The Importance of AgeID®

Picture this: A young woman takes a seat at your bar and orders a Cosmopolitan. The bartender looks at her ID. The picture looks like her, but the ID is from out of state. The bartender is reluctant but does not want to risk losing a sale, so he serves her the Cosmo. A few minutes later, law enforcement officers enter the bar and ask to see IDs. The young woman presents her real ID to the officer, and it shows she is 18. Your establishment now faces the consequences.

How can you prevent this scene from happening and risking suspension of your valuable alcohol license? There’s one helpful solution: AgeID®.

AgeID® is a patented ID verification technology that authenticates more than 250 unique Department of Motor Vehicles ID barcode formats. This tool notifies the seller if the barcode is not authentic, meaning the customer is using a fake form of identification. It also alerts the seller if the same ID is scanned multiple times within a time period, thus eliminating the “sharing” of IDs among underage customers. Of course, the individual checking IDs must do their due diligence to ensure the photo matches the customer.

This piece of technology works for more than just alcohol and tobacco sales. With Florida being one of the most notorious states for human trafficking, it is important that hotels work to keep guests safe from this heinous crime. AgeID® can help lodging establishments spot visitors checking in under a fake name and with a fake ID.

If your restaurant or lodging establishment is interested in learning more about this technology, visit http://rcstraining.com/age-id/.


Did you know RCS Training is celebrating it’s 35th anniversary? Join us in October to celebrate this momentous occasion! 

Is Plant Forward the Way Forward?

With the amount of money and attention being invested in plant-based foods, it’s easy to get caught up in the wave of excitement.  From oat milk to cauliflower crust, plant-based foods have blossomed into a $3.3 billion industry at retail.  Meanwhile, foodservice operators are re-examining menus, foraging for solutions, and launching new concepts to capitalize on rising consumer interest in plant-based alternatives.   Take, for example, Burger King who announced this year it would run a 59-store test of the Impossible Burger, a soy protein-based burger being embraced by independent chefs and chains alike.  By offering a meatless option, Burger King provides current customers more choice, perhaps inspiring them to come in more often, while attracting new consumers who would not otherwise consider the chain.

In determining whether plants have a bigger role to play on menus, it’s important for chefs and operators to consider more than just the bump or buzz that may come from featuring products like the Impossible Burger or other meat “analogs.”  An intimate understanding of the consumer — their specific needs, interests and expectations of the restaurant and/or brand — should drive the vision or food philosophy for the overall concept as well as the menu strategy.  And if done right, cultivating a plant-forward menu will not require buzzwords like “plant-based, “vegetarian” or “vegan,” but rather resonate with guests on a more lasting and meaningful level that comes across as authentic and not forced.

As one of the primary drivers of consumer interest in plant-based foods, “better health”  can manifest itself in as many ways across the menu and across dayparts as there are guests, including allergen free, high protein, low carb and everything in between.  At minimum, incorporating plant-forward menu items can help create a positive health halo.  And, if guests are actively making food choices based on diet or health, cultivating a plant-forward menu that incorporates an array of vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes and even dairy alternatives enables the flexibility and customization necessary to serve this health-conscious crowd.

Separate from better health, some consumers, particularly those from younger generations, seek out and extend loyalty to plant-forward restaurants whose values align with theirs around issues like sustainability and animal welfare.  In some instances, animal protein still has a home on the menu, but serves more as an ingredient and comes from more sustainable, animal-friendly sources.  In any case, a plant-forward menu can facilitate transparency and create an opportunity for greater engagement with guests by sharing the restaurant’s food philosophy, including the sources and stories behind its products and menu.

In the end, the most critical ingredient to a successful plant-forward menu that appeals to all guests is TASTE.   Whether plants are the primary focus or have a supporting role on the menu, they enable chefs to express their creativity and innovate with new flavor combinations that appeal to consumer’s desire for culinary adventure. While it may take some convincing to bring some guests along, leveraging the abundance of unique and flavorful plants available today can create an exciting and compelling point of differentiation to keep current and new guests coming back for more.


Blog written by Kathy Takemura, Partner, Tournant Inc

Our May Member of the Month Came to Play🍴

Have you met our May Member of the Month?

Meet the owner of 21 Spices in Naples, Chef Asif Syed. Chef Asif makes a mean Tandoori Chicken, and is well known for beating Chef Bobby Flay on his own show, Beat Bobby Flay!

Chef Asif says it best: “Hospitality runs in my blood.” He was raised in a city in Indian known for its hospitality. Because of this, he has developed a passion for helping young adults entering the industry find their passion. It is important for him to teach “youngsters” his knowledge, so that they can one day go on and succeed in the industry.

Congratulations, Chef Asif, for being our wonderful May Member of the Month!

 

5 Easy Ways to Get More Reviews for Your Establishment

Getting great reviews. That should be the goal of any restaurant, shouldn’t it? To have your restaurant praised for what it does best, and shouted out to the world; that’s what any restaurant or hotel owner truly desires.

Reviews aren’t just marketing. Their core component is that they’re authentic. People trust reviews more than anything you could possibly tell them from an official channel.

The difficult part, of course, isn’t getting people to enjoy the experience. (Your establishment is great already, right?) It’s getting people to actually go through with the review. Read ahead for five easy ways to get more reviews in your restaurant or hotel.

Go The Extra Mile

Unfortunately, getting a review requires more than just good food and good service. Getting a review requires you to do something that makes customers think to themselves: “Wow, that was really cool… Maybe I should leave a review!”

You see, once the customer checks out, they’ve already paid for your services. The transaction between establishment and customer is complete. They don’t feel like they owe you anything anymore.

Why should they take their time to post a review?

The key lies in the psychological concept of reciprocity. As defined by Dr. Robert Cialdini, in his book, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion, reciprocity is the mental pull that we feel to reciprocate when something is given.

Establish something unexpected that you’ll do for customers. Whether it’s free bread for the table, a complementary dessert, chocolates or mints with the receipt, or even all of the above, it’s often the little things that influence people.

Find Out Which Review Platform To Cater To

Knowing which review sites your audience seem to favor will help you in encouraging them to post reviews about you. Here’s a helpful trick. First, run through the top review sites. We’ve listed a few of them here for your convenience.
● Yelp
● OpenTable
● Google
● Zomato
● Foursquare
● TripAdvisor

Check your local competitors on each of them. Analyze who’s getting reviews and on which sites. It’s important to understand what type of audience each site attracts and how your establishment can leverage customers to gain positive reviews. Hopefully, your competitors can provide some of that insight.

Also, (this should really go without saying) make sure that your hotel or restaurant is listed to begin with!

Social Media

Social media, much more so than targeted review sites, is a little bit easier to get recommendations on. The likelihood that customers might post something positive about your restaurant, especially in the heat of the moment, following an excellent night out, is substantially higher.

Whereas posting on targeted review sites might be a hobby for some customers, posting recommendations and reviews via social media tends to be more well, social. Doubling down on your social media marketing is an awesome way to promote these types of reviews.

Be Constructive

It’s hard to avoid the occasional negative review. Whether justified or not, for one reason or another, there’s always something to be gained from such criticism. Be constructive by addressing each complaint with diligence and concern. Respond to reviews so that these customers know that you’re listening.

You won’t be able to erase a negative review, but you can counteract it with future positive reviews. For example, let’s say I’m researching a restaurant I’m considering to eat at. I go to my review site of choice and being scrolling. I notice that the most recent bad review is from a few years ago, and that since then, the majority of reviews have been fairly positive. In fact, one of the more recent reviews even mentions how much the restaurant has improved in the last couple years!

Get Better Reviews With CoGoBuzz

Do you need more reviews in your establishment? Get better reviews easily and automatically with CoGoBuzz, our incredible state-of-the-art marketing service.
Leveraging powerful WiFi, SMS, and Email solutions, CoGoBuzz connects directly to your customers’ mobile devices, – heightening engagement both in-store and out. Featuring a built-in custom landing page (tailored to your hotel or restaurant), accessed automatically through a one-time connection to the HotSpot, you can promote and incentivize customers to provide feedback.

CoGoBuzz comes with a fully-digital, text-based loyalty program, allowing you to connect with your loyal customers wherever they go. Engage and reward them to help promote more positive reviews!


Article written by the CogoBuzz team. To learn more about CoGoBuzz, visit www.cogo.buzz.

Well Shot Photos Can Make the Sale

Photo by Jared Ng

A picture sells a thousand meals: get serious about your photography.

It’s still one of the hardest things to make people see the value of, but custom professional photography makes all the difference. Yes, phones have great cameras these days, and they can add all sorts of filters and effects, but they are still a poor substitute for someone who understands lighting and composition and uses professional tools. Did you know, for example, that a crucial tool in the food photographers kit box is WD40? Not to keep the camera shutter from sticking, but to give the food that freshly cooked glisten. This is just one of the many tricks that a professional can employ that is going to heighten the photograph’s impact.

I routinely work with clients who can’t – or won’t – afford the time and effort required to do it properly. Real estate agents who provide phone-camera images taken from across the street at 2pm on a rainy day, for example. Or restaurants who provide instruction such as ‘use a nice picture of some shrimp’ without considering how this photograph needs to make their shrimp seem worth the extra time it takes to drive to their location.

If your budget won’t stretch to a professional, here are some tips to give your photos some value:

  1. Put some time into lighting and composition. When shooting food, for example, you can employ a little color theory. Most food is not blue, and anything in the brown/orange range (say, a nice apple pie) will contrast well on a blue background. The blue will recede, providing more focus to the food.
  2. Another valid route is stock photography, of course. Here you can benefit from the experience of a professional without the expense of a custom shoot. This limits you, however, to a certain generic quality to the imagery. If your shrimp cocktail is unique, it deserves its own photograph.
  3. If stock photography is necessary, try to limit the amount of ambient content in the scene. Go close in on the food, to avoid portraying elements that a guest won’t find in your establishment. The same can work for pillows or towels; just don’t accidentally show a beach in the background if you’re not on the coast. Ultimately, stock photography will be limiting because you won’t be able to find every shot you need in the same style, or from the right angle, and location-based marketing can only employ so much pretend ambience before appearing to be fake.
  4. If you’re shooting property, don’t just stand in the doorway and click; take shots from several angles and review them to see which is most flattering. You might vary your height as well as your angle, and crop out less flattering elements like air vents.

If you have to shoe-string it, try remembering these few nuggets.

  • Invest in a tripod so you can make the most of natural light. Early or late in the day will appear the most appealing but are challenging to do well.
  • Shoot in landscape format, it’s more appealing and natural.
  • Use the right lens for the job: wide angle for property, macro for food.

Jeremy Spinks is VP of Online Design at BowStern Marketing Communications

Eat Local This World Food Travel Day

World Food Travel Day is a special day dedicated to bringing awareness to the importance of local culinary cultures around the world. Taking place on April 18, the World Food Travel Association invites you to join in and share your favorite culinary culture.

Throughout Florida, you can find different cuisines from all over the world. However, we think it’s important to share with you Florida’s local cuisine. Our state is home to a wide selection of culinary staples – most of which are unique to Florida. Here’s a few of our favorite culinary staples that make the Sunshine State stand out.

Stone Crab

Photo from Joe’s Stone Crab

The Stone Crab is a Florida native, and a popular menu item when in season! From mid-October to mid-May, you can find this in many popular seafood restaurants. Joe’s Stone Crab in Miami discovered the Stone Crab and is now well known for this Florida food! We’re getting hungry just looking at them…

Cubans

Photo from Columbia Restaurant

Fun fact – Cuban sandwiches are not actually from Cuba! These tasty sandwiches originated in Key West and Ybor City to cater to early Cuban immigrant communities in Florida. If you love Cuban sammys, we suggest you look in these two cities. Some of our favorites are Columbia Restaurant, Havana Cuban Food, and Sergio’s.

Oysters

Photo from Acme Oyster House

If you’re in Florida and haven’t tried oysters, you haven’t had the real Floridian experience. Apalachicola is a great hub for fresh oysters, and you can find them all throughout the panhandle. From Up the Creek Raw Bar in Apalachicola to Shunk Gulley in Santa Rosa Beach, they’ve got some of the best oysters around.

BBQ

Photo from The Bearded Pig

Of course, we can’t forget our southern staples. Southern food is our comfort food, and one of our favorites is bar-b-q. Check out this brisket sandwich from The Bearded Pig!

Key Lime Pie

Photo from The Bay

Another great cultural food from Florida, and our favorite sweet treat, is the infamous Key Lime Pie. Although key limes were brought to the states, the key lime pie is a Key West native. Most famous are Key West’s Chocolate Dipped Key Lime Pie Bars. Of course, you can find this tasty treat all over Florida. The Bay Restaurant in South Walton has a must-try key lime pie when you’re in the area.

Beer

Photo from Funky Buddha Brewery

Florida is home to a handful of breweries located across the state. In fact, we have so many that Visit Florida created a Craft Brewery Finder so visitors can find one that suits them perfectly. Some of our favorites are Proof Brewing Company, Cigar City Brewing and Funky Buddha.

Want to share your favorite world or Florida food culture?

Post on social with the hashtag #WorldFoodTravelDay on April 18 to participate!

Be Smart with SafeStaff

Florida’s Department of Business & Professional Regulation (DBPR) requires that food service employees be trained on safe food handling techniques and hygiene practices.
Aside from this being mandated by state law, restauranteurs and hoteliers with food service that actively manage food safety can reduce their risk exposure.
To stay in compliance, use DBPR’s contracted provider for foodhandler training – FRLA’s SafeStaff.

What is SafeStaff?

SafeStaff is FRLA’s proprietary Foodhandler Training program and has been DBPR’s only contracted provider for nearly 20 years. During that period, Florida foodborne illness outbreaks have dramatically decreased. The SafeStaff Foodhandler Guide contains everything needed to create a safe food service environment – from instructions, to food safety best practices, to quizzes and assessments.

Why SafeStaff Over Other Training Products?

FRLA’s SafeStaff program provides the industry a unique benefit no other provider can claim.
Unlike for-profit sources, the purchase of SafeStaff benefits the purchaser in the long run as the proceeds from SafeStaff sales help fund the FRLA mission and advocacy efforts to protect, educate, and promote the hospitality industry.

What does this mean for you?

SafeStaff is convenient and cost competitive. But most importantly, when you buy SafeStaff you are investing in protecting your business and the jobs you create from harmful taxes, laws, and regulation. The FRLA Government Relations team advocates for you at the local, state and national levels, tirelessly fighting for business-friendly public policies.
Learn more about our Government Relations team, view our current legislative priorities, and more by visiting our site here.

Interested in SafeStaff or other FRLA related training and certification programs available to you?

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Serving Up Our February Member of the Month

We are excited to introduce Dennis Chan, owner of the delicious Blue Bamboo restaurant in Jacksonville. Dennis comes from a long line of chefs, and knew it was his legacy to continue serving food and carry on his family’s traditions.

One of his favorite things about working in the restaurant business and hospitality industry is the ability to use his food and excellent service to brighten someone’s day.

“You never know if you’re going to have a guest come in who is having a bad day and you need to turn them around, or they’re just having a great day and coming out to celebrate.”

Dennis is a long-standing, second-generation member of FRLA and is committed to helping aspiring restaurateurs. He teaches culinary classes at local schools and volunteers with ProStart on a regular basis. Thank you, Dennis, for your continuous support of FRLA and all you do for your community.

Next time you stop by Blue Bamboo, we suggest you try the Sunshine State Orange Crunch Cake Cake!

Check out Dennis’ Member of the Month video below:

Know someone you think should be our FRLA Member of the Month? Nominate them here.

Meet our January Member of the Month

 

 

Meet Chip and Amanda Evans.

They are the proud owners of Willie Jewell’s Bar-B-Q in Tallahassee, Florida, and FRLA’s first ever Member of the Month.

These members have been actively engaged in FRLA since they joined in June 2018. With a passion for giving back, Chip and Amanda have taken advantage of FRLA’s involvement in the community. Chip says, “We try and give whenever we can. FRLA has been good about plugging us in. This is where the opportunities to give are.”

In October 2018, Hurricane Michael devastated the Panhandle. Victims of this disaster were left homeless, without food, water, power, or clean clothes. Along with other FRLA members, Chip and Amanda headed to Marianna to provide hot, fresh food and necessities to the community members in need.

From help with the hurricane to volunteering time and food with Vet Events Tally and other organizations, Chip and Amanda always go the extra mile to give. Regional Director Nick Lowe noted that they are “members who understand what it really means to serve others.”

Thank you, Chip and Amanda, for all you do for FRLA and the community.

To see what they had to say about FRLA, check out their Member of the Month video below.

 

Table 16 Is Now a Temporary Office

Considerations for Transforming Your Bar or Restaurant into a Temporary Coworking Space

While “traditional” office coworking spaces have flourished for years, a new trend is emerging to transform restaurants, bars and lounges into coworking environments. Several companies are now focused on converting well-located, but underused restaurants and bars into daytime pop-up offices complete with accessible electrical outlets, high-speed Wi-Fi and complimentary coffee. Bar and restaurant owners benefit by receiving a passive source of income during a period of the day their space would otherwise sit empty. In an industry known for fierce competition and razor-thin margins, transforming into a temporary coworking space can net a bar or restaurant 20% or more in additional revenue. That extra cash can be a lifesaver for fledgling eateries facing steep competition, increasing rents and labor costs.

Since coworking operators do not need to spend significant funds reconstructing a restaurant, they are able to offer their customers lower membership fees than traditional office coworking operators. Working out of a high-end restaurant or lounge with soundproofing offers members a quiet respite from noisy, overcrowded coffee shops and offices. Meanwhile, coworking members offer restaurants and bars a built-in market for happy hour and dinner service.

The temporary coworking model has proven successful, but like any new venture, hospitality operators should consider the business and legal risks before agreeing to lease or sublease their space.

Many new businesses fail and coworking operations are no different. Prior to executing any agreement, restaurant and bar owners should perform their due diligence and consider the coworking operator’s experience, reputation and leadership. You want to work with reputable operators with successfully-operating locations. Ask to speak with the owners of those locations. Check if complaints have been filed against the coworking company with the state or local department of consumer affairs or chamber of commerce. You should consider staffing requirements. While the coworking operator should have its employees onsite during operating hours, you may also want your own managers present.

Working Out an Agreement

If your bar or restaurant leases its space, you should first review the lease prior to entering into any agreements. Most leases include language prohibiting subleasing without the landlord’s prior written consent. Where the lease strictly forbids subleasing, you may consider approaching the landlord to discuss an accommodation. Many landlords understand the difficulty of operating a consistently profitable bar or restaurant and would rather work with you than deal with a default and the additional expenses of re-renting a space.

Property owners can enter into a lease agreement with the coworking company or opt for a non-traditional structure such as a joint venture or licensing. Your agreement can incorporate profit-sharing but should also clearly delineate roles and responsibilities.

Regardless of the business structure, your agreement should require proof of the coworking company’s insurance coverage naming the bar or restaurant as an additional insured. The agreement should contain language indemnifying your bar or restaurant from liability arising from the acts of the coworking company and its customers.

Security for You and Your Guests

Restaurant and bar owners should also consider enhancing security and surveillance systems and ensure that any alterations to the space performed by the coworking company comply with applicable laws and regulations.

With the continued rise of the gig economy, temporary coworking spaces are exploding in popularity. A carefully drafted agreement with a coworking operator can help ensure a successful and profitable relationship for years to come.

Looking for more content like this? Check out the latest issue of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging magazine here.

 


This week’s blog was written by Herman R. Lipkis of Holland & Knight, a global law firm with more than 1,250 lawyers in 27 offices throughout the world. Established in Florida, the firm has eight offices throughout the Sunshine State and provides representation in litigation, business, real estate, and governmental law. Mr. Lipkis can be reached at herman.lipkis@hklaw.com.