5 Ways to Maximize Restaurant Technology

Over the past decade, restaurants, bars and nightclubs have become a major part of our business.

More bar/restaurant owners are familiar with integrated controls and automated systems, but they don’t fully understand their potential.

Being mindful of these growing trends can help integrators grow and succeed in the restaurants and bars vertical.

1. Clients Will Pay for Something Unique

2. If You Build It, They Will Come

3. There’s Never Enough Time

4. They Want User-Friendly Controls But …

5. You Have to Cast a Wide Net

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Food Tech Industry Prioritizes Plant-Based and Clean Meats as the Future of Food

What are those people eating?

Bugs? Each other?

If the world’s leading food scientists have any say in the matter, not only will we be eating pretty well, but we can avert at least some of the risks of a fallen planet in the first place, like those associated with climate change. But we have to embrace clean and plant-based meats to do it (the alternatives were bugs and other people, so easy, yes?)

“Now, it’s about saving the world,” says Emily Byrd, senior communications specialist at the Good Food Institute.

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The Paradox of American Restaurants

The quality and variety of food in the U.S. has never been better. The business seems to be struggling. What’s really going on?

Restaurants are such a revitalizing force in urban life that a fine meal now carries a sacred profundity. “Food has replaced music at the heart of the cultural conversation,” wrote Eugene Wei, a technologist and writer who is currently the head of video at Oculus, in a 2015 essay. “It’s hard to think of any sphere of American life where the selection and quality have improved so much as food,” the economist Tyler Cowen, who moonlights as a food blogger, wrote this year. For the first time in US history, Americans are spending more money dining out than in grocery stores.

What the heck is going on? How can the United States be going through a restaurant renaissance and a restaurant recession at the same time? In the last few weeks, I’ve spoken with almost a dozen restaurateurs and analysts about the state of the industry. Here are four theories.

1. The good news is there are too many great restaurants to choose from. The bad news is … the same thing.

2. The middle class of restaurants is really struggling … unless they specialize in breakfast.

3. Takeout is taking over.

4. It’s ultimately about rich city-dwellers—especially in California.

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Would You Pay $48 a Pound for Leafy Greens?

Yes, there’s a world where people pay almost $50 a pound for tiny lettuces. They assemble religiously in the crowded northwest corner of Manhattan’s Union Square Greenmarket, where the eerily perfect Windfall Farms stall appears on Saturdays and Wednesdays. While some stands radiate a hippie-casual vibe, at Windfall the exquisite, vibrantly colored vegetables are treated with the care one sees in a Madison Avenue boutique. Signs caution customers against touching the greens, because they’ve already been hand-washed several times.

That care, systematic throughout the life cycle of these little lettuces, doesn’t come cheap. Most of the baby greens—the baby mesclun mix, the wasabi-like green wave mustard—cost $12 for 4 ounces, or $48 a pound. Red amaranth sprouts are the priciest, at $64 a pound.

Do you know how much you are paying for your leafy greens?

Learn how to track this at xtraCHEF.

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What Makes a Restaurant ‘Hot’ And Why Should You Care?

A snapshot of the current restaurant industry provides some clues:

The bulk of that growth in limited service rests on the back of fast-casual restaurants, which posted 9.1% gains in 2016, according to Technomic. (In contrast, traditional fast food reported just 3.9% growth in the same period.) Technomic is forecasting a return to double digit growth for fast casual in the coming year.

Beyond the obvious broad customer appeal, what are some of the other shared characteristics of these fast-growing restaurant concepts?

1. Strong unit economics. It’s easy for restaurants to grab headlines for opening new units, but simply opening new stores doesn’t count for much if each one isn’t high-performing.

2. An investment in technology. Today’s consumers expect online ordering, mobile apps and convenient takeout and delivery options.

3. A successful restaurant needs to stand out from the crowded pack with signature menu offerings, craveable items and quality ingredients. An engaging backstory and clear brand mission also help carve a place in the industry.

4. Deep pockets. It’s a no-brainer why emerging restaurant concepts seek out funding from investors. Capital, preferable from a variety of sources, is essential for sustained growth. The most successful brands will win that funding.

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The Future of the Quick Service Restaurant Industry

Ten years ago, in 2007, technology was just starting to integrate into the food and beverage marketplace. Quick Service Restaurants began rolling out websites, menus were made available online, and customers could post reviews of their experiences. Fast forward to 2017, and the situation is very different.

Right now, technology and the QSR industry are at a crossroads. As we look ten years to the future, there is no denying that technology will continue to play a pivotal role in the industry’s evolution. Traditional commerce and retail are changing. Virtual channels like Uber and Expedia have been selling the same product for several years. Now, aggregators like Just Eat and Grub Hub are catching up. Brick and mortar locations must do the same. From a consumer perspective, the realization is that technology is already impacting the way they complete a transaction, but how much bigger of a role will it play ten years out? That is an answer that only time will be able to tell.

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The Economics of a $32 Single Crab

The crab dish is actually priced lower than a 25 percent food cost would dictate. Centeno’s cost is $8 per crab — which, he says, is almost double what it was last year. He explained the pricing of the dish as follows:

There’s a little bit of wiggle room to go up or down based on general pricing on the rest of the menu, but the goal is to have it level out to 25%. So a dish with a little lower raw cost may be costed at 23% so that something like soft shell can be costed at 28%.

3.6 x $8 (item cost)=$28.80 (28% foodcost)
So normally my formula would be:
3.6 x $10 ($8+our cost for the remainder of ingredients on the plate) = $36 (guest price)
I knew $36 was not gonna go over well, and that I had to stay in the 27%-28% range and price it at $32.

But they are delicious and people seem OK with price. They would be much cheaper if I bought frozen, but for me it’s about the ingredient’s quality, so what’s the point then? It’s always about balancing portions and plating to be able to use the best ingredients without breaking the guest’s wallet. Which is becoming more and more difficult.

Do you know how much your signature dish costs? Reach out here to find out more.

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4 Business Lessons Every Restaurant Should Apply

Marketing a restaurant may seem like one of the most challenging job imaginable considering the enormous amount of competition faced in most cities and towns around the country. It’s easy to rely on basic tactics like specials, menu changes, and word-of-mouth. In reality, though, a restaurant could learn a lot from the business lessons that most service-based companies are now applying that are helping get results faster and more efficiently than ever before.

Here are some marketing lessons related to technology and data that restaurants may want to consider adding onto their menu to generate greater results, add efficiencies, and improve the bottom line.

Appetizer: Streamline Your Processes

Main Dish: Use Data to Understand Changes in Business Flow

Dessert: Identify Lost Revenue Opportunities And Capitalize On Them

The Check

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The 9 hottest trends you’ll see in restaurant design this year

We poll some of the hottest architect and design firms to identify which trends will pilot restaurant design in 2017 and which formerly popular movements are going the way of those Oliver Peoples bifocals you wore in the 90s. Here, nine designers share their predictions for the hottest restaurant trends in the months to come.

1. Your Burger Joint and Special-Occasion Restaurant Will Share an Address

2. Edison Bulb Fatigue Has Set In

3. Tiles Aren’t Just for Bathrooms

4. Pastels Are the New Neutrals

5. Garden Party Chic Is the New Urban Farmhouse

6. You’ll Want to Take Off Your Shoes (but Please Don’t)

7. Neon Will Go Dark

8. Warm and Modern Are Not Mutually Exclusive

9. The Best Trend Is No Trend

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