Anywhere you go in the world, it’s likely you’ll find a restaurant. According to some resources, the concept of a restaurant began in the 18th century in France, while other sources note of places such as coffee houses opening in the 1600s. The University of Nevada explained the word “restaurant” has French origins and was referred to a type of restorative meat broth or bouillon. “Such a broth was offered to those who might be too weak to eat a full meal,” they explained. “The institutions in which these ‘restaurants’ were served had costly and luxurious interiors and appealed to wealthy clientele.” Soon after, restaurants began to pick up on the many things we see today like seating guests at their own tables, menus and of course, advertising. The restaurant industry took off in the United States in the 19th Century when operators were able to bring in commercially frozen foods to make their menus more diverse and affordable to patrons, says USA Today. “Fast food” really took way in the 1970s and now today we have such a variety of restaurant operations from fine dining to fast casual.
Vintage Restaurant Advertisements
To get customers to visit their establishments, restaurants began advertising in newspapers, magazines and any other ways possible. Let’s take a walk through history and some of the advertisements restaurants have used since the 1800s! Below each picture you will find the decade and source of each advertisement. Enjoy!Charleston’s Old Southern Exchange, 1865. Image from South Carolina Digital Newspaper Program.
With the holiday season in full-swing and lower gas prices, your restaurant may be seeing an increase in traffic. According to Nation’s Restaurant News, the NRA performance index rose to 102.8 in October, an increase from September. While gas prices may not stay low and the holiday season will be over before we know it, the increase of traffic is an opportunity to turn the customers coming through your doors into loyal ones. The customer service you provide these new (and returning) customers will play a big factor into whether they return or not.
The Rush of New Customers
The performance index measured by The National Restaurant Association combines the current situation index (actual sales) with the expectations index (projected sales). This is a monthly survey of information tracked from operators around the world. More than half of the operators surveyed said they expect more increases in the next 6 months in sales. Another important finding from the survey is the amount of operators reporting increases in their current situation index. Nation’s Restaurant News reported on the finding in a recent article.
“71 percent of operators said same-store sales improved in October, rising from 63 percent who said sales improved in September.”
Not only are sales increasing, but traffic is as well. Nation’s Restaurant News‘ article states that a little over half of operators surveyed said they had more customers coming through their door than the previous months. It has been suggested that this increase in sales and people choosing to eat out is due to the lower gas prices. That variable combined with the holiday season could benefit your restaurant.
Giving Customers A Reason to Come Back
Expendable income and the ease of eating out are driving traffic increases in restaurants across the country. This is an opportunity for your restaurant to take these prospects and turn them into repeat customers. Customer service and how your guests are treated is a key factor. There are multiple ways to define good customer service and it can be different depending on the type of restaurant. There is one factor that can be agreed upon and it is providing a positive experience. The food your restaurant serves can be the best in the city, but if a customer feels they haven’t been treated with respect, they probably won’t be back.
First, it is important to have a staff meeting to ensure everyone is on the same page. It only takes one person not buying into the customer first mentality to bring your service down. While some argue the “the customer is always right”, this way of thinking can be used in a different way. During the rush, have your staff ask themselves “what I am doing to benefit the customer”? This is way to challenge them to keep the customer at the forefront in their decision making.
Next, emphasize patience with your staff. Guests are going to use their phones, they may take forever to decide what they want to eat or might complain about their food. These are opportunities to show your customers that you care about their needs and you want to make sure they are getting fulfilled. Lastly, let your personality shine through. Having fun with the guests will make your restaurant inviting. Show them that your restaurant is filled with good people. This will speak volumes to the new customers coming through your doors. While trends always change, the way you treat your guests should stay the same. Exceeding the expectations of your guests can set your restaurant apart and leave a positive sentiment that will outlast the low gas prices and holiday season.
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One of the major challenges in restaurants is food waste. A study by BSR indicated that approximately 80 billion pounds of food is discarded in US landfills each year. They also estimated that restaurants and institutional facilities accounted for around 48% of that number. For restaurant owners, food waste means lost profit. Environmentally, wasted food in landfills is hazardous, as that food releases methane gas as it decomposes. Not to mention, a lot of this wasted food was safe enough that it could have been donated to food pantries to feed those in need. This is where the Food Waste Reduction Alliance comes in.
Food Waste Challenge
Photo by: U.S. Dept. of Agriculture
The Food Waste Reduction Alliance is a joint collaboration between the Food Marketing Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association and the National Restaurant Association. Recently, they released a Best Practices Toolkit with the goal of increasing donations to food banks and decreasing the amount of food sent to landfills. This toolkit offers solutions and ideas for restaurants and institutions to begin reducing their food waste.
One of the solutions is to conduct a waste characterization assessment. This lets you establish what kind of material is being discarded, and allows you to see which areas can be improved by reducing, donating or recycling waste.
The toolkit also includes use by and sell by date practices. A lot of times, restaurants err on the side of caution and discard food based on use by dates, when a lot of times, that food could have been safe to donate to food banks. The FWRA suggests establishing a relationship with a trusted local food bank, and setting up date extension guidelines for donating food that may not be desirable for sale at full price, but can still be acceptable for donation under certain conditions of use.
Another goal of the Food Waste Challenge is to find creative uses to recycle food waste. A few solutions suggested is donating unusable food to local farmers for animal feed, recycling or donating used cooking oil for biofuel production, and donating organic wastes with high sugar content to help produce ethanol.
How to Get Started
Click here to view the toolkit in its entirety. It contains several helpful links and articles to help you get on the right track to reducing waste and saving money in the process.
In the meantime, shop online at CentralRestaurant.com and see our assortment of food storage pans and containers. Great prices and trusted brands to keep your food fresh longer.
It’s Opening Week for Major League Baseball, a time when fans feel a new sense of hope and optimism that this year will be the year for their favorite team. As exciting as it is to hear the crack of the bat again, for a foodie like myself, it’s just as exciting to see what new items are being offered at the concession stand! While the classic hot dog, beer and peanuts will always be a ballpark staple, a recent trend has seen teams introduce unique and sometimes extreme concession offerings to their customers. This year will test the stomachs, as well as the wallets, of the curious fan.
It’s hard to go wrong with the classic stadium hot dog. A little mustard, some relish and you’re set! If classic is too simple for you, have no fear — there is no shortage of dynamic hot dog options being offered this year.
In Detroit, the Tigers are offering several new twists on the original. The Poutine Dog is topped with fries, cheese curds and gravy. Another option is the Late Night Dog, topped with a fried egg, cheddar cheese and bacon. Cardiologist appointment not included.
The Arizona Diamondbacks are upping the ante this year by unleashing two monstrous wieners. The Venom Dog is a foot-long habanero sausage topped with black beans, guacamole, pico de gallo and sour cream, and will run you $10. If you consider that a kid’s-size portion, then you should try the D-Bat, an 18-inch corn dog stuffed with cheddar cheese, jalapenos and bacon, served with fries. This behemoth is a whopping $25, so only serious appetites need apply.
Sandwiches and More
Of course, if hot dogs aren’t your thing, there are plenty more choices out there. The Pittsburgh Pirates are serving up “The Closer,” a double decker grilled cheese sandwich with nine, count ‘em, NINE–types of cheese and finished with candied bacon!
Out to prove that things are bigger in Texas, the Rangers introduced the Choomongous, named after their outfielder Shin-Soo Choo. This Asian beef sandwich is topped with spicy slaw. No big deal, right? Did I forget to mention that is two feet long? You’ll want to bring some friends to share!
In Cincinnati, the Reds are challenging fans to take on their new sandwich, simply called “The Bacon.” This porcine delight features a one pound slab of bacon topped with shredded lettuce, tomato and black pepper mayo, served with chips, half a pickle and potato salad. Anyone brave enough can try the “Bacon Challenge.” All they have to do is eat four “Bacon” sandwiches, with all the accoutrements, in one inning. Do so, and all four sandwiches are free, and the winner gets a t-shirt that says, “I Conquered the Bacon Challenge.” Fail, and leave with a lighter wallet and a lifetime of regret.
Ice Cream, Anyone?
Sitting through a three hour game in the middle of summer can be tough without something to cool you down. The Chicago White Sox have you and your family covered, as they introduce a Banana Split Sundae Helmet. Served in an actual-size baseball helmet, this whopper includes 12 scoops of ice cream and weighs in at a belt-busting THREE pounds!
Meanwhile, the minor-league Akron RubberDucks are catering to the over-21 crowd with the 32 ounce “Ugly Duckling.” 16 ounces of Irish stout beer are poured over three large scoops of vanilla ice cream and topped with chocolate syrup and chocolate sprinkles.
If you are a concessionaire, shop Central for all of your concession equipment needs. Whether you’re serving the classics, or something a little more daring, Central has you covered. Check out our assortment here.
New technologic advances are made in the food service industry every year, but how long will it be before we see radical changes? What will restaurants be like when customers visit in ten years?
Ranging from modern touches to décor, updating equipment to be more energy efficient to cashless payments, restaurants of the future will certainly not disappoint.
Let’s start off with one type of restaurant that millions of people flock to every day: quick-service. Cars frequent fast food drive-thrus on the daily, so much that new technology could allow your car to detect where your favorite quick-service restaurant is and even order up your meal of choice.
“All you would have to do is say, ‘Order Burger King’ and the application could go into action ordering what you normally order,” says Jay Ward, communications manager for crossovers and SUVs for Ford.
“While most of the impressive technology would be housed on the mobile phone or in the car it’s connected to, operators would also need to upgrade POS systems to accept such orders,” QSR Magazine states.
With the explosion of smart phones using voice activated software, drive-thru lanes will definitely receive a major facelift. “Drive-thru lanes will be staffed by Siri-like software – not crew members – that will be able to take orders in several languages. Within 20 years, experts expect the software to be sophisticated enough to recognize regional dialects,” explains Nation’s Restaurant News.
Nation’s Restaurant News also expects more casual-dining restaurants to open up a quick service style to compete with the rapid growth of fast casual restaurants. “Red Robin already has created its limited-service Burger Works, Denny’s has its Fresh Express, and Red Lobster and Applebee’s offer versions in existing stores at lunchtime,” they say.
Quick-service restaurants are trying to compete with casual dining restaurants, so many are upgrading their seating and fixtures that seem more upscale and modern. Gone are the days of hard plastic seating you would normally find at fast-food places, as places such as Wendy’s and Burger King have redesigned their dining room areas. Some fast-food restaurants have put in lounges, fireplaces and more.
QSR Magazine explains that large, attention-grabbing signage is not needed anymore due to the simple way one can find a restaurant’s location using their cell phone. They also detail what a restaurant of the future could look like inside, “Carbon footprint information is as prominently positioned as nutritional facts, allowing customers to make purchasing decision based not only on calorie and fat counts, but also supply chain logistics. All flooring, walls, and furnishings are made of recyclable materials like wood, aluminum, and steel. Modular partitions made of renewable metal frames and recycled composite finishes instead of concrete and drywall make up the store’s bones.”
What about entertainment while customers are dining in the future? QSR Magazine predicts tables with music and video players that will allow customers to play a song or watch a video shown at only their table. If customers like what they hear or see, they would be able to download it instantly to their phone, prolonging the brand experience. “The brand isn’t necessarily what you want your brand to be. The brand is what people want your brand to be and how they perceive it,” says Brian McKinley, vice president of marketing for DMX.
The National Retail Federation’s ‘Restaurant of the Future’ even included a high-tech kids area that had an interactive wall, multi-player game and gesture-based tabletop projection games.
One of the most interesting upgrades to ‘décor’ could be revamped uniforms for employees. Scented uniforms may seem like a stretch, but it’s exactly what’s predicted 30 years down the road. Think about it, if you walk past someone who smells like fries or dessert, chances are someone will want to order the same thing. Pheromones, or chemical compounds that can influence human behavior are also being infused into uniforms to boost employee morale.
What About the Food?
New improvements to technology don’t just stop at front of the house operations, back of the house operations will greatly improve as well.
Food has been transformed in recent years thanks to the introduction of molecular gastronomy. Traditional food and flavorings such as peanut butter and olive oil evolve into powders, liquids, gels and more. “A sprinkling of such a powder, whether made from olive oil or other natural ingredients, on popcorn could provide the flavor and mouth feel of butter or other toppings without the grease and sogginess,” explains Will Goldfarb, co-founder of the Experimental Cuisine Collective at New York University.
“Mix and match powders would also allow customers to customize their French fries”, notes food chemist and Institute of Food Technologies (IFT) spokeswoman Sara Risch, PhD, as an alternative to traditional ketchup.
Customers are also going to be more focused on local food, and want to know where their food comes from. To please their customer base, chains will start to derive from their traditional cookie cutter menu items and add food that reflects their locales.
Many restaurants are also breaking down the barrier between the front and back of the house. Not only do customers want to know where their food came from, they also want to see how it’s being prepared. Nation’s Restaurant News notes that some full-service restaurants will put seating in – or in full view of – the kitchen, and many concepts will add more tableside exhibition cooking.
What other places in a restaurant will you start to see new, smart technology?
Brands will begin to rely on more energy efficient pieces of equipment to help with their operating costs, along with installing LED lighting and better heating and air conditioning systems. Restaurants can also solve the pesky problem of keeping an establishment super clean and safe. Nation’s Restaurant News reports that microchip technology will be embedded in menus, napkin dispensers and condiment service areas that will alert staff when they appear near empty or need to be cleaned.
Restaurants will realize the importance of customer’s electrical devices and more special seating areas with a large amount of charging stations and USB ports will be provided.
One final note about the digitalized future of restaurants; digital ordering and payments will be the norm. “The smartphone will be the wallet of 2020,” says Dennis Lombardi of WD Partners. “And cash will go the way of the AM band of the radio.”
Restaurant of the Future
The 2014 National Retail Federation Show in New York City introduced a ‘restaurant of the future’. Here are some of the highlights that can be expected in the near future:
23-foot video mural that greets daily commuters as they pass the restaurant;
Virtual hostess, Mrs. Green, a hologram that welcomes customers to Richtree;
A tailored self-order system of kiosks that allows customers to skip the line and order and pay at their convenience;
Digital menus that react instantly to changes in the central menu system
A high-tech kids area features an interactive wall, a multi-player game and gesture-based tabletop projection games
Given the future forecast of the restaurant industry, food service operations can expect some major changes ranging from décor to technological advancements in the upcoming years. Speaking of upgrades to restaurants, let Central help you push your restaurant into the future! Shop Central for all of your needs.
What advancements are you excited about? What would you want to change for the restaurant of the future? Let us know in the comments!
Cambro’s Camshelving® Elements Series is an affordable solution for restaurants and foodservices for all their food storage needs. Weighing 60 percent lighter than steel units, Camshelving® is incredibly easy to set up and adjust. And just because it weighs less than steel doesn’t mean it is any less durable. Camshelving® is constructed of a composite material that is just as strong and has a weldless construction. It’s one of the most innovative, durable and hygienic shelving solutions on the market.
Camshelving® units have a non-porous surface that easily wipes clean. As far as the shelf plates go, they can be removed and placed in a dishwasher to be cleaned. Camshelving® also includes Camguard® antimicrobial protection that is permanently embedded into the shelf plates.
“Because Camguard® is blended throughout the the entire shelf and does not migrate like organic additives, any nicks or scratches in the shelving will simply expose a fresh surface containing Camguard® antimicrobial,” Cambro said in a Camguard® whitepaper.
Restaurants and foodservices will appreciate the options Camshelving® has in many different widths. Add-on kits can be purchased to expand a shelving area and do not change shelf weight capacities. Shelves are available in solid or vented to accommodate different storage areas. There also mobile units available too. Camshelving® can truly be customized to fit any need.
In this week’s video, see just how durable Camshelving® really is and shop Central’s website for all things Cambro.
Hosting a New Years Eve party? Spice up your party by serving drinks that aren’t just champagne! Delish.com has 15 drink recipes you can easily create to make your guests go “Wow!” and keep the party going all the way up until the clock strikes midnight. Happy 2013!
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