DID YOU KNOW… The Origins of the Modern Restaurant
Did you know that the first restaurant was created in France in 1765? It was founded by Monsieur A. Boulanger and only served broth soup. At the time restaurant meant restorative, and described the meat-based consommé being sold.
Today’s Hack: Getting rid of red wine stains! [Citizens of the Rail submitted!]
NEW TAKE ON TIPPING: VERMONT RESTAURANT IMPLEMENTS SERVICE CHARGE FOR BoH STAFF
Why it’s important to you: Kitchen staff are leaving for better paying gigs
Waterworks Food and Drink in Vermont is looking to bridge the wage gap between FoH and BoH staff. They’ve implemented a 2% service charge to every bill which goes directly to the BoH employees’ paychecks. The owner, David Abdoo, wanted to boost his kitchen’s staff wages but didn’t want to raise menu prices and lose their market share. Abdoo says customer response has been positive thus far. It’s a little more of a direct approach than what other New England restaurants have tried to retain BoH staff, who are leaving the kitchen in droves for better paying jobs as servers or in other industries.
ADDING INSULT TO INJURY: BRAZIL IMPEACHES PRESIDENT OVER OLYMPIC FUNDS
Why it’s important to you: Guests watch the Olympics and the Open/Close Ceremonies drive revenue
Brazil is an emerging economy with ample natural resources, a proud populace and international clout. So much clout that they were able to attract the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. You might think that would be an expensive enterprise, and you’d be right. In fact, Brazil’s economy has stalled in recent years and all the commitments to international sports have taken a toll on the country’s finances. Unfortunately for President Dilma Rousseff, she has been accused of some sleight of hand to balance the books and has been impeached by their senate.
The trial is expected to last at least six months, meaning not only will she have to step down as president, she will also not be allowed to preside over the Olympic Games this summer. Let’s face it, the Olympics for a president is probably one of the more satisfying experiences you can have, so that’s gotta sting.
This year is the first since 1996 that the games are in our hemisphere, which may account for more interest given that Rio is only one hour ahead of the east coast. Traditionally, the only real boost is the opening and closing ceremonies. But with the world watching to see how Brazil weathers this political storm, it might give it a bump.
TEQUILA FEELS THE SURGE
Why it’s important to you: Today’s trend is tomorrow’s best practice
If you ever traveled via Uber, you are familiar with surge pricing. When demand increases, prices increase with it. Now it appears other businesses are experimenting with the same idea for price setting. The Blind Burro (a subscriber to The Daily Rail, BTW) has implemented dynamic pricing on their tequila. Tequila prices at the San Diego bar and restaurant can change every five minutes based on demand. If more people order one tequila brand, the price of another might drop. Software, created by Los Angeles-based The Drink Exchange, tracks what drinkers buy and flashes the changing prices of more than two dozen tequila brands on TV screens hung on the bar’s walls.
When it comes to pricing, our industry is pretty traditional. We normally take a ‘set it and forget it’ approach. The closest we have come to dynamic pricing are Happy Hour promotions. So this innovative approach may be not right for all of us, but it sure does insure you have the right menu price for the right moment. Additionally, it’s engaging and entertaining. At minimum it’s a point of differentiation; at maximum it’s a sales driver.
DON’T CALL ME DAUGHTER - OWNER FIRES HIS OWN KID
Why it’s important to you: Setting the tone for guest treatment falls to you
Our industry is tough and guests can be a challenge to our patience and courtesy. It seems more frequently, our staff members are responding in more horrible and creative ways to take out their own frustration on a guest they have found particularly difficult. An Arlington, VA diner was subjected to some retaliatory insults on their guest check. There have been several similar incidents over the past year that indicate a silent battle between guests and staff. That battle isn’t so silent anymore.
It shouldn’t need saying that this is a dangerous and damaging thing for staff to do. But what shouldn’t go without saying is that it’s your problem, not theirs. At some point you didn’t assert a culture that would preclude a server trying to punish a guest for some perceived injury. Peter Chang, the owner of the restaurant at the heart of this story, knows it was his job to right his ship… and man, did he. He fired four of his staff for the unprofessional remarks, including his own daughter. His reasoning was as clear as it was simple: Business is business and no one is above accountability. It’s a great lesson, however harsh, from which we can all learn.