Simply Cooked Seafood Turns Luxurious at Taverna Kos

“An important omission on the menu at Taverna Kos in Astoria, Queens, is the enormous plate of feta you may see passing your table en route to a smarter party of people. Heaps of the imported cheese, which the restaurant buys in 28-pound containers, come flecked with dried oregano and slicked with olive oil, and act as a soft, creamy condiment for fried or broiled seafood, or dainty lamb chops.

The off-menu cheese course, which anyone can ask for, will remind you that feta can be just as slouchy as any washed-rind French cheese, as long as you buy the right stuff and put it on something hot. You could also just order a plate of feta fries, in which the crumbles melt into the soft, fresh-cut potatoes like a tangy, higher-quality Cheez Whiz.

Taverna Kos has been open to members of the Pancoan Society, a private club with which it shares a building, for 11 years; in 2016 the restaurant opened its doors to the public, and last summer began serving on weekends. There’s a lightly celebratory air about the place: String lights abound, tangled into the trees outside and lining the ceiling of the enclosed patio, where televisions play a constant stream of poppy Greek music videos.”

Read more here.

In New York City, Restaurants Welcome Tables for One

Customers dine at Boqueria for lunch. The Spanish restaurant’s tapas, or grazing-style menu, appeals to solo patrons.

In New York City restaurants, the party-of-one is becoming a cause for celebration.

OpenTable, the online reservation platform, said that bookings by solo diners at restaurants in the city jumped by 80% from 2014 to 2018. And while OpenTable said those parties-of-one represent a very small slice of overall bookings, some restaurants said that business from solo diners can now account for up to 10% of their sales.

Even on Valentine’s Day, the most couple-oriented dining occasion of the year, New York restaurants are making room for patrons dining alone. OpenTable said that Valentine’s Day solo reservations in 2018 increased by 33% over the previous year. And perhaps for good reason: Restaurants said solo customers represent the ideal, as they are truly there for the food and experience rather than the social occasion.

“The way we approach it is that when we have a solo diner, it’s more of an honor than anyone else,” said Andrew Kuhl, the dining-room manager at Eleven Madison Park, the Michelin-starred restaurant in Manhattan’s Flatiron District.

Restaurants are doing their part to encourage such business. At such establishments as L’Artusi, an Italian restaurant in the West Village, and Odo, a Japanese spot in the Flatiron District, solo diners are given a free offering—say, a small serving of an off-menu item or a glass of sparkling wine. And on Valentine’s Day, some restaurants said they make an extra effort to welcome the solo crowd. For example, at Jones Wood Foundry, a food-driven pub on the Upper East Side, a communal table is set aside for party-of-one diners.

View more here.

Survey: Walmart builds on largest share of grocery loyalty

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“Walmart is quickly extending its grocery dominance in brick-and-mortar into the online realm.

Consumer market researcher Packaged Facts said Thursday that 23% of online grocery consumers cited Walmart as the retailer they use most for groceries. That’s second only to Amazon, named by 38% of purchasers, according to Packaged Facts’ “U.S. Grocery Market Focus: The Walmart Shopper” report.

About 27% of in-store grocery purchasers said Walmart is the brick-and-mortar retailer they get groceries from most — over two times as many as Kroger, the next most cited retailer, the study revealed.

In a relatively short time, Walmart has transformed itself into an omnichannel retailer by accelerating investment in e-commerce to develop a seamless shopping experience between its massive store base and digital properties, Packaged Facts noted. What’s more, Walmart has turned its thousands of stores — an apparent cost disadvantage versus pure-play online retailers — into a competitive strength in distribution, the researcher said.”

Read more here.

Simple Tactics for Building a Solid Business Reputation

“According to new studies, one of the top ways you can go the extra mile for your customers is by personalizing their shopping experiences.

One report predicted that by 2020, the customer experience will be more important than price and product when it comes to setting your brand apart. And according to another source, this data is already starting to take effect. Forty-four percent of consumers said a personalized shopping experience would likely result in brand loyalty.

Going the extra mile for your customers by making sure their shopping experience is memorable isn’t just a recent trend, though. Treating customers as individuals has always been essential for business reputations. Who wants to talk to someone who is ushering them out the door? Some other ways you can show customers you care is by listening to complaints, rectifying problems, and establishing a loyalty program for small business.”

See more here.

A Restaurant Brand Creator on How to Keep People Coming Back

“Sue Chan is the founder and chief executive officer of Care of Chan, a two-year-old brand management agency that has worked with a hit list of restaurants including Alta, Cosme, Una Pizza Napoletana, and Wildair to create that all-important but so-hard-to-capture great restaurant experience. Chan was previously the brand director at Momofuku for seven years.

At her own company, Chan focuses in on everything that makes a memorable restaurant experience the type of place that customers want to keep returning to again and again. While there’s no set formula for creating that unforgettable experience, once it’s in place it can drive sales and longterm customer loyalty like no quick-hitting press coverage can. “It doesn’t matter if you’re on Bon Appetit’s top ten, you could close in a year or two,” Chan explained. “That is a real thing that happens a lot. It’s more about just caring about the actual customers who come in every single day, and focusing on that community and building that community.”

See full interview here.


Leveraging Mobile Technology

Retail TouchPoints and MicroStrategy have partnered together to show new ways retailers can leverage mobile technology at a competitive advantage. Having a sound mobile app strategy can help to improve revenue, productivity and loyalty while also controlling and managing costs.  The average consumer will glance at their mobile device over 150 times per day, so being able to leverage mobile technology will definitely create an impact on revenue. Below are five important benefits of a winning mobile app strategy:

  • Boost customer loyalty.
  • Achieve operational efficiencies.
  • Drive Sales
  • Enhance customer experience

The Container Store and Gucci are two very different brands that both use MicroStrategy Mobile to improve store operations and transform the customer’s experience. To watch two great videos on how these brands have leveraged mobile app technology to improve productivity and revenue, click here

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


Consumer Demand for Customization

Berge Simonian was a franchise owner in Houston when he noticed a popular trend starting to really take off: custom made salad. He decided to to create a brand, Salata, to be part of this fast growing trend. There are now 30+ Salatas in Texas and California and Chicago is next. According to David Laborde, director of product development, another 15 are set to open by the end of the year. Laborde believes that this rapid growth is driven mostly by the the consumer demand for customization which can easily be fulfilled at a salad-bar type concept. Of course Salata’s momentum is also backed by superior quality of ingredients and brand exposure.

Laborde has also observed a few other trends coming to the surface. Apart from clean, healthy customizable eating, Salata has also been incorporating more vegetarian protein options such as grains, tofu and falafel based on customer demand.  There is also a growing trend for different sauces and spice; not just hot spices but more globally influenced spices such as African and Indian flavors. Another focus of the product development team has been creating beverages unique to Salata. Flavored teas and lemonades are popular at Salata as they are a healthier option to fountain sodas which don’t really fit well with the brand.

To read more about how Salata creates loyal customers by keeping up with consumer demand click here


Creating a Culture of Hospitality

This past weekend as part of the 25th anniversary of the American Express Trade Program at the Aspen Food & Wine classic, industry experts discussed a very important topic: customer loyalty. Chef Tom Colicchio (Craft, Colicchio & Sons), Sean Brock (Husk, Charleston), Stephanie Izard (Girl and the Goat, Chicago) and Mitzi Gaskins (Marriott) led a seminar discussion on how chefs and operators can create a culture of hospitality and loyalty.

Colicchio stated that it all comes down to the servers; they have two main jobs: 1) make the customers happy, and 2) create regulars. The goal for the servers is to really become friends with the diners and get to know them so that it really becomes a personal experience. It is important to have the servers make those little extra steps that go beyond the eat-then-pay transaction. The chefs mentioned that they use computer programs (such as OpenTable) to track their guest information. Servers can make notes of the guests’ personal preferences (sparkling water vs regular, etc.) and input it into the computer at the end of service. They then analyze this collection of data to connect more with the customer. Recognition is absolutely key in fostering customer loyalty; as a diner it is the best feeling to enter an establishment and have the staff remember your name and dining preferences.

Gaskins also stressed upon the importance of attracting the right talent. The recruiting process should never be taken lightly. It is important that the staff you keep truly fits the profile created by your brand. It is then equally important have appropriate training systems and provide the staff with the tools necessary to make the guests happy. Colicchio makes an excellent point which is that in order to create brand loyalty among your customers, your staff has to be loyal to your brand; it all begins in-house. Both Colicchio and Gaskins spoke about how a little positive reinforcement can go a long way, and how stories of hospitality successes will spread amongst the staff.

Social media is also a relatively new and important way to connect with fans and customers. Operators should research what works for them and what doesn’t. It is important to keep the customer engaged and incentivize them to come back to your restaurant without flooding their twitter feed or email inboxes. For instance, Izard mentions that perhaps it is smart to run quarterly specials vs running specials every few days. Izard also spoke of the importance of building relationships with customers in the community. She recommends engaging with the community through charitable events and choosing organizations that you are proud to be a part of.

To watch the seminar on the evolution of customer loyalty click here


Marketing to Millennials

At a Culintro panel event earlier this month, we heard insights about marketing to millennials from Corey Cova (Chef and Owner of Earl’s Cheese Bar, ABV and Dough Loco), Andrew Tarlow (Owner of Marlow and Sons, Diner, etc.) and Harris Damashek (CEO of Underground Eats). Millennials are the segment of customers who are ages 13 to 30, and they are transforming the way restaurant owners market their brand. In this month’s Enterprise Insight, we review factors that are most important to consider when attracting millennials.

1) Ambiance

Generation Y is seeking an “experience” that goes beyond just a good meal. Twenty-somethings view a meal as a meaningful gathering with friends and family, not just a source of sustenance. This is in contrast to how the Baby Boomer generation once perceived eating out. The décor, lighting and music have just as much of a role as the quality of the food.

2) Food Sourcing

Millennials comprise the first generation that, as a majority, was raised consuming ethnic cuisine. Sushi and Indian food were just as commonplace as a slice of pizza and a hamburger. Because ethnic foods are so familiar to this generation, it’s important not only to reinforce cuisine variety, but also to add an innovative touch. This generation possesses a solid awareness and places importance on ingredient sourcing. They value where their food comes from and whether it’s local, organic and sustainable.

3) Social Media Marketing

This segment is fluent in a variety of social media platforms and employs them as a means of communication with friends and restaurateurs. The preponderance of social media apps has changed how owners respond to customer feedback. Back in the day when a customer had a complaint, he or she would pick up the phone and inform a manager; now if someone posts an unflattering food picture to Instagram or tweets a negative comment, the whole world can see. Social media can be used to a restaurateur’s advantage in addressing complaints quickly and genuinely, but also in maintaining positive relationships with customers. Millennials rely on social media to seek restaurant discounts and loyalty programs. Staying current and maximizing your restaurant’s social media presence reinforces the simplest method of marketing: word-of-mouth.

4) Community Ties

Millennials like to feel a connection with restaurants. They take note and are attracted to restaurants that both internally and externally exhibit ties to the community. Internal examples include staff interacting with guests. Sponsorship and support of local artists and musicians as well at charitable donations are some of the external community ties Millennials appreciate.

No generation is more important than another, however Millennials’ pervasiveness should make you analyze your current marketing strategy.

Happy Millennial Marketing…TaraPaige Group.