NYC Restaurant Openings & Closings

New York City hasn’t seen this many restaurant openings since 2007, however, it also has had double the amount of restaurant closings compared to last year. There were 160 New York restaurant openings in 2014, and 82 closings compared to 42 last year. Tim Zagat, co-founder of the Zagat Survey explains his take on why some restaurants are failing and others are spreading, “The discrepancy between openings and closings is the largest since 2005…there are a lot of rent-caused closings that are maybe driving up the number. And that will affect in the industry in the coming years.”

Zagat goes on to explain that rents will always go up in New York City and if a restaurant has been open 10 years (it is common  there will be a large increase, which is what is happening all across the city and explains so many restaurants going out of business.  When restaurants have 10 year leases, which is fairly common, at the end of that lease landlords tend to increase the rent up to ‘market rates,’ which usually are just not feasible for the restaurant forcing them to close.

A few notable restaurants which are experiencing this phenomenon include Danny Meyer’s Union Square Cafe and WD-50 on the Lower East Side. Meyer comment in his New York Times Op-Ed, “It’s hard to come to grips with the notion that our success has, in part, contributed to our inability to remain in our neighborhood.” WD-50 will close end of this month to make way for a new building. To read more about the openings and closings of NYC restaurants, click here

Taste NY Expands To Promote NY State Artisan Foods

Taste NY was launched by the state of New York three years ago and aimed to market the state’s artisan food and agricultural businesses. Governor Andrew Cuomo is announcing plans to expand the program to help producers triple their sales. Deb Morris, co-founder of Barkeater (handmade gourmet chocolate company) says, “We like the trend we are seeing, we like the efforts launched by the Department of Agriculture and Markets. We haven’t seen that kind of effort before and it’s gaining a lot of momentum.”

New York-based companies are seeing the benefits from being a part of Taste NY. For example, Bobby Sue’s Nuts began as a company that aimed to raise funds for a local cause in Westchester. Founder Barb Kobren joined Taste NY and now has her snacks as one of the many in-state products for sale at Taste NY shops opened last year at LaGuardia and JFK airports. While a lot of the focus has been placed on prepared-food ventures such as chocolates and snacks, Taste NY is also focusing on fresh produce and partnering with farmers, farmer’s markets and other retails to promote the state’s fresh fruit and vegetable growers.

New York’s economic development agency recently launched a new grant program to encourage beginning farmers to get started and be successful. Grants will be issued from $15,000-$50,0000 under the New York State New Farmers Grant Fund. Morris says,“There are always certain ingredients we would love to source locally, there are some we do have here like maple and apples. And obviously there are some things that are naturally here that we would love to get at a lower price. If the farmers are getting some kind of cost benefit, that means we will too.”

To read more about the expansion of Taste NY and the benefits for New-York based farmers and companies, click here

NYC Food Film Festival

The Food Film Festival began in Brooklyn back in 2007 thanks to Festival Director and Travel Channel host George Motz. Motz is a documentary filmmaker who produced Hamburger America (film and book) with co-creator Harry Hawk. The festival will be showcasing the best documentaries, features and short films with the world’s favorite foods. The most exciting part of the film festival is that Motz and Hawk have arranged to serve the guests the food that is on the screen!

The festival will be in New York October 29-Nov 1, and will then be in Chicago Nov 20-22 and lastly in Charleston in the Spring. To see a full film lineup, click here. Pricing varies depending on the different events,ranging between $85-$115 for different parties. There is also an all access, all inclusive VIP pass to the entire festival available for purchase. To check pricing, click here.



Panel Series: Pursuing Your Own Restaurant

Culintro is hosting a panel series on Tuesday, October 28th called A Chef’s Tale: The Truth Behind Departing an Empire and Creating One’s Own. The speakers include acclaimed Chefs Missy Robbins (A Voce, Corkbuzz), Daniel Kluger (ABC Kitchen, ABC Cocina) and Chris Jaeckle (All’Onda, Uma Temakeria). The speakers will discuss their experiences rising to Chef stardom, their decisions to start their own ventures and the process behind it all. Editorial director for the Strategic Initiatives Group at the Culinary Institute of America, Anne McBride, will be moderating the discussion and revealing the challenges and positive aspects of following your dreams and pursuing your own restaurant.

The event will take place from 6PM-8PM at the NYIT Auditorium on Broadway at 1871 Broadway. Non-Culintro member tickets are priced at $45, member’s tickets are priced at $30. To read more about the panel series and to register, click here


Digital Employee Training

There has been lots of buzz about new mobile payment apps, menu tablets and online ordering but there has been an underwhelming focus on what new technology could mean for staff training. Digital technology can not only help scheduling but can also boost sales, teach employees correct procedures and give valuable insight to human resource departments. A company is able to have full control of online video-based training sessions whereas when an experienced employee trains a new hire, there is no sure way to trust that they are teaching the right things and in a company-approved manner.

Point-of-sale tools can help managers know whether or not servers need extra training based on the record of average sales for each table that is tracked by the POS. “Then it’s the responsibility of management to analyze those numbers and help their staff not only be accountable but also optimize sales,’ says Allan Barmark, whose firm creates custom training programs for businesses. Digital technology also allows for training to take place in a self-paced way because it is available online; there is no need to close the restaurant or hold classes that are difficult to schedule with different locations and shifts.

Food safety training is also made easier by digital technology as it ensures that employees have completed the required training and keeps a record. If there were ever to be an issue, the employer can rest easy knowing there is proof of completed training. Barmak also mentions that digital training technology gives managers and human resource departments new tools to use in identifying employees with the potential to move up in the company and tracking their progress.

To read more about what digital technology can mean for employee training, click here

Not My Day Job 2014

On Sunday October 26th the Epicurean Group is presenting Not My Day Job 2014, an event that celebrates art, talent and taste. The event will be held from 1PM-5PM in the Prince George Ballroom at 15 E 27th St in New York City.  The event gives hospitality professionals a platform to show off their talents outside of their “day jobs.” It will be an opportunity to watch some of New York City’s most notable restaurants showcase culinary skill and cocktail flare alongside side performances and artwork by talented NYC restaurant employees.

Proceeds from the event will benefit Fourth Arts Block (FABnyc), a nonprofit leadership organization founded in 2001 for the East 4th Street Cultural District. FABnyc drives community development and sustainability initiatives while preserving the rich historical heritage and creative vibes of the Lower East Side. A few restaurants participating in the event include: Mile End, The Wren, Scarpetta, Colicchio & Sons, Locanda Vini e Olii,Ward III, The Rum House, Yunnan Kitchen, Shake Shack, dell’anima, L’Artusi, L’Apicio, Anfora, The Gander, and more!

Tickets cost $60 plus a $4.29 processing fee. There is an industry perk, which is promo codes made available for restaurant staff. To register for the event, click here


Aligning Dining Patterns & Needstates

American Express provides restaurants with research-based analysis of key industry developments which is collected and analyzed by Technomic, Inc. Consumers were polled over a seven-day period and asked to describe their most recent restaurant occasion. While Technomic has recently released studies showing an increase in the snacking daypart, the majority of consumers that were polled reported their most recent restaurant occasion for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Dinner occasions were equally divided between weeknights and weekend nights, while lunch was more likely to be a weekday occasion. 60% of pollers who reported breakfast as their most recent occasion ate breakfast or brunch on the weekend.

As for takeout occasions, the poll showed that delivery occasions were twice as likely to have been a weekday purchase, of which 60% were for dinner and 30% for lunch. A very small percentage showed breakfast as their last restaurant takeout or delivery occasion. Consumers in the survey were also asked to estimate what percent of their restaurant occasions had been for each daypart in the past year. This led to some insights into generational differences; for example, while 12% of consumers aged 18-25 reported snacks or happy hour as their most substantial foodservice purchases, only 4% reported this for those 45 years or older.

Another part of the poll involved asking consumers to identify the needs or emotions they typically associated with each major daypart and weekpart.  While snacking and lunch were mainly associated with the basic need to satiate hunger, convenience was the biggest reason for consumers to use foodservice for weekday breakfast, weeknight dinner and even weekend lunch. Different dayparts showed to be more or less associated with different kinds of get togethers:  family get-togethers (weekend dinner) , friendly get-togethers (weekend dinner, happy hour) , and celebratory occasions (weekend breakfast). Other factors revealed in the poll were emotional needstates; for instance which occasions were associated with relaxing or as a treat/reward.

This data can be used to show operators the prime opportunities available to extend their daypart usage by meeting consumers’ needstates for each occasion. The data also shows where operators can get a competitive share for high-traffic meals or dayparts that are underutilized. Other business implications can be drawn from consumers’ ideas about what constitutes a ‘meal’ vs. a ‘snack.’ For example, offering items in various portion sizes and in a wider variety of combo options will satisfy a larger variety of needstates; offering lunch and dinner fare at the breakfast daypart can also help this.

To read more about the poll and the business implications that can be drawn from it, click here 




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