Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Looking for a few good restaurateurs

The National Restaurant Association’s Manage My Restaurant online resource has countless articles to help you become more profitable. Manage My Restaurant has articles in categories such as Marketing and Sales, Workforce Engagement, Food and Nutrition and Operations. Visit Manage My Restaurant here for this and other helpful articles.

With character, desire and discipline, veterans have what it takes to succeed as restaurateurs. Understanding them will help you attract these potentially model employees.

About 250,000 veterans work in the restaurant industry, according to National Restaurant Association statistics. That figure could swell as more restaurants seek to hire veterans, and more return from abroad. As of 2011, the United States has about 21.5 million military veterans, according to the Census Bureau.

Many restaurant operators recognize veterans’ applicable skills, as well as their professional fit.

“The military culture is similar to ours,” says Lyle Forcum, executive director, asset protection, Panda Restaurant Group. "They both are driven by goal-oriented achievers who leverage hard work, continuous learning and focus to create great operations and new opportunities for their teams and for themselves."

A marine for 21 years, Forcum has recruited veterans from all branches of service and recognizes their potential benefits for restaurants.

Veterans generally are talented in planning and risk, stress and resource management – skills developed in basic training. Those who engage in “war gaming” during military service also learn to predict and counter opponents through simple and systematic procedures. Applied to restaurants, such strategic foresight can have powerful application in creating menus, setting prices, and opening and marketing a franchise.

“We’re often looking for general managers who can run a million-dollar-plus business,” Forcum says. “These candidates must handle their own labor scheduling, profit and loss financial statements, food-safety procedures and supply-chain management. From corporal to colonel, veterans bring us the leadership and work ethic we need to fill these positions.”

Hiring challenges
Veterans don’t always market themselves as such, according to a November 2012 CareerBuilder study that identified common barriers between employers and veterans. Although 45 percent of employers say they focus more on applications submitted by veterans, 30 percent state that it’s not always clear they're looking at a veteran’s application.

Some employers worry about a vet’s ability to adapt to a civilian environment. The prevalence and publicity about post-traumatic stress disorder has added an often-unsubstantiated stigma that could hinder a vet’s employment prospects.

“A communication gap needs to be closed between restaurant and military cultures,” Forcum says. “Some myths need to be dispelled. For instance, not all service men and women have PTSD.”

As for veterans, some aren’t sure where to start their job search after they return from active duty. Others might not understand how to transfer their skills to the civilian sector.

Here are six tips to recruit from an army of talent:
  • Consider marketing directly to them through resources that pair veterans with new careers. Websites such as and VetFran, for example, allow restaurants to post job openings and search for veteran candidates.
  • Review your recruiting efforts. McDonald’s plans to create more than 100,000 career opportunities for veterans over the next three years and enhance existing programs to help vets obtain management positions. The company also is launching a veteran spouse-recruitment program. 
  • Take advantage of the National Restaurant Association Military Foundation, which supports military hospitality programs. It assists with training and foodservice/hospitality career opportunities – including small-business ownership – for former service members and their spouses. 
  • Encourage veterans to identify themselves. Add check boxes or fields to application forms so job candidates can easily identify themselves as veterans. Consider creating a separate section that inspires veterans to describe how their military background pertains to the position they’re applying for. 
  • Interview with intel. During the job interview, draw parallels between a candidate’s military experience and the job responsibilities.  Ask the candidate describe how he or she resolved a stressful or challenging situation while on duty. 
  • What were the conditions? What factors presented problems? How did he or she assess, plot and execute to achieve a solution? 
  • Present candidates with mock scenarios from a frantic restaurant shift and ask them to explain how they would manage multiple problems.  This storytelling and role-playing can reveal the veteran’s independence and initiative while linking background and opportunity.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NRA Public Affairs Conference opens

Hundreds of restaurateurs are in Washington, D.C., to meet with members of Congress about the federal issues that affect how restaurants operate during the National Restaurant Association Public Affairs Conference.

The theme of this year’s Public Affairs Conference is “Stand Up for Restaurants,” part of the NRA’s ongoing campaign to share the industry’s story and promote its role as a leading creator of jobs and opportunity. During their meetings with lawmakers, restaurateurs will help promote the industry’s role in driving economic growth and emphasize the need for changes to the health care law, comprehensive immigration reform, and the renewal of important tax extenders. Other issues to be addressed will include patent reform, menu labeling and labor issues.
LRA Members meet with Senator David Vitter to
address issues important to the restaurant industry
during the NRA Public Affairs Conference.
“In so many ways, this is a pivotal point for our industry. And so it is a pivotal point for all of us here in this room,” NRA CEO Dawn Sweeney said in her opening remarks. “The bottom line is that restaurants are facing issues today that threaten to eviscerate our business model. It started with the Affordable Care Act, and we achieved some important changes to that law. There are still many battles to be fought to have a law that will not irreparably harm our business model.” The industry also continues to push for comprehensive immigration reform and other issues that will allow restaurants to continue to grow and create opportunity, she said.

This year's Public Affairs Conference will be one of the largest in the event’s 28-year history. Restaurateurs from 47 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia will take part in hundreds of meetings with members of Congress Wednesday.

“The fact that you are here today is not just for your own bottom line, but for all of those millions of people working in restaurants across the country,” said former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, who gave the keynote address. Perino, host of the hit Fox show The Five, shared stories of her time as a member of President George W. Bush’s cabinet and noted that she had worked in a restaurant while she decided on a career path. She predicted that the economy, employment and health care would remain the dominant political issues in the 2014 elections. Partisanship, she said, will continue to be an issue.

“Obviously, we’re at a time when we’re blessed with so much, but we fight over the crumbs and ignore the big problems we have to deal with,” Perino said. “We’re going to be forced to the table on some of these issues, particularly on the financial health of the country. If civility will be rediscovered, it’s going to have to happen at the leadership level.”

LRA President/CEO Stan Harris and LRA Chair
Bruce Attinger present a U.S. Flag flown over the
Capitol to LRA member Greg Reggio, who serves as this
year's State Whip for the NRA Public Affairs Conference.
Geoff Tracy, chair of the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington and a prominent restaurant advocate, told attendees that at a time when restaurant operators seem to have a “legislative target on our back,” it’s essential for those working in the industry to be proactive in engaging public officials, many of whom may misunderstand the cash wage for tipped employees and other industry issues.

“We’re an extraordinarily generous industry,” Tracy said. “We employ an amazing number of people. Good things happen in restaurants every day. We need to get out there and highlight the greatness of this industry to the public.”

Visits from two members of Congress — House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)—will kick off Wednesday’s events. Cantor and Donnelly support changing the health care law’s definition of full-time from 30 to 40 hours, which is one of the NRA’s advocacy priorities. Cantor was a leading voice for the issue when the Save American Workers Act passed the House last month, and Donnelly is a lead sponsor of the “Forty Hours is Full Time Act” in the Senate.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Tap into responsible alcohol service

The National Restaurant Association’s Manage My Restaurant online resource has countless articles to help you become more profitable. Manage My Restaurant has articles in categories such as Marketing and Sales, Workforce Engagement, Food and Nutrition and Operations. Visit Manage My Restaurant here for this and other helpful articles.

For many restaurants, alcohol sales play an important role in boosting their bottom lines. But serving alcohol also comes with great responsibility. The Louisiana Restaurant Association offers the state-mandated and approved, ServSafe alcohol-server training online at Individuals who serve or sell alcohol must complete the two-hour course within 45 days of their hire date.

April marks National Alcohol Awareness Month, making it an opportune time to check that you’ve established the proper procedures for responsible alcohol service. Here’s how some operators are shouldering the responsibility.

Training and tracking
Make sure employees are versed in the fundamentals of responsible service by requiring training in a program such as the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe Alcohol. Check on the training requirements of your state and local jurisdiction.

Granite City Food & Brewery requires certification in ServSafe Alcohol as a condition of employment, instructing new hires to complete ServSafe Alcohol’s online training option prior to starting the job.

“That way we ensure 100 percent compliance,” says Michelle Mason, senior director of operations development and training.

If an employee’s certification expires, Granite City’s scheduling software won’t allow the worker to be assigned a shift. Expiration dates are stored in HotSchedules, which automatically sends email notification to the employee and management three weeks ahead, followed by several reminder messages that note that the employee won’t be scheduled until recertified.

The Minneapolis-based company, which operates 30 Granite City restaurants and five Cadillac Ranch units, received the 2014 VIBE Vista Operator Award for Best Responsible Alcohol Service Program at the VIBE (Very Important Beverage Executives) Conference in March. The award is sponsored by the ServSafe Alcohol program. 

Identifying minors
Granite City uses a POS reminder to prompt employees to check IDs. The reminder specifies the birthdate that guests must be born on or after to be served alcohol. At each pre-shift meeting, managers remind employees of that critical date, and employees must record it on a “server ready card” with other shift information.

“Empower employees to check IDs closely,” advises Kevin Settles, president and CEO of Bardenay Restaurant & Distillery, which operates three units in Idaho. “It can be intimidating for team members; sometimes they are only 21 themselves.” He recalls police compliance checks at neighboring restaurants, where employees asked for IDs but failed to notice that the guests were underage. “You don’t get bonus points just for asking for an ID,” he quips.

Failing a police compliance test, or “sting,” can result in fines and a suspension of your liquor license — which means a loss of income. It also can cause a damaging blow to your reputation.   

CraftWorks Restaurants & Breweries, whose restaurant concepts include Gordon Biersch, Old Chicago and Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery, instructs employees to card any customer who looks 35 or younger. The company uses the Bars Program to check compliance. Bars sends “customers,” aged 21-25, into client restaurant locations to check carding procedures. “The program helps us monitor whether our carding policies are being followed,” says Matt Thomas, vice president of training for the Chattanooga, Tenn.-based CraftWorks, which has nearly 180 corporate-owned or franchised locations across the United States.

Knowing when to say “when”
Buffalo Wild Wings requires all front-of-the-house employees to receive ServSafe Alcohol training. “Even greeters and cashiers, who are not serving alcohol, need to be aware,” says Sally Lannier, director of operations training for the Minneapolis-based chain, which has more than 1,000 restaurants across North America. In fact, greeters serve as a first line of defense in identifying customers who could be under the influence upon entering the restaurant. Buffalo Wild Wings won the 2013 VIBE Vista Operator Award for Best Responsible Alcohol Service Program.

When a customer orders a third drink, team members alert managers so they can help monitor the situation. If a guest needs to be cut off, managers take on the delicate task, Lannier says. “They’re trained in guest communications and know how to hold their ground.” If a situation begins to accelerate, management doesn’t hesitate to call 911.

Responsible salesmanship
At Granite City, alcohol sales have increased by nearly $500,000 in comparable restaurants and $3 million across the brand in the past year, even as the company remained vigilant about responsible service. Mason attributes the sales bump to an increase in special promotions and a heightened emphasis on educating team members about the wines, spirits, beers and cocktails on the menu. Over the winter, it ran an Operation Warm promotion, featuring drinks like Poinsettia Cocktail and Buttered Toffee Martini. A percentage of sales went to Operation Warm, which provides winter coats to children in need.

Every training session on the alcoholic beverage menu incorporates a responsible service component to reinforce its importance. “We tell employees: We want you to make a lot of money; we want the restaurant to be successful,” says Mason. “But we want to do it responsibly.”

Uncover ways that beverage alcohol can enhance menus and drive profitability at the International Wine, Spirits & Beer Event, May 18-19 in Chicago at the NRA Show 2014.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Tips for successful takeout

The National Restaurant Association’s Manage My Restaurant online resource has countless articles to help you become more profitable. Manage My Restaurant has articles in categories such as Marketing and Sales, Workforce Engagement, Food and Nutrition and Operations. Visit Manage My Restaurant here for this and other helpful articles.

Modern living often leaves little time for cooking at home, especially during the week. Restaurant and delivery takeout services offer a welcome alternative to working people and parents who want to relax at home but are hard pressed to make their own meals. In fact, National Restaurant Association research shows that about one-third of consumers say that purchasing restaurant takeout is an essential part of their lifestyle.

Fast-food, casual- and even fine-dining restaurants are all capitalizing on the benefits and possibilities of takeout and delivery services. Takeout can increase your business without significantly raising operation costs or forcing you to expand your facility.
If you’re close to starting or growing a takeout business, consider the following as you package a successful enterprise.

Facilitate easy ordering
Be familiar and adept with ordering methods that appeal to your customer base.

The most common ways of ordering takeout include phone and online. Many restaurants are equipped to receive text-message orders and orders through restaurant apps from mobile devices; this is especially popular with teens and young adults.

Drive-thrus are no longer limited just to fast food as well. Independent operations such as the Black Sheep Coffee Café in South St. Paul, Minnesota, are utilizing drive-thrus for takeout ordering and pick-up.

Put thought into the menu
An easy-to-read and audience-centric menu is just as important to takeout as it is to a main dining area. The menu should include all food choices that can be transported safely and easily. It should also feature variety and affordable price points.

Set up a takeout area
Consider having a separate counter or parking area for takeout customers. Treat it as its own business with clear, proper signage. If there’s not enough space for a separate area, you might use the end of the bar.

Monitor accuracy
You have one chance to get the order right; otherwise, the customer might not return.

Have an accurate order-entry system such as Point of Sale (POS) software. Make sure staff are trained to complete their tasks correctly and efficiently the first time.
Check for accuracy during and after order production. Ensure the food is what the customer wanted. Verify that every item the customer expects is present, including bread, sides, napkins and utensils. Whenever possible, go over the order with the customer at the point of pick-up.

Use sturdy packaging
Takeout packaging must maintain the quality and integrity of your restaurant’s food. Containers should be durable to prevent leaking and resist breaking. Food items and utensils should be correctly packed and stacked in bags or boxes. Packaging that allows for reheating is another big plus.

Maintain food safety
Hold food at safe temperatures until the customer picks it up. Keep hot foods separate from cold ones. Ensure food will remain at safe temperatures during transport as well.

Provide customers with clear instructions for how to store food and reheat food. Placing “use-by” date stickers on all packages and containers is helpful, too.

Assign the right personnel
Schedule staff appropriately. Depending on your resources and requirements, you might assign specific roles for taking orders, processing payments, monitoring quality control and, if necessary, delivering orders.

Customer-contact personnel should be prepared to address questions and concerns, as well as advise on how to store and reheat food. Delivery drivers should be professional representatives of the business – honest, respectful, personable and responsible.

Grow through branding, marketing, sales
Takeout provides a great opportunity to market your brand and your business – as well as to increase your sales. Define your audiences and consider how you’ll promote your takeout both on-site and to the surrounding area.

Consider branding your takeout packaging with your company logo and tagline or marketing messages. Market and promote the service on your website as well.

Keep track of all contact information for customers who order online and by phone and mobile device. Maintain a contact database and market directly to those existing customers. Tailor offers and promotions to their habits and preferences.

With the right thought, planning and execution, your takeout business can have an exciting impact on the business you take in.

Tactical Takeaways

Takeout can:
  • increase business without raising operation costs or forcing facility expansion; 
  • bring you business through multiple ordering methods; and
  • give you an excellent opportunity to brand and market your restaurant

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What's an acceptable level of noise? Here's sound advice

The National Restaurant Association’s Manage My Restaurant online resource has countless articles to help you become more profitable. Manage My Restaurant has articles in categories such as Marketing and Sales, Workforce Engagement, Food and Nutrition and Operations. Visit Manage My Restaurant here for this and other helpful articles.

There are absolute standards in regard to how loud your music should be played when complying with Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s, or OSHA guidelines.

According to OSHA, you can’t expose your employees to a whole shift of music that is 90 decibels or more, a volume that is high for a restaurant, but not uncommon in bars and nightclubs. Even at sound levels that OSHA says are safe, it is likely you’ll get lots of guest complaints.

According to Stephani Robson, Ph.D., a senior lecturer at Cornell University School of Hotel Management, a study found that the average noise level in restaurants measured about 70 decibels even though the volume needed for comfortable conversation is around 60 decibels. Flip through any restaurant review, and you may see guest complaints about not being able to hear their dining companions over the noise.

Part of the problem is the way restaurants are designed today. For example, there are lots of hard surfaces, no carpets, and tables packed close together to maximize capacity, all of which can make a space seem very loud. But music that is playing at too high a volume also is a big contributor to uncomfortable noise levels.

So how loud should the music be? In general, not more than about 60 decibels for restaurants where you want guests to converse over a meal. To ensure you are at the correct level, you can test your music levels with an inexpensive sound meter that can be bought online for about $30. There are also free decibel meter applications found in the App Stores on your smart phone.

Turn the music up for active bar scenes, but keep it under 75 decibels unless you want your guests and staff to be hoarse at the end of the night.

Receive free business plans, restaurant server training manuals, and restaurant “Profit Tip” of the week at

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

National Restaurant Association offers training DVDs on harassment prevention, social media use and customer service

The National Restaurant Association has released three new DVDs that offer best practices in dealing with harassment and discrimination, customer service training, and a first of its kind video guide on the use of social media.

The DVDs were created especially to appeal to mid-market and small chain operations. The video series is designed to help owners and managers teach their employees how to provide exceptional customer service; prevent harassment and discrimination; and employee responsibility when representing their brand or their customers on social media platforms.

“These DVDs are designed to educate and train restaurant and foodservice employees dealing with important workplace issues,” said Sara Anderson, the NRA’s restaurant programs manager. “The DVDs are broadly drawn to avoid conflicts with organizations’ standard operating procedures and also offer specific information that could help prevent potential situations that are hurtful to a business’ reputation or costly legal battles.”

The DVDs range between 11 and 22 minutes in length. The topics include: 
  • Preventing Harassment & Discrimination, a training course for restaurant employees that explains clearly and effectively how to prevent harassment and discrimination in the workplace
  • Being Social Media Smart, which explains how social media platforms can allow private information to become public fast, and teaches employees how to be responsible when representing their companies online 
  • Customer Service Training, which instructs employees on how to deliver an exceptional customer service experience and know how to react in difficult situations

The DVDs are available for sale on the ServSafe website. For more information about these products, call (312) 715-1010 or e-mail

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Mandeville High School's Carolyn Senac named LRAEF ProStart Educator of the Year

The Louisiana Restaurant Association Education Foundation (LRAEF) has named Carolyn Senac of Mandeville High School as its 2014 ProStart® Educator of the Year.

Seanc, Mandeville’s ProStart instructor since 1999, was bestowed the honor during a special, surprise ceremony at the school, February 20, 2014.

“ProStart has helped my students obtain an immeasurable amount of experience in the restaurant and hospitality industry, which will give them a head start in their careers,” said Senac. “I have enjoyed teaching and learning with the students already working in the industry.”

Under Senac’s direction, Mandeville High School’s ProStart team competed in the culinary competition during the 13th Annual LRAEF Louisiana Seafood ProStart Student Invitational March 25-26, 2014 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center. Mandeville’s team won the Judge’s Pick- Dessert Award for their New Orleans bread pudding, layered with vanilla-poached Louisiana strawberries, blueberries and blackberries, finished with freshly whipped cream. The dessert will be interpreted and served to guests at the LRAEF’s Five Star Futures Gala, August 2, 2014 at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside.

“Carolyn cares about ProStart on many levels: her school, the community and across the state,” said LRAEF ProStart Coordinator Devienne Theriot. “Carolyn was proactive in bringing ProStart to St. Tammany Parish and is a great teacher and a wonderful role model.”

The LRAEF, a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization, exists to enhance the restaurant community through expanded educational and career opportunities, the formation of strategic partnerships and the elevation of professional standards and practices. If you would like to make a donation, please contact Alice Glenn, or (504) 454-2277, ext. 565.

The LRAEF is grateful to its 2014 annual partners: 5 Diamond—Acme Oyster House, Auto-Chlor Services, Louisiana Hospitality Foundation and Louisiana Seafood; 4 Diamond—Performance Foodservice-Caro; 3 Diamond—Atmos Energy, Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, Louisiana Culinary Institute, New Orleans Wine & Food Experience and Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers; 2 Diamond—Louisiana Gas Association, Whole Foods Market and Chef Paul Prudhomme’s “Sea of Hope”; and 1 Diamond—Entergy.

Monday, April 14, 2014

"Well-Ahead Louisiana" health initiative launched

Today, Governor Bobby Jindal and the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) Secretary Kathy Kliebert were joined by dozens of local supporting organizations to launch the Well-Ahead Louisiana initiative, which will designate healthy places around the state that voluntarily champion and embrace health and wellness. The program is a state-wide effort to partner with schools, businesses and other organizations in local communities to give Louisianians more control and ownership of their health.

Well-Ahead Louisiana, the first voluntary designation program of its kind in the state, encourages organizations and individuals to make small healthy lifestyle changes to the spaces where Louisiana residents spend most of their time.  Well-Ahead establishes healthy living designation criteria for organizations to follow that will result in better health outcomes for Louisiana residents.  Examples of healthy designation criteria include breastfeeding friendly policies, tobacco-free environments, employee wellness and consistent healthy food offerings. These changes will make smart choices an easier part of living and working in Louisiana.

Governor Jindal said, “Today is a great day for Louisiana.  Louisiana is a special place, one with incredible festivals, food and music. We love our way of life here, and I want each and every one of us to be able to live longer, healthier, happier lives so that we can cherish and celebrate our culture for years to come.  To help do that, we’ve created the Well-Ahead Louisiana initiative. The largest component of this program is the recognition of businesses, schools and other organizations across our state that are making it easier for our people to make healthier choices. This program is a testament to the fact that we can be healthy without raising taxes or passing burdensome, complicated laws.”

“DHH is very proud to announce our Well-Ahead Louisiana program,” said DHH Secretary Kathy Kliebert.  “Approximately 1.6 million or one in three Louisiana residents are obese. We must raise awareness on how Louisianians can improve their wellbeing.  Together we can shape a future for our citizens where we are all able to live longer, better lives because we’ve made the choice to change.”

In 2013, Louisiana spent an estimated $28 billion on the treatment and economic costs of primary chronic diseases, like heart disease, obesity and diabetes.  When Louisianians start making healthy decisions for themselves, future economic costs associated with chronic conditions could be reduced by $17.3 billion, coupled with a decrease of 600,000 chronic disease cases.  Further, smart and healthy living could add $62 billion to the State’s economic output by 2050.

Employers, schools, health care providers, universities, child care centers and restaurants can choose to seek designation as a Well-Ahead Louisiana location, called a WellSpot. The Well-Ahead designation includes three levels of WellSpots, Level One, Level Two and Level Three.  Level One is the highest level and indicates that the highest number of Well-Ahead criteria have been met, followed by Level Two and Level Three. Criteria for each level can be viewed on the program’s website here

Organizations making positive changes may voluntarily request a Well-Ahead team member to verify that it has completed wellness-based changes and may be designated WellSpots in Louisiana. DHH will recognize those WellSpots and the organization will be able to display signage and Well-Ahead campaign material to let Louisiana citizens know it considers wellness to be a priority.

“Louisiana has an incredible food culture, and all of us deserve to enjoy that culture for as long as possible instead of having our lives cut short by chronic disease,” said Public Health Assistant Secretary J.T. Lane. “Environments play a large role in our daily choices. Through Well-Ahead, we can assist organizations, businesses, families and individuals in achieving and maintaining good health. I encourage everyone to familiarize themselves with the Well-Ahead criteria and see what changes they can make to positively impact their life.”

“With the bounty of seafood, protein and produce we have here in our state, we encourage restaurants to take part in the Well-Ahead Louisiana campaign,” said Stan Harris, President and CEO, Louisiana Restaurant Association. “Restaurants can choose to participate in this voluntary program by offering alternative preparation of menu items and providing this information to their service staff to share with their guests.”

"What better time to begin a lifetime of wellness than from the very beginning. Woman’s Hospital delivers more than 8,500 babies a year – thousands of opportunities for healthy beginnings. Our support for Well-Ahead Louisiana’s mission extends from strong breastfeeding initiatives to walking trails and healthy menu options; we want to make healthy, active lifestyles a part of every family, including our own employees,” said Teri Fontenot, Woman’s Hospital President and CEO.

“At RoyOMartin we view employee wellness as a competitive advantage. We believe that a healthy employee is a more productive employee,” said Ray Peters, Vice President of Human Resources and Marketing at RoyOMartin.  “Furthermore, improved employee health helps ensure that employer-provided medical coverage can be managed more cost effectively. Seventy-three percent of our employees voluntary participate in on-site wellness programming, and every day we see lives being positively impacted.”

“The University of Louisiana System is happy to support the state’s Well-Ahead initiative.  Each of the nine universities in our system has health and wellness programming, and we look forward to partnering with the Department of Health and Hospitals to enhance those efforts on behalf of our 90,000 students,” said UL System President Dr. Sandra Woodley.

“LSU is committed to improving the lives of all Louisianans. At Pennington Biomedical we are interfacing with the entire state through partnerships with the LSU AgCenter to tackle the obesity epidemic head on through our Childhood Obesity and Diabetes Research Program. Combined with awareness efforts like Well-Ahead, we will make an impact,” said Dr. Peter Katzmarzyk, Associate Executive Director for Population and Public Health Sciences at Pennington Biomedical.

"We love our state and the vast food culture it offers.  However, Louisiana has one of the highest chronic disease rates in the country.  We must change our dialogue on health to focus on how we can proactively be well," said Louisiana Sen. David Heitmeier. “I believe Well-Ahead WellSpots will show Louisianians how we can make smart and healthy choices to enhance our wellbeing.  Knowledge is key to ensuring Louisiana residents are happier and healthier to enjoy our unique lifestyle."

Organizations interested in becoming a WellSpot, please visit here

Well-Ahead Louisiana campaign promotes a healthier state

We’re pretty proud of our way of life in Louisiana. Improving our wellbeing, though, doesn’t have to mean giving up our favorite things like good food, great music and legendary festivals. Rather, it means making smart choices so we can enjoy our favorite things even longer. Well-Ahead Louisiana, a campaign by the Louisiana Dept. of Health and Hospitals, was created to improve health and wellness in our state so that we can enjoy Louisiana for many, many years to come.

“With the bounty of seafood, protein and produce we have here in our state, we encourage restaurants to take part in the Well-Ahead Louisiana campaign,” said Stan Harris, President and CEO, Louisiana Restaurant Association. “Restaurants can choose to participate in this voluntary program by offering alternative preparation of menu items and providing this information to their service staff to share with their guests.”

Well-Ahead Louisiana promotes and recognizes smart choices in the spaces and places we live and work every day that make it easier for us all to live healthier lives, from going tobacco-free to ensuring healthy lunch options or supporting workplace fitness programs. Once designated, these environments are called Well-Spots. All Well-Spots must be designated tobacco-free locations. In addition to being tobacco-free, restaurants may adopt additional criteria.

DHH staff will work closely with restaurants, schools, worksites, local governments, hospitals, and universities and colleges to help them identify and meet benchmarks for wellness. Once DHH staff verifies an organization has completed enough benchmarks they will be identified as a Level One, Level Two or Level Three Well-Spot. Level One is the highest level of designation. Read the criteria here.

Chronic disease cost Louisiana a total of $4.5 billion in 2003. Additionally, the economic loss caused by sick days and reduced productivity was $17.4 billion alone in Louisiana in the same time period. Adjusted for inflation, the total cost of treatment, and the economic and productivity costs Louisiana drained an estimated $28 billion from the nation's economy in 2013.

If we made smarter choices together to improve our wellbeing, the Milken Institute predicted that we could avoid 612,000 cases of chronic conditions in 10 years. We could also reduce future economic costs by more than $17 billion in 2023 and we could increase Louisiana's economic output by $62 billion by 2050.

Let us help you become a Well-Spot. Apply here or email us at

Thursday, April 10, 2014

LRA to honor 17 Restaurant Legends at Galatoire's Restaurant in New Orleans

The Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) is pleased to name 17 Restaurant Legends from Galatoire’s Restaurant in New Orleans. The recipients will be recognized at a special ceremony at the restaurant Monday, April 14, 2014 at 6 p.m.

The Restaurant Legends Award recognizes the long-term dedication of employees of the restaurant industry, with 20 or more years of service at one establishment.

“Galatoire’s is so fortunate to have such dedicated employees who have truly made this restaurant the institution it has been for more than 100 years,” said Melvin Rodrigue, Galatoire’s Restaurant President & CEO. “Without their service, we could not offer the impeccable experience our diners expect and deserve.” 

With 557 combined years of experience and service at Galatoire’s Restaurant, these men and women exemplify the satisfaction of making their jobs a lifelong and rewarding career.

They are:

  • Linzie Brown, busser, employed for 51 years
  • Arnold Chabaud, Maître D, employed for 23 years
  • Michael “MC” Emmons, server, employed for 25 years
  • Billy Fontenot, server, employed for 29 years
  • Harold Fontenot, server, employed for 54 years
  • Homer Fontenot, server, employed for 24 years
  • John Fontenot, server, employed for 29 years
  • David Gooch, manager, employed for 47 years
  • Charles Grimaldi, server, employed for 28 years
  • Fernando Gutierrez, cook, employed for 35 years
  • Joann Nunnery, receptionist, employed for 31 years
  • Roger Rojas, cook, employed for 22 years
  • Richard Smith, server, employed for 30 years
  • Bryant Sylvester, server and Maître D, employed for 27 years
  • Dorris Sylvester, server, employed for 39 years
  • Imre Szalai, server, employed for 40 years
  • Murray Thomas, cook/Kitchen Manager, 23 years
“We hope to encourage younger workers to follow the examples that each of these special men and women have set for the industry,” said Stan Harris, LRA President & CEO. “It is more than evident that Galatoire’s fosters a sense of pride among their employees, promote from within and stress the importance of jobs within the industry.”

National Restaurant Association Joins ‘Share the Gulf’ Sustainability Initiative

As part of its efforts to support sustainability practices in the foodservice industry, The National Restaurant Association today announced it has joined Share the Gulf, a coalition of chefs, restaurateurs, restaurant associations, seafood suppliers, fishermen, consumers and environmentalists working to protect their access to fish in the Gulf States.

“The fresh, local seafood of the Gulf States is essential to the growth of the region’s economy and its varied foodservice businesses,” said Scott DeFife, Executive Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. “We are committed to helping ensure this seafood is not only fished sustainably so its population continues to grow, but that the voices of small businesses, their employees and customers, also are heard.”

The initiative, launched in 2013, aims to ensure the region’s restaurants and grocery businesses maintain an equitable share of the Gulf States’ red snapper catch.

“Our goal is to make sure Gulf seafood continues to be shared fairly and sustainably so that all of us can enjoy it for generations to come,” said Stephen Stryjewski, executive chef at New Orleans-based Link Restaurant Group and Share the Gulf co-chair. “We believe – and science shows ‑ that if Gulf fisheries are well managed, there will be a growing population with plenty of snapper, grouper and other fish to go around. We are committed to sitting down and working together to find a productive, fair and reasonable solution about how to share the Gulf.”

In addition to the NRA, the Louisiana Restaurant Association, Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association, Texas Restaurant Association, Mississippi Restaurant and Hospitality Association and the Alabama Restaurant & Hospitality Alliance, as well as dozens of restaurants and seafood companies, are supporting the initiative, which is fighting proposed changes to regulations that would take a portion of the red snapper reserved for restaurant and foodservice use and make it available for recreational fishing instead.

To join Share the Gulf, go here. Visit the NRA’s Conserve program to learn more about sustainable practices for the restaurant industry.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Don’t fall victim to restaurant profitability myths

The National Restaurant Associations Manage My Restaurant online resource has countless articles to help you become more profitable. Manage My Restaurant has articles in categories such as Marketing and Sales, Workforce Engagement, Food and Nutrition and Operations. Visit Manage My Restaurant here for this and other helpful tips.

When seeking to profit in business, avoid the following myths and prosper as a responsible restaurant operator.

Myth: Buying larger quantities to get volume discounts saves money. Answer: Not after accounting for the extra waste, theft, spoilage, larger portion sizes and overall carelessness that results when more products are purchased than are needed. Smart operators purchase just what they need even if the price/unit is a little higher. They know they will make more money if they focus on product use, not quantity discounts.

Myth: It is better to have cash overages than shortages. Answer: Although neither is great news, cash overages are often an indication of unrecorded sales ‑ one of an operator's worst nightmares.

Myth: Keeping food costs low means larger profit margins. Answer: Many of the most profitable restaurants in the country have high food costs, some as much as 45 percent to 50 percent. The issue is not how high or low food costs are, but rather how many gross profit dollars your menu items generate. That's why menu items should be promoted based on their gross profit contribution (dollars) rather than having a low food cost (percentage).

Myth: Only the chef or the manager on duty should check in deliveries. Answer: The chef and the manager on duty are usually the two people in the operation with the least time to always do a complete, thorough job of checking in deliveries. Many companies use an hourly employee who is trained to be a dedicated receiving clerk during certain hours of the day. An hourly employee generally has the uninterrupted time to devote the attention necessary to do a proper job checking in each and every delivery.

Myth: Profit-and-loss statements should be prepared and reviewed monthly. Answer: It is of limited value to compare a monthly P&L with a previous month. There may be a different number of total days or a different number of weekend days that will invalidate any meaningful sales comparison. Many restaurants do more than 50 percent of their sales on two days of the week ‑ Fridays and Saturdays. Many restaurant operators prepare their P&Ls on a four-week, 28-day cycle so that each P&L reflects the same number of days each week.

Myth: The most important part of pricing the menu is determining each item's food cost. Answer: Costing out each item is very important, particularly when determining their gross profit contribution. However, determining what customers will pay in your immediate market is the most important consideration. While not an exact science, shopping the local competition plus an evaluation of your customers' income levels and spending habits should provide valuable information for a framework on pricing decisions. Also, ask your servers how much they would charge for a menu item. After all, servers are closer to your customers than anyone else.

Myth: The best accountant in most restaurants is the bookkeeper. Answer: Actually, it's usually one of the bartenders. Their accounting skills are honed through years of experience keeping track of liquor usage and unrecorded drink sales with elaborate counting schemes using glasses, stir sticks, toothpicks, pennies and even olives.

Myth: Using garbage cans in the kitchen is a good way to dispose of trim and waste. Answer: Smart operators use clear plastic food boxes to deposit kitchen scraps and trim. Managers take a moment to inspect the contents of each box at the end of the shift.