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All this cleaning might not be so bad!

So we all know the COVID -19 pandemic has caused major issues in the hospitality industry from business closures to job loss and now constant changes in government oversight telling us how we should run our businesses. It’s bad!

But! I have started to find what I hope are some new habits and not just temporary changes that were brought about due to the pandemic. The guidelines and in some places mandates, I like focus on the single-use restaurant menus.

I have experienced a variety of offerings such as; a paper food menu but the cocktail menu was displayed on the bar in a leather cover, a black and white photocopy of the menu ( to keep the inspector guy happy I was told), and some places just handed me their menu in the plastic sleeves they have always used (which made me immediately use my hand sanitizer!). I’m pretty sure single-use menus is what we are striving for these days!

Photo by Erik Mclean from Pexels

Those of us who have spent time in the front of the house know that menus are not cleaned as often as they should be. Heck, a menu could end up on the floor, the bathroom and even in the hands of a hundred other guests before they get wiped down again!

So why not embrace this one new hygiene habit?! Common folks! Use paper menus or find another innovative way to display your menus so no one has to even touch one. It doesn’t have to be a chalkboard either!

Let this pandemic be the catalyst for some amazing creative changes in the industry!

Stay well! ~Lisa

Is the lack of meal time conversation effecting young professionals?

UPDATED!!! Free checklist at the end of this post!

Growing up my parents made sure we all sat down to eat together at the dining room table. The time was to be spent discussing everyone’s day and taking time to talk to each other since each of us had busy schedules.

Now, as our busy schedules have changed dramatically and many of us have more time with our loved ones. How has your meal time changed? Are you sitting down to a meal together more these days? What are you talking about at the dinner table? Are you experiencing more of a dining experience and not just eating on the fly?

When I conduct etiquette dinners the greatest challenge for the attendees is what to say at the dinner table. Ok, it might be number two to the ultimate question “which fork do I use” but it is a major cause of anxiety!

Here are some common questions the attendees have about dining in a professional environment: What do you talk about at the dinner table? What should I not talk about at the dinner table? How do you address the wait staff? And why can’t I use my cell phone at the table?

I recommend using this new found quality time in our lives to help our children learn how to have a conversation at the dinner table, without their devices, so they feel comfortable speaking to a perspective employer or someone who might impact their lives.

If you need help with where to start contact Lisa at andrushospitality@gmail.com.

At Home Meal Time Etiquette Checklist!

FREE checklist download!

Time to diversify?

Ok, we have all heard that there will be a new “norm” going forward due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But as the hospitality industry is still trying to reopen and is in survival mode we still do not have firm guidance on what the new “norm” will look like for small restaurants and bars.

So why not define your own future with the things we do know?! We do know more take-out options and outdoor seating options would be beneficial in assisting with social distancing. What have you done to implement these types of options as a permanent solution not just during the phases recovery? Have you even thought about these options for the future of your business?

Are you thinking you can’t afford to implement something new? Can you afford not to try?

We recently had the honor of assisting Roff School Tavern in Meadville, Pa with such a project. A tradional craft beer pub that was closed for months due to the COVID-19 pandemic with no established take -out options when they had to shut down. Knowing they needed better options in case they had to close again we developed a new line of business for them, shaved ice and adult slushies to-go! We redesigned their already existing outside bar in their beer garden with a walk up window to the outside. Now families can visit inside or outside with a designated take out location.

Best of luck Roff School Tavern on your new adventure!!

The walk up window with addition seating and to-go options.

Get out of your bubble

We are in holiday mode and it is time to travel. Traveling is one of the things we enjoy the most, whether it is a couple hour drive away or to a foreign country. When we travel to a different town, we enjoy visiting small businesses to see what new things we can learn from them. Most recently we visited a small restaurant that only sold craft burgers, beer, and homemade desserts. We sat at the kitchen table and watched two cooks and a chef owner prepare all the hot items in front of us on a custom designed grill/smoker and a set of double fryers. A small ledge off the bar where we were eating served as the expediting area. The bar was laid out in such a way that the walk-in cooler was directly on the other side of the wall from the tap handles. No need to run lines or lose a bartender for a half hour when a keg kicks. It was obvious that every inch of that space was considered during the design layout stage.

When was the last time you were in a different town and visited a business similar to yours? Do you avoid those places? Why? What is there to fear? Maybe they are doing something a little better or using a better product than you. Good! Use it to your advantage!

When we travel outside our comfort zones, we learn new things. What we learn might be good, it might be bad, or it could just be ugly. If you are unable or unwilling to leave your establishment to gather new information, consider sending your staff out as secret shoppers. You might want to even consider a friend or family member you can trust to do some investigating for you. Prepare them with a list of things you want to know, provide them with some spending money, and compensate them with a gift card to your establishment.

You have to remain relevant, you need new information, you need to learn new things. If what you have just read resonates with you, consider contacting us at andrushospitality@gmail.com to help strengthen your business.

Lisa Andrus, PhD

 

 

 

 

Remain Consistent

When it comes to the longevity and ultimate success of a small to moderately sized business in the hospitality industry, owners would argue any of two dozen different aspects that are most important and key to their individual success.  However, I would argue that the work consistency, while not thought of often is one of the main drivers to their success, referrals, and a cult like following.

Would that quaint little bakery downtown have been able to withstand decades on razor thin margins if their bread didn’t raise consistently and their cinnamon rolls did not create sugar highs and cavities?  Without the consistent home baked products and owner’s toothy smile, Wonder Bread and Little Debbie would have put this home-town staple out of business years ago.

Years ago with the purchase of restaurant and bar we discovered there was a policy that states: ‘after 10:00 pm if there are 2 or fewer customers the bartender is able to call last call at their discretion and close for the evening.’  This policy is rather interesting.

What makes one bartenders’ propensity to stay open different from another?  Is it the perceived value of tips they could earn?  Being able to spend time with a loved one?  Perhaps one’s love of sleep or even need for socialization?  All of these are considerable factors in someone closing or not.

Now, let’s assume the opposite position.  You are out with your girlfriends on a holiday weekend, no one has to go to work in the morning and you decide it is time for a change in scenery.  However, when you show up to your chosen venue it is closed at 10:30 pm because of the discretion of that evening’s closing bartender.  Will this ever be considered as a viable option after 10:30 pm for your party again?  Will the fact that they are closed be shared to friends, neighbors, co-workers and family?  Answers: no, yes.

Interestingly, this topic came to mind as I attempted to patronize a small business in rural eastern Tennessee.  I had been in communication with the owner for several weeks about a product that was being brought into stock.  I was excited to view this product and potentially make a substantial cash purchase (several thousand dollars). Upon re-arranging my schedule to arrive at their web-posted, opening time on a Saturday, I found a hand-written note stating:  ‘Sorry, closed for the day!’  Immediately I thought about how I hoped the owners were enjoying a well-deserved day off with their children.  Then I reflected back on the scenarios above, and just how much they missed out on that day in sales, and perhaps further from customers that were not gained as repeat customers.

The take away from this month’s nugget is to remain consistent.  Consistent not only in your product and offerings but in your hours of operation.  Your best customers are relying upon you just as much as your small business is relying upon their support.

If you think your small business could benefit from an outside lens, consider reaching out to Andrus Hospitality: andrushospitality@gmail.com.

Jacob I. Fait, PhD – Contributing Author, College of Business-Dean & Hospitality Consultant