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Pricing gap between restaurants and grocers shrinks

"Commodity costs began easing in 2015, and grocers started lowering their prices. The result was a pricing gap with restaurants that widened to as much as 460 basis points during some months last year.

The pricing gap is getting much of the blame for a corresponding slowdown in restaurant traffic and same-store sales. Same-store sales peaked in January 2015, slowed throughout the year and turned south for much of 2016, and sales have been in decline since, according to all major industry same-store sales trackers."

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Brooklyn’s Newest Food Hall Features Katz’s Pastrami, Arepa Lady, and More

Photo: Melissa Hom

Photo: Melissa Hom

"New York has, in recent years, been flooded with fancy food halls. They’ve cropped up for a few reasons (as relief from rising rents, because of office workers who won’t abide by bad salads) and are largely concentrated in midtown. So far this year, two more have already debuted outside that neighborhood: Chinatown’s Canal Street Market and Fort Greene’s Gotham Market at the Ashland, a branch of Midtown West’s popular Gotham West. On Friday, the long-simmering DeKalb Market Hall will make it a crowd."

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New York City Loves The Nightlife: Announces Nighttime Office and 'Ambassador '

"New York City is establishing a nightlife office and Nighttime Ambassador as part of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. The news came as part of the Mayor’s larger “New York Works” ten-year economic initiative announced today.

The as-yet-named Nighttime Ambassador, according to the announcement, will act as an advocate for the music and nightlife industry and serve as a "central point of coordination between venues, local authorities and communities. The Ambassador will also provide "support with licensing and permits" and may eventually "provide financial support for legal services, architectural services, and safety improvements.""

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The secret to a long-loved restaurant? It’s a family recipe.

ARAM BOGHOSIAN FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

ARAM BOGHOSIAN FOR THE BOSTON GLOBE

"It’s 6:30 p.m. at Jimmy’s Steer House in Arlington. A gray-haired waitress hustles across the dining room clutching a neon-green margarita that looks like a birdbath — a deal at $6.99. “They’re good,” she says out of the side of her mouth to a gawking table, not missing a step. Another group of waitresses huddles around a booth, toting strawberry shortcake topped with flickering candles."

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Why personal space isn't on the menu at many restaurants

John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune

John J. Kim / Chicago Tribune

"Several winters ago, Meagan Foster and her then-boyfriend were trying to turn a bad day around by venturing to the Tabard Inn in Washington, D.C. for drinks and dinner. But when she tried to navigate the sliver of space between her table and the next, Foster says, she bumped everything — votive, water, silverware — off both of them, and promptly burst into tears."

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Restaurants Face Digital Dilemma

"Last year, restaurants crossed a digital milestone: The percentage of orders booked online or using a smartphone or tablet app—now 6.6% of the total—exceeded the quantity placed verbally over the telephone (5%). Indeed, at a time when in-person visits to restaurants—human beings actually sitting at a table to break bread—are declining, electronic orders have been a boon to the industry. They’ve tripled over the past five years."

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Chefs Embrace the Power of the ‘Instagram Juggernaut’

Photo: Liz Clayman

Photo: Liz Clayman

"David Posey discovered the power of Instagram almost by accident. Before his heavily anticipated new restaurant Elske opened in Chicago, Posey posted a picture to his personal account, a shot of his hand holding the new key to the building. Surprise: The post racked up likes, further stoked excitement about the project, and caused the restaurant’s still-dormant Instagram account, which hadn’t yet posted a single photo, to flood with followers. When Elske opened, Posey and his partner, co-owner and pastry chef Anna Posey, built Instagram right into their work routines."

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Future of Food: You will really know your customers

Rohappy/Thinkstock

Rohappy/Thinkstock

"Consumer demand is one driver of the proliferation of restaurant apps. But for restaurant operators, the benefit is unlocking access to a treasure trove of customer data.

For proof of how essential these technologies are to restaurants today, look no further than McDonald’s. In March, the company announced plans to double down on kiosks, delivery and curbside service, all powered by the latest digital innovations."

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What It’s Really Like to Cook for New York’s Most Influential Restaurant Critics

Photo: Popperfoto/Getty Images

Photo: Popperfoto/Getty Images

"One day, not long after the new Union Square Cafe reopened in December, I caught a glimpse of the photos taped to the inside of the hosts’ wooden podium. A series of faces, they looked like those pictures of busted shoplifters you see at bodega cash registers, but these were the faces of New York’s small army of esteemed restaurant critics: Adam Platt, Steve Cuozzo from the Post, Ryan Sutton from Eater, and of course Times critic Pete Wells. God help whoever was working the door if any of them slipped by unnoticed."

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Climate Change Is Coming for Your Favorite Wine

"Last week Donald Trump announced he would be pulling the United States out of the Paris Agreement, the first-ever multi-national effort to curb the effects of climate change that was first adopted in 2015. The agreement’s chief goal is to urge countries to pursue ways — from limiting emissions to investing in clean energy — to prevent the global temperature from rising further than it already has."

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Union Square Hospitality Group sees progress with no-tipping policy

Photo by: Liz Clayman

Photo by: Liz Clayman

"Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group sent shockwaves through the restaurant industry in late 2015 when it announced plans to eliminate tipping at all of its full-service restaurants in New York City.

Starting with The Modern, a fine-dining restaurant at the Museum of Modern Art, Meyer and his team eliminated the tip line on checks and raised menu prices."

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Restaurants Put Branding Directly on Their Food to Win Instagram

Photographer: Gabi Porter

Photographer: Gabi Porter

"Consider this a response to the hyper-artisanal world we live in.

Or perhaps an extension of it, the next step in bespoke products.

Restaurants around the country are taking branding—which, in the past, has appeared on everything from matchbooks to mini-bottles of house hot sauce—and moving it front and center on the plate."

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9 ways to maximize menu profitability

"Too often, restaurant menus have catchy descriptions, gorgeous photos and an attractive layout, but are missing a key ingredient: They aren’t driving profitability.

Certainly, you should have a visually appealing menu that matches your restaurant’s brand. But beyond doing that well, it’s important to use the menu to your advantage financially."

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Gordon Ramsay's Opening 6 New Restaurants Across The U.S.

GETTY STEVE JENNINGS

GETTY STEVE JENNINGS

"From his multiple hit television shows to his Twitter feuds to dolling out expert cooking adviceGordon Ramsay is literally everywhere right now — except dominating the U.S. restaurant scene. Up until now, unless you lived in or visited California, Nevada, New Jersey, or New York, you were out of luck when it came to dining á la chef Ramsay stateside."

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