The Restaurant Group Blog

Opening A New Restaurant: The Right Way

Opening a restaurant the right way

Is there a wrong way to open a restaurant? Indeed there is, as indicated by the high failure rate of new restaurants.

A popular belief is that 90% of restaurants fail within the first year. Whether this is true or not, no one knows. However, a study by Ohio State University indicated that 60% of new restaurants crumble after the first year, while 80% do not make it past five years.

Such dire statistics beg the question, “What should you do differently?” “How do you start a restaurant and ensure it succeeds?”

First Create a Business Plan and Do an Adequate Feasibility Study

The agreed-upon starting point of all the great businesses is to have a well drawn out business plan followed up by a study to determine if the plan is practical.

Next, Find The Right Partner to Guide You Through Concept Development

“A goal without a plan is just a wish,” said a wise man. Concept development ensures that your restaurant does not stay as merely a wish. It moves you forward by helping you come up with a long-term plan of action that perfectly aligns with your goals.

Essentially, the partner you hire will help you conceptualize your set business goals, trim the unnecessary, and strictly focus on what will guarantee success.

Select The Right Site

The benefits of starting right are well-known. With a new restaurant, picking the ideal location is the starting point that helps ensure you do not become a failure statistic.

You must analyze the demographic data of a location, examine tax data audits from nearby competitors to spot trends and consider security issues. Simply stated, research once, and then do it again and again.

With that done, and convinced you have the perfect location, it is time to consider the next step.

Develop A Restaurant Design That Works

Arguably, this the most exciting step. Beware though, because this is a step that trips many. While you might have an interesting and elaborate design in your mind, it might not necessarily be what’s best for your restaurant.

The best thing is to get an experienced consultant who will help you marry your designs with what the industry demands, and to see what has worked for other successful restaurants.

Create an Attractive Menu

If you’re starting a restaurant, you more likely have a great passion for food. Bring that passion when developing your menu, but also be very deliberate. Be sure you are offering unique menu options that your competitors do not provide.

Opening A New Restaurant The Right Way-TRG Restaurant Consultants Design Development Startup

Contact TRG Restaurant Consultants for assistance with your restaurant startup.

 

Restaurant Trends – Third-Party Delivery Expands among Restaurants

Restaurant Trends - Third-Party Delivery

As Third-Party Delivery Expands among Restaurants, Customer Base Broadens

 

Move over Domino’s, there’s a whole lot of restaurants doing delivery these days. 

A recent Los Angeles Times article about an NPD Group study reports an explosion of delivery by restaurants through third-party aggregators such as UberEats and GrubHub. In fact, the industry has seen a 20% increase over the last five years, according to Warren Solochek, NPD’s senior vice president of industry relations. NPD Group is a market research firm that recently published the study which monitored trends in food delivery between 2012 and 2017.

From the local deli to the big McDonald’s, why are so many jumping on the delivery bandwagon?

Looking at the study, Solochek believes more people are staying home, comfortable on the couch, streaming content all night long. Fewer people seem to want to bother with even fast-food drive-thrus, and restaurants are feeling it. “Restaurants have had to do something to get people to continue to use their product,” Solochek says.

Do the commissions to the third-parties pay for themselves?

Hard to say, yet, but the customer base broadens as people try restaurants they wouldn’t otherwise know about, much less drive out of their way to try. “If a restaurant isn’t in your neighborhood, you may not venture into that restaurant, so with delivery, we’re able to expand a store’s customer base,” said Jessica Lachs, of DoorDash.

Delivery is probably here to stay.

Kate Rogers reports for CNBC in “Postmates generates $1.2 billion since 2017, as on-demand economy heats up,” that this isn’t a trend, and experts like R.J. Hottovy, senior restaurant and retail analyst at Morningstar, believe it is here to stay, especially in urban markets. “I think where delivery works is really a byproduct of the market itself, how densely populated it is and spending patterns of consumers,” says Hottovy. “There’s been a debate over whether this is a fad or not, but I don’t think it’s going away.”

To find out if delivery services are the right addition to your marketing efforts, call or visit us at TRG.

What Restaurants Are Doing to Try and Lure Millennials

Restaurant Millennials

With millennials expected to outnumber baby boomers by 2019, it follows that businesses are desperate to capture and keep the attention of this social media-loving generation. Restaurants are no different.

Just Two Weeks Ago, At the Beginning of This Month, Applebee Released an ASMR Video on YouTube Aimed at Millennials

ASMR is an Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. It’s a tingling sensation often experienced at the back of one’s neck when watching or listening to something that affects you deeply.

The video by Applebee is an hour-long video of different proteins sizzling and cooking over a grill. The idea is that consumers will connect with the sounds and visuals of the cooking protein and identify with the brand’s comfort food.

So far, the video has been viewed 4000 times. An executive at the Applebee insists that the only way to capture the attention of millennials is to be a bit different and think of social media from a broader perspective.

Whether it works is a question yet to be answered, so we can only wait and see.

A Restaurant Conference in Chicago Recently Addressed How to Build Loyalty Among Millennial Customers

The Restaurant Revenue Growth Conference via notable speakers attempted to help restaurateurs generate ideas that connect with millennials and are in line with 2018 consumer trends. Numerous restaurateurs attended because they understood how important it is to capture Millennials.

Verdict

Across the United States, restaurants are coming up with different strategies to try and attract the Millennials. Social media is no longer enough, it requires something else, something different.

While the above strategies might not work for you, it’s critical that as a restaurant owner, you find ways to do the same because there is clearly a need for the restaurant industry to capture the attention of Millennials.

 

Restaurant Consumer Trends: Dealing With Declining Lunch Sales

Restaurant Consumer Trends - Lunch Sales

Restaurant Consumer Trends

 

At your restaurant, you may have noticed a phenomenon that is definitively occurring nationally: lunch business is sagging a bit more than it used to.

According to market research firm NPD, lunch visits were down 4 percent at the end of the year, a notable decline in a broader context that has restaurant business in general sagging at all times of the day.

Why Lunch is Losing its Luster

Simply put, people have fewer reasons to leave their homes. Busy office workers are turning into busy home office workers, no longer commuting to business districts that tend to support a healthy community of restaurants. Working from home increased 24 percent over the last decade.

On the more casual end, one-time lunch customers who used to work in brick-and-mortar retail are largely moving out of that flagging sector and taking on work as subcontractors. Rideshare drivers, online customer service, and many more options are filling up the economic strata that once had a regular base of workers commuting to the same location every single day.

How to Attract New Lunch Diners

Value is the main driver. Yet diners aren’t looking for the cheapest food possible; fast food restaurants have also seen a decline during this same period because while people are dining out less, they’ve also raised their standards.

Here’s how restaurants can improve their lunch business: Customers want consistent quality, for lower prices. This is a tough proposition for restaurants to meet, but it isn’t impossible. Smaller lunch menus built around the most popular dishes lower overall food costs, streamline kitchen operations, simplify the server’s role, and keep regular customers happy due to all of those facts combining at once.

Focus on serving a few great dishes you know your customers love, cut out the food waste inherent to maintaining a larger menu, and you’ll likely see greater earnings on your lunch business overall.

 

For help with your restaurant contact TRG Restaurant Consultants.

5 Things Every Restaurant Owner Must Know

Open a Restaurant

 

Owning opening a restaurant is a fun and exciting experience. However, there are things that everyone must be aware of going into the business. Here are the five most crucial things every restaurant owner must know before opening.

1. Know Your Concept- To be successful, a restaurant needs a clear concept. Often, people go into the restaurant business knowing what food they like to eat or cook, but fail to have a clear image of things like atmosphere, dining style, and decor. To begin, a restaurant owner must develop a concept statement. A concept statement will include your culinary theme in terms that are broad enough for menu versatility but narrow enough for identity. Next, describe the atmosphere and dining style. Dining styles to consider are buffet, casual, fast food, bistro, cafe, counter service, and fine dining. Finally, your concept will be complete when you choose the decor that provides cohesion of the menu, atmosphere, and dining style.

2. Know Your Customers – Identifying your target market is a crucial step. To do so, you must understand how your restaurant concept will appeal to this group. Think about your customer in terms of demographics like gender, age, race or ethnicity, income level and geographic location. These factors will determine to whom you will market restaurant and help you develop successful advertising campaigns. It will also serve as a guide for you to use as you further develop your concept.

3. Know Your Community – It is important to know the community in which your restaurant is located to best determine hours of operation, peak hours, pricing strategies, and special promotions. If you are located in a bedroom community you could expect to have a larger evening and weekend service, whereas a community of retirees would be markedly different than a college town.

4. Know the Rules – The restaurant business operates under a number of regulations from the health department to regulations involving pay. There will be state and local regulations as well. You must ensure that you are in compliance with all these rules and regulations before you can expect success. A few employment regulations to be aware of are the minimum wage and tips reporting requirement. Depending on the size of your workforce you need to also be aware of human resources issues such as documentation of employees and discriminatory hiring practices.

5. Know Your Bottom Line – Most people that go into the restaurant business, do so for the love of the food, not for the love of crunching numbers. Understanding the business side of things, however, is one of the most important things a restaurant owner should do from the start. If you are new to the industry, taking classes in hospitality management and hiring an experienced management staff are two important first steps.

To learn more about the restaurant and hospitality industry and to discover how we can make your dreams of restaurant ownership a reality, connect with us today.

10 Key 2018 Restaurant Trends To Look Out For [Part 2]

2018 Restaurant Trends

2018 Restaurant Trends (Part 2)

The restaurant industry is constantly evolving and changing, from marketing to delivery, to service – each segment of the industry has experienced a massive shift. This will continue throughout 2018 and for restaurants to succeed, it is important to keep an eye on what trends are emerging in 2018. Here is part 2 of 2018 Restaurant Trends:

6) Upscale casual atmospheres will be on the rise

Restaurants will need to balance upscale options with casual ambiances going forward as that trend seems to continue full-steam in 2018. While casual upscale dining might sound a little contradictory, it does not need to be.

Restaurants should focus on striking a balance between premium ingredients and offerings while retaining a level of casualness in terms of the restaurant atmosphere itself to provide customers that experience. This could extend to keeping bookings and reservations somewhat casual and allowing for more walk-ins, or with its decor and music choices.

7) Greater focus on aesthetics

In a world driven by social media marketing, restaurants must absolutely focus on the aesthetic value of their food. While that does not mean that quality or innovation needs to take a backseat, but there must be a greater emphasis on presentation and looks of the dishes themselves.

With more users embracing visual platforms such as Instagram to document their experiences, restaurants must consider how to incorporate that into the overall dining for customers.

8) Healthy options for children

With so much focus on the millennial market, many restaurants have overlooked how to make their dining healthier for adults and children. That demographic holds a significant market share, so it is crucial that they are not left ignored.

With the increased importance of healthy food and diet, restaurants should also look for ways to provide children with healthier and creative food options. Parents will appreciate the effort, and that will go a long way in building long-term loyalty.

9) Local wine, beer and alcohol pairings

Alcohol is an important part of menus and many customers enjoy having a local feel with both their dishes and the alcohol they choose to pair it with. For 2018, restaurants should research and look for local options to provide this part of the experience and really innovate on how to showcase the best of what the area has to offer.

Whether it is partnering with local distilleries, wineries or breweries for long-term menu inclusion or even designing pop-up events to showcase local alcohol with food pairings, there are many ways to get creative with this.

10) Greater inclusion for those with dietary restrictions

Many restaurants have dragged their feet when it comes to updating menus to accommodate different dietary restrictions. However, many customers are increasingly choosing to go vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free – just to name a few and that means restaurants must adapt accordingly.

Consider taking a look at menus that have not been updated for a while to see where these options could be fit with existing options. Or consider adding new dishes that will be appealing to this new set of customers and how you can create a great experience for them where other restaurants may not be able to.

 

Contact TRG for your restaurant consulting needs.

10 Key 2018 Restaurant Trends To Look Out For [Part 1]

 2018 Restaurant Trends

2018 Restaurant Trends (Part 1)

The restaurant industry is undergoing a constant wave of change, especially with the evolution of digital technology. From marketing to delivery, to service – each segment of the industry has experienced a massive shift.

This will continue in 2018 and for restaurants to succeed in the new year, it is vital to keep an eye on what trends are beginning to emerge for 2018 and strategize on the best ways to leverage these for individual success. Here are just a few that are sure to dominate 2018:

1) A major focus on sustainability

One major aspect of the business that restaurants must focus on in 2018 is sustainability. Whether it is zero-waste cooking or improved efforts to recycle and reduce waste – sustainability must be at the heart of it.

Not only is it necessary from an environmental point of view, but it is something that greatly resonates with consumers and can be incorporated into the restaurant experience as a whole.

Savvy foodies enjoy knowing that the food they are consuming is created under ethical and sustainable standards and this can be a major force in marketing and advertising as well for restaurants themselves.

2) Constant innovation

The truth is, digital media has contributed to setting much higher standards when it comes to food, presentation and menu innovation among consumers. Customers want menus that have a global feel, a range of diversity and the knowledge that the restaurant itself is dedicated to innovating the food experience.

For some, this might mean incorporating more exotic and different ingredients (this could include grains, powders, and ashes – just to name a few). Or it might mean rethinking menu staples to offer a fresh twist on classic items.

3) A continual embrace of technology

From an operational standpoint, it is imperative that restaurants continuously embrace technology and incorporate it as best as possible for a seamless experience. Automating key parts of the restaurant experience is one facet of this, as is using technology to really understand the core of your business.

There is now a wide availability of data that can be used to improve the consumer experience and that will become a major factor for success for restaurants. Using data and technology to really understand your customers and their preferences, and creating a customer journey accordingly will be a major trend for 2018.

4) Customizing the experience

Whether it is more choices in ingredients or creating an experience through rewards or loyalty program, customization needs to be at the heart of every operation.

Restaurantgoers are now increasingly expecting a level of personal service with their food experience, and restaurants need to able to scale their technology efficiently to deliver on this. This could start from the very beginning of the customer journey when they book their table to when they arrive, but that element of a personal touch must be there.

5) Seamless delivery integration

Speaking of personalization, customers also enjoy a new level of convenience that was not present before. Restaurants should increasingly look for methods to integrate delivery options as well in order to reach wide customer bases.

This might mean partnering with local delivery agents, or even starting with smaller steps to integrate takeaway options for customers as a starting point to see the level of demand for other options.

 

Contact TRG for your restaurant consulting needs.

The Perfect Recipe For Maximizing Your Restaurant’s Potential – Operations Analysis

Operations Analysis

Operations Analysis

 

It takes so much more than a few outstanding recipes or a single acclaimed chef on the payroll to raise your restaurant’s visibility in the ever-growing dining-out market.  With the public being educated by cooking shows that feature some of the world’s most beloved chefs, the bar is now raised, the gauntlet thrown, for dining-out experiences.

When patrons choose your establishment to spend their hard-earned money, they now expect the best; greeted warmly upon entry, seated quickly, immaculate and spotless table settings, something to “take the edge off” while awaiting drinks and appetizers.  If customers are comfortably seated and eagerly scanning the menu, that’s great–but if the meal and FOH service don’t meet their high expectations, the rest of their visit may soon be forgotten.

While FOH is the first impression your customers have of your eatery, your BOH must run like a well-oiled machine behind the scenes.  Efficient planning, productive prep and wait staff, proper equipment and counter space are obvious needs. Is your pantry well-stocked, freezers and coolers running at peak efficiency? Does your kitchen comply with all state and local health codes?  Is your staff properly trained, in the right place at the right time, willing and able to do what is necessary to keep things moving at all times?

How does your restaurant rate? Are unoccupied tables a reason for concern?  Is your menu trending? Does your wait staff ensure repeat business or are you losing ground due to poor productivity? Word-of-mouth advertising offers the most profit and potential for increased sales, and at TRG Restaurant Consulting, we look at your business, tell you what’s working and what needs an overhaul. We tell you what people are saying and show you ways to maximize your presence in a highly competitive field.  Let us help your restaurant set the bar for high standards in your community. Contact us today for an in-depth Operations Analysis, tailored to your specific needs.

Various industry leaders take credit for the phrase, “Lead, follow, or get out-of-the-way.” Now it’s your turn.

4 Foodservice Trends To Expect in 2018

Foodservice Trends 2018

4 Foodservice Trends To Should Expect in 2018

In 2017, diners indulged in numerous restaurant trends like mediterranean dishes, plant-based menu items, and food bowls. Consumers will continue to expect variety in 2018, but they will gravitate towards a balance of healthy and extravagant.

Get a sense of what your customers will crave with the top 4 trends below:

1. Embrace the Power of Unicorns and Zombies

In April, Starbucks launched the Unicorn Frappuccino® that featured a magical combination of purple and blue colors. This concoction took the social media world by storm and caused many stores to sell out in a matter of days. In October, Starbucks took advantage of the spooky season and delivered their next creation: the Zombie Frappuccino®. This drink also led to a viral sensation on Instagram and Twitter.

How to Implement

If you own a family restaurant, think about your most special item. Then add a twist to it, and post a mouth-watering image on social media. If possible, advertise this special item in your local media outlets too.

2. Put the ‘Custom’ in ‘Customer’

Have you noticed how many restaurant chains are allowing customers to pick their own ingredients? Numerous pizza franchises are now capitalizing on the success of quick-service restaurants like Subway and Chipotle who follow this format. Diners like the idea of creating their own masterpieces, and these restaurants accommodate that craving. Additionally, picky eaters feel empowered to design a dish that meets their palette.

How to Implement

The food bowl concept was a very hot trend in 2017, and this one-stop meal will continue to satisfy hungry customers in 2018. If your restaurant offers stir-fry, let customers pick their own vegetables and sauces. The same approach also works well for soups and appetizers like cheese fries. The possibilities are endless.

3. Offer Clean-Eating

Remember when Panera vowed to switch to 100 percent clean? Their goal was to remove artificial flavors and preservatives in order to foster healthier lifestyles. Health-conscious consumers strive for whole foods versus processed menu items, and organic farming continues to grow.

How to Implement

Be very transparent on your menu. List which items are from local farmers and, if applicable, which items are organic. Ask your service staff to discuss your clean vision with new patrons as well. On your website, tell the story behind your mission. Lastly, post about your clean menu on social media to help spread the word.

4. Long Live the Mocktail

After the holidays pass, many consumers will kick off the new year with one goal in mind: trimming the excess weight. Many people may also enter detoxes, which prevent alcohol consumption. Show your customers they can keep the flavor while limiting the calories.

How to Implement

Re-create your favorite fruity cocktails with stevia and fresh fruit. Fruit concentrates tend to include a lot more sugar, and you can pack just as much flavor with fresh ingredients.

As consumer trends continue to evolve, the team at TRG helps you align with these changes. Contact us today to learn how to keep your business flourishing in 2018 and beyond.

Food Trends 2017: What Stuck and What Didn’t

Food Trends 2017

Food Trends 2017

Every December, restaurant owners and goers alike wait to see what trends are predicted for the coming year. 2017 is almost over…so what stuck and what didn’t?

Winners

  • Breakfast All Day 

    – Breakfast has always been popular, but it wasn’t until McDonald’s finally succumbed to offering a breakfast menu all day that breakfast could no longer be ignored as a growing trend. From ice cream made of cereal milk and full bars, like Nighthawk Bar in Venice, CA, offering breakfast food late into the night, breakfast has never been hotter.

  • Queso

    – No longer just a Super Bowl staple, queso is breaking out of the football fan’s home kitchen and into quick service restaurants. Chipotle, desperate for a turn around in business, has added a queso & chips option to the menu to accompany its quac and salsa. Wendy’s and TGI Friday’s have both added queso-topped french fries to their menus, showing that this trend isn’t just for tortilla chips anymore.

  • Goth-Colored Food

    – While squid ink has long been used to make black pasta, black dyed foods have been showing up everywhere, from cupcakes to hamburger buns. The most popular twist on this dark 2017 trend is actually charcoal. Activated charcoal was marketed as a detox material and, as a result, it’s shown up in everything from lemonade to ice cream to lattes. Think of it as the response to this year’s other hot color trend: “unicorn”, or rainbow, food.

Losers

  • African Cuisine

    – African food was supposedly going to hit it big in 2017 but seems to have stalled out, with Filipino and other southeast Asian flavors becoming more popular in restaurant openings. Here’s hoping next year will see Africa’s rich history and myriad of flavors explode on the scene.

  • Fake Meat

    – In 2017, multiple companies brought us veggie burgers that “bleed” as if they were made of real beef and it was met with mixed reactions.  Recently, however, the FDA denied approving its ingredients and so this fake-beef burger is now, ironically, DOA.

  • Hopping on the Bandwagon – Authenticity is no longer a request in the restaurant world, it is a demand.  While demand for ethnic cuisines has never been higher, some of 2017’s biggest restaurant scandals have been in regard to restaurants and brands appropriating cultural flavors and techniques without a single chef or adviser assisting in the process. From non-Hispanic restaurateurs allegedly “stealing” tortilla techniques to France-based Yoplait attempting to enter the Greek yogurt market, the biggest lesson of 2017 may simply be to remain true to yourself.

 

For more information on the restaurant industry and consulting services contact TRG. We will also be releasing the upcoming Food Trends for 2018 in December.

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