something new by grabbing some of the ideas that Cargill has offered along with a few of your own?

Consider Alternative Cuts of Meat and Alternative Meats

While burgers are traditionally made out of beef, there is no reason you couldn’t offer your customers other kinds of burgers such as elk, buffalo and bison burgers. Each of those have their own unique flavors that will have your customers talking about your burger place for days and weeks to come.

Besides considering these meats, you can also consider other kinds of burgers made from beef. Ever tried a tongue burger? While tongue may not sound like the sort of thing you’d want to use for a burger, many consider it a high delicacy and the taste sensation would create an incredibly unique burger all your own.

Experimentation Makes for Great Restaurants

Experimenting with new ideas is simply the way that you take your ordinary restaurant from just a burger joint to the burger joint to go to in town. Give it a shot. You’ll thank us later.