Business Sense

Controlling Employee Theft


None of us want to think that we are working with a kitchen full of thieves, but there are times when product suddenly starts missing. How can we, as chefs, control our inventory without seeming too much like Big Brother? This month, we’ll take a look at some simple controls to put place which will help curb any runaway supply lines you may have going out the back door.

First, we have to realize that there is always going to be some theft. It would be naïve to think you can clamp down on everything. The truth is, many of us don’t even realize how much theft goes on right in front of us: over-portioning a sandwich for a co-worker, dropping some extra fries to munch on, adding side dishes to a plate but not charging, etc….There are two main ways to keep theft in check; don’t set yourself up to be an easy target, and two, don’t make your employees feel like they need to steal. These are very simple ideas, but they are effective. Let’s examine each:

Don’t be an easy target. The staff needs to see you doing regular inventory, weighing products, counting your shelves,… Continue reading

Cutting the budget? Start in advertising!

Food & Business Tips


What?!?! Cut the advertising budget!?!?! I know-every person that has gone through marketing 101 knows that if you cut your advertising budget because of money concerns, you are only going to be in a worse position. If you aren’t making sales, then how can you expect more money by not advertising?

First, don’t confuse advertising with marketing. We have talked before about using smart marketing; using Twitter to alert current customers about nightly features or emailing people who signed up for the service a few coupons. Think of advertising as vinegar and marketing as honey—well, which one attracts? We live in an age where people can say anything and post it for everyone to see. Because of this, people have become very wary of claims made by even the most respected of businesses. Every commercial has paragraphs of disclaimers on the bottom, so you automatically think they aren’t telling the truth. No, my friends, placing a big ad in a magazine or newspaper just isn’t worth the money. So how do you let people know about you? The answer: public relations and marketing.

Does your restaurant have a unique story? Do any of your… Continue reading

One of the bigger problems facing the hospitality industry, specifically…

Food & Business Tips

Business Sense

One of the bigger problems facing the hospitality industry, specifically restaurants, is the huge turnover in our staff. Many of us just accept it as a cost of doing business, but it doesn’t need to be that way. We all hear about how much it costs to lose an employee, but many chefs really do not understand how it is a true cost to the restaurant, so let’s clarify this oft-repeated phrase with some tangible costly situations, and then explore some things you can do to make work fun (and profitable) for your employees.

Remember, for this article, we are not discussing turnover which is the result of employee termination. This month, we are focusing on losing employees to other restaurants simply because they are leaving for better working conditions, job pay, or job security. Although chefs will argue that losing a long-term is actually beneficial because a lower-waged employee can be brought in, or that a new worker can be trained without the negative habits of the previous employee, these are actually excuses. Any employee developing poor work habits should be dealt with immediately; that is the crux of being a manager.… Continue reading

Don’t panic!

Food & Business Tips

Even though these are tough times economically, don’t fall into the mistake that so many restaurant owners make when there is an downturn: cutting corners. Simple reasoning explains why this would be the biggest mistake anyone could take at this time. Our customers are feeling the pressures of lower income, or income that does not have the buying power it once had, so why would they continue to frequent a restaurant that is charging the same price for a dish which had been done better in the past? There is no easier way to upset regular guests then to keep a price of a menu item, only to cut portion size, use a lower grade of ingredient, or take away previously included side items. Taking away even small amenities such as the after-dinner mints or the complimentary snacks at the lounge bar may not seem like enough of an issue to make a person no longer come to your property, but look at it from their point of view, “Hey, if these guys are hurting so bad they can’t put pretzels on the bar, what the heck else are they slashing back in the kitchen?” Honestly,… Continue reading

Business Sense II

Food & Business Tips

As mobile marketing becomes more and more like a science fiction movie where you are addressed by name as you walk into a store, we must begin looking at the technological side of attracting customers and stop relying on marketing strategies from the 1920’s. I am sure all of you have seen television ads asking you to text to a number and receive deals or promos. The companies doing that kind of advertising get your cell number when you text, and use that to target you for future promos and store you in their immense data banks of consumer profiles.

Until recently, nobody in the food service industry was thinking about applying some of these new technologies to the end game of improving sales and customer retention. All of that is now changing, and one of the agents of change is Fishbowl Inc, a technologybased marketing company for the food service industry. This company has built e-mail and internet marketing campaigns for over 30,000 restaurants and has the endorsement of the National Restaurant Association. Currently, they are getting into the mobile marketing side of advertising, which is proving a boon for many of their clients. Some… Continue reading

Business Sense

The most common question I get from chefs, restaurateurs, students, and just people interested in the environment is: What is sustainable seafood and how do I know if I am using it? Unfortunately, that is a difficult question to answer because there are no clear-cut answers for many of the seafoods. This month, however, I will try to give you some guidelines to follow for the most common fish we use.

To begin with, sustainable seafood is seafood from either fished or farmed sources that can maintain or increase production in the future without jeopardizing the ecosystems from which it was acquired. This means it is seafood we are not harvesting faster than the population can be replenished, or the farms we are harvesting from are not destroying other systems. It is extremely hard for us to know exactly which fish are being caught correctly, but let’s go over some of the more common fish:

American catfish, tilapia, trout: Farmed is the way to go with these fish, but try to use farmed in the United States vs ones farmed in China. The Chinese use many pollutants which hurt nearby waters.
Crabs: Blue crabs in the Chesapeake Bay… Continue reading

Business Sense

I know we have all been made aware of the “greening” of the restaurant industry and society in general. I am also aware of all the excuses for not implementing any of the ideas; “It costs too much…”, “We’re too etc, etc… I know the excuses, because I, too, have used them. The truth of the matter, however, is that this is neither some passing fad, nor does it have to be a burden to you and your staff. Just a few new ideas, implemented as new standing procedures, will really begin to have a positive effect on your current costs. In the next few newsletters, we’ll easy ideas to start this very day, and let you know what our hospitality association is working on for state “green” certifications.

One of the fastest, easiest things to do is to stop using disposables for employee meals and drink. A few plastic cups that are washed at the end of the shift will save you hundreds of dollars at the end of the year; the McCutchen House switched to re-usable plates and cups from the Styrofoam, and our paper expenses have already dropped two to three hundred dollars a month! Now I… Continue reading

October 3rd meeting Conquest Brewery

November 7th meeting TBD

November 20 Saluda Shoals Chairman's lighting

December 4th Sunday Holiday Party

January 29 President's Award Dinner