Restaurant Trends

Tipping: A Thing of the Past or a Continued Tradition

Tipping to express your gratitude for good service from a restaurant’s wait staff has been a long-standing tradition in the United States. So, whenever you receive your bill at a restaurant and you find the gratuity line nowhere to be found, it can be a bit out of the ordinary. But, in some restaurants, this has become the norm.

Some restaurants have taken it upon themselves to ensure their front of house workers and kitchen staff are receiving equitable wages by instituting no-tipping policies and raising their prices by 15-20% instead.  They claim that these higher prices enable them to pay all of their employees a higher wage. Advocates for the no-tipping movement also insist that not giving customers the chance to tip poorly can give the service industry a more professional appearance and shrink the income gap between the wait staff and cooks.

Americans have become accustomed to rewarding wait staff with a tip but in other areas of the world, the service industry is handled differently. For example, many restaurants in France operate service compris, or “service is included”. With this model, prices have absorbed the cost of service. If you receive extraordinary service, leaving an additional 1 to 2 percent tip can be appreciated. In contrast, if you are at a restaurant in Japan, tipping is not a typical part of the culture. Leaving a tip can be seen as rude and will often be refused by the staff.

Originally, tipping came about “to insure promptitude” in the service industry. Mid-19th century Americans began using tips as a show of wealth and knowledge of European gentility rules, and by the 1900’s, tipping was a common practice.

But isn’t that what minimum wage is for? Not exactly. The only employers required to pay tipped employees the full state minimum wage before tips are in Alaska, California, Minnesota, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington. The other 43 states require employers to pay tipped employees a minimum cash wage at or above $2.13. In other words, if your wages are set at $2.13, a regular 8-hour shift will earn you $17.04 pre-taxes. Even with their subjective nature, tips can help those in the service industry have a livable wage. For more information on your state’s tipping law, please refer to the standards set by the United States Department of Labor.

No-tipping policies have been a hard change for both customers and servers to get used to. Tipping has become so ingrained in the American dining experience and can keep restaurant prices low. But because tipping is very subjective, it’s easy to see that it may not always be a fair practice. While some customers may over tip their server, others may have a mission to only tip 10 percent anywhere they go, regardless of actual service quality. It’s not easy getting customers to relinquish their control over how much their server is rewarded, especially in a post-recession world. So instead of trying to change a single way of thinking, restauranteurs have the challenge of altering two ideologies.

In late 2015, Joe’s Crab Shack became the first casual-dining chain to try using a no-tipping policy in 18 of its nationwide restaurants. After the first six months of implementation, there were only four that continued to use the policy. To make up for the difference, the restaurant raised wages by increasing menu pricing. As a result, Joe’s Crab Shack saw less customer traffic and a large turnover in staff who couldn’t/wouldn’t conform with the wage change. At least in chain establishments, gratuity-included dining hasn’t quite caught on.

While Joe’s Crab Shack customers didn’t take to the no-tipping policy, there are numerous restaurants in San Francisco, Pittsburgh, New York City, and more that are getting along just fine with the added policy.   Most of them are operated by “celebrity” chefs that have pricing power that the rest of the market doesn’t enjoy.

What’s your view on implementing a no-tipping policy? Tell us in the comments below.

 

 

Not Your Mother’s Food Court

Food Halls Taking Over!

‘Fall’, ‘collapse’, ‘failing’, and even, ‘dying’. These are just a few of the words that have littered headlines the past year, describing the closure of America’s malls and vacant retail spaces. But with the death of brick and mortar stores, one section of retail has thrived—food.

Food has become more than just daily sustenance; people want to experience their food in exciting ways. In 2008, food trucks were all the rage, a trend that is still visible today. Almost ten years later, food halls are taking over the US, one city at a time.

Thanks to the perfect storm of the Food Network, millennials, and “foodie” culture, the food hall trend has skyrocketed in the US market. Per Cushman & Wakefield, the number of existing food hall projects increased 37.1% in the first nine months of 2016. This trend has left its mark on cities like New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles and is moving its way into Austin, Washington D.C., Miami, and Charleston in 2017.

But what is the difference between the food courts of yore and these newfangled food halls? Why quality, of course. In food halls, you won’t find the stereotypical hot dogs that have been turning on rollers for the past week or slushies with Red Dye 40 like you would a traditional food court. Instead, you will find artisanal enchiladas and hand-rolled chicken dishes.

With a new mission and business model, food halls can escape the confines of a mall food court, bring quality food to surrounding communities, and offer a restaurant incubator-like setting for new chefs.

Here’s Why Food Halls Are Taking Over:

Space Revival

Food halls can be a range of sizes, making blueprints malleable and transitional for just about any location. Not all halls have the sheer size of Chelsea Market (clocking in at 165,000 square feet) or Eataly (not looking too shabby with 50,000 square feet), others can hold their own with smaller spaces like the Smallman Galley (with 6,000 square feet) or the Pennsy (at 8,000 square feet).

Because they can fit a variety of spaces, food halls can be located anywhere that a space is open. For example, empty mall anchor stores can be a good foundation for larger food halls, while the ground floor of office buildings can provide adequate space for smaller models. If there is an available space, food halls can fill and occupy it, giving new purpose.

The ability of food halls to morph into any shape or size free space allows them to focus on the root of their business: providing quality food to the community.

Eataly

Community

Interestingly enough, food halls are not a new concept. It’s no surprise in the United States that this trend first started to take hold in the cultural mecca of New York City. According to Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate powerhouse, New York City accounts for more than 25.4% of all United States food hall projects.

With a flexible location, food halls bring together different palettes, diets, and preferences, all under one roof. Because of the vast offerings in a single space, it creates opportunities for the surrounding community to gather. In the U.S., food halls have gravitated toward cities, because they give office workers a haven to snag lunch, coffee, and a break from their cubicle. If they offer seating, food halls will often use communal tables because the dining space is like no-man’s land. Whether you’re a fan of communal dining or not, this type of seating arrangement leaves the decision up to the patrons whether they want to mingle or stay in their proverbial bubble.

Food Hall Spread

Operator-Friendly

New businesses can drive traffic to neighborhoods and often increase profits of other businesses in the area as well.  The business model of a food hall is no different. These food halls present a lower risk option for both developer and hopeful restaurateur, with quick customer turnover and fewer startup costs. While building owners have the ability to charge a higher rent rate (taking popularity into consideration as well), that rate is still less than the cost of an entire restaurant for a chef just starting out. Instead of a sole tenant being responsible for the cost, utilities are often split, lessening what a typical restaurant would pay. Food halls serve as a restaurant incubator for up-and-coming chefs that maybe aren’t quite ready to break out all on their own.

Spices

While the quality of food halls is much different than that of a food court, the concept is similar. The beauty of food halls is that they aren’t restaurants; change is a part of the norm. These are places where food-lovers of all kinds can gather together and enjoy new fares daily. The cyclical fashion of always bringing in new talent, food, and customers is exciting for the restaurant industry, even when other sectors of retail seem to be flopping.

With this trend still sweeping the nation, the list of cities with food halls continues to grow, check out this list to see if one is headed toward you!

Need help outfitting your food hall? Call our customer care representatives at 1-800-986-5352 for the latest trends in commercial furniture and what would work best in your establishment.

Our Premium Bucket Bar Stools, the Best of the Best

825 Bucket Bar StoolsWhen you’re searching for the right bucket bar stool, the over one million search results can be daunting to say the least. We supply a variety of commercial bucket bar stool options for restaurants to choose from to complete their look.

Within these categories, you’ll find buckets placed according to comfort, price, and quality. If your business model focuses on quick table turnover and getting the most food sales in, our 525 and 625 bucket models are your best bet. But if your strategy involves keeping customers in seats so they can graze and increase your menu’s cross-selling capabilities (and profits), our premium bucket bar stools are more your style.

Whether you’re after the undeniable comfort of the 825 bucket or the vintage look of the 925, our premium buckets will become your customers’ new favorites spots to eat and drink.

By choosing an 825 bucket bar stool, your customers will love leaning back and relaxing in what we call the ‘Cadillac of bucket bar stools’. Our customer care representatives can confirm, once you sit on the 825, you’ll buy it. It’s that comfortable! This bar stool boasts a higher end look with better grade molded high-density foam seat and back. Choose from our wine, brown, or black vinyl to complete the look of this bar stool.

825 Bucket Bar Stool Features

If you are looking for a model with vintage accents, then the 925 bucket bar stool is for your restaurant. With its deep tuft and button accents, this bucket is reminiscent of a comfy library couch. This bar stool has a reinforced, flexible steel back to parallel the high-density foam seat and back, made for cradling your customers. To keep the vintage vibe flowing, this bucket comes in chestnut brown and black vinyl options.

925 Bucket Bar Stool Features

Both premium bucket models sit on top of our sturdy 900 base. Fully welded 16-gauge steel and the large footprint of the base makes for an excellent support system. This frame comes in clear coat, rust brown, or black to match any bucket or decor.

When you invest in luxury bucket seats, you should also keep in mind the durability of the swivel system. All of our bucket bar stools automatically come with an imported swivel. While these swivels can do the job, we also offer an upgraded domestic swivel option that has a 10-year warranty for a long service life.

Domestic swivel mechanisms last longer because of the way it swivels. Using two nylon ring bearings, this swivel can turn effortlessly, silently, and is tested up to 500,000 turns.

By using premium bar stools and upgraded swivels, customers can feel right at home sitting at your bar area.

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.

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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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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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

The Latest and Greatest Outdoor Collections for 2017

Looking to spruce up your restaurant’s patio this upcoming summer season? Check out our brand new outdoor collections! From tables, chairs, bar stools, and bases, we’re stocking your patio with pieces to spice up your outdoor area.

New Poly Lumber Hues- Real Wood Look Without the Cost

In addition to the 20 colors we already offer, we’re adding four new poly lumber options to our lineup. We now have Powder Blue as part of our traditional poly lumber colors with a smooth texture. Driftwood Gray, Birchwood, and Antique Mahogany make their mark as our first wood grain poly options. Both selections carry color throughout their slats, making noticeable nicks a thing of the past. All of our poly lumber is very simple to clean and maintain with soap and water. These new colors can be used in our Caribbean, Adirondack, Great Lakes, Shipyard, Outer Banks, and Outdoor Communal Table collections.

Caribbean Collection- A Pop of Poly Lumber for Your Patio

Caribbean Black FrameCaribbean Silver FrameOur most colorful outdoor collection yet! The Caribbean Collection is bringing color and style to your restaurant’s patio. Select a black or silver lightweight frame to complement your choice of poly lumber slats. From beachy colors like Aruba Blue (pictured) and Bright Orange to a more neutral palette with Weather Wood or Birchwood, there are 21 smooth and 3 textured poly options.

With so many chairs, tables, and bar stools to choose from, the combinations are endless as to what you could come up with. As with all of our poly lumber products, this collection is warrantied for outdoor use, won’t fade, and are simple to clean.Our Caribbean collection is just what you need to brighten up your restaurant’s outdoor area.

Palermo Base- Just the Support You Need

Palermo BaseNo matter what table top you plan on using, the Palermo base can support it! This base can be used indoors or outdoors. We’ve thought ahead to the risky environment that outdoor furniture endures. To prevent rust and corrosion in the harsh exterior elements, the Palermo is constructed with a steel plate wrapped in aluminum with an aluminum column. These durable outdoor materials give your outdoor tables the sturdy foundation and protection they need. Whatever size your table, the Palermo comes in both single and double sizes. Offered in a silver finish or a black powder coat, the Palermo is easy to match your outdoor furniture. Pair an umbrella with this base and create a shady spot for your patio guests.

Outdoor Communal Table with Four Legs- A Different Way to Dine

Outdoor Communal Table

If you’re trying to create a community atmosphere on outdoor patio area, the Outdoor Communal Table with Four Legs is perfect for your restaurant. When it comes to its silhouette, this table stands out among the crowd. Instead of a top and base combination, the Outdoor Communal Table stands tall on four legs, reducing the chance it will move because of the weather. The Outdoor Communal Table can have a black powder coated frame, depending on what other furniture you’re trying to match. Make coordinating your furniture a cinch; our poly color selection is the same throughout all our products.

For more information, check out our site, call our sales department (1-800-986-5352), or check out last year’s collections for even more inspiration.

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