Restaurant Benefits of Food Festival Booths

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Saturday, April 21, 2018

    Most of the equipment for a restaurant resides at the eatery itself, but for culinary entrepreneurs who want to exhibit at food festivals, it can be a hassle to bring along the right equipment. Of course, this is only one downside for restaurateurs who want to try their hand at events that feature food booths. Whether it’s a concert where attendees spend money when they’re hungry or an event catered specifically to showcasing restaurants, there are a variety of benefits to exhibiting at food festivals.

    Ability to Reach a Larger Audience
    Regardless of how great an eatery’s marketing tactics are, there will always be people who won’t occupy their restaurant booths. This could be due to a lack of interest, living on the other side of town or simply not knowing the establishment exists. By renting a booth at a food festival or other community event, though, this problem is faced head on.

    Restaurateurs at large events get the opportunity to cater to individuals who may have otherwise never visited their eatery. While this isn’t a guarantee that someone will visit the brick-and-mortar location in the future, it certainly increases the chances.

    Quick Return on Investment
    Even though it may just seem like a fun event, food festivals are actually a marketing opportunity. The real return on investment occurs later when someone becomes a loyal customer. Of course, this won’t cover the cost of the booth, transporting the equipment for the restaurant and food costs immediately.

    Fortunately, restaurateurs who go this route are making money at the exhibit. This income stream can vary dependent on whether customers simply buy food tickets or pay as they go, but regardless, the eatery is pulling in revenue for every item they sell. Very few marketing tactics show such an immediate return on investment.

    Puts Small Eateries in the Big Leagues
    One of the greatest advantages to having a food festival booth is the ability for smaller eateries to stand toe to toe with regional and national giants. Larger restaurants at the event will certainly have name recognition, but when their fancy café chairs and commercial restaurant equipment are miles away and they have the same booth as everyone else, their size advantage is minimized.

    Smaller restaurants should take this opportunity to go “all in” to attract consumers to their booth. It only takes one good impression to make a customer for life, and a food festival or large community event is just the opportunity budding entrepreneurs need.

    Face to Face with Customers
    While restaurateurs may walk around their eatery and say “hello” to their patrons, these quick visits are viewed more as pleasantries than anything else. At a food festival booth, however, culinary entrepreneurs have the chance to really interact with current patrons and future guests. Even chefs and managers who don’t like working food booths enjoy this aspect of the events, and it shows consumers that there are real people behind the great food.

    While it isn’t ideal to haul the equipment for a restaurant across the state for consumers who may live nowhere near the eatery, local events and food festivals can be great investments. To the restaurateur who commits to making their booth successful, there are often huge rewards in the end. 

    Restaurant Dining Furniture with an Asian Flair

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Friday, January 12, 2018

    What do you think of when you think of an Asian restaurant? What sort of décor do you expect to find there? There is a broad range of options for an Asian theme, but some elements are likely to be common.

    Common Elements

    All the chain Asian restaurants I have seen have polished wooden floors, usually of a dark color. They have very traditional seating; four-legged padded chairs, large tables, and a few banquettes. You may find paper screen dividers, Asian art on the walls, and some form of jade ornamentation. In Japanese restaurants you may also find low tables and tatami mats. Sure, it’s a stereotype, but it is a fairly accurate one.

    These commonalities are so ingrained that even when the look is taken out of the restaurant and into the mall or hotel lobby, you can still expect to find them. How can you make your restaurant stand out from the rest, while still offering guests a bit of what they expect?

    Don’t be Cheap!

    Invest in quality restaurant furniture chairs and tables. Cheap furniture gives your customers the impression right from the start that you just don’t care if they stay or go. I know that I stopped eating at one of my favorite Chinese places when they switched out their “real” tables to those square tables with a single pole in the middle and stopped using tablecloths. The food was the same, but the experience of eating there went out the window.

    Turn Off the Music

    I can’t stand it when I go out to eat and encounter muzak. It is even worse when I can’t even identify what is playing. If I’m eating in a group, the music makes conversation difficult. If I’m eating alone, chances are I have a book or something to do and the music is distracting.

    The exception to this suggestion is if you are going to play authentic music, do so at a low volume. That volume should not be increased if the ambient noise increases in the restaurant; that is a cue to shut the music off.

    No Café Chairs and Outdoor Tables Together

    There is nothing wrong with either of these items, but they don’t belong together. Whatever your theme, stick to it. Even in an Asian fusion restaurant, they don’t mix and match styles; the style is fusion. If you are serving Chinese cuisine, your restaurant should have appropriate dining room furniture, tableware, and décor. If your menu features Vietnamese food, look for items that reflect that culture.

    If you are unable to find traditionally oriented items, then talk to your restaurant supplier and go for an alternative. You can always opt for something simple, like wooden tables and chairs, and then bring in elements from the appropriate country. A few wall hangings, traditional stools, benches, and a display cabinet of artwork is a good way to create the right atmosphere.

    Getting to the Bottom of Chairs for a Restaurant

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Thursday, January 11, 2018

    Puns aside, picking the right chairs for your eatery is a remarkably important thing. Let me give you a couple of examples. I have a favorite teashop here in town. It is filled with antique tables and mismatched chairs from a variety of periods. Additionally, there are several couches, none of which look new, but all of which are very comfortable. There are a couple of small tables tucked into corners for an intimate feel, and vintage photos on the wall.

    When I want a quiet, comfy experience, this place always comes to the front of my mind. Why? Because the owners have made a statement with the way they have designed the seating. For restaurants, the atmosphere is just as important as the menu.

    At another place I frequent, I’m in and out in quick order. I don’t have time to sit and relax. I want a clean place, one that offers plenty of individual seating. This restaurant has been filled with a large number of bar stools, facing outwards, pulled up to a simple, Formica ledge. I get my food, I eat, and I leave. The surfaces are easy to maintain and wipe down, and the flow is designed to move people through effectively.

    Why Care About Chairs?

    The style of furniture you offer your guests says a lot about how you want them to experience your food. Comfortable seating encourages people to stay longer, and that doesn’t always translate into a larger check. It does, however, translate into a happier diner, and that can result in more frequent visits.

    If you are offering speed and convenience, then comfort is a detriment. Your customer doesn’t want to fall prey to an easy chair. Sure, your seats should be accommodating, but they don’t need to be padded or fancy.

    Match Your Message

    The fact is that when you are designing an eatery you want to create a cohesive look. For you, that means figuring out what you want people to experience. Some of the most successful restaurants in the industry have gotten where they are by claiming a particular style. Chipotle has a Central American Industrial look, Zio’s a pseudo-Italian flair. When you walk into a place that has a similar feel, you immediately think – “oh, this place looks like…”

    By branding a look, you make a connection with your guests right from the start. They know what to expect when they come in, and they will pick your eatery over others because of how it makes them feel.

    Where do you Find Your Chairs?

    The best place to find a complete selection of chairs is your local restaurant supplier. They will not only have many chairs to choose from, they can help you come up with an attractive and functional seating arrangement for your space. 

    Effective Design with Existing Restaurant Furniture

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Wednesday, January 10, 2018

    How important is it for you to design an effective restaurant? It should come as no surprise that the core objective for your business is to offer a specific experience that will generate a profit. In order to maximize that profit, the design must be right. That doesn’t mean you have to invest in new restaurant furniture, new menus, and other fancies. No, you can take what you already have in place and give it a new twist.

    What do Your Guests Want?

    This question is the real motivation behind any changes you might make. People don’t dine out because they are hungry and have no food at home. They are searching for an experience. For many, dining out is a self-reward. For others it is a social connection. Addressing those goals is important if you are to draw people to your establishment.

    If you wish to attract those who are out for a social experience, reposition your restaurant dining sets in such a way as to encourage eye contact. You may place tables on a diagonal or incorporate a large, U-shaped bar if you are targeting younger guests. For an older clientele, break up your dining space with partitions, small niches, and so on to accommodate their need for a quieter environment.

    Where are the “Good” Seats?

    No matter what your intentions, there are going to be areas in your dining room that are more desirable. No one wants to sit near the kitchen, for example. In line with the door is also uncomfortable if it is cold or windy out. Knowing which tables are best for which types of guests will help you when it comes time to seat people.

    People view window seats as more desirable, especially for romantic or intimate occasions. For single diners, or those who plan to work while eating, anchored seating is more attractive. Anchored seating is seating that is attached to a permanent feature, such as a wall or low partition. These positions allow the guest to avoid eye contact and become more a part of the “environment” than a fellow diner.

    Which Seating Choices Bring in the Best Profits?

    Now that you have some idea of how people prefer to sit, let’s address how those seats affect profit. Anchor seats are more profitable in general, but that doesn’t mean you have to purchase new furniture to make more anchored areas. Your old restaurant booth is a valuable asset. Booths are a type of self-standing anchored furniture and they generate more profit per minute than any other type of anchored seating. Conversely, banquettes bring in the least.

    To increase the profitability of other dining sets, get them anchored if possible. The more such seating areas you can offer, the more likely you are to see your bottom line improve. Keep the center of the room available for larger parties and single diners who need room to spread out.

    The Challenge of Filling Tables for Restaurants

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Tuesday, January 9, 2018

    The question of taking reservations or not is one that plagues many restaurateurs. It is a practice that is fraught with challenges, potential disappointments, and possible conflict. However, accepting reservations can help you to fill your tables. If you are sitting on the fence regarding your reservation policy, here are some considerations that might help you make up your mind.

    Keep Restaurant Chairs and Tables Busy

    No matter how you slice it, you want to keep your seats filled. Guests generate profits. If your goal is keeping your tables occupied during business hours, reservations can help. One way they help is by letting you manage larger groups. A large party may require more than one server. It may also require you to move tables around and set off a section of your restaurant for a specific purpose. By taking such a reservation, you can anticipate your need.

    The right reservation technology can get you connected to an up-to-date segment of diners. Allowing guests to make their plans online gives you a Web presence. This should be connected closely to your webpage and social media accounts. is one company that lets you handle reservations, walking guests through the process, and helping you to fill those seats.

    Will They Show?

    One of the complaints heard most frequently among restaurant owners is that people make reservations and don’t show up. This leaves the owner with an empty table and no revenue. To combat this situation, you can limit the length of time you hold a table or you can institute a penalty fee for no-shows by taking a credit card number at the time of the reservation. Finding the balance between losing sales and the potentially higher check of special parties can be difficult.

    How else can You Fill Tables?

    If you run a popular eatery, you won’t have any trouble filling those tables. Consider keeping reservations as an option only for larger parties, say eight and up, or for special occasions. Instead, let your hosts keep a waiting list. This egalitarian approach seats people on a first-come, first-served basis, which makes most people happy as long as they don’t wait too long. Many restaurants have turned to beepers to inform their waiting guests that their tables are ready, eliminating the need to fill the lobby while awaiting one’s turn.

    Call-ahead seating is another option; a sort of middle ground between reservations and a “free for all” situation. You have warning of an upcoming large party and can set up as time allows; however, you don’t have to keep tables empty in the hope that the party turns up as planned.

    Deciding what kind of system will work for you is a personal matter. Either way, your guests will be happy to let you know when you reach that perfect balance.

    Re-Imagine Your Restaurant Setting

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Monday, January 8, 2018

    The restaurant dining furniture you have helps to set the tone. With it you can create whimsy, decadence, or classic design. Of course, there is more to the look of your eatery than just the furniture. Here are some ways you can re-imagine your restaurant to reinvigorate your customer base.

    Liven things Up

    It is rare for people to employ lots of bright colors in their home. However, since dining out is designed to be a sort of escape from the everyday, it is fine to employ them in your restaurant. Bright color schemes in the bar area are seen as vibrant and exciting – as long as you don’t go overboard. Select brightly colored chairs, some hand-blown lamps, and a few accessories and you are set.

    If you go too far, it will simply overwhelm the guests. It can become an unpleasant experience rather than an exciting one.

    Eco-Friendly is Trendy

    It should come as no surprise that ecological awareness in a restaurant is considered highly desirable. Areas where you invest in eco-friendly décor are flooring with recycled or sustainably harvested woods. Aluminum dining sets are ideal for outdoor areas, as are steel. They both last for a long time and when they outlive their usefulness, they can be melted down and used again.

    Ecological friendliness can be extended to the kitchen as well. Locally grown foods, organic produce, sustainably raised animals, and so on are all increasingly popular. Of course, if you are going to make the move to an ecologically sound and friendly philosophy, make sure you let your customers know. It will draw in a whole new group of guests.

    Go Industrial

    One of the newer styles in hip and happening places is the industrial look. Believed to have originated in New York, this type of design is all about exposing the workings that are usually hidden behind walls. Air ducts, pipes, brickwork, and metal are common elements. Keep your furnishings in the same character; worn upholstery, metal framed seating for restaurants, diamond steel sheets and so on. This is a format which is most suitable for those restaurants which serve a cutting edge clientele, especially if you plan for haute cuisine on your menu.

    Street Dining Indoors

    With the trend of street dining flourishing in just about every location, it is no surprise that people are more comfortable eating on high stools and benches. To make the most of this trend, you should set up long tables with barstools facing out to the street. Your guests will get that “street” feel without the discomfort and noise of actually being outside. Pub tables and chairs for the center of the room are another good idea.

    There are many affordable and fun ways you can reimagine your restaurant and bring it into the modern era. Talk with your favorite restaurant furniture supplier and make your move towards updating your style.

    How to Get Restaurant Holiday Employees to Come Back

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Friday, January 5, 2018

    When it comes to special events or holidays, the seating for restaurants can get packed relatively quickly. This often results in culinary entrepreneurs bringing on seasonal help to get through the rush. Of course, these temporary workers don’t stay around, and restaurateurs can find it difficult to get their best seasonal talent coming back every year. This is essential since it reduces money spent on training new hires. Fortunately, there are a few ways restaurants can get their seasonal employees to return year after year.

    Respect Seasonal Restaurant Staff
    One of the most overlooked ways to keep seasonal restaurant employees coming back is to treat them as respectfully as long-term staff. They deserve the same training and the same tools of success that every new hire receives coming through the door. These workers should not be overlooked just because they’re not permanent, and if they have concerns, these should be addressed like any others. Treating temporary employees differently could make them want to avoid restaurant booths altogether.

    Provide Incentives for Returning
    The moment the seating for restaurants is packed is not when owners should be negotiating the return of top seasonal employees. It’s imperative to come up with incentives weeks—if not months—in advance. These incentives could include better benefits, scheduling flexibility or even a higher wage. It’s important not to let these incentives overshadow those provided to regular employees, but there’s no reason experienced former staff shouldn’t receive a few perks over rookie talent.

    Give More Responsibility
    If someone works in an eatery for even a month, they learn a wealth of information on how a particular eatery works. If a certain seasonal employee excels in everything they do, they may be influenced on coming back if offered a leadership position. It isn’t necessary to give them the keys to the doors or let them order new commercial restaurant equipment, but just a minor leadership role can convince former temporary employees to make time in their schedules.

    Touch Base Throughout the Year
    Sometimes bringing back great seasonal employees to a restaurant is as easy as keeping in touch. This doesn’t mean a restaurateur should call someone on the phone once a week, but an occasional email or call to say thanks, let them know they’ll have a spot open during the season, or even invite them to an employee gathering can go a long way.

    Bring Them on Permanently
    The best way to get a great temporary employee to come back is to keep them in the first place. Is there anywhere to fit them in on the schedule? Are there subpar workers whose shifts can be filled with this new-and-improved team member? If it’s possible to find a way to keep an excellent seasonal employee, do it!

    Don’t Forget to Ask!
    The most overlooked way to get great seasonal talent back is to simply ask them. At the end of the season, have a sit-down conversation at a café table away from customers and ask about their experience. This is a great opportunity to ask if they’d be interested in coming back and asking for their permission to stay in contact.

    Busy seasons require extra help if the influx of people occupying the seating for restaurants is to be handled appropriately. Fortunately, there are plenty of people looking for temporary work, and for those who excel at the job, the aforementioned tactics can do wonders in attracting them next year. 

    What Are the Drawbacks of Tip Pooling?

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Thursday, January 4, 2018

    Some restaurants require servers to share a portion of their tips with the bartender. This is known as tip pooling, and employees who have worked around fancy café chairs and outdoor benches have likely experienced it. This term has been thrust into the news lately, however, due to the new presidential administration. President Obama banned tip pooling with back-of-the-house employees, but the Trump administration is considering ending this policy. Before this takes place, restaurateurs should know some of the drawbacks of tip pooling.

    Great Employees Less Motivated
    Workers who handle the commercial restaurant equipment in the back of house know exactly what they’re getting paid on a given night. This isn’t the case for servers, and if their tips are being shared with other waitstaff or the back of house, they can quickly become unmotivated knowing they’ll make the same regardless of what they do.

    Of course, this isn’t entirely true. The harder each employee works for the café chair occupants, the more money that will go into the tip pool. Unfortunately, this fact isn’t always enough to motivate great employees who know their tips will be shared, and this is especially the case if there are “freeloaders” who do the minimum necessary and ride on the backs of better employees.

    Dishonest Staff May Take Advantage
    Even if a restaurateur seats all their employees in the café chairs pre-shift, offers free appetizers and rationally explains why tip pooling is important, there will be servers who don’t like the idea. Some will respond by working harder to ensure they take home more each night, but less honest staff members may decide they’re just going to pocket their tip money or put in less than they received.

    It’s hard to tell a server who worked hard that they’re not entitled to the tip they were given, but if tip pooling is used and the waitress or waiter pockets the money, they’re essentially stealing. This can lead to great employees being reprimanded or, in most cases, terminated from their position. It’s important for a restaurateur to explain this if they’re going to implement tip pooling.

    Complicated Splitting Issues
    Even if everyone working in a restaurant is okay with tip pooling, the big thing that many culinary entrepreneurs overlook is the fact that everyone works different hours. Even if five servers show up for the same shift, there’s a good chance that one or more may be cut early because things are slowing down.

    When this happens, how should tip pooling be handled? Should all the servers still receive the same amount? Should they be given their portion of the pool that exists when their shift ends, and if so, how would credit card tips that aren’t fully entered until the end of the night work? These are all essential considerations when looking at tip pooling.

    There are several types of tip pooling, and who is involved in these pools can vary by restaurant. There are certainly benefits to this tipping policy. For instance, it lessens income disparity between front and back-of-house employees and helps servers who simply had a bad section one night. When considering these benefits, though, it’s essential to take into account how the servers will feel. Otherwise, the occupants of the eatery’s café chairs might just start receiving subpar service. 

    Is It Time to Buy New Restaurant Dining Sets?

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Wednesday, January 3, 2018

    Nothing is forever, and this holds true in the food and beverage industry as much as anywhere else. While items like café chairs and commercial restaurant equipment are long-term investments, they too will eventually need to be replaced. At what point, though, is it time to make the leap and throw out the old bathwater? Here are just a few signs that it may be time to purchase new restaurant dining sets.

    Dining Chairs Are Sagging
    When restaurant dining sets are starting to fall apart, it won’t be immediately noticeable to the naked eye. If someone sits in the seats and the cushions sag down, however, it’s a sure sign that a replacement is needed.

    Of course, it may be unnecessary to replace an entire set if it’s just the one seat cushion that’s sagging. If a restaurateur bought additional seats in the first place, this is an easy problem to remedy. If several chair cushions in different dining sets are starting to go, though, it’s likely that all of them will need replacing soon enough.

    Dining Table Repair Difficulties
    While some culinary entrepreneurs do think ahead by ordering additional chairs, it’s far rarer for someone to invest in extra restaurant dining tables. This obviously makes sense, due to the fact that solid wood tables are expected to last longer than padded chairs, but eventually, tabletops will become damaged.

    For owners who bought top-quality restaurant dining sets, minor damage can be easily repaired. It’s when major problems (e.g., names carved in tabletops) or consistent issues occur that it may be time to consider a new purchase. To protect these vital pieces of restaurant furniture in the future, consider utilizing tablecloths.

    Time for a New Atmosphere
    When restaurant furniture starts to wear out, it’s time to replace it. If an accident damages a chair, it’s also time to replace it. Of course, neither of these occurrences are necessary for that “time” to come along. In some cases, the restaurateur just wants a new feel to their eatery. Maybe they used the dining sets left over from the last eatery and just don’t like the feel of them anymore. Regardless of the reasoning, a culinary master who wants a different atmosphere for their eatery should make it happen.

    Tightening Screws Doesn’t Work
    With countless people coming through a dining establishment—oftentimes bringing rowdy kids along for the ride— it’s no wonder that restaurant dining sets see their share of harsh use. For chairs and tables that get wobbly, though, the solution is sometimes as simple as tightening the screws. Eventually, though, this will fail to remedy the situation. There’s only so much abuse these pieces of furniture can take, and when they reach that limit, it’s time for a new investment.

    Of the countless expenditures that the owners of dining establishments encounter every year, their restaurant dining sets certainly hold their value better than other necessities. When it comes time to replace them, though, it’s smart to purchase quality items to avoid potential maintenance and replacement too soon in the future. 

    Common Restaurant Inventory Mistakes to Avoid

    Published By: Leon Tuberman  -  Tuesday, January 2, 2018

    Everything in a dining establishment costs money. From the fancy restaurant furniture in the front of the house to the commercial restaurant equipment in the back, there are just some things that an eatery cannot do without. These one-time purchases, however, aren’t that detrimental in the grand scheme of things. Where a restaurateur can really lose money is their inventory. The simplest of errors can be costly in this area, so here are the most common restaurant inventory mistakes to avoid.

    Lack of Restaurant Inventory Tracking
    Far too many restaurateurs only deal with their inventory when it arrives and when it needs to be replenished. Unfortunately, this creates the possibility that some stock is being stolen, getting lost, going bad or simply being overused due to wrong portion sizes. In any of these cases, the lack of a functioning tracking system can prove costly.

    This isn’t to say that a server or back-of-house employee has to mark down every single thing they bring from the back. Instead, it’s simply important for owners to perform periodic inventory checks and compare the results to what was actually used.

    In the end, this can end up saving money so the occupants of the restaurant furniture out front don’t have to see increasing prices.

    Unqualified Inventory Checkers
    A restaurateur wouldn’t likely allow just any employee to check that all of the eatery’s new café chairs arrived, so why do so many trust unqualified employees to handle inventory? There are plenty of aspects of running a restaurant that an owner can allow others to do, but inventory tracking isn’t one that should simply be pawned off.

    If the owner cannot handle it themselves, they should pass the responsibility to a trusted manager with inventory experience. This leaves servers the ability to do what they are good at: tending to people occupying the restaurant furniture.

    Improper Forecasting
    Ordering too much of an item can result in spoilage, and ordering too little can result in running out of necessary ingredients during a dinner rush. This is why proper inventory forecasting is essential, but it’s one of the main areas where restaurateurs drop the ball.

    Utilizing data from previous weeks, holidays and especially years can prove useful when forecasting how much needs to be ordered. There are even point of sale systems that integrate inventory management into their software. It takes the manual tasks of reviewing order history and sales reports and makes them automatic and simple.

    Ineffective Relationships with Vendors
    Culinary experts rarely think of their restaurant suppliers until they have to place an order, but this can lead to difficulties down the line. There needs to be a working relationship between the restaurant owner and their vendors. This ensures proper communication, which is great when the vendor gives notification that they’re closed during a holiday, and allows the owner to hold suppliers to deadlines. Inventory starts at the source, and the source is the vendor-restaurateur relationship.

    The front of the house is the public face of an eatery, but every owner understands that there’s more to running an establishment than the hostess, restaurant furniture and big screen TVs. What goes on in the back is just as important, and when it comes to attaining success, avoiding restaurant inventory mistakes is vital. 

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