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Loyalty Programs: The Profit Behind the Rewards

The phrase “customer loyalty program” often brings to mind images of punch cards and freebies, but loyalty programs have evolved through the years into so much more. Technology and data mining techniques have turned the programs from cheap promotional tactics into big data goldmines that allow smart establishments to tailor their marketing to each customer.  In this article, we’re going to take a look at the different types of loyalty programs, why your restaurant needs one, and the best practices for implementing it.

How it works

In the restaurant industry, there are two basic types of loyalty programs: points based systems or tiered systems. Points-based systems reward customers for dollars spent or frequency of visits, while tiered systems benefit long-time customers by awarding them special access and exclusive opportunities.  To determine what type of system would work best at your restaurant, consider which behaviors you would like to reward.

Why You Should Implement a Loyalty Program

The numbers are in and they show that it is much more lucrative to focus on creating loyalty in your customers than gaining new customers. A study by Bain & Company reported that a 5% improvement in customer loyalty can increase lifetime profits by as much as 95%. Even more, a whopping 70% of customers who participate in loyalty programs report purchasing more.  New business is great but it costs more to acquire a new customer than retaining an existing one: in some cases, up to 6 or 7 times more.

Some restaurants who have implemented loyalty programs have also seen a reduction in attrition and an increase in referrals.

The kind of loyalty that influences the frequency of a customer’s visits occurs when customers relate to a dining establishment. Take a look at the demographic that you would like to focus on and make sure that your business positioning and processes align with those of that demographic. Creating a customer persona could be helpful during this process. Customer personas are fictional, generalized representations of your ideal customers.

For example, in a college town, your customer persona is probably an early 20-something looking for a meal at the most affordable price point. If you are located in a more family friendly area the persona might look more like someone in their mid-30’s who is willing to spend a little bit more for a higher quality meal.

Return on Investment

Having a loyalty program can also do wonders for collecting customer data. By tracking the items purchased, the frequency of visits, and dollars spent, you can determine the best areas to invest your money. Managers or owners can even take the gathered analytics to analyze the popularity of a dish and determine what other items could be purchased to pair with it and increase sales. For example, if one of your all-time best sellers is a poultry dish, you might want to consider ordering a new chardonnay known to pair nicely with chicken.  You’re customers receive a better all-around experience and you see an increase in profits.

These same analytics can be used to analyze customer behaviors, which can then be organized into data to develop promotions that are designed specifically to appeal to a certain group of customers.  The ultimate goal is to create motivational offers to influence a customer, increasing the frequency of return visits as well as per-visit spending.

Loyalty Program Best Practices

  • Provide an Immediate Incentive
    • That instant reward for signing up might be just enough to convince any customers that are on the fence about joining to take the plunge.
  • Make it Easy to Join
    • Don’t force your target audience to have to scour your website to find your sign-up page. Have it in a highly visible spot as well as talking to your staff about encouraging customers to sign-up in the restaurant. Signing up should take no longer than a few minutes.
  • Take only the information you absolutely need
    • Customers don’t want to spend their time filling out long surveys just to sign up for your program. Try to limit your questions to essentials like name, birthday, and email address.
  • Personalize offerings to members
    • Loyalty programs often fail because their offerings are too general. By creating specialized incentives based on what the customer has previously purchased you are more likely to see them walking through your door.

What Not to Do

  • Limited Time Offers
    • Limited time offers can be a great way to get customers in the door and increase traffic, but these strategies are not enough to create loyal customers. Spending money on these promotions may see an uptick in new customers but these are the same customers who are not likely to return until you run another promotion.
  • Don’t Have Customers Wondering if the Rewards Will Work
    • Make sure your employees are well versed in redeeming your loyalty system. It can lead to frustration on both sides if customers are trying to use a loyalty program reward and aren’t able to because of faulty programming or a poor system. Your relationship with the customer is the most important thing.
  • Don’t Forget to Use the Data
    • Customers will expect relevant offers in exchange for the personal information they are providing. It is crucial to make use of the information provided to tailor your message as much as possible.

Loyalty programs may seem like they are geared more towards benefiting the customer but in the end, it is a mutually beneficial relationship. The value of the data gathered, and brand loyalty that is inspired far outweigh the costs of a few perks. By implementing and utilizing a loyalty program your restaurant could see a significant increase in profits.

 

 

 

How Your Outdoor Patio Can Boost Your Restaurant’s Profits

 

restaurant patio

Imagine soft laughter, the clinking of glasses. Touches of sunlight illuminate plates of fresh food. A light summer breeze weaves between tables, but not just any tables, these are your tables on your restaurant’s outdoor patio. And these tables are full of happy customers enjoying the great outdoors all the while paying for drinks and food.

patio setup

 

Offering al fresco dining is so much more than just expanding your seating capacity or increasing your curb appeal.

So how can building an outdoor patio boost your profits? Because it gives your customers more space for special events, shows off your restaurant from a distance, and gives them a comfortable spot to stay longer and keep the good times going.

Here are just a few of the benefits that your restaurant can take advantage of by integrating an outdoor patio into your business plan.rooftop dining

 

 

Patios add more space. By having a patio space, you not only have room for more activities, but also an opportunity to offer a breath of fresh air to your restaurant.

This is all depending on the environment around you. The empty lot next to your restaurant could be your future bustling patio.  But acquiring space is not always the answer, sometimes you can make better use of the spot you already have. If you’re short on space but have some room in front of your restaurant, adding sidewalk seating can be an option and create a café vibe.

If you have a flat rooftop that you have access to, you’re in luck! Rooftop bars are very trendy and give a secluded feel to what are often crowded city bars.

Having a patio can give you room for exciting events like live music, games, or a fire pit for chilly evening dining. More involvement at your restaurant can lead to more people having a reason to stop, staying longer, eating and drinking more, and therefore, increasing your profits. All of which can happen right in the outdoor space you may already own.

restaurant patio customerPatios are free advertising to foot traffic. Making a successful outdoor patio space could be your best advertising asset. Depending on the way that your restaurant is set up, it may be the very first thing a customer sees.

If your location is by a landmark, attraction, or even just a beautiful landscape, having an outdoor dining area should be a given for your restaurant.

The sight of current customers having a great time and the scent of fresh food can bring potential customers from the street that would have maybe not chosen your restaurant. It’s like a free sneak peek of what customers can expect when they come to your restaurant, and can be used to your advantage.

While customers are having a wonderful night out with friends and family, make sure you have your social media hashtags and Snapchat usernames in plain sight. If guests take a picture and post it, they will know exactly what location to tag. With that in mind, it doesn’t hurt to create a Snapchat filter exclusively for your business either.

Creating a patio that is visually-stimulating can attract and keep potential and current customers coming back for more. More traffic means more sales for you!

Patios relax customers, leading them to spend more. If you already have a happy hour, make it a patio-exclusive. Patios are a great way to give happy hour guests an exclusive area for drinks and appetizers, making it feel less stuffy than trying to crowd them in with those enjoying a meal. Having a patio-only happy hour can make guests feel relaxed and can lead them to staying longer, which often means the drinks continue to flow.

customers on patio

By allocating happy hour to your patio space, you are giving guests a place to gather together and increase your sales simultaneously. With profit margins on bar drinks being anywhere from 60-85%, depending on the beverage, you can still make a pretty penny on patrons that are ready to blow off steam after work.

Just make sure you have a bar that is fully-staffed and ready to roll in your outdoor area to reduce staff having to run back and forth.

Once your patio is up and running, keep these tips at the top of your mind to ensure continued success.

  • Maintain your patio. Keep your furniture clean and floor space free of garbage. If something spills, clean it up. Don’t use your extra outdoor space as a graveyard for uneven tables and less than supportive chairs. The patio can be a goldmine for increasing your profits, so make it look like that.
  • Keep up with outdoor trends. According to the National Restaurant Association, you should be updating your patio every five to seven years to keep it looking modern, similar to your dining room. Your outdoor patio is an extension of your restaurant; don’t let the average passersby think otherwise.
  • Staff appropriately. You don’t want your indoor crowd to suffer at the hands of your outdoor patio, especially at peak dining times.

Depending on what stage your patio is in (fully-functioning, needs improvement, or non-existent), will give you a ballpark of how much you need to pour in to make it a successful space. Having a patio space will not break your business, but it certainly could help make it.

Let our customer care representatives guide you on your journey to furnishing the perfect outdoor patio at 1-800-986-5352.

 

 

 

 

Design Trends and How to Incorporate Them into Your Restaurant

As anyone who has ever walked through a fixer upper home can attest, design trends can go from cutting edge, to quaint, to downright dated, if not changed. The same concept applies to restaurants and bars. The dining area, where guests eat, plays a major role in how they experience the menu and ultimately, the opinions they form about a restaurant. To bring you emerging design trends, we spoke to Lauren Williams, Director of Design for Primanti Bros. Restaurants, about where she sees the future of restaurant design heading including lighting, colors, and dining styles.

Lighting

Many restaurants that you enter today will have some form of an Edison bulb giving off light; the bulb has its own sort of appeal and definitely gives any space an industrial chic vibe, but patrons are starting to experience some fatigue with the trend. What was once a unique way to light a space has become so commonplace that it fails to make a restaurant stand out. While the bulbs are beautiful in their own way, sometimes they can leave a space feeling a little too dark compared to some of their brighter counterparts.

Some restaurants are moving back towards having more light in their establishments. Williams predicts a move “towards light, both natural and artificial,” and the idea of coming back to “seeing the food and seeing the people you’re interacting with in the space in a pure light.”

Allowing more light into a restaurant can be achieved through either large windows that encourage natural light to fill the space or with more powerful lights and light fixtures. A unique way to achieve those large windows is by incorporating glass garage doors into the front of the building. Garage doors allow for plenty of light and can either be opened to allow a cool breeze in the summer, or closed during the cooler months to prevent customers getting a chill.

Colors

Image found at hauteliving.com

After several years of dark, industrial design, patrons are beginning to look towards the opposite end of the spectrum. White, bright, fresh looks that are originating in places like California and Miami are making their way across the United States. Think more boho-chic than industrial charm for the future of restaurant design. Be on the lookout for bold use of color making its way back onto the scene in the upcoming years in response to the earthy tones that have been trending for the past few years.

An easy way to incorporate more color is by adding bright centerpieces to your table or hanging interesting, bright art on the walls. If you are looking for a more drastic change, consider making one of your walls into a bright mural that can be incorporated into your current design.

Less Formal Dining

It used to be that burger joints and formal dining spaces were mutually exclusive, but prepare to start seeing those lines blurring. Williams discussed the phenomenon as “flexibility as the number one goal. Rooms within rooms, privacy but also openness… it’s a shift to almost residential architecture”.  It is the trend of creating a residential feel that has communal dining furniture styles on the rise, along with more padded seats, similar to what would be found in a home. Communal dining is when a large group of diners sit at the same table to share a meal. In keeping with the trend, many restaurants have started serving meals family style with shareable plates. Large communal table tops make it easier to serve those meals on the large plates and trays that they require.

Tiles aren’t just for Bathrooms

Another emerging trend that contributes to creating a residential feel, is using tile to decorate areas of the dining room. Don’t be surprised to see tiles being used to create backsplashes on bars and even accent walls in restaurants. Tile, whether it is colorful or not, is a great way to bring interest into a particular area of a restaurant without being overwhelming. Designers have determined it is time for this material to shine in an area other than the bathroom and are working to bring it into more prominent areas of the restaurant.

Incorporating Trends in Your Restaurant

What if you own a preexisting restaurant? It wouldn’t be realistic to overhaul your entire restaurant design scheme every time the trends changed, but how do you stay relevant with what customers are looking for? According to Williams, new restaurants are more the trendsetters, while corporate restaurant groups or preexisting restaurants need to focus on maintaining their identities with subtle shifts to where the trend is appealing to their audience. A great way to do this is by “layering the vintage and the modern. Sometimes you go heavier on the modern, sometimes you go heavier on the vintage” urges Williams. It is all about reaching a balance that works for you, your restaurant, and the area you are located in.

If your restaurant is a predominantly vintage style, try adding in a few modern pieces to create the layered effect. Consider changing some of your current light fixtures for brighter alternatives or replacing your current wooden menu boxes with brightly painted metal holders instead.

Something to be conscious of when making any design choices, is your audience and location. Urban areas might be more accepting of trendy spots and designs that encourage communal eating, while rural areas might not be the best market to push the full trend on.

It is important for restaurant owners to stay abreast of the current design trends. Not only are these trends important to staying relevant and making sure your aesthetic doesn’t feel dated, but to giving your customers the complete experience of great food, an enjoyable atmosphere, great customer service, and a visually pleasing environment. Possibly, with a few adjustments to lighting or colors, your restaurant can be on top of the emerging trends that are leading the next phase of restaurant design.

How Tall Are Restaurant Tables, Chairs, & Bar Stools?

Ever wondered how tall the tables, chairs, and bar stools in your restaurant are?  If so, you’re not alone.  One of the most frequently asked questions that we receive is “is there a standard height for restaurant furniture”.  The answer is yes.

Restaurant furniture dimensions are an industry standard, but not one that is designed and administered by any governing body.  Nevertheless, most manufacturers adhere to the standards, at least loosely.  The reason for standardization is simple: having a standard ensures that the chairs that you buy from one manufacturer will fit under the tables that you buy from another manufacturer.  Without standardization, you would need to measure every table and chair before you bought them to be sure they would fit.

What are the standard furniture heights?

Even though there is an informal standard, manufacturers are not bound the exact height, so tables and chairs can vary by as much as an inch or two, depending on the style and thickness of materials used.

Table height chairs, counter height stools, and bar height stools

Table Height

Standard table height tables are 30” tall, a comfortable height that is easy for patrons to reach, while allowing them to rest their feet on the ground.  It also fits wheelchairs well, so it is perfect for ADA compliance.

Standard table height chairs are 18” from the top of the seat to the ground, which leaves a 10”-12” to the bottom of the table for your customer’s legs.

Counter Height

Standard counters and counter height tables are 36” tall.  You won’t find too many commercial quality restaurant counter height tables or bases on the market.  The reason is that most restaurants stick with either table or bar height.

Standard Counter Height Stools are 24”, which again leaves 10-12” of leg room for customers.  Counter height stools are more popular for residences because they fit perfectly under a 36” kitchen counter.  Commercial quality stools are more difficult to find due to the fact that most restaurants don’t have counters anymore.

Bar Height

Standard bar height tables are 42” tall.  Bar height tables and bases are very common, and many different materials and styles are available.   Often, restaurant designers will use bar height tables to create different height levels and lines of site.  For example, if you have a dance floor or a performance stage, adding bar height tables makes it easier for the people in the back to see the performance.  An addition reason that

Standard bar height stools are 30” from the top of the seat to the ground; they fit well under both bars and bar height tables.  Bar stools are available in a wide range of styles and materials because they are so common in restaurants, bars, casinos, and resorts.

 

 

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Increase Your Curb Appeal with the Lake Shore Collection

Lake Shore Collection Outdoor Patio FurnitureWhat does your restaurant’s outdoor area look like? Is it four or five tables thrown together with a hodge-podge of chairs? More stressful than serene?

With some restaurants, you can tell that their outdoor dining space is not a priority. Maybe customers just prefer to eat inside with the air conditioning on hot days? Or maybe they’re losing business because the curb appeal isn’t there. Depending on your location, your patio could be the first thing a customer sees when they pass your establishment, so it’s crucial to make a good first impression.

A simple to way to upgrade your patio without a shred of mulch or concrete, the Lake Shore Collection brings sophistication to your outdoor area, no matter the size! This collection is functional, on trend, and durable; it truly has it all. Combining a clean-cut silhouette with classic Adirondack design elements, the Lake Shore Collection is sure to be a favorite among guests. The bar stools and chairs of this collection feature a waterfall seat, encouraging them to sit back and relax. The Lake Shore Collection also features tables, benches, and Adirondack chairs to give your patio a synchronized look.

Lake Shore Side Chair Features

The Lake Shore Collection comes in any combination of our poly color palette to match whatever design you’re going for on your restaurant’s patio. The choices are truly endless with 21 traditional and three wood grain poly options. Whether you want a two-toned set to make a statement with your outdoor furniture or a monochromatic look, the Lake Shore is full of possibilities.

Regardless of your area, the Lake Shore is built to last in your environment with its durable poly lumber construction. This can save time for you and your staff. There’s no extra staining or waterproofing because poly does not splinter, crack, or peel like real wood. If you’re on the coast or in an area where storms are prevalent, outdoor furniture can be difficult to maintain, and in some cases, keep track of. The Lake Shore will not blow away in high winds and is resistant to salt spray, making it perfect for boardwalk restaurants or hotels.

Whether you’re looking to breathe new life into your restaurant’s patio or you’re furnishing it from the start, the Lake Shore Collection can completely change the vibe of your outdoor space and improve your curb appeal. For more information on how to transform your backyard space with the Lake Shore Collection, find it here or call our customer care representatives at 1-800-986-5352.

Turn up your inspiration with our Lake Shore Collection design board below! Follow us on Pinterest for more resources like this one.

Lake Shore Collection Design Board

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A Seasonal Hiring Guide for Restaurants

We all remember our first jobs; usually a summer gig to make a little bit of extra cash while school was out of session.  We can still feel the nervousness of putting in our application and anxiously waiting to hear back about an interview. Then, after securing the job, there was that first day of work and the intimidation of training. Finally, that first paycheck made it all worth it. You’ve dreamed for the past two weeks about what you will spend your hard earned cash on. That is until you rip open that first envelope and confirm with your parents that, yes that really is the right amount of taxes to be taken out. Seasonal jobs are a lot of people’s first introduction into the workforce. But what about the other end of it – that of the employer?  Being on the other end can be just as stressful as being the job seeker.

Hiring seasonal help is often necessary to the restaurant industry. Whether it is for the summer season or the holiday rush, seasonal hires can help businesses handle the extra workload that isn’t present during other times of the year. Being well staffed has its advantages. Your business will be able to easily adjust to the workload fluctuations that come along with the change in seasons. If customer demand increases, a well-staffed restaurant will be able to respond positively and ensure a good customer experience. When restaurants have the right employees and enough employees, customer service goes up along with customer satisfaction and 86% of consumers are willing to pay up to 25% more for a better customer experience.

Don’t forget that having enough seasonal help leads to shorter wait times and faster service; with faster service comes a quicker turnover rate of customers, which in turn leads to higher profits. Finally, offering seasonal help will help to give your full-time employees more flexibility in their schedules during the holidays/summer season. Keeping your regular help happy is crucial in retaining them during the months when you don’t need the seasonal help.

People remember their first job and they also remember if it was a good fit for them or a total disaster.  To ensure that you find yourself in a well-staffed, pleasant work environment this season take a look at a few pieces of advice to help secure the best employees for your restaurant.

  1. Know What You Want

The best way to start your search is with a solid idea of who you need and what you want them to do. Be clear on the responsibilities of the position. Are you looking for previous experience in the industry? Or are you willing to train them completely? Something to keep in mind is that you can always train someone but you cannot adjust their personality to fit your business or to mesh well with your current employees. You want quality over quantity. A few characteristics to be on the lookout for are:

  • Good interpersonal skills
  • Great personality
  • Good customers service
  • Smile, make eye contact, communicate well
  • fits with your full time staff
  • Don’t have a lot of prior commitments
  • Don’t need a lot of time off
  1. Revisit Job Descriptions

It can be tempting to reuse the job descriptions that you created in years previous but don’t. Check your descriptions and requirements for accuracy before posting anywhere. Oftentimes, jobs change over time and you don’t realize how much until the needs aren’t met. Ask any employees currently performing that job for a list of their duties and requirements so you can accurately present the position and reach the best candidates.

  1. Promote the Benefits

Attract the best candidates and convince them that your establishment is a good fit for them by advocating the best parts of your workplace. Is it a fun place to work? Do you offer a discount on meals? Are you willing to work around vacation schedules? Mention perks like that in your job postings or during the interview process to show good candidates why they should choose your business over another. Most potential employees have put in applications to multiple businesses in hopes of being sure to secure a position, so what you put in your description can make all the difference.

  1. Know Your Audience

Who are you looking for and what do they like? If you are looking to hire millennials and iGens in your restaurant maybe look more towards social media to promote you job listings. Chances are that if someone is already a patron of your business and following your social accounts they might be interested in working with you. Especially if you offer a discount on meals! If you are considering hiring retirees perhaps go a more traditional route and put an ad for your job openings in the local paper or on the radio. Also, don’t count out the tried but true tactic of putting a “Now Hiring” sign in your window.

  1. Start Early

It may feel like you have all the time in the world, but summer will be upon you before you even know it. To be safe, start your recruiting process a solid two months in advance of when you need your seasonal employees to start. Keep in mind that your core demographic such as college students and high school students are going to need to make it through finals before they can even think about starting to train in your restaurant.

Starting early will also help you to get the process going before the summer hiring frenzy begins. A lot of college students put in applications during their spring breaks in hopes of securing a summer job.

When hiring, fill in your key positions first. That way you know that you will be covered and not scrambling at the last minute to find only a decent fit for a position that is crucial to your operations.

  1. Be Consistent

As it is with food, consistency is paramount. Make sure that your recruiting processes are consistent across the board. If all employees are required to go through the same experiences you have a better chance of a consistent work environment. Employees also spend a lot of time together talking; you don’t want them to be chatting and realize you hired the neighbor kid on the spot and made them go through 3 different interviews. Save time by having a process in place for interviewing, call backs, and onboarding so that the process can be smooth and efficient.

  1. Mind the Gaps

Once you do have your staff hired, be sure to have a system of checks and balances to track their progress and watch for red flags. Some people can seem like a perfect fit during the interview process but once they join the team they just don’t fit into the natural workflow. It’s not ideal but it does happen and it’s better to know that earlier rather than later when you can’t do much to amend the damage.

With the busier and more lucrative months comes a higher workload level and seasonal hires can be a great way to help distribute the demand. Even though they are temporary employees it is still important to determine if they are a good fit for your business. By starting early, knowing what you want, advertising your openings, and having a consistent hiring process you are on your way to finding seasonal employees that have the potential to mesh with your business and maybe even become a returning and trusted employee. Best of luck in your search!

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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.

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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.