Archive for November, 2013

Bring a Little Saffron into The Restaurant

November 29, 2013

Saffron is one of those spices that many restaurants don’t mess with – mainly because it’s expensive! That said, if you serve dishes which include paellas, couscous, pilaf, risotto, or any kind of seafood such as shrimp or mussels, you’d do well to consider adding some saffron to the chef’s pantry. This distinctive herb has a unique, floral, and honey-like taste, with a slightly bitter after note. It can make all the difference when used with the above foods, as well as with a number of others. Here’s a bit of information and a few tips on using this ancient spice.

There’s a Reason Saffron Costs what it Does

Saffron can sell for up to $2000 a pound. While some of that cost may be due to the history of the spice, more of it has to do with how saffron is procured in the first place. You see, the spice we use as saffron is actually the dried stigma of the saffron flower. The thing is, it must be harvested by hand, removing each of the three stigmas from the crocus one at a time.

Furthermore, this painstaking work must be done at dawn before the flower opens. Worse, it takes 75,000 flowers to produce a single pound of saffron! Iran currently produces 90 percent of the world’s saffron and has a strict grading scale of color, taste, and fragrance to determine quality. The dried stigmas are red when you buy them, but it turns foods a rich golden color (which is why it’s also used for a dye).

Tips to Make the Best Use of the Saffron You Buy for Your Restaurant

With a spice this expensive, you’re going to want to use it sparingly. That said, there’s a few simple tips you can employ to get the most bang for your buck. First of all, buy the dried stigmas threads rather than the powdered form of saffron. While the powdered form is more potent and easier to measure, it also loses its flavor quickly. The best way to get every little bit of flavor from saffron is to crush up the threads and soak them in hot (not boiling) water, wine, or stock broth for about 15 minutes. You can then add this liquid to your recipes. Make sure to store dried saffron in airtight containers away from light to prevent it from breaking down.

Examples of How You Might Use Saffron in Your Restaurant

Saffron is most famously used in a French fish stew called bouillabaisse but there are a number of ways to utilize the spice in simpler dishes. Rice, for one, goes great with a pinch of saffron and some butter-sautéed onions. Try steaming some mussels with a bit of wine, garlic, and a touch of saffron for a unique, mouth-melting flavor. Smoked paprika, slivered garlic, and saffron mixed in olive oil serve as a delectable sauce for dipping bread and cooking shrimp.

Saffron is a strong spice, so a little goes a long way. Including it in your chef’s pantry is a simple way to add elegance and a rich, distinctive flavor to your menu offerings. Just remember not to use wooden spoons when cooking with saffron because they tend to absorb the color and flavor of this precious spice! For more ideas on how to make your restaurant pop, contact

Effectively Managing Generational Differences in the Workplace

November 29, 2013

With the possibility of having up to four generations in the restaurant workplace at once, it’s critical that you have a strategy in place to overcome generational differences. Without such a strategy, there’s bound to be tension in the ranks – which in turn affects your business’s overall success. Fortunately, bridging generational gaps is as simple as acknowledging and respecting differences, while looking for common ground. Here are the key understandings and strategies you’ll want to employ.

Recognizing and Working With Generational Sticking Points between Your Employees

The first step to working with generational differences is acknowledging that there are differences. The second step is inviting conversation around what those differences are. Generations differ drastically on a number of important points such as how they communicate, make decisions, share information, receive feedback, and show respect and loyalty. They also differ on what they think is appropriate in terms of dress codes, work ethic, behavior at work, and adherence to company policies and trainings.

The key realization is to understand that no one group is ‘right.’ We each developed our ethics around these matters according to the realities of the world we grew up in. Inviting conversation around this topic helps the different generations gain understanding and appreciation for each other, and is sometimes all it takes to relieve any mounting tension between groups.

Appreciate Generational Differences in the Workplace and Look for Common Ground

After you’ve spent some time fleshing out generational differences and needs, the next step is to start looking for common ground. While the differences between generations can be great, the underlying needs are the same. For example, take the sticking point of sharing information and knowledge. All people share the common need to have information in order to do their jobs well and feel like valued members of the team. How they want to give and receive that information is what varies from one generation to the next.

Learn to Flex and Resolve Generational Differences in the Workplace

Now that you’ve gained understanding for both the differences between generational needs and  areas of common ground, the next step is to take action. Ideally, you can find a way to flex so that the needs of each generation can be met. For instance, consider how the generations prefer to learn differently – with the Millennials preferring online training while the Traditionalists tend to prefer a classic classroom setting. Rather than catering to one group or the other, offer both options, let people choose and keep the focus on verifying that they have gained proficiency rather than on how they got it.

Where you can’t flex, find a way to resolve the issue. Utilize the unique strengths that each generation brings to the table and look for solutions which are mutually agreeable to everyone – after having had a thorough discussion with your staff about what everyone’s needs are.

The key to harmony between generations at work is communication, respect, and understanding. Fostering these values will immeasurably help to facilitate a strong, highly effective team for your business.

4 Elements Critical to Your Restaurant’s Mobile Website Success

November 22, 2013

There’s no escaping having a mobile website if you run a restaurant. And more than that, you want a mobile website that is easy and intuitive for your customers to use – one that leads them right to the information they’re looking for in a matter of seconds. Here are four simple rules of thumb to follow when designing your restaurant’s mobile website.

Simplicity is the Key to a Restaurant’s Mobile Website Success

The place for flowery speeches and inviting images of your restaurant’s food and services is on your main website. Your mobile website needs to provide only the most pertinent information given as succinctly as possible. As a restaurant establishment, the pertinent information that your mobile users are going to want is your location, business hours, menu, prices, and preferably the ability to place their order right then and there.

Don’t make them dig for that information! Ditch the heavy graphics and lengthy copy and shoot for straight and to the point. As a general rule of thumb, keep your mobile site to between 5-10 pages.

Make Sure Your Restaurant’s Mobile Site is Usable

Usability is the next major factor to consider in your restaurant’s mobile design. Obviously, your links and buttons need to be large enough to easily push on small touch screens. The more white space you provide around your links and buttons, the easier it is to get around – so don’t clutter up the space with unnecessary elements.

Make sure that the site is logically organized and categorized so that it is easy to get around as well. Everything they want to know should be right up front. Last but not least, take the time to ensure that every menu, image, button, and link is working properly.

Don’t Make Your Mobile Restaurant Customers Wait!

The number one reason users abandon mobile and regular websites alike is lengthy load times. Heavy graphics and video are the worst culprits here, so again, avoid these wherever possible – especially on mobile.

It’s also smart to keep in mind that while your site may look just fine on one smartphone or tablet, it may get totally goofed up on another. Therefore, it’s essential that you test your mobile site across a diversity of platforms before it goes live.

Analyze Your Restaurant’s Mobile Website Data to Better Understand Your Customer

There are a ton of tools that will give you valuable insight on how well you mobile website is serving its purpose. Basic analytics tools will tell you not only where you traffic coming from, but how the people are interacting with your site. You can see what areas are most prominently used as well as where users are leaving your site, and can then use that information to adjust your design accordingly. To make this information most useful to you, make it a practice to monitor and analyze your website’s performance and functionality on an on-going basis.

These simple rules of mobile website design hold true whether those customers are looking for your location, your menu and prices, or the order button itself. Avoiding having a complicated, dysfunctional, or sluggish mobile website will help your customers more easily browse and find the information they’re looking for – how to patronize your business! Find out more about making your site mobile friendly at

3 Tips for Effectively Using QR Codes in Your Restaurant Marketing Campaigns

November 18, 2013

Over the course of the last few years, QR codes have started popping up all over as businesses try to capture a share of the mobile market. As a restaurant, using QR codes can be quite effective in terms of directing people right to the promotions and information you want them to see – IF it’s done effectively. Here are three must-do tips to ensure that you’re getting the most out of using QR codes in your marketing campaigns.

Your Restaurant’s QR Codes need to have a Clear Purpose

It may seem obvious, but before you start using QR codes on your restaurant campaigns, take a second to ask yourself if having a QR code as part of the advertisement truly enhances the customer’s experience. You want to make sure that it’s worthwhile for the potential customer to go out of their way to scan the code. It’s important that they get something like discounts or special information for their effort – otherwise, why bother? If there’s an obvious benefit to participating by scanning your QR code, customers are more likely to participate.

Furthermore, size and placement of your QR code matters. It needs to be in an obvious location on the advertisement with a clear call to action so that people know what they’ll be getting by following it. Since people need to reach it with their phones, it also needs to be placed where it is accessible to viewers. Make sure the size of your QR code is in scale to the size of your advertisement as well – don’t put a tiny QR code on a big billboard, for instance.

Check Your Links, Shorten the URL, and Link only to Mobile for Restaurant QR Code Campaigns

When designing your QR code campaign, it’s critical that you print out the code at the size and medium you plan to distribute it on and then test it on a variety of different smartphones to ensure that it reads accurately. It’s also smart to use a URL-shortener like or to compact the amount of data you are storing in the QR code. Doing this makes the pixels in the code larger, and therefore easier to scan.

Last but not least, it is of utmost importance that you QR code link to a mobile website. The whole point of using these things is to get mobile users to check you out on the go, and the last thing you need is to lose them at the last moment because you’ve sent them to a site that is a pain to view on a small, mobile screen.

Test, Track, and Refine Your Restaurant’s QR Code Campaigns

It’s smart to test a few different versions of your QR campaigns to see which is the most effective at drawing in customers. You also want to track your campaign results so that you can see how users are interacting with the marketing message and whether or not it is serving its purpose. Most of the URL-shorteners will give you this information, but you can also hire companies that specialize in creating and tracking QR code campaigns exclusively.

The bottom line is that QR codes can be an extremely effective marketing tool for your restaurant if used correctly. Following these simple tips will ensure that you get the most out of your QR code marketing efforts and will help you gain valuable insight for future use.

How to Give Your Restaurant Advertising a Kick in the Pants

November 14, 2013

As a restaurateur, you know how critical advertising is to the success of your business. Without getting the word out about who you are and why people should come to your establishment, odds are there won’t be much traffic coming through your door. If your advertising efforts have been less than successful, take a look at the following three factors that make or break restaurant advertising to determine if the problem lies in one of these important areas.

Your Restaurant Advertising Must Be Memorable

The first step to a successful marketing campaign for your eatery is that you’ve got to find a way to make your advertisements memorable. Whether that means adopting a talking purple cow as your ‘mascot’, coming up with a catchy and memorable jingle, or associating your brand with an incredible story or person, you’ve got to find a way to make your business stick out from the crowd. Things that are humorous, bizarre, shocking, or amazing are what sticks in people’s minds most, so think about things that are appropriate for your brand along these lines and add them to your marketing campaigns.

People Need to be able to Relate to Your Restaurant Advertisements

The second critical factor in successful advertising campaigns is that your consumers need to be able to relate to your marketing messages. Take a moment to consider what emotional need your restaurant is best at filling. Is your restaurant great for busy people who just need to stop in for a quick rejuvenating lunch? Maybe it’s ideal for large families to get together. Perhaps your establishment has a relaxing, homey feel and appeals to those who want to feel comfortable while having someone take care of them. To use a well-known example, part of the reason Subway’s spokesperson, Jared Fogle, has made the company’s advertising campaigns so successful is because so many of us can relate to the struggle of losing weight.

Whatever you determine to be your restaurant’s strength at relating to people, build your marketing messages around that understanding. People will respond and remember you better when they can relate to the message they’ve seen.

Restaurant Advertising should make People Hungry

Last but not least, your restaurant’s advertisements need to make people hungry! This would seem obvious, but you’ve only got to look at your restaurant’s competition to see that a number of eateries are failing at this simple component. You want advertisements that make your customers’ mouths water, and succeeding at this goes beyond taking appetizing-looking pictures.

It also means demonstrating how enjoyable it is to eat the featured items. For example, take a picture of a gourmet chocolate cake and it may or may not entice some people to try it – but show that same cake being served to a diner who sticks her fork into the moist dessert and savors every morsel right down to the last crumb and people’s bellies start to rumble.

The most successful restaurant advertisements nail all three of these aspects on the head. The message is memorable, is something people can relate to, and makes their salivary glands go wild. If your marketing campaigns have been less than fruitful, odds are good that your messages are missing the mark on one or more of these three critical elements.

Local Online Listings: Cheap and Easy Online Visibility for Your Restaurant

November 7, 2013

There are a thousand things you could do to get your restaurant better online visibility, and if you’ve got the money, it’s well worth it to hire someone to do those thousand things for you. That said, there are a few things you can do on your own which will automatically boost your restaurant’s online presence. A very simple one is to ensure that your restaurant is listed in all of the online directories available. There are three tiers to consider.

Getting Your Restaurant in Online Listings, Tier #1: Data Aggregators

A data aggregator is a business which compiles information on individuals or businesses into consumer reports and then sells that information to others. There are a number of data aggregators out there, but well known examples include Acxiom, InfoGroup, and Localeze.

All of these providers push their data to numerous sources, including local search engines and directories. Some of them will let you claim and update your business listing for free; others will charge, but it’s worth your time to claim your restaurant’s listing and to ensure that your information is accurate because information from database aggregators weighs heavily on online visibility.

Getting Your Restaurant in Online Listings, Tier #2: Search Engines

All of the major search engines have business directory listings and it’s wise to ensure that your restaurant is accurately listed in every one of them. Google has Google Places, Yahoo has Yahoo Local, and Bing has Bing Local. It’s free to claim or submit your information to these sources and since search engines represent the largest consumer usage and feature their local listings first in search results, it’s wise to have a presence there.

Furthermore, it’s smart to keep an eye on your listing once created. Along with GPS navigation right to your doorstep, search engine business listings now typically have the option for consumers to leave reviews about your business on these sites as well. These reviews are visible to everyone and are often the first thing people will see when they search for you, so it’s important to keep an eye on them and address anything that could adversely affect your establishment’s reputation.

 Getting Your Restaurant in Online Listings, Tier #3: Online Business Directories

Last but not least, you’ll want to claim or submit your information to the variety of online business directories that are out there. Many of these directories are designated to be replacements for phone books or Yellow Pages, and listing your information within the directory is typically free. Well known examples include,, Superpages and Supermedia.

Aside from ensuring that your listing is visible to users of these sites, adding your listing here serves the dual benefit of building backlinks to your company’s website – which, in turn, also boosts your online visibility.

Even if you are already listed in a number of online directories, it’s wise to not only look for more, but also to ensure that your information is accurate. If you’re a franchise, spend some time focusing on local listings and include your geographical location in your information so that it will come up in search results for local users.

Of course, there are a ton of other things you can do to boost your online visibility, but ensuring that you’re listed in online business directories is a simple and easy way to start.

Fall Foods Making Their Way onto Restaurant Menus

November 1, 2013

Offering seasonal menu items is a great way to add some diversity, spice, and refreshment to your restaurant’s offerings. As fall rolls around and the temperature starts dropping, people tend to gravitate towards warm, nourishing dishes and robust, hearty flavors. Here are a few food items that will compliment your restaurant’s fall menu nicely.

Restaurants Offer More than just Pumpkin

Pumpkin dishes and pumpkin flavored drinks are the first thing people usually think of in terms of autumn foods. While pumpkin does add a great list of flavorful options, it’s important not to overlook all of the other tasty menu items the squash family has to offer. For instance, butter nut squash can be made into a delicious semi-freddo topped with salted orange caramel or turned into a nourishing butternut and apple harvest soup.

Blue Hubbard squash can be mixed with pureed chestnuts, topped with whipped cream, and served over smoked vanilla ice cream to make a tantalizing dessert. Acorn squash can be stuffed with broccoli, cheese, turkey sausage, rice, and apples to make a delicious dinner entree. Spaghetti squash can be mixed with garlic, onions, zucchini, bell pepper, tomato, and feta cheese to make a stomach-rumbling primavera. The squash family offers an incredible diversity of flavors and options and offers a simple way to easily add fantastic autumnal dishes to your menu.

Autumn Meats to Add to Your Restaurant Menu

There are a number of meats that make excellent fall menu selections. Duck is an obvious one – and a smart choice all around since duck sales have risen 7% between January and June of this year alone. Duck tacos, Peking duck, and duck salad were particular sales drivers for this period. When chicken wing prices shot up earlier this year, a number of restaurants turned to duck wings as a cheaper alternative as well.

Aside from duck, all other types of game meat make fall-appropriate choices as well. Consider such tasty treats as venison chili, bacon-wrapped grilled elk backstraps, spicy orange bison balls, or braised wild boar with sauerkraut. Wild game makes an exotic and taste-bud pleasing menu item perfectly appropriate for drawing autumn eaters.

Think Bold, Spicy, Belly-Warming Flavors for Fall Restaurant Foods

Pretty much anything that has a bold, spicy, or belly-warming flavor is going to be a hit for fall menu choices. Some restaurants meet this flavor craving by featuring lesser known ethnic foods like that found from the Lao or Issan regions. Think grilled meat with sour-spicy dipping sauces, marinated grilled chicken, and sticky rice or som tam, a green papaya salad with rising popularity. Other restaurants focus more on offering comfort foods such as hearty and flavorful soups, chili, and meats with diverse flavor combinations. Think honey-glazed pork chops, grilled bacon jalapeno wraps, or cranberry, sausage, and apple stuffing.

Whichever your choice, make sure to add your seasonal menu items to your marketing messages. People love to try something new and have the opportunity to try something that is only available for a limited time, so make sure to tout your autumn menu selections proudly!