It’s generally accepted that the restaurant industry is tough, and as an owner, any extra complications that keep your from being effective are not only unwanted; they can have catastrophic effects if they take you away from managing your business. One of the main problems facing American restaurant owners has been the tightening of the purse strings by banks when it comes to restaurant loans in the past few years. The economic downturn and slow recovery means that banks are less and less likely to provide what they consider to be “high risk loans”. The restaurant industry is one of the industries that falls into this bracket, and unfortunately that means that it is much harder for business owners in food services to gain access to liquid capital to fund expansion. If this designation is compounded by bad credit or no collateral, then the quest to find funding  can become well nigh impossible. Here are some tips for the owners of restaurants that will hopefully

Small business in the food production or retail industries may not realize the large role played by the materials and colors used in the presentation of their products. According to a report last month by Mintel, the way that your food products are packaged can heavily affect the way that your customers feel about purchasing your goods. Loan yourself an advantage by considering a few key details that can differentiate your products from your competitors and build brand loyalty. Consumers enjoy packaging they can reuse. The advantage of putting your product in a glass jar, for example, is that it loans a second use to whoever buys it as they can put other things into it. According to the Mintel report, glass jars also made consumers think the products were more high quality and fresher, whereas metal and cardboard containers were associated with recyclables and being traditional. Clear health information is a selling point. Many consumers are wary of what they perceive to be unclear or overly confusing

  Laws mandating that employers loan an hour of paid sick leave to employees based on numbers of hours worked have raised the hackles of many small business owners and lawmakers alike, yet in areas where the laws have already been implemented, the large majority of business owners have found little cause to complain. According to the New York Times, in San Francisco, up to two thirds of business owners already loaned paid sick leave before it was put into law in 2007. Now, six years later, even business owners who were vocally against the measures admit that for the most part there fears were unfounded. Still, some businesses have reported an increase in costs, particularly those that must pay part time workers to cover for those who are out sick. This effectively doubles the cost of labor in the event of a sick worker not being able to come in. Many business owners feel that despite the cost, having sick leave for employees is

Loaning a look at the business of BBQ

Thursday, 23, May , 2013 by

For some people warm weather means one thing: barbecue. The Wall Street Journal weighed in on the culinary favorite last weekend calling for a shake-up. In “The New Barbecue” Josh Ozersky wrote, “Don’t get me wrong—barbecue is our great American food, a high art attained through years of patient training by men as single-minded as samurai. But it has also become stagnant and so dogmatic that many pit masters haven’t changed their recipes or routines in decades. “ Debate surround BBQ is not new. The National Barbecue News calls itself the “world’s number one publication dedicated to the sport of barbecue.” In 2004 discussion forum on starting your own BBQ business a professional notes the difficulties, “What is the first things to do? Who do you go to for help on the legal aspects? Are there any restrictions to what you can cook, or license needed? There are more questions about getting started than there are types of foods you can cook. IMHO, if you

  “The question is always:” says Pittsburgh based chef Trevett Hooper in a New York Times story out this morning, “How can we use something we have, that was grown by someone we know, in a different and delicious way?” The article looks at how chefs in Pittsburgh and other “Rust Belt” cities are reviving their local food scenes by using the natural resources that surround them. What the article describes sounds like more of an outdoorsy, good food filled way of like than the competitive dining scene in many larger cities. The article explains, “Until recently, the American food revolution seemed to bypass this region, leaping from Chicago to Philadelphia without making stops in places like Toledo, Cleveland, Akron and Pittsburgh. These cities of the Rust Belt, which edges around the Great Lakes from Buffalo to Detroit, are linked in many ways: by a shared history of industry, by a network of defunct canals and decaying railroads, and by thousands of acres of farmland.

Macy's loans space to fine dining

Friday, 01, March , 2013 by

  In November 2011 Macy’s announced plans to undergo a $400 million upgrade to it’s flagship in Manhattan’s Herald Square. Back then The Daily Finance reported, “The makeover plan includes initiatives that could shake up the department store format, including a new focus on more upscale food with 22 eateries, and an emphasis on technology that reflects Macy’s courtship of Generation Y.” Although the store attracts 50,000 shoppers a day (20 million annually) it is far from hip and many New Yorkers avoid it like plague. A year and a half into the four year project, it seems the largest store in the world is try to change that — with food. The New York Times reports that “Stella 34 Trattoria” will open next week. Macy’s has long offered food. At some points in the store’s 111 year history it was even good food. But The Times explains, the the Trattoria, “is also the store’s bid to join a small club of department stores (including

  On Saturday I received an email from OpenTable with the subject line, “Top 10 Most Booked Restaurants.” Curious I clicked inside to learn that Smith & Wollensky in Midtown East was the most booked restaurant in New York this month. Also on the list were hot spots Tao, Buddakan and Max Brenner, the chocolate lovers paradise in Union Square. The email, with it’s many links, skillfully entices readers to OpenTable.com. Once lured to the site’s lists section it is easy to lose track of time exploring the many ratings and special features. Some fun facts from the site include: Three of the Diner’s Choice 10 Best Overall restaurants for the tri-state area are in Manhattan. These are Eleven Madison Park, Per Se and Le Bernardin. Other choices include Friends Lake Inn in the Adirondacks and Russels Seaks, Chops and More in Buffalo. The site allows diners to filter lists by location — for New York this includes boroughs, Long Island and various parts of

  From 2007 to 2011 diners experienced sales dips of 5 to 25%, according to restaurant research firm Technomic. During the same period the restaurant industry at large saw little change in sales figures. “Diners are American as apple pie,” notes a recent article on Investopedia, “yet their popularity is waning with today’s consumers.” The web publication continues on the diner topic by offering this analysis: “Once beloved for their heaping servings of comfort food, casual and family dining establishments are seeing a decrease in revenue as they struggle to keep up with patrons’ demands for healthy, fresh, made-from-scratch meals.” For similarly health-concious reasons, Investopedia says, buffets and all you can eat restaurants have been shutting down. Another reason Investopedia cites for the decline in these value based restaurant is that they “are popular with senior citizens who often have limited budgets.” Related From The Horizon Business Funding Blog:  CDC finds Americans eating less fast food Nation’s Restaurant News says to maintain business during Lent chains

CDC finds Americans eating less fast food

Thursday, 21, February , 2013 by

On the front page of NYTimes.com this morning is an article called “Children in U.S. Are Eating Fewer Calories, Study Finds.” The article primarily deals with a Centers for Disease Control and Preventionstudy that compares children’s caloric intake 2010 to the same demographic’s intake in 1999. Luckily this number is going down, a sign that American’s are moving in the right direction in the fight against obesity. Yet, the declines are too modest to tell us much. Perhaps more significant is a concurrent study conducted by the C.D.C on fast food intake among American adults. The Times mentions this study at the end of the article, explaining, “Another surprise, researchers said, was the decline in calories coming from fast food among American adults. Those calories fell to 11.3 percent of adults’ total daily intake in 2010, down from 12.8 percent in 2006.” Nonetheless, shares of McDonald’s stock (NYSE:MCD) rose 125 percent between January 2006 and December 2010. Wendy’ (NASDAQ:WEN) was down 73 percent for the

According to Nation’s Restaurant News, chain restaurants commonly offer Lent friendly menus this time of year. An article in the industry publication notes, “restaurant chains focus their menu development and marketing to make sure they are not giving up traffic and sales between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday, a 40-day period when Christians observing Lent abstain from certain vices or habits.” The most common adjustments is to add fish options to food offerings. This is because during Lent many Christians refrain from eating meat on Fridays. Restaurants aiming to serve this constituency, according to Nation’s Restaurant News,  include McDonald’s, Carl’s Jr. and Wendy’s. Last year at this time, McDonald’s (the largest restaurant chain in America) introduced Chicken McBites. The chain’s website describes the bite sized snacks as “Juicy bites made with chicken breast meat, in three deliciously poppable sizes.” This year it expanded the offering to fish with Fish McBites. McDonald’s writes these are, “Tender, flaky wild-caught Alaskan Pollock in crunchy bite-sized pieces. Available in three sizes – snack,

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