Summer Seafood Boils Pop Up Around NYC

The season of crab, lobster and crawfish boils is among us. Restaurants around the city have been or are starting to offer weekly summer seafood boils at set prices for guests to enjoy. Whether you crave crawfish, crab, lobster or shrimp there are many options in the city this summer to indulge in. Large family-style seafood boils have become a very popular trend in restaurants in the summer months.

Why not opt for a lobster boil this Sunday for brunch? Beginning this Sunday July 27th and running weekly through to August 31st Hearth Restaurant on E 12th St and 1st Ave will be hosting Sunday Lobster Boils. The series was inspired by the Chef’s vacations in Martha’s Vineyard for the past five years where he and roughly 30 friends would dig a very large hole in the sand (above the tide line of course) to build a bonfire. The bonfire would be left to burn with about 50 volleyball-sized stones being thrown into the fire over the course of six hours. While the fire pit was heating up and being monitored, the corn in its husk was put into large drums filled with seaweed to soak in the ocean. When the time was right, a drum of cold seaweed was dumped onto the coals of the fire pit followed by the lobsters, corn, potatoes, sausage and steamer clams, then topped with another drum of seaweed to cook for just over an hour. After the seaweed was raked off and the seafood pulled out of the pit it was time to enjoy the feast!

While the restaurant does not house a massive coal burning bonfire-sandpit, the lobster is still tasty and the atmosphere is still light and summery. The three course meal for $68 includes a tomato and watermelon salad with bluefish paté, a lobster pot containing a pound of lobster per person, potatoes, chorizo, steamer clams and corn on the cob, and lastly a delicious peach cobbler with vanilla ice cream. To read more about Hearth restaurant’s weekly lobster boils click here

Another establishment offering summer seafood boils is Back Forty in Alphabet City. Back Forty specialize in crab boils every Tuesday night hosted in their garden come rain or shine. The $74 ticket includes the food, tax and gratuity. Tickets go on sale every Wednesday prior at 10AM on the Back Forty website, here, and each seating is for a total duration of 2 hours.

Another southern style seafood boil which can be enjoyed on any day of the week can be found at the Boil on Chrystie St between Broome and Delancey. Claw Daddy’s is another great destination in the Lower East Side to get a fix of creole and cajun flavors with a traditional Louisiana-style boil. For more information on the menu, click here

This seasonal restaurant trend of offering large seafood boils for large groups attracts many guests and guarantees a weekly following. It is comforting to know that these options are available in New York City and not just along the coastline, so go out and enjoy!




New Starbucks in Williamsburg

A new Starbucks coffee shop opened July 21st in Williamsburg next to the Lorimer/Metropolitan subway stop. The Williamsburg residents appear to be on the fence about the coffee shop’s new location. There is a strong concern that the Starbucks will hinder local coffee shops’ business. Although the opening was well advertised weeks in advance, few people chose to stop into Starbucks for their morning coffee or later for their afternoon frappucino. The adjacent deli, however, continued doing business as usual by serving the breakfast crowd their coffee.

It could be difficult to open a large coffee chain outpost in a neighborhood surrounded by independent roasters and where the vibrant coffee culture is already very established. The Starbucks staff seem confident that the residents will eventually warm up to the coffee shop as the location is very convenient; aside from being across from the Metropolitan Avenue subway, where the shop will serve many commuters on the L and G trains, it is also surrounded by building complexes and condos.

Residents may be concerned that the new Starbucks in Williamsburg is another reminder of the accelerated rate gentrification in the neighborhood, but Starbucks is determined to continue providing a good customer experience and attract a local stable clientele. To read more about the views surrounding the new Starbucks opening, click here



Managing Labor Costs

Labor Cost is both one of the major cost centers in a foodservice operation and one of the most difficult to control. In this Enterprise Insight, we will discuss labor costs on the monthly P&L statement, labor by the hour, and the importance of scheduling.

The Monthly P&L Statement: At this level, operators can really only glean two significant bits of information about their labor cost: what percentage of total sales is hourly cost and what percentage is management. And, yes, you can find out if you’re keeping within the general rules—25% hourly and 10% management. However, this analysis is insufficient for three reasons:

  1. It’s the view from 50,000 feet. In order to accurately and effectively control costs, you need to know how and why you spent the money you did on labor—but this ratio doesn’t provide that level of detail.
  2. The ratio looks backward. If, at the end of the month, you find that you’re way out-of-bounds with your labor costs, it’s already too late, and the cost percent of total sales won’t tell you why.
  3. The payroll-to-sales ratio fluctuates depending on internal and external changes in revenue. For example, if you have a great month of sales that stretched your labor force, your cost will shrink as a percentage—but not because scheduling was done accurately.

Thus, it’s importance to calculate and analyze labor not just as a percent of sales on a monthly basis but on a more detailed level.

Labor by the Hour: Tracking labor by the hour allows you to examine, in detail, your labor cost and adjust as necessary:

  1. Individuals and Job Types: Knowing what hours individuals and groups worked can help you find fat in your schedule. For instance, if you are drilling down into this data on a weekly basis and see that the hours for kitchen staff are higher than the previous week, you can start to determine why and what needs to change.
  2. Variance: Every week, it is important to compare the actual worked hours to the forecasted hours from the schedule. This is important to track because it can alert you to differences that might be occurring at the individual or department level on a consistent basis.
  3. Labor Cost Per Labor Hour: Divide the labor cost for a given time period by the corresponding number of hours worked. This ratio will tell you the average cost of your labor per hour. It is easy to monitor week-to-week and quickly spot positive and negative changes, and maintain an appropriate budget.

Knowing the actual labor hours worked by the team provides the granular data necessary to make informed conclusions about your labor cost. Without it, an operator can only guess what’s happening!

Scheduling: Scheduling is the most important part of managing labor cost because salaries and wages can’t be adjusted week to week according to volume, but labor hours can. Labor cost is driven by labor hours, not by pay. To schedule properly, it is necessary to determine labor pars, forecast sales, and cost the schedule.

It is necessary to determine labor pars because part of your labor cost is always going to be fixed. If, for example, an operation needs at a minimum one manager, one receiver, one prep cook, and one service staff to open the business, then you can flesh out a schedule based on that in relation to the sales forecast.

It is necessary to forecast sales each week to determine the number of labor hours to schedule. Forecasting should take into account the sales of the previous week, the same week last year, the weather, external factors such as holidays or regional events, internal factors such as a change in operating hours, and anything else that might affect revenue stream for the time period.

Lastly, it is important to cost the schedule and calculate labor hours every week to have an idea of what the labor expense will be. This gives an operator the chance to be on the offensive—finding flaws in the schedule before it is too late and making adjustments based on how the forecast is actually playing out.


In order to manage labor effectively, operators should be proactive rather than reactive by starting with the schedule and tracking labor hours rather than relying on the end of month P&L labor cost percentage.

Chef Bowien to Curate Brooklyn Taste Talks Festival

The Taste Talks food festival will be back in Brooklyn this September 12th-14th for the second consecutive year. Top talent in the food industry from chefs to critics to writers will be gathering to discuss and reflect on the future of taste. It will be featuring three days of workshops, discussions, tastings and symposiums. The festival will be presented by Chef Mario Batali and the Northside Media Group, and curated by James Beard Award winner Chef Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese and Mission Cantina. Last year April Bloomfield (Spotted Pig, The Breslin) hosted Taste Talks and acted as the Master of Ceremonies.

Events that will be hosted by Chef Bowien include:

Mother of Pearl: an cocktail hour featuring an Island Creek oyster and Champagne pairing which will lead into a multi-course sit-down dinner at Villain Restaurant in Williamsburg.

Taste Talks All-Star BBQ: Over 20 star chefs including Dale Talde, Christina Tosi, Alex Guarnaschelli and Andy Ricker amongst others will prepare a barbecue feast along the East River Park.

The panels that will be hosted at Taste Talks include topics such as photography and media, the future of food culture, the future of food magazines, expert food photography for everyday cooks and many others that will be concluded by a private chef’s dinner at Fitzcarraldo in Bushwick. Taste Talks will then migrate to Chicago for the first time on October 4th and 5th and will be curated by Paul Kahan of Blackbird and Avec.

To purchase tickets click here, and to read more information about the festival’s upcoming events click here


Tara Berman on Heritage Radio’s “All in the Industry”

Tara Berman, managing partner of Tarapaige Group, will be featured on Heritage Radio’s show, “All in the Industry” on Wednesday July 30th. The show is hosted by Shari Bayer, Founder and President of Bayer Public Relations, a full-service marketing agency specializing in the culinary and hospitality industry. The radio show focuses on providing insight into the process behind opening a restaurant by bringing in restaurant industry experts.

Tara Berman is a leading industry expert on business planning, conceptual development, accounting and financial management, operations and overall strategic guidance for early stage brands and growing enterprises. The episode series touch upon the aspects needed to make a restaurant truly successful beyond the food; this can include location, marketing, staffing, and atmosphere amongst other important factors.

Tara earned her Certified Public Accounting license in 1997 from a public accounting firm and later progressed to working in investment banking with JP Morgan in trading and sales for the capital markets division. A few years later, after her completion of culinary school at the Institute of Culinary Education, she began her tenure in the kitchen of the French Laundry with The Thomas Keller Restaurant Group.

Tara continued to work with TKRG in management at Bouchon Bistro, Per Se and Bouchon Bakery. Tara is also a guest lecturer at the New York University Food Studies Program. In 2013, Tara earned her Executive MBA at NYU’s Stern School of Business.


Tune in to the broadcast on Wednesday July 30th at 4PM to hear all the advice and insights Tara has to offer to aspiring and established professionals in the field.


IBM’s Foodborne Illness Outbreak Detection System

IBM has had a breakthrough in their research and managed to find a way to use technology to identify likely sources of contamination during a foodborne illness outbreak. Using past computed retail data combined with public health data, a search can be run on the system to look at billions of food items sold in supermarkets to automatically identify the probability of certain suspect products for outbreaks in a given area. Every time there is a report of an outbreak, using statistical techniques and visualization, the algorithm recalculates the probability of each food item that could be causing the illness.

This system is capable accelerating the time that is usually taken to identify contaminated food products which will in turn help reduce the economic losses experienced by food companies as well as healthcare expenses. Dr. Bernd Appel, head of the Department for Biological Safety for the German Federal Institute for Risk Assesment recently stated in a press statement, “The success of an outbreak investigation often depends on the willingness of private sector stakeholders to collaborate pro-actively with public health officials…this research illustrates an approach to create significant improvements without the need for any regulatory changes.”

This program will relieve some of the strain on the public health system in detecting contaminated food to minimize the spread of the foodborne illness. Jaes Kaufman, Manager of Public Health Research for IBM Research states, “Predictive analytics based on location, content, and context are driving our ability to quickly discover hidden patterns and relationships from diverse public health and retail data..we are working with our public health clients and with retailers in the U.S. to scale this research prototype and begin focusing on the 1.7B supermarket items sold each week in the United States.”

To read more about IBM’s research and how this new system works, click here

New Shake Shack Dumbo

The new Shake Shack location in Dumbo opens today on the corner of Fulton St. and Water St directly across from the Brooklyn Bridge Park. This location’s décor has a nautical vibe with sailboat images hung on the cedar plank walls that were stripped from old New York rooftop water towers. The burger chain’s new Dumbo location is the first to offer their Frog’s Leap “Shack Red” and “Shack White” wines on tap and not just in bottles. There are also a few other features that are only specific to this location. For instance:


  • The “Caramel Carousel,” made with a vanilla frozen custard base with bananas, caramel sauce, sugar cone pieces, and sea salt was inspired by Jane’s Carousel; a nearby tourist attraction.
  • The “Brooklyn Pie Oh My” consists of vanilla frozen custard blended with a slice of Four & Twenty Blackirds pie. Currently the Brooklyn Pie Oh My features a slice of strawberry-balsamic pie; the pie flavors will rotate.
  • Although not convenient in the summer, the gas-burning fireplace in the front window will definitely be a bonus come winter!
  • 5% of proceeds from the location-specific beverages will benefit the nonprofit “Badass Brooklyn Animal Rescue.”


To read more about the opening of Shake Shack’s new location, click here


Marlow & Sons: Retail Bakery, Bar & Restaurant

81 Broadway Brooklyn, between Berry and Wythe        Tel. 718.384.1441


Their Success…Marlow & Sons has been attracting guests for pre-dinner cocktails and oyster tastings ever since it opened in Williamsburg in 2004. Recently however, guests have shifted towards making Marlow & Sons more of a one-stop destination rather than a mere stopover in their evening plans. Although the eclectic bistro-like dining room is ideal for a pre-dinner pit stop, the small but solid menu options have made guests want to settle down for a full meal.

The entrance space hosts a small retail shop serving coffee, baked goods, artisanal jams, homemade granola, dairy products, sundries, and even apparel. The market has a farmhouse feel where guests are greeted by name. The staff are genuinely pleased to be serving the guest, and make sure to create an enjoyable experience for them. This is very inviting to the guest and seems to ensure repeat patronage.

Upon first glance this country-like farmer’s market would not appear to hold such a hidden gem in the back. The entrance space segues into the bar/dining hall through a narrow wooden portal that brings the customer into a very modest setting filled with reclaimed wood, communal tables, a long rustic-looking bar top and mixed antique marble and mirrored décor. The menu is seasonal and focused on high quality ingredients. Main dishes change daily as well as recurring specials that are prepared in different ways.

Originally, Marlow & Sons became popular not only for their wide selection of oysters, but for their smaller dishes such as the house-made charcuterie and pâté, chicken liver mousse spread, assorted crostini, marinated olives and cheeses. As Marlow & Sons began to grow a loyal fan-base the menu also started to adopt some mainstay items such as the brick chicken and the Spanish tortilla. The key to this successful following lies in the simplicity of the menu. As a guest, it is exciting to walk into an establishment for a meal and feel that you can’t wait to glance over at the special’s board, ready to be enticed by the daily chef creations.

Marlow & Sons caters to an area where people truly care about their food and want to know that there is some integrity in what they eat; so the use of local fresh products to create simple dishes at an affordable price is what is attracting locals as well as out-of-towners. A condensed menu gives the customer the sense that they can’t go wrong with their choice and eliminates the ordering anxiety that happens all too frequently in restaurants around New York City.

Take Aways…Marlow & Sons wears many hats: bakery, coffee shop, market, bar and restaurant. They serve only quality, farm-to-table fare at breakfast, lunch and dinner in their casual and old style setting. The daily specials are the stars of the menu and promise to be seasonal, unpretentious and delicious. Guests immediately feel that at Marlow & Sons, they are a part of the community and that the staff strive to make you feel at home. Repeat clientele are impressed with the multi-faceted dynamic brought to them in a friendly and cost conscious matter and keep coming back for more.

Coffee Operators Driving Revenue Through Mobile Payments

There is a definite compatibility between specialist coffee shops and mobile payments due to the fact that their primary product is purchased at such a high frequency. Consumers purchase coffee daily (often multiple repeat purchases per day) and would benefit from a streamlined payment method and loyalty programs such as can be offered by mobile payment solutions. The consumer demographic is also most likely to participate in the mobile payment methods as it consists mostly of young students interested in technology and consumers who have easy access to mobile technologies.

While Starbucks was the first to launch its well-known loyalty program and mobile payment app years ago, third-party mobile payment technologies are now cropping up targeting independent coffee shops to help them drive revenue and better compete with larger chains such as Starbucks. CUPS is one example of a third-party mobile payment apps designed to engage consumers by providing incentives through loyalty programs that offer discounts and special offers based on their purchase history. BeansUP is another recently launched innovative app that allows consumers to set coffee pick-up times; this will allow for an enhanced consumer experience as the product is prepaid and the guest can avoid peak hour lines and pick up their coffee directly at the counter.

The increased demand for efficient, streamlined transactions will only continue to grow and these mobile technologies definitely help meet this need. In order for consumers to adopt mobile payment methods they must first be intrigued by the incentives and sign up for a subscription to their preferred coffee shop’s mobile app. As consumer engagement increases so too will the use of mobile payments and therefore help to drive traffic and revenues.

To read more about these two new innovative mobile payment technologies, click here



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