New York City Tipped Workers to Get Big Raise End of Year

Workers receiving tipped wages–which are traditionally well below the minimum wage–are getting a big boost from Governor Andrew Cuomo.  Last month, he and labor commissioner Mario Musolino announced and approved the measure to increase the rate to $7.50 per hour.  Tipped wages, which range from $4.90 to $5.65 currently, will be reclassified into one single category given the $7.50 rate come the end of 2015.

The governor and commissioner spoke before labor leaders at a union hall in Manhattan to celebrate the change.  Cuomo used the time to call for further increase–the governor is proposing a $10.50 per hour minimum wage for non-tipped employees.  Currently, the minimum is $8.75 and is set to increase to $9 at the end of the year.

The changes are welcomed by employees as the income gap widens and is more widely recognized.  At $9/hour, the pre-tax annual income would be approximately $18,000–too little to “raise a family, pay for rent and food and insurance and health care… in the city of New York,” Cuomo said.

Not everyone is welcoming the change, however.  The New York State Restaurant Association points out that this effectively increased payroll by 50 percent.  Chris Hickey, regional director for the NYSRA, pointed out that the increase “is going to hit small businesses the hardest.”  Amanda Cohen, chef of Dirt Candy, added that restaurants “are going to have to raise their prices or go to a new tipping model.  My guess is that restaurants are going to have to raise their prices and be honest about it and say this is what it costs to operate this business.”

To read more on the increase, click here.

Enterprise Insight: Being Present

The restaurant business is fundamentally a service business, one that requires attention to the guest and constant execution on their wants and needs. Thus, this month, we are going to discuss being present for your guests; what it means and why it is important.


Being present seems like an obvious concept; management and servers interacting with guests must be present in order to do their jobs, correct? To a point, yes, but that is the difference between good service and great service. Every point of contact with a guest needs to be treated as both an opportunity and a threat. For example, glancing at the next guest in line or trying to communicate with another server while helping a guest destroys the sense of connection and gives the guest the impression that you’re not paying attention. Repeated violations of this sort, and the guest will lose interest in the experience and distrust in the team.

Conversely, if the server is giving his/her full attention to the diner, you can create an opportunity—to upsell, to educate, to build rapport with the guest. In the above example, let’s say the guest was curious about the difference between two signature coffee roasts. As an opportunity, the team has the chance to wow the guest with their knowledge and maybe sell them on the more expensive cup. At the very least, the team has showed the patron that they’re listening, and they’re there to help. This is, in essence, the ethos of Danny Meyer’s enlightened hospitality; put your team first, so that the team can concentrate on going above and beyond for the guest. Small gestures from small conversations with your guests can lead to big raves—which they will share with their friends.


The reasons for being present should be more obvious: it’s good service, and good service is good for business. The actual “ROI” on attentive service and guest connection is hard to calculate, but the implications are not. When your team is truly present and keyed in to the operation of the restaurant, guests are happier, the team is more efficient, and, ultimately, the business will reflect that in positive ways—word of mouth, good reviews, and busier nights. Ultimately, every single guest interaction has a tiny impact on the bottom line that will, eventually, build or erode your business.


The foodservice business is inherently busy and sometimes chaotic. The guest, though, should never feel as though the team is not paying attention. Being present for the guest is fairly simple—paying close attention and executing efficiently. However, the difference in being and not being present is the different between great service and poor service, success and failure.



Product Mix Maximization

There are many forces that when working together create successful enterprises. The key ones for us are a streamlined concept, a great operator, a long-term vision, a unique selling proposition and ultimately a product mix that resonates with your guests.

For the first half of this year many enterprises have engaged our firm to advise them on store flow and product mix. The question arises often, what makes a great product mix? First and foremost, a great product mix is one where when the guest walks into your enterprise, and without thinking knows what to order. Your role as an enterprise is to guide the guest through the experience, while the guest feels as though there are many choices to make; the actual decision process is easy.

When thinking about product mix, we highlight a few quick tips to maximize the guest experience and financial success.

  • Day parts. Which ones will you be offering; breakfast, lunch, midday, dinner, late night?
  • Core products. Establish the core products that the enterprise will produce.
  • Maximize kitchen production. Are the core products you are producing actually the ones that are anticipated to be the top sellers? If not, think how to best maximize kitchen production for the top sellers.
  • Complimentary products. Once you have established the core products, think about what additional product groups compliment your menu.
  • Streamlined Concept. With all of the above, does your product mix speak to your vision of the concept.

Try not to steer far from your concept. We have worked with many enterprises that want to be everything to everyone and this formula is a recipe for disaster. No one enterprise can be everything but one enterprise can be something great with a clear message.

Happy product mix…TaraPaige Group.

NYC Hospitality Alliance Seminar: Protect Credit Card Information

NYC Hospitality Alliance is hosting a seminar on protecting payment and credit card information against data thieves and responding to suspected data compromise incidents.

Topics include:

  • What every hospitality merchant must do to minimize the risk of a data breach and to comply with payment card industry security standards;
  • Actions merchants must take if a compromise is suspected, both to protect customers’ information and minimize the merchant’s financial and reputational risk;
  • Coming changes in payment card acceptance practices and technology about which hospitality industry members need to be aware.

When: Monday, May 19th, 2014 | 10-11:30am

Where: NYIT | 16 West 61st Street | 11th Floor

Cost: $20 Member | $40 Non-member

Find more information and register here.

9th Annual Fast Casual Executive Summit in Denver

The 9th Annual Fast Casual Executive Summit will be held in Denver, Co from October 12-15 at the Four Seasons Hotel. Lon Southerland, senior director, global food and beverage for Marriott International, will be the keynote speakers. The event is designed to bring together the movers and shakers of the of the fast casual industry.

See the agenda and more information here.

Expert Hospitality Advice Sponsored by the New York City Hospitality Group


5 Steps for Calculating Sales of a Food Enterprise Operational Budget

Starting an early stage food enterprise and growing to a multiunit operation involves a lot of moving parts to line up successfully. One that is paramount is to implement an operational budget in setting your business up for financial success. Budgeting is the most basic and effective tool for managing your business finances yet, many operators forego this crucial step because of the additional time and work involved. For all food businesses, the budgeting process can help identify the realistic profitability and financial metrics of the enterprise. In short, it can save you the grief of overspending and help you better manage different aspects of your operations.

We often get asked the question, “How do I go about preparing for an operational budget?”  A good budget stems from a well-understood concept with a streamlined product menu and we start with building the sales formula.  Our sales formula in preparing for an operational budget is highlighted below, we will use an early stage bakery as a sample.

1)     Identify your product groups.
The product groups are your different revenue streams that you will be offering.  Ex: Baked goods, savory product, home made beverages, coffee, tea, packaged product.

2)     Clarify your hours of operation taking into mind the seasonality of the business.
This will enable you to identify the day parts you are open, the hours per day and whether or not you are open for weekend and weekday business.

3)     Price the product groups per day part for an average check.
For example, the savory group may have a smaller check average at breakfast than at lunch.

4)     Identify a targeted location.
This is one of the most important things you can do for your enterprise. Finding a location that works for your business. Remember, rent in NYC is typically around 10% of sales. So if you are looking for a 1,000 sq foot space in NYC and the broker quotes you $200 / sq foot, your rent per year will be $200,000. This means that in order to make your rent worthwhile, your business needs to generate $2,000,000 in sales per year.

5)     Once the targeted location is set, engage in traffic counts.
We follow traffic counts for nearby food businesses of the target location you are looking to open as well as similar concepts in other locations.  You want to cover all day parts and this is the part of your research that may take a few days to cover all bases.

Once your research is complete, you are now ready to build your sales with the above inputs.  The key to building and best leveraging an operating budget is to make sure that your concept can support the expenses required to keep it running. It is nothing short of a balancing act.

We have a financial pie chart, which aids in this balancing act. The costs may vary for your operation, but the pie must always be equal to 100%. The level of investment made into the business goes beyond the numbers, it lies in good people, quality of food, training and standard operating procedures to keep the enterprise humming along with strong profits.

restaurant pie chart


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