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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 MORE

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 MORE

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 MORE

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 MORE

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 MORE

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 MORE

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 MORE

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 MORE

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 MORE

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Coming up in May 2021...

Eco-Friendly Practices: Now More Than Ever

One theory about the pandemic states that future viruses are more likely to originate and flourish due to global warming. If true, the urgency to accelerate the adoption of eco-friendly practices is greater than ever. Of course, there are many other reasons to create a sustainable operation, including reduced utility costs, savings on operational costs, healthier and happier guests and employees, and positive publicity, marketing and community goodwill. Many hotels are introducing innovative programs into their operations - from recycling bins in guest rooms to starting a roof top garden. Other hotels are using eco-friendly cleaning products, reusing towels and sheets, sourcing locally grown food, supporting the use of electric vehicles, and permitting guests to refill their reusable water bottles with clean, filtered water. Finally, some hotels are encouraging guests to get involved by making it possible for them to participate in local community clean-up projects. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.