East Coast Chair and Barstool Blog

Order Up! Four Food Delivery Technology Giants You Need to Know About

Cell Phone Ordering

The newest trend in the restaurant industry? Cuisine on the couch, your customers’ couch that is.

The decline of customers stepping into retail stores has finally caught up to the restaurant industry with a surge in food delivery technology. Because, in the evenings, the hardest question customers want to answer is the slightly judgmental “are you still there?” from Netflix.

It’s all about convenience.

Yes, there is normally a delivery fee of some sort, and yes, they should tip your delivery driver, but often, customers are fine with paying a little more for convenience. Think about Amazon Prime. People pay an annual fee just to guarantee their purchases arrive on their doorstep within two days. Now that’s convenience at its finest and it’s something that more people are finding desirable in their eating establishments.

If a customer wants a meal from an across town restaurant that doesn’t deliver and can’t see the drive, wait time, and drive home as a valuable use of their hours, they are likely to pay for the convenience of that meal coming to them.

It can be intimidating to launch a delivery program, consider partnering with one of the restaurant delivery service apps that can get your meals into the hands of hungry, homebody customers. So who are the big players you need to know as a restaurant owner?

Takeout Box

Grubhub holds the bulk of the market share by being in 1,600 US cities including Philadelpia, Boston, Denver, and San Antonio. In 2013, Grubhub merged with Seamless creating a powerhouse portfolio of 80,000 takeout restaurants with the acquisition of Eat24, AllMenus, and MenuPages. The most recent reporting, according to GrubHub’s About Us page, shows Grubhub sending “nearly $4 billion in gross food sales to local takeout restaurants”. Grubhub/Seamless is noted as the delivery service of choice, used whopping 92% of the time in El Paso, Texas, and preferred in New York and Jacksonville 85% and 72% of the time, respectively. Grubhub can be ordered through both iOS and Android device apps that give customers a variety of payment options, saves your order history, and the ability to pre-order a food delivery.

UberEats, it’s like Uber, for your dinner! Even though it’s a separate app, UberEats works very similar to the Uber you’re used to. Customers can order UberEats delivery in 12+ US cities from hundreds of restaurants by using their website or app to browse, order, and track deliveries. This service is available nationally but is used most prevalently in Texas. UberEats ranks as the top delivery service in Houston, Austin, and Dallas. One of the most unique qualities about UberEats is their GPS locator. Like the ride app, customers can watch their dinner make their way to them via their delivery car. For the most part, UberEats charges a flat $5 delivery fee which can be a drop in the bucket or double your cost, depending on what you order.

Amazon Restaurants. You may have heard of a little thing called Amazon? It now offers food delivery through its Prime Now feature for 20 US cities and around 10,000+ restaurants, with its popularity peaking in its home stomping grounds of Seattle. But here’s the catch, this service is exclusive for Amazon Prime members. Integrating restaurant delivery seems like a natural fit; what can’t Amazon do? For those who read on an Amazon device, receive Prime packages every couple of days, and are fine with shelling out for a Prime subscription, using Amazon to order your favorite takeout probably makes a lot of sense. Amazon Restaurants is still in the beginning stages and is no small contender considering the experienced infrastructure and delivery network of its parent company.

DoorDash, from start-up to starting lineup. This service is available in large regions across the US including Southern California, Minneapolis, and Atlanta. DoorDash focuses on building partnerships with national chains like Jack in the Box, Wendy’s, and El Pollo Loco. DoorDash blankets most of the market share in San Jose with 78% usage with Fort Worth and Indianapolis close behind. Of course, it’s easy to know what you want from restaurants you’re used to ordering from, but what if you wanted to try something new? DoorDash make it easier to explore the unknown with its “DoorDash Delight” system. This score rates a user’s overall experience with the restaurant’s delivery program, which can help customers decide between Restaurant A or Restaurant B. Users can order through DoorDash with an iOS or Android device.

Cell Phone

Food delivery technology has come leaps and bounds from where it was 10 years ago but this technology is still highly concentrated in major cities where delivery is second nature. It’s important for restaurant owners to understand the appeal of the food delivery technologies that are out there because they say a lot about customer preferences. Using a food delivery technology, is not always going to be the largest portion of your sales but it is interesting to add that touch of convenience for your customers.

The restaurant industry is changing and evolving at a high pace, and with more pixel power than ever before, can your restaurant keep up?

What is a Patio Umbrella?

FAQ's From the Files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

When you own a business, restaurant, or hotel, purchasing strong outdoor furniture is key. Buying well-made restaurant furniture can save you from buying replacements after every outdoor season. And buying a patio umbrella is no different.

A patio umbrella is an umbrella made to be used heavily in commercial environments with higher grade materials. These umbrellas are made to be more durable and resilient to wind, rain, sun damage, or salt spray.

A big difference between commercial patio umbrellas and their residential counterparts is the materials that are used. If you analyze what an umbrella is made of, you’ll have a better understanding if it will give you peace of mind (or not) as a part of your business’s patio.

To give your customers a shaded space on your patio year after year, buying lasting umbrellas for your patio is an important investment. This is not a scenario where it’s safe to grab the first umbrella you see at your hardware store. We’ve put together criteria to remember when it comes to purchasing commercial-grade patio umbrellas. How does your umbrella stack up?

Patio Umbrellas in Sidewalk Cafe

Sturdy frame- A patio umbrella frame should be made of wood, aluminum, or fiberglass. A traditional plastic is not going to have the same strength as these frames. Wood frames, commonly teak, are often chosen for their classic look but require the most care to retain their original integrity. Aluminum frames offer a lightweight structure that are low maintenance and affordable, which could be a good option for you if you’re buying a high volume. Fiberglass frames rely on strong glass fibers embedded in resin to create a pliable material that thrives in windy areas. Fiberglass frames can be pricier but can hold their worth in the long run when it comes to durability.

Canopy fabric quality- Think about it this way. The only thing between your customers and the sun’s rays is the umbrella’s canopy. The fabric quality of your patio umbrella’s canopy, like the frame, should be made with tougher materials for extended use. Canopies should be made from heavy gauge vinyl or marine-grade fabrics like Sunbrella, polyester, or olefin. Materials like these can help better prevent color fading and the breakdown of the fabric.

Strong foundation- The wrong base or stand for your patio umbrella can be a liability for your patio. Not only will your umbrella have trouble providing shade, but a weak base can send your umbrella flying. Take note of your patio umbrella’s recommended base weight to accurately choose your base’s material. Consider bases that are steel-plated or aluminum options that use a gravel filler to add weight.

The details- Be sure to inspect functional parts that help the umbrella tilt, move, and open. These parts need to be made from a hardy material like a powder coated steel to prevent rusting or breaking off, making it impossible to use the functions of the umbrella safely.

If you have any questions about choosing the right umbrella for your patio or pairing a base, please call our customer care team at 800-986-5352 for further assistance.

What is a patio umbrella?

How to Make Your Restaurant More Gluten-Free Friendly

If there is one trend that has come to the forefront of the restaurant industry in the past few years it is that consumers are more aware of the health effects of food on their bodies. They what to know where their food is being sourced from, if it is organic, and how is it being prepared. There is a whole market of people that struggle to find places to eat out that coincide with their food restrictions. Those who for health reasons or personal reasons have chosen to go gluten-free.

There are two types of gluten sensitivities. Those caused by Celiac disease and those caused by non-celiac gluten sensitivity. These people don’t experience the same kind of injury and irritation to the small intestine as those with celiac disease, but gluten intolerance can still cause physical and mental problems. Celiac disease itself presents with four different types of varying severity.

Gluten is a substance that is present in cereal grains, especially wheat, that is responsible for the elastic texture of the dough and is a mixture of two proteins. Currently, about 3.1 million people across the U.S.A. follow a gluten-free diet.

It is an entire market of people that you can open your doors to by making some changes to your current systems.  Expectations are higher than ever, and your restaurant might be missing out on profits that you aren’t even aware of.

Changes in Your Kitchen

If you are going to offer gluten-free options on your menu, you need to have the appropriate configuration in your kitchen. Your biggest hurdle will be cutting out cross contamination. Gluten-free products cannot come in to contact with items that have touched gluten-containing foods. For example, a gluten-free pizza cannot be cooked in the same oven as a pizza prepared with gluten ingredients.

Now, this may seem like a chore but there are some easy ways to separate your foods and tools.

  • Dedicate a section of your line to only gluten-free food prep
  • Keep items separate in storage and walk-ins to avoid cross-contamination
  • Use color-coded equipment to avoid contamination

Offering gluten-free options is not as hard as it may originally seem, as long as you keep up with your systems of avoiding cross contamination.

Educate Your Staff

The second most important thing you can do, after making changes in your kitchen, is to educate your staff. Many have heard of the gluten-free “trend” but don’t really know what it is, or how it can affect their customers.  Take some time during a staff meeting to discuss your new menu options and their importance. If you know someone with a gluten intolerance, you could invite them to speak to your staff of their struggles. Knowledge is everything in getting your staff to buy into your new program.

Make sure to encourage them to not judge their customers when they discuss a gluten intolerance. 72% of people leading a gluten-free diet are classified as “PWAGs” – people without celiac disease avoiding gluten. It is important for staff not to roll their eyes or make comments if they feel that a customer might not truly need gluten-free food. Customers with dietary restrictions want to have their concerns heard just like any other customer. It is not their place to judge and ultimately having a good attitude will lead to better tips.

Adjusting Your Menu

There are several ways that your menu can become more gluten-free friendly. Offer gluten-free substitutes to some of your meals. Cornstarch can be a great substitute for flour in certain circumstances.  Order more gluten-free ingredients to have in your kitchen. That way if a customer asks if you have pasta noodles, you can accommodate them. They’ll certainly be appreciative of your forethought.

How much of your menu that you decide to make gluten-free is up to you but having several options would most likely be beneficial. You need to evaluate on a case by case basis how much your current restaurant lends itself to gluten-free options. For example, if you are a Mexican restaurant you might consider offering taco salads or ordering gluten-free wraps. It is not necessary to completely rework your menu if you don’t have the funds or your food doesn’t lend itself well to gluten-free alternatives. Even a few adjustments will help to keep your restaurant relevant and communicate to customers that you are making an effort.

 

To help customers easily identify your gluten-free foods, you can create a menu ledger. Having clearly marked symbols to inform customers of your dishes that are completely gluten-free or have substitutes available can help to make the ordering process simpler. The easier that your menu is to understand for those that are gluten-free, the more comfortable they can feel.

Offering these options will take some adjustment for you and your team. But ultimately, you’ll see the benefits of increased profits and staying competitive in the market. Bethany Jarmul was diagnosed with a gluten intolerance in 2014 and has been searching for dining out options ever since. “As someone who has a gluten intolerance, the first thing I look for in a restaurant is whether or not they provide gluten-free options. If I find a place that offers a lot of gluten-free dishes, I’m likely to make that one of my go-to spots.”

Bethany represents an entire market of customers searching for their next go-to gluten-free spot. Why not make it your restaurant?

How to Promote

You’ve made the changes to your menu, added new ingredients to your kitchen, and educated your staff. Now it is time to get the word out about your new options. Traditional methods are great options Flyers, radio, and social media, are all perfect ways to talk about the benefits of your new food.

One area, in particular, you might like to consider is in Facebook groups that are focused on the gluten-free lifestyle. These groups can have thousands of members all looking for options that make their lives a little bit easier. Simply search gluten free on the Facebook search bar and then narrow your search to groups and you should find plenty of options.

Providing gluten-free options is the fastest growing trend in the restaurant industry and with good reason. Industry powerhouses like Arby’s, Burger King, and Domino’s Pizza are offering gluten-free items. More and more Americans are choosing to go gluten-free for health reasons and the need for innovative food options is greater than ever. Establishing your restaurant as gluten-free friendly is a great way to bring in new customers and establish loyal ones for years to come. Nothing creates loyal customers like the ability to have an honest discussion about their food. It will take some organizing, but your efforts will be well worth it to keep your restaurant relevant and once the profits start rolling in.

 

 

How to Plan A Mother’s Day Brunch

BlackBerry Pancakes

It’s one of those holidays that will just creep up on you. And then next thing you know it is here and you aren’t as prepared as you’d like to be. According to the National Restaurant Association, Mother’s Day is the busiest restaurant day of the year. At least 37% of the population has plans to dine out for Mother’s Day. To help you stand out from the all the other restaurants trying to attract customers, we’ve gathered a few simple suggestions.

Planning Ahead

Taking the steps to prepare your business for the busiest day of the year is crucial to having a successful day. With the influx of customers, you’ll need to be ready with greater food quantities, more staff, and a game plan.

More customers mean more food being consumed, so you’ll need to purchase more ingredients. One of the big benefits to offering brunch is that you can make big batches using inexpensive ingredients for pennies a piece. Ultimately, this means you can make it more affordable for customers and profitable for you.

Help reduce craziness by offering a special prix fixe menu or a buffet. Not only is it a great way to maximize profits, but also makes things simpler for your guests. It will help to create buzz while simplifying things for your kitchen staff, allowing them to be time efficient. Your servers will also thank you when it is time for patrons to pay. Mother’s Day can bring in large groups and with a prix fixe menu it won’t be as difficult to remember what everyone ordered.

With the increase in customers you’ll need to have enough staff to cover the difference. Mother’s Day needs to be all hands-on deck. If you are concerned about being short staffed, reach out to students returning home from college for the summer. If they have worked for you before they will already be trained and are almost always looking for some extra cash.

Help handle the craziness of the busiest restaurant day of the year, by taking reservations for the big day. If your restaurant doesn’t normally take reservations, Mother’s Day is a great exception to the rule. It helps immensely in the planning process. You can gauge how many staff members you’ll require and how much food you’ll need to prepare. Plus, customers will appreciate the peace of mind that comes with having a reserved table on the busiest day of the year.

To maximize profits consider using extra space that might not ordinarily be available, like a patio. In certain parts of the country, you’ll have to keep an eye on the weather but setting out a few extra tables for the day can be beneficial. That being said, don’t make the mistake of trying to cram too many tables into a space. Nobody appreciates a dining experience where they are bumping elbows with their neighbors, literally. If you have the space, definitely use it.

Menu Must Have’s

There are a few food items that you must have for a successful Mother’s Day Brunch. As far as food goes items like French Toast, eggs, frittata, and parfaits are guaranteed hits. Do you have a particular breakfast item that your restaurant is known for? If so, be sure to include it on the menu.

Crêpes can also be a big hit. But they can be temperamental so if your chef doesn’t have experience with them, Mother’s Day is not the time to test them out.

If you have your liquor license, mimosas and Bloody Mary’s are a favorite and sure to be a hit with most moms. Not all moms are interested in indulging in alcohol, so having a fun mocktail is a great way to add fun to their drink options.

Go All Out

Moms deserve to be treated every day but Mother’s Day in particular. Going that extra mile can really make the difference. Things as simple as offering a single flower to mothers at the end of the meal can be the difference between a yearly tradition and a one-time thing. Offering discounted or free food to moms is another great way to make them feel special. A free cocktail or dessert will go a long way.

If you are able to offer a takeout option for mothers or grandmothers that aren’t able to or prefer not to go out on Mother’s Day.

Promoting Your Brunch

Make your Mother’s Day specials and hours as easy to find as possible. If customers can’t find the information, chances are they will take their business elsewhere. Create a post for your social media accounts and start a Facebook event to keep your brunch top of mind. A series of posts that remind people how many days until Mother’s Day can help remind customers they need to make plans. It is a holiday that is easy to forget!

If you don’t have a huge social media following, don’t worry, you can always go old school and print out some flyers and hang them around your restaurant or hand them out with receipts during April and beginning of May.

 

With all the hustle and bustle of the busiest restaurant day of the year it is easy to forget the most important part of the day, celebrating moms! Encourage your staff to take time to wish Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms who visit your restaurant and do their best to remain pleasant even in the busy atmosphere.

Do you host a Mother’s Day brunch? Let us know your tips and tricks in the comments below!

What’s the Difference between Outdoor and Indoor Furniture?

FAQ's From the Files of East Coast Chair & Barstool

What makes a piece of furniture better suited for outdoor use versus indoor?

The easy answer is the material, but why does it matter from one material to another what goes outside? It’s all about how that material holds up against weather conditions and how often it is used.

Of course, you can technically place any outdoor chair inside your restaurant and it’s usable. But should you? The answer is no. Much of outdoor furniture is made from aluminum, a softer metal, that is not up to the heavy traffic of being inside a restaurant. Using an outdoor chair inside will lead to replacing your seating way sooner than you would like.

Outdoor furniture is made specifically to hold up to the weather. For example, aluminum is a popular choice for commercial outdoor furniture because it is rust-resistant. Untreated steel does not typically fare as well on patios and will rust when exposed to moisture. Another common example is wood furniture on a patio. It can be tempting to put a reclaimed table top outside, but it is sure to absorb moisture and warp, leaving you out of luck on your investment.

You should always pay attention to these warranties to get the most out of your product when you properly use it. Not adhering to a product’s intended use can void the warranty completely, making it very difficult for you to protect yourself as the buyer if something goes wrong.

Outdoor and Indoor Furniture

When you invest in restaurant furniture, you want it to be reliable and hold up for your customers. This requires action from you as a business owner to use the product for its intended use. By placing furniture where it doesn’t belong, you can damage the integrity of the furniture without realizing and cause injury to your customers. Protect yourself and your customers by knowing the difference between indoor and outdoor furniture and using them properly.

How to Hit Furnishing Your Stadium Restaurant Out of the Park

Baseball Game

Spring is in the air and the Opening Day for Major League Baseball is scooching closer and closer. It’s almost time for America’s baseball parks to open their doors and start slinging hot dogs once again. But baseball season is about more than just hot dogs; there’s also beer, burgers, pizza, wings. It can be difficult to stand out among the crowd (and choices) when it comes to where baseball lovers choose to spend their dollars.

If you’re a first-time vendor or you’re looking to add more seating to your restaurant stand’s space, we’ve come up with a guide for things you should consider when selecting your furniture. Even if you’re not a stadium stand restaurant, these criteria can still apply when selecting outdoor furniture for a park, playground, or any outdoor area.

It’s a Beautiful Day for Baseball… Sometimes…

The weather can have a huge effect on your stand (hello, rain delays) but that doesn’t mean you can’t be ready for it. Scope out your space, are you covered? Are you out in the open? Where does the sun hit during game time? These are all factors to be noted when you’re choosing what furniture will work the best for your location. Chances are though, your stand is going to be exposed to the elements. After all, most food stands are open air in stadium environments. You’re going to want to be sure your furniture is either rust resistant aluminum or powder coated steel for protection against heavy moisture. Be sure to also consider how hot the material of your furniture can get in direct sunlight. You don’t want customers sitting down to eat a quick snack and spill their food because the seat was too hot! Aluminum furniture is a great option here with its reflective surface and the ability to adapt its temperature to who’s sitting on it within 15 seconds.

Aviator Chair, Great Lakes Table, Newport Table Base

Make Maintenance a Home Run

Game days are busy, hectic, and you aren’t going to have a lot of staff to spare. Choosing the correct furniture can shorten the time that you or your staff spends on daily upkeep of your space. The right table isn’t going to clean itself but there are ones that can make it easier! High density laminated tables are a great asset to have in a stadium-like environment because of their fierce durability. Tables like this are often scratch/UV resistant and pre-stressed to avoid warping in the sun. For low maintenance seating, find chairs that can stack. Stadium stands aren’t often blessed with a lot of storage space but if you can find stackable chairs they can be easy to tuck behind your counter.

Stella Chair, IsoTop Table, Shipyard Table Base

It’s Game Time for Your Team Spirit

With so many choices around your stand, it’s important for you to differentiate your restaurant from others around you. One way to accomplish that is your theming. If your restaurant is a franchise, theming may be out of your hands. In this case, try and find furniture that looks like it’s on the same playing field as those in your original restaurant. By using similar furniture, you can tie the stand restaurant to its larger franchise. If you have more wiggle room with the furniture you can pick out, try and integrate the team’s colors into the furniture. Poly lumber tables can offer a great medium for doing this because they are so low maintenance and come in a wide variety of color options.

Distressed Viktor Chair, Caribbean Table, Palermo Base

Selecting furniture for your stadium restaurant may not be the most glamorous task that you do but it is necessary to find quality pieces that are durable, easy to maintain, and represent your brand. Be sure to study your vendor agreement before making any purchase decisions, each club’s organization runs themselves a little differently. If you have any questions on the furniture items above or finding other budget-friendly outdoor furniture, please call us at 800-986-5352. We’d be happy to help you customize your space!

Introducing the GLADIATOR Tufted 950 Bucket Bar Stool

Are you looking to upgrade your bar or restaurant furniture? We’ve recently added to our premium bucket bar stool offerings with the GLADIATOR Tufted 950 Bucket Bar Stool. The 950 bucket stresses design and coziness. This smart bucket bar stool takes the structure of the 625 bucket and the tufting accents of the 925 bucket to create a stool that is as trendy as it is comfortable.

New Bucket Bar Stool Give your bar area an executive atmosphere with the 950 Bucket Bar Stool and all its options. We’re confident this bucket can fit into any environment with its three options of 22 oz. vinyl in Bourbon Brown, Distressed Black, and Distressed Wine. No matter what vinyl color you choose to complete this bucket, the back of this bar stool makes it truly unique with its button tufting. Imagine customers walking into your bar area and being wowed by the luxurious back of the 950 bucket lined up along your bar’s counter. You can also customize what base the 950 comes on. The 900 frame base throws in industrial vibes, with finish options including black, rust, and clear coat, while the 910 frame keeps the vintage look of the bucket flowing through the base.

Comfort is key with a great bucket bar stool and the 950 completely rises above your average club chair in this department. High density foam creates a molded seat and back for your customers to relax on, complete with a waterfall seat edge. This bucket bar stool’s comfort rivals that of our premium 925 bucket and ever-popular 825 bucket model, so you can encourage customers to hang around for a little longer.

With its stylish tufted back to retro industrial base options, the GLADIATOR Tufted 950 Bucket Bar Stool upgrades your bar’s ambiance to a whole new level. Please call our customer care representatives at 800-986-5352 for more information on adding this bucket or any of our other bucket options to your restaurant or bar’s space.

Our Newest Outdoor Collections for Spring 2018

With the temperatures slowly but surely starting to rise, it is time to start thinking about throwing open the doors to your outdoor areas and take advantage of the boost to your restaurant’s profits that comes with additional seating. Before you get too excited, however check on the condition of your outdoor furniture. Does it need repairs? Replacement?

Now is a great time to buy to ensure that you have new outdoor furniture by the time you plan to start serving outdoors. If you are on the search for new furniture, you will be excited to hear that at East Coast Chair & Barstool we have brought in several new lines of outdoor restaurant furniture. With all of these additions, we are sure to have something perfect for your patio. Let’s discover the best fit for your restaurant or bar.

The Palmetto Collection

Island style doesn’t have to be “all tiki all the time”, as shown by our Palmetto collection. A black and white wire reinforced polyethylene weave is wrapped around a non-rusting aluminum frame to give off an upscale beach vibe. With its neutral color palette, this collection looks great in almost any setting.

The frame is hand painted to give it a very realistic bamboo look, but with the added benefit of durability for commercial use that comes with an aluminum frame. Aluminum does not rust, making it ideal for outdoor use in areas with salty air. This collection features a bistro style chair and bar stool perfect for enjoying a night outdoors.

Fiji Collection

The Fiji collection is a modern take on outdoor furniture that makes a statement. All Fiji chair options were designed with comfort and style in mind. Available in two different back styles, your customers won’t mind sitting back and relaxing for hours on end. The Fiji collection features the traditional arm chair style or a club chair. All club chairs come with a tie-on cushion for maximum comfort.

Created using two different materials that are equally sturdy, your toughest decision will be determining which design you like better! This first is a textile rope in a rich espresso brown color that fits right in with any color scheme. The rope features a beautiful weave pattern using several strands.

The second option, is a polypropylene wicker that is more durable than traditional wicker. It is also available in two beautiful colors, an espresso and ash gray. Some give is afforded by the material to provide your customers additional comfort. Even your staff will love this material as it is easy to wipe down at the end of a busy night.

Havana Collection

Reminiscent of our New England and Atlantic collections, the Havana is the latest addition to a series of faux wood outdoor furniture. Who would have thought textured driftwood poly lumber paired with black metal would look so good? Well, we did, and we are so pleased to offer this to our customers.

The Havana collection is the ultimate in outdoor durability. The frame is a matte black powder coated aluminum frame that is rust resistant. While the poly lumber inserts are much more durable than traditional wood. It is waterproof and resistant to mold and insects, as well as being easy to clean. They are easily stackable, making them convenient to store during the winter months.

This collection is the whole package with two bar stool styles, two chair styles, and table tops in a variety of shapes and sizes. You’ll certainly be able to find something that works for your restaurant.

Palazzo Collection

The visual appeal of wicker with the durability of metal. The Palazzo Collection, with its streamlined and squared off design, offers a distinguished look for your outdoor area. The seat and back of this collection uses a tightly woven wicker weave in a stunning espresso that has just enough give to offer your customers some additional comfort. The rust resistant aluminum frame is powder coated in matte black achieving just enough contrast from the espresso wicker.

This collection is easy to store when not in use because it is stackable. With multiple chairs and bar stools to choose from we are confident you’ll find something you’ll love.

 

You really can’t go wrong when you select any of our new outdoor furniture collections. Still have questions? You can contact one of our Customer Care Representatives at 800-986-5352 for expert advice or to start your order!

Combating Food Waste in Your Restaurant

The last thing you want as a restaurant owner is to watch your money get thrown out in the garbage. Unfortunately, when you waste food, this is exactly what’s happening. It’s seemingly easy to do, some milk here, apples there, and right before your eyes, thousands of dollars have gone to waste. Because it’s so easy, it’s estimated that there are 60 million tons of food wasted annually throughout the United States, and it’s likely that your restaurant is contributing. So how can your restaurant put anti-food waste steps into effect? Here are some actionable steps your restaurant can take to help cut down on food waste.

Create a committee. Either find individuals motivated to take a stand against food waste or incentivize the position, but make sure you have people from different areas in your restaurant as part of the committee. You don’t want to involve your whole kitchen staff, only to leave out the wait staff. You also need your purchaser on board (whether that’s you or an employee).

Practice FIFO. If you don’t know what FIFO is, listen up! A ‘first in, first out’ system allows your food preparation to run more smoothly, while keeping in mind the issue of food waste. When a new food order comes in, put the new food on the right and shift the previously-purchased food to the left. Cooks then grab food in a reverse order (left to right) to make sure they are using the items that will expire more quickly than the food on the right hand side.

*Pro Tip: When organizing your storage area, beware of cross-contaminating foods. Raw chicken does not belong next to fresh produce so don’t let all your rules go out the window to focus on FIFO. Shelf-labeling is handy while keeping in mind newer versus previously-purchase food and the types of food that can be stored together.

Control portion size in the kitchen. This requires due-diligence from your staff. As kitchens get busy, eyeballing ingredients (aka not paying attention to the pre-priced amounts from your menu plan) becomes more common but this is one way that customers end up with more food than they need and often more than they paid for. American restaurants are notorious for unnecessarily large portion sizes. You want to satisfy your guests, but not at the cost of your bottom line. A great way to cut down on food wasted by customers is to allow them to choose their portion size by offering lunch and dinner sizes on the menu. The less food that’s left on your guests’ plates, the better.

Repurpose ingredients. Have a lot of leftover shredded chicken from yesterday’s fajita special? Make chicken tortilla soup! If you’re flexible with your specials, soup can turn leftover nightmares into the next day’s featured dinner.

Make over your menu. Speaking of flexibility, you’ll want to check in on how each of your menu items are doing. If you must buy highly-specialized ingredients for a few items, make sure they’re worth it. If they are sub-par performers on your menu, change it up! It’s easier to broaden your menu with dishes that have more universal ingredients. A lot of restaurants turn to a focused menu to use up any surplus and still offer a variety of options without sacrificing storage space while cutting unnecessary costs.

Compost. Chances are your restaurant probably builds up (and throws away) a lot of produce scraps. Whether it’s from leftover salads or unused portions, these scraps can easily be composted. If your restaurant has its own little garden that grows herbs, use these as fertilizer. Or build community relations and reach out to farmers who could use the compost to help supplement their crops.

Donate what you can. If your restaurant has exhausted the options to using leftover food, consider donating. There are many organizations around the country that help excess food get to those who are in need. If you’re concerned about liability and the legality of your donation, review the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Act of 1996 to understand your rights as the donating party.

Full dumpster

Keeping food waste in the forefront your mind when running your restaurant and making operational decisions is crucial in combating the problem. Taking the steps above are just a few ways your restaurant can have an impact on this destructive global trend. Integrating these better choices into your business model can cut down on food waste and save you money at the end of the day.

Do you have plan for food waste in your restaurant? What steps do you take to combat it? Tell us below in the comments.

Guest Blog: Negotiating the Best Lease for Your Restaurant or Bar

Full room shot of an empty bar.

Do you want to save money and improve the value of your restaurant?

If you’re leasing or renewing a lease, or at the beginning stages of opening a restaurant, bar, brewpub or other retail establishment, this article can help you.

I have had eight page leases and two hundred page leases in my career. It is imperative that you negotiate the best deal you can. When you decide to sell, what you decide today will play a part in what you sell for in the future. I have had underperforming restaurants and bars to sell over the years and because they had  below market rent  or a favorable lease we were able to leverage the value in the lease. Also, I’ve seen wonderful restaurants that are reasonably priced and profitable to sell, but have a lease that has unfavorable terms, rent is too high, not enough term on the lease, landlords reputation is difficult, the building is in disrepair… get the idea?

Restaurant Leases can be very lengthy and confusing, making them hard to fully comprehend and negotiate favorable terms for. Leases can be short and vague, or extensive and complex. You need to be aware of what you are agreeing to. The best way to do that is to review the terms carefully. Have the right people in your corner. Make sure they are licensed, understand commercial transactions and reputable. Your Broker can help you navigate the road blocks in your lease, and their knowledge of the market will help you get the best possible deal. Always have a seasoned real estate lawyer that focuses on commercial leases to review the lease prior to signing.

There is so much information to understand and be aware of that I picked a few main topics to discuss.

The LOI

Prior to a formal lease being signed, the Landlord or Real Estate Broker will draft a non-binding Letter of Intent (or LOI) stating the basic terms of the lease.

  • WHAT: The Letter of Intent is a non-binding document, that sets the ground rules for the lease negotiation. The LOI simply creates a term sheet for the lease, so all parties involved are on the same page.
  • WHY: The LOI creates the framework for negotiation before a binding contract is signed. When the Tenant, Broker, Landlord, and Lawyers involved review the LOI, all parties are on the same page prior to drafting the lease. It saves time for all parties by setting up the ground work.

 

How long should you commit to the lease?

The length of your lease term can vary, and you should be aware of the renewal options, as well as when to exercise them.

  • Base lease terms generally last 5 to 10 years.
  • Typically, the lease should have renewal options (5 to 10 years, matching the original lease term).
  • The lease dictates when you need to give notice to the Landlord to properly exercise your options. This could be anywhere from 6 months to 2 years before the expiration of the lease. Make sure you pay attention to when this time period is in your lease.

 

Personal Guarantee Strategies

“I’m not signing a guarantee, why should I?” This puts you personally on the hook, financially, and defines obligation, risk, and liability. Some landlords make this a deal breaker but it doesn’t have to be. If you do not want to sign one consider some of the following strategies to eliminate or reduce liability.

  • In lieu of a Personal Guarantee, sometimes you can negotiate a higher security deposit, a letter of credit, or a co-signer.
  • Try to limit the Personal Guarantee to a specific time frame (2 years), or ask for Liquidated Damages.
  • Negotiate to limit the Guarantee to the amount of rent, brokerage fees, and build-out costs.

 

How much rent can I afford to pay? What’s the secret sauce here.

The economics of the lease are critical for your success.

  • To figure out, roughly, how much rent you should pay for a space, take your projected sales for the location and multiply it by the percentage of industry norms. This will give you your Occupancy Cost.
  • 5% to 8% are average rental costs, 9% and above are high costs.

 

What is Percentage Rent?

Is additional money that is paid to the landlord only if you hit certain benchmarks. In Percentage Rent, the base rent can be lower. If you exceed the Break Point in sales, the Landlord will receive additional rent based on that percentage.

  • It is calculated as an annual percentage based on gross sales that exceed a certain threshold. This is called the Break Point.
  • Once you hit the Break Point in sales, you pay the difference between your Actual Sales and the Break Point, multiplied by the percentage agreed upon in your lease.

If you cannot negotiate the percentage rent out try the following:

  • Make sure what the Landlord considers Gross Sales is defined in your lease.
  • When your rent goes up, the Break Point should increase.

 

Common Area Maintenance (CAM)

If your space is in a Shopping Center, Strip Mall, Retail development there is a good chance you will be obligated for Common Area Maintenance (or CAM).

CAM: What Is It, And How To Save Money

The CAM clauses are often the least understood part of a lease, and can be the most expensive part. This is where your Lawyer will come in handy. CAM charges are additional fees tenants pay to offset the common area costs shared by the Tenants. CAM fees cover a variety of net charges, including Fixed & Variable Fees. Be sure to be aware of all the fees included in your lease.

  • Fixed Fees include items such as Real Estate Tax, which may vary somewhat, but are generally similar year to year.
  • Variable Fees are items such as snow removal, pest control, landscaping, and elevator maintenance.

What you need to know:

  • Landlords typically want CAM terms to be broad. Ensure that the CAM terms in your lease specify the details of what you are responsible for and what the Landlord is responsible for.

Make Sure YOU Examine the Landlord’s records to make sure the CAM expenses are properly charged from the Landlord.

  • You want to be able to cap the charges or negotiate a fixed fee for CAM charges. For example, a cumulative 5% cap setting a ceiling on annual increases to CAM fees.

What to watch out for:

Administrative & maintenance fees, lighting, roofing, capital improvements, electrical wiring, HVAC.

 

Look out for Use Clauses and Exclusive Clauses.

  • Use Clauses restrict what you can do and can prescribe specific use. For example, they can restrict menu items. Make sure you’re fully aware of the restrictions put upon your restaurant during the lease terms.
  • Exclusive Clauses prevent the Landlord from leasing to a similar business as yours within a set of terms. For example, another of the Landlord’s Tenants may not be able to have over 20 taps in their bar because you have exclusive rights to 20+ taps in one bar.

 

Should you Sublease or get an Assignment of the lease?

Subleasing is the leasing of part or all of the property held by a Tenant as opposed to the Landlord. The original Tenant still retains partial interest. Assignment means the current Tenant signs over the lease to a new Tenant or the Landlord, and transfers all interest.

  • Before considering either of these options, you should find out if the lease allows subletting/assignment.
  • Know ahead of time what the liabilities are for subleasing/assignment.
  • Have a copy of the Master Lease (the original lease you signed) and all addendums.
  • If you assign your lease the landlord may still want you to stay on the lease

 

Construction Improvements

Have your Contractor & Architect walk through the space prior to signing the LOI and lease. They need to be aware of the terms of the build-out as defined in your lease to best advise you on the build-out costs and timelines. This is a key component in your lease and can greatly impact you.

 

What you don’t know could cost you

  • When leasing a Second-Generation space, the HVAC is a key feature to pay attention to. Make sure you ask the Landlord: How old is the HVAC? What is its expected life? Are you as the tenant responsible for upkeep, replacement, or repair? What is the tonnage?

 

Everyone wants a Patio

The Tenant is generally responsible for the maintenance of a patio. You should not be paying separate rent on a patio space. However, make sure your liquor license covers the additional square footage of your patio.

 

Liquor License tips

  • First item of business is to make sure there is one available that is transferable. Know how much it costs.
  • You need to get a timeline on how long it will take to transfer. Our office averages 6-8 weeks.
  • Will the landlord allow a license? Make sure you pay attention to the Use and Exclusive clauses that exist.
  • Pay careful attention to the Rent Commencement. If you got a too good to be true deal there might be an issue with the transferability of the license.  To save a few thousand dollars and have to open without the license can be  detrimental to the long term success.

 

I can’t begin to cover everything you need to know. There is still Build Out, Rent & Lease Commencement, Signage, Zoning, Permits, Defaults, Tenant Improvement Allowance, Free Rent. I can’t stress enough to make sure you have experienced professionals in your corner.

 

Terri Sokoloff, CBI, CNE, CRB, GRI/Broker

President Specialty Bar & Restaurant Brokers

Terri Ann Sokoloff is the President of Specialty Bar & Restaurant Brokers. She brings a high level of expertise to the clients of Specialty Group, offering more than 25 years of experience in the industry. She is a licensed real estate broker, a certified real estate brokerage manager (CRB) and a certified business intermediary (CBI). In addition to being active in professional organizations such as Commercial Real Estate Women, Urban Land Institute, Women’s Leadership Initiative, PA Restaurant Association, Former Advisory Committee of PA Culinary, Terri has also authored numerous magazine, newspaper, and pricing guide articles and has appeared as an expert on a variety of regional and national media broadcasts. She has been featured as a speaker at the Nightclub & Bar National Convention on the topic of “Selling Night Club & Bars” & for the PA Restaurant Association on the topic of “Confessions of a Restaurant Broker” and “Leases: Negotiation, Clauses, Mistakes, and Tips”.