Cosme Restaurant Chef Daniela Soto-Innes on Being a Young Boss in the Kitchen

Screen Shot 2018-06-20 at 10.26.06 AM.pngCosme, 35 E 21st St, New York, NY 10010

“Chef Daniela Soto-Innes got her start in kitchens by lying about her age. She started working at restaurants at the age of 14, never revealing how young she really was. At age 23 she moved to New York City to open Cosme. Within two years of the restaurant’s opening, she was named the James Beard Rising Chef of the Year, and Cosme landed on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. She is now a partner at the restaurant, as well as at the team’s latest space, Atla. Here, she shares how she gets it all done.

I wake up around 7 or 8 a.m., and I do some kind of workout, whether running or cycling or yoga. After that, I go to work, and I kiss everyone on the cheek right when I come in to both of the restaurants. At Cosme I’m like the psychologist. Everybody wants to talk to me and tell me what happened while I was away, tell me which ovens broke. I always do service at Cosme at night. But that’s it, that’s all I do. It passes by very fast. I wish there were five more hours between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m.”

To read more click here.

Low price growth signals tight financial times for grocery

“As prices fall or stay the same for many grocery items, consumers will rejoice — or they may not notice. But grocers notice in a big way. Already low margins have shrunk even further, and there is less room to cut costs in order to stay competitive. Last month’s prices only increased in one sector. They decreased 1.3% for nonalcoholic beverages, 0.6% for dairy, 0.4% for produce, and 0.2% for bakery products, according to BLS statistics. The increase in meat, poultry, fish and egg prices just barely pulls grocery stores into having net higher prices.”

Read more here.

Employee touching hair then preparing food leads to failed inspection.

Related image

“SAN ANTONIO – A sushi restaurant in the Blue Star complex failed a city health inspection last month after an employee was seen touching their hair then continuing food preparation work. The inspector also noted that the restaurant needed, “an overall cleaning and organizing of personal and establishment food and dish wares.”

“Metropolitan Health Department records confirm that Sukeban had corrected all of its violations.”

To read more click here.

The Restaurant Inspector: Rising Grades, Fainting Owners

“New York’s inspectors have long been capable of showing up unannounced, recording violations and, if necessary, shutting down a kitchen. But in 2010, they acquired a new dimension of power: the ability to assign letter grades (printed on placards that must be visible from the street) and to post their findings in an online database where anyone can scrutinize a restaurant’s inspection history. Restaurateurs complained bitterly about the “scarlet letters,” and what they saw as punitive enforcement aimed at raising money for the city.

 

Eight years on, that furor has cooled. The number of restaurants with an A grade rose to 93 percent in April, from 81 percent in that first year. Yet many restaurateurs still feel aggrieved about the rating system; they talk of the health inspectors as arbitrary, unjust — and frightening enough to send an owner to the hospital with a panic attack.

As it turns out, the man in beige who precipitated that crisis is a pleasant, even-keeled individual named Fayick Suleman, who lives in the Bronx with his wife and two children, and — like the letter-grading system — is celebrating his eighth anniversary at the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.”

To read more click here.

Let’s Dance — Cabaret Law Repealed

13623895_f1024

A law known as the Cabaret Law was put into place during Prohibition to restrict dancing in New York City Bars. It was enacted in attempt to control speakeasies and since the 1920’s, bars and restaurants needed to obtain a cabaret license to allow dancing. In New York city, only 97 out of roughly 25,000 eating and drinking establishments had a cabaret license because these licenses were both extremely costly and time consuming to obtain. This November, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio repealed this law. Beginning this weekend, March 30, 2018 legal dancing in the city’s designated zones is allowed.

Our main question – who even knew about this law? Bars did. For being known as the city that never sleeps, how could dancing all night be banned? As New Yorkers, we walk into bars and see people dancing, grooving, swaying along to music but never once did it cross the average patrons mind that this was illegal. How have so many establishments been able to get around this law for so long?

It is said that the Cabaret Law wasn’t necessarily put in place to cut down on dancing, but rather to crack down on the people who dance. “The Cabaret Law was enacted during the height of Harlem Renaissance” and “even years after the law was enacted it targeted marginalized groups under the pretense that somehow they were more dangerous than anyone else. Basically, anything the NYPD deemed dangerous, this law was used to get in those spaces and shut them down” (Thrillist).

Over the decades, many bars have been forced to shut down after being hit with major citations. Bar owners and bartenders kept music down and dancing to a minimum to avoid these fines and penalties. Ever been asked to stop dancing by a bartender? This is why. Certain bars throughout the city have been fined purely for letting people “sway” to music.

So, what’s about to change? To some, it may not seem like a lot. But, to others, their favorite spots might turn into the bars their owners always dreamed they would be. Bars are more likely to start promoting dancing and music just because they can. This could change the entire nightlife culture throughout NYC. According to Thrillist, Royal Palms’ owner stated “we never had plans to become a dance club.” But, with this new appeal she said, “we might be a little bit more encouraging in our advertising and social media about coming to the club to get down.”

When dancing is banned, people still find a way to get down. Warehouse parties with well-known or aspiring DJs have become quite a scene. These parties are drug filled and considered “underground”. Many of them don’t announce the location until the day of; which, most warehouse party-goers probably didn’t realize is because the parties are illegal. The New York Times quoted “when we stop people from dancing they go straight to these warehouses…People haven’t stopped dancing, they’re just dancing in these extremely unsafe, unregulated environments”. Well, this is all changing.

Going out for a night on the town, dancing with some friends, and enjoying the best that music has to offer no longer means being restricted by certain DJs sets, having to go to a concert, being required to get a table at an elite club, or heading to an unknown location at a specific time. Now, you can bust a move wherever you please. Bars and restaurants will begin promoting a more focused music and dance culture. Random dance parties can, and will, breakout wherever anyone sees fit.

After signing the repeal De Blasio said “when freedom of expression is not allowed, it’s not New York City anymore. Imagine how insane it was that you needed a license to allow people to dance.” We couldn’t agree more.

Free For All? Not So Fast: Comping in the Restaurant Business

accounting-sheets-calculator_0.jpg

The diner on table 8 is a frequent regular, who always brings in new guests when she dines. So, you comp their desserts—Friends and Family discount. The couple at table 17 has an allium allergy, but the chef forgot about the chives in the potatoes; free entrée—Apology Comp. The owner’s sister-in-law is dining with her daughters–100% Owner’s Comp. And there goes $400 from that evening’s revenue.

 

That $400 can very quickly become five, six, or seven percent of sales that you’re letting go. Of course, there is reason—value, even—to discounting guests’ meals. But there needs to be control and accountability. Otherwise, your 10% EBITDA can quickly drop to only 4% or 5%. In this month’s Enterprise Insight, we will discuss three key steps in controlling discounts: first, defining comps vs. voids; second, budgeting for comps; and third, reporting and reviewing with management.

 

Comps versus Voids

This first tenet is simple: a void removes the item from gross sales, and a discounted item is shown positively in gross sales and then negatively in discounts. These different impacts call for different functions: if something was entered in error, or was ordered but never delivered, then this is a void. Anytime food or drinks hits the table but shouldn’t be billed to the guest should be comped, or discounted, from the bill. The primary reason being what we reviewed above: the impact on gross sales. If gross sales do not accurately reflect in totality what is actually served, then food and labor costs percentages will be inaccurate.

 

Budgeting for Comps

A key component to managing the amount you discount—ie, the difference between gross and net sales—is having a budget. Try to keep comps below 3% of gross sales. There are additional considerations, though: for example, if you have a marketing budget predicated on comping certain guests—writers, bloggers, industry—then include that, as well. So, if you want comps at 3%, but anticipate using freebies for marketing costs worth 2% of sales, then total comps should be 5%. This is particularly common when a restaurant first opens, and operators need to build buzz.

 

Reporting and Reviewing

As we just mentioned above, comps are often used for distinct purposes. This is why reporting and reviewing these figures with management is so important. If, as in the prior example, 40% of comps are meant for marketing purposed, but no one is watching, an operator won’t ever know that the bartender is just too generous, or the kitchen is making too many mistakes.

 

Thus, we recommend reviewing weekly, as we do with our clients: comps by type, comps by menu category, and if possible, where the comp types are used by category. For example, if you’re trying to build up your bar business, you need to review the current distribution of comps with management and then push them to using more Friends and Family discounts on drinks. If you notice too many Apology comps in the Food category, audit the kitchen operations, because something is not right. We recommend using at least the following types for reporting: Friends and Family, Apology, Owner’s, Marketing, Employee Meal, and Manager Meal. One for every reason. Then train the team accordingly.

 

To review: discounts have real value—both in functionality and cost to your business. Thus, it is important to establish the right parameters and protocol for usage, and then report and review the comps frequently. Otherwise, you can easily see a gap between gross and net sales that represents a gap in understanding your operations.

Food Tech Introduced at CES 2018

EDP13698.0.jpg

The annual Consumer Electronics Show took over fabulous Las Vegas this week, bestowing upon the world the new technological advancements that might or might not shape the future. This tech isn’t limited to autonomous vehicles, smartphones, and ultra-thin televisions; it’s applied to the realm of food and dining too. Here are the new culinary gadgets — some appearing to actually be useful, some not — to come out of CES 2018.

Read the full article here