One Fat Frog partners with 5th Annual Thanksgiving for the Homeless

Homelessness is affecting the nation at a staggering rate.  Orlando is one of the major cities with an increasing population of homeless men, women, and children, most of whom are families like our very own. The holidays are here,  and the hustle to provide our families’ with a quality and memorable season has begun. For a many others, the idea of the holidays is a distant one.

Thankfully there are people in our community who dedicate their time to extend the warmth of the holiday season to those less fortunate, One Fat Frog was lucky enough to contribute to these efforts by partnering up with the 5th Annual Thanksgiving for the Homeless.  

As soon as we heard about the event via Facebook it was a no-brainer, of course we would help! We reached out to the event’s  director Augustin “Gus” Martinez immediately.


I received a text early this morning from Connie that she was already well on her way to help and that we should have a truck ready this afternoon.

We met with Gus and found a dedicated team working vigorously on Grassroots effort  from volunteers and web participants to give others the opportunity at a Thanksgiving regardless of their economic situation.  We happily donated enough food and drink to feed the over 400 projected attendants of this event.

IMG_2316I clearly should practice containing my excitement. #cheesingitup


Who better to deliver our donations than our Delivery Services Coordinator Summer. “SMILE SUMMER!” 

 The event takes place Saturday, November 22  , 2014 at the Dr. J B Callahan Neighborhood Community Center. Gus will meet with a group of volunteers at 10am and the event kicks off at noon . We were honored that Gus agreed to meet with our team  for this great cause and look forward to continuing giving back to those who need our help throughout the community.

IMG_2315_cPosing with Event Director Augustin “Gus” Martinez. It was a great pleasure meeting such an awesome community advocate.

For more information on the event  and how you can help click here or here. 

give thanks give back




Does Curbing Drunk Driving Start With Restaurants?

Recently, an anti-drinking and driving video came from Orange County Sheriff Jerry Demmings, who advises you, the viewer, to “think about it.”

No matter how much think you want to do about drinking and driving, a lot of the preventative methods that are taught to curb drinking and driving range anything from using a designated driver, to calling a taxi. But little has been discussed about where to start preventative methods to lower drunk-driving rates: Starting with restaurants.

Why aren’t restaurants helping efforts to bring down the drunk-driving numbers? Because it hurts sales. When the National Transportation Safety Board proposed a plan to drop the blood-alcohol content from 0.08 to 0.05, restaurants cried foul stating that this would have a dramatic effect on sales. While croaking about legal limits might be one thing, legislation is another thing.

So restaurants do have some impact on drinking and driving, at least on a more economic basis. But how much responsibility do restaurants have on drinking-and-driving? Not as much as you think. The biggest impact is something called dram shop laws. Dram shop laws allow restaurants and bars to be legally and financially responsible DUIs and alcohol-related crashes. Most prominently in 2012, a South Carolina judge fined a restaurant $1.7 million for a crash that placed a couple and their unborn child on critical condition. And according to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (a division of the National Institute of Health), enforcing dram shop laws do help reduce drink-driving incidents. So much for a green frog cocktail.

But it’s just more than dram laws that are shifting focus to drinking establishments. In Naperville, Illinois, recent legislation was passed to now allow customers drinks one hour before closing, limit discounts on beer, increase training for bar security, and a few more legislative restrictions on beer serving. And at a city in Australia, bars in the city of Darwin agreed to mandate drink-serving limits all together.

But perhaps, it might be a good idea to have restaurant managers and servers voluntarily curb drinking. If servers realize that a customer might have a few drinks too much, then the server should be allowed to not serve more drinks, give maybe a glass of water or two, and offer to call a taxi. And if a customer decides to get unruly and get the manager involved, the manager should instead help the customer go home safely–and not just kick them out for being unruly. And in more extreme cases, have a restaurant drink limit. While restaurants won’t always be responsible for making the customer stop drinking, a little social responsibility can go a long way. Maybe commercial breathalyzers should be a thing now?

The Future of Restaurants Might Rely on Technology

As tablets increasingly replace servers’ notepads and more (and more) parts of the restaurant are touch-based, it’s becoming harder and harder to ignore that the concept of the good ol’ traditional restaurant is evolving. Pop culture has dictated that the future of eating in a restaurant goes anything from food replicators to food hydrators. But as today’s entrepreneurs and fast-forward thinkers push the restaurant forward, it’s possibly inevitable that restaurants of the future must first be technologically-minded. The same can’t be said for frogs.

One of the harbingers for the tech-minded restaurant movement is Square. Originally a credit-card reader that plugs in to iPhones, the Square system evolved to a full point-of-sale system, including apps for sales reports, invoices, and inventory. They even know that they’re popular among food trucks and they have a separate page just for (aspiring) food-truck owners. This evolved to having competitors with Amazon and Apple’s take on mobile payments. The prospect of looking at all the financial data on one go is promising, as spending money on a restaurants involve being in front of the house AND back of the house.

And in other ways, the restaurant is evolving by almost getting rid of servers entirely. While Square’s focus on restaurants are those that don’t have servers in the first place (such as food trucks), some apps like Settle. As restaurant brands like Chili’s installing mobile kiosks on every table, it seems that this is the step forward, to let the phones/tablets order for us so that the food can get to us more quickly. And yet in the world where tablets and phones come out every year and app updates come out every week, not everybody agrees that tech is the one-stop solution (frogs will likely agree).

“…they may just ‘solve’ a host of non-problems,” said Amanda Kludt, editor-in-chief of Eater

Some might argue that the real future of restaurants actually relies on food delivery. As existing services such as GrubHub and Doorstep Delivery exist, a lot of current food delivery systems are reliant on chain restaurants. But in San Francisco, the focus is coming away from franchises and restaurants all together. In cases such as Munchery and Spoonrocket (both San Francisco only), they have in-house chef (or chefs) to cook the meals and deliver by themselves. So in a way, the app is the restaurant. But it might even be beyond food delivery. In Washington D.C., food and food/non-food collaborations are starting to become a thing. At this point, one must wonder if the future of restaurant equipment will involve magic, space materials, or probably both.

But what is clear is one thing, and is that the restaurant environment is changing (or has changed, depending on who you ask).  The restaurant might no longer be a homely world where everything is low-key.  Tomorrow, eating out may no longer look like a scene from the movie Diner. The future doesn’t come all at once, it comes in one-at-a-time.

Not Going Cold Turkey: Other Cooking Resources for Thanksgiving

With the spirit of Thanksgiving upon us, avoiding the discussion about turkeys and stuffing and the works is almost impossible. From being able to call Butterball turkey experts to the almost-obligatory Charlie Brown special, the amount of available resources are almost daunting. But besides the cooking and the celebrations, there is another, much more serious aspect to cooking for thanksgiving. This more serious side of gobble includes everything from universities, to even government agencies.

One kind of institution that is rather knowledgeable on cooking turkeys are universities. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s time to hit the book and find research papers (although there is a research journal dedicated to poultry). Usually, these are done through university extensions (which are university divisions dedicated for college graduates to take credit courses but not strictly as a student). For example while the University of Florida might have a quick-tips guide,  the University of Nebraska-Lincoln guide is much more comprehensive. As you peruse more of these university guides, it starts to become apparent that this is not really done because universities want to do you a favor, but potentially because a number of university extensions offer education on food safety. With federal money consistently pouring in to prioritize on food safety, it’s no secret that food safety, however possibly taken granted, is still serious business. And yet there’s not much on frogs (which is a good thing for us, at the very least!)

But it’s not just universities that’s pitching in to provide Thanksgiving-related education. In fact, government is another unlikely source to help people cook turkey for that momentous day. The Department of Agriculture warns you not to buy pre-stuffed, uncooked turkeys from your local store. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control reports that most food poisoning instances are meat and poultry-related, and occurs between November and December. And the Wisconsin Department of Health even suggests how much turkey you should be cooking, depending on the number of people that’s coming (And for those who are wondering, finding resources on frog-cooking are hard.)

So it’s always important to realize that being helpless for getting ready for Thanksgiving is likely not an excuse anymore. It’s just a matter of preparation, and probably a lot (and a lot) of reading. Meanwhile, no frogs will be pardoned on Thanksgiving.

Too Many Frogs

You may have been wondering who works at the Frog? Who just are the magical creatures who help to run our fabulous commercial restaurant equipment warehouse? Well, watch the video to find out. Don’t mind the awkward ending, apparently the girl at the end thought a picture was being taken.

One of internet peeps got the idea from Too Many C00ks, which makes fun of the cheesy openings of 90s sitcoms.

Their cheesy opening most resembles that of Family Matters. I may be young, but Family Matters is one of my all time favorite shows. Can anyone compete with Steve Urkel? No. Would anyone want to? Probably not.


How The Chef Hierarchy Works

Usually forms of hierarchy are involved in either the military, the monarchy, or other larger organizations. But did you know that they also apply  to restaurants? You might have heard of Executive Chef McCroakins  announcing a new dish at this place or Frog Greenville just getting promoted to sous chef. But what do these terms mean, exactly? It’s fair game to assume that these titles are there for a reason and it’s not something that’s made up.

In order to better understand how this works, it’s time to introduce the kitchen staff of our example restaurant. Just for example’s sake, let’s call it Ribbet’ on the Edge. There’s Executive Chef McCroakins, Sous Chef Greenville, Station Chef Streeven Frog, and Kitchen Assistant Tad Poleler.

Starting at the top, Executive Chef McCroakins is at the top, the leader of the kitchen. McCroakins will be responsible not only the managing the kitchen staff, but he has control of the menu and is usually in control of the food inventory. Executive chefs might not always be on the kitchen all the time cooking with the other chefs, but Executive Chefs like McCroakins will be thinking two, three, or four steps ahead in terms of the menu and the staff. That’s quite a responsible frog, indeed.

But Executive Chef McCroakins won’t be able to juggle everything on his own. So Sous Chef Greenville steps in and help Chef McCroakins carry out the operations. Greenville is pretty much the eyes-and-ears for McCroakins (not saying that the big frog can’t see or hear), making sure the food is presented correctly and that staff do not fall out of order. Greenville only got hired a little while ago, so this frog will have to wait for a bit until he gets to design his own dish. And it will probably be a long time before t himself becomes executive chef.

And the chefs the sous chef are responsible for? Meet one of the station chefs, Streeven Frog. His friends who work at smaller restaurants don’t have their own station, so they’re stuck as line cooks. But Streeven, this lucky frog. Streeven is a station chef, more specifically responsible for the insect station. He and maybe a dozen others in the Ribbet’ on the Edge are station chefs, and one day aspire to be a chef just like McCroakins. Streeven is lucky that he’s the only chef in his station, as some of his co-workers are First Cook or Second Cook in their respective stations.

And finally, it’s time to reach the little frog of Ribbit’ on the Edge. Tad Poleler. the new kitchen assistant, aspired to run his kitchen since he was a little hatchling. He’s  the only kitchen assistant, so his tasks  range  from washing produce to preparing other similar foodstuffs. He also helps all his superiors as necessary. Even though he’s the lowest on the totem pole (no pun intended there, unfortunately). Poleler chose to go to a culinary college, where he not only received his degree but also got his necessary certificates as well.

Now that you met the staff of Ribbit’ on the Edge, it’s important to note that not all places run like them . The Executive Chef might have its own Head Chefs, or there might be only one line cook. Or, larger restaurants might follow the original hierarchy called the kitchen brigade (called the brigade de kitchen for short).  If you’re the restaurant manager or the owner, it’s ultimately up to you on deciding how you’re going to organize the kitchen system. Needlessly to say, you don’t want 18 chefs in a space about as large as a Subway. So like most large frogs would, it’s wise to plan accordingly.


Order of Service in Your Restaurant

If you are going to a sit down restaurant with waiters, the order of service is almost always the same or super similar. If it’s fast food, then it’s completely different. If you ask the cashier at Burger King for mints or chocolates after you finish a Whopper, they will probably laugh at you and take pictures. If you ask us at one fat frog for mints or chocolate we’ll direct you to our candy container. Yes, we have one of those. Get over here asap. We rock.

So, the order of service of course starts by  seating your guests. The options are normally a table or booth but some outliers may want to sit in a rocket ship chair. If you have those, great. If not, escort them to the nearest table while making takeoff noises. This should suffice.

Next. Bread service. Okay, this is a big one for me. When Olive Garden or The Cheesecake Factory decides to wait thirty minutes to bring out my bread or I have to ask for it, I legitimately get upset and just plain confused.


Bread ain’t a joke. Be prompt with your bread service (and no, two bread sticks per table IS NOT enough) or your customers will most likely think you’re cheap and flick things at you, such as frog shaped candies. That is never fun. Unless you start catching all the candies in your mouth. That would actually be pretty awesome.

After you’ve had a couple of moments to appreciate and digest your breadsticks, your waitor will come around to check on your beverages and take your order.

When your order is ready, your waiter will serve you on the left with their left hand. Yes, there is a science to even serving food. Your server will then continue to check on your table and see if any plates need to be removed or glasses filled. Seeing as we are Frogs, you probably know we absorb water directly through our skin….basically our server would be filling our glasses more times than we can count. Don’t judge the Frogs.

After you’re done eating, your table will then be cleared except for a spoon, if it’s unused, to prepare the table for dessert or coffee (if you want it). After your customers finish dessert, the table is cleaned again and mints or chocolates are distributed. Or if they really rock, they’ll somehow combine the two. How amazing are Olive Garden’s chocolate mints? YUMMY TIMES 1000.

Then, of course your guests pay and hopefully are more than pleased with the night’s fabulous service.

Make sure you thank your guests as they leave. Make em feel nice and loved.

What your restaurant can learn from McDonald’s Transparency Campaign

After a steady decline in sales the fast-food chain synonymous with American dining is finding itself having to reinvent in order to keep sales from dropping any further. There is no doubt that the pulse of consumer culture has transitioned into a more health conscious , farm to table mindset, and that fast-food joints have been the target of consumer shame, but McDonald’s is refusing to fold.

In a bold effort to engage with the millennial culture that favors “fast casual” choices which tout ethical food practices with the same quick turnaround (Chipotle, Panera, Pei Wei) , McDonald’s has gone into the fray, battling its company’s unflattering stigmas head on with its campaign “our food. Your questions”.

So is this “Transparency Campaign” an open door look at a company that has been wrongfully accused, or staged propaganda? The jury is out. It seems that with every new McDonald’s Mythbusters-esque  webisode (seriously, they feature Mythbusters  alum Grant Imahara ) there seems to be an equal backlash from the web which contradicts or at least equalize the debate.

Here’s what we can learn from McDonald’s current battle to win back its reputation:

Know Your Culture:

We all know that social media is a double edged sword. Information (wrong or right) can be spread at lightning speeds and the culture tides that our companies market to shifts at a constant pace.  Be savvy about it. Stay in the know and stay ahead. This transparency campaign seems a bit delayed considering the scrutiny surrounding McDonald’s has been floating around for years now.

The hipsters, hippies, vegans, and Redditors are pretty vocal about what they want and are also pretty quick to spread their distain throughout integrated social media outlets.

That’s not to say that there isn’t a market for fried, fatty, and comfort foods…but understand that people want to make sure that what they are eating is more food than preservative.

Also, realize that people are not only concerned with what they are eating but often times the conditions in which the food has been distributed. You don’t have to be a PETA member to cringe when leaked videos show animal abuse side by side with a dish . This is a tough hurdle to jump but it’s definitely good to be aware of.

No One is Infallible:

McDonald’s has been a staple of our culture since the 1950’s. But even a company with this kind of legacy and resources is finding itself threatened by the changes. Keep in mind that no matter how successful your restaurant becomes  you must always try to innovate. McDonald’s marketing’s bread and butter has been nostalgia, and it works. However, while time and effort in maintaining the brand is essential so is maintaining the quality and ethics of your product. No Matter how big you are, you are always at the mercy of the consumer.  In fact the bigger you are the more eyes there are on you, and  you guessed it, the harder you fall.

Practice Ethical Food prep and distribution from the beginning:

Piggy-Backing on the aforementioned rant on social media; We have to understand that the lid is wide open. A transparency campaign is a redundant considering everything is already transparent. It takes one viral tweet/Facebook post to corner you into hiring a 24/7 Public Relations team to put out the fire.  While cutting corners may sometimes be necessary, be aware as to which corners you are cutting. The ones that directly affect the consumer may take a while to resolve once the cat’s out of the bag. The best advice to avoid this predicament all together.  Spending time agonizing over how to strategically and cost effectively  run an ethical restaurant is better than agonizing over a tainted reputation that may eventually tank your business.

It’s safe to consider companies like McDonald’s pioneers in American dining. Their brand longevity and their efforts to remain relevant through decades is something to be admired.  Being that they are pioneers we can also all learn from their troubles and hope to save ourselves some headaches in our own business ventures.

Kitchen Equipment You Didn’t Know Existed

Usually, restaurant equipment usually consist of the garden-variety stuff you’d expect in a kitchen. Maybe it’s an oven, a fryer, a burner, a fridge, or even a mixer. But if you want to make dishes from abroad, specialized equipment will be necessary in order to meet your requirements.

  1. Rice Mixer

If you’re making sushi, the rice is one of sushi’s three unmistakable components–the other being the seaweed and the fish. One of the things that’s essential for proper sushi rice is mixing in vinegar. If you look at the recipes, it takes some time to get it all ready. That’s why if you’re planning to run a sushi restaurant, you want a commercial rice mixer. It’s a matter of “set-it-and-forget-it,” where you put your finished rice and vinegar and the machine will do the rest. It might sound silly to have a machine mix rice for you. But when it’s a matter of saving time, this machine will likely be worth it. Ps, us One Fat Frog peeps love us some sushi. Bring us some and we’ll give you a 50 dollar discount and love you long time.

  1. Mussel Cleaning Machine

Cleaning seafood is daunting business. If you’re running a restaurant by a coast, and you get your fish fresh every day, you won’t always have time to clean your fresh-caught seafood one-at-a-time. And when you’re cleaning mussels, they’re especially difficult to do. That’s why you get a mussel cleaning machine specifically for that. Depending on how big your machine is, you put your machine down, and in most cases water jets will get rid of the mussels’ beard and residue. All in all, this process only takes a few minutes. Now some people still prefer to do it by hand, but it might be worth to get a machine like this if you do seafood dishes everyday.

  1. Commercial Tandoor

In Indian Cuisine, a tandoor is a clay pot that’s actually an oven. Historically, tandoors are heated by coal or wood. What’s special about tandoors is because since your food heats by going down, it also smokes because the juices go down towards the burner. But of course as it is with a lot of restaurants, tandoors went to the 21st century. Kebabs, samosa (a triangular baked or fried pastry), and tandoori chicken (which you now you realize where it’s named from) are typically made with tandoors. So the next time you go to a restaurant and ask why this machine looks like a machine, remind yourself that maybe it’s actually used for cooking.

Now, many more unexpected kinds of restaurant equipment do exist. But the point wasn’t to travel around the world in terms of restaurant kitchens. The thing is that not all restaurant kitchens are the same. Now obviously, size is of course different for every kitchen. But not everybody is going to want the same stuff you’d expect from a restaurant a few blocks away from you. Fortunately, while we might not have the equipment mentioned above, we at One Fat Frog will probably have most of what you’ll need.

Start Up: How Far Ahead of Time Should You Plan a Restaurant Opening?

Sometimes when you go to a restaurant, you might think it’s pretty simple to do it yourself. Just pick an empty location, fill out the necessary paperwork, teach one or two people how you cook, and have people come in from day one. But almost nobody ever told you that opening a restaurant was going to be simple and easy. In fact, it’s probably a good idea to spend six months to a year planning before you finally open the doors to your restaurant place. Don’t be overwhelmed, this Frog is here to help you out.

The first step is to prepare a business plan, which will probably take the most time-anywhere from two or more months. This means getting a budget, finding out what kind of restaurant to buy, and creating your operations infrastructure so you have a sound business plan. While you’re probably asking when will the food part come in, this planning is only just the beginning. This is probably also a good time to find space to rent your restaurant. It took One Fat Frog a good amount of time to find our perfect location. Make sure you allot enough time for this process.

The next step is to, after getting your plan and finding your restaurant space, it’s time to get the logistics for your physical restaurant space. This will probably take a month or two. Whether you’re making sure everything’s up to code, or that everything’s designed to your liking, you’re starting to have an idea of your restaurant coming true. Unless you (and your partner) are opening this on your own, this might be a good time to find management.

What’s the third step? Setting up your financial commitments. This means opening your business bank accounts, setting up utilities, and finalizing your physical restaurant space. This might take anywhere from a month or two. At the same time, this is also a good opportunity to go over with your recently-hired management and make sure everything’s up to task.  This is also a good time to making sure your menu’s all good to go. Depending on your schedule, you’re either half-way there or you got most of the boring stuff out of the way before you get to the food stuff.

As your date for your restaurant gets closer and closer, you’ll also have to think about restaurant equipment. Naturally, this is where we at One Fat Frog come in. In our case, we’ll help you get started on acquiring pretty much all restaurant equipment you’ll need to open a restaurant. Or, if you’re browsing around, just getting an oven or two. Other than the physical space, restaurant equipment is probably one of the most crucial investments in your restaurant. You don’t want to close your place early just because one of the griddles doesn’t work properly.

When you’re going in to the final couple months, it’s time to register your business so it’s all official. Then you’re done with that, then you can (finally) focus on employment and inventory. By this approximate timeframe, your restaurant technically looks like it’s open to ready to go. But there’s still a couple more steps to go.

And one of the next couple steps? Advertising and training. Most businesses will take the time to open their own website and getting their own social media ready (Facebook and Twitter, along with Foursquare and Yelp. Also OpenTable if your restaurant does reservations). And the last few weeks will be a good opportunity to train your employees anything from daily operations to cooking. But then you’re thinking, “Well we might as well open tomorrow!” But if you’re doing that, take a week to do one more step.

And that step is to: Review. While your staff and management are busy getting ready, you the restaurant owner should take a week and review everything you did in the last six months to a year are done and ready to go. Double-checking, triple-checking, and perhaps even quadruple-checking everything is ready in order before you’re ready to go. Depending on your restaurant’s size, it may be a few things or it may be pages. Nevertheless, making sure everything is perfect and sound before opening is crucial.

However there’s one more thing you got to do before you open: celebrate. You spent all this time to making sure your next restaurant will satisfy everyone. You (and your partners) might as well take the time and congratulate yourself (or yourselves) for putting all this effort and hoping that in the next day, your restaurant can finally be open.

Tacky Sweater Day

Today is tacky sweater day at One Fat Frog! We decided it would be a great idea to embrace this beautiful cold weather with tacky sweaters!

I was thinking about it, and I’ve decided that these crazy dress up days are some of my favorite days at One Fat Frog! The morale of the whole team increases and it’s just a joy to be at work.

I remember working at a Sonic in a small town near Ocala when I was in high school, and I always loved days where I got to dress up. One Halloween, I took a big box from one of the various pieces of restaurant equipment and pretended to be Spongebob. So much fun!

So what kind of things will you do in your restaurant to make sure that your employees are motivated and having fun? Do you even believe that having fun in your restaurant or commercial kitchen in necessary? Some places don’t believe that having fun on a company level is necessary. What do you think?

Startup: Reasearch your Suppliers

So, as some of you might remember, I gave you business-frogs some basic ideas on how to manage your restaurant or commercial kitchen inventory in another post. I have some more handy tips for you to get your restaurant, bar, pub, deli, sandwich shop, etc, off the ground!

My next bit of frog advice is this: RESEARCH YOUR RESTAURANT OR COMMERCIAL KITCHEN SUPPLIERS (sometimes called a purveyor). Purveyors, or suppliers, will ideally be willing to work with you. Do your research. Instead of settling on the first person you talk to, be selective (these are your profits we’re talking about after all).

Suppliers are sellers too, Frogs, and they are trying to make a sale, but they want your business – and they want to keep you as a buyer. They will usually work with you to make sure you are given a fair price and are well stocked. Most purveyors specialize in a certain kind of product:

Meat and Poultry
Fruits and Vegetables
Fish and Seafood
Dairy Products
Bakery items
Convenience Foods (which we talked about before)
Ethnic Products

Many suppliers sell more than the products they specialize in (or maybe the products they produce themselves). Your seafood supplier might even sell frozen vegetables. And hey, your meat supplier might sell seafood.

We here at One Fat Frog, recommend that you contact at least three restaurant or commercial kitchen suppliers for every product you need. Try to meet with a sales rep (much like our own sales reps) and have them see your operation. Sometimes it helps to take a one on one approach with your sales rep when getting the best prices for the supplies needed for your restaurant or commercial kitchen.

That’s all for now, but check back tomorrow for tips on better negotiating!

Business Party: Proprietorships and Partnerships

So you’re finally ready to take the plunge and grab your dreams by the horns! That’s awesome, congrats! Now assuming that your thought is starting to take shape, you’ve hired yourself an attorney and you’ve got a solid business concept, but what happens after you cut the red ribbon? How do you want to be taxed? And who takes the fall if something goes wrong? Determining what kind of business you’re filing makes a huge difference:

Sole Proprietorship:  this type of business is owning a business in its purest form. It means you are one with the company, you get to keep all the revenue but it also means that you personally owe every company expense, which can be tricky if your business ever has a “slow” period or if a lawsuit ever comes across your door. The upside is that it’s a simple form that your attorney fills out and if you have thick skin you can manage the inevitable ups and downs.

Partnerships: It’s always safer to swim with a buddy. It’s similar to a sole proprietorship but you share the profits and any potential consequences. It’s essential that any partnership spell out their agreement in writing before starting to do business. It’s very likely will chose a partner that you know and trust so whether you’re partnering with a friend or family member you want to clearly designate the line between business and personal relationship otherwise things can get muddy.

Limited Partnerships: The word “partnership” here is misleading. Limited Partnerships essentially mean that you’ve got investors and they will invest because they believe in your entrepreneurship but have no interest in the nuts and bolts of the company. This works out perfectly for the investor because they are not liable for anything that could go wrong, they simply invest in your business (which is good for you) and wait to collect on the return on investment (ROI) which is a pre-determined percentage of your profit. Keep in mind though, that if the business goes under the investor will not be liable for any debt whatsoever.

This is an exciting time for you but being smart about how to accomplish your dream will protect you and possibly take your business concept to heights you would have never imagined.

Grandma has a Facebook: Cyber-Savvy Grandparents may be the best kept secret.

Patty-Jean sits just inches away from her computer monitor for hours. Every new click is like a revelation to her. Her kids and grandchildren may be scattered throughout the country but thanks to “The Facebook” (as she calls it) this 82 year old’s nest is anything but empty.
For years I’ve lived my cyber life freely. It was a one stop shop to connect with friends. With just a click all my school chums could get a glimpse of my latest shenanigans, until now. Now my eternally loving and devoted grandmother spends hours combing through my Facebook which has now become the running joke amongst my friends. They look forward to seeing how Patty chimes in. She has inadvertently become a grade A internet troll by doing the following:
The “Like”:
I bet you think you know were this is going…you open up your Facebook and suddenly you have 20 notifications that your Grandma “liked your picture”. But Patty does not understand the “Like” button. In fact, I’m not so sure she even knows it exists. Instead of a simple click, my dear grandmother goes through every single picture and types “like” in the comment box…that’s it…not “I like this picture”; simply “like” as if that’s how the function works. You can’t help but be amazed at just how many pictures she writes “like” on considering that her shaky little grandma fingers type every single letter one by one at sluggish pace.
The Public- Private message:
Whenever I see my grandmother has left a comment on my wall my heart drops and I rush to makes sure that it belongs in the public eye. You see, Patty doesn’t understand the difference between a private message and a wall-post. It is not unlikely for me to receive an endearing, but often times revealing letter from my grandmother that is meant to be a private message. One time she went on a tirade about her contempt for my cousin the “floosy” without knowing that she could read it all ….whoops.
Confusing the status bar for google:
Imagine scrolling through your newsfeed and seeing that your grandmother’s status reads “panties”. Well, I think anyone’s first reaction would be to call your grandma and figure out why it appears that she’s got women’s underwear on her mind. She wanted to know if she could order underwear online, however she thought that google and the Facebook status bar are one and the same…she may not be right but she also isn’t exactly wrong (but that’s another post)
The Scorn:
Alright, so let’s say that I decide to enjoy a cold beer at a tailgate party when someone snaps a picture and posts it on the spot. Within seconds, Patty has commented on the photo and it’s not “like” I will get a stern talking to about how I am acting like a degenerate and how, “Grandpa would still be around” if he would have stopped that “nonsense”…way to ruin the tailgate party Grams . There’s also the unabashed criticism of anyone that I appear to “cozy up” to. Let’s say I post a picture of me and a respectable young lady I’ve just started seeing and Patty’s response is to urge you to get in touch with your ex because she was prettier. True story, she is a real game killer.

Now while these all sound horrific, there is actually a real advantage to Cyber-Grandmas if you’re a company, and here’s why:
• They’re Vocal – Oh you’re having a sale? Best believe that my grandmother will ring up every single one of her kids to alert them about it. They want what’s best for their family and if you’ve convinced them your business is “what’s best” then you just earned yourself a viral promoter.
• They’re not afraid to engage – So your cashier looked depressed? Or you should bring back your seasonal clam chowder? Patty will tell you. This is great because honestly they know you’re listening and have every intent to right what’s wrong with your business. So whether your staff could manage to smile more or your menu is getting boring, grandma will tell you, and you may want to listen.
• They’re Curious – Cyber-Grandmas are curious about the latest trends. This isn’t an identity crisis, it just makes sense, how else would she know what to get her grandchildren for Christmas. “What’s a Starbucks? My grandson likes their page” BAM you just sold a $100 gift card.
So while we tend to laugh off the adorable cyber antics of our grandparents, they are actually a really valuable fan base to tap into. Have you ever tried walking away from one of your grandma’s passionate rants? Well, if that rant is about your business then you best believe someone will be hearing all about your product, sometimes over and over, and over again. So feel free to comment “like” on our photos it’ll make Patty feel like she’s got it right.

Beyond the Likes and Retweets: Other Ideas to Promote Your Restaurant

In the currently-busting digital world where a smartphone is practically a commodity, using social media (Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, Foursquare) to promote your restaurant is an absolute must. When maintaining a fan base (or repeat customers, whatever you call it) becomes crucial to keep your business alive, sometimes creativity can go quite a bit to make sure your restaurant gets top-billing.

One way to do so is to reward your loyal customers. The first thing most people will come to mind are loyalty cards, but there are better ways to treat your repeats. Maybe your customer deserves a free meal or a dessert. Maybe even treat your customer with a dish you’re trying and say, “It’s on the house.” These small reminders that you love your loyal customers goes a long way for your loyal customers to stay that way.

Another way to promote your restaurant is to recognize national days. Recognizing Veterans Day or Thanksgiving are needlessly obvious, but did you know November is Banana Pudding Lovers Month? How about that on every December 4th, is National Cookie Day? You’re not only rewarding your customers with some free treats, but it shows that you are truly committed to customer service.

And yet another option to make sure your restaurant gets some recognition is to offer cooking lessons. Assuming your chef’s okay with it (and you should ask! Chefs are people too!) have your chef take a few hours and do a demo to the participants. It may be a turn-off at first that you’re giving your secrets away, but it doesn’t have to be your signature dish! Maybe your chef’s trying to craft a new dish and needs some feedback. You’re not only getting your own home-grown focus group, but this is also a way to earn some new followers as well.

And if you want to go even further, there’s also a grazing menu. For those not familiar, grazing menus offer miniature dishes of main dishes (so you might be doing a 10-course or even a 20-course menu instead of a three) This is not only a way to resolve indecisive eaters, but also make sure your customers get to try everything. In South Korea, something roughly similar is done and it’s called banchan. Now this doesn’t necessarily mean replace your appetizers, but having a grazing menu opens the opportunities that your customer especially likes one of your dishes and they’re going to stick to it.

Now certainly there are a plethora of other ideas to promote your restaurant (catering events are popular options), but ultimately it’s up to you on how you’ll gain your fans. Sometimes, reaching a little farther can go a long way. After all, it’s not like your customers are forced to come to your restaurant.

Five Movies for Foodies

It’s kind of a shame these days that food (in general) don’t get enough recognition in movies. Too often, they’re used as cannon fodder for 15-second or 30-second commercial spots. But not all hope is lost, however, as there are five (good, seriously good) movies that are out there to make you salivate, make your stomach scream, or most likely both.

The Trip
It might be a bit daunting to watch a comedy movie about two British comedians (Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon) about restaurant-hopping all over North England, but that’s kind of exactly the point. They are the best of friends who, instead of judging about sweetness or specific flavors for a newspaper as they’re supposed to, they end up enjoying food and doing some amazing Michael Caine and James Bond impressions. You may argue that this isn’t about food, but don’t discount the fact that inbetween the jokes and the eating, are some wonderful scenes involving chefs using restaurant equipment (no kidding, they were seriously well-shot).
Oh and if you’re wondering, yes they do have a sequel: The Trip to Italy.

Easily one of the most underrated movies this past year, it’s refreshing to see John Favreau (who also wrote and directed this movie) go from a full restaurant chef to a food truck owner (and a lot of the movie is set in Miami, too). But the heart of it isn’t necessarily he’s selling Cubanos (Cuban sandwiches), but that in general it feels good as is tasting food. While Carl (Favreau’s character) didn’t get a food truck from us, it’s good to see that he’s embracing the spirit.

Captain Obvious? Perhaps, but before moving on to the next subject, consider this: A restaurant is hardly what it seems. It’s not about the fact that a talking rat can cook (although to give credit where credit’s due, it’s pretty cool even for an animated movie), the Pixar movie reinforces the fact that behind the double doors, lies tireless artists and craftsmen (even like you!) going forth and making edible creations their masterpieces. For once, here’s a movie that gives restaurants a fair light between both sides of the double-doors.

Jiro Dreams of Sushi
Sometimes, restaurants have to be viewed at a more global perspective. This 2011 sleeper-hit documentary focuses on Jiro Ono, whose sushi restaurant was the first of its kind to get three Michelin stars, considered sushi to be an art form. It’s a beautiful perspective to remind that kitchens aren’t always fully-clad in stainless steel or is it as busy as a stock exchange. It might almost be considered its own experience (both going to the restaurant and watching the movie), but boy does the movie empty stomachs!

Big Night
Finally to round out the list is probably the most “traditional” out of the movies featured on this list. Starring Tony Shaloub and Stanley Tucci, this movie hits all the right notes about running a restaurant and the challenges that are involved. For a movie that’s almost 20 years old, it’s remarkable how a lot of the elements in the movie still hits home today. And the movie lets you ponder a few questions. Is it the chef that rules or is it the owner? Is it a place to eat or a place to enjoy? Are brothers really the best people to run a restaurant? While some of the questions might be obvious, what’s not obvious is that running a restaurant is no joke.

There are a lot of other movies to consider on the list, but these five (which you should be renting or buying if not already!) movies only give a small glimpse of what the restaurant business is about. And also (if not more importantly so), that restaurant equipment are hidden, but crucial elements.

Manager Checklist for Food Service

If you’re a manager of a restaurant, you probably have one friend and one friend only: checklists. Okay, you might have some more friends but the checklist is your bestie. I even use them. Whenever my friends and I go on road trips, they look at me like I’m crazy as I carefully make sure everything is accounted for. Without my checklist, I could possibly forget my Snuggie. What is a road trip without a snuggie? That was a rhetorical question. We all know it would be terrible. I feel like the Snuggie may be the single best invention of the 21st century.

No matter how good of a manager you are, checklists will never cease to stop being important for you. In a restaurant, checklists will make your life way easier.

Some things a manager should make sure to include on his or her checklist include:

  • Staff Check
    • Time clocked in: If your employees are supposed to start a shift at 9:00am and arrive at 1pm, there’s going to be a problem. It doesn’t matter if they were seeing an advanced screening of The Hunger Games, it’s not acceptable. Just a side note, if you can figure out how they got those tickets and get back to me that would be great. I’ve been trying to get my hands on them for weeks.
  • Information to give to staff: If there is a deviation to the regular plan or schedule, be sure to hand out these changes to all staff members before their shifts start. There’s nothing worse than having your staff misinformed. (Well, when Netflix removed Toy Story 3 that was also pretty rough….)
  • Changing to the layout of restaurant: If you’re having a lot of parties that need rearranging of tables that could take some time and disrupt the normal flow of the restaurant, do this before you open. No customer wants to hear you scraping 46 chairs across the room.
  • Specials: Are you having a 3for1 special on drinks? This is something that needs to get out to the public! Btw, who has 3for1 specials on drinks in the Orlando area? I’m not asking for me……
  • Captain assigned: I like the word captain because it make me feel very Pirates of the Caribbean-y. Every manager needs a kitchen captain. Basically someone who stays in the kitchen the entire time and can get you whatever details you require. Hopefully you won’t have to walk the plank to get those details.
  • Duties among staff: Make sure to divvy out duties to your staff. If you don’t tell them what to do and find them all huddled in a backroom playing Call of Duty, can you really blame em? Well, yeah I guess that wouldn’t be the best use of company time.

Startup: Buying and Managing Supplies

When you are in the restaurant business, you have to remember that as well as being a seller, you are also a buyer.  You must first purchase the inventory needed to make the product you are selling. Knowing which supplies work best for you, and which suppliers offer the best prices, will ultimately put more money back in your pocket. You must create effective inventory control to avoid theft and waste.

Over the next few days, I’ll post more ideas on how to control your inventory and get the most out of your dollar.

Create your list of needed supplies. These supplies will will vary based on several factors: your concept, menu, the kitchen staff, and the time it takes you to prepare the menu items.

Your list doesn’t have to be incredibly specific at first. In fact, let’s pretend you’re opening a restaurant and you need sugar. You don’t have to note the specific brand of sugar right now, just note that you need sugar. now add flour, chicken breasts, and iceberg lettuce. Your list is coming along nicely now.

Once your list is created, put the products into categories. Chicken breasts would fall under the “meat” category, lettuce would fall under “produce”, and sugar would fall into “pantry items”. You get the idea.

From here, you should meet with suppliers and figure out where you can get the most for your dollar. You need to stretch your dollar to get the highest profits. This is an important lesson that many entrepreneurs learn too late.  Many people don’t know where to look, or even to look at some place other than Sams or Costco. These places, while less expensive than shopping at Target or Whole Foods are not always your best bet. There are often times farms and wholesale stores that sell to restaurants at a lower cost. It’s up to you to go out looking for the best deal. Doing research is important.

Consider the convenience factor. While you’re making your supply list, you also need to figure out how much time you are going to devote to prep work. For example, a whole bone-in, skin-on chicken breast may cost you $24 for 40-lbs ($0.60 per lb), where boneless, skinless, chicken breasts may cost you $64 for 40-lbs ($1.60 per lb). That seems like a big difference.

Take a minute to figure that it may take a prep cook two hours (at $9 an hour pay) to skin and bone 40-lbs of chicken. That could raise your price from $24 to $42. Still seems like a pretty good deal considering the $64 you’re up against.

BUT when you consider that taking the skin and bone away, you’re left with about 25-lbs of usable product, it may not be the way to go. If you up your purchasing amount, you end up spending about $60 for the same amount of meat. Wouldn’t you prefer to spend the extra $4 ($0.10 per lb) to save time and have this task already done for you? With the time saved prepping the chicken, you could be making the base for your famous soup, or making your homemade BBQ sauce. These are things you have to consider when weighing your options.

Now this is just the beginning. Check back tomorrow for more information on how to buy and manage your supplies!

Bad Dates – Location Matters!

I know you’ve all been on some pretty bad dates, but I have one to take the cake! There are just some restaurants you don’t take your date to; especially if it’s your first date! Don’t take them to CiCi’s Pizza for the all you can eat buffet, for starters. In fact, don’t do pizza unless it’s casual and you know they’re down for eating with their hands. Avoid places like KFC and McDonalds if you can. And if you HAVE to go to McDonalds, please don’t make them choose off the dollar menu!

I am shuddering a little at the memory of my first date with Brok. He was 20, I was 18. He had a cool mustang and I was rolling around in my Suzuki that didn’t have power steering or AC. You can imagine my delight when Brok invited out for a bite to eat on Friday night.

“I’ll pick you up at 6.”

Nothing ever sounded sweeter than the ex-quarterback, Foot locker manager asking me to a bite to eat. I am pretty sure I swooned and did a foot pop. No lie.

Friday FINALLY arrives! I get cute, right down to a manicure and new dress. It was short enough to be fun but long enough to be classy (Hi Mom! I’m always classy, don’t worry)! Brok showed up in his green mustang. Swooning continued. I was too busy staring at the freckle on Brok’s ear to notice where we were going…So, imagine my surprise when we park AT BURGER KING. Seriously; Burger King! I was at a loss. We went inside. I was thinking I can’t believe I wasted a new dress on this guy. And to make everything worse, he ordered for me. He ordered me a whopper. I was a devout vegetarian. I hadn’t eaten meat in 4 years at that point.

I cried and asked him to take me home. We never went out again, despite his apologizing and trying to make it right.

This leads me to my point; where you take your date matters! Don’t take a vegetarian to Burger King and expect him/her to eat beef. Don’t take a kosher eater to Pizza Hut. Just don’t do it! We dates will thank you in the long run, and hey, if you get it right, you might get a second date.

I can’t really give you any more advice than that. I’m no Cyrano, after all. But I will leave you with a question. What restaurants did some of your worst dates take place? I’m sure everyone out there has some sort of story about Checkers or Waffle House… come in and tell us about some of these dates and let’s laugh together!

There’s a fly in my soup, and I hate your face

Odds are that any new business, especially a restaurant, is bound to have its share of trial and errors as it gets off the ground. This could potentially be a real sweet spot for tweaking the foundation of your business. The bad news is that this grace period is microscopic and you have to be quick to mold a crushing critique into gold.

The customer is your ultimate key to longevity. High praise is always welcome but criticism keeps you on your toes and keeps the business progressive. Here are some simple ways to turn your disgruntled guest into your number one business consultant:

  • Show interest in your customer’s experience. Especially the complaints, you’ve opened your own restaurant so too much positive feedback would only reinforce the fact that you’ve earned your own restaurant (that’s wonderful and you’re fabulous, but that common knowledge doesn’t lead to growth) negative complaints are the key to you KEEPING your restaurant.

Hopping from table to table asking them how they’re doing is great exposure but isn’t terribly efficient since, well you own a restaurant, you’ve got a million things running through your head it’s unrealistic that you will retain every single experience. Also, people are intimidated by restaurant owners (thanks Gordon Ramsay) so while they may chew your wait staff out willy-nilly they may be more cordial when you approach.  Giving the customer the option to write down their complaints is a great way to lay them all out and strategize on complaint patterns; also since comment cards are anonymous you’re more likely to get the most genuine feedback from a written submission.

  • Swiftness and communication is key. Studies show that approximately 90% of guests that have a negative experience will continue to give the restaurant their business if it appears that their complaints are a priority. Therefore, recover and recover quickly. But don’t forget to communicate.  You may know their food will be out in 10 minutes but they don’t and therefore those 10 minutes may feel like 45 minutes.
  • Trust your staff! Again, you’re incredibly busy and you can’t be everywhere at once. If your staff has to wait for your permission to resolve an issue with a free drink or dessert then you are losing time. It will save you a headache, give the staff a sense of ownership, and show the guest that their experience is a priority.
  • Have a game-plane. You’re a leader which means people look to you for solutions. It’s not enough to apologize and there are no room for complaints or finger pointing. “You’re having a busy evening? Isn’t that the point of having a hit restaurant? Now were’s my pasta!” . Letting your guest know how you will resolve them will make them trust you and make you look like a hero.

So remember to breathe; a guest complaint is simply another opportunity to engage with the community as a restaurateur and a way garner free strategy tips…I mean aside from the awesome tips you get from me!