Library Archives

 
Joanna Harralson

Whether your property has a morning coffee n' croissant cart or a more extensive food & beverage take-out venue, are you certain that the correct safeguards are in place to protect your profits? Here are some questions that could uncover weaknesses that can result in your venue's bottom line being compromised. Read on...

Robert Trainor

You don't have to be very old to remember a time in the hospitality industry when baptism by fire was considered a rite of passage for kitchen staff. There were no training sessions, no orientation periods, and you were probably lucky if the top chef actually told you where the salt was. Too often, hazing and public humiliation were the "training tools" of choice. Many chefs thought: "Hey, I went through it and came out just fine. Why shouldn't my staff?" Today, that environment is fast becoming extinct. Kitchen employees and many in the top corporate offices of the hospitality industry have all arrived at the same business-building conclusion: Satisfied, motivated employees are productive, loyal employees. Today's cooks are not only concerned with the cuisine and what they can expect to learn from the chef; they are also interested in paying off student loans, health insurance coverage, 401k plans and a balanced personal life. So how does an executive chef attract and keep good people? How can we inspire, educate and motivate our staff while keeping true to our main objective of creating a dining experience and operating a profitable business? Read on...

Robert Trainor

For a long time, the hotel industry's interpretation of "vegetarian cuisine" was a sad selection of scantily seasoned grilled or steamed vegetables, or ethnic dishes denuded of their spices to make them more palatable to an American marketplace. Vegetarian cuisine was perceived as a time-consuming specialty that really had little place in the high-volume, bustling kitchens of a busy hotel industry. Changes in Americans' awareness of healthful cuisine, as well as the industry's movement toward spas in hotels, are creating a need for better-tasting, interesting and cost-effective vegetarian alternatives. Raw cuisine is an ideal solution. Read on...

Robert Trainor

Is there anything more universally loved by American eaters than a buffet? The love of the buffet is a great equalizer; from $100,000 weddings where guests feast on a caviar buffet, to Grandma's birthday bash where well-wishers chow down on barbecue and home-made potato salad. After a long, stuffy dry spell, the art of the buffet is back in the hospitality world and it's better, but not necessarily bigger, than ever. In the past, buffets were extraordinary displays of food used during banquets to feed vast numbers of people. The method was quicker and easier than plating a traditional banquet meal. Many culinary teams also viewed the buffet as a great opportunity to express their creativity; chef garde mangers and pastry chefs, along with their teams, really had the opportunity to shine. Not only was there an abundance of food, but the centerpieces and garnishes were considered equally important to the whole buffet. Read on...

Robert Trainor

Recent issues of trade journals have explored the fresh importance being placed on strong sanitation practices. From outbreaks of Norwalk virus aboard cruise ships to fears over SARS as close to home as Canada, the media seems to report a new health scare almost every month. On a global level, proper sanitation can stop a number of these illnesses in their tracks. On a more everyday level, keeping a clean kitchen is just good business sense. Today, chefs and restaurant managers are not only more accountable for the quality of cuisine and experience presented to their guests, they are being held responsible for cultivating and maintaining a higher cleanliness ethic. This issue is so important that many operations are actually increasing their budgets to provide staff with both basic and leading-edge tools and training to achieve higher sanitation standards. Read on...

Robert Trainor

Evolution equals success in the hospitality industry. The best restaurants and hotels are constantly refining, improving and evolving the product and experience they present to their guests. In turn, guests continue to elevate their expectations, becoming increasingly savvier and knowledgeable about food and wine. Banquet dining is no exception to the laws of evolution. Hotels that emphasize creativity and quality in plate presentation and ingredients will capture the lion's share of banquet business in their market. The industry is trending towards consumer expectations that they will enjoy a better banquet experience at a good hotel, than at an independent restaurant. It's a cyclical trend; in the past, consumers expected the best food to be found in hotels, where the owners and managers could better afford to hire, train and retain skilled employees. Read on...

Robert Trainor

A diet low in refined carbohydrates is actually not new to many cultures. In fact, in some places in the world, the lifestyle has been around for centuries. Asian cuisines revel in the use of fresh vegetables and fruits. Very little white flour or bread is used. And even though rice is a staple, the most popular form used is brown rice, a source of the good, complex carbohydrates that nutritionist tell us are healthy. Mediterranean cultures also emphasize cuisine based on seasonal, fresh fruits and vegetables, and the great seafood that is so abundant in the region. I was reminded of this fact as my team and I were researching the cuisines of the Mediterranean countries - Spain, Italy and France - in preparation for a new concept for our menu in The Terrace, the Hilton Short Hills' more casual dining venue. Read on...

Susie Ross

Statistics show that, instead of complaining to an organization directly, 96% of dis-satisfied customers will gripe to an average of nine other people. I'm sure our group fulfilled that statistic and then some! You never know whom you're serving. Appearances can be deceiving. When you're serving a party of 65 for the holidays, know who the host is, whether it is an individual or a company. Also remember that the rest of the people, nameless as they may appear, all have names, careers, influence on others, and many have reasons and means to pay for a party of their own someday. Bad hair or a cheap-looking suit should not be taken for a bad person who has no value or influence. Besides being extremely rude to someone who is a guest and doesn't deserve to be ignored, you may be quashing a future opportunity to make money and promote your business. Read on...

Robert Trainor

Like clothing or hair styles in the fashion world, china in the restaurant business is ever changing. Twenty years ago when I participated in culinary competitions, judges told us the china would not make a difference in scoring. I disagreed then and still feel strongly about the effect china has on the presentation and overall guest experience. The table top, especially the china, is the herald of the dining experience to come, giving guests their fist hint of what to expect from the meal. In a 1987 competition in Boston, a connection at a German china company allowed me to borrow several different plates in exchange for promoting their product after the judging when the salon was open to the public. I finished in first place with a gold medal and high score. My menu and food were very good, but so were the entries of many of my competitors. It was the way the food was presented on this great line of china that gave my presentation that little extra touch that pushed me ahead of the others. Read on...

Al Ferrone

As all of us know in the food and beverage industry, we are in a highly competitive and low-margin business. Most of our products are perishable, and providing top-notch service is expensive. Technology is becoming more important to making gains in productivity, in managing products to keep our inventories low, and in keeping products fresh. Technology is also helping us become more competitive by allowing us to manage CRM. And although technology is useful, we need to be careful when applying it so that we do not diminish the experiences that our guests expect. We need to apply it in areas that do not inconvenience or burden our guests when using it. It may make sense for guests to use a kiosk ordering system at an airport, but I would be reluctant to place that kind of technology in a full-service environment. In a full-service food and beverage operation, I feel that it would be a grave mistake to replace service with technology even though it is available. Read on...

Susie Ross

Soft-selling is suggestive selling. No one likes to feel like they're being "sold" anything, including food. Suggestive selling is an art form. Guests should never feel like they're being pushed into buying the most expensive item on the menu. When done properly, guests never know the server is artfully guiding them toward a higher check average, which is actually excellent customer service. Quite possibly, the best marketing line ever created was, "Would you like fries with that?" Fries go with a burger; therefore it's logical to ask a guest if he would like fries to accompany his burger! It works the same in any kind of restaurant, burgers or steaks, fries or baked potatoes. We can learn a lot from the fast food chains... Read on...

Al Ferrone

As our labor force increases and we evolve into more of a leisure society, many of our new-generation workers do not want to spend as much time on their jobs as employees of the past. This means that one of the key words we as managers, should keep in mind when seeking new talent is balance. We need to make sure that the people who work in our industry keep a balance between work, family and leisure time. The more balance, the more stability. The more stability, the more productivity and less turnover. If we are going to attract the new wave of talented managers, we need to measure a person's worth or accomplishments based not on how much time is spent on the job, but rather on the person's productivity. A highly productive 50-hour, gung-ho enthusiastic manager who gives 110% is much more valuable than a tired, half-conscious 70-hour manager going through the motions. Read on...

Al Ferrone

One thing we know for sure is that diet fads will come and go, but people will always have a desire to eat healthy. When the Atkins diet was introduced, everyone jumped on the bandwagon. Hilton Hotels Corporation did not. In addition, many manufacturers rushed to produce low-carb products. I've sampled some low-carb breads that were tasteless and so hard that I doubt a beaver could gnaw or digest it. I thought, "Who in the world would want to endure that kind of an assault on the taste buds and digestive system?" I'm sure that eating a loaf of this bread would cause anyone to develop jaw muscles that pit bulls would envy. Read on...

Robert Trainor

Although catering has always been an important factor in the success of hotel food and beverage departments, today it has evolved to share focal point status with the other outlets. Food quality and service is expected to equal, if not exceed, what you would find in the restaurant. Clients want creativity and variety. They are savvy, they hold numerous events in many different venues, and they are constantly challenging operators to come up with new ideas. Read on...

Susie Ross

There are so many things you want to know about a person when you interview them, the most important being their work ethic. There are ways to find that out with proper questions and review of a resume. You want to set the stage from the beginning that you operate a professional business. It isn't just a caf'e, diner, restaurant or deli. It's your business and, if you want to take an aggressive approach, ask questions of your applicant that will reveal personality and the salesperson in her. This is assuming you want a personality that wants to sell and not take orders. Read on...

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Coming up in December 2019...

Hotel Law: A Labor Crisis and Cyber Security

According to a recent study, the hospitality industry accounted for 2.9 trillion dollars in sales and in the U.S. alone, was responsible for 1 in 9 jobs. In an industry of that scope and dimension, legal issues touch every aspect of a hotel's operation, and legal services are required in order to conform to all prevailing laws and regulations. Though not all hotels face the same issues, there are some industry-wide subjects that are of concern more broadly. One of those matters is the issue of immigration and how it affects the ability of hotels to recruit qualified employees. The hotel industry is currently facing a labor crisis; the U.S. Labor Department estimates that there are 600,000 unfilled jobs in the industry. Part of the problem contributing to this labor shortage is the lack of H2B visas for low-skilled workers, combined with the difficulty in obtaining J-1 visas for temporary workers. Because comprehensive immigration reform is not being addressed politically, hotel managers expect things are going to get worse before they get better. Corporate cyber security is another major legal issue the industry must address. Hotels are under enormous pressure in this area given the large volume of customer financial transactions they handle daily. Recently, a federal court ruled that the Federal Trade Commission had the power to regulate corporate cyber security, so it is incumbent on hotels to establish data security programs in order to prevent data breaches. The lack of such programs could cause hotels to face legal threats from government agencies, class action lawsuits, and damage to their brand image if a data breach should occur. These are just two of the critical issues that the December issue of Hotel Business Review will examine in the area of hotel law.