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Mother's Day family

Dining Out on Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is this Sunday and restaurants everywhere will fill with families celebrating mom. In fact, almost half of all Americans will dine out on this holiday. To stay ahead of the competition, as well as the crowd, consider these ideas when serving Mother’s day customers.

Mother’s Day Foods

For families with children, offer many options for your diners. Remember that Mother’s Day tends to be a family outing as opposed to a date night, so meals catered towards children should be on your menu. For mom, plan something special. According to the National Restaurant Association, moms splurge on Mother’s Day. The most frequently ordered dinner is seafood. In addition, since Mother’s Day always falls on a Sunday, many will celebrate with brunch after church. Add to your breakfast or lunch menu specials including stuffed French toast, steak or crab cakes. Moms will certainly be more willing to indulge in these items during her special day. Offer take-out options as well. Many families may want to enjoy time together at home without having to cook.

Mother’s Day SpecialsMother's Day Dessert

To entice customers to your restaurant to celebrate, offer deals and specials. Often, restaurants will promote Mother’s Day with a discount for mom. Restaurants can also attract customers by offering a free desert or add-on item for moms. Try a creative approach by offering not just delicious food, but give each mom a flower such as a carnation as a thank you for coming. To ensure your Mother’s Day customers will return again, give mom a coupon for her next visit. A coupon is a great way to show your appreciations while retaining loyalty to your restaurant.

Mother’s Day is a day families love to get together and eat. This year, celebrate mom with great specials, discounts or offers at your restaurant. Offer mom delicious food for all meals and give her an option for splurging. Whether you say “thank you for being a mom” or offer a discount, be sure to show moms everywhere that you care on Mother’s Day.

customers at a restaurant

Different Customers at Your Restaurant

In a restaurant, a customer is one of the most important aspects of the operation. Without the customer, business fails to exist. Depending on your restaurant’s concept, you may experience a different type of customers. While the customer might experience a different atmosphere, the treatment they receive should stay consistent. The service a customer receives determines whether or not they will return to your eatery.

New Customers

When new customers arrive, make sure they feel welcome immediately. Always ask a visitor if they have ever dined at your restaurant. This will help guide you in your experience with that customer. If the answer is no, make them want to come back. Share your knowledge of the restaurant and menu. When the customer knows more about where they spend money, they will feel more comfortable in doing so. Give suggestions based on your favorite menu item or special. Sometimes ordering can be daunting for new diners. Suggestions will help them feel at ease. Treat these new customers just as your regulars so they are more willing to return next time they eat out.  To go above and beyond, suggest cool places to go if they are a visitor in the area.

Regular Customers

If your restaurant has regulars, surely they are treated as royalty. Your regulars should be like family at the restaurant. You should remember their names as well as their favorite dishes. If these regular customers order the same dish every visit, ask if they would like their usual. You should still however, offer them something different that you think they would like. Since a regular customer brings in so much business, offer them something on the house a token of appreciation.

Complaining or Concerned Customers

Unfortunately, restaurants will always experience a few complaining customers. When this happens, just remember it is only temporary. To make the best of the situation, stay calm and listen to the customer. Understand and empathize what they say while taking responsibility upon whatever went wrong. Work with the customer to find the best solution for both of you. After resolving the situation, follow-up to make sure they leave satisfied. Finding a solution to a problem can sometimes result in a higher likelihood of return.

Take all customers seriously. Whether they are new to your restaurant, an old-timer, or have a concern, treat them all the same. Remember that great service accompanied with great food will leave a customer satisfied, increasing their likelihood of return.

social media

The Impact of Social Media

We live in a digital world where Americans can access almost anything on their phone. Ordering delivery? Order through the app. Forgot your credit card? Pay through the phone. Lost and need directions? Phone maps will get you to your destination. Americans love their phones, so businesses must adopt to digital advertising methods. People communicate electronically now more than ever and this trend will only increase, especially through social media. While print and electronic marketing is effective, consider using social media to increase your brand awareness.

First, sign up for an account and create a business page. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are great tools to connect on social media. In addition, these accounts can update customers on new menu items, special promotions and various events happening at the restaurant. Customers can also review a business on Facebook. This is a great way to receive insights on your restaurant while keeping the customer engaged. Twitter and Instagram both have trending topics and use will likely increase the probability of visibility to the post. Replying to customers is important as well; this shows you care about their thoughts and will increase their likelihood of return to the restaurant.

Buying Ads on Social Media

Ads are also available for purchase on social media. Customers will see your page on the side of Facebook, or while scrolling through their news feed on Instagram. Wondering about connecting with customers immediately? Buy a filter on Snapchat. Through the filter, customers will engage themselves with the restaurant by incorporating their face with your logo or image. When the customer chooses to share it on their story, Snapchat users can view that picture (or “Snap”) and your advertisement for 24 hours. Click here to read about Taco Bell’s phenomenal Snapchat success story on Cinco de Mayo.

Other social media options include Pinterest, Google +, LinkedIn and YouTube. Play around and see what option will meet the needs of your restaurant and brand. Knowing your customers will be the best way to customize your use of social media. Just remember, when the public rarely looks up from their phones, maybe that is the best way to reach them.

customers at a restaurant

Generational Preferences in Foodservice

Every American falls into a generational category; the generation dependent on the individual’s birth year. Alive today range from the Greatest Generation, the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Gen Z. Generations form through common experiences and current events that shape the individuals in their age group. For example, the Vietnam War significantly impacted the Baby Boomers, while technology impacted their Millennial children. In general, generations each have certain preferences in which they base their consumer behavior. Scholars spend time studying these behaviors to assist the manufacturer or business owner. Different generational preferences include fashion, entertainment, language, work ethic, spending habits and even food.

The Older Generational Preferences

Restaurants must take note of generational preferences in food and dining out. However, Baby Boomers are usually the oldest generation eating out. The consumer’s generation heavily influences the choice of when and where to eat out, as well as what to purchase.  Many factors influence these preferences including free time, finances and children. Baby Boomers usually dine at the traditional restaurants that sell comfort food. According to an article written by Rita Negrete, this generation also eats out at more full-service restaurant than any other. However, do not assume this generation has the largest bill. Generation X spends the most money on a night out. These individuals do not worry about menu price. This stat is likely due to the fact that this generation has a generally high household income with steady jobs. They also prefer restaurants that promote authenticity and upscale items.

The Younger Generational Preferences

The largest gap between generations in regards to dining preferences is likely between Generation X and Millennials. Millennials tend to dine out for the experience rather than the food. To Millennials, restaurants serve as a social setting more than anything else. A Bloomberg.com article speculates that the Millennials are the reason that last year, dining out sales passed grocery sales for the first time in American history. Millennials flock to restaurants that offer something unique or authentic and serve food boasting natural and fresh labels.  Millennials are one a larger generation, second to Baby Boomers, so scholars suggest paying close attention to their dining preferences. Generation Z, very similar to Millennials, enjoy restaurants that provide natural, unprocessed, or sustainable food. Scholars consider Gen Z the digital generation, they love online ordering and digital marketing.

Each generation has the ability to influence food trends, menu items and restaurant products.  Many studies take into account generational eating habits and describe important factors that influence these habits. Consider these studies when planning and creating menus and marketing pieces for your restaurant.

Valentine's Day

2017 Valentine’s Day Trends

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and although not a national holiday, restaurants treat this day more special than most. Valentine’s Day is celebrated across the globe, with origination in Rome back in the 3rd Century. Although the legends of Valentine’s Day beginnings differ, today we have come to know February 14th as a day for lovers. Here in the United States, restaurants see this as a huge day for sales. The holiday is the second busiest day of the year in the restaurant business, only behind Mother’s Day.

Valentine’s Day Statistics

American’s spend $147 each year on Valentine’s Day, 7 million of that towards dining out. The average couple will spend $147 on February 14th. Singles spend money too. On this holiday single men on average $40 while single women spend an average of $71. This increase in dining from both couples and singles gives restaurants everywhere an extra $$$ on the bill than a usual night out. No matter the relationship status, Americans are willing to spend a few more dollars on this holiday than the average Tuesday. With such an increase in sales, restaurants must take note as to what customers want to eat.

Valentine’s Day Dining Trends

Remember also, Valentine’s Day is not just for couples anymore. “Galentine’s Day” and single’s parties are cause to celebrate as well. However, couples and singles celebrate different. AaronAllen and Associates state that couples would rather have an experience on Valentine’s Day than receive gifts. A great way to incorporate this preference is giving your customers an amazing night at a restaurant. Fill their dining out experience with great service and food. Couples gravitate towards ethnic foods like Italian, French and Spanish cuisines. However, cuisine is not always the deciding factor on where to eat. 42% of diners will choose their favorite restaurant to celebrate this special day. Singles however, tend to order take-out or delivery. Eater states that  pizza, wings and egg rolls dominate their orders. Do not forget about dessert. Chocolate reigns supreme on Valentine’s Day as 50% of consumers prefer some sort of cocoa treat as dessert.

This February 14th, take both singles and couples into consideration when planning your restaurant menu. Remember to incorporate a great experience for those who dine in and a carry-out option for those eating at home. As diners flock to restaurants this year, remember your customer’s needs and you will have a very successful Valentine’s Day.

Super Bowl Sunday

Super Bowl Sunday Restaurant Ideas

Super Bowl Sunday Ideas

Just a few days remain before the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots face off in the biggest football game of the year. Super Bowl Sunday almost always guarantees a restaurant crowd every year. In addition, customers almost always plan to spend a little more money than usual. ShiftPlanning’s  David Galic weighs in on Super Bowl sales and restaurant deals, as well as how to attract a crowd. Galic even discusses how to attract both the stay-at-home viewers and the non-football enthusiasts.  Whether the Falcons or the Patriots score more points this Sunday, your restaurant will still be a success!

To learn more about restaurant planning for the Super Bowl, read here.

2017 Food Trends- The Rise of Vegetables

As food trends emerge, vegetables have become a mainstay in several dishes in restaurants. Several factors play into the growing population of vegetables and vegetarian meals. Vegetable DishMany Americans have become more health conscious, looking for ways to incorporate healthy living into their food. The cost and sustainability of meat has also played a factor in customers consuming less meat and more vegetables. In 2016, vegetables entered the food scene with a bang and will not disappear any time soon.

Vegetables in Diets

Many customers in today’s culture follow strict diets, but do not want to stop dining out. Especially true for Millennials, who consider themselves trend and diet followers, but also view dining out as a social experience. In fact, vegan or gluten-free food resonates especially well for this generation. For those who follow the paleo diet, vegetable noodles

Veggie Pasta

substitute great for pasta in many dishes. In fact, the National Restaurant Association lists this pasta trend in the top 25 overall. Cauliflower has also entered a variety of meals through the means of cauliflower rice and cauliflower pizza crust. For vegetarians and vegans, vegetables have always served as a main dish.  Vegetarian meals such as black bean burgers and eggplant parmesan are just a couple of these classics. Now with the growing vegetarian population, chefs have learned to love cooking without meat.

Vegetables in Ethnic Cuisines

In the United States, meat and potatoes are a mainstay; however taste bud curiosity has driven Americans to step outside the normal American cuisine.  Ethnic food has Greek Veggie Burgercertainly made its way into various restaurants, showcasing a variety of new dishes with a vegetable focus. With the rise of ethnic food, chefs have integrated many vegetarian meals on to their menu. These cuisines have taught American chefs and consumers that a delicious hearty meal does not need traditional meat protein. Many cultures do not even consider their dishes vegetarian, just delicious, robust meals. The use of various herbs and spices has taken center stage as well. The use of ethnic flavors intend to spice up vegetables, making sure customers do not miss the meat.

With the growing popularity of vegetables in American restaurants, look for ways to make customers want to come back for more. Whether substituting veggies for grains or going meatless; give customers plenty menu options in regards to vegetables. Trend analysts expect ethnic vegetarian cuisine and plant-based proteins to continue to grow in popularity in 2017. Explore different spices, play around with different recipes and you will find a vegetable-based meal the customer will love.

2017 Ethnic Food Trend

2017 Food Trends in Restaurants

We are almost two weeks into the year and the 2017 food trends are well underway. Last year’s trends, courtesy of the National Restaurant Association, included locally sourced food, fast casual concepts and natural food. So far, 2017 is heading down a very similar track. The National Restaurant Association, Food Business News, Flavor and the Menu and Innova Market Insights all provide a great outlook on the top restaurant trends for 2017. Four trends stick out as front-runners, including clean eating, vegetable main dishes, ethnic cuisines and waste reduction.  Running through the month of January, we will run a “Trendy Tuesday” segment, highlighting each of these trends in further detail. Below you will find a brief low-down on these top trends, along with others that made the lists.

2017 Food Trends- Clean Eating

Clean Eating Food Trend

Innova Market Insights states that 2017 is the year of “clean supreme”.  Very similar to last year’s natural food trend, clean eating has swept the nation.  This concept takes many growing trends, combining them into one large concept. Customers now look for organic and non-processed menu options, with ingredients they consider healthy. According to Flavor and the Menu, consumers want honesty and quality ingredients and will pay more for total transparency. While consumers keep healthy eating in mind, splurging is not out of question either. Using quality ingredients and highlighting key flavors will give customers the transparency they request when ordering splurge-worthy dishes.

Vegetable Food Trend2017 Food Trends- Main Vegetables

As the healthy eating craze gains ground, vegetables continue to grow in popularity. Chefs work hard to create savory vegetable dishes that even the biggest meat lover would love. Food Business News states that adding beet juice to a veggie burger will make it look juicy and appetizing to all. Subbing vegetables for carbs is also a common practice among restaurants. For example, cauliflower crust and zucchini pasta often take the place of their wheat counterparts. Large salad bowls have become a main dish in many restaurants as well. Adding protein, nuts and legumes make an ordinary salad extraordinary and customers are flocking to the salad menu.

2017 Food Trends- Ethnic CuisinesEthnic Food food trend

While ethnic cuisines have been on the rise for a few years, customers are now requesting authentic ethnic flavors. The most common ethnic flavors include Korean, Middle Eastern and Latin American cuisine. Korean has been in the market for a few years with popular dishes like as bibimbop and Korean barbecue. According to the National Restaurant Association, Latin American authenticity is also gaining headway in the United States. The most popular ethnic cuisine to hit the market in 2017 is Middle Eastern food. The Food Business News says as migrants from Middle Eastern countries move to the United States, they bring their flavors along with them. Turmeric and Middle Eastern breakfasts are now extremely popular in the current market.

Waste Reduction Food Trend2017 Food Trends- Waste Reduction

This year, restaurants will put a focus on reducing waste. This can take form in more appropriate portion sizes, creatively using “throw away” foods in dishes, or recycling instead. More restaurants are also donating any food leftover in the kitchen to food banks and soup kitchens. The National Restaurant Association has teamed up with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance to solve this problem as well. According to the National Restaurant Association, food waste costed restaurants $390 per person. Many initiatives are currently underway to reduce wasted food across the nation.

2017 Food Trends- Other Popular Trends

Other trends are set to hit the market in 2017 and restaurants should keep an eye out for customers craving these foods. When broken down from concepts, the National Restaurant Association states that new cuts of meat are the biggest trend of 2017. The Food Business News predicts goat as a new fan favorite in the restaurant business. Mocktail Food TrendBreakfast trends are common as well, including all-day breakfast, ethnic breakfasts and sweet breakfasts. Innova Market Insights predicts that chocolate will soon occur on breakfast menus everywhere. To drink, mocktails have hit the market, as consumers search for creative, non-alcoholic drinks outside of soda. Customers now love house-made juices and teas mixed with muddled herbs.

As the New Year rolls around, restaurants must keep in mind current trends to stay popular with consumers. Many sources have spent time and research looking into trends to help the food business stay current. Whether emphasizing healthy eating, reducing waste or breakfast cuisines, customers love eating the latest and greatest food trends. To learn more about the 2017 food trends, please visit the National Restaurant Association’s website.

 

Serving Holiday Traditions

This year, Christmas Eve and Hanukkah fall on the same day; only the fifth time in over 100 years.  This means that Hanukkah will run Christmas Eve through New Year’s Eve. This is a huge holiday overlap, consolidating many American holiday celebrations. During the holiday season, many Americans prepare for their holiday traditions. Some people request their traditions with a twist. While every family has their own holiday traditions, most enjoy many of the same traditional holiday foods.

primerib2Christmas Traditions

Families and friends come from all across the country to get together during Christmas time. Many customers will celebrate Christmas with family or friends the weeks leading up to the holiday. Some families traditionally dine out on Christmas as well. Customers see Christmas as a time to splurge towards the fancier end. Traditional Christmas foods include prime rib or lobster. Restaurants including these dishes on a holiday menu will likely see an increase in sales. Often, Christmas goers will go out for desserts as a holiday treat. Common Christmas flavors include gingerbread, spiced apple and peppermint. A gingerbread or peppermint twist on a traditional cheesecake will surely win customers over.

Hanukkah Traditionslatke2

The Hanukkah holiday spans eight days and many Jewish consumers will eat out to celebrate. To follow along with Hanukkah tradition, many foods consumed during the eight day holiday contain large amounts of oil. The oil commemorates the jar of oil lasting eight days after the Jewish victory over the Syrian-Greek army. Traditional Hanukkah foods include beef brisket and latkes. Hanukkah celebrating customers will love ordering these foods off of a menu. For dessert, a fried, jelly-filled doughnut; in Hebrew, a sufganiyot; is the perfect Hanukkah treat.

Drinking Traditions eggnog1

Many of the drinks consumed during the holidays are seen as Christmas drinks. However, with the growing popularity of coffee and tea shops and happy hours, these drinks have become a part of society. Children and adults alike love ordering hot chocolate, especially with the addition of marshmallows or whipped cream. For the adults, many traditional holiday drinks may contain alcohol. Two examples are wassail and egg nog. Wassail, a holiday drink containing various juices, fruits and spices turns adult with the addition of whiskey or brandy. Eggnog, traditionally mixed with rum, is a cold creamy drink customers love during the holiday. Other traditional alcoholic drinks to feature on a seasonal menu include warm buttered rum and spicy mulled wine.  Remember when serving alcohol, to serve your customers wisely. Use tips from the National Restaurant Association for help serving holiday drinks.

Holiday Traditions with a Twist

Healthy foods trended upwards in 2016 and are still on the rise during the holidays. Many customers are looking for their traditional favorites with a healthy spin. Instead of the usual mashed potatoes or vegetable casserole, consumer search for the roasted alternative. Serving roasted winter vegetables allows customers to eat their traditional favorites and feel healthier at the same time. Vegetables are trending upwards and the holidays are a great time to showcase all of their glory. Serve spiralized squash or beets as an alternative for pasta noodles serves customers comfort food without the guilt. Plating the main dish on a bed of mixed greens instead of rice also reduces carbs. This substitute is a great way to cater to the paleo, celiac or gluten intolerant.

 

Another hot trend in the market is ethnic foods and flavors. Customers now crave their traditional holiday flavors with an ethnic spin. Adding coriander, curry, turmeric and cayenne will draw in customers for unique flavors. Currently, Mexican hot chocolate resonates with consumers everywhere.

This traditional holiday drink turns Mexican with the addition of a little cayenne and cinnamon. The spice brings the flavors in the hot chocolate to the next level. Customers love the ethnic addition to their classic drink.

This holiday season, tap into your customers traditional cravings with perfect holiday menu items. Since Christmas and Hanukkah fall on the same day, expect an influx of customers during this time of year. Whether these customers celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah or time with family and friends, be sure to make the outing extra special. Customers love eating their traditional holiday foods, although, many would love trying a twist on a holiday classic. By placing traditional holiday meals on your menu, your customers will return no matter the time of year.

Michigan Restaurants May Allow Dogs

Next summer, Michigan’s restaurants could host a multitude of new guests. These guests however, will not order off of any menu as dogs cannot eat what the restaurant prepares. A new bill passed under Michigan’s State Senate will allow dogs to accompany guests on Michigan’s restaurant patios. Outside of service dogs, Michigan restaurants do not allow dogs in any area of the restaurant, patios included.

The Senate passed Bill 0727 passed on September 7th, but still needs to win over the House before making the bill law.  If passed, customers have to wait until summer 2017 to enjoy this new amenity as many restaurants and eateries close their patios for the season. While many dog parents would love to bring their pups along for dinner, rules and regulations limit the dog’s freedom.

Rules and Regulations

Customers must read the stipulations of the bill if they intend to bring their dogs along to dinner. In fact, the restaurant may not allow the dog at all. The bill states that local governments and restaurants reserve the right to ban or limit dogs allowed at their eatery. This could restrict dogs of a certain size and breed, or refusing dogs at all. Restaurants also reserve the right to limit the amount of patio space designated for doggy use. No matter the restaurant, all dogs must be leashed and accompanied by a person 18 years or older.

A large section of the new law also states the clean-up and sanitation regulations. Employees must clean and disinfect frequently and effectively in the areas of the patio that allow. Most notably, “dog accidents” receive immediate attention. If an employee pets a dog they must immediately wash their hands, regardless of if they ever handle food. No leftovers for the dogs either. Dogs cannot touch tables, counters or reusable tableware. These rules, along with many others are all in place to protect the health of the customers.

The State House has yet to review the bill, so residents have yet to know if they can bring dogs to dinner. If approved, the bill will go into effect 90 days after passing the legislature. If passed, customers have to check with the restaurant to know if they can bring a dog. To learn more about Senate Bill 0727, please read the article put forth by the Michigan Legislature regarding this bill.