Restaurant Education

What is Section 179 of the IRS Tax Code?

IRS Section 179Most business owners think the IRS’ Section 179 tax deduction is some mysterious or complicated tax code. It really isn’t, we promise.

What Is Section 179?

Section 179 of the IRS tax code allows businesses to deduct the full purchase price of qualifying equipment purchased or financed during the tax year. That means that if you buy a piece of qualifying equipment, you can deduct the entire purchase price from your gross income. It’s an incentive created by the U.S. government to encourage businesses to buy equipment more easily and invest in themselves quicker.

Section 179 allows businesses who finance their equipment purchases to write off full equipment costs in the year they buy it rather than capitalizing costs over the useful life of the equipment and waiting years to receive deductions.

For 2018, the maximum deduction you may elect to take for a year is $1 million. However, the equipment must be purchased and already in use by Dec. 31 of the tax year.

How It Works

So, let’s say you bought a $10,000 piece of equipment for your business. Under normal depreciation rules, you would only receive a portion of the cost in deductions each year over its useful life. Now, under Section 179, you can deduct the entire $10,000 from net income in the first year you own it. So, assuming a 35% tax bracket, that’s a tax savings of $3,500. That savings lowers the cost of your $10,000 purchase to $6,500!

What to do with the savings

Financing allows you to have cash on hand for emergencies or unforeseen business costs. The amount that you can write off in taxes can exceed profits, which allows you to finance more equipment and reinvest in your business!

If you’ve been thinking about making that major purchase, take advantage and do it today, 2018 is almost over!

Ready to get started? Still have more questions? Follow this link to email, chat, call, or visit one of the superior sales solutions specialists at our Perrysburg, OH headquarters.

What’s a Ramekin and What Size Do You Need?

Ramekins are those handsome dishes that are typically used for baking and serving menu items such as soufflés, crème brûlée, puddings and other single-serve delectables. They are traditionally made from porcelain and feature fluted sides.

RamekinsThe term ramekin also refers to smaller dishes of the same shape that can be used to serve condiments or sauces. These ramekins can be made from any number of materials, from metal to plastic, as they are not intended for use in the oven.

In addition to baking and serving food items, ramekins also make for attractive household decorations that can be used to hold anything from tea lights to office supplies. Ramekins come in many sizes to help you attain the look you want to achieve.

So, what size ramekin do you need? Here is a breakdown of the different sizes, and what they are used for.

1 to 2 ounce ramekins

Small ramekins in the 1 to 2 ounce range are typically used for condiment sides, such as ketchup or mayo. These little dishes are also great for teeny appetizers like mixed olives.

For household decorators, these small ramekins can be used for tea candles, paper clips, or tiny bouquets.

3 to 5 ounce ramekins

3 to 5 ounce ramekins are still on the small side, though they can be used for items other than condiments. Ramekins of this size are great for mini-desserts or for sample platters.

6 ounce ramekins

If you are only going to stock up on one size, a 6-ounce ramekin is probably the best all-purpose option. These are great for single serving desserts.

7 to 9 ounce ramekins

These larger ramekins are great for lunch-sized pot pies and other small portion meals. They can also be used to make custards, molten lava cake and other desserts for two.

These also make great pet food bowls, and are typically cheaper than anything you’ll find in a pet store.

Other considerations

Besides calculating the capacity you’ll need, when choosing your ramekins you should also consider surface area. For dishes such as crème brûlée, in which the burnt surface is often considered the tastiest part, you’ll want a low, wide ramekin with a lot of surface area.

Selecting the Right Food Tray for Your Business

Choosing the right food service tray for your restaurant or cafeteria may seem easy enough, but once you dive into the world of options it can be a little overwhelming. With a variety of sizes, styles, materials and colors available, how can you be sure that you are investing in a tray that will do your business good?

To answer that question we did the research for you. Let’s take a look at how to select the right tray for your business and your budget.

Size 

Consider the design of the front and back of the house areas, and consider the type of customer you are serving.

Answer the following questions to select the right size tray:

Will the tray’s style, shape and size fit my storage and service areas?

Will small children or customers with disabilities be using the tray?

What size tray will fit in the dish rack and can it pass through a conveyor dishmachine?

Compartment Tray

Compartment Tray

Style

Compartment trays are great for kitchens such as those in prisons, hospitals and elementary schools, where specific portion sizes are served.

Flat trays, or fast food trays, are great options for food service operators offering a variety of plated dishes. That makes them perfect for quick-serve restaurants, fast casual restaurants, buffet style restaurants, corporate lunch programs and secondary to college-level school cafeterias.

Trapezoid shaped trays are ideal for food service operators looking to get the most tabletop  space and increase seating capacity. This is a great choice for food courts, room service, hospitals  and schools.

Meal delivery trays are compartmentalized and keep portioned food from sliding around or spilling off the tray during transport.

Camtray Insert Trays 2

Insert Tray

Tray inserts are great for prepared food that is going to sit in hold or cold warming units before being delivered.

Material 

Available in fiberglass or plastic construction, food trays are built for durability and constant use. Fiberglass trays are typically available in flat and trapezoid styles, while plastic trays offer flat, trapezoid, compartment, inserts and meal delivery trays.

Color

Whether you use a color code for various cafeteria programs or simply want to match a color scheme within your restaurants design, there is a true rainbow of hues are available in all styles and sizes.

The right food service tray will enhance your operation’s goals and will cater to the experience you wish to provide the diners in your establishment.

Top 10 Restaurant Marketing Tips for Holidays and Special Occasions

People consider birthdays, anniversaries and holidays to be special occasions worthy of a little extra spending. You need to convince customers that your restaurant should be the recipient of those dollars. Follow these tips to attract customers for holidays and special occasions.

1. Send holiday greetings

A simple card sending best wishes for Valentine’s Day, Independence Day or the holiday season is a good way to remind customers about your restaurant at different times of the year. The card should seem like a greeting rather than a promotional message. Your customers will feel special and may keep you in mind for their celebration plans. At the bottom of the card, you could mention your holiday promotion, but keep it simple and enticing. For example, you could say, “One free glass of champagne for couples who dine with us on New Year’s Eve.”

2. Offer a birthday gift

According to the National Restaurant Association, more than half of Americans eat out on their birthday. To encourage them to keep your restaurant in mind for their special day, send customers in your database a birthday card that includes a voucher for a free gift of some kind, like a free birthday dessert.

3. Sell gift certificates

Gift certificates are the perfect way to capitalize on special occasions throughout the year and during the holiday season. About 25% of gift certificates are never actually used, which turns that sale into pure profit. You should display your gift certificates in a prominent place near the point of sale or the entrance, and you can also sell them on your restaurant website.

4. Put on a special holiday promotion

You could offer a special meal for two on Valentine’s Day, a free glass of champagne on Christmas Eve, free taxi rides on New Year’s Eve, etc. Just make sure not to offer a discount. For the holidays, people are willing to spend, so instead of a discount, offer extra service or a free item. Do not lower prices; instead, add a bit of value.

5. Throw a holiday party

Nothing captures the spirit of the holidays like a good party. Throw a Mardi Gras or Carnival party, a New Year’s countdown, a freaky Halloween party or even a romantic Valentine’s Day dance. Make sure that your food and drinks are a main focus of the party, and also provide special entertainment with music, movies or performers. Advertise your party through flyers, direct marketing campaigns and the local newspaper.

6. Use seasonal decorating

On Valentine’s Day, put roses and candles on the table. On New Year’s Eve, decorate with sparkly garlands and clocks for the countdown. For the first of November, you can add Day of the Dead decorations to your festive atmosphere. Changing the decorations in your restaurant occasionally will keep your design up-to-date with the season and add a fresh quality to the dining experience of your most loyal customers. Just make sure your holiday decorations do not clash with your design concept.

7. Host a holiday fundraiser

People feel generous during the holiday season. You can show them that you do, too, by hosting a special holiday fundraiser. You could put on a food drive or give a percentage of sales to a certain charity. Write up a press-release about it, and make sure to mention the fundraiser on any advertising materials that you use near the holidays.

8. Be politically correct

Do not risk alienating customers during the holiday season. Train all servers to say “Happy Holidays,” rather than “Merry Christmas.” Unless you know that your customer base subscribes to a certain religion, use only secular holiday decorations and slogans.

9. Put on a unique holiday stunt

You could transform your establishment into a haunted restaurant for Halloween, have all of your servers dress as Santa or elves for Christmas, hide eggs in your restaurant for customers to find on Easter, or send an employee to hit the streets dressed as a giant turkey for Thanksgiving. When it comes to crazy holiday stunts, do not limit your creativity.

10. Advertise for the holidays

Consider advertising in more unique or specific mediums for the holidays. For example, you could advertise in the program at a local drama theater for Valentine’s Day, or in programs for the Nutcracker ballet or school holiday concerts for the winter season. Consider creating a float for the parade and distributing flyers or coupons for Mardi Gras or Independence Day. On Thanksgiving, try advertising in the “food” section of local papers. Before Halloween, distribute flyers with details about your costume contest or Halloween promotion. Also make sure to mention your takeout or delivery services, since people may throw parties or be too busy to cook around the holiday.

7 Common Misses When Cleaning Restaurant Kitchens

The easiest way to keep all of your equipment working in tip-top form is to clean, and clean often. There are the obvious hot spots to wipe down, but there are many more that are missed. Keep food poisoning, equipment breakdowns and unsightly work areas out of your business with this comprehensive checklist of seven spots commonly missed while cleaning restaurant kitchens.

1. The Ice Machine

There is a reason this is number one on the list. A lot of food service workers, managers included, forget that ice is food, and consumption can lead to food poisoning if the product is contaminated. Regularly cleaning the ice machine and ice storage bin will assure a healthy, contaminant-free product.

2. Underneath and Behind Equipment

It is easy to forget about kitchen areas that are not visible, but the whole out-of-sight-out-of-mind principle does not hold in commercial kitchens. Bacteria and vermin will be attracted to food scraps no matter where they hide. It’s also important to note that health inspectors will check underneath every piece of equipment to see if the area is clean. Keep it neat and tidy everywhere, every day and keep violations and vermin out of your kitchen.

3. The Dumpster Area

Everybody knows that rodents and disease love garbage. In fact, a messy dumpster area acts as an attractive buffet for bacteria, flies and vermin. Combat this issue with a clean garbage area. Start by making sure all of the dumpster lids close fully and stay closed. Next, instruct your staff to keep the area around the dumpster clean. This includes hosing down the dumpster’s exterior and making sure that all trash is deposited into the container. No waste should be left in open containers or on the ground.  A clean dumpster area will also cut back on foul odors that could potentially hurt business.

4. Refrigeration Coils

When a refrigerator’s coils are dirty it has to work harder to keep the unit cool, which can result in uneven internal temperatures. If the temperature fluctuates too much, the food can spoil. Have your employees wheel out the refrigerator once a month to dust the coils and keep the back of the unit clean and in good working order.

5. The Meat Slicer

The top slicer blade is likely getting all the cleaning love. But it’s important to keep the bottom side of the blade just as clean. This area comes in contact with food and can harbor bacteria. Therefore, it is important to remind employees to clean both sides of the meat slicer blade every day and in between different cuts of meat.

6. Beverage Dispenser Heads

Mold, bacteria and fruit flies love sugar almost as much as they love warmth and moisture. The nozzles and dispenser heads of a beverage dispenser will have residual sugar on them at the end of the day. Make it a daily habit to remove and hand wash the nozzles during closing clean-up duties. This will prevent bacteria from taking up residence over night.

7. Splashes on the Walls

Got a little fryer oil or tomato sauce splatter on the wall? Wipe it off as soon as possible! Bacteria can grow on these splatters and splashes, and, depending on the area, fruit flies or other pests may be attracted to the stuck-on residue. For the easiest remedy, instruct employees to wipe down walls as soon as the splash occurs. This way the food does not become dried on and harder to clean at the end of the night.

How to Design a Perfect Restaurant Dining Room

Every restaurant’s dining room should be unique. It may not seem obvious, but the layout and organization of your dining room supports your branding and subtly influences your customers spending. So be sure that your dining room and seating layouts are strategically designed.

Dining Room Layout

Before designing the layout of your tables and seating, you first need to consider your space limitations and decide how many separate dining spaces you will to create.

If you have not yet decided on the architecture of your dining area or plan to renovate the existing architecture, you can divide your space up in the following ways:

  • Multiple main dining areas. You can create multiple dining rooms that flow into each other. Dividing up your dining areas with walls will make it easier to anchor tables. To add an individual charm to each space, you can design each room differently.
  • Open main dining area. You can use a single, large open dining space. Visually and acoustically, this will tend to add an edge of excitement to your dining room, since customers will be able to hear and see all other parties. This kind of space is ideal for floating tables, tables that are not near walls or other fixtures, but you can also add columns to create anchored seating, as well. The columns will have the added effect of enhancing the acoustics in the room.
  • Private dining rooms. You can close off a section or two with double doors, and designate that space as a private dining area. You can use one of the rooms as a smoking area, if local laws allow it. You can also rent out private dining rooms to large groups that want to hold private parties or meetings at your restaurant. If the rooms are not reserved, you can open the double doors and free up the space for walk-in customers.

Make sure each “area” you create will fit the number of tables and other furniture that you want in that space. If your dining room walls are already built and you will not be renovating them, you have to work with what you have. If you are set on having multiple dining areas but cannot afford to renovate your walls, you can use curtains, screens or partitions to create separate dining “rooms.”

Seating Layout

Once the architecture of your dining area is set in stone, follow these steps to create a seating layout:

  1. Draw a map of the dining area. Measure the area and draw up a blueprint of the space. Include walls, columns, partitions and any other obstructions in your blueprint. You will use the blueprint to lay out your seating, tables and any other furniture in your dining room.
  2. Determine the space between tables. For quick service, there can be less space, since waiters will not be moving much around the dining area. For a casual service restaurant, balance seating capacity with customer and server comfort. Consider the “feel” you hope to create. An “exciting,” casual atmosphere can be a little crowded. With a fine dining restaurant, tables should be spaced further apart to give the diners extra comfort and privacy.
  3. Think about party size. Depending on your restaurant type, you may be serving large parties. If you will be expecting large parties, you will need a couple of large tables. If you are not sure what size of parties you will serve, it is a good idea to create a flexible seating layout with extra two-person tables that can be put together or pulled apart to accommodate different party sizes.
  4. “Anchor” some of your seating. The large majority of people prefer to sit at a table that is “anchored” to a wall or a partition, rather than one that is floating in the middle of the room. Furthermore, people spend more money when they occupy anchored seating, although this is partly compensated for by the fact that they also linger longer after finishing their meals. Create seating anchored to the following:
    • Walls
    • Nooks
    • Partitions or screens
    • Columns
    • Curtains

    Booths encourage the highest spending per minute, while tables near a wall or corner also have a high spending-per-minute value. The worst kind of anchored seating to encourage spending is banquette-style seating, where a long bench is set against a wall to be used as the seat back.

  5. Strategically place floating tables. You can encourage high turnover with strategically placed floating tables. Guests spend less time lingering at tables near busy areas, like the kitchen or the exit, but they spend about the same average on their checks. Thus, the tables that are exposed to high traffic, the “bad” tables, are often the most profitable, earning more dollars-per-minute per customer. However, keep in mind that this will affect the customers’ memories of their dining experiences. While exposed, “floating” tables are often more profitable, they are less likely to encourage customers to come back again.

Studies of spending-per-minute at different table locations suggests that it is not necessary to go out of your way to get rid of all the “floating” tables. On the other hand, anchored tables are a key element in making diners feel comfortable and emotionally attached to your restaurant. In the end, the most profitable way to arrange tables is a mix of anchored tables and free-standing tables near high-traffic areas that can be mixed and matched to accommodate different party sizes.

How To Clean Stainless Steel Appliances or Equipment

Stainless Steel Work TableThere is a reason stainless steel is the preferred material for restaurant equipment. Stainless steel is durable and easy to clean, which are two key ingredients for an efficient commercial kitchen. Plus, some grades of stainless steel (like the kind used in commercial work tables and stands) resist bacteria and can be used as a food contact surface. However, if stainless steel restaurant equipment is not properly cleaned and maintained, it can corrode just like any other metal.

What Makes Stainless Steel Stainless?  

All stainless steel surfaces have a thin layer of chromium on the outside. The chromium layer chemically reacts with air to create a slick, hard surface that resists stains and corrosion. Anything that damages or interferes with that chromium/air interaction (like dirt, oil or scratches) will cause stainless steel to stain, corrode or rust. That’s why, especially in restaurants, frequent cleaning is necessary.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Restaurant Equipment  

Unlike other stain-resistant coatings that can wear away after repeated cleaning, the chromium layer will never wear away on stainless steel, so you can never clean stainless steel too much. Follow these cleaning tips to properly clean your stainless steel restaurant equipment:

  • Use a wet cloth and mild detergent. Oftentimes, the best cleaning solutions for stainless steel restaurant equipment is a damp bar towel, but, if you need to use a cleaning agent, add a mild detergent to the wash water.
  • Wipe in the direction of the finish. Some stainless steel surfaces have a brushed finish or grain. When cleaning, go with the grain, because scrubbing across the grain can damage the finish.
  • Use baking soda for baked-on grease. When water and detergent are not enough, add water to baking soda to make a paste to clean more difficult stains. You can also use a commercial cream cleanser, as long as it is non-abrasive.
  • Wipe up spills immediately. Spilled food, especially acidic food, can damage the protective chromium layer if left too long, so wipe spills with a damp cloth as soon as possible. Doing this will also make it easier to clean later, because the food will not be dried or baked on.
  • Glass DetergentUse glass cleaner to remove fingerprints. Oil from fingerprints can etch or tarnish stainless steel, especially mirror-polished finishes. Wherever the stainless steel is visible, use a glass cleaner to remove fingerprints at the end of the day, before the finish is permanently damaged.
  • Rinse the surface after cleaning. Any residual soap or detergent can be harmful if left for a long period of time, so rinse your stainless steel restaurant equipment with clean water and a damp cloth after cleaning it.
  • Dry immediately. Water spots from hard water can also damage a stainless steel finish. Simply dry the surface after cleaning to prevent water spots from forming.
Things to Avoid When Cleaning Stainless Steel Restaurant Equipment  

When cleaning your stainless steel restaurant equipment, there are a few precautions to keep in mind.

  • Chlorine does more harm than good. Chlorine, or cleaners containing chlorine, will definitely kill any bacteria on the stainless steel surface, but it will also break down the protective chromium layer. Instead, use an ammonia-based solution if you need more bacteria-killing power.
  • Never use rough abrasive sponges and steel wool. Abrasive cleaning tools, like Brillo pads and steel wool, will scratch the stainless steel and cause it to rust. Only use brushes and pads made from nylon, soft plastic or any other soft flexible material when more scrubbing power is needed.
  • Only use stainless steel cleaners as a last resort. Stainless steel cleaners or polishes should only be used if the surface does become scratched or stained, because it is an actual coating meant to repair damage. If the steel is undamaged, polish is unnecessary. The polish can help remove the stain and protect the scratched areas from corrosion.

Food Processors, Taco Baskets Make Mexican Food Prep Grate

For customers dining in restaurants, it’s all about time. How quickly can the drinks come out? What about appetizers? In Mexican restaurants particularly, how quickly before the chips and salsa arrives so customers can start snacking. And how quickly can you refill those bowls?

You might be saying to yourself I only have so much manpower. How quickly can I dice tomatoes and onions for my salsa or cheese for my queso? The answer to that question is continuous feed food processors that save time, money, and ingredients all at once!

Food processors are designed to slice, shred, chop, Julienne or do any other slicing task you can think of very quickly. When selecting the unit to suit your needs, you will want to consider the capacity, horsepower and the plates that are included. There are different container capacities for different needs, so if you plan to slice an entire bag of potatoes non-stop, you will want to get one with the largest capacity you can find. Another option to look for is a diversion chute. Rather than just slicing into the attached container, some models have a side chute that allows you to place a bowl or pan next to the unit and shred away. Horsepower is another specification to consider when looking for a food processor. This value tells you how “strong” the unit is, and the higher the number the more powerful it is. Establishments that will only be using the unit a couple of hours a day should only need something with 1 horsepower or less. Larger establishments that will be processing food all day long should look for something with a higher horsepower rating. A final consideration is the number and type of slicing discs that are included. Assess your specific slicing needs and check the product description for which discs come with the unit. If you cannot find the discs you need, additional discs can be acquired.

With brands you can trust like Berkel, Hobart, Robot Coupe (like the one in the video below), and Waring, these continuous feed processors make food preparation a cinch.

Enough About Appetizers, Let’s Talk Tacos

Now that we’ve addressed appetizers, what about those crispy, crunchy hard shell tacos and tostadas? Whether tostada shells, taco salad bowls, or classic hard shell tacos, taco baskets are a simple and easy way to fry tortilla shells into taco shapes for added freshness and crunchiness to your customers’ orders. And when you’re ready to serve them, taco serving racks, or taco taxis, are the perfect way to add a little flair to the presentation on the plate as well as making it easier for customers to manage the messy meal.

Tacos on a plate

Taco taxi on a plate for more manageable consumption.

Tacos are a crowd favorite and for good reason. Hard or soft, chicken, veggie, pork or beef, at home, in restaurants, at food trucks, and everywhere in between, we Americans consumed more than 4.5 billion tacos last year!

If you think that’s a lot of tacos, well, it is. If you think that there should be a celebration, well, there is.

Between Mexican Mondays and Taco Tuesdays, this centuries-old staple is always celebrated but on Oct. 4 it gets its own special day.

#NationalTacoDay celebrates the sandwich — that’s not up for debate, by the way, the word taco is the Spanish equivalent of the English word for sandwich – that is an essential part of the $40 billion Mexican restaurant industry.

Burkett account executives and representatives have plenty of experience working with some of the best Mexican restaurants across the country. They know what works, what doesn’t, what’s trending up and what’s trending down. Whether a startup or long-established business, call 800-828-8564 or log on to our Mexican Restaurant Business Type page and let us help you get to the next level.

Brush Up on Food Safety Skills for Food Safety Month

September is National Food Safety Education month. With cold and flu season approaching, the beginning of a new school year and general changes around the kitchen, it’s a perfect time for restaurants, bars, cafeterias and other food service establishments to refresh safety skills and brush up on the local health code requirements.

Clean the Right Way

This may seem like a no-brainer, but cleaning is one of the most important things to do to prevent the spread of germs and illness-causing bacteria. Cleaning involves cleaning your hands, your utensils and food surfaces, and also your fruits and vegetables.

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water. Wash after touching any part of your body, after sneezing or coughing, before and after handing food, and after handling money.
  • Wash food preparation surfaces and utensils right away after using. The best way to fully sanitize is to use a diluted bleach solution, which kills 99% of bacteria on contact.
  • Washing PepppersWash all produce, including fruits and veggies (but not meats, poultry, or eggs). Use a clean scrub brush and wash with clean running water, even if you plan to slice or peel the produce. Pat dry and enjoy!

Prevent Cross Contamination

Prevent contamination by potential allergens, bacteria and other harmful substances by keeping foods properly separated during every stage of storage, preparation and service. Be sure that raw foods are stored separately from cooked foods. If possible, use separate cutting boards to prepare different types of foods.

Cook Foods to Safe Temperatures

When you cook foods, the only way to ensure that any residual bacteria in the food is eradicated is by heating the food to 140°F or higher. This effectively raises the temperature out of the food “Danger Zone” (between 40°F and 140°F). Once cooked, keep the food hot using a chafing dish or food warmer. Foods become more susceptible to bacterial growth once the temperatures dip back down into the Danger Zone.

Chill Perishable Foods

Chilling perishables in a properly functioning refrigerator or freezer ensures that food is, once again, kept out of the Danger Zone. Be sure frozen food is stored at or below 0°F, and refrigerated foods are kept below 40°F. Never thaw frozen foods or marinate them on the counter. When serving food, be sure to refrigerate any leftovers within two hours. When in doubt, throw out any questionable refrigerated foods.

RestaurantCommunicate with Your Employees

Your staff members are your allies when it comes to safety and sanitation, and their compliance and understanding is crucial to your restaurant or food service operation’s success. Communicate the importance of food safety and sanitation with your team, including the reasons why it is important. Once your staff understands how doing things the wrong way can actually prove harmful to your customers, your business and your reputation, making safety a team effort is less of a struggle.

Whether you run a restaurant, a school cafeteria or your own catering business, educate yourself and follow proper food safety procedures this month and all throughout the year.

Top 10 Tips for Opening Your Own Pizza Shop

A slice of pizza with gooey cheesePizza! Who doesn’t love pizza?! It’s the perfect food for nearly any occasion and that’s why it’s a beloved choice of so many diners eating in, carrying out or ordering delivery. With right recipe, for pizza and profits, you can open up your own pizza place and grab your own slice of this popular, and still-growing in popularity, food choice.

Top ten tips for pizza shop success

  1. Make good pizza. Seems fairly obvious, right? No matter how good everything else is, if the product doesn’t stack up your customers won’t last long. The first and most important thing you need when starting a pizza business is good pizza. A lot of people who go into the restaurant business have already tinkered around in their home kitchens or have an old family recipe that has been passed down for generations. For those who do not have such a solid foundation, there are several basic pizza types that you can choose to offer.
  2. Decide between franchising and going independent. More than half of all pizzerias in the United States are independently owned or small chains. Staying independent means that you have complete control over your business and your brand, which some people prefer. However, franchises already have brand awareness and have already solved some of the problems that new restaurant owners run into.
  3. Overestimate your startup costs. A lot of new restaurant owners underestimate how much it costs to open a restaurant. In order to plan for unforeseen expenses, adding an additional 15% to 25% to your budget will help you get through the crucial first year.
  4. Offer delivery and/or carryout. The fact of the matter is, a lot of people enjoy the convenience of being able to place a phone call and have a hot pizza delivered to their door in under an hour. With over 1 billion pizzas being delivered each year in the United States, having some sort of pizza delivery or carryout option will assure that you are not turning away customers that want to eat at home but do not want to cook anything themselves.
  5. Offer more than just pizza. Very few restaurants survive by offering a limited menu. Many pizza shops offer calzones, pasta or other Italian favorites to cater to individuals who are in the mood for tomato sauce and comfort food, but not necessarily pizza.
  6. Lock in commodity prices. Cheese and flour are the most heavily used ingredients in the pizza industry. Unfortunately, the prices for these basic ingredients can fluctuate greatly on a daily basis, which can affect your bottom line. To better control your costs, you can contract with a food supplier to lock in a price for cheese, flour or other commodities so your prices are not subject to the whims of the stock market.
  7. Control your portions. Portion control is crucial to controlling overall ingredient costs, reducing waste and providing a uniform product. Use food scales to measure dough ingredients, flat bottom ladles for saucing a pizza and measuring cups for your other toppings to ensure that you are not losing money by putting too many mushrooms on a pizza.
  8. Cater to the masses. If you provide delivery at your pizzeria, then catering should be easy to implement. Schools, offices or any event that needs to feed a lot of people can easily be catered by a pizza shop. For most parties, you can expect to serve two or three slices of pizza per person. You will also want to include some of your other menu items on the catering menu, at a discounted price.
  9. Insure your delivery driver. Restaurants are required to carry insurance against loss of their business, worker’s compensation and basic liability insurance. Establishments that provide delivery services will need to carry additional liability insurance to cover their drivers when they are on the clock.
  10. Be wary of discounting. Pizzeria customers are accustomed to the coupons that come on their pizza box. Coupons and discounts are a good way to bring customers in the door, especially during difficult economic times, but those discounts will eat into your bottom line. Also, if you discount too much for too long, it can erode your brand value. If you feel the need to discount, only do it for a limited time to protect your brand and your bottom line.

Starting any new business can be a daunting task. New restaurants in particular face a steep uphill battle, because the majority of the concepts fail within the first three years. Luckily, you have chosen to provide food that 94% of the U.S. population enjoys eating, so as long as you educate yourself on starting a restaurant, you stand a fair chance of succeeding where man others have failed.

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