Taïm expands with help from Chipotle vets

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In 2005 when Einat Admony opened Taïm, a falafel and fast-casual spot was a hardly a popular choice for a fine-dining chef. A lot has changed since then.

Although the growth of Taïm has been slow — Admony didn’t open the second location until 2012 — she hopes to capitalize on the Mediterranean food moment the industry is having. With the backing and guidance from a group of investors and advisers, many of whom have spent time at Chipotle, Admony plans to open three new outposts this year with larger ambitions in the works.

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Restaurant Workers Are Left Behind in New York’s New Paid Parental Leave Program

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  • New York State employers must now grant workers eight weeks of paid, protected leave. That will rise to 12 weeks in 2021.
  • Many restaurant staffers on leave will earn less than the minimum wage under this payroll tax-funded program, which pays one-half to two-thirds of a worker’s salary.
  • There could be a fix for high-cost areas like New York City: San Francisco, for example, requires employers to share the burden of leave pay with the state program, ensuring that most workers earn their full salary while at home. NYC should do the same.

 

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Chick-fil-A Expects Soon-Opening Grand Central Store to Be Its Busiest Ever

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Controversial fast-food chicken chain Chick-fil-A is set to open its third Manhattan location near Grand Central, anticipating it to be its busiest location ever. Come March 1, at the corner of East 42nd Street and Madison Avenue, the store will debut with two floors spread across 6,200 square feet, Buzzfeed reports.

Chick-fil-A first descended on Manhattan in 2015 to massive hype and very long lines, prompting it to quickly open its second Midtown location the following year. This new Grand Central location will be its third standalone restaurant in the borough, and it’s expected to become the busiest Chick-fil-A in the country — even despite backlash to Chick-fil-A president and COO Dan Cathy’s frequent anti-LGBT comments.

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Alex Atala Is Opening a Hotel in São Paulo

 

GettyImages_912418746.0.jpgAfter running four restaurants in São Paulo — among them his acclaimed Michelin-awarded restaurant D.O.M. and his latest, Bio — Brazilian food evangelist Alex Atala is tackling his biggest project yet: a 35-floor hotel. Like his most famous restaurant, the hotel will be called D.O.M.

Scheduled to open in São Paulo’s scenic Jardins neighborhood in 2021, hotel D.O.M. will feature multiple restaurants and food service from Atala’s team. The Chef’s Table star is still figuring out the details of what, exactly, that will look like.

“I have not yet decided whether to move D.O.M. and Dalva e Dito there, but this will very likely happen,” he says. The two restaurants — his fine dining crown jewel and a more casual spot, respectively — are currently located less than a half mile away from the future hotel property. ”What we do know is that we will have at least five food operations in the hotel, in addition to managing the entire room service for our guests, such as breakfast and catering for events.”

Days after his first-ever Fruto symposium — which will return in 2019 — Atala talked about the hotel, his ideas for a new book, and why he doesn’t plan on opening any new restaurants in 2018 — at least for now.

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Students Will Receive Big Payout in Lawsuit Against Le Cordon Bleu

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The former students of a now-defunct Le Cordon Bleu culinary school in Portland, Oregon, could have a big check coming their way. A class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of 2,200 students at the for-profit cooking school is on its way to settlement, with Le Cordon Bleu agreeing to pay back 44 percent of its students’ tuition or loan amounts, KGW reports.

The settlement will end a decade-long legal battle against the school and its parent company Career Education Corporation. Students at Le Cordon Bleu and Western Culinary Institute claimed the school advertised itself as highly selective and prestigious, but in reality offered low-quality materials and provided training that only qualified graduates for entry-level, low-paid positions. The lawsuit further alleges that Career Education Corporation encouraged students to take out predatory loans because it had a secret deal with loan company Sallie Mae to overcharge students by 44 percent.

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Danny Meyer talks tipping, leadership and trust

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Danny Meyer, founder and CEO of Union Square Hospitality Group, said the restaurant industry is in a good position to help civilize the conversation on a number of issues.

The restaurateur and author of the popular book, “Setting the Table: The Transforming Power of Hospitality in Business,” shared his views as he accepted the Workplace Legacy Award at the recent TDn2K Global Best Practices Conference in Plano, Texas.

“The Workplace Legacy Award is all about figuring out how to balance this people, profits and planet,” said Joni Doolin, founder and CEO of TDn2K, when introducing Meyer. “You are a poster person for it.”

The award recognizes a restaurant industry leader who demonstrates success in people practices and operations, in addition to benefiting employees, organizations and communities.

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

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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.