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Blog - Flanagan Foodservice

Rae's Bistro weathers the COVID-19 storm...and so can you

Person carrying take out bags in hand.

 

Until March 2020, 4,800-sq. ft. fine dining restaurant Rae's Bistro, in North Kildonan, Winnipeg, was a popular spot offering fusion comfort food. Co-owned by Jillian Flynn and Danny Van Lancker, Rae's was noted for its 50-bottle wine list, 12 craft beers, scotch flights, and a premium atmosphere appealing to an adult clientele.

 

"We were known for our service and fresh feature chalkboard (rotated weekly), and guests would come in to hear our staff 'romance' the 10 features to them. It was almost a form of entertainment," says Danny.

 

Before March 17, Rae's Bistro did not offer any takeout or delivery

 

"We were just too busy to seek other revenue streams. We were on track to do $1.5 million in sales our second fiscal year. We were busy all the time (from 11 a.m. to midnight or later, if demand was there), with lineups, reservations, loud bar top, funky new age music, cool looking staff."

 

All that changed on Friday, the 13th - auspicious!

 

By Monday, March 16, sales had declined 60%. On the next day, Rae's Bistro closed to the public for dine in.

 

"On Monday, we reached out to the local health authority for advice and spent the day researching the science behind the pandemic and looking at the leading scientists' predictions/models. Pratt's (a great partner to have) obtained proper viral sanitation products for us.

 

"We jumped into action immediately. We laid off 22 staff by issuing emergency payroll and ROEs, and all staff applied for EI by Friday. Our first reaction was concern for the Rae’s family. It was completely devastating to think about taking away 22 people's source of income."

 

Ramp up for takeout

 

Rae's kept on a core staff – culinary, suppliers, the CFO – to adapt to the new reality. Within a matter of two days, working around the clock, the team approached their task with military precision. They created a takeout menu, bought Safeway thermal boxes to launch the service, designed banners for the windows, printed temporary menus, completely revamped the website to focus on the takeout menu, and branded takeout bags with personalized messages and menus.

 

All packaging is recycled brown paper, and even the takeout cutlery is wood, as the co-owners are committed to respecting the environment. (In fact, that is one of the reasons they had not considered offering takeout before.)

 

"By Friday, March 20th, we realized this might work, with two takeout specialists on staff, two drivers, and an additional kitchen employee we brought back. Much to our surprise, by Saturday, it was working and offering a flawless experience to all guests. Our delivery team is now our two veteran servers and bartender. We take responsibility for each order, text when on the way, and follow up with guests...treating them as a table and not a delivery. I personally close every box and write a thank you note to this day. I insist on a proper food chain of command. Safety officer/expo is my new position."

 

Create an effective menu

 

You need to accept that your regular menu likely will need adaptation. The Rae's team streamlined their menu to focus on high quality sandwiches, snacks, pizzas, pastas, steaks, ribs and fish.

 

"Stuff that travels well, and a lower price point for our entrées (not a discount, just not over-$30 items). People are going to be eating comfort, and more often now. We need to focus on our lower priced items without sacrificing our commitment to quality."

 

Rae's takeout/delivery challenges

 

Labour modelling, having to do it day by day as there is no past to use for forecasting.
Infrastructure, going from a single (phone) line to multiple lines with busy signal.
Communicating continued relevance to the public.
Delivery tracking, estimating and planning.
Installing mobile POS terminals for at-door payments.
Figuring out how to translate personalized service to guests in a different way.

 

Success!

 

By pivoting quickly and effectively, Rae's was able to turn around the operation from dine-in to takeout/delivery – and see significant sales increases.

 

From a modest beginning on March 18 to see if takeout and delivery would even work, Rae's is now up to nearly $7,000 in sales on the weekend and $1,000-$1,700 on weekdays. A scheduled postal drop of advertising may see even higher numbers.

 

 

Rae's top takeaways

 

  • Take care of your team first and foremost, do the right thing and lay them off so they can apply for EI.
  • Get proper sanitation measures in place. This is a serious thing, so don't do half measures. Get higher grade quat sanitizers.
  • Offer over-the-phone payment and curbside pickup.
  • Carefully consider your delivery model. Try to use existing staff for delivery rather than turning to a service that may charge a premium.
  • Get your social media game on. Do daily posts and reminders that you are open and relevant. Put some money into social media ads to farm page likes and get followers.
  • Use (old school) mail/email. Junk mail is now prime reading material, says Danny. Take advantage of this phenomenon, do flyers, post notices in your window.
  • Look at this crisis as an opportunity. "Remember that a bomb was just dropped on our industry. Independents are at a level playing field with mega chains. This is an opportunity to beat these entities to a new emerging market. Nothing will go back to normal. Don’t wait this out. Act now."
  • Be your best self. "Just get out there and be the best damn takeout and delivery business you can be."

Focus on the personal touches

  • Keep your brand front of mind. "Within a week we created the most amazing branding on our bags; every box, bag and container is sealed with Rae’s Bistro branded labelling. They also have spots for the guest's name. I got the idea when I opened a DVD this week and it had the frustrating plastic circle sticker on it. I couldn’t get it open, had to get up and find a knife. The feeling of 'this is brand new' as I sliced it was satisfying and I knew I had to bring this feeling to our guests.
  • Raise customers' spirits. "All bags get a takeout menu with a personalized message of good will." Treat your guests as a table and not a delivery. They will appreciate the service.
  • Talk up your menu, even though it's takeout. "We still romance our features over the phone to our guests."
  • Ramp up your social media. "We now have full-time social media and email monitoring. A daily feature wall is now posted daily with fresh content for the guests eating multiple times a week." But "old school" window signage is also attracting new takeout/delivery business. People have the time to stop and look.

 

This post was shared in connection with Brand Points Plus, a FREE loyalty program for independent operators.  Easily collect points for amazing rewards, if you're not a member - we highly recommend you become one.

 

 

Learn more about Brand Points Plus

 

 

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Sample Menu template from Must Have Menus

How to Design a Takeout Menu with MustHaveMenus

 

With takeout as the only option for hundreds of thousands of restaurants during this health crisis, it’s important to have a to-go menu that’s optimized for your food and your restaurant. MustHaveMenus, an online design tool for restaurants, makes building one quick and easy.

 

They have hundreds of professionally-designed takeout menu templates — for both trifold and half-page — that restaurants can customize in moments with their intuitive v3 editing software. If you run into any questions, you can simply hop into a chat window with one of their friendly and experienced customer service reps. They’ll help guide you through the process from start to finish, and give you best practices for takeout menus and more. 

 

To help combat the crisis facing restaurants, MustHaveMenus also put out a Coronavirus Response Kit with all their latest templates for takeout and delivery. It also includes helpful guides for pivoting overnight to a takeout business model, plus creative ideas and ready-made marketing materials to get the word out.

 

Sample take out Menus from Must Have Menus

 

MustHaveMenus’ Free Plan comes with unlimited access to their library of templates and design features, plus professional printing and social media marketing. Right now, they are offering their Pro Plan for just $12.95 a month (If you're a member of Brand Points Plus, there is a special offer for you!  If you're not a member, talk to your sales representative about how to join). That includes access to high-res downloads, removal of watermarks, organizing folders and more.

 

We recommend you use the software to design their menu, get a PDF file and send it to your local printer or Staples location to have it printed.  This will save on shipping and duty from the United States.

 

Visit MustHaveMenus

 

 

 

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Brand Points Plus logo with hand reaching for a take out order

Making Food Delivery Easy

Turning to Takeout

 

by Jane Auster

This post was written by Jane and the Brand Points Plus team.  If you're not a member, this is an amazing, no-cost loyalty program.  To learn more click here.

 

Flexible restaurant operators are converting from eat-in to takeout during the COVID-19 pandemic. And whether they're fine dining, QSR or casual eating establishments, they're finding it's not as hard as you may think to revamp an eat-in operation. Also, according to infectious disease specialist Isaac Bogoch, the risk of contracting the virus from takeout and delivery is "so extraordinarily small" – good news for consumers and restaurant operators alike.

 

Here are the top takeaways to ensure your takeout is a success:

 

Make ordering and payment a snap. Many diners, especially Millennials, are already conversant with online and app ordering. Make sure your web and app menu allows for easy ordering and that you're capable of receiving text message orders and app orders from mobile devices. Then add a pre-payment option to make the whole process seamless. Companies like cloud-based commerce platform Lightspeed POS Inc. have set up special resources during the crisis to help restaurants who are converting operations to takeout and delivery.

 

Change up your restaurant layout. Without the need to provide tables and chairs for traditional eat-in dining, you can easily convert that space into takeout/delivery work stations. Think assembly line in the way you organize your takeout operation.

 

Revisit your staffing. There's no doubt you will not need the same number of employees as a full-service restaurant requires. But you will want to retain as many as possible to keep you up and running professionally and prepare for a return to more normal operations. Now is the time to redeploy your talent. You'll still need cooks (short order especially), cleaners, order takers and payment processors, delivery staff, and quality control personnel. You may also need a person assigned specifically to answer customer questions about your menu, takeout and delivery options, payment, and so on.

 

Carefully consider your menu. Not everything on your regular menu will be suitable for takeout and delivery. A takeout menu is more a snapshot of your full offerings. Confine your takeout to top sellers (as long they're not too elaborate or time-consuming to prepare), dishes that will transport well in takeout and delivery, and entries that will still give you a good return on investment.

 

Use the right packaging for the job. No one likes to pick up or receive soggy, leaking, messy or unattractive food packages. Companies like W. Ralston, Novolex and Polar Pak feature packaging specifically for foodservice operations that include takeout and delivery, and also packaging that's size-appropriate. “The packaging a French fry requires for travel is different than a pasta dish. And packaging will also depend on the miles or time it needs to travel,” says John Veder, director of innovation - paper for Novolex North America. Also consider packaging that can be easily reheated without having to be transferred to other dishes.

 

“With takeout, the customer is in control of when that food is consumed,” says Veder. “For delivery, the customer is at home, waiting. Their expectation is that the food is ready to eat. Not soggy. Not cold.”

 

For more info:

View Flanagan's Take Out Essentials catalogue.

 

Image of Flanagan Take Out Essentials Guide

 

Make delivery easy. "Delivery was a growing market segment prior to COVID-19," says foodservice principal Jeff Dover of fsStrategy Inc. "Restaurants have been adjusting delivery menus to include products that hold well and working on takeout containers that hold the food well. Increasingly, they are looking for tamper proof containers. If a restaurant hasn't worked through this yet, they may want to think about it before going full delivery. If they don't normally do takeout or delivery, they will need to get the packaging."  

 

If you're new to delivery, you may want to partner with an established foodservice delivery company like Uber Eats, DoorDash, Foodora, or Skip the Dishes. Uber Eats has announced that the company is waiving its normal delivery fees for customers who order from independent restaurants and allowing restaurants to receive payment daily instead of on a regular billing cycle in order to help their cash flow. Door Dash has said it will be not be collecting service fees for the first 30 days for a new restaurant client. Restaurants who partner with delivery services also benefit from the online exposure on food delivery sites.

 

Do it yourself? Some restaurants are choosing to do their own delivery by training their regular waitstaff to become delivery door-dashers. In the short term this is a great way to continue employing front-of-house staff. But don't forget to check your insurance to make sure your staff are covered for "other" employment within your operation.

 

Plus, ask yourself these questions:

 

What kind of vehicle will you need? Motorized, bike delivery, or via public transit?
What's your radius? How far are you willing to travel for your customers? During this difficult period, literally going the extra mile will make a huge difference and help retain loyalty.


How's your branding? What kind of branding will you use to stand out? The big food delivery companies are able to advertise themselves through their distinctive, logo-ed carry-on packaging. Like the big guys, your new visual identity as takeout and delivery food providers matters. Consider branding your takeout packaging with your company logo and tagline or marketing messages. Market and promote the service on your website as well.

 

Ramp up your social media. Never has your social media been more important. It's your direct conduit to customers, a way to let them know that you are still in business and you value their patronage and support. If you're adding takeout and delivery, you need to spread the word. Social media such as Instagram, Facebook and other community pages can let people know you are open and active. Don't be afraid of doing something different and a little crazy on your Instagram. Get personal, do a virtual meal in your restaurant and film it, sing an aria outside your restaurant and post to your Instagram.

 

You may also want to create an old-fashioned paper flyer with your takeout menu and have a staff member deliver it to your local area. Sometimes old school is the best school. The point is to communicate as often as you can with customers to keep them close. And don't forget to thank them. They want to help.

 

Get creative. Some clever restaurants are throwing in extras with customers' takeout and delivery orders. Have any logo-ed t-shirts on hand? Send one with each order. Do you make any branded food items for sale, such as jams? Add one to each order. A restaurant in Toronto is even offering to throw in a roll of toilet paper to food orders made through Uber Eats.

 

 

 

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Appetizing picture of burger and fries

Menu change can be daunting.

 

But using LTOs (limited time offers) can provide a culinary playground for adding innovation without the commitment. Successfully executing an LTO offers a potential sales lift of as much as 20%, and can bring back old customers while enticing new ones.

 

LTOs are an opportunity to offer your customers a new experience while giving your operation a great testing ground and increasing your marketing opportunities.

 

So, how do you make LTOs work for you?

Start with Purpose

First ask yourself why you are you adding an LTO. If you don’t know what you want from it—new customers, increased check size, acceptance of bolder flavours on the full menu—how will you know it was successful?

 

Shalit Foods Business Development Chef Kira Smith reminds us that to be successful, “You really have to do LTOs mindfully.” The seasoned chef, who works directly with operators to integrate new and engaging ingredients and menu items, understands the formula to win big.

 

Smith remembers a Mini Cheesecake Dessert Parfait a casual chain in Western Canada used as an LTO that was so tasty it moved from temporary to the permanent menu. Why did it work? “It fit with consumer interest, was easy to execute, was within their back-of-house capabilities…and was profitable,” she notes.

 

“There’s no point in doing an LTO if you can’t do it well,” Smith stresses. “And it must be profitable. Because what if it is successful? If it can't be done profitably don't add it.”

 

Plan and Execute

“For an LTO to be successful, an operation must plan in advance,” notes Kyla Touri, corporate chef, Canada, for Unilever Food Solutions. “Operators must also be attuned to trending menu items, product/ingredient availability, and, most importantly, maintaining their brand image.”

 

Push at the boundaries acceptable to your customers’ preferences by experimenting with bold flavours or new cuisines. Change doesn’t have to be crazy. Start smaller and work up to bigger flavour experiences. 

 

There is more than just the food to consider. LTOs also offer important marketing possibilities. Think of them as conversation starters: at the table or counter, online, via social media, and business to business. Plus they’re an opportunity to increase engagement with your customers and employees. Ensure the message about your LTO is clear and consistent across all your communication channels. 

 

Expect to increase the pantry list, add to the skillset and push the kitchen’s ability to execute the LTO. Your entire team needs in on the plan to ensure consistency without compromising the existing full menu.

 

Get the Timing Right

The frequency with which you implement LTOs will depend on your operation. However, at a minimum, Tuori suggests, “Every season. This timing gives an opportunity to plan properly and execute.”

 

Customers are programmed to search for change seasonally. So a seasonal LTO naturally allows for use of local and seasonal ingredients that might be too expensive to use on a full menu.

 

LTOs need a defined end date. “There is power in scarcity,” says Kira Smith. Use your customers’ fear of missing out to your advantage and time your LTO. It doesn't mean you can't make it a permanent addition – adding an LTO to the full menu gives you yet another conversation starter.

 

Talk and Listen, Measure Results

As you wipe your brow and flop in a dining chair on the final day of your wildly successful LTO, remember you aren’t finished yet. Due diligence is necessary. Was all the extra work worth it?

 

Talk with your customers and your front and back of house employees. They will have something to say. Listen and learn from their observations. “If you are communicating about your LTO, which you should be, you have to follow up,” Smith advises. Listen to the praise (and criticism) and respond.

 

Consider using a social media survey to ask your customers for their feedback. Offering a gift card to your restaurant will sweeten the incentive for them to volunteer useful comments – and come back for another meal.

 

Finally, return to the original purpose of your LTO. Did it meet your criteria? If not, what didn’t work? How would you do it differently next time? If you did meet your goals, pat yourself on the back and then start planning the next one. And if you won BIG going off menu, you might need to change your old menu after all. Now are you ready for the playground?

 

A seasonal LTO naturally allows for use of local and seasonal ingredients that might be too expensive to use on a full menu.

 

Top tips to roll out a successful LTO

  • Give your LTO ample planning time as you may need to source new ingredients, plan for menu changes, and pay for advertising.
  • Consider using customer comment cards, then focus on providing something new that people want.
  • Utilize social media and your restaurant’s email marketing as a tool to promote your limited time offer.
  • Keep it simple. LTOs don’t need to be complicated; the easier they are to describe, promote and sell, the better.

 

Article by Cherie Thompson

 

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Frozen ProduceFlanagan Foodservice Blog Frozen Produce

By Alasko Foods

 

 

When it comes to nutrition, fruits and vegetables have always been the go-to in terms of healthy eating. Tried and true, their combination of practicality, taste, and nutritional benefit are second to none. However, frozen rather than fresh produce has several unique benefits which make them a clear choice for the resourceful restaurant operator.

 

Here are five reasons why:

 

1) Always in season

Frozen fruit is actually richer in nutrients on average than their fresh counterparts, according to a study by the University of California-Davis.¹ This is because of its enhanced preservation through a unique freezing method. Companies like Alasko, which utilize IQF (individual quick freezing) technology, do so because it locks in freshness, flavour, colour, and taste.

 

Individual quick freezing takes single pieces of food and, as the name suggests, freezes them individually at extremely low temperatures. This prevents the formation of large ice crystals that conventional freezing would cause, and preserves the high-quality state that the food is currently in.

 

IQF fruits and vegetables are always in season, simply because that’s the state at which they are frozen in.

 

2) Always available

Thanks to worldwide sourcing—which market leaders such as Alasko benefit from due to their extensive global supply network—it is feasible to obtain the best possible product from whichever region it happens to be currently in-season. Using IQF technology, the produce that ends up in your recipe and menu items is as fresh as it was when picked.

 

3) Convenience

Frozen produce has a lot more potential to it than meets the eye.

 

Rather than having to peel, chop, and prepare a fresh fruit or vegetable, IQF produce is frozen in a state that is ready to use. Simply toss fruits in a blender to make a smoothie, chop them up and make a salsa, or incorporate them into a smoothie bowl. Easily mix vegetables into a stir fry or casserole, or into a dip.

 

The possibilities are extensive!

 

4) Extended life

The disadvantage of fresh produce is that it needs to be consumed in a certain window of time before it starts to become overripe. This can put a lot of pressure for you to make use of it as quickly as possible. (Granted, frozen produce still has this window as well, but it is far lengthier—typically 24 months, as opposed to a week or so.²)

 

Simply take out the portion you need, and put the rest away where it will remain frozen and unspoiled.

 

5) Cost efficient

Using frozen fruits and vegetables minimizes your expenses in the areas of labour and food waste. Frozen produce is already cut, washed, and ready to toss in a recipe, and unused quantities can be put right back into the freezer. Even better, frozen produce can be less costly than their fresh counterparts.³

 

When it comes to the ingredients to put in your recipes, you are constantly faced with choice. Frozen fruits and vegetables have several benefits that are often overlooked in comparison to the alternatives. Whether it’s the heightened nutrition, convenience, or cheaper cost: frozen fruits and vegetables are definitely worth it.

 

For delicious IQF products to use in your next recipe, contact your Flanagan Foodservice sales representative or call our Customer Relations team at 1-855-FLANAGAN.

 

About Alasko

Alasko Foods is a leader in global sourcing of conventional and organic frozen fruits and vegetables, with a reputation for providing superior, world class service to customers across Canada, the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Committed to delivering the safest and highest quality products, without compromise, Alasko Foods will source, process, pack, label, brand and distribute the best fresh-frozen fruits and vegetables the world has to offer. Learn more at alasko.com.

 

References:

[1] Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture c 87:930–944

[2] U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 2015; Foodsafety.gov

[3] United Stated Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, 2016

 

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Close up butternut squash soup

 

Working with soup bases can save you time, labour and money. Two experts share their chef tips and soup-er recipes. 

 

A good soup base can be an immeasurable asset to the foodservice kitchen. It adds depth of flavour to dishes, can be built upon to create signature recipes and eliminates the cost of raw ingredients required to make a consistently flavourful stock.

 

There are many advantages to using a soup base as the platform for soup innovation:

 

1. Time- and labour-saving

Making the switch from scratch recipes to “speed scratch” recipes, including those using and building on a good soup base can mean significant time and labour savings for operators. “Scratch made stocks, and sauces derived from these stocks, can take hours of skilled labour,” says Kyla Tuori, corporate chef at Unilever Food Solutions.

 

“The cost of raw ingredients used to make a consistent flavourful stock can be a hassle, as well as the storage needed for these raw ingredients.”

 

2. Cost-saving

On the rising cost of labour across North America, Gerald Drummond, executive chef, North American Foodservice, Campbell Soup Company, says, “As minimums continue to increase, chefs and operators need to be creative in driving down costs while continuing to give customers creativity. It’s always a delicate balancing act.

 

3. Inventory-saving

“Having a good-tasting and well-balanced base helps the operator have greater variety on the menu while not increasing their inventory,” Chef Gerald continues. “It allows for the ability to offer multiple menu items while using the same product, as well as being able to stay relevant when it comes to food trends.”

 

4. Creative

What makes a good soup base? Beyond lending great flavour and aroma to dishes, Chef Kyla says, “a good commercial base is a concentrated product meant to be diluted to mimic a scratch-made stock (yet is also) so much more, and can be used for seasoning, marinating, and enhancing other scratch-made recipes.”

 

When it comes to which base(s) to choose, knowing what you want to achieve will help dictate what is important to look for. “Not all soup bases are created equal, or alike,” she continues. “With the variety of formats, ingredient decks, and (nutritional or special diet) claims, there is a base for every application and operator.”

 

5. Versatile

Beyond soup, many soup bases can be used in a variety of applications. Chef Gerald suggests turning a cream soup base into sauce for flatbread or pizza, Alfredo sauce for pasta or as a rich and flavourful base for chicken pot pie. “Powder bases can be used in their raw form for seasoning dishes,” says Chef Kyla. “Since these bases are often ‘salt first’ in the ingredient decks, they can add a lot of flavour where it may otherwise be lacking.

 

“Paste bases, due to their consistency and ‘ingredient/meat first’ ingredient decks, are great for rubs and marinades,” she adds. “They will adhere easily to the item that you are marinating and infuse it with flavours. Liquid concentrated bases can be used for seasoning dishes, marinating, glazing, and as a finishing enhancer. They are the most versatile of bases due to their consistency and flavour complexity.”

 

It's time to soup up your creativity in the kitchen, as well as your profit margin, with the addition of soup bases.

 

A simple way to make soups feel fresh

Garnishing is a simple way to make soups feel fresher, more premium and more delicious. Patrons perceive garnished soups as higher value, so you can charge up to 25% more!

 

Step up your presentation with these garnishing ideas using Campbell’s Signature Soups:

 

Beef Pot Roast

Add texture with sautéed garlic chips, crouton lardons, creamy aioli or horseradish. Sprinkle with minced thyme and marjoram for extra flavour.

 

Broccoli Cheddar

Go for the green with broccoli florets, green onions or chives. Add indulgence with sharp Cheddar cheese crisps.

 

Buffalo Style Chicken with Blue Cheese

Top with sour cream and minced chives. Or make it hearty with sliced chicken tenders, hot sauce and blue cheese crumble.

 

Chicken Corn Chowder with Sweet Peppers

Amp up the colour contrast with diced red pepper, fresh corn kernels or chopped chives.

 

Chicken Tortilla

Up the authenticity with tortilla strips, sour cream, queso fresco or avocado.

 

Classic Chicken Noodle

Garnish with chopped parsley or a parsley sprig for a pop of flavour and colour. Add rotisserie pulled chicken or fried noodles for culinary flair.

 

Harvest Butternut Squash

Amp up the flavour with toasted pumpkin seeds, butternut squash frites and a dollop of crème fraîche.

 

Hearty Beef Chili with Beans

Balance the spice with sour cream or shredded Cheddar. Brighten the bowl with scallions, green onions or chives.

 

Loaded Baked Potato

Re-load with Cheddar, sour cream, bacon, green onions, chives or waffled fries.

 

Sautéed Mushroom and Onion Bisque

Add key ingredients like sautéed mushrooms, fried or diced onions or leeks.

 

Southwestern Vegetarian Chili

Top with fresh avocado and tortilla strips, sour cream and minced cilantro for authentic flavour.

 

Tomato Bisque with Basil

Add indulgence with sour cream, tomato concasse or fresh basil.

 

Vegan Vegetable

Add freshness with julienned carrots, diced smoked or sautéed tomatoes, and roasted red peppers in balsamic syrup.

 

By Alison Kent

 

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Smiling Flanagan Foodservice team at the annual spring show

Each spring, thousands of people gather at the Flanagan Food Show to visit, sample unique new products, network with industry leaders and get exclusive show deals on a selection of products.

 

It was our 37th year hosting the show, and this year's was amazing. There was a buzz of excitement in the air as members of the industry came together to celebrate and learn about all things foodservice.

 

Because there is so much to see and taste (everyone’s favourite part) in just one day, we’ve recapped highlights of the show for you.

 

We sampled new products, learned new trends from each presentation, and had the chance to chat with vendor reps about what’s new and exciting in the world of Canadian foodservice.

 

Food Show Products

By Jackie Oakes

I’m Jackie, Senior Marketing Manager at Flanagan’s. I was able to visit many booths on show day and wanted to share some of my favourite discoveries:

 

Tamper-Evident Carry Out Bags

Flanagan code: 504489

 

These bags protect food from being tampered with when being delivered.

 

Recently I heard a story where a third party delivery driver was helping himself to some of the food he was delivering. I am sure most drivers aren’t—but this stuck in my head so I was very pleased to see these bags at the show. It is a large bag that permanently seals when the food is packed. Once delivered, the customer simply removes a perforated area of the bag and takes their food out. 

Ralston Tamper Proof Bag at Flanagan Food Show

It has a write-on block allowing operators to identify the customer or order number.They also offer custom print the bags; minimum case order is 250 cases.

 

 

McCain Avocado Wedges and Root Vegetable Medley

Flanagan codes: 199024 and 193039

McCain Deep Fried Avocado and Root Vegetables

 

McCain actually had four new products that I enjoyed sampling, but I forced myself to choose my two favourites to share with you:

 

Avocado Slices

YUM! Menu penetration for avocados are up 32% over the past four years and this breaded avocado is a great appetizer or addition to a burger. This provides operators an easy way to handle avocado, which can be rather temperamental.

 

Root Vegetable Medley

A tasty, unique twist on a traditional fry.  Carrots, parsnips and beets are cut and lightly battered.  Presentation is beautiful on the plate!

 

 

Carole’s Cheesecake on a Stik

Flanagan codes:

Matcha Green Tea – 107921
California Almond – 107919
New York Classic – 107933
Belgium Chocolate – 107934

 

Well HELLO, cheesecake on a stick!

Delicious, only 190 calories each, and available in four flavours: Matcha Green Tea, California Almond, New York Classic, and Belgium Chocolate.

Carol's Cheesecake on a Sick arranged on a plate

This is the perfect product to allow your guests indulge, while not breaking the calorie-bank. Today’s consumers are time strapped and want convenient foods that are easy to snack on. This product would work great in a location marketed as an afternoon snack.

 

 

Mini Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza Appetizer and Chicken Quesadilla Appetizer

Flanagan codes: 187791 and 187785

Brom appetizers

Brom Mise en Bouche was not a company I was familiar with before the show, and I was eager to try their appetizers. With more than 20 years’ experience in food manufacturing, their line of hors d’oeuvres and canapés were delicious!

 

My favourites were the pizza-style mini tartlet with pepperoni and cheese and the tortilla dough cone filled with chicken, strong cheddar, peppers and onions.

 

Strawberry Peanut Stick, Raspberry Chocolate Danish and Sweet Potato Bun

Flanagan codes:

Strawberry Peanut Stick – 107549
Raspberry Chocolate Danish – 107565
Sweet Potato Bun – 126150

 

Bridor Strawberry Peanut Stick

The Bridor story began in the 1970s, when Louis Le Duff moved from France to Quebec and couldn’t find a pastry to equal that in France. He opened in his first bakery in 1980 and has been developing high quality breads and pastries for over 30 years.

 

Bridor just launched a Strawberry Peanut Stick to mirror the attributes of a peanut butter and jam sandwich, which was scrumptious!

 

I am hard pressed to pick between that and the chocolate raspberry Danish. I was very excited about the sweet potato hamburger bun. The taste is very subtle, making this bun ideal for a pulled pork sandwich.

 

 

MadeGood Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip and Sweet and Salty Granola Bars

Flanagan codes: 

Chocolate Chip – 364538
Sweet and Salty – 364539

Made Good Granola Bars and Snacks at Flanagan Show

Made Good has a great story, leaning on healthy food as well as being an inclusive company. Half of their employees—from management to production—are women. Newcomers to Canada and people from under-represented groups enjoy a sense of belonging at MadeGood.

 

With one full serving of vegetables from six different sources, the vegan granola bars are a great source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, which can help contribute to a healthy digestive and immune system. 

 

Wings' Uncooked Ramen Noodles

Flanagan code: 119450

What is great about this traditional ramen noodle is that the product comes pre-portioned in a case of 24. Each package is 100 grams. It can be used in soups or as a cold noodle salad.

 

Here is a Ramen Chicken Noodle Soup recipe using the product:

Ingredients

4 bundles Wing’s Ramen Noodles
5 L chicken broth
1 inch ginger
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. Wing’s Soy Sauce
1 tbsp. sugar
1 carrot cut into match sticks
2 hard-boiled eggs, cut in half lengthwise
2 green onions, chopped
4 tsp. sesame oil

 

Preparation

In a large pot, bring chicken broth and ginger to a boil then reduce heat. Simmer for 10 minutes.


Meanwhile, slice chicken thighs.


Heat canola oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat and add chicken.
Once chicken pieces are fully cooked and have a nice sear, add Wing’s Soy Sauce and sugar. Continue frying until chicken evenly coated.


Boil Wing’s Ramen Noodles in lightly salted water. Drain, and portion into serving bowls.
Add chicken broth to noodles, and arrange chicken, carrots, egg, and green onions on top.


Drizzle with sesame oil and serve.

 

Serves: 4

 

I’m Katrina, Marketing Specialist at Flanagan’s.

 

There were so many delicious new products showcased on April 10 at our Kitchener show that I had trouble keeping my summary concise. These were my favourites:

 

Katrina Couto of Flanagan Foodservice

 

 

Beyond Sausage by Beyond Meat

Flanagan codes: 

Original Brat – 177000
Hot Italian – 177002
Sweet Italian – 177004

 

Walking into the show, the Beyond Meat booth was high on my list of vendors to visit. I was so excited to try the Beyond Sausage and it did not disappoint.

 

Though I’m not vegetarian, the Beyond Burger has been my A&W go-to order since it was released. The Beyond Sausage has the same attributes as the burger in that it has a similar texture and taste to that of its animal protein counterpart.

Beyond delicious.

Beyond Sausage Meat at Flanagan Food Show

 

 

Wow! Factor’s Sangria Cake, Reese Peanut Butter Blondie, and Vegan Chocolate Torte

Flanagan codes: 

Sangria Cake – 104169
Reese Peanut Butter Blondie – 104154
Vegan Chocolate Cake – 104175

Variety of Wow Factor Cakes at Flanagan Food Show

Wow! Factor was another booth I didn’t want to miss. I featured the Reese Peanut Butter Blondie in an issue of our New Product Newsletter shortly before the show, and I had to try it for myself.

 

Wow! Factor has released five unique new products for spring 2019, and these products were three of them.

 

The Reese Peanut Butter Blondie tastes exactly as you’d imagine a Reese candy would taste in cake form. In other words, decadent.

 

Their Vegan Chocolate Cake is comprised of mostly plant ingredients, and the Sangria Cake is heavenly, fresh, and chock-full of summer berries.

 

Cavendish DeliverCrisp™ Fries

Flanagan code: 193130

This year, Cavendish debuted their DeliverCrisp™ fries; a skin-on, straight-cut fry that maintains its crispiness for 30 minutes while en route to your customer’s door. 55% of restaurant delivery occasions are incremental orders, and right now French fries are the fastest growing food item in delivery. No matter what serving container these are packaged in, DeliverCrisp™ fries are designed to provide an unprecedented hold time.
Cavendish Deliver Crisp Fries

 

 

 

Fully Cooked Chicken Wings

 

Even better: this product qualifies for Brand Points Plus, and until June 30 you can earn 5 bonus points for each case purchased!

Flanagan code 164494

Reuven International featured their new Fully Cooked Wings (exclusive to Flanagan!), and they were incredibly tasty as is, without any seasoning.

 

These wings are prepared straight from your freezer to the fryer and ready in less than five minutes. Because they’re fully cooked, you eliminate any food safety concerns and minimize fryer oil degradation.

Rueven Fully Cooked Wings

 

 

KIND Bars

Flanagan code: 164494

Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate – 177000

Almond Sea Salt & Dark Chocolate – 177002

Almond & Coconut – 177004

 

Kind, indeed. KIND bars are all about simplicity. With no artificial sweeteners or added sugars, these bars are nutrient-dense without compromising flavour.

 

Speaking of flavour, the three that were featured at the show were delicious; Peanut Butter & Dark Chocolate, Almond Sea Salt & Dark Chocolate, and Almond & Coconut.

 

Kind Bars - Dark Chocolate nuts and sea salt

 

 

 

The Deals
Flanagan Team promoting truckload deals at Flanagan Show

Once again, we had a Truckload Deals section in the centre of the show floor that featured one-day-only deals on select products. Flanagan customers placed their orders on the spot, and saved anywhere from $0.50 to $18.00 per case (or portion, depending on the product).

 

Products with deals included Grille & Galley Gourmet steak, Redpath sugar, Gay Lea salted and unsalted butter, High Liner seafood, and a variety of smallwares.

 

Though the Truckload Deals were one-day-only, show pricing applies for six weeks past show date; reach out to your Territory Manager for more information or call Customer Relations at 1-855-FLANAGAN.

 

Thank you to all guests, vendors, presenters and staff for another wonderful show season. We look forward to seeing you in 2020!

 

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7Shifts

Iphone showing 7 shifts software and logo

As a teenager, Jordan Boesch was a “sandwich artist” at a popular quick-service restaurant, an experience in a family business that eventually spun itself out as 7shifts, a North America-wide company he founded in 2014.

 

“My dad ran Quiznos locations, and I worked for him. I understood early the pains of managing and running restaurants firsthand,” Boesch says.

 

At its most basic, 7shifts is a labour management and communications platform with a mobile app for restaurateurs which provides tools for controlling labour costs and scheduling staff, among other functions.

 

Save time and money at your restaurant

Summary

  • 7shifts saves your restaurant considerable time and money
  • The software helps your employees provide shift feedback

Details

Those experiences inspired 7shifts and its on-boarding platform with a support team and live-chat link which can help restaurants get started with the program and use its full capacity and value. “We’re self-serve and simplified. Along with the machine learning, we have differentiated ourselves in the scheduling and labour management market,” Boesch says. 

 

While 7shifts is not a revenue-driver for restaurants, it saves them considerable time and money, according to Boesch. He notes that saving $10 is the same as making $10, so restaurateurs shouldn’t only be in revenue mode. “The platform gives managers a chance to see if they are going to go over or be under those labour and budget targets in real time,” Boesch says adding that the system assists with forecasting sales and predicting costs. 


On the other hand, it also helps employees communicate with managers and provide shift feedback too. 

 

“If I had to bundle it all together, I would say that we’re not only a platform for managers but also for employees to help them be more engaged with their work place.” 

 

Eliminate scheduling chaos 

Summary

  • 7shifts operates in 20-plus countries and services more than 250,000 restaurant pros around the world
  • With different offerings tailored to your business, their software pricing ranges from free–$70/month

Details

The family business was the crucible: Boesch saw up close the chaos that is the typical hourly-worker scheduling process. “There were always a lot of sticky notes and papers everywhere, and hand-written notes about shift-trading and when people could or could not work. It got me thinking about improving the situation.”  

 

Starting with a small program that uploaded an Excel schedule to a website so employees could download it, 7shifts evolved over time to where it is today.  
 
Saskatchewan-based and primarily serving North American restaurants, the company operates in 20-plus countries and over 7,000 restaurants—everything from single- and multi-unit independents to large corporate franchises. 

 

“We can tailor our software precisely to a restaurant’s needs. We’re mostly used by independent restaurants and growing franchises,” says Boesch. They charge from free (basic platform functionality for restaurants with 10 or fewer people) to $150 per month at their premium offering.

 

Schedule the right people at the right time 

Summary

  • It's not a matter of scheduling more people, but the right people at the right times
  • Match shifts with employees who work well together
  • Work less on scheduling, and more on working with staff and driving sales for your restaurant
  •  

Details

Labour management is a central focus of 7shifts, and Boesch stresses it’s not a matter of just scheduling more people; it’s a matter of scheduling the right number of people at the right time. 

 

“We draw on historical sales data from a Point of Sale (POS), and we look at weather patterns and seasonality. We look at all these variables that could influence how much labour you would need to service the demands of your restaurant at a particular time. We build that out for the restaurant, and they can make adjustments as needed depending on the insights.” 
 
Behind the scenes, machine learning—the algorithms and models used by computer systems which continuously improve their performance over time—takes place, as it does in most of today’s technologies. The company draws on their own in-house machine learning team and data science team, which optimizes for the various efficiencies as they relate to weather and seasonality, but also the skill level of staff members.

 

Boesch points out that that one result is good for employees and for the business in that it can match shifts with people who work well together, as well as account for availability and vacations. “From this, we’ve gained a lot of traction and adoption in the industry because it means managers work less on scheduling and more on working with staff and driving sales for the restaurant.”

 

Reduce turnover rate

“If $5,000 worth of meat disappeared from your fridge, you’d probably be checking cameras, yet operators have become almost complacent and see high turnover as normal.” 

 

Summary

  • Better manage your employee life-cycle in your restaurant (hiring, training, scheduling, retaining)
  • 7shifts saves between 1 and 4 percent on overall labour costs as a percentage of sales
  • Reduce time spent scheduling by 80 percent

Details

At the same time, the platform helps managers better manage the “employee life-cycle” in the restaurant – hiring, training, scheduling and retaining. Employee turnover in restaurants is the highest of any private industry in North America, according to Boesch, and it has continued ramifications for restaurants. 

 

“Restaurants are now starting to look more closely at turnover rate and its costs from a macro-level. It’s quite expensive, ranging from $3,000 to $5,000 when you lose an employee and upwards of $20,000 when you lose a manager,” he notes. “If $5,000 worth of meat disappeared from your fridge, you’d probably be checking cameras, yet operators have become almost complacent and see high turnover as normal.” 
 
Boesch says that 7shifts saves between one and four percent on overall labour costs as a percentage of sales: a restaurant doing $1 million in sales will save between $10,000 and $40,000 annually. 

 

“The ROI for 7shifts is substantial in just being able to help operators schedule better,” he says, adding that some of that is saved by preventing early clock-ins that quickly add up. 

 

The platform can also reduce the time spent scheduling by 80 percent. 

“It takes some of the work out of the manager’s hands and gives employees the responsibility of determining the shifts they can work. The manager is involved only when approval is needed.” 

 

7shifts features a free labour cost savings calculator on its website:

 

Graphic showing a sample of 7shifts restaurant labour savings
7shifts can also assist management with labour regulations and compliance where they apply.

 

For instance, regulations in some areas stipulate that scheduled employees who report to work only to find they have been given fewer than three hours, must be paid three hours at their regular rate of pay. 

 

The “7punches” time-clocking system makes it easy for managers to reconcile the time worked with payroll requirements. The platform runs a report for hours worked, then notes all results showing fewer than three hours. This can then be manually adjusted in payroll to reflect the appropriate payout. 

 

Restaurants and cloud technology 

Is 7shifts itself a shift in approach that restaurants should consider? Boesch thinks so. 

“It’s becoming more common that restaurateurs are using technology. It has largely been an industry that’s slow to adopt technology, but that’s also meant that there is a lot of technology companies with a lot to offer the industry,” he says. Boesch sees that trend continuing as a younger demographic of restaurateurs and food-business operators enter the industry. “Cloud-based technology is where they are going to look first. It’s an exciting trend, and I think it is going to grow.” 

 

As we roll into a new year, Boesch says it’s a good time to think strategically about the next 12 months. 

 

“Think about how you engage staff and manage your labour. Doing things the same way could mean leaving dollars on the table.”

 

Learn more about 7shifts at 7shifts.com.

 

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people in busy restaurant enjoying a meal

Upselling: on the one hand, it might seem like you are being pushy; on the other, think of it as an education process and one that gives your customers information about menu items they may not be thinking about (or were afraid to ask about).

 

The sooner your wait-staff recognize the value of upselling and can upsell with sincerity, the sooner your bottom line will be healthier. Another bonus: your staff will be happier when their cheque average increases along with their tips.

 

It’s a question of psychology as much as anything else. People are shy, timid, and can feel guilty when it comes to ordering dessert after a meal. When you ask them point-blank if they’d like dessert, it leaves them with an easy “yes” or “no” answer. It will be much harder for them to refuse a server’s pleasant story about a dessert told with a wink and a smile. For example: “I love our chef’s chocolate mousse cake. It’s made for chocolate lovers. People have said it has changed their lives.”

 

Know your menu and be suggestive

Suggestive selling is a sales technique that might encourage your customer to purchase an additional item (like a side or dessert) – it is used to increase purchase amount.

 

When it comes to dessert, customers may be a little more hesitant to outright ask, especially after a substantial meal. By prompting customers with dessert item suggestions, recommendations and personal favourites, it breaks that silence.

 

Effective suggestive selling means being knowledgeable about the food you’re selling. Does your staff know the menu as well as you do? Can they make recommendations that will result in a sale? It’s important that your wait staff try everything on the menu from entrées to desserts.

 

Recognize that guests attend your restaurant for an experience that they cannot recreate at home, whether it be your signature appetizer or upscale, fine dining atmosphere. In order to get this experience, customers are eager to talk to your restaurant staff to learn more about the menu and its special dishes; if your wait-staff delivers, therein lies the upsell.

 

When all is said and done, staff training is key, especially in light of more educated customers who refer to themselves as “foodies” and ask with confidence about menu details and for suggestions from staff. You do not want to get caught not seeming to know what the menu items are like and how they are prepared.

 

Of course, the wine list and beer and cocktail menus also require attention when it comes to server knowledge and upselling. If you have wine suppliers visiting your restaurant, take advantage; ask them to discuss their products and do some tastings.

 

Talk and get your just desserts

[Supersize Guest Cheques blog_cake image] Ah, desserts: they are the last impression—visual and taste—that your customer has of your restaurant. So upsell guests on dessert and make sure that what they buy positively dazzles on the plate.

 

It is also important to focus on plate presentation. It doesn’t have to be overly dramatic, but a brownie on a plate at a restaurant has to look much more enticing than what customers could eat at home. He suggests working with wait-staff a bit on plate presentations for desserts that add entertainment value.

 

As well, give your customers dessert menus at the right “dessert moment” – don’t include them with the food and beverage menus. Make sure wait staff are talking about coffees and special coffees with dessert as they are clearing the table at the end of a meal. It doesn’t need to be a hard sell, just a suggestion before walking away. When you return, the response can be surprising; you may see your dessert and coffee sales jump 20 per cent if your staff does this for each table.

 

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Smiling waitress holding a tray of glasses

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter how delicious the food is, how ambient the room looks or how reasonable the prices are; if a guest walks in and some small behaviour rubs him the wrong way, he may never eat there again.

 

Everyone knows someone who has walked out of a restaurant and stated, “I can’t believe what just happened—I’m never going back!”

 

When people initially see a small piece of your restaurant, that’s all they know about your operation and your brand.

 

What should you do to make a good first impression for guests?

Have a meeting with your employees and create the following list: “Top Ten Reasons a Guest Would Leave Our Restaurant and Never Want to Come Back.” Then, brainstorm solutions and ways to prevent those problems. You can even site specific incidents from past customer problems. Once the list is finished, make copies for everyone and post an abbreviated list in the kitchen, the bathroom stalls, the break rooms and the smoking area.

 

What can result in a bad first impression for a restaurant? How do you avoid making those mistakes?

It primarily is because of one simple error: forgetting that the job isn’t about you. Some days a server will be stressed out or upset. (Hey, it’s part of the job!) But sometimes a server will “spill” his or her emotions on his customers instead of putting their emotions aside. The bottom line about first impressions in the hospitality industry? It doesn’t matter if you have a bad day, it only matters if the guest has a good day.

 

Differentiate between the things your employees should do to make a good first impression when seating, answering the telephone, and interacting with new guests at the table.

 

Seating guests

When seating guests, take the few seconds walking them to their tables to strike up a conversation. While doing so, the host may discover that there’s an anniversary or birthday to be celebrated. Wouldn’t it just the guest’s day if the waiter came over and said, “Happy 35th! My name is Jack and I’ll be taking care of you tonight”?

 

Answering the telephone

Anyone who answers the phone needs to know the entire menu, hours of operation and most importantly, directions on how to get to the restaurant from all parts of town. A good suggestion is to post directions on the host stand, or have an easy-to-grab reference available so hosts can avoid the “Let Me Find Someone Who Knows How to Get Here” trap.

 

Interacting with guests at the table

When a new guest comes to your table, it is best practice for servers to introduce themselves by name, or wear a name badge. Name tags are vital tools for service providers. A name tag makes it easier for customers to gain the attention of an employee from whom they need service should something arise.

 

Sigmund Freud said that a person’s name is the single context of human memory most apt to be forgotten. By wearing a name tag, you put customers at ease because they know your name. As a result, you are more approachable to them. A couple of chains actually teach their servers to write their names upside down in crayon on the tables, which makes an unforgettable first impression, not to mention keeps their names in front of guests during the meal.

 

If you want employees to connect with guests, they need to get to know them. The most effective way to establish a connection is by asking open-ended questions allowing the guests to share a little bit of who they are. An example could be as simple as, “what are you gentleman up to this weekend?”

 

Approachability is the key to making unforgettable first impressions.

 

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