Posts Tagged ‘restaurant’

We in the food industry love to figure out the best way to sell a product with a romance description, crisp food photography, and innovative packaging, because these are all the things that affect what you buy, before you have a chance to eat it.  However, there is always a bit of trickery in this process.  This could be hand placed fresh ingredients for the photo, an exaggeration of the flavor profile, and my personal favorite, playing with the standard of identity.

For instance, to call something ‘Greek yogurt,’ it’s traditionally a strained yogurt made with Greek milk with a high protein content, and thicker consistency with less sugar than standard yogurt.  This is the standard of identity which must be submitted and regulated before a product can be labeled as ‘Greek yogurt’.  You can throw all of that our the door if you label it as ‘Greek-style yogurt’.  Now you can add thickening agents, flavors, or other dairy products to have a final yogurt that tastes LIKE Greek yogurt, without having it produced in the standard way. Shenanigans.

There are many examples of this in both foodservice and retail establishments.  Andouille-style sausage, firebaked style flatbreads…the list goes on.  Whenever there is a a regulation in place for a product description, using the word ‘style’ gives us a little leeway.  If you are looking for traditional products or ingredients, avoid items labeled as ‘yada-style yada’.  The advantage of incorporating the word ‘style’ is that the product is usually at a better price point, last longer, better organoleptic properties over shelf-life, and it some cases, consumers aren’t concerned if it is authentic.  I am not saying either is right or wrong, just make sure you know what you are looking for.

There are also food items that have NO standard of identity, which then can use whatever they so desire as a descriptor.

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What are some of your favorite misleading food terms?

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If you are looking to start your own hipster-attracting restaurant, or not sure if you have just walked into a cool (like Arcade Fire cool) trendy new joint, here are a few notes that will point you in the right direction:

 

 

  1. You must write your entire menu and drink list in vibrant bright chalk with goofy bubbly, or ‘Old English’ script.  This will make you patrons think you have a rotating seasonal menu and liquor options.  Make sure to never change your menu to even further confuse your guests.
  2. Print your menu on cheap parchment that easily gets dirty, as well as use odd names, vague menu descriptions, and exotic sounding or upscale words for relatively simple food items.
  3. Your tables, chairs, dinnerware, and overall design should look old, beat-up, communal, and look sporadic.  In fact, purposely acquire things that don’t match.  This will make your hipster guests happy as it will remind them of their hairstyle,  fashion, and overall lackadaisical attitude.
  4. Set up photo booths with odd lighting at each table so patrons an Instagram photos of everything they eat or drink.
  5. Make sure to only serve microbrew and exotic alcohols that no one is familiar with.  However, PBR is the exception, and due to the hipsters, the price is continuing to go up.
  6. Have you waitstaff only communicate to guests via social networks.  Also, keep your restaurant or bar bright since most people will be wearing huge sunglasses.
  7. Only play 80’s cartoons, cheesy B-grade horror classics, or foreign films on your TV screens, especially when major local sporting events are on.  Also, only Indie bands in the juke-box.
  8. Make a conscience effort to support skinny jeans, and high waisted Mom pants in your vicinity.
  9. There should be a minimal noise decibel level  coming from the jewelry, chains, necklaces, and bracelets worn by all staff and customers.
  10. Don’t clean too much.
  11. Keep a small stage available for the freedom of expression.
  12. Make sure to segregate any non-hipster like individuals who come into the restaurant or bar, and berate them with strange questions about weird books, or composting.
  13. Serve Totino’s pizza rolls as an appetizer to be ironic.
  14. Reuse food other people don’t eat to save the environment.

What did I miss?

 

Now you don’t have to wait for a ‘celebrity’ chef to walk through your doors to fix your failing restaurant.  Here are 4 simple things you can do to turn around your failing establishment…

  1. CLEAN – Clean your kitchen, clean your dining room, clean the outside of your restaurant.  For whatever reason people seem to forget that a clean restaurant inside and out is a lot more inviting than a dumpster.  Once you do a massive cleaning job on your place, the general upkeep really isn’t that hard or time consuming.  Once you get a great score from the health department, give me a shout out and post your results for all to see.
  2. SIMPLIFY – Unless you are a high volume, large capacity restaurant, long gone are the days of the 10 page menu.  Streamline your menu so consumers know what your schtick is.  This will also greatly improve your food cost, cut down on prep time, and make it easier for the BOH to execute.  Would you rather be great at a few things or not so good at a lot of things?
  3. MODERNIZE – Go to your local fast casual restaurant, and you will notice many are moving away from that old person basement look of random junk everywhere.  The best part about a modern, open, inviting look to your dining room is that it is not expensive.  Just like in the TV shows, you most likely have plenty of good stuff in your restaurant, you just need to remove the bad.
  4. TRAIN – I had no idea that so many employees don’t know the true meaning of customer service!  Regardless if they know your menu or are knowledgable about your wine list, they should be proper, polite, and responsive to your guests needs.  Since you should already have SIMPLIFIED your menu, it will be that much easier to train your staff.  Make sure there is some type of chain of command for any situation, then your place will start to run itself.

ID-100107994Feel free to send me a check when your bottom line goes from red to green.  If you need someone to come in and do it for you, I am much quicker to respond than those ‘celebrity’ chefs!

ID-100105597For whatever reason, I get upset over the smallest things when I go out to eat.  I want my dining experience to be as smooth as Sinatra.  Here are a few that make me want to chuck plates at people…

  • IT’S NICE TO SEE YOU – Please pretend that you are happy to see me and appreciate my business.  I don’t care if you are having a bad day.  If you ruin my day, your boyfriend/girlfriend problems are going to be the least of your worries.  You also won’t have any tip money for gas to get home.
  • DOING IT ANYWAY – As you walk me through the labyrinth of tables during a prime time dinner service, we arrive at my table which looks like someone has been using a circular saw on a 2×4.  Crumbs, napkins, plates, and a tip are all on the table, and you tell me to have a seat and we’ll get this cleaned up right away, then you run to get the busboy??? If anything, I would feel better if YOU yourself started to clean the table and offer your condolences since you should notice my big bald head starting on fire.  The same goes for when you give me a dirty glass, plate, or flatware.  I KNOW you saw it and gave it to me anyway.
  • COLD BUTTER – Excellent! The server has brought out what appears to be a fresh loaf of crusty bread that is warm to the touch, as well as a ramekin/pat/ball/stick of butter.  As soon as I try and scoop some up with my knife and smear it on my artisan bread, I sand a hole in my piece because the butter is right out of the FRIDGE!  How do you expect me to spread something that has the viscosity of modeling clay on my hand crafted slice of pumpernickel?  Maybe if you planned ahead and let my butter temper for a bit, I would not hurl my ice cube butter ball through your window.
  • BUSINESS SAVY  – Do I want to try your…”insert up-selling item here”??? You mean the one I saw a commercial for, and read on your billboard, and saw a big picture of in your front window, and is on the specials board in the front of the restaurant, and is on the table tent, and is on the new menu insert, and is written on your actual menu?  If I wanted it, you would know already.
  • GGOOOGOLEDEND – That is exactly what it sounds like when you walk up to me while I am enjoying my meal, and obviously chewing it, then ask me questions. I don’t care if it is a fine dining restaurant or Shenanigans, a server should almost be like a ghost and provide you with everything you need without interfering.  Please wait for me to stop talking to my party or chewing my food before asking if my meal is to my liking.  When you walk up to my table, I will acknowledge your existence before you can speak.  In return, I will never snap my finger, or yell for you to cater my every need.
  • TIMING IS EVERYTHING – If I wanted a buffet I would have went to a buffet.  Thank you for bringing my appetizer, salad, and entree all at the same time.  Could you please just mix them all together and give me a shovel?
  • NOT MY PROBLEM – One server is slammed while the other ones are in the back playing Candy Crush and watching water boil.  They casually walk past tables with empty drinks, and dirty dishes.  I SEE YOU not doing anything so why not grab a dirty glass and bring it to the BOH before I start unscrewing all of the salt and pepper caps.
  • KING OF THE CASTLE – I try to keep a low-ish profile at a restaurant because it’s a public place.  If you decide to bring everyone and their mother and THEIR kids, could you please try not to invade my dining experience?  I don’t want to hear you scream, I don’t want to have a staring contest with your child, and I don’t need to know how your last doctor visit went.  Maybe even make a small effort to clean up after yourself or organize your dirty tableware.  I’m sure this is how you act at home too.

What are some of your restaurant pet peeves?