Instgrammers Restore Israeli Winery

Carmel Winery, one of the oldest wineries in Israel, has made a splash into the 21st century. Noticing a disconnect between Millennials, the winery decided to try a new approach to their wine dinners.  The Winery teamed up renowned Chef Meir Adoni and ceramic designer Adi Nissani to produce FOODOGRAPHY, a series of events and workshops that present a culinary experiance that is picture perfect for Instagram.

foodography_Limbo-964x644Chef Meir Adoni of Tel Aviv’s Catit restaurant, created a visually stunning 5 course menu inspired by the color of red wine and composed of hard-to-source ingredients. The menu was then paired with one of a kind ceramics that create flawless backdrops to capture still photography as well as live videography. Adi Nissani created two pieces for the series, the first is the “360”, which includes a revolving platform and a stand to hold one’s smart phone. The second design is called the “Limbo” which also features a stand for one’s phone as well as a high backdrop to cut out background and interference. The final piece of the equation was having one of the country’s best food photographers on hand to host a smartphone food photography workshop during the dinner.

foodography_360-964x644The success of the series was extremely positive as the hash tag became trending on Instagram and the Winery was featured on the nightly news. In attendance were Michelin Star chefs, food bloggers, wine critics and food lover’s alike that all wanted to experience this interactive dining phenomenon. They series reached 20% of the countries population and increased the wineries sales by 13%.

The jury is out on Instagram’s place in the restaurant; many Chefs are flattered while others feel that it distracts the diner. Instagram can be a fantastic tool offering unlimited marketing and promotional potential when used correctly and in this case it appears that Carmel Winery has successfully found a way into the glasses of Instagramers.

To read more, click here

Ten Fast-Casual Challenges

According to Nick Vojnovic, president of Little Greek Restaurant (a fast-casual, Greek-themed, multiunit concept with an American influence based in Tampa, Florida with 19 locations in Arkansas, Florida, and Texas), the fast-casual category will be seeing constant change and challenges in 2015. Below is a list of what Vojnovic considers to be the ten most challenging aspects the fast-casual industry will be facing in the year ahead.

1. Real estate. Real estate will be becoming tighter and tighter. Landlords are in a position where they have the upper hand; it is not a black-or-white scenario. “Will landlords kill the golden goose by charging more than operators can bear?” Strong negotiating skills will become a very important tool this year.

2. Technology arms race. New social media tools may emerge this year, and the existing ones are constantly changing. Social media has the potential to have a direct return on investment and sales. Fast-casual operators will have to closely monitor trends and be smart with allocating resources accordingly.

3.Private equity dollars. A good example is the growth in the fast-casual burger and pizza categories. “How many more of these concepts can the industry handle before it bottoms out?”

4. Obamacare. While there wasn’t a clear or strong impact in 2014, the impact it will have in 2015 is still unknown.

5. Fuel prices. Fuel prices have being going down significantly but we know they must start going back up at some point. As a positive for the industry, lower prices boost consumer disposable income. The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) will have to jump in to protect pricing at some point which will have an impact on the industry.

6. External threats like terrorist attacks and natural disasters. “These are “black swan” scenarios and are all but impossible to predict.”

7. Labor costs and joint employer mandates. The possibility of returning to a tight labor market is real and it could occur throughout 2015. It could be influenced by the new immigration deal, or joint employer rulings could also take place with unpredictable consequences.

8. Credit card fees. Credit card fees take a pice of an establishment’s profits. Realistically, taking into account today’s technology, this will not change. While usage continues to dramatically increase, expenses are failing to drop. The industry will need to find a way to ‘bypass this draining.’

9. Commodity prices. This year we saw prices go up for shrimp, limes, avocados and beef. Other foods will also see climbing prices this year that operators cannot predict.

10. Shrinking margins. “As an already extremely tight business model gets squeezed, which chains will not survive 2015? Industry players will have to run, not walk, to survive.”

The way to take in these challenges is not to be skeptical or gloomy, but simply to emphasize that industry leaders shouldn’t take things for granted or take a back seat. No matter how successful the concept, there will always be challenges. The operators who adapt and watch for these obstacles will be the success stories in the coming year.

To read the full article about these challenges for the fast casual industry in 2015, click here

Using Instagram To Help Build Your Brand

Social media can be both a blessing and a curse for a foodservice enterprise. In this month’s Enterprise Insight, we will discuss the benefits of using Instagram for your business, and how to use it successfully. Instagram is more than just photo sharing; it is a worthwhile tool for your business for three core reasons:

  • It is cost effective
  • It is fast
  • It is dynamic

Instagram helps build brand awareness for you at no cost. Instagram allows you to create a dialogue or a connection or spread a message instantaneously; once you post, the content you uploaded is immediately shared across the dashboards of each of your followers. Instagram can help you get information about your business out in real time, in addition to using it to highlight or promote products or events. The best food-business accounts use the service to give followers an inside look at the business—the inner workings of the kitchen, the company culture, and the staff. Keep the following items in mind as you use Instagram as part of your social media efforts:

  1. Use Good Lighting
    1. The best light for photographing food is natural light, says Nicole Franzen, a food and lifestyle photographer from Brooklyn. Correctly lighting a dish is one of the most important elements of capturing a good photo and conveys the right message. Just ask Martha Stewart; she recently posted some less-than-desirable photos of her lunch that left her followers in dismay. Always remember; guests eat with their eyes first—even on Instagram.
  2. Use A Hash tag
    1. Using a hash tag for your business gives your followers a way to tag you and spread the attention. This way, anyone who searches for #yourbusiness will find photos taken not only by you—the owner/operator—but by your loyal fans as well. This helps extend that reach and build awareness. Also, it helps you maintain our third point: using the service frequently.
  3. Use It Frequently
    1. There are over 160 million active users on Instagram each month. In order to stay relevant and grab the attention of your followers, you need to post frequently—with quality content!
  4. Analyze
    1. This is the most overlooked necessity in ensuring you post quality content; your content needs to be tracked and evaluated for effectiveness. This means monitoring how many likes, regrams, and comments individual posts receive, your hash tag, usage, and offer response rate. Instagram is free to use, but the time you spend using it will become costly if your posts elicit brand engagement.

Instagram is an invaluable tool for helping to build brand awareness and engagement; the platform is cost effective, fast, dynamic, and can connect you with your fans in ways not possible by other methods, given that you are posting quality content, using the platform effectively, and analyzing your efforts!

Successfully Promoting Restaurant Events

Brian Casel, found of Restaurant Engine, has compiled a list of five tips to promote upcoming events at your restaurant. It isn’t always easy to draw a crowd and spread the word once you have planned a great event. The key to publicizing the event is to advertise it in a series or succession using a combination of different channels. Firstly, it is crucial to create an online event page and create a link to make it accessible from your various other pages. Here are some tips on how to make this event page as compelling as possible:

  • Use a graphic description of special activities and menu items served at the event. Include references to special attendees along with their photos and descriptions – (live music, a chef’s demonstration, etc. )
  • Include a start time, end time and who should attend.
  • Include a prominent call to action, such as an RSVP button is needed.
  • Write about the event on your blog and make sure to always provide the link back to your event page.
  • Create a hashtag (#event) and include it in blog posts about your event.
  • Use social share buttons to encourage visitors to share the event with their friends and family.
  • Target keywords for your event to optimize for search engines; use a title tag and headers that use your event keywords.

Secondly, a few weeks before the event, send an email to your customers. Continue to publicize in a series by sending an email a week before, and yet send another reminder a day or two before your event for the final pitch. Ensure that the subject line of the email is creative and draws attention and that the body of the email has a large call to action that directs the readers to the event page. Social media is of course an appropriate outlet for social events, and a great promotional tool. Buzz about the event will be created by coming up with an event hashtag and using it in every social media post, blog or tweet. Create a social media schedule beginning with a Facebook event that has detailed event information, followed by a custom tweet for the event. Continue to tweet often and trace your statistics. Other social media channels that can be leveraged include Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google +. Traditional media should not go overlooked though, flyers have always been a proven successful for promoting events along with magazines, local newspapers, news releases and radio stations.

To read more about Casel’s tips for successfully promoting a restaurant event, click here

 

 

Starbucks Brings Back Seasonal Favorite

Starbucks guests took to social media, wrote letter and made phone calls demanding to get their seasonal eggnog latte back on the menu. The eggnog latte had been on the menu since 1986, and in a move to simplify the ever expanding menu, Starbucks dropped it from their seasonal offerings. After the customer outcry, Starbucks spokeswoman Linda Mills stated, “We made a mistake, we are very sorry.” According to Mills, Starbucks is aiming to have the eggnog latte back in stores by November 17th. The holiday season is Starbuck’s most profitable time of the year, so it is no wonder they are rapidly tending to the customer complaints.

The eggnog latte had already been re-introduced November 1st in the Pacific Northwest because it has always been a regional favorite, the problem now according to Mills, will come if Starbucks can’t get enough eggnog from suppliers in time. What is impressive in this situation is Starbuck’s rapid response and solution to customer complaints. This was also the case in Spring last year when the company began to sell lemon cake and pumpkin bread in miniature loaf form rather than the usual slices; customers complained and it was switched back. The importance of pleasing the guest for operators in the era of social media is absolutely critical.

To read more about Starbuck’s rapid response to their customers, click here

 

 

Marketing Your Concept on a Budget

At last week’s North American Pizza and Ice Cream Show in Columbus, Ohio, consultant Scott Anthony analyzed strategies that restaurant operators with a limited budget and resources can employ to market their enterprises. Fast Casual delineates an overview of the most effective budget-friendly methods, as told by Anthony:

1) Employees

According to Anthony, “We all have good employees, we just need to motivate them and get them engaged.” Giving employees business cards that include a promotion (e.g. a 50-percent discount) and incentivizing them on who receives the most redemption for those cards, is one of the cheapest marketing strategies. In return, this can help generate new business while simultaneously improving employee morale.

2) Distributors

Befriend your distributors, and they just may help boost your sales. Anthony referred to the example of his partnership with the Grande Cheese Company. Grande Cheese Company provides marketing tools to operators who use its products. Additionally, they send a rep to a business to photograph and analyze the menu in order to launch a menu mailing plan. Menu-mailers have prevent o be a cost-effective strategy to communicate an enterprise’s message to guests and potential guests, and he has seen an increase in 20% in business after beginning menu mailing with his own enterprise.

3) The Community

Reaching out to the community is just as important as building relationships with employees and distributors. Anthony recommends joining the chamber of commerce, sending letters to local businesses introducing your concept, and discussing the potential for promotional incentives with those same businesses. Anthony’s efforts in forging ties with the community had a high return on investment for his concept. By sending out 1,000 discount cards to local businesses over a two-month period, Anthony managed to garnered new customers.

4) Social Media

Social Media serves as a cost-effective strategy to personalize your concept. Guests want to become acquainted with management, which is simple to achieve through social media. Social media posts do not necessarily need to be an ad or anything related to the restaurant for that matter; a humorous meme will do the job.

“Do fun things people can share. Keep it fun,” Anthony said.

5) “The Attitude of Gratitude”

A Harvard study, the “gratitude effect,” showed that people who are thanked have a near-100-percent return rate. To channel this effect, Anthony sends out thank you cards including an offer each year around Thanksgiving to his most loyal guests using data accumulated from the POS system. His efforts earn an 80 percent response.

“When you keep thanking your customers, they will feel appreciated and they will come back,” Anthony said.

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.