East Coast Chair & Barstool Returns to Florida

Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show

East Coast Chair & Barstool is coming to the Sunshine State this September! We’re so excited to return to the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Show (FLRS) this year at the Orange County Convention Center. And we’re back with an even bigger booth from last year, which means we’re bringing lots of new indoor and outdoor furniture collections to help your restaurant stand out.

The FRLS show runs September 10 through the 12th and is open to members of the restaurant and foodservice industries. With over 400 vendors, the FRLS show offers restaurant, bar, and hospitality professionals a chance to see industry trends up close and personal. In addition to interactive booths, attendees also can experience educational forums, culinary competitions, and demonstrations by celebrity chefs Letty Alvarez and Art Smith.

We will be featuring our luxury bucket bar stools and Quarter Sawn table tops for your indoor dining needs as well as our customizable outdoor Caribbean and Lake Shore Collections, never before seen in Orlando. It’s going to be a show you don’t want to miss!

Heading to Florida as well? Plan your visit to the trade show with the exhibitor map and list. You can even click the banner below to attend the show for free. Don’t forget to stop by Booth #1919 and say hello!

FLRS Show

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

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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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

2017 National Restaurant Association, Hotel-Motel Show

Come see us at the National Restaurant Association Trade Show May 20-23 in Chicago!

Our trade show season is in full swing and Chicago we’re coming for you next! We love taking East Coast Chair & Barstool on the road to meet new and current customers in person. Trade shows allow us the opportunity to form a fast connection with our customers. This year’s National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show (NRA) will be no different!

The NRA show brings together the movers and shakers of the restaurant industry to Chicago’s McCormick Place for a four-day event that you won’t want to miss.

At the NRA show, you will be surrounded by around 45,000 guests and 2,000 different companies exhibiting. Because of the sheer volume of exhibitors, pavilions, and booths, this is a show you will want to take your time. We recommend allotting at least two days just to cover the bulk of the show floor.

Any professional in the foodservice or lodging industry is eligible to attend the NRA show, so if you’re in any part of this industry, this is the place to be. Immerse yourself in the newest technologies, experimental cooking, and trends surrounding the restaurant and hospitality industries. Enjoy education sessions like “Building a Winning Brand”, “Custom Condiments”, and “What’s Really Going on in the Kitchen” to further you and your staff’s knowledge of the challenging restaurant industry. Culinary presentations by Robert Irvine, Duff Goldman, Stephanie Izard, and other celebrity chefs bring gastronomic experiences to life right in front of you.

We are ready to hit Chicago with our never-before seen Lake Shore Collection, our newly designed 850 and 925 bucket bar stools, and beautifully handmade Quarter Sawn table tops.

If you’re around the Chicago area, make sure to come out May 20-23 for the NRA show. We’d love to meet you and show you what East Coast Chair & Barstool can do for your restaurant.

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How to Prepare Your Restaurant for a PR Crisis

PR Plan

Running a restaurant is a big responsibility. You have employees, vendors, and customers all counting on you to succeed. This pressure is magnified even more so when there’s an unexpected crisis thrown into the mix.

Whether it’s a health hazard or an earthquake, your restaurant needs to be prepared to deal with the fallout and snap into crisis mode. These crises happen without a moment’s notice and can be catastrophic if not dealt with correctly. So how does your restaurant begin to prepare for the unexpected?

Avoid Being the “Ostrich”:

When a crisis does strike, your restaurant needs to be fast-acting to acknowledge the issue and take the appropriate steps to work towards a solution.

The very last thing you want your organization to be facing at the height of a disaster is a media outrage because you didn’t make any sort of statement. There is no playing the ostrich here; you cannot stick your head in the sand and pretend your problems will go away. You need to be clear, succinct, and precise with your plan internally and to the public. This can be done with a crisis management agenda.

Creating this plan can help you remain calm in times of crises which, in turn, can lead to better decision-making. Every restaurant should have an agenda for managing critical situations, the size of which will depend on the size of your operation and the issue at hand.

How to Compile a Crisis Management Agenda:

  • Brainstorm the risks faced by your restaurant such as food safety, insurance liabilities, and potential disasters (before they occur).
  • Create a checklist or plan of what should happen when an emergency happens.
  • Designate a task force of individuals who will carry out the step-by-step plan.
  • Delegate tasks and information to be disseminated internally and externally of the restaurant.
  • Identify key organizations that need to be notified such as fire, police, and ambulance services.
  • Make a list of audiences that need to be informed: reporters, legal entities, insurance companies. Don’t forget how you plan to address employees and the public.

PlanThis agenda should be shared with upper level management and designated employees that are appointed in the agenda. For an effective strategy, this information can easily be spread with Google Docs. Using Google Docs can lessen paper usage and, in case of a fire, will ensure you plan stays intact.

Having a crisis management procedure in place can lessen panic and give you a roadmap for navigating the seas of this crisis.

Keep Your Emotions in Check:

It’s without a doubt that going through a crisis that puts your livelihood in jeopardy is a stressful time. It’s also a crucial time to remain level-headed throughout the crisis. By acknowledging the issues your restaurant is facing and following your crisis management agenda, you can use your team to direct your efforts appropriately, even if you’re still in shock while the situation unfolds.

Not keeping your emotions in check can cause more issues if you act on them. Instead of acting brashly, use your emotions to convey sincerity and genuine concern. Maintaining a calm and professional demeanor can not only begin to fix customer perception but also inspire a more civil view for employees.

Emotions

For example, Applebee’s had a tumultuous public relations nightmare in 2013. Long story short, Applebee’s fired a staff member for posting a negative comment that a customer had written (due to a privacy violation) and then praised another staff member through a post that also had the customer’s name. Applebee’s posted on Facebook stating the reason they had fired the first staff member, which invited many comments from followers. In the middle of the night, the Applebee’s social media team posted an update on the post, which got lost in the 17,000 comments currently on the post. The social media team began tagging the people who had commented and copy/pasting the update their comments, leading to more heckling and an additional 16,000 comments. The social media team could have waited until a reasonable hour and posted a new update, not a comment, instead of adding fuel to the fire.

Moral of the story? Think before you act impulsively.

Say Sorry and Mean It:

Apologizing is not an easy step for any business, but it is a necessary evil in trying to repair the public’s trust. While making an apology, focus on being sincere. After all, what is an apology without feeling the deepest regret about the actions that occurred? With an honest-to-goodness apology to the affected parties, a business is taking ownership of the situation and can give it credibility.

micIn making this heartfelt apology, you will also want to take timing into account. If a crisis occurs, a restaurant’s timely apology is important in keeping customers on their side. Even if your team is working behind the scenes to better the situation, it is imperative that these actions are communicated and not done in silence. The longer an apology takes, the less customers will take it seriously.

Go further for your customers and add a side of great customer service to your apology. From late 2015 to early 2016, about 40 Chipotle customers were sickened from E. coli contaminants; a tough blow to a restaurant chain that prided themselves on fresh food free of genetically-modified organisms. Making an apology statement turned advertisement in major newspapers nationwide, Chipotle founder, Steve Ells, addressed the outbreaks, apologized, and made promises of more thorough food safety standards. To bring people back into its restaurants, Chipotle launched their brief rewards program, direct mail offers, and mobile promotions to earn free burritos.

Unfortunately, the world can change at the drop of a hat: people make snap judgments, tectonic plates collide, and food is not handled with proper care. But that doesn’t mean your restaurant can’t be prepared to combat these crises when they happen. Having a plan, keeping your emotions in check, and truly apologizing are crucial elements in preparing your restaurant for a future crisis. Remember the best offense is a good defense.

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2017 Las Vegas Nightclub & Bar Trade Show

Nightclub & Bar Trade ShowAmong the humming neon signs and dinging sounds of the slot machines, lies a new way to combine work and play. Nested in the glitzy glamour of Las Vegas, the Nightclub & Bar Trade Show (NCB) is quickly approaching. This isn’t just any restaurant or hospitality trade show. From creating connections with other businesses to basking in the superb nightlife only Vegas can offer,
this trade show is a combination of the newest trends and the businesses who have perfected them in the ever-changing restaurant industry landscape. Join these businesses at the Las Vegas Convention Center from March 27th to the 29th and fully take advantage of this unique show. Any bar, restaurant, or hospitality professional is welcome to attend to better their business. As a commercial furniture company that supplies this industry, we are Vegas-bound to meet our customers and take in all the NCB show has to offer!

What You Don’t Want to Miss:

The East Coast Chair & Barstool booth, of course! As an internet company, it’s always great to meet our customers in person. Our booth is divided into indoor and outdoor sections to show our brand new collections. Come check out our outdoor Caribbean collection that will spruce up any patio or our new Amish-made Quarter Sawn tables that will be the star of your restaurant. We will be at booth #1007 waiting to greet our awesome customers and new faces as well, so make sure you pop by and see us.

The educational opportunities! The main keynote speakers are Neil Moffitt (CEO, Hakkasan Group), Lee Cockerell (former executive Vice President, Walt Disney World Resort), Thomas Maas (founder and Master Blender, Agave Loco, LLC), and Kris Jones (president and CEO, Pepperjam). Enjoy demonstrations and conferences from the major names in the business. With these big players (and many others), it’s guaranteed you’ll come out of the NCB show brimming with new ideas for your own restaurant or bar.

The customized experience! There are four different paths as an attendee you can experience, tailoring this trade show to your particular interests. Take on the bar, mixology, nightlife, or beer experience and get the most out of attending the NCB trade show. Whichever path you take, there are plenty of workshops, offsite training, and recommended pavilions to create a full and knowledgeable scene.

The networking prospects! With more than 600 exhibitors and an expected 40,000 attendees at this trade show, you’re sure to make amazing connections from around the country. The expo and conference both make for fabulous chances to network. Bond with like-minded individuals over complimentary drinks and great entertainment like Ty Dolla $ign and Kaskade at the Platinum Parties. With a party at different location every night during the show, you get a true taste of the Las Vegas nightlife and club scene.

Are you attending the Nightclub & Bar Trade Show this year? Make sure to stop by and see us at booth #1007!

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The French Connection

French food is backFrancophiles, rejoice! The James Beard Foundation has named French cuisine a hot trend for 2017 and French restaurants are creeping back onto the scene.

French cooking, with its structured techniques and timeless traditions, has often been held as the golden standard in the culinary world. But the past 35 years have been a rocky time for French cuisine, including a New York Times article claiming French food needs to be saved.

Even though French cuisine is laden with time-consuming recipes like cassoulet and gut-busting rich roux, French cuisine has fairly simple roots. Both “cuisine du potager” (cooking from the garden) and “cuisine du marché” (cooking from the daily market) are the foundations of French cooking. Food was always seasonal, fresh, and differed from region to region, creating astoundingly different regional dishes.

From the beginning, French cuisine took on many different characteristics. French cuisine from the northern regions focused on vegetables local to the area, dairy products, and sausage. Southern regions incorporated richer ingredients like mushrooms, herbs, and game birds. Many chefs took these regional cuisine styles and created many esteemed cooking techniques. Sautéing, “sous-vide”, and “déglacer” are just some of the French cooking terms that have been outside the realm of the cuisine.

French cooking was known around the world for its finery and strategic practices that made this an art form more than just preparing food on a plate. But many chefs wanted to move away from the heavily regimented procedures and decadence of French cuisine and come up with a lighter alternative. Lower fat sauces, the integration of more garden vegetables, and using simpler presentations began in the 1960’s. From this, “nouvelle cuisine” was born. This movement was embraced for a small period of time, but met with heavy criticism from traditionalist French chefs and food critics.

By the end of the 1980’s, “nouvelle cuisine” had fallen out of vogue and many chefs returned to the more classical methods.

However, other ethnic foods such as Italian and Mexican began to take center stage. French restaurants and cuisine took a hit by being perceived as stuffy; customers were more interested in other flavors and combinations. Even many French chefs began going the safe and less expensive route, giving up their quest for Michelin stars, and focusing on the basics.

Most recently in 2014, the French government has tried to let consumers be aware of a restaurant’s quality of food with a “fait maison” logo. This logo would indicate whether a restaurant’s food is in fact “homemade” or not. In an effort to reduce costs, many restaurants in France were relying on industrial caterers or external food service providers to prepare food. While this is done by many restaurants internationally, it does take away from the integrity of French cuisine, which was once upheld has the standard for all culinary traditions. The many exceptions to the “fait maison” make it easy to circumvent as well as receiving a large negative backlash from food critics and chefs.

Even though it seems French cuisine has toppled from its pedestal of grandeur as of late, this trend is on the watch list for 2017 and is making a comeback. Many classically-trained chefs around the country are looking to restore the name of French cuisine and others are bringing their own flavor on the great classics.

French Laundry

Once housing a saloon and then steam laundry business, Thomas Keller’s French Laundry continues to make history on Washington Street in Yountville, California. French Laundry has been dazzling palettes with its tasting menus (which change daily) and wines since 1994. Even with a decline in formal French dining, Keller’s restaurant has succeeded over the years and is a testament to his expertise. Among winning the “Five Diamond Award” annually since 2005, Thomas Keller is the only American-born chef to have three star Michelin ratings for two different restaurants (French Laundry in Napa Valley and Per Se in Manhattan). French Laundry has set high expectations in French cuisine for restauranteurs, service, and patrons.

French Laundry

Photo via Femme Rouge

Bistronomic

Combining the words bistro, gastronomy, and economic, and all that they mean to French cuisine, chef Martial Noguier opened his first independent restaurant Bistronomic in 2011. While Chicago is becoming a food capital, Bistronomic is right there and relevant as ever with its comfortable atmosphere and Midwestern ingredients. Noguier keeps classic items on the menu with a regional twist in the maple leaf duck breast a l’orange and escargot with breadcrumbs. Making French cuisine seem approachable is quite an understaking, but Bistronomic and Noguier pulls it off.

Bistronomic

Photo via Bistronomic

Petit Trois

Shaking up the traditional white-tablecloth atmosphere of many French eateries, Petit Trois is Los Angeles’ exclusive but approachable bistro. With a “bar á la carte” menu style, Petit Trois focuses on simple French dishes such as escargots and omelettes with simple wines and cocktails. Opened by Ludo Lefebvre, Vinny Dotolo, and Jon Shook in 2014, this bistro champions no-frills French cuisine with a relaxed feel- no stuffiness here! With a no reservations policy, the 21 bar stools are up for grabs to the early bird. Petit Trois has landed at the top of many “best of” lists, including “2015 Restaurants of the Year” by Food & Wine. It is rumored a second location will be opened in the California’s San Fernando Valley.

Petit Trois

Photo via Eater LA

The Twisted Frenchman

Cities around the United States are seeing the return of French cuisine in the forms of fine dining and casual bistros. French cuisine is even making its way back into the steel city of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh. New ownership transformed what was the former Notion Restaurant on South Highland Avenue, into chef Andrew Garbarino’s The Twisted Frenchman in 2015. Up-and-coming on the restaurant scene, Garbarino has to rely more on his food than his name to bring guests in. With its food described as “modern French”, The Twisted Frenchman’s menu is peppered with game birds and quintessential French entrees. Lovingly referred to as “foie gras PB&J”, this appetizer is Garbarino’s signature and gives a contemporary take on an otherwise classic dish.

The Twisted Frenchman

Photo via TripAdvisor

Le Coucou

In the mid-20th century, there were six luxury restaurants that ruled New York City and held the standard for French dining. Since 2004, all except one (La Grenouille) have closed their doors. The white table clothed finery of these establishments lives on and served as inspiration for chef Daniel Rose’s Le Coucou, opened in 2016. Along with Stephen Starr, restaurant extraordinaire, Le Coucou is an encouraging sign of fine French cuisine reigning once more. French delicacies line the breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner menus, including the cheeky “tout le lapin” (all of the rabbit). While this is Rose’s first stateside restaurant, Le Coucou is the resurgence of fine dining for local New Yorkers and tourists to share in alike. To many of Le Coucou’s patrons, this isn’t a resurgence; this a whole new experience.

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The Recipe of a Restaurant: How to Break into the Industry

Open for Business

Have you dreamed of owning your own restaurant? Maybe you’ve sketched out what the exterior would look like on a napkin, daydreamed about what you would serve, or even picked out your china?

But have you ever thought of taking this dream one step farther and putting your ideas to work?

If you’re looking to bust into the restaurant business but aren’t quite sure of what you would need to do it, we’ve compiled the largest pieces you need, into one guide. And because opening a restaurant is no easy task, we spoke with Rob Coffaro, owner of Coffaro’s Pizza in Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania, to get his expertise on the subject.

Coffaro's Pizza

Prep Time

Concept- First things first, you need a concept. This may be something you already have under belt, but if not, you need to cement what your vision is for your restaurant. Having a more concrete concept can help you carry the elements you want into your restaurant more clearly.

Location- Whether you’re taking over another restaurant or building from the ground up, you should have your location. Talk to your realtor about the different options for your commercial venture. This will impact how you finance your restaurant.

Finances- How you finance will largely depend on your situation. If you are so lucky to have been saving up in your personal savings account, these liquid funds could get you on your way. If your credit is in good standing, a credit card could be a viable solution, depending on how much you need. Another option could be a restaurant specific loan or a Small Business Administration loan. A restaurant specific loan is not bound to a specific need and has a varying interest rates and terms, depending on the size of the loan. Based on the financial institution, this loan can have many different names but serves the same purpose. An SBA backed loan can offer lower down payments and longer terms to the business owner but can be difficult to qualify for. To qualify, a business must meet size requirements, be in good financial standing, be in the for-profit industry, and meet the credit requirements of the lending institution. Instead of going the commercial route, you could also have investors help fund your restaurant. If these are friends and family, remember that while the money can be convenient, it can also be a strain on the relationship.

Business plan- After you’ve analyzed the risks and you’re ready to take on the responsibility of owning your own business, it’s time to create a business plan. This plan gives you a guiding light when things seem dark or what to do next. When documenting your business plan, be sure to include information on your concept, team standards, design, target market, market overview, financial risk, business structure, and external individuals that will be helping you run your business (like a lawyer or accountant).

Legal matters- If you plan on serving alcohol or having a BYOB policy, make sure you check your state’s liquor license laws. Some states can take longer than others for this process, so if this applies to your business definitely get a jump on it!

Slice of Advice- Be Organized

Mix in Your Ingredients

Write your menu- It’s time to test out what culinary creations will grace your menu. Use focus groups of friends, family, and other chefs to narrow down what fits your restaurant’s style and flow. Make sure to also include various substitutions to accommodate guests with food allergies or dietary restrictions. When designing your menu, you need to keep in mind the physical look of the menu, how categories will be presented, and the pattern in how it’s read.

Network- How are you going to obtain the ingredients of your daily fare. Research foodservice vendors on price, quality, and delivery time but also keep local farms or vendors in mind. A great way to build relationships in the community is to partner these homegrown businesses which could help get your foot in the door for future events.

Get social- Start creating a buzz about your establishment. Choose two or three social media platforms that you are well-versed in (or are prepared to master) and begin showing the world what makes your business unique. You have a great opportunity to show the beginnings of your restaurant, from the first time you walk through the door to opening night. Use it!

Dimensions- Space planning can give you important figures such as your capacity, how many pieces of furniture you can order, and the image of how your restaurant will look at the end. There are many requirements that restauranteurs need to implement in their layout. Whether large or small, your restaurant can be planned out before you purchase a single piece of furniture.

Filling the space- To complete your restaurant, you will need commercial furniture and restaurant equipment (think refrigerators, ovens, etc.). Be sure to purchase products that promise quality and durability. Don’t forget to also pick up dinnerware, napkins, cooking utensils, and silverware to run your business smoothly and efficiently. It’s also time to finalize your menus and send them off to print!

Safety is key- In most states; you need to have a pre-operational inspection done before your restaurant opens. During this inspection, there should be absolutely no food on the premises. The pre-operational inspection confirms that your restaurant is compliant with health laws.

Build your team- The amount of upper-level management you need will depend on your business structure and size but most restaurants have a general manager, assistant manager, shift leaders, and chefs. You will want to look for individuals that are successful in recruiting, supervising, and budgeting. When your management team is in place, you can start hiring the wait and kitchen staff. From top level management all the way to the first-time job holder, training is important for seamless, united customer service.

Slice of Advice- Hiring

Let’s Get Cooking

Get your feet wet- Have your soft opening a couple weeks before your grand opening that introduces your business to the community. This lets your future customers get to know you and get excited that you will be opening very shortly.

Call your health inspector- Directly after your soft opening, schedule an operational inspection with the health department. Staying up on these issues is important for the longevity of your business.

Make it an event- For your grand opening, make sure that you are present and available. This is the time to enjoy your handiwork and introduce yourself and your team to all those who came out to support you. You should invite some sort of press outlet, but you may want to also hire a photographer to attend. Designate a staff member or friend to be in charge of social media that night, this is an event you will want to remember.

Slice of Advice- Do the Math

Enjoy Your Final Product

So your restaurant is now a full-blown operational business. That’s awesome, but the hard work is just beginning. You need to keep up on budgeting, food safety, licenses, and your customers’ overall experience. It’s important to keep in mind that while it may be simpler to hire the accountant and just leave the finances to them or hire an assistant to focus on staying up to date on licensing, you need to be involved. Just because your restaurant is open does not mean you can stop researching and educating yourself. Let this and every ounce of customer feedback drive you to become a better restaurant and business. You need to be involved with each workings of your business to protect and nourish it every step of the way.

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