7 Spring Cleaning Tips for Your Bar or Restaurant

cleaning tips for your restaurantIt’s that time of year again.  Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and your customers have an extra, “I’m so glad winter is over,” bounce in their step.  Be sure to greet them with a fresh, clean environment that everyone can sing about.  Time to roll up your sleeves and tackle the dirt and grime that have been building up all year long. Time for spring cleaning!

1. Curbside appeal
When you drive up to work everyday, you might not notice all the details a first-time customer will see when they pull into your lot or walk up to your door.  Make a good first impression by tidying up outside, adding a few welcoming spring flowers, or offering an inviting bench for patrons waiting on friends or family to arrive.  Always make sure you have a convenient place for your guests to toss their trash, as well, so you can continue to maintain a beautiful entrance.

2. Carpets, curtains, linens, accessories
Once inside, take a look around. Do you need new carpets? What about window coverings? How do your table linens look? It might be a good time to call your linen supply company and talk about how you can freshen up your interior.  Also, evaluate your decorations and accessories. How regularly are those picture frames being cleaned? What about those plaques hanging near your doorway? Do you have other wall art or shelf decorations that need cleaned – or changed out for a more contemporary look?  Now is a great time to redecorate and refresh your linens and other decor pieces.

3. Deep clean the kitchen and bar
Do you remember the first time you watched Bar Rescue or Restaurant: Impossible and had a slight panic attack when the team revealed a layer of grease and grime on the bottom shelf behind the bar, because you couldn’t remember the last time you looked that closely at your own bottom shelf booze?  Did you race to work the next day with a bucket in hand?  Now’s the time to get down and get dirty. Really give your kitchen, prep, bar, and food storage areas a deep clean to remove anything that would embarrass you if Jon Taffer came walking through your doors, cameras rolling.

4. Bathrooms
In 2013, USA Today reported, “Some 50% of restaurant patrons who have a negative experience with a bathroom — from dirty toilets to grimy soap dispenses to bad odors — will blab about it to friends and family, according to a recent survey by Harris Interactive for SCA Tissue North America.”  The evidence is real; a dirty bathroom means lost business and a filthy reputation.  Cleaning a bathroom is a multiple-times-a-day activity at your bar or restaurant, but this spring, go beyond the surface.  Look at tile health and clean the grouting. Tune up the toilets and faucets for efficiency. Clean the inside of the paper towel holders.  Would your patrons enjoy a basket of might-needs on the counter?  Do the baby changing tables need any TLC in both the women’s or men’s bathrooms?  Review your vendor prices and Eco-friendly promises to make sure you’re still satisfied with their bathroom supply products and services.  After all, the bathroom is perhaps more important than the kitchen in your customers’ eyes.

5. Furniture and equipment
Every year, you should inspect your restaurant furniture and foodservice equipment for signs of wear and tear.  For example, make sure all the legs on wooden furniture are sturdy and tighten up any loose bolts. Check for scratches on metal frames and touch up with a can of spray paint. Repair any rips or tears in torn vinyl seats or upholstered restaurant booths. Ensure all of your kitchen appliances are running properly and efficiently. Be sure to take out of service any furniture or equipment that is no longer safe for everyday use and replace with safer products.  Wooden table tops may need re-sanded, or outside teak furniture may need re-oiled.  These items work hard for you, facing many rigors in a commercial environment, so it’s important you give them some TLC each year to increase their lifespan.

6. Staff uniforms
Being fashion-forward, clean, and neat are important attributes for a waitstaff’s wardrobe.  If you have veteran employees with older uniforms, be sure there are no rips, tears, or big, fat, ugly stains on their clothing. Make sure staff are equipped with the best aprons, chef gear, or company t-shirts, so your staff are always presenting the best image of your brand. Ask staff to do an inventory of their apparel for you, and make sure everyone has a clean, new-looking set of uniforms ready for when they head to work next!

7. Staff re-training
Cleanliness is an everyday priority at your establishment, and you teach safe practices at every opportunity. But organizing some refresher courses for staff will help reinforce the importance for everyone.  Take the time to review cross-contamination prevention and proper hand-washing techniques, while also reminding staff of the right way to clean table tops, disinfect prep counters, and address regular bathroom check-ups. Spring is also a great season to review the cleaning products you’re using for each application for cleaning power, price, and convenience, and make sure to communicate which products your staff should use where.

After completing these seven steps, you’ll be bragging to your Health Department officer and feeling really proud to serve your customers in a refreshed and germ-free environment. Go you!


Grow Your Restaurant Business with Reservations

How to manage restaurant reservationsReservations and wait lists can help to draw customers to your restaurant—or they can cause problems that can irritate your regular Saturday evening crowd. No shows, late-shows, and shifting party sizes can cut into your bottom line and make it more difficult to seat those customers who have come on time. Let’s face it, no one likes a long wait for a restaurant table. There are several ways to make a reservation or wait list system work in your business’s favor. If you’re planning to introduce a reservation system or would like to streamline your existing one, the following tips will be helpful.

Reservation System Benefits

If a bad reservation system is prone to mishaps, why take reservations at all? There are several reasons to improving your reservation management system:

• Accepting reservations can increase your number of patrons by 30 percent or more.

• You can plan staff and cooking requirements accordingly.

• If expecting a large party for a big occasion, you can organize the dining room ahead of time which will make seating all patrons more efficient during that shift.

• Attract more customers simply through word-of-mouth. If your restaurant is well-known for seating diners quickly, then you’ll book larger parties, which means you’ll be bringing in more profit.

Make Your Reservation System Work For You

Managing your reservation system properly is the key, whether you expect 50 diners or 350. Think about your customers and the atmosphere they expect before and during dining.

Accept online reservations. Your customers are likely looking for an easy way to reserve a table, and an online reservation system is convenient. Give them the option of making plans using their computer or mobile device. To help lessen the chance of a no-show, require them to list their cell phone number and email address when they reserve so that you can easily contact them with a reminder.

Ask for a credit card when they reserve. Then, charge a fee if they don’t show or don’t cancel within a set amount of advance notice. This will help to ensure that if a customer’s plans change, they will be more inclined to let you know they won’t be coming so that their card isn’t charged. This is not always a popular approach, but it works in higher-end restaurants.

Consider a wait list and call-ahead seating. Since a reservation system can decrease the amount of walk-in traffic you may get, a wait list could work in your favor instead. That way, you can still guarantee seating for diners by using a wait-list approach. When diners come in, take their name and their cell phone number or give them a buzzer. When their table is ready, call their name, text them, or activate the buzzer. A call-ahead process organizes patrons in a similar way, with diners telling the restaurant what time they’re coming. That way, the host can prepare for their arrival and arrange them on the seating list.

Train your front of the house staff. Your host staff will need to learn how the new or improved reservation or wait list system operates. Be sure they are keeping track of reservation times and working together to perfect the process. Listen to their suggestions for additional streamlining opportunities to continually improve how your restaurant takes reservations.  

An organized and well-planned reservation system can attract new diners and satisfy your regulars, too. What tips do you have to share?


From Restaurateur to Caterer: How to Add Catering to Your Restaurant Business

Start a Catering BusinessOne of the most common ways that restaurants increase their profits is by introducing catering to their overall business strategy. When people try and gush over your food at a catered event, they’ll be more likely to come to your restaurant for a meal, and your lines of business will benefit from one another. You already have a location, kitchen, menu, staff, and customers, so adding a catering business can be a positive change for your bottom line. Be sure to follow these tips if you’re considering this kind of venture:

Determine your level of service. Positioning yourself as a full-service caterer or as a pick-up caterer will establish the kind of business that you want to promote. Many wedding caterers distinguish themselves from similar businesses by setting up and decorating guests’ tables, providing waiters and bar tenders, and cleaning up after the event. Find out what other caterers provide to their clients, review their pricing, and then use that information to determine if your catering business fills a definite need in your area.

Location, location. Do you want to be an off-site only caterer, or would you like to also have an on-site area for guests? If your restaurant already has a banquet room or if you can set aside some space for a dedicated room, consider on-site catering. Bringing in groups of people who will be dining on a pre-determined menu not only gives you the opportunity to dazzle more people, but allows you to streamline your menu items and use certain ingredients for both your catering and restaurant menus. 

Create a catering menu. While drawing from the same ideas that are on your regular menu, your catering menu will likely not be identically the same as the one you use in your restaurant.

  1. First, think about the kind of catering business that you would like to have. Do you see yourself as a gourmet wedding caterer? Do you plan on serving sandwiches at corporate events? Is your niche more along the lines of home-cooked picnic food? Think about what image you want to project.
  2. Next, begin creating menu items that are similar to your restaurant meals. If you’re known for locally-sourced food, especially during the summer time, then you may be thinking of catering items that showcase fruits, vegetables, and starches or protein from your area. If you’re a coastal restaurant, that could mean a seafood-based catering menu with fresh-caught specialties.
  3. Finally, don’t forget your signature menu items. If your restaurant has a tried-and-true favorite, be sure to offer your best sellers on your catering menu, too. 

Allocate resources to maximize profits. Make sure that you review the food that you are buying for your restaurant and how that can be used for your catering, too. As we said above, your catering menu is likely to have the same flavor as your in-restaurant menu. But, you will also have to think of how much longer it will take to make large quantities of food and the additional staff you’ll need to cook and deliver the order, plus additional transportation costs if it’s required for your style of catering.

A catering business is a wonderful way to advertise your restaurant, and your restaurant is the perfect vehicle for promoting your catering. The two work hand-in-hand to increase your customer base and encourage loyalty to your business. Devise a business model that makes sense for your restaurant and let everyone know that you’re there to cater their next event!

Best Advice for Restaurant Managers

advice for restaurant managersRestaurant managers are under a lot of pressure, and why wouldn’t they be? Day after day, night after night, they orchestrate the front of the house while keeping diners happy. They coordinate with the executive chef and are required to be experts in human resources, time management, and inventory control. When you consider how many duties a restaurant manager has to juggle, it’s not surprising that many would love to hear how other managers bring the best experience possible to their customers.

Here are some great pieces of advice that East Coast Chair & Barstool has heard from accomplished restaurant managers. 

·        Don’t try to change it all. You’re not Gordon Ramsay. If you’d like to make changes, especially if you’re starting to manage a restaurant that has been in business for some time, observe the general atmosphere and front-end business, then pinpoint several areas that you believe need the most work and can make the biggest impact. Major changes can throw a restaurant into upheaval, change the quality of the food, and hurt the restaurant’s image. For instance, if your diners mostly come to your restaurant for a healthy, quick lunch, adding fried foods to the menu may disappoint your regulars. Be sure that your changes will make your customer base happy.

·        Budget your time so your restaurant can grow. Time management is probably the most useful skill a restaurant manager has. Knowing how long everything should take, and then knowing how long it actually takes is the first step. From there, you can plan how to improve your process, your training, and your delegation skills. If you don’t know how to manage your time, don’t worry. It’s something that can be taught. Why not use the same time management programs that CEOs rely on? It will change you from a manager who may micromanage or manage ineffectively, to one who can learn how to set aside extra time to grow their restaurant. Once you carve out that time, you can increase your productivity and then coach your staff to do the same.

 ·       Schedule your employees so they have a life. Restaurant employees know that they will be working long shifts and long hours, but if you can create a schedule that gives them the opportunity to enjoy planned days off on a regular basis, then you’ll be able to garner employee loyalty, reduce waitstaff turnover, and have your pick of potential employees once the word gets out that believe in work-life balance. Hiring the right people is a key part of a restaurant’s success, and you want to make sure that you can choose from a wide talent base.

 ·       Be business savvy, not just restaurant savvy. You may have been working in restaurants since you were a teenager, but do you have experience with inventory management, budgeting, labor requirements, legal issues, and overall administrative duties? If not, consider taking a course in restaurant management so that you can make sure you’re impacting business in the best way. 

We’d love to hear your advice too! Leave us a comment below to share your own advice and experiences.

Happy New Year from East Coast Chair & Barstool

East Coast Chair & Barstool

As January quickly passes us all by, we wanted to wish you a happy and joyous new year!  Thank you to all of our regular blog readers.  We know 2013 brought us new friends and followers, and we also acknowledge those of you who have been loyal for years.  It’s great to have the support and encouragement as we continue to grow, bring you new exciting furniture pieces, and develop into a better all-around resource for bars, nightclubs, restaurants, and resorts.

Last year was very eventful for us.  We kicked off 2013 with a showroom grand opening in our new location, where we definitely felt the community’s love!  We also embarked in our very first tradeshow experience – exhibiting at our first show in March, followed by May and November shows in Vegas, Chicago, and NYC.  Through trials and tribulations, 2013 was our first full year of restaurant booth and table top production; we continue to evolve our processes to create beautiful restaurant furniture at low prices for you!  We also welcomed new staff throughout the year, growing our team to a total number of 23 staff.  As we moved into our second decade of business, we started to implement new policies and procedures to ensure consistent, professional, and safe practices for our team and our customers.

As we look forward to 2014, we celebrate a year filled with even more excitement!  With the launch of our newest store dedicated to Adirondack chairs {coming in February}, we know that 2014 is going to be bigger, brighter, and better than ever!

Please let us know via the Comments section below what you would like to see from us this year. What topics do you want our blog to cover? What helpful hints can we provide? We want to make this information as useful to you as possible.

From all of us at East Coast Chair & Barstool, Happy New Year!

PS: Be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+, too!

Restaurant Trends for 2014: What to Watch

2014 Restaurant Trends

Every December, upcoming trends are published and shared so that restaurant owners can decide if they’d like to continue with their current service, food, and décor—or if new trends will benefit their business and clientele.

We have scoured industry blogs and articles, and we’ve gathered the most talked about restaurant trends that your customers may come to expect in 2014.

Local Sourcing Stands Out. This idea, which started to become popular about five years ago, continues to grow. Using locally-produced food means that you are supporting others in your community, that you truly believe fresh is best and the most nutritious, and that you’re environmentally conscientious. Some restaurants are being built next to garden areas, allowing them to use hyper-local sourcing—literally, food from a restaurant’s backyard.  Because the phrase farm-to-table is being used a lot these days, be careful to identify your local food sources very clearly and with the utmost transparency.  If you get your eggs from Farmer Jones on Lincoln Road in Your Town, USA, say so!

The True Power of Social Media. If you concentrate on one thing this year to bring customers in the door, it should be to learn and then use social media. Many restaurant owners set up a Facebook page, link it to a Twitter account, and then do nothing else. In the meantime, people are looking for information about your restaurant and come across a Facebook page with one post, with no reviews, with no menu or pricing. Don’t let that happen! If you don’t have time, hire someone to help you. Now that Google+ is starting to gain traction in the social media world, it’s another source of information that people will use to make decisions about where to eat, so you should post on there too after creating a Google+ business page. You can use Twitter to share promotions and to attract bloggers and local businesses. Overwhelming? It can be, but setting aside 20 minutes a day to work on social media will pay big dividends.  (If you need help learning the ropes of each network, check out this series of articles I wrote regarding social media for restaurants.)

Bread Makes a Comeback. After years of a downturn in bread and starches, mostly because of fad diets that were trumpeting meat, people are beginning their love affair with bread, pasta, and potatoes again. Starches are once again an acceptable part of restaurant menus, and they’ve branched out. Specialty and flatbreads are becoming a part of bread baskets but are also complementing main dishes.

Healthy Kids’ Meals. If you want to attract families to your restaurant, you probably have chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and mac and cheese on the menu. With consumers becoming more and more interested in the benefits of healthy food, though, many parents prefer that their kids have a nutritious meal when they eat out. But what can you serve that’s healthy AND that kids will enjoy? There are programs available, such as Kids LiveWell (a partnership with Healthy Dining and the National Restaurant Association), that introduces meal selections to restaurants that feature lean proteins, whole grains, vegetables and fruits.

Ordering Using a Mobile Device. Online ordering ahead of time used to be a technological wonder. Now, restaurants are jumping ahead and letting customers sit down and order using a mobile device—mostly using customers’ devices in the era of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device). However, a major restaurant chain just announced their plans to use a tablet at every table that they say will decrease wait times and make them an attractive option for a quick lunch or a long dinner—plus diners don’t have to flag their server down to get the check. While smaller, independent restaurants may think that’s a pretty expensive way to attract customers, remember that many companies who design apps that can be used on customer’s mobile devices are competing for the businesses of smaller restaurants. If you consider convenience to be one reason why people want to eat at your restaurant, you should consider what you can do to upgrade the customer experience.

These ideas are just the beginning of what 2014 will bring to the restaurant business. While most places won’t be adopting all of these ideas, owners can use this list to introduce fresh concepts to their customers.

We wish you all a successful new year!

3rd Annual Favorite Things | 2013 staff picks for this holiday season

Ho, Ho, Ho!

Happy holidays!  Doesn’t your bar or restaurant deserve something new and shiny this holiday season?  Every December, our staff pick out their favorite things from our wide selection of restaurant furniture.  Here are the tables, chairs, and bar stools that made the ranks on our list this year:

Staff Picks


“I love the Stella chair so much, I even named my dog after it!”

~Kerry  {Shop for Stella}










“My favorite items that we just got in this year are the vertical back wooden chair and bar stool in mahogany. I liked them when we custom-ordered them for one of our customers and am thrilled we now have them in stock!”

~Robyn {Shop for wooden vertical back chairs and bar stools}










“I like Viktor in clear coat. He’s very rustic, yet modern…industrial chic!”

~Danelle {Shop for Viktor, available in clear coat, rust, or a custom finish}








“Customers loved Simon at the tradeshow in New York, and although it may not be as sleek as its friend, Viktor, something about Simon just grabs you!”

~Janene {Simon is coming soon!}









“There are many things I really like, but if I have to narrow it down, I’d choose the GLADIATOR full ladder back chair, bar stool, and swivel bar stool in silver.”

~Kim {Shop for our GLADIATOR chairs and bar stools}









“My favorite things are the economy plank solid wood table tops. They are very nice and affordable. Someone with a champagne taste and a beer budget would love them!”

~Chris {Shop for economy plank wooden tables}









“The new 825 model bucket seat bar stool gives you the comfort of a bucket seat but has a sleek, modern look that makes it work well in many more restaurant designs.”

~Emily {Shop for bucket seat bar stools}







From all of us at East Coast Chair & Barstool, may your holiday season be bright and merry – and filled with all of your favorite things!

Tell us, what is YOUR favorite item from our list?

See what made our favorite things list in 2012 and in 2011!

How to Buy a Bucket Seat Bar Stool

Are you shopping with comfort in mind?  A bucket seat bar stool could be just what your establishment needs to keep patrons belly up to the bar for longer, which in turn, means a higher per person sales average on your bar’s bottom line.  If your bar’s marketing strategy revolves around higher drink-per-person numbers, then you are smart enough to see the close relation between having the right seating and an increase in nightly revenue.  You want to create a cozy, communal gathering place where folks come to meet up and hang out, watch the entire game on your big screens, or play that Megatouch bar top game until the wee hours.  But how exactly do you pick out the stool that’s the perfect fit for your bar?

Let’s discuss key product features by breaking down bucket bar stools into three shopping categories: good, better, and best.

The Good
Bucket Bar Stool for RestaurantsHere are some basic standards you want to look for in any bucket seat bar stool.  Believe it or not, many vendors don’t offer stools that meet these low quality marks, so here’s what to look out for:

  • Is there a plywood core on the back and seat?  Some manufacturers only use a cardboard-like substance as the foundation to the seat and back, which won’t hold up very well in a commercial setting.  Instead, look for something more sturdy featuring a plywood core.
  • What type of seat edge is there?  Due to how people slide in and slide out of a bucket seat, a waterfall edge usually has less wear and tear.  While some fancier models do feature stitching on the seat edge to add a decoration to the overall style, a smooth waterfall edge is going to last longer in high-traffic venues.
  • Is there padding in the seat…and back?  Some stools only come with a padded seat, so to ensure comfort, look for a little padding in both the seat and the back.  A good benchmark to look for is a minimum of 2 1/2-pound, high-density foam.
  • Is the vinyl commercial-grade?  There are many vinyl weights, and a stool for a bar or restaurant needs to use a vinyl that’s produced for use in the hospitality industry.  Its weight and how the backing is designed will impact its wear and tear properties.  Be careful, most vendors grade their own vinyls, so it’s best to look for a weight (such as a 24-ounce vinyl) for consistent side-by-side comparisons.
  • Does welting run with the vinyl seams?  At a minimum, you need to look for a thin welt cord along the vinyl seams. Better models will feature PVC edging for added strength.

What helps set apart the good bucket bar stool models we sell from many other bar stool makers is our newly re-designed and vastly improved 5-prong gripping system that helps to prevent the back separating from the seat when someone leans back too far in the bucket.  No back flips here!

The Better
Brown Bucket Seat Bar StoolIf you’re looking for a step up in quality without paying much more money, choosing a middle-of-the-road product offers some added benefits that you’ll appreciate.

  • PVC edging along vinyl seams is far superior than thin welting. Not only does it help keep the seams together better, the PVC material actually provides a safe “bumper” that protects your beautiful wood bar from getting dinged or marred from the spinning buckets.
  • A thicker seat adds extra comfort.  For example, our base models only have a 4″ seat thickness, but our better models feature a 5″ seat thickness, making for a comfy, cushy seat.

The Best
For top-of-the-line bucket seat bar stools, you’ll pay a little more money upfront but have excellent quality, style, and comfort backed by long-lasting durability. Consider all the points listed in the good and better models above, but add into the mix the following higher-end benefits:

  • Flex back – Stools with a flex back stool, there is a metal piece that attaches the seat to the back.  This part of the stool allows a slight bend and has a little give, which provides greater comfort.
  • Wrap-around arms – Whether it’s an over-sized back or a complete wrap-around arm rest, the style of the back will offer additional support.  This also creates a casino or roulette look that makes a fashion-forward statement in your bar or restaurant.

The Base
Best Commercial Bar StoolsOnce you decide on which bucket seat you prefer, it’s time to choose a base.  Especially for the better and best models, you’ll want to look for a fully welded, 16-gauge steel base, which will offer the ultimate in strength over a long lifetime.  The gauges of steel get stronger as the numbers decrease, so a 16-gauge is better than an 18- or 20-gauge steel frame.  Because bucket seats tend to be top-heavy compared to other stool seats, the base needs to have a wide enough footprint to safely support the shape and weight of the bucket.

We do sell our lower-end bar stools on the traditional F-base, featuring a bolted-on, squared-off chrome plated ring.  This base is very sturdy for use with the smaller buckets and offers a distinct style that may look great in your space, but it shouldn’t be used with the larger models.  We discourage use of the classic, retro-looking double chrome ring bases on our bucket seats, because those bases have an entirely bolted together frame, and the chrome plating can scratch and wear off over time.  Choosing a solid base will prevent accidents and injuries in your bar or restaurant, so choose wisely!

Additional Considerations
When shopping for a bucket bar stool, you should evaluate the quality of the swivel mechanism.  On the smaller buckets, we usually include a tilted swivel to produce a reclined feel for a more comfortable position.  When assembling this type of swivel on your bar stool, make sure the higher point is facing toward the front of the stool, or otherwise, patrons will feel as if they’re falling out of the seat.  On the more luxurious buckets, the design already features a slightly reclined seat, so most vendors will use a flat swivel, whereas you don’t have to worry about assembling it to the right degree of tilt.

In addition, we offer two brands of swivels: an imported version and an American-made version.  The imported swivel comes with a limited 1-year warranty and utilizes ball bearings, which can by known to fall out with a lot of wear and tear or rough handling.  The domestic swivel is more expensive, but it includes a longer warranty of up to 10 years and is a nylon construction that doesn’t use ball bearings.  This makes for a quieter, smoother movement, as well.

Before purchasing any bar stool for your restaurant, please measure the height of your bar.  You will want to leave 10-12″ between the top of the seat and the bottom of the bar for legroom.  Some of our best bucket bar stools have a seat height of 32.8″, which may be too tall for your bar.  In addition, if your audience is largely women, your customer base may have trouble getting in and out of that tall of a stool.  On the flip side, a largely male audience may find the stool height a more comfortable fit – especially if your bar is around the corner from where the Knicks practice.  Keep height – and your target market – in mind when you’re determining comfort and ease of use for your furniture selections.

Interior design is of course always a consideration when buying restaurant furniture.  Our standard bucket colors are brown, black, and wine, and we offer black and silver frames, so you can choose a color combination that works best for your decor!

Now that you know what to look for in your commercial bucket seat bar stools, you can offer a comfortable place for guests to sit and relax a while – and order up another drink!

Contemporary Restaurant Bar StoolCasino Bar Stool




Get Found Fast Online: The Importance of Google Knowledge Graph Carousel and Google Plus for Restaurants

As a restaurant owner, you know how important it is to attract customers through online efforts, including an attractive website, testimonials and reviews, online menus and specials, and a blog.  You work hard to build a strong online portfolio in order to drive patrons to your tables and chairs.

Now, it’s time to turn your attention to important Google products that will increase your search rankings. In return, these products provide some helpful information to both current and potential customers.

Google Changes the Search Game Again

You’ve probably typed your restaurant’s or bar’s name into Google to see where you rank, but try a slightly modified search:  enter in the words “restaurant” or “bar” and then your city. This search produces a results page that looks a bit different. Now, you’re going to see a list of establishments, plus pictures or maps, that runs across the top of the page. You can scroll through this list to see what businesses show up. When you click on one, you’ll see their business hours, contact information, the address, a price list, and even a menu and reviews. Because restaurant goers may be searching in this manner for a Google recommendation, you need to know where your restaurant falls.

Below the main search results page is a map that shows the general location that you entered with locations of restaurants in the area, and a list of search results. These results are pushed down the page because of the information at the top, forcing searchers to scroll down.  In other words, you should make sure that your business information shows at the top of the page to make it easy to find—right away.

If you’re not showing up where you’d like to, there are a few things you can do to improve your search engine optimization, or SEO.

A Google Plus Account Is Your Friend

Google Plus for RestaurantsSo make sure that this visual search works in your favor:

  • Create a Google Plus account for yourself and one for your business. Google loves ranking its own products, so a social media and networking product like Google Plus (sign up here for free) is a must have. It allows you to connect to others and categorize them in different groups, called ‘Circles’, that you create using terms like “customers,” “employees,” “suppliers,” “marketing” and more. Just like any form of social media, it’s most effective when it’s updated frequently and shared with others.
  • Make sure you have updated content and images. Your Google Plus account should have great content. That includes interior and exterior pictures of your business, pictures of your food, new and daily menus, information about your chef or staff, coupons, and specials. If you’ve read a great article or blog, share it with others in your circles. Better yet, write a great article or blog that you know others would find interesting, then link your content to your Google Plus profile or Google Plus business page. As your Circles grow, your byline will define you as an expert in your field.

A Blog Means Business

Make sure that your website has a blog! Why? A blog can be updated frequently—some restaurants update theirs three times a week—and it creates fresh content that can be searched and shared.  Google likes to see new content on your domain, and a blog can be an excellent PR tool to sharing interesting information to your social media channels, customers, and community members.  To take it another step further, link your blog to your Google Plus account through what Google calls authorship.  Quality blogging may help your restaurant get found more quickly in online searches.

Keeping your content fresh and your site updated is time consuming—but it’s a very important factor in your search results.

Patio Heaters Extend Outdoor Restaurant Patio Season

restaurant patio heatersEven as the first snowfalls dust the Northeast with blankets of white glitter, there are plenty of reasons to keep your bar and restaurant guests outside during the fall and winter months, even if it’s to provide a safe and cozy smoking area.  With commercial patio heaters, you can create year-round appeal and function for your outside patio.  Providin a source of added heat for those cooler days and nights ahead can be done so in style, with heaters that are fashionable and blend in with your exterior decor.

Many of the heat lamps that are on the market now, such as those offered by Lava Heat Italia, are energy-efficient, safe to touch, and easy to adjust for the correct temperature.  Whether you’re searching for a tabletop heater or a tower of warmth, today’s products are safer and more convenient than ever!  You can choose between electric, propane, or natural gas models, and many are also approved for indoor use in case it tends to get a little drafty inside your dining room or banquet hall.  Plus, the finish colors and design styles vary to match every bar or restaurant design.

Be sure to read all the specifics of the particular model you’re shopping for before making a purchase, and keep the following items in mind for picking the best heater for your patio.

Benefits to Look for When Shopping for a Restaurant Patio Heater

Minimum Assembly Required – Most commercial heat towers will ship fully assembled or only take a few minutes to get put together.  This will save you from the added costs of having someone assemble and install at your property and minimizes the risks that the heater will be incorrectly assembled, and therefore, dangerous to use.

Protected Burner Unit – By featuring an enclose the burner unit, a patio heater is less likely to experience malfunction from carbon build-up, corrosion, pests, spider webs, dirt, dust, rust and more. You will want to look for units that protect their mechanical parts and ignition, which also makes for a more efficient heat lamp and can extend its life compared to other heater models.

Balanced Flame Distribution – The well-crafted Ceramic Honeycomb insert found in the Lava Heat patio heater models allows for an even flame distribution, resulting in an even heat, eliminating hot spots. The balanced mount centers the flame within the glass tube, reducing the chance of carbon build-up, while also allowing the flame to move freely, creating an attractive “dancing” look.

Balanced Weight Distribution – Most tower style heaters are designed with even weight distribution, so they are not top-heavy and will not easily tip or fall.

Easy-to-Ignite Functionality – In addition to searching for heaters designed to provide the highest in energy-efficiency standards, you want a burner that will ignite easily, quickly, and without trouble.   Whether it’s through a switch on the device or a remote control, you can depend on simple igniting that your bar, restaurant, or resort staff can use to quickly turn on to please patio visitors and then get right back to serving other guest needs.

Electrostatic Powder Coating – Professionally applied electrostatic powder coating finishes last many times longer than dipped or painted finishes and resist scratches, chips, and peeling.  This special type of powder coating has proven to be highly weather and rust resistant, as well, giving you the confidence that it will be a long lasting addition to your property.

Portability – Many heaters come with optional wheel kits, allowing you to easily move around, in and out, depending on your location’s needs. This also adds functionality to the unit, giving you more flexibility in where and how you use your patio heaters.

Anti-Tilt Safety Switch - If the unit should tilt or fall, the heater will automatically turn off due to how the mercury completes, or if bumped disconnects, the electrical circuit.  Interrupting the circuit will not emit a spark that can ignite flammable gasses, making this safety feature a huge benefit when shopping for patio heaters.

Borosilicate Glass Tube – Borosilicate glass (aka Pyrex) is a type of glass that includes at least 5% boric oxide, which makes the glass resistant to extreme temperatures, and also improves its resistance to chemical corrosion. The glass is more likely to crack or snap rather than to shatter, so it is safer to have around in a situation where breakage is a concern. In the event that products made with the glass do crack, it is generally easier and safer to clean up than shattered glass.

Warranty – As with any product or restaurant furniture item, you will want to consider warranty with purchase.  Lava Heat Italia warrants to the original consumer purchaser that all aspects of this product will be free of defects in material and workmanship for 3-10 years from the date of purchase, depending on which model you choose. You should always ask to see the full warranty policy before placing your order

Now that you know what to look for in a restaurant patio heater, you’ll be able to heat up your deck or outside dining with the best unit for your property.