Tuesday, March 22, 2016

5 Important Ways to Thrive as a Restaurateur in New York

New York City remains one of the most difficult markets in which to open a new business. Here, restaurateurs need to be extremely industry savvy and understand their markets completely before opening a new restaurant. While this task is difficult, it is far from impossible.


The life of a restaurateur, especially in New York, is far from glamorous. People may expect easy earnings and loyal customers, but more often they face difficult landlords, angry customers, unreliable employees, and surprise visits from health inspectors. By learning from the lessons of restaurant developers who have failed, people can increase their chances of success and figure out how to diagnose the early signs of failure and change course.

The following are some of the most important lessons that entrepreneurs have learned over the years while trying to open a new restaurant in New York:

Sacrifice the social aspects of life.

To make a restaurant work, individuals need to dedicate themselves to it around the clock. For many people, the restaurant becomes their social life. When burdened by other distractions, restaurateurs will always let something fall through the cracks. Individuals should also understand that this commitment could last for many years. Some restaurateurs figure that they can pull back after putting in a year of hard, dedicated work, but most businesses need close guidance for much longer, and restaurants are no exception. Restaurant-related stress can consume a person’s life with worry about employees, landlords, vendors, suppliers, customers, the press, and more. Each of these elements demands significant amounts of time each week, which leaves very little time for any other outside activities.

Spend a lot of time researching costs.

Before opening a restaurant, individuals should find as many people as possible who have opened their own establishments to get a sense of all costs involved. Most small businesses, including restaurants, fail because they do not have enough capital. To be safe, restaurateurs should build a lot of cushion into their budget, which means underestimating the establishment’s initial revenues and overestimating the costs. If someone cannot secure enough money to cover costs with a cushion, that person should find another partner rather than risk quickly running out of money.

The restaurant industry is extremely tricky because many factors, such as the terms of the lease, are unpredictable. Restaurateurs can negotiate several different types of leases, from flat fees to portions of sales or anything in between. Lawyers, consultants, and experienced business partners are the best sources of information for making such financial decisions.

Complete due diligence on potential partners.

A business partner can make the process of opening a restaurant much easier, but this help can quickly become a nightmare if individuals choose the wrong partner. Restaurateurs should think about the customer base they are trying to attract, the location of the restaurant, and the eatery’s theme when trying to identify potential partners.

Restaurant developers also need to consider the goals of potential investors. When it comes to a restaurant, investors should be focused on the long term, because it can take a long time for the establishment to become profitable. When struggling with profitability, restaurant developers need partners with quality advice rather than investors upset about their returns. In addition, it is critical that the ideals of the partner and the restaurant developer align or at least complement each other. If this is not the case, then clashes will likely occur.

Learn how to handle stress.

Running a restaurant can prove overwhelming on a daily basis. At times, it may seem like everything is going wrong. If people crumble under such circumstances, then they are not cut out for the restaurant business. The threat of failure should exhilarate restaurant developers not defeat them. When people learn how to handle stress effectively, they can channel the pressure into a constructive, creative outlet. The best restaurant developers learn quickly how to manage stress and turn it into something motivational.

The restaurant industry involves a number of factors coming together perfectly, so it should be no surprise that issues arise on an almost daily basis. Effective restaurant development involves looking at all the existing “fires” and focusing on the ones that are the most dangerous first so that the business can keep running.

Never underestimate the value of industry experience.

Ideally, restaurateurs have experience working in other dining establishments and understand how everything comes together into a great dinner service. If individuals do not have such experience, they should shadow friends who own restaurants to gain a sense of what it takes to operate a successful eatery. When people do not have direct industry experience, they should seek out partners that do and learn to trust their opinions. Any exposure to the restaurant industry can prove extremely helpful. Even when looking at particularly bad restaurant, it is helpful to discern what makes that establishment operate poorly and how one might avoid such shortcomings elsewhere.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

7 Easy Ways to Attract More Millennials to an Area Restaurant

For restaurants to survive, especially in the bigger metropolitan areas along the eastern seaboard, they must appeal to millennials and build a loyal relationship with them. With about 80 million individuals in the generation, it is the largest to date, and the future of restaurants will depend on appealing to this unique group. Luckily, restaurants can pursue a number of different avenues to appeal to millennials and build relationships with customers in this generation.


Building trust and loyalty with millennials often involves a very proactive approach to marketing that includes keeping abreast of the latest technology trends and using social media to engage with customers. The following are some of the key tips that restaurant developers should keep in mind as they try to bring more millennials into the establishment:

1. Create a website with responsive web design.

Because most millennials use several different devices, including computers, phones, and tablets, to access websites, restaurants should ensure that their website is easy to navigate through any system. If someone struggles to view a computer-optimized website from a smartphone, that person may just look for a different restaurant for the next meal. With responsive web design, a website changes slightly depending on how someone accesses it. This smart design not only makes it easy for customers to view menus, make a reservation, or find hours of operation, it also signals to millennials that the restaurant embraces the modern age.

2. Interact with customers on social media.

social media
Some restaurant developers view social media as merely a way of disseminating information. While this is true, it is only the tip of the iceberg. Restaurants should also use social media to interact with customers. For example, if someone checks in at the restaurant using Facebook, the restaurant could then write a private message to the diner to ask about the meal. This sort of interaction shows that the people behind the restaurant really care about the customer. It also provides excellent feedback on ways to improve the customer experience. This type of interaction humanizes a brand and makes customers more likely to share it with their own networks, which is a fantastic source of organic marketing.

3. Embrace mobile technologies.

More than half of millennials own a smartphone according to research conducted by eMarketer. To appeal to this demographic, the restaurant developer needs to embrace mobile technologies beyond ensuring that the website displays properly on mobile devices. Embracing mobile technologies means creating a presence on apps and encouraging customers to review them on important mobile sites like Yelp and OpenTable. Many millennials turn to these networks to find the best restaurants in their neighborhood, therefore establishments that choose not to have a presence put themselves at a major disadvantage.

4. Implement creative seating solutions.

While not all millennials appreciate communal dining, this trend can certainly bring younger generations into the restaurant. Developers should definitely avoid filling their establishments completely with communal sitting, but adding one long table in a bar area that is filled on a first-come, first-served basis can attract millennials looking to build connections or make new friends. Millennials also have a tendency to go to restaurants and avoid socialization by reading a book or using a smartphone. For these customers, a communal table can work, but traditional bar seating should always remain the standard option. By creating a variety of seating options, including traditional and communal tables, restaurants can appeal to a wider crowd.

5. Emphasize local and sustainable food.

Many millennials are ecologically minded, and therefore search out restaurants that purport to have the least possible impact on the environment. Some of the current buzzwords in the culinary word are “local” and “sustainable.” When restaurants emphasize their use of locally grown ingredients or advertise that their herbs and vegetables are grown on site, they can appeal to this generation that wants to feel like it is making a difference. While offering organic, local, and sustainable options may cost more, most millennials are willing to pay more for their meals when they know the food comes from a responsible source.

6. Offer flexible dining hours.

Millennials are one of the busiest generations, and their schedules often do not align with the traditional 5 pm to 11 pm dinner service. Many people from this generation look for quality dining options after midnight—as opposed to the traditional late-night pizza. Millennials also appreciate restaurants that offer mid-morning meals, so that they can grab a quick bit on their way into the office, and establishments with mid-afternoon snacks, so that they can get a pick-me-up as they finish up their day. The dining hours do not necessarily have to be for dine-in service. Millennials also look for exceptional take-out and delivery options.

7. Highlight the restaurant’s social responsibility.

To appeal to millennials, restaurant developers should highlight the work that they do in the community. This involves staff volunteer days or donations to local food pantries and shelters. When millennials know that the money they spend also supports such good causes, they are more likely to dine out at a restaurant. Developers can also create special fundraising nights, when a certain percentage of all profits go to area organizations.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

4 Ways to Get More Local Media Buzz

One of the most effective ways of attracting people to a restaurant is to secure good press through local or even national outlets. Most individuals remain essentially skeptical of advertisements because they are specifically designed to promote a restaurant. Good press, however, often appears to be a more objective recommendation. When people notice that a nearby eatery has appeared in the news, they are more likely to check it out. Moreover, good press is an inexpensive way of promoting the restaurant, although it often does involve a time investment. Some restaurant developers may think that they cannot influence the press that they receive, but this is simply not true.

Read on to learn about some of the most effective methods for securing great local press for a restaurant:

Become active with charity.

One of the easiest ways to attract the attention of local press is to become involved with charitable activities. Restaurants may want to dedicate a small percentage of their sales to a local food pantry or host a fundraiser for an organization. While restaurateurs can choose to support any charity, the gesture becomes especially meaningful when somehow tied into the overall mission of the restaurant. For example, a Mexican restaurant may provide support to an organization that works with immigrants from Latin America. Another approach is to work on a hyperlocal basis and provide support to the nearest schools or organizations. Outside of financial support, restaurateurs can organize group volunteer events, which also serve as great teambuilding exercises. Restaurants should extend the invitation to their charitable causes to the community to get the attention of local diners and, ultimately, media outlets.

Make big changes at the restaurant.

Restaurateurs can make their establishments newsworthy by making big, important changes. These changes should have a positive impact on the community. For example, the restaurant could switch all of its processes to more ecologically friendly solutions to create a greener restaurant. Another way of making waves in the community is to introduce a new, very creative dish that may pull people into the restaurant. Other changes that could arouse the interest of local media outlets are hiring a new chef or completely redesigning the dining area with a new, quirky theme that makes it especially distinctive.

 Publish articles.

Restaurant developers can garner the noticed of local media outlets by actually producing content for them. Restaurateurs can write a story about something going on in the culinary world or offer the recipe for one of the restaurant’s most popular dishes. Individuals with experience in the food sector should be able to produce engaging and interesting content for the “Food” section in local newspapers. The restaurant developer behind a French eatery may want to write an article about the basics of French cooking or walk readers through making a particularly difficult dish, such as a soufflé. Restaurant developers may also want to highlight the distinctive experiences of their chefs or other members of their team that may make the restaurant stand out among others in the city. By publishing content directly linked to the restaurant, developers can generate an incredible amount of interest in the establishment.

Host a special event.

A timeless way of attracting media to a restaurant is through hosting special events, which can be held in collaboration with other area businesses. For example, a restaurant owner can present a fashion show with a local boutique or highlight something special like the start of fall or the switch to a new, seasonal menu. To attract the press, restaurants can send invitations to them and offer them a free meal. At the very least, special events should get a mention in sections of the local newspaper about what is happening around town, but the article could turn into something more substantive. To maximize exposure, restaurant developers can plan truly special occasions, such as inviting a celebrity chef in a cook-off. Some developers may want to consider hosting a media-only event, especially if they are just about to open a new restaurant or have recently completed a renovation. This special invitation helps generate buzz about the restaurant. Another event that individuals may want to consider is a happy hour for nearby establishments that enables restaurant owners to create a more robust business network.

Friday, March 4, 2016

6 Surprising Ways Instagram Can Help You Market Your Restaurant


In today’s increasingly connected world, many people use social media to discover new restaurants, thus making it more important than ever before for eateries to have a strong social media presence to bring in new customers. One of the best, but most overlooked, social-media platforms for generating excitement about a restaurant is Instagram, which, because it is focused around sharing images, serves as a great way for restaurants to call attention to both their décor and their food while also driving interactions with customers.

The following are some of the most important and creative ways of using Instagram in a restaurant marketing strategy:

Show off the whole restaurant.

Too often, restaurants fall into the trap of only posting photos of their food. While it is important to show pictures of various dishes, these photos alone do not tell the restaurant’s entire story. A restaurant’s Instagram account should not just be an online menu with photos of each item served. Instead, it should highlight the most interesting and most beautiful dishes while keeping viewers’ attention with photos of something other than food. One good idea is to ask regulars if it’s OK to take photos of them tasting the food or enjoying a cocktail. A smiling face is a surefire way to attract new customers.

Make use of hashtags and geotags.

One of the best ways to make the restaurant searchable is to use hashtags and geotags. A geotag embeds information into a photo about where it was taken. People can disable this functionality on smartphones and other advanced cameras, but keeping it on allows people in the area to search for nearby photos. If these individuals are looking for a restaurant and come across the establishment’s account, they may just stop by for a visit since it is close. Geotagging also allows restaurateurs to take advantage of people posting photos of the restaurant and its food on their own accounts. Hashtags are another great way to facilitate searching. While restaurant developers want to include the restaurant name and probably the city as a hashtag, they may also want to consider adding on special-event tags if applicable or highlighting a promotional food item, such as #crispycalamari or #jalapenomartini.

Share regularly and often rather than making photo dumps.

A basic tenet of search-engine optimization is that Google favors websites with regular updates and social-media shares. Restaurant developers should make regular, even daily, posts to keep the account active and encourage sharing among followers. When restaurateurs first open a new establishment, their impulse is often to post dozens of photos to pull people in. However, it is actually wiser to limit oneself to posting only a few each day for several weeks. Then, over time, the business will build an impressive online photo gallery while continuing to appear in follower’s feeds on a regular basis. If a restaurant developer takes the “photo dump” approach, the account will not rank as highly on a Google search, which will result in less organic sharing of content.

Offer Instagram deals to customers.

A great way to drive organic content directly from diners is to offer special promotions in return for customers taking and posting photos. These games and contests are fun and create a reason for people to come to the restaurant and promote it on social media. When restaurant developers begin to get creative, the marketing possibilities are endless.

Use high-quality photographs.

While it is not necessary for restaurateurs to hire professional photographers to take pictures for their establishment’s Instagram account, they should avoid posting low-quality and blurry pictures. To avoid this issue, they should read about the basics of photography to get a sense of how to use light and other elements to take a great photo. Then, they should use a good camera to capture all the images of their restaurant. Modern smartphones have excellent cameras capable of taking great pictures. In addition, they have built-in editing tools to make the photograph as clean as possible. While it may seem convenient to use the Instagram app to take photos, restaurateurs should avoid this because doing so ultimately puts a limit on the photo’s quality.

Connect Instagram with other social media.

 Any social-media marketing strategy should involve a wide range of websites, not just Instagram. The advantage of this multipronged approach is that individuals can easily link accounts. For example, people can set up the Instagram account to automatically post photos to Facebook. All blogs and websites associated with the restaurant should link to the Instagram. By cross-linking all accounts, restaurant owners ultimately make their marketing job easier by posting a couple of photos on each account weekly and then sharing across all accounts to maximize each post’s promotional value.