Archive for May, 2017

Three Different Looks, One Table

A popular trend in the restaurant industry, communal tables encourage exactly what their name promotes: community. From the long form tables at your local brewery to the stretched tops at your regular coffee shop, communal tables are in! Communal tables aren’t just meant for large parties; they are a chance for your guests to get more social. Although you aren’t required to strike up a conversation with your neighbor, these tables promote interaction among customers. By offering this kind of environment for customers, you can encourage groups to come and work together, which can often turn into more sales for you the longer they stay. These tables help restaurateurs maximize their layout efficiently and provide a break from traditional seating options.

A new addition to our outdoor collection, this Outdoor Communal Table with Four Legs brings the communal dining trend outside. To make furniture selection simple for you, we created communal tables to match our New England, Caribbean, and Atlantic collection pieces. Each collection’s communal table use the same materials in construction but vary in look.

So what makes these tables so different from the rest of our outdoor lines? With a Sandtex finish, powder coat, and poly slats, these tables are easy to clean and are rust-resistant against the exterior elements. The durability doesn’t stop at the materials; we also used the fixed leg structure to give added stability, something that is crucial with outdoor furniture. Take this trend to your patio with our three different takes on the communal table for outdoor dining.

Caribbean Fixed Leg TableCaribbean Communal Table:

If you want to mix things up on your patio this year, the Caribbean Communal Table is for your restaurant. This table is extremely customizable for your needs with its silver or black frame and 24 poly lumber colors to choose from.

New England Fixed Leg TableNew England Communal Table:

Channel the beaches of Nantucket or Cape Cod into your outdoor space. The New England Outdoor Communal Table fits right into the rest of its collection with its barn wood poly slats and rustic feel.

Atlantic Fixed Leg TableAtlantic Communal Table:

This table combines the look of premium high-end restaurant outdoor furniture at a lower price and is easier to maintain. The teak-inspired poly slats of the Atlantic Communal Table convey the modern, yet relaxed aesthetic that you see in the rest of the Atlantic Collection.

Whether you’re looking for a rustic, teak, or colorful look, these communal tables are a great addition to your patio.

How to fix wobbly tables – FAQ’s from the Files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

We’ve all been there.  It’s date night and you’re out eating dinner at your favorite restaurant; the food is great, the ambiance is perfect, and the company is lovely, but…this darn table won’t stop wobbling.  It’s maddening.  Like a mosquito near your ear, it’s all you can think about.  You carefully put your drinks toward the center of the table and pray that you’re not wearing your wife’s cabernet before the nights over.

If you’re a restaurant owner or manager, the scenario above is the last thing that you want to happen.  You want your customers to leave dreaming about your food, or the great time they had, not complaining about your tables.  Fortunately, a wobbly table is usually easily fixed, either for free, or for a minimal cost.  So, it’s worth it in terms of customer satisfaction to fix them.

What makes a table wobble?

Most of the time a table is wobbly because the floor that it rests on is not perfectly level or flat.  In fact, any good contractor will tell you that there is no such thing as a perfectly level floor.  If you don’t believe us, put a laser level on your floor and you will most likely find that it isn’t perfectly level.

Another reason that tables become wobbly is because they are moved frequently from spot to spot.  Many table bases have adjustable levelers at the bottom of the base that are used to level the base on a particular section of floor.  If the base was leveled for one area of the floor and then moved, it may need re-adjusted.  This is an easy, free fix that many employees are not trained properly on.

In rarer instances, you might find that one of the base legs is damaged, screws are loose or missing, or a glide is missing on your table base.   If the table is damaged, then you should take it out of service until it is either fixed or replaced.

So how can you fix wobbly tables?

  • If you have a 4 leg table, try the ¼ turn test. Start rotating the table slowly until you find the spot where the table is level and stops wobbling – it’s mathematically proven that somewhere between 0 and 25 degrees, you will find a spot.
  • If your base has table levelers, adjust the leveler that is off of the ground by screwing it counter clockwise. This is usually sufficient when there is only a small gap under the base leg.
  • Check your base and table joints and make sure all screws are tight. If a screw is loose, tighten it.
  • Put a rubber wedge under the table leg that has a gap underneath it. Do not use coasters or napkins, as they slide out easily and are a tripping hazard.
  • Move the table to another area of the restaurant with a more level floor

Wobbly tables are an age-old problem; one that can cause a lot of discomfort for your guests and generate bad reviews for your restaurant.  Fortunately, the problem is usually easily solved with the proper know-how.  Now that you are aware of the solutions, train your employees to be on the lookout for wobbly tables, and how to fix them.

 

Why Authentic Mexican Cuisine Isn’t What You Would Think

Cinco de Mayo

In the United States, Cinco de Mayo calls to mind, images of taco specials and margaritas larger than your head. This is not the case in Mexico proper. It is not, as believed by so many, Mexican Independence Day, which is observed on September 16. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the Mexican people’s victory at the Battle of Puebla against French forces.

Since food is such an integral part of Cinco de Mayo celebrations, it’s important to note the difference between authentic Mexican cuisine and the prevalence of Tex-Mex in the United States.

With origins dating back to thousands of years ago, Mexican cuisine is best described as a vibrant fusion of Mesoamerican cooking and European influences. From Aztec and Mayan cultures, ingredients like corn, beans, avocados, tomatoes, and chili peppers find their way as the base of most meals. Mexican tradition uses a heavy European, mostly Spanish, influence through ingredients like rice, livestock animal meat, dairy products, and various herbs and spices. Combining native and foreign traditions, has given rise to the unique flavor palette Mexican cuisine is known for.

Chilis

You can’t talk about Mexican cuisine without bringing up mole sauce, the national dish of Mexico. With a similar consistency to gumbo, mole sauce is a staple in the Mexican diet and can be eaten all times of the day, for any occasion. Even though this dish has been around since the 17th century, it is constantly evolving. There are seven types of mole sauce that you will most commonly see in Mexican cuisine: Mole Poblano, Mole Negro, Mole Coloradito, Mole Manchamantel, Mole Amarillo, Mole Verde, and Mole Chichilo. What makes each kind of mole different is the ingredients that are used. From oregano to pumpkin seeds to chocolate to dried chiles, mole sauce can be completely changed depending on the ingredients used. Making mole used to be a labor-intensive process that could take 24 hours to create this delicious, traditional sauce but thanks to modern day appliances, cooking time whittles down to about five hours.

Cuisine by Region
Just as mole sauce can differ by a few ingredients, so does Mexican regional cooking. Like any other country, traditions vary by region, each adding its own flavor to the repertoire of Mexican cooking.

  • Northern Mexico is known for using grilling techniques with livestock meats since herding is popular in this region.
  • Oaxaca is known for its seven mole varieties. Although this is the national dish of Mexico, these seven variations are popular throughout the region.
  • The Yucatan region is known for using a cochinita pibil technique, which features burying food inside banana leaves and cooking it in a pit oven.
  • Central Mexico and Puebla are a mixture of regional cuisines with the diverse population of Mexico City. You will find both street (antojito) and haute cuisine here, both delicious and authentically made.
  • Western Mexico uses seafood as a main ingredient in many dishes because of the proximity to the ocean.
  • The Veracruz region is known for being a melding between traditional Mexican, Caribbean, and African ingredients like corn, vanilla, peanuts, and sweet potatoes.
  • The traditional cooking of the Chiapas region uses a lot of livestock meat, squash, and carrots.

Map of MexicoNotable Players in Mexican Cuisine

Like many other cuisine styles, there are countless individuals who have been instrumental in creating and changing the structure and traditions of Mexican culinary methods.

Zarela Martínez is credited with sharing traditional Mexican cuisine with some of the largest audiences in the United States: New York City. Her restaurant, Zarela, was a fixture in the city that never sleeps for 24 years. With several cookbooks and presidential dinners under her belt, Martínez has been rewarded with multiple awards for her dedication to promoting Mexican culture.

While he has notoriety for being a chef and restaurant owner, Ricardo Muñoz Zurita’s dictionary has molded the tradition of Mexican fine dining with its guidebook. His Diccionario Enciclopédico de la Gastronomía Mexicana alphabetically lays out anything needed in Mexican cuisine. These standards have helped shape the present and future of Mexican dining.

Enrique Olvera, one of Mexico’s highest profile chefs, is changing the game of Mexican cuisine at Pujol, a destination all its own in Mexico City. The menu at Pujol is a glorious combination of indigenous ingredients and classic dishes and putting a spin on them such as his infamous 1,000 day “mole madre”. Combining classic techniques and new methods make Olvera an innovator in Mexican cuisine.

Although an American, Rick Bayless has been quite the figurehead for Mexican cuisine in the United States. Sourcing inspiration from the regional cooking traditions of Mexico City, Veracruz, and Oaxaca, Bayless puts this cuisine into the public eye via various cookbooks, restaurants, and a long-running PBS cooking show, “Mexico- One Plate at a Time”. Using these platforms, Bayless shares the richness of Mexican culture through its food with the American people and demystifies between real Mexican food and Tex-Mex.

The Evolution of Tex-Mex

Although it seems like you can find Mexican food on any given street corner in the United States, there’s a good chance that it isn’t authentic Mexican cuisine. Thanks to the Chipotles and Taco Bells of the world, what you probably think is Mexican cuisine is Tex-Mex food. Still very delicious and tasty, Tex-Mex can be described as Americanized Mexican cuisine. This mixing of cultures began as US settlers began moving west and settling in regions in Texas, along the border to Mexico. The settlers began to combine Mexican recipes with ingredients that they were familiar with like beef and wheat flour, instead of the typical corn base that is associated with most authentic dishes.

Tex-Mex Food

For the next 200 years, Tex-Mex could easily be identified by its ingredients. Along with beef and wheat flour, black beans, canned vegetables, and yellow cheese (typically cheddar) became stand out ingredients for Tex-Mex foods. Besides these ingredients, Tex-Mex foods take less time to prepare than Mexican cuisine dishes. Traditional Mexican recipes are like French cooking where there is a lot of prep time and increased ingredients that turn the cooking into more of a laborious process. A typical Mexican dining experience uses a four-dish system. Mexican dining is usually made up of four courses: a soup, rice, main dish, and a dessert. This main dish typically consists of full flavored, chili pepper stew, not a plate of enchiladas. Popular Tex-Mex dishes include nachos, chili con carne, and fajitas which are more simple to prepare dishes. Authentic Mexican dishes include mole poblano and chalupas.

While Tex-Mex may be the bulk of what we see in the United States, true Mexican cuisine is out there! Below, we have chosen several authentic Mexican recipes for you to try this Cinco de Mayo:

If you try them, let us know how it went below.

Mexican Cuisine Traditions

How to Plan and Host a Beer Festival

Beer festivals are a great way to introduce craft beer to your area. If you are a brewer, it can be a win-win situation, one where organizers of the event profit from the event itself while local brewers benefit from improved business visibility. Beer festivals are also a way to help people feel comfortable trying types of beers they normally wouldn’t. An attendee could try a beer, have it become their new favorite, and go home and encourage all of their friends to try it. Word of mouth is a powerful driver of customers for businesses. 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. While it can be a fun, and profitable event, it is quite an undertaking to plan your own beer festival. To help you onto the road to success we have compiled a guide to starting a beer festival in your area.

Planning

Several logistics are important to consider in the beginning stages of planning your event. The very first being the date. You need to leave yourself plenty of time to plan and organize your event so that it doesn’t seem thrown together. Allow yourself at least 6-8 weeks to plan your event.

The other thing you will want to consider in the very early stages is what will make your event special. What is your focus that will set you apart from the pack? If your focus is going to be on beers with a citrus twist summer might be a better time to hold your event than in the fall when people are craving pumpkin beverages. The Brewmasters Craft Beer Festival in Galveston, Texas is a three day event that focuses on their “Taste It First” series, which debuts a massive line-up of beers that are about to hit the market.

ProTip: Be aware of local events or holidays when trying to select a date. You don’t want to compete with other events for the attention of your target audience.

Location

A crucial part of researching locations is considering the support of the community surrounding the venue. If you are fighting the community with every step you take, the chances of running a successful festival are minimal. For example, a dry town might not be the best place to host your first beer festival.

You also want to choose a spot with plenty of parking options. Nothing is worse than having to fight other drivers over a few precious parking spots when you are trying to get to an event you’ve been looking forward to. It might be beneficial to partner with a local transportation company to get festival goers to and from the event. As a bonus, this helps deter drunk driving after the event.

Something else you want to have plenty of is bathrooms. Especially at a beer festival, you are going to need plenty of bathrooms to keep lines down. If you are looking at a venue with limited bathroom options, consider looking into portable bathroom rentals.

ProTip: Try to look at locations with a decent amount of foot traffic. Interested passersby can be a contributor to ticket sales.

Timing

The season and weather is another aspect to take into consideration. Weather can have a big effect on the types of beer you are going to serve, and in turn the types of beer attendees are looking to consume. Not many people are going to want a heavy, dark beer in the dog days of summer.

Permits

The types of permits you’ll need to sell alcohol are going to vary at both the local and state levels, but your first call should be to you state’s Alcohol Beverage Control. They can set you on the right path to acquiring all the permits needed for your event. Give yourself plenty of time to apply for these permits, it can be a time consuming process and nobody wants to go to a beer festival where there is no beer.

Insurance

Right off the bat, you are going to want to acquire general liability and liquor liability insurance. These are the basic levels of insurance that you will need in case someone is injured or chooses to drive drunk after attending your festival. Certain insurance companies specialize in event insurance and could be a good place to start your search; K&K Insurance is one of those companies.

Once the basic insurance requirements are met there are some additional coverages you should consider. Coverages such as:

  • Damage to rented premises- the standard limit is usually $300,000
  • Medical expenses- Standard limit is around $5,000 but you can sometimes negotiate the limit
  • Auto- This protects you from any vehicle accidents involved in your event
  • Excess liability/umbrella- If you would like to have additional coverage on your general insurance

Ticketing

Now that you have some of the really big decisions made, you can start focusing on the details of hosting a beer festival. It is important to decide what types of tickets you’ll have. Are they paper? Wristbands? Will you sell them electronically?

Beerfests.com is a site that helps breweries hosting a beer event to sell tickets online. The way they can do that at no cost to the festival, is by charging a small processing fee to the consumer purchasing the ticket. They offer services such as custom event websites, ticket scanners, mobile ticketing, and analytics and reporting on tickets that were sold.

Something else to consider is whether you want to sell tickets at the door of your event. The number of attendees can drastically affect the amount of beer that breweries need to bring and by selling tickets the day of the event you can greatly fluctuate those numbers. Consider discussing your plans with the participating breweries to determine the best process for your event. By making brewers a part of the conversation you can benefit from their knowledge or previous experiences.

Keeping the lines of communication open between you and your brewers is important, especially when it comes to determining your ticket pricing. You have two options, to charge a flat fee on your tickets or to charge by the drink. Some breweries might prefer that festival goers pay by the drink but when this happens it can offer slow the vendor down creating large lines. To solve that problem consider using a voucher system, with vouchers being purchased in an area away from the beer lines.

 

ProTip: When estimating the amount of beer that you’ll need at the festival, use this equation:

# of minutes the event is open X pour size X [2 to 10] pours per minute*

=

# of ounces of beer each brewery should bring

Equation courtesy of https://www.brewersassociation.org/

Advertising

A crucial part of hosting any event is making sure that you get the word out. In today’s day and age, it has never been easier to promote an event utilizing social media.  You can get a lot of information to potential attendees, for free. But if you are willing to pay a few dollars, many social media platforms have ads that can target a certain age group, with certain interests, in a very specific location. Email is another great option if you have access to a qualified list of potential attendees.

Another great way to use technology to promote your event is by partnering with a drinking app. By doing this you know that the user is already interested in alcoholic beverages and might be open to trying more. There are several different apps that track beer consumption, but a popular one is brewtrackr.

While technology can aid in the promotion process, it is by no means the only way to go. Don’t forget about other traditional forms of media. Flyers, posters, newspapers and other forms of print distribution have a way of finding themselves in the hands of interested parties.

You could also donate tickets to a local radio station. Doing so could earn you thousands in free advertising dollars. A different beneficial arrangement could be asking the station if they would be willing to advertise and promote your festival for a month in exchange for a booth at your festival. You can save on marketing money while also reaching new audiences in your area. They might even be willing to be your musical entertainment for the night. Two birds, one stone!

Supplies

Naturally, for any festival you are going to need a lot of supplies to make the whole day go smoothly. In an effort to help you not forget anything we have compiled a checklist to help get you through the day.

Beer festival suppliesKegerators

Dump buckets

Tapping equipment

Drinking water stations

Signage/Decorations

Entrance gauntlet/line formation

Rinsing stations

Beer sampler glasses (these are often taken home as a souvenir)

Pitchers

Tables

Chairs

Tents

Brewer’s badges

Walkie-talkies: a must if the event is in a place where you aren’t confident of cell coverage

Merchandise that you want to sell

Ice:  when trying to determine the amount of ice needed 30 – 50 pounds of ice per beer type for each 4 hour session is recommended by the Brewers Association

ProTip: Just in case you do forget something, have a staff member with a valid license who can run out and get items.

Day of Festival

Everyone wants to make their event the best that it can be. A great way to add to the atmosphere is by bringing in live music to play while your patrons are sampling. Many bands are willing to play in exchange for beer and food (just make sure that all members are of legal drinking age.)

Food is another critical part of any gathering, especially one that involves alcohol. By adding food options to your lineup, you not only attract more attendees but encourage responsible drinking practices. Some localities might even require you to sell food at your event. A great way to do that is by asking food trucks in your area to set up at your venue. This creates a win-win situation not only for you as the organizer, but also for the food truck operators. You get to offer food and they get a venue where they know there will be a crowd searching for a delicious bite to pair with their beer.

If children are able to attend your event, which many localities don’t allow, be sure to have an area designated to them. Just because they can’t drink doesn’t mean they can’t also have a good time. By setting up a small play area you create a safe space for the kids to enjoy while their parents savor their adult beverages. By including the whole family you are sure to open yourself up to a wider range of potential attendees.

Staffing is a crucial aspect of your day of game plan. You need to have staff scanning tickets and checking id’s. Consider having a few staffers designated to answering any questions attendees might have.

ProTip: Remember that beer is the main focus of the event.  Don’t get so wrapped up in entertainment that you lose focus of the beer.

Post Event

Now that your beer festival is finally completed you can take a break and relax right? Well, there are a few loose ends you might want to tie up before you hang up your clipboard. Take one final look at your bills. Make sure that you were charged correctly and everyone was paid on time. Nobody wants that hanging over their head.

Once you get your bills out of the way, take the time to file all proper tax paper work. I know not many people jump out of bed in the morning excited to file tax paperwork, but your future self will thank you for the foresight.

Finally, consider sending out a few thank you notes. It may seem like an old tradition, but that personal touch can leave a lasting impression on breweries, vendors, and staffers or volunteers. If you would like to make your festival a reoccurring event, a small gesture like writing a thank you note can go a long way.

Hosting a beer festival may seem like a lot of work, and it’s. But the improved business visibility and community engagement are worth the prep and planning in the long run. By making sure that you give yourself plenty of time, gather your permits, advertise, and stay focused, you will be well on your way to becoming the next great American beer festival.