Tips to QSR Success: Part OneMarch 31, 2015 | This post is in: Damascus Bakeries, QSR Industry, Tips | Tags: fast casual, fast casual restaurant, qsr, qsr tips, restaurant, success, tips
Tips to QSR Success: Part 1
Have you ever been dining at a restaurant and said to yourself, “things could be so much better here.”? It happens every day across the nation; less than satisfied customers choosing the competition because of easy fix problems that go unnoticed. Whether you’re seasoned in fast service restaurant management or just getting started in the game, you’ll be able to learn something with our new blog series; Tips to QSR Success.
For this edition, we’re covering five vital things every quick service restaurant needs to know.
- Water Should Always Be Available to Customers
One of the most common issues diners face at a quick service establishment is access to water. Whether patrons don’t want to disrupt a busy barista for a glass or its slow service on your end, there’s a range of reasons why there should be no middle man between your customers and water. Many people dine at QSR restaurants to avoid the service aspect of eating out. Simple solutions to this could be leaving a renewed jug on each new table for self-service or keep a water station with glassware nearby.
- Add Signature Dishes and Drinks to the Menu for Additional Branding
Is there anything on your menu that only you can claim? Your brand is everything. Add continued value to its reputation directly through your food and drink. By including signature flavors that hold true to your brand’s heritage or theme, you associate the delicious taste that you’re known for directly with your branding campaign.
- Stay In Your Guests’ Mind With A Memorable Ambiance
Aside from the food they’re eating, diners are looking for an experience. Inviting someone into your restaurant should speak volumes for its roots, its mission and its operational value. Entice patrons to keep coming back simply to sit in your spot and enjoy being there. Don’t underestimate people’s love of comfort in the dining industry!
- Have a Friendly, Educated Staff
Don’t blur the lines between doing the job and conquering the job. At QSRs, guests should be treated like gold; especially because interaction rates between staff and patron is far more limited than at traditional dine-in restaurants. Staff should be able to suggest house favorites, understand basic dietary restrictions, and learn to seamlessly upsell during their interaction with the customer.
- Never Lose a Sale to Dietary Restrictions
Whether you’re ready to accept it or not, vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, and pescetarian diets have found their place in mainstream dining. This trend can either be your best friend or your worst nightmare. By making your menu versatile and directly indicating which dishes adhere to which diets, you become a staple in the minds of your local community. Building a welcoming reputation in your community allows you to reach customers you may not have hit.
While every quick service is different, these tips are a great place to start the thinking process. As a business operator, it doesn’t matter how many years you have under you. It’s vital to constantly re-evaluate business habits, customer satisfaction and your level of comfort in emerging trends. Stay tuned for more Tips to QSR Success with Damascus Bakeries’ blog.
Why Every Guest Deserves to Start the Meal with BreadMarch 23, 2015 | This post is in: Bread, QSR Industry, Recipes, Tips |
Every single person who walks through your restaurant’s door has something in common: they’re hungry. New customers may size you up based on your décor, returning customers may see what’s running as a special, but the whole focus of the night comes to eating. In the dining world, guest satisfaction is everything; so how are you going to satisfy this initial urge?
Well, every dining experience must begin with bread. It’s an appetizing solution to immediately pleasing your guests and it also introduces your food style. For instance, serving up warm, delicious bread with soft butter or olive oil is a huge indication of what guests can expect from the rest of your food. By upping your stock, guests will feel more comfortable exploring your menu and trusting that it’s worth the price.
The New York Times even covered this issue with their thought provoking piece “Let’s Start with Bread and Water”. In the article, writer Robert Wolfson reminds readers why bread is such an important part of the dining process. Making time to point out, if you’re going to make customers pay for bread, make sure it’s worth it.
Throughout traditions across the globe, breaking bread is the symbol of friendship and trust. It’s evolution in the dining world has taken on the ultimate gesture of hospitality. When guests are greeted with a plate of bread, they feel welcomed in. There not there to just pay and eat, they’re now there to celebrate.
And lastly, bread also provides you a platform to continue your branding campaign. Unique bread baskets are a way to leave a lasting impression on your guests. It’s also a factor that will jump into their mind when deciding where to eat. Just remember to bring your restaurant’s character to the table in the form of your bread.
Although the restaurant industry does have ever evolving profit margins, there are some things that cannot be compromised. Serving bread and water to your table is an important act of hospitality that will long transcend any rising or falling margins. It’s a simple formula: satisfy your guests, empower your brand’s reputation and respect tradition with the ultimate food: BREAD!
Why Bread Is the Best Food on EarthMarch 10, 2015 | This post is in: Bread, Damascus Bakeries, History, QSR Industry |
What’s universally celebrated and culturally revered?
What’s a sign of a peace and considered the food of the world?
Bread! And it’s beautiful.
Bread has filled the stomach of humans for over 15,000 years.
Tracing its mainstream popularity back to Ancient Egypt, bread was originally enjoyed as flatbreads and pitas. It would go on to claim a place within both nobility and peasants alike.
Bread was used as currency in Egyptian society, however, it was also placed in the tombs of nobility to feed their guests in the afterlife.
The culture of bread would take on many forms and varieties.
From pitas to flatbreads, it was enjoyed amongst cultures across the world.
Ancient Christian practices began the process of breaking bread in communion and Jewish traditions used Challah to welcome various holidays.
Why does bread appeal to the masses? It’s affordable.
From rich to poor, we all enjoy freshly baked bread.
This love for the baked good has translated into its symbolism of peace.
“Breaking bread” is often a term for making peace and welcoming others into your life.
It’s also the key ingredient to one of mankind’s favorite foods: The Sandwich.
So where did the sandwich originate? Believe it or not, it was Western Europe!
John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, was said to order slabs of meat between two pieces of breads and quickly the style of food took off. In fact, it would spread under his own namesake!
Our love of bread is sometimes larger than life.
Did you know that the world’s largest loaf of bread was 162 pounds at 10 feet long, 18 inches wide and 18 inches high? Or that an average American will consume around 50 pounds of bread per year?
Human’s relationship with bread is strong and it’s easy to see why.
Bread is resourceful, able to feed a family of four for ten years with the harvesting of one acre of wheat.
It is a versatile ingredient, easily pairing with a variety of different flavors appreciated by cultures across the globe. Regardless of the occasion or destination, bread has always been included.
So here’s to bread, the best food on Earth!
Learn more about Damascus Bakeries’ breads and how our products are bringing nutritious and delicious together.
The Power of the Staff: What Makes a Good Employee?February 25, 2015 | This post is in: QSR Industry, Tips, Uncategorized |
Who is responsible for the first impression of your restaurant?
Who carries your brand’s reputation throughout a customer’s experience?
Needless to say, your staff holds a very important key to your restaurant’s success.
So what goes into a successful employment career at a fast causal restaurant?
We’ve broken it down to a few key points:
Your Staff Should Maintain a Knowledgeable, Friendly Energy
When it comes to the front of the house, customer service is the name of the game.
A big smile and welcoming attitude can be an important factor in whether a guest returns again.
In fact, according to a study by Empathica, the likelihood of a return visit jumps from 20% to 81% when customers report a higher satisfaction rate.
Think about it, who wants to pay for an unpleasant experience?
Rude and unprofessional behavior is something that should never be tolerated in your establishment, especially at a Fast Casual.
The reason why is right in its name it’s fast and it’s quick.
Interactions between patrons and employees at a QSR can be anywhere from one to five minutes which means that every word counts.
Employees should be well versed in phrases such as “How are you doing today?” “Thank you.” “Is everything going great?”
A good relationship between your guests and your employees is the golden key to success.
Every Staff Member Should Possess Passion for Your Brand
This could be one of the most important aspects to employment at your establishment.
Your employees should be well versed in not just your products, but also your brand.
Do your employees share your vision?
Is your staff passionate about your brand?
By maintaining your brand’s reputation, employees contribute to return customer sales.
With scathing reviews via Yelp and TripAdvisor the new way to air out grievances, customers are less likely to talk to a manager face to face. Avoid the bad reviews and loss of customers by making your employees living representatives of your brand.
Do they want to grow within the ranks of your company?
When people feel stagnant, it shows. A day at work for your employees should be considered a chance to showcase their skills. Their focus should be on progression which means earned raise incentives and promotions should be part of your company’s culture.
These are all important questions to answer if you want to identify the passion levels within your company’s employees.
Teamwork and Positive Morale Should Be a Strong Point
What happens between your customer and your employee is usually a reflection of what goes on behind the scenes.
Are your back-end staff comfortable with your front of the house staff and vice versa?
This is often one of the most vital relationships within your business.
Communication should clear, flowing and respectful.
Don’t forget, this is the formula that results in your guest receiving their meal.
Beyond that, are the dynamics of your front of the house set up for success?
There’s no way to know for certain. Dynamics in restaurants change daily.
The best way to ensure efficient teamwork and morale is to hold monthly meetings that allow employees to discuss ideas to improve work and identify what works.
The power of your staff is incredible; it can actually make or break your business.
Empathica Chief Customer Officer Dr. Gary Edwards stated “Service is where they can differentiate themselves from the competition. According to our Benchmark results, service is the area that needs improvement across the board – it is also a key area that can drive customer loyalty and satisfaction.”
Simply by taking into account the points we’ve made you will begin to see your establishment in a different light.
We’ve outlined a few steps to get the conversation started, but now it’s up to you to invest time, resources and energy into making your staff excel.
Valentine’s Day Flatbread with Prosecco Whipped CreamFebruary 14, 2015 | This post is in: Damascus Bakeries, Events, Recipes, Tips |
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Are you looking to impress your special someone with a delicious sweet treat?
Well here at Damascus Bakeries, we’ve got you covered with our 2015 Valentine’s Day Recipe.
Romanticize your taste buds with a Valentine’s Flatbread topped with Prosecco Whipped Cream.
Here’s what you’ll need:
Damascus Bakeries’ Brooklyn Bred Flatbread
Slice your Damascus Bakeries’ Brooklyn Bred into 6” pieces.
Spread small pieces of butter evenly around the flatbread.
Sprinkle Cinnamon and sugar evenly across the flatbread.
Add more or less depending on your love of the spice.
Bake in your oven at 425 degrees for 7-10 minutes.
Flatbread should be browned with butter melted.
Remove from oven and let it sit for 1-2 minutes.
While bread is baking, slice your fresh strawberries into small, thin pieces.
Spread Nutella evenly across the cinnamon baked flatbread.
Crown the flatbread with your diced strawberries on top of the Nutella.
Add small amounts of Prosecco Whipped Cream across the flatbread.
Lightly drizzle chocolate syrup across the dessert flatbread to complete.
Step 10: Wine Pairing
The flavors of this dessert flatbread pair perfectly with a dark, brooding Old Vine Zinfandel.
We chose Brooklyn Winery’s Old Vine Zinfandel to complete this Brooklyn Bread recipe.
How to Make Prosecco Whipped Cream:
Take 1 cup of heavy cream and begin to rapidly whisk it (machine preferred).
Once it begins to soften, add 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar and begin to beat again.
Right before it becomes whipped cream, slowly add 1/3 cup of Prosecco and continue to whip until creamed.
Gluten Free 101February 10, 2015 | This post is in: QSR Industry, Tips | Tags: diet, gluten free, gluten free 101, gluten free diet, gluten free facts
What is one of the most increasing diet trends in fast casual restaurants and beyond?
Which diet effects over 21,000,000 Americans and has seen a 200% increase in market demand?
The answer is simple; Gluten Free.
Gluten free is one of the hottest words in the Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) industry today with an increasing amount of the United States population identifying with Gluten sensitivity.
In fact, it’s 6-7% of the entire population.
While gluten free is a large, emerging market in the QSR industry it’s sometimes a mystery to both new and old restaurant owners.
We’re here to help! Get the basics with Gluten Free 101 below.
So, let’s begin with the basics…
What is Gluten?
Gluten is a protein that is found in grains such as wheat, barley and rye.
But what makes it so important?
Gluten is associated with a major health issue; celiac disease.
People who suffer from the disease cannot consume gluten. The protein causes inflammation in the small intestines of those effected.
In addition, many others suffer from gluten sensitivity which can cause stomach problems.
These factors all equate to a push in the food industry that brings gluten free to the forefront of trends.
So much so that the National Restaurant Association, named Gluten Free among its top 5 food & menu trends.
29% of Americans say they are trying to avoid any gluten in their diet.
Yet, all of them are not suffering from Celiac Disease.
Some of them don’t really know what they’re doing it for.
Either way, you’re going to cater to them!
So what foods qualify as gluten free?
Foods that are naturally gluten free:
– Fresh Eggs
– Fresh Meats, Fish & Poultry (no breading, no batter coating, no marinate)
– Fruits & Vegetables
– Most Dairy Products.
Foods That Are Not Gluten Free (Unless Otherwise Stated)
– Wheat products
– Durum Flour
– Kamut Grain
– Cakes & Pies
Tapping into the Market
Here’s the key; don’t be shy with your gluten-free menu items. In fact, you should expose them!
With such a limited choice of restaurants and products that gluten free diners can have, you want to be their solution. You want them to feel welcomed in your establishment.
Well, for starters, 77% of gluten free diners say it is “hard” to find gluten free options in stores and restaurants. However, with an expected $6.6 billion industry in the food world by 2017, this should not be the case.
By diversifying your menu and indicating its gluten free friendly status, you can increase your sales margin and extend your loyal customer base.
So you’re ready to introduce gluten free options to your consumers – but where do you start?
Setting Up a Gluten Free Program in Your Restaurant
Two experts from the NFCA and MenuTrinfo suggest what steps restaurant operators should take before starting a gluten-free program.
Step One: It begins with creating a few gluten free recipes and then deciding which will make it onto your menu.
Step Two: Enlist a professional service to verify your menu nutritionals. When it comes to allergies, don’t put your customers at risk!
Step Three: Educate your staff on gluten free. Training ensures that staff know what they’re dealing with when it comes to Gluten Free.
Step Four: Gluten free takes space in your spot. Isolate dedicated kitchen space and equipment for your gluten free options.
Step Five: Let your customers know about your new gluten free program. Marketing your availability in this niche can drive sales from both local and out of town diners.
Gluten free is booming and at a fast rate.
By seizing upon this upwards trend, you’ll open up your restaurant to a new range of diners and elevate your brand.
We’ve outlined the basics of a gluten free diet for you, but there is tons of research and specifics for you to dive into.
See if gluten free is right for your restaurant and begin your program!
Hey, speaking of healthy lifestyles, find out why our bread is part of healthy living.
Taking Transparency in Your Quick Service Restaurant to the Next LevelFebruary 3, 2015 | This post is in: QSR Industry, Tips |
Do you know what your customers want?
They want transparency in their relationship with your food.
Transparency is cited as one of the top 2014 restaurant trends and set to continue its importance throughout 2015.
So what are you going to do about it?
Creating a level of transparency between your food and your customer isn’t hard.
It comes down to a few key points:
1) Embrace Your Locally Sourced Ingredients
2) Include Nutritional Information Where Possible
3) List the Ingredients on your Menu
Embrace Your Locally Sourced Ingredients
If there is one thing that’s for certain, it’s that consumers love anything and everything local.
You don’t have to be afraid of that, in fact, you should embrace it.
In the past, we’ve outlined Three Ways to Make Your Menu More Appealing to Millennials but these healthy trends seen in the newer generations are making waves into the older as well.
So what’s the best part of this all?
Consumers will actually spend more money on locally sourced meals.
So yes, by simply incorporating local greens you can up the ante on your menu prices.
It’s a winning combination: You give back to the community through health and business and in turn you can drive your sales upward.
Include Nutritional Information Where Possible
In a world of intense calorie counting and ever-changing dietary trends, outlining nutritional information is very important to your business.
When the FDA required chain restaurants and vending machines to include calorie counts on their menus, consumers were astonished to find the calorie tag that came with their favorite meal.
Whether or not your establishment is required to list the calorie count of each item, highlighting the nutritional values of dishes can be effective.
For instance, did you know that high protein meals are considered a trend among the modern consumer?
Citing “weight loss” and “feelings of satiation”, guests are flocking to protein dishes.
Make a point of this on your menu with symbols to highlight protein rich dishes.
List Your Ingredients on your Menu
So, do you list the ingredients on your menu? If not, it’s time you start.
Perhaps the most effective way to increase transparency between you and your consumer is by listing the ingredients in each menu item.
Your customer’s food allergies should have high priority in how your menu is listed.
In fact, it’s one of the most direct health issues in every restaurant.
By laying out what is incorporated into each dish, you reduce the risk of any miscommunication between guest and staff.
Also, remember the note about locally sourced ingredients? This is your time to shine.
Instead of listing your ingredient as a “vegetable blend”, word it as “Adirondack Farms’ carrots, potatoes and peas”.
Once a certain level of transparency has been established between you and your guest, you will gain their trust.
When you gain your guest’s trust, you have successfully turned them into a regular.
Transparency doesn’t need to be hard, but it certainly needs to happen!
So how did we begin our Brooklyn bread journey?
Check out the history of Damascus Bakeries and find out about the culture behind our breads.
Impress Your Guests: Superbowl SuccessFebruary 1, 2015 | This post is in: Damascus Bakeries, Recipes, Uncategorized | Tags: damascus bakeries, katy perry, recipe, superbowl, superbowl recipe
It’s Superbowl Sunday!
How are you going to impress your party guests?
Here at Damascus Bakeries,we’re giving you the answer with this secret family recipe:
Open Faced Oven Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
With Onions and Tomato, Steak Sauce
This sandwich lends itself to many interpretations, comfort food or sophisticated sandwich are two.
2 Brooklyn Bred All Natural Pizza Crusts, one package
1 Beefsteak Tomato, Sliced Thin
1 Sliced Red or Vidalia Onion
1- 2 Large Sliced Mozzarella, fresh or smoked or Burrata
6 Leaves Arugula
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Coarse Sea Salt
Freshly Ground Pepper
Note: Feel free to substitute any of the ingredients, i.e. soy cheese for mozzarella.
Preheat oven to 350°.
Preheat pan for 3- 5 minutes, coat with non-stick spray
Cut each Brooklyn Bread Pizza Crust into smaller loaves about 5 inches in width. This will yield 6 pieces. Mist or brush the tops with extra virgin olive oil, lightly.
Construct each open faced sandwich by layering sliced tomato, onion, arugula and dollop or brush over with steak sauce. Season with salt or pepper from a mill, if desired. Finally, top with mozzarella or burrata cheese.
Now place each open faced sandwich onto the pan and into the oven we go. Cook for about 5 minutes until the cheese has meted to a creamy texture – melting point may vary with type of cheese.
The sandwiches can also be cooked on the stovetop over direct heat if preferred.
Eat them while hot and savor the flavors. Enjoy the game and the halftime show featuring Katy Perry.
Impress Your Guests: Gorgonzola Tahini FlatbreadJanuary 27, 2015 | This post is in: Bread, Damascus Bakeries, Recipes, Tips |
Cooking for guests can be straight up stressful, right?
A successful night of hosting guests can come down to what is on the food plate.
Here at Damascus Bakeries, we know that you want to impress your guests so we will be bringing you recipes that are simple, easy and memorable.
For this installment of #ImpressYourGuests we’re going to show you how to make a Gorgonzola Tahini Flatbread that packs a punch and brings a powerhouse of flavor.
It begins with a Damascus Bakeries’ Brooklyn Bred crust and a 450 degree preheated oven.
Our flatbreads are perfect for all occasions; they allow you to expand your creative culinary ideas into a delicious reality.
First, you’ll need olive oil and spices.
Brush two tablespoons of olive oil throughout your crust and then sprinkle lightly with garlic powder, adobo, parsley and oregano.
Second, you’ll need parmesan and mozzarella.
Although the main focus of this dish is the gorgonzola, a little parmesan and mozzarella will go a long way in adding flavor.
Evenly disperse 1/3 of a cup of shredded mozzarella and ¼ of a cup of parmesan throughout your flatbread.
Third, we introduce the main attraction; the gorgonzola.
Gorgonzola cheese is strong, intense but also totally delicious.
For these reasons, this recipe earns a spot among our #ImpressYourGuests recipes.
Measure out ½ a cup of crumbled gorgonzola and fill the center fold of your crust.
It may not seem bountiful, but the intensity of this cheese will still be felt in the end bite.
Fourth, it’s time to bake your bread.
At this point, your oven should already be heated to 450 degrees, ready to take on your flatbread masterpiece.
For a crispy crust, put your flatbread directly on the oven rack – for something a bit softer load it in a flat pan.
Bake your flatbread for 12-15 minutes or until the crust turns golden and the cheese is melted.
Fifth, it’s time to plate your creation.
Once your flatbread is completely baked, take it out of the oven and give it a smell; delicious!
Next, get ready to slice it up. Damascus Bakeries’ Brooklyn Bred crusts can work with whatever crowd you’re entertaining.
For a high volume of guests, slice your flatbread thin, for a more intimate crowd make them thicker.
Sixth, add the tahini.
Grab a plate or bowl, fill it with your favorite brand of fresh tahini and use it at the centerpiece of your slices of gorgonzola flatbread.
The tahini will serve as a perfect pairing for your crispy, flavorful flatbread.
Increase Your Restaurant Sales: Snacks & Small PlatesJanuary 20, 2015 | This post is in: Damascus Bakeries, QSR Industry |
What’s smaller, healthier and more cost effective than your average meal?
Flavorful small plates are beginning to earn a spot in the American consumer’s stomach.
This is now creating new trends in how fast casual restaurants are shaping their menus.
We’ll be dissecting various findings from the study “What America Eats: Paradigms Shaping Food Choices“, Technomic’s Snacking Occasion Consumer Trend Report and Stanford Universities’ “What’s for Dinner?” Study.
Each of these offers up some interesting information into the world of snacks and small plates and how you can use them to increase your sales and customer demographic.
Let’s begin with the fact that snack trends in America have skyrocketed 62% since 2004.
2/3 of adults surveyed by the “What America Eats” study responded that they snack between meals.
Technomic’s report found that 1/3 of consumers are not only snacking more from two years ago, they’re also redefining their idea of what a snack is.
This trend seems to grow in popularity with the health conscious movement of consumers and the correlation isn’t hard to connect.
Snacks are smaller which means they don’t contain as many calories as larger meals.
They still offer the opportunity to experience classic flavors sans the high price tag of calories.
Snacks and small plates are appropriate for any time of the day.
- In fast casual, this is a golden ticket to rolling sales throughout the day.
- Snacks and small plates have no appropriate time frame.
- They’re free of the culinary pressure that joins breakfast, lunch or dinner time.
Snacks are limitless in the opportunities they present your establishment.
Joined with the fact that they are excellent to share, snacks and small plates are a recipe for success no matter how many diners are seated at your table.
The report, “What America Eats: Paradigms Shaping Food Choices” indicates that snacks are seen in a more favorable light by on-the-go diners.
However, the Technomic report found that 60% of today’s on-the-go consumers cited portability from the restaurant as a major influence as to who would get their business.
In fact, according to Stanford Universities’ “What’s for Dinner?” study, 20% of American meals are eaten in a car.
That’s right, 20 percent.
As a food establishment, you’re always seeking a new way to increase sales, right?
Well look no further, it’s time to capitalize with the on-the-go consumers.
Here is your opportunity to make extra sales.
A popular trend among on-the-go consumers is snacking, right? Well, it’s really as simple as that: Increase your focus on accommodating these guests.
Analyzing the data throughout each study also shows that the room for competition in the snack field grows as does its consumer trend.
Your establishment could be at the forefront of this budding fast casual trend, but you’ll have to make the right moves. We’ve got you started on the right track above.
Take a moment, analyze your brand and what opportunities there are for you to expand business in this area.
Our recipe page could get you off to the right start. Check it out: Damascus Bakeries’ Recipes