Wonderful, Delicious, Healthy Chocolate
Chocolate is the ultimate comfort food: we reach for it in times of stress, it improves our mood when the going gets rough, and it is downright delicious under any circumstances. Amazingly, after years of getting a bad rap, as unhealthy and high in sugar, chocolate is experiencing a renaissance of sorts and research now shows that high-quality chocolate, in moderation, is actually good for us. That’s a win-win situation for the chocoholics among us – which is pretty much everyone, right?
The History of Chocolate
In “A Brief History of Chocolate,” the Smithsonian Institute Magazine interviews Alexander Leaf, who runs Chocolate Tours of New York. As Leaf says, chocolate is “the best-known food that nobody knows anything about.” Etymologists trace the origin of the word “chocolate” to the Aztec word “xocoatl,” which was a bitter drink brewed from cacao beans. Today, the term “cacao” is usually used to refer to the plant or its beans before processing, while the term “chocolate” refers to anything that is made from the beans.
Chocolate has been around for about 2,000 years, though some experts claim that it may be even older. Recently, anthropologists discovered cacao residue on pottery excavated in Honduras that could date back as far as 1400 B.C.! In pre-modern Latin America, cacao beans were considered so valuable that they were used as currency. And the ancient Mayans and Aztecs believed the cacao bean had magical properties, using it in many rituals related to birth, marriage and death.
How to Keep Loyal Customers
When you first opened your restaurant, your goal was to attract new customers – to get them through the door and have them try your food. But now that you’ve established a successful business, your goal should be to maintain your customer base or, conversely, to prevent customer interest from waning. Attracting new customers is important, but keeping loyal customers may be the most important goal of all.
Return Business is Vital
Return business is the meat and potatoes of the restaurant industry. Return customers provide your business with a regular income and they can be your best marketing tool. The results of a survey, conducted among a large number of fast-food restaurants, indicated that customer satisfaction drives higher returns than food or price. The chances that a customer will return increases from 20 percent, to more than 80 percent, when he or she leaves a restaurant satisfied and happy. In addition, a satisfied customer is more likely to recommend your restaurant to friends and relatives.
Restaurant Tech: A Must in Today’s World
Although you may have started your restaurant business in the days of paper menus, paper flyers, and newspaper ads, times have changed. Technology in the restaurant industry is rapidly becoming the new normal, and you could be missing out on many benefits if tech tools aren’t yet on your restaurant’s menu. According to Toast, 79 percent of restaurant-goers say that “restaurant technology improves their experience.” In addition, restaurant operators say using technology – for back-office purposes and for relating to the public – improves productivity, increases sales, and provides a competitive edge.
What is Restaurant Technology?
In today’s digital world, restaurants cannot afford to keep their service, accounting systems, and customer interface back in the last century. Back-office operations – the part of the business that customers generally don’t see, such as bookkeeping, staffing, and food-ordering – has left the pen and paper behind, allowing technology to take over. Streamlining operations through automation and by electronically connecting all facets of the back office has saved restaurants untold amounts of money, despite the initial investment.
Similarly, restaurants can no longer depend on word of mouth and print media to reach their target audience and bring in business. In the age of smartphones and tablets, any restaurant that doesn’t take advantage of the latest technology to interface with customers, is simply losing business with every day that passes.
Welcoming the Solo Diner
Eating alone is, for many people, an uncomfortable and awkward experience. Today, however, smart restaurateurs, with an eye on trends and demographics, are looking at the solo diner as an ever-increasing source of business.
Single diners – already ill at ease in a new restaurant – are sensitive to a number of things that a restaurant owner may not be aware of. These include factors like staff vocabulary, seating layout, and more. Making your restaurant more solo-friendly can both increase your business and secure your reputation as a forward-thinking, open-minded entrepreneur. With just a few minor changes and additions, your restaurant can make leaps in attracting and welcoming the savvy solo diner.
According to Fortune, the percentage of Americans living by themselves has doubled since 1960; in addition, the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that consumption by U.S. singles contributes close to $2 trillion to the economy annually. In the U.S. restaurant industry, reservations for one are on the rise: the number of solo diners has grown by 62 percent, making them the fastest-growing table party size. Put into financial terms, ignoring the particular needs of solo diners is tantamount to giving the cold shoulder to a big chunk of business. Instead, it’s time to figure out how to throw out the welcome mat.
Learn How to Talk to Solo Customers
Sustainability: The Sign of the Times for Restaurants
In many ways, the traditional restaurant business model is under attack from all sides. Although new restaurants are opening up every day, overall industry revenues have drastically decreased in the last few years. Parallel industries, like supermarkets and fast-food chains, are offering more health-oriented foods, forcing restaurant owners, as well, to explore original ways to attract customers. Health- and budget-conscious consumers are growing more sophisticated about demanding high-quality, fresh ingredients at low prices. In addition, the environment matters, and restaurant owners can no longer ignore the fact that sustainability is at the forefront of everyone’s mind.
Sustainability: Part of a Restaurant’s Concept
“Sustainability” is the study of how a natural system remains diverse while producing everything it needs to maintain a balance. The goal of sustainability is to prevent the depletion of natural resources in order to maintain ecological stability. Sustainable food takes into account environmental, health, social, and economic concerns, and it consists of eight inter-related principles:
Catering a Fabulous Brunch – An Impossible Task?
For most of us, brunch – that blissful meal that combines breakfast and lunch – has been around forever; so long, that it’s impossible to imagine a world without this important meal. Everyone loves brunch… except, perhaps, chefs and caterers. While there is a plethora of brunch-appropriate dishes to choose from, the fact is that it’s not so simple to get this meal together on a Sunday morning, in time to lay out the spread of your client’s dreams by 11:00 (start later than that and it’s lunch), and have it continue for four or five hours – until mid-afternoon. For a caterer, the very thing that people love about brunch – its flexibility and lack of structure – is what makes it hard. The challenge is finding the right combination of breakfast foods and lunch foods (and miscellaneous intriguing additional dishes) and always keeping it interesting. A daunting task, perhaps, but by no means impossible.
Why Food Photography is Vital for Your Restaurant or Catering Business
In today’s world of social media, restaurants owners and caterers have no choice but to market through the Internet and social media. To stay relevant, you have to put your food on a pedestal for all the world to see. Your menu is your calling card; in a sense, it is who you are. When potential customers hear of your restaurant or business, chances are that the first thing they will want to do is see your menu – so they can start planning and dreaming about the perfect meal or event. But what can make even more of an impact – what can transcend place and language – are photographs. Food photography adds a dimension that words cannot. A picture adds color and depth, and nothing beats photos for conveying everything that is wonderful about your food.
Clichés are clichés because they are generally true and this certainly goes for the saying: “We eat with our eyes.” People love to see what they’ll be eating before they dig in. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a waiter on the way to another table with a luscious-looking (…Read More…)
Successfully Market Your Restaurant Using the Internet and Social Media
When it comes to marketing a restaurant or catering business the bottom line is: You can never rest on your laurels. You must always assume that the new kid on the block will usurp your place at the top of the heap, or that your loyal customer base is not a devoted as you think, and that they will desert you in a heartbeat to try out the next best thing. In other words, even if you are at the summit of the industry, you cannot assume that it will all continue – unless you give your business a continuous boost.
Not only do seasonal foods have tremendous benefits for both people and the planet, but they’re also increasingly in vogue, due in no small part to the inspiration of the White House Kitchen Garden.
In fact, consumers are showing a strong preference for all things seasonal, with CNN Money recently declaring, “Seasonal is the new local.”
As your restaurant prepares to make the shift from summer to autumn, let’s take a closer look at why seasonal matters, along with six tips aimed at helping ensure that your fall menu is seasonably pleasing to diners. (…Read More…)
A constantly changing menu has the potential to build customer intrigue, persuading loyal customers to frequent the venue on a regular basis in order to get a taste of the chef’s new creations. However, constant menu changes require monetary investment in the form of ingredients for recipe and dish trials, and work hours for employees responsible for developing the dishes. A changing menu also presents a danger of disappointing customers who will fall in love with a dish that they know won’t be repeated in the near future. Weighing the pros and cons of having a menu that changes often should be done on a venue to venue basis in order to reach a good decision about whether or not to adopt the custom.
Why you Should
People get bored really easily. I’m sure we can all relate to that feeling of staring into a full fridge, not knowing what to eat, bored with all the options and possibilities we can think of. One cure for that could be to dine out. The wide variety of restaurants (…Read More…)