Thursday, July 31, 2014

LRA Members: Help provide valuable feedback to the La. Dept. of Health & Hospitals

As part of the Louisiana Restaurant Association's advocacy activities, we work in collaboration with state entities that regulate and have oversight for our industry. Last year, we passed an updated permit fee initiative for all foodservice establishments in Louisiana, working in close association with the Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH). We planned this modest fee change for over 18 months and had gained the assurance from the Governor's office that if the bill passed, he would sign it into law. (This is one of the few fee bills Governor Jindal has signed during his term.)

The funds generated were dedicated to maintaining our state's outstanding record of food safety in our restaurants, catering operations, convenience stores, hotels and other permit holders. We asked the DHH to add a new position that would provide outreach to the industry while carrying this feedback to the field sanitarian staff to ensure more consistency in site visits and reporting. In addition, they committed to add several new sanitarian supervisors around the state that could provide additional follow-up when a permit holder had an issue with their assigned sanitarian. Another enhancement to the DHH system will be their installation of an upgraded field reporting program that will be consistent across the state. 

We are circulating this electronic survey request from the DHH for LRA members to complete. Mr. Scott Green of DHH, who serves as their quality control liaison, will be reviewing the responses and then meeting with the Chief Sanitarian and Assistant Secretary to assess how the industry thinks they are meeting their responsibilities.

Please click HERE to access the survey. It should only take a few minutes to complete. Your responses will be anonymous and used to assist the DHH in measuring how they are doing and what they can improve on.

The deadline to complete the survey is Friday, August 8, 2014. The survey can be found here

Training staff on kitchen equipment

The National Restaurant Association’s 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.

Restaurant personnel often lack proper knowledge of the equipment they use each day. Whether it's programmable fryers, high-tech combination ovens, or sophisticated video order systems, equipment designers have put more emphasis on ease of use rather than comprehension of how it works.

Nevertheless, managers and kitchen managers should have a working knowledge of how each piece of equipment works, how to properly clean it, and how to perform periodic maintenance.

Common sense plays a role when it comes to preserving equipment longevity. For instance, refrigeration equipment relies on airflow to remove heat. Staff should be trained not to stack boxes so close that it could cut off air circulation, causing the compressor to work harder.

Likewise, staff should be instructed to turn off equipment not in use. Or, let's say you use a char broiler that has two or more burners. Turning off one side during slow times not only saves unnecessary wear and tear, it also reduces the amount of heat.

Consider providing new managers with basic information on how to maintain and clean equipment to provide longer use. This includes an overview of the common parts, such as coils and condensers, etc. Potential corrective issues they can check before calling a repairperson also should be offered.

Managers should know the location of breaker panels (each breaker should be clearly marked), gas shutoff valves, quick disconnects, water shutoff valves, and grease traps. It can give them more confidence about how to handle repair issues when they are running the store.

Whether you're in the startup phase or if you've been open for years, it's never too late to improve your training. Even a simple addendum containing copies or excerpts from your equipment manuals can prove to be valuable training material that can save you money in the long run.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

#LRAEXPO14: Your Weekend Planner

Celebrating its 61st year, the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO, is August 2-4, 2014 at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center in Hall I. The EXPO is a one-stop shop for all your restaurant needs—whether they are products, services or education and is a must for restaurant owners, managers, buyers, hotel food and beverage directors and chefs. It’s the only place in Louisiana to gain valuable industry knowledge and shop hundreds of companies under one roof.

Join 2014 National Restaurant Association Chair Ken Conrad, owner of Libby Hill Restaurants in North Carolina, as he addresses the crowd and cuts the ribbon during the Opening Ceremony, Saturday, August 1 at 10:45 a.m. in the Hall I foyer.
2014 NRA Chair
Ken Conrad

“I’ve visited New Orleans five times or so and I am looking forward to my trip for the EXPO,” Conrad said. “I own seafood restaurants and coming to a great seafood city like New Orleans is a wonderful treat for me and my family.”

As the EXPO opens (at 11 a.m.), crowds pour onto the show floor just in time for the Great American Seafood Cook-Off (GASCO) opening celebration. Attendees will hear the sirens, which signals the start of a mini-parade complete with a marching band, Mardi Gras Indians and mini-floats, which traverses one end of the show ending at the GASCO stages in Hall J. Nineteen chefs, including New Orleans’ own Aaron Burgau of Patois Restaurant, will compete for the title of King or Queen of American Seafood. GASCO is produced by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board and sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

“Having GASCO as part of the LRA’s EXPO demonstrates our industry’s commitment to promoting not only Gulf seafood, but all domestic seafood as a center of the plate staple in Louisiana and beyond,” said Stan Harris, LRA President/CEO.

Be sure to make some time to expand your knowledge of leading restaurant industry trends, issues and best practices in the third annual IDEA ZONE. On Saturday, express sessions cover topics such as: grow your restaurant brand/concept; top tax benefits that exist for restaurant owners; promoting profits and preventing loss behind the bar; and what can I really charge my employees; and more.  On Sunday, you’ll have the chance to learn about: updates on the Affordable Care Act; how to price a menu for off-site catering; food allergies: myths busted; and more. Monday’s IDEA ZONE features the LRA Self Insurer’s Fund annual safety seminar and beef flavor fundamentals.

During the EXPO, the 2nd Annual Farm to Table International Symposium takes place and LRA members receive discounted admission to attend numerous sessions examining “The Process.”  The symposium, produced in partnership with the SoFAB Institute and the LSU AgCenter, brings together the leading practitioners in the growing farm-to-table movement to explore the cultivation, distribution and consumption of food and drink sourced locally while presenting the opportunity to connect consumers, chefs and producers.

To maximize your EXPO experience, be sure to take a few minutes to map out your journey by creating your Personalized Show Guide. This feature allows you advance review of all the exhibiting companies, some longtime favorites and more than 50 new companies, you’ve never seen at the show before.

We can’t wait to see you in New Orleans this weekend! If you haven’t registered, click here.

Thank you to this year’s Platinum Sponsors!
Heartland Payment Systems, Louisiana Cookin’, Capital One, Republic National Distributing Company, UnitedHealthcare, Glazer’s of Louisiana, Louisiana Restaurant Association Self Insurer’s Fund and the LRA Education Foundation.

Gold Sponsors—Midlands, Generations Hall & Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses; and Silver Sponsors—Fisher & Phillips, LLP; Johnson, Johnson, Barrios & Yacoubian and Hailey, McNamara, Hall, Larmann & Papale, LLP.

LRA members help launch WFF 100k Strong Commitment to advancing women leaders campaign

LRA Members Haley Bittermann, Lauren Brennan Brower,
Karen Coaxum, Anna Tusa, Ti Martin, Susan Spicer, Debbie Pierce,
Katy Casbarian with LRA President/CEO Stan Harris,
 NRA President/CEO Dawn Sweeney, WFF Board Chair Susan
Gambardella and WFF President Hattie Hill. 
Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF), the nation’s largest nonprofit organization focused on advancing women leaders and gender parity on executive teams , launched the WFF 100K Strong Commitment Campaign, an industry-wide call to action to support the advancement of women leaders, at its annual Executive Summit.  Over 200 foodservice industry leaders and several prominent New Orleans restaurateurs—Haley Bittermann, Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group; Lauren Brennan Brower, Dickie Brennan & Co.; Karen Coaxum, Coaxum Enterprises; Anna Tusa, The Crazy Lobster; Ti Martin, Commander’s Palace, Sobou, Café Adelaide; Susan Spicer, Bayona Restaurant; Debbie Pierce, Bon Ton Café; Katy Casbarian, Arnaud’s & Remoulade Restaurants & French 75 Bar—joined to lend their support to the national campaign.

“Women are significantly under-represented in C-suite and executive teams and we are asking the foodservice industry to create more opportunities for this group,” said Hattie Hill, WFF President and CEO. “We officially launched the WFF 100K Strong Commitment to Advancing Women Leaders Campaign at our Executive Summit in order to enlist industry support in our mission to help create a pipeline of talent to increase representation in the executive ranks of our nation’s second largest industry.“

The WFF 100K Strong Commitment Campaign is designed to spur foodservice leaders nationally to publicly acknowledge the importance of advancing women leaders, as well as:
  1. Encourage others to take on and sign the commitment at their company
  2. Sponsor women leaders in their organizations
  3. Partner with WFF to create leadership development programs that build key competencies.
Women represent 60 percent of first-line food prep managers and service workers, yet only 15 percent of foodservice companies have 30 percent or more of women represented in senior teams. “We all have work to do to achieve our goal of advancing women leaders and the support that we receive will help to reinvigorate and set a path for greater things to come,” said Hill.

The advancement is not only the right thing to do but, according to a study by the American Sociological Organization, there is considerable economic value in better gender-balanced leadership teams, noting that improving gender diversity by a mere one percent leads to a three percent increase in sales.  (Source:

Throughout the campaign, WFF will provide resources to help women navigate their road to leadership.  That support began July 28 with the release of a WFF whitepaper entitled – “A Roadmap to the C-Suite.” Sponsored by Rich’s Foods, the whitepaper is the result of a year-long research study that focused on critical factors that influenced the success of women in the C-Suite, including: risk taking, strategic thinking, business and financial acumen and driving for results.

WFF encourages all leaders to log on and sign the WFF 100K Strong Commitment to Advance Women Leaders campaign at The campaign will run through December 2015.  

Foodservice Industry Statistics
  • The restaurant industry is the nation’s second largest private sector employer with a workforce of 13.5 million. (Source: National Restaurant Association)
  • The foodservice industry, which includes retail sales, operator purchases and manufacturer shipments, is expected to generate $1.2 trillion in aggregate sales in 2014.  (Source: Technomic). 
  • One in 10 people have worked in the foodservice industry at some point in their career
  • Today, women represent 51% of the population and influence $12 trillion of the overall $18.4 trillion in global consumer spending (Catalyst), and have always played the lead role in the food choice decisions for her and her family.  (Source:

WFF is the industry’s premier leadership development organization with more than 25 years of experience advancing women in the foodservice industry. WFF serves thousands of individuals and hundreds of employers in all segments of the industry including operations, manufacturing, distribution, publishing, consulting, and more. Through highly effective and educational events such as the Annual Leadership Development Conference, Executive Summit and Regional Connects as well as professional development and networking opportunities, WFF delivers competency-based leadership development programs and builds strategic industry connections that make a positive difference in the careers of women in the foodservice industry. For more information, visit

Monday, July 28, 2014

WFF White Paper: Research study identifies key factors & competencies for leadership development & advancement to the C-Suite

Findings Released In “A Roadmap To The C-Suite” White Paper Sponsored By Rich Products

With sights set on gender parity on executive teams, Women’s Foodservice Forum (WFF)--the trusted leadership development organization in the foodservice sector--and Kenexa--an IBM company that is a pioneer in employee research and workforce performance—announce the release of - “A Roadmap to the C-Suite”, a white paper detailing the findings of its year-long research study on the  factors and competencies that influence women’s leadership development and advancement to the C-Suite.

The white paper debuted at the 12th Annual WFF 2014 Executive Summit in New Orleans, July 28-30,  where more than 300 executives are in attendance to deepen leadership skills and explore future trends.  “A Roadmap to the C-Suite” will be made available to the public July 29, by download on the WFF website –  Rich Products Corporation, global food supplier to the foodservice, in-store bakery and retail market places, provided a significant grant to fund the research.

“We conducted this research study to acquire an understanding into the key competencies and factors that have contributed to success for those who have already achieved C-level roles,” said Hattie Hill, WFF President & CEO. “It is our intention to use this information to assist women in purposefully and strategically developing their career progression roadmap for advancement to the C-suite. “
For this survey, WFF members were asked to respond to a series of questions related to the critical factors that influenced their success at different levels of their careers (Emerging Leader [Managers], Emerging Executive [Directors], Executive [Vice Presidents], C-Suite [CXO]).Addressing one fundamental question: “What factors influence women’s success in achieving the highest levels of leadership in the food service industry?”, the research study results point to several valuable conclusions which correlate to WFF’s Leadership Competency Model:
  • Early in their careers, women at the top gained competence in delivering results and demonstrating financial acumen. Pivotal competencies such as Strategic Thinking and Visioning and understanding the business climate, become most critical in their ascension to the C-suite.
  • Executive leaders are confident and take action. They make things happen and they are not easily deterred, even when the stakes and the pressures are high.
  • Executive leaders drive for results and aren’t afraid to take risks to gain success. They are more willing to push themselves out of their comfort zones to take on new assignments, experiences and roles - even if they don’t think they are fully prepared.
  • Regardless of functional expertise, building overall business and financial acumen has been important in their career growth and success.
  • Women in the top spots didn’t get there by accident. Most set their sights on the top spots early in their careers by establishing career goals and following personal development plans.
  • Women in top positions didn’t waste time in getting there. Those who eventually reach the C-suite often progressed through lower levels of leadership far quicker than those whose careers plateaued at lower levels.

Currently, only 17 percent of directors and 14 percent of C-Suite executives at Fortune 500 companies are women.[i]  By recognizing the key factors that have proven successful for women currently in top business positions, we can best develop leaders and increase the representation of women in the C-suite and boardroom.
“We are thankful for Rich Products Corporation’s sponsorship of the research study and longtime support of the WFF mission,” said Hill.  “The key findings will enable us to continuously evolve our training and development for our members, at all levels of their careers, and best serve our mission of advancing women leaders.”

“It was of the utmost importance for Rich Products to support this endeavor as it mirrors the value our organization places on career development and advancing women leaders within Rich Products,” said Bill Gisel, President and Chief Executive Officer of Rich Products, headquartered in Buffalo, N.Y. “We too will use the study findings to reinforce our current career development strategies at Rich’s, and we are also very proud of the positive implications this will have on the industry at large.”

WFF is the industry’s premier leadership development organization with more than 25 years of experience advancing women in the foodservice industry. WFF serves thousands of individuals and hundreds of employers in all segments of the industry including operations, manufacturing, distribution, publishing, consulting, and more. Through highly effective and educational events such as the Annual Leadership Development Conference, Executive Summit and Regional Connects as well as professional development and networking opportunities, WFF provides the competence, content and strategic connections needed to make a positive difference in the careers of women in the foodservice industry. For more information, visit

LRA Education Foundation announces Five Star Futures Live Auction items

The LRA Education Foundation will hosts its annual Five Star Futures Gala, Saturday, August 2 at 6:30 p.m. at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside. The event will recognize the 2014 class of 30 scholarship recipients who will receive a total of $61,000 and this year’s LRA award winners: Associate Member of the Year—Mickey Freiberg; Advocate of the Year---Rep. Erich Ponti; Hall of Fame Inductees—the Marino Family of Gino’s Restaurant; and Restaurateurs of the Year—Ruffin Rodrigue and Peter Sclafani.

The gala features a live auction, led by guest auctioneer Mark Romig, CEO of the New Orleans Tourism & Marketing Corp.

Get in the Tunnel Zone
New Orleans Saints vs. Minnesota Vikings, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014, This package includes: 8 tickets to the game; 8 special credentials to access the Superdome field, positioned next to the Saintsations on the field, on the field recognition: scoreboard & PA announcement, 8 t-shirts and limousine transportation for 8 to & from the Superdome,
anywhere in the GNO area.  Courtesy of Coca-Cola & American Luxury Limousine, VALUE: $2,500

What Happens in Vegas
This package includes: 2 Southwest Roundtrip plane tickets, 2 nights stay at Caesar’s Palace and 2 tickets to Elton John, Shania Twain or Celine Dion. Courtesy of Southwest Airlines & Caesar’s Entertainment, VALUE: $1,500

Instant Luxury Wine Cellar
25 bottles of exclusive wines from the private collections of New Orleans’ finest cellars. Minimum value per bottle is $75. Courtesy of the LRA Greater New Orleans Chapter, VALUE: $2,400

George Rodrigue Print—“The Three Amigos” (2010)
Courtesy of the George Rodrigue Foundation of the Arts, VALUE: $3,000

Private Dinner for 10 with Chef Peter Sclafani
This package includes: Exclusive 7-course dinner prepared at the venue of your choice by Chef Peter Sclafani, dinner must take place on a mutually agreed upon date (no Fridays, Saturdays or Holidays), no restriction on location. Courtesy of Ruffino’s Restaurant of Baton Rouge & Lafayette. VALUE: $5,000. 

The gala will also feature a Silent Auction and a Wine and Spirits cork pull. The Silent Auction features: 2 tickets to the Saints vs. Vikings, Sept. 21 in the ATMOS Energy's 50-yard-line suite; dinner for 4 at the soon-to-reopen Brennan's on Royal Street; 2 tickets to the Saints vs. the Bengals, Nov. 16 in the Lodge Club Area; and much more. 

How to resolve employee conflict

The National Restaurant Association’ s 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.

Conflict is common among all people. It can become particularly problematic in the workplace if not managed correctly.

With the right ideas, attitude and procedures, you can resolve conflict at your restaurant and create a positive, welcoming atmosphere for employees and customers alike.

Maintain positive customer perceptions
Seeing employees fighting is awkward for a customer. It also makes a restaurant seem unprofessional. Managers need specific action plans to deal with such situations.

Trying to break up an employee argument in public can lead to worse confrontation in front of customers. In the event of a conflict, develop a companywide hand signal or verbal cue for gathering as a team in private. This can help shield customers from embarrassing situations that might affect how they perceive your restaurant.

Next, approach any customers who may have been close to the argument. Apologize to them and let them know it’s not the norm at your restaurant.

“Determine if something needs to be resolved right away for a guest; making guests feel comfortable and providing them with an incredible experience is a priority,” says National Restaurant Association Senior Vice President of Human Resources Dawn Cacciotti, who has 20 years of experience in operations, training and human resources. “Smooth things over as well as you can. Based on the needs of your guest, provide a free round of drinks, offer dessert, comp their meal, or better yet, invite them back for another visit in order to demonstrate the impeccable service for which you are known.”

“If you don’t need to attend to a guest, determine if the conflict between the employees should be resolved right away or if it’s something that can be addressed after their shift. In either case, give them time and space to cool down, if possible.”

In the event of violence, Cacciotti emphasizes following company standards, one of which should be to call 911. If you perceive an immediate threat to you or your employees, clear from the area.

Achieve balanced resolution
Once they are away from customers, take conflicting employees aside and ask them if they realize the impact of their behavior.

One approach can be to probe the problem with both employees present and work with them equitably. In some cases, speaking to one at a time could give an unfair advantage to the more persuasive storyteller.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

LRA Member Henry Coaxum Jr. recipient of McDonald's 365Black Award

Henry L. Coaxum, Jr., a New Orleans business executive and civic leader, is one of this year’s recipients of the McDonald's 365Black Awards. The national awards salute outstanding individuals who are committed to making positive contributions that strengthen the African-American community.

Coaxum was honored at the awards ceremony which will was held Saturday, July 5, 2014, at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center during the 20th anniversary of the ESSENCE Festival™ presented by Coca Cola®  in New Orleans.

Coaxum, president of Coaxum Enterprises, Inc., is the owner/operator of seven McDonald’s restaurants in New Orleans. For the past four years, Coaxum has been serving as chairman of the New Orleans Business Alliance -- an appointment by New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, launching the city’s first-ever public-private partnership for economic development.  He also is serving as treasurer of the city’s Hospital Service District Board that is overseeing the development and operation of a full service hospital in Eastern New Orleans.

"We are excited to recognize these outstanding individuals for their incomparable contributions to the community," said Rob Jackson, McDonald's U.S. marketing director. "Like our honorees, McDonald's is committed to being deeply rooted in the communities we serve 365 days a year. That's why we strive to continually create positive platforms, such as the 365Black Awards, that bring social awareness to areas that are important to our neighbors."

Coaxum is an active member of the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA) and serves on the board of trustees for the LRA Self Insurer's Fund, which has served the restaurant and hospitality industry workers' compensation needs for more than 32 years. 

"Henry's commitment to the restaurant industry, his employees, his family and his community is truly remarkable," said Stan Harris, LRA President/CEO. "I am proud to work with him in service to our industry, and especially of his philanthropic dedication to many worthy causes."                                                                        

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

NRA praises House & Senate Commerce Committee Passage of Travel Promotion Act

Today the National Restaurant Association (NRA) praised the House passage and Senate Commerce Committee markup of the Travel Promotion, Enhancement and Modernization Act of 2014. The bipartisan legislation reauthorizes Brand USA, the nation’s first global marketing campaign, to promote the United States as a destination for international travelers.

NRA’s Executive Vice President of Policy and Government Affairs Scott DeFife issued the following statement:

“We applaud the House and Senate Commerce Committee’s passage of the Travel Promotion, Enhancement and Modernization Act which the NRA has supported since its inception.  The restaurant industry relies on travel and tourism and the success of our member companies is closely tied to the promotion of Brand USA around the world. 

“We thank Representatives Gus Bilirakis (R-FL) and Peter Welch (D-VT) for their leadership in passing this critical legislation in the House and members of the Senate Commerce Committee for pushing this forward in the Senate.

“We urge the swift passage of the Travel Promotion Act in the Senate as Brand USA must continue its critical work in promoting the U.S. abroad and attracting international travelers to our shores.  Travel and tourism is vital to our industry and if restaurants do well, the benefits are felt throughout our nation’s economy.”

NRA’s letters of support to the House and Senate Commerce Committee can be found here and here.  

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Is it time to raise your prices?

The National Restaurant Association’ s 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.

Making sure the price is right for each menu item is no game — it takes lots of work. Before adjusting your prices, consider the following eight factors:

1. Food costs. “You’ve got to know your costs before setting a price,” says restaurant consultant Linda Lipsky of Broomall, Pennsylvania. She recommends that food costs run about 33 percent of menu prices, on average. This can differ per operation, with fine dining restaurants typically posting higher food-cost percentages and casual pizzerias running lower percentages. The percentages also vary widely from item to item. “A soup could cost as little as 18 cents per serving to make, but you’re not going to sell it for 54 cents,” Lipsky says. Soups, appetizers, desserts and alcohol tend to have lower cost percentages than entrees, she notes. Consider your sales mix when pricing items.   

2. Margins. Food-cost percentages are only part of the equation. “The biggest mistake I see operators make is that they rely too much on food-cost percentages and not enough on food-cost margins,” says Dennis Lombardi, executive vice president of foodservice strategies for WD Partners, Dublin, Ohio. Take an expensive item, such as lobster. If operators base their menu prices strictly on food-cost percentages, they might price the lobster too high to sell. If they determine they want, say, a $9 margin on entrees, they can price the lobster to sell with a profit. 

3. Additional costs. Don’t forget to factor in your labor costs. The cost of baking and decorating a chocolate cake in-house — rather than buying it premade — is more than just the price of the ingredients. Include the price of any giveaways, such as bread and olive oil, and the cost of food waste and spoilage.

4. Volatility. Food costs can change at a moment’s notice — based on anything from world politics to weather conditions. While large chains might sign contracts that lock in prices, smaller restaurants usually don’t have that option, Lombardi says. “Give yourself a cushion for volatile items,” he notes. Limit items, particularly those with volatile ingredients, to specials or seasonal dishes, he advises. Lipsky recommends printing your menu in-house, so you can easily reprint it if your costs suddenly soar. “If your menu looks the same, your guests probably won’t notice the price change,” she says.

5. Competitor’s prices. When was the last time you dined at a competing restaurant? If it’s been a while, you’re missing crucial information that can help you set your prices. Find out what your competition offers and their price points. Don’t look just at online menus, Lombardi urges. Go in person so you can see the portion sizes, the preparation, the presentation—all factors that impact the value perception. 

6. Menu mix. Lombardi recommends analyzing your menu composition by sorting the items into a matrix like the one below:

Low Margin
High Margin
High Volume

Low Volume

Using this format, you can spot places to adjust prices, push sales or drop items. For example, can you increase the margin on a high volume/low margin item without losing significant sales? Can you increase sales of a low volume/high margin item by placing it more predominantly on the menu or giving servers a sales incentive? Remember: Different spots on the matrix play different roles in building your business. “You need a couple of  items that are priced low enough to avoid the ‘veto vote’ from those in a group who want to go out but don’t want to spend a lot,” Lombardi says.

7. Ingredient adjustments. Before raising a menu price, consider whether you can make the dish for less, Lipsky recommends. Can you select a less expensive vendor, substitute similar but more affordable ingredients or make the portion size smaller? If none of these are feasible, you might need to raise prices. “But that doesn’t mean you have to raise the prices on your whole menu,” Lipsky says.

8. Historical data. Review your menu prices at least twice a year, if not quarterly, Lombardi recommends. Be sure to examine previous price changes, and see how they affected your bottom line before enacting your next set of changes.

Monday, July 21, 2014

3 reasons why 'charitable giving' law is good for business

Many restaurateurs already participate in food-donation programs because it’s the right thing to do, but may not realize the associated financial benefits.

The NationalRestaurant Association (NRA) strongly supported H.R. 4719, the America Gives More Act, for three big reasons, says the NRA’s David Koenig, vice president of tax and profitability: 

  • All businesses would be allowed to take an enhanced federal tax deduction when they donate food inventory to charity.
  • A tax deduction helps restaurants recoup some of the costs associated with preparing food earmarked for donation.
  • An increase in food donations helps cut food waste at restaurants, helping to feed those in need instead of sending food to landfill. 
The House of Representatives passed the bill July 17, but the Senate still needs to act.

The House bill would make permanent a temporary provision that lets all businesses take an enhanced deduction for food inventory donations.  The tax deduction was limited to C corporations until 2005, when Congress expanded it to cover all businesses, including subchapter S corporations and limited liability companies. That expansion expired at the end of 2013. C corps typically are companies that pay federal taxes separately from their owners and shareholders.

Koenig says it isn’t clear whether or when the Senate will vote on a final bill. A Senate committee voted earlier this year to extend the enhanced food-donation tax deduction. He noted the Senate is likely to extend the measure for a year or two.

The NRA has long been an active voice in supporting the charitable giving measure and the move to make the temporary provision permanent.

“The deduction for charitable donation of food inventory is a critical tool in alleviating hunger because it helps offset costs associated with preserving, storing and transporting food inventory donations,” Koenig said.

Customize your #LRAEXPO14 experience

We are just 10 days away from hosting the 61st Annual Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO—August 2-4—in New Orleans! The EXPO has it all—hundreds of exhibiting companies that supply the foodservice industry with the latest in technological advances, equipment, services, food products and beverage options. With numerous chances to increase your profitability, gain value knowledge and meet with your peers, old and new, if you aren’t registered to attend the EXPO, what are you waiting for?

Have a specific need? Get a jump start on your EXPO experience and check out the list of exhibiting companies, many returning favorites and nearly 50 new exhibitors you've never seen before. Around every corner, down every aisle, awaits an exhibitor ready to meet your need, whether it be through an efficient new system, a hot new product, an upgraded piece of equipment or a dazzling new menu item or alcoholic or non-alcoholic beverage to boost your profits.

It’s not the destination, it’s the journey! The best way to maximize your EXPO experience is to create your Personalized Show Guide

Here’s how it works:
  • Click the Floor Plan link here.
  • In the top right hand corner, click login and create a new profile by entering your email and creating a password.
  • On the left hand side of the page, scroll to view companies alphabetically or search for a specific company.
  • Located a company you want to check out on the floor plan? Find it on the Floor plan.
  • Click on the booth area to view the company profile, a link to their website and click on the star to make that company a “favorite.” 
  • Once you’ve “favorited” all the companies you plan to visit at the EXPO, click the Print button in the upper right hand corner of the screen.
  • A window will pop up in the middle of the screen and you can hit Personalize Planner, which will create a PDF of your “favorite” companies by booth number and the floor plan with those booths highlighted.
  • Print your Personalize Planner.

Haven’t registered for the EXPO? What are you waiting for? We are ready to host you for a little work and a lot of fun! Register today here

Thank you to this year’s Platinum Sponsors!
Heartland Payment Systems, Louisiana Cookin’, Capital One, Republic National Distributing Company, UnitedHealthcare, Glazer’s of Louisiana, Louisiana Restaurant Association Self Insurer’s Fund and the LRA Education Foundation.

Gold Sponsor—Midlands, Generations Hall & Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses; and Silver Sponsors—Fisher & Phillips, LLP and Johnson, Johnson, Barrios & Yacoubian.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

7 ways to bring sustainability into your restaurant

Practicing sustainability is good for the environment, but can also cut costs and drive profits for restaurants large and small.

That’s the word from restaurant sustainability experts who shared tips and advice at NRA Show 2014, held in Chicago in May.

We’ve compiled their top tips in our new “Spotlight on Sustainability” report, to help spread the word about the easy steps restaurateurs can take to incorporate enviro-friendly practices at their restaurants.

Seven starters from the experts:

  • Make sure your sustainability program blends seamlessly with your operation. “There has to be a reconciliation of your sustainability initiatives with what works for you,” said Elizabeth Meltz, director of food safety and sustainability for the Batali & Bastianich Hospitality Group.
  • Compost your organic waste material into mulch and plant flowers outside your restaurants, like employees at some White Castle burger locations do. “Your cheapest resource tool is education and engagement,” said Shannon Tolliver, White Castle’s manager of social responsibility and sustainability.
  • Reinvest efficiency savings into other projects. Helen Cameron of Uncommon Ground in Chicago spent $3,000 on six accelerated hand dryers for her two restaurants. In one month she saved $1,000 on paper towel costs. The investment resulted into annual savings of $24,000. She took that money and invested it in LED lighting for her business.
  • Communicate the sustainable actions you take—particularly with millennials, born between 1980 and 1992. “The green message is critical to attracting and retaining [millennials’] loyalty,” NRA research and knowledge senior vice president Hudson Riehle said. “The research is pretty clear. If an operator communicates what he or she is doing, it can have a positive retention factor.”
  • Outfit your restaurant with energy efficient equipment. Buying an energy-efficient fryer for $1,400, versus $700 for a traditional fryer, will cost more at the outset, but will end up extending the life of your fryer oil. Plus, local utility companies often offer rebates on the more efficient equipment. “Efficiency is saving you money,” said Richard Young, senior engineer and director of education for the Food Service Technology Center. “The market wants it, and it’s the right thing to do. Really, it’s good business.”
  • Visit farmers’ markets for locally sourced items. Ryan Stone, executive chef at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., says farmers’ markets are “a great place to start [searching]. I also started reading labels on products in grocery stores to see what was out there.”
  • Assess the amount of waste you create at your establishment. Sodexo’s senior sustainability manager, Christi Cook, said operators need to understand “what food and recyclables are coming through the back door. Education is important, and looking at portion control is part of that. The best way is to track your food waste and figure out where it’s being generated.”

Learn more about the Association’s Conserve program and sustainability best practices for the restaurant industry here. Also, subscribe to Bright Ideas, Conserve’s free, monthly newsletter focusing on sustainability tips and tools for foodservice businesses.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Your #LRAEXPO14 experience: Save the best for last on Monday

There’s a lot to do in New Orleans the first weekend of August. If you want to revel in the city’s activities over the weekend, make plans to hit the 61st Annual Louisiana Foodservice & Hospitality EXPO on Monday, August 4, 2014. The show opens an hour earlier at 10 a.m. and closes at 3 p.m., so you have five hours to shop hundreds of booths and if you are an Louisiana Restaurant Association Self Insurer’s Fund for workers' compensation plan participant, you’ll have the opportunity to get in your annual safety seminar.

Starting at 10:30 a.m. right on the show floor in the IDEA ZONE, LRA SIF VP of Loss Prevention Victor Balbuena, will give you the information you need to know to understand the new requirements of the Globally
Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS). The changes cover more than 43 million workers in the more than five million U.S. workplaces, including restaurants. All LRA SIF members must attend at least one safety seminar or webcast annually to receive dividends. Your EXPO show badge gains you admittance to the EXPO and the seminar.

At 11:45 a.m., make plans to attend Beef Flavor Fundamentals in the IDEA ZONE. Historically, this IDEA ZONE session is standing room only as EXPO attendees flock to hear and taste delicious beef. Chef Dave Zino, Executive Chef of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, will share the latest beef industry news, show you why your customers crave beef and why it should be front and center on your menu.  
Chef Dave Zino hosts
Beef Flavor Fundamentals
August 4, at 11:45 a.m.
in the IDEA ZONE.

Chef Zino is frequently seen on television, heard on the radio and quoted in print, and has appeared on Food Network’s “Unwrapped,” where he revealed tips on how to make the perfect burger.

Traditionally a lighter attendance day, you won’t have to fight the barrage of attendees as you would on Saturday and Sunday. Monday is also the day the serious buyers roam the show floor and many exhibitors are making the best deals to entice customers.

Register today to attend the EXPO here. One pass gets you in the EXPO all three days. LRA restaurant members receive four complimentary passes, which includes IDEA ZONE sessions, viewing the Great American Seafood Cook-Off on Saturday. 

Discounted admission to the 2nd Farm to Table International Symposium is available for LRA members here with the codeF2TLRA. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New Orleans launches 10th Annual COOLinary Restaurant Month

The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB) has announced the line-up of world-class restaurants for its 10th annual COOLinary restaurant promotion, offering special two and three-course lunch menus for $20 or less and/or three-course dinner menus for $35 or less, available August 1-31, 2014. More than 50 New Orleans restaurants are participating.

The event highlights the renowned and authentic cuisine of New Orleans and its culinary community. COOLinary, along with New Orleans CVB’s Be a Tourist inYour Own Hometown campaign, has become a staple calendar event for locals and visitors alike for a decade.

“People from all over the world come to New Orleans to eat, drink and relax. COOLinary New Orleans is an invitation for locals and visitors alike to sample our world-class cuisine at New Orleans’ most prestigious restaurants. Participating restaurants will offer exquisite dishes that are representative of our city’s food culture.” said Kim Priez, Vice President of Tourism for the New Orleans CVB.

This year’s COOLinary restaurants include: Antoine’s Restaurant, Besh Steak, The Bombay Club, Bourbon House, Brigtsen’s, Café Degas, Café Giovanni, Charcoal’s Gourmet Burger Bar, Charlie’s Steak House, Coquette, Court of Two Sisters, Criollo, Crossroads at House of Blues, The Irish House, Desire Bistro & Oyster Bar, Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse, Dominique’s on Magazine, Fountain Lounge, Galatoire’s Restaurant, Galatoire’s “33” Bar & Steak, Galvez Restaurant, GG’s Dine-O-Rama, The Grill Room, GW Fins, Hard Rock Café, K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, Little Gem Saloon, M Bistro, Manning’s, Marti’s Restaurant, Martin’s Wine Cellar, Mat & Naddies, Muriel’s Jackson Square, Mr. B’s Bistro, Morton’s Steakhouse, Palace Café, Patois, The Pelican Club, Restaurant R’evolution, Red Gravy Café, Redemption Restaurant, Rib Room, Saint Lawrence, Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar, Tableau, Tivoli & Lee, Tujague’s Restaurant, Zea’s Rotisserie & Grill and more!

In 2014, Food & Wine magazine readers picked New Orleans as the “clear favorite” as the top dining city, and Condé Nast Traveler names New Orleans the fifth the Best American Cities for Foodies. New Orleans recently received international recognition as a 2014 “World’s Best City” by Travel + Leisure, as one of two American cities to make the top 10 World’s Best Cities list and as the number two city to visit in the U.S.

Please visit to see the growing list of restaurants, menus, specials and more about COOLinary New Orleans.

The New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau is a nationally accredited, 1,100-member destination marketing organization and the largest and most successful private economic development corporation in Louisiana. The CVB and its members influence thousands of decision-makers and millions of visitors to choose New Orleans through direct sales, marketing, public relations, branding and visitor services. The New Orleans CVB is consistently recognized as one of the top five CVBs in the country. For more information, visit;;

Monday, July 14, 2014

#LRAEXPO14 Exhibitors: 4 ways to enhance your brand’s presence at the tradeshow

The National Restaurant Association’ s 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.

Make your brand stand out at trade shows, food fairs and festivals. Most visitors pass by your booth or table only once, so you need to grab their attention immediately. Generally, you have three to five seconds to do so. Here are some ways to stand out:

Spend time and effort on graphics and messaging. Working with professional designers and contractors who build trade show booths, as well as printers and copywriters. Copywriters can help you create a slogan or tag line for your brand that will really stick. Make sure it interests attendees at first glance so they stop by to learn more.

Create an experience at your booth. Make your booth stand out by creating a fun experience that allows visitors to engage with your brand. Trade show games with prizes and photo booths create buzz and draw attention – often just because of the crowd.

Entice them to return. Even if you have a great booth design, contest or samples, there’s no guarantee attendees will think about you after they walk away. That’s why it’s important to do something that makes them think about you later. For example, if you offer a photo booth, include a code and text on the picture to drive them to your website. When visitors enter the code on your site, they receive a discount on your product or service. That encourages them to visit your booth, hang out for a while and return to your brand later.

Capture their contact information. Invest in a small scanner so you can easily capture their contact to information to follow up and potentially create a long-term relationship.

This content was provided by Primary Color.  For more information contact Paul Wartman at 949.370.4255 or