Happy New Year! What a year it has been for our industry. We’ve seen a lot of changes and discussed, dissected and analyzed the never-ending flood of legislature that affects how we all do business.

This is the only business where we create, produce, serve, and receive payment and feedback on our products all within the span of a day. The cost of doing business always keeps us reevaluating every aspect of how we do it. Let’s take a look at some of the trends that were driven by our guests, our bottom line and industry peers in 2015.

Menu Streamlining:

The goal here is not to end up with a menu that reads like a catalog! Not only does this help tailor your culture and refine your identity, it reduces your labor and your cost of goods. The key here is to cross utilize ingredients and prepped items. Are you spending one hour in labor to make a sauce that only goes into one dish, which only sells a few times week? Use it or lose it. Analyze your product mix, your prep lists and cost of goods frequently to find your winners and losers.


Union Hospitality led the charge on this with their Hospitality Included program. Did it work? It’s too soon to tell. But while we wait and see, there are growing concerns about consumer perception to raising menu prices and adding service charges. The silver lining of this change is the effect it will have on wage disparity between the front and back of the house.


While technology has radically changed the way we interact with our guests from reservations to ordering to payments, this latest trend is trying to close the gap completely. By selling tickets upfront it manages the risk of a no-show. It also has the added bonus of being a possible workaround for the tipping issue. While currently only adopted by high-end/priced locations, we could see this becoming more common than you think. From a security standpoint, it removes the liability of having cash in-house and the risk of theft internal and external.


This is all about driving up that check average. Creative operators have found ways to maximize labor by eliminating non-sales generating positions and creating sales minded support staff. It pays to reorganize and reanalyze your everyday SOPs. We’ve already discussed simplifying the menu and the next step would be to reconfigure the prep line to suit it. Technology may be the biggest investment you want to make this year and the return on investment is unparalleled. Above store, intelligence provides valuable real-time reporting that keeps the dollars on your bottom line.


The struggles to keep labor costs in line are becoming more and more complicated. It was a full-time job keeping up with all the changes this year, minimum wage, sick pay, short-term scheduling and that was just 2015. The upcoming proposal for salaried employees to qualify for overtime will be costly, considering overtime is a given in restaurant management. But we won’t know anything until after the election due to the controversial nature of this proposal. As the $15 minimum wage approaches, we all want to get out in front and be proactive rather than reactive.

Cheers to a prosperous 2016! And please contact us if we can be of any assistance navigating the future.