5 Reasons Why Food Halls are the Perfect Entry Point for the Foodservice Operator

Look around and it’s possible you have seen a food hall pop up in any major city in the US. Why? Because they are epic that’s why?

Okay, maybe that is a little too general and biased but let’s take this to a practical approach and explore the 5 reasons why food halls are the perfect entry point for the foodservice professional.

#1: They meet guest demand for variety and lower price points and that is key

Guests want and desire change often. Food halls allow today’s consumer to meet a need that traditional restaurants don’t...cuisine variety.

A lot of restaurants can have a wide range of selections on their menu, however, they most likely are within a certain niche. Hard to find a menu that has crepes, ramen, sushi, and bbq on the same menu.

Food halls allow today’s consumers to find a little bit of everything. The smart food halls also offer smaller portions to encourage a more grazing style to eating. Variety is the spice of life they say and food halls allow people to explore other cuisines in a safe format.

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#2: They offer lower startup costs than traditional brick and mortar restaurants

For restaurants just getting started the food hall allows you to get started without the major financial commitments that most traditional restaurant ventures require. No need to spend money on dining rooms and furniture as the food hall will take care of these areas.

You can get into a food hall concept for about a quarter of the costs that a 50-75 seat restaurant would be. That gives budding entrepreneurs a fighting chance in an ultra-competitive market like we are in now. There are some many costs that new restaurants do not anticipate that can really put a concept way behind the eight-ball before opening. Unexpected construction overruns with plumbing and electrical work, for example. HVAC installment that requires customized ductwork. Stainless steel tables. Refrigeration that can meet health department codes and more variables.

These areas of construction can quickly get out of budget really fast for new restaurants. In fact, the number one reason most new restaurants fail is undercapitalization. That usually occurs from construction costs eating up your startup budget.

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#3: They allow you to refine your brand without too much risk

Food halls that are properly planned offer something that goes beyond the classic food court at a mall like we grew up with. These new food meeting spaces have become the rage in most markets since they offer food at an elevated level that goes beyond the standard pizza, Chinese food, or hot dogs offered at mall food courts. Instead, food halls offer upscale options like gourmet burgers, street tacos, poke, churros, lobster rolls, and many other ethnic specialties.

Forward thinking and entrepreneurial-minded food halls are also doing something that is exciting for new restaurant owners: they offer business coaching. Think of it as a business incubator!

Since food halls are successful when their tenants are successful, it makes sense to give people resources that perpetuate that success. Business development, branding consulting, restaurant systems, and marketing are just a few of the services that business coaching can provide.

#4: Existing restaurants can expand into new markets

“Food Halls allow an existing brand to really take their signature items to a new level. Luke’s Lobsters took the one item they are known for their Classic Lobster Roll and started rolling them out in food halls. That side business of doing what they do best brings in over $4M for the brand! says Kelley Jones of Kelley Jones Hospitality (Las Vegas.)

If you have a signature item, you should consider making a food hall concept focused on that! It can not only build brand depth, but it can also increase brand awareness. Remember that the goal is for market domination and recognition. Food halls offer a cheaper alternative to opening another full-service location.

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#5: They allow you to have a better life

The food hall experience also can provide you with a lifestyle outside of the realm of having a full-service establishment. One thing many don’t consider is that with bigger restaurants come bigger headaches. All business problems are really people problems in disguise. So, the bigger your staff, the greater the possibility of more people problems popping up.

Also, as competition grows, having a small established food hall concept means you can staff it much easier! You will see that as labor becomes tighter and people demand higher wages, the food hall concept will be a great option for restaurateurs. Small is the new big! Plus, with the lower opening costs, it becomes a prime path to grow into a little restaurant empire.

Food halls are not slowing down anytime soon. The smart restauranteur will take advantage now before the rest of the market become wise and then jumps on the food hall bandwagon. It’s always better if you can be an early adopter to trends that have staying power.

Food halls are here. Are you going to jump in?

Want to learn more about food halls? Don’t miss this recent On Foodable Side Dish episode showcasing some of Miami’s best food halls.

Why You Should Forget About Improving Your Restaurant

Your restaurant is a composition of thousands of details. All those details contribute to what your restaurant is today. The good and the bad.

Here’s the problem: With the New Year comes new plans to improve your restaurant. Usually, it's the same plan. You start off strong and around March the best designed plans start to fall to the wayside.

By June, those plans are pretty much forgotten. In November, you start to make plans for next year and the cycle goes over and over, again and again, year after year.

Perhaps it time to get off this masochistic treadmill and get some real results?

The first thing to do is stop trying to improve your restaurant. Wait? Did that last sentence say stop trying to improve my restaurant? Yes. It’s not a typo. Improvement to a thing is like throwing new paint on a rusted out car. It looks nice on the surface, but underneath is still a rusted out piece of junk. Instead of trying to fix temporary issues, how about we dig down to inspire real lasting change. That starts with you as the leader.

Your restaurant is a direct reflection of who you are as a leader, owner, operator, or chef. When you’re the one who is driving the brand you have to know where you want to go!

Too many leaders focus on temporary solutions that just compound the real problem lurking under the surface...you might just suck at running your restaurant.

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But here are a few things that lead to this situation of mediocrity:

You Focus on the Wrong Things

There are probably days when you think that your restaurant would be awesome if it wasn’t for those other people just messing things up day after day. You know it’s all their fault. Let’s just invite a few more people to this pity party and turn it into a total bitch fest! Get a bunch of unhappy people together and it ramps up pretty quick.

There was a restaurant owner who said to me the other day, “My cashiers are a bunch of idiots!” My reply was rather calm, “Well, who hired them?”

“I did”, he said.

“Well, maybe the real issue is who allowed them to work here in the first place?”, I said.

Yes, the truth will set you free. Yes, it’s going to piss you off. After a minute of silence, the owner replied, “Yeah, I haven’t done a very good job of screening people. I get desperate and hire anybody with a pulse!”

I said, “When you panic hire you only solve a temporary issue and create a long term problem in the growth of your culture.”

What are you doing to improve yourself to become a better leader?

What are you doing each week to recruits and search for better people to join your team?

The answer to these questions will lead you to start focusing on the one thing you truly have control over and that is you. Restaurants get better when the people in them become better people. You don’t tolerate mediocrity in others, so why do you accept it for yourself?

You Don’t Schedule Time to Work on Your Plan

Let’s talk about being busy. You’re busy, I get that. The question is what are you busy with? Are you blocking time out of your day to move your brand forward? It’s easy in the restaurant world to fill a day up with minutia tasks that have little long term impact on growth.

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Growth is not just about increasing sales. It’s about becoming better. Better at marketing. Better at guest relations. Better at cultivating a team that lives your mission. Better at being a better person.

Time has the ultimate “I don’t care what you do” attitude. Seriously. Time does not care what you do with the 14,400 minutes you get gifted with each day. Waste it or invest it, it’s always your choice.

Remember that...you choose all day what is important by where you place your attention. So, the "I’m too busy excuse" is really a bunch of BS. You should be honest and say that it’s not important to you.

Taking small blocks of time and putting them on your calendar is the one sure way to ensure your agenda (your life) moves forward. Take a tip from the most successful people on the planet...use your calendar to schedule EVERYTHING! Don’t take random meetings. Don’t allow people to control your day by not having your calendar booked. White space on your calendar is the lazy person’s life. Multimillionaire Grant Cardone is found of saying, “If you want to meet the devil, have white space on your calendar.” Your productivity will come to a halt when you have too much idle time on your hands.

So, what do you scheduled? Everything! Gym time, breakfast, time with family, meetings, phone calls, pre-shifts, computer time, reading time, meditation, and whatever else is important to you. I do block off open time for things that might need my attention. I tell clients to contact me during this scheduled blocks of time. If you want to really improve the quality of your restaurant and your life, then take control of your calendar and schedule everything!

You Get Discouraged and Give Up

Life loves to throw curve balls at you. Persistence and perseverance are required if you want massive success. Hey, things are not going to work all the time. Even if your restaurant started out with a Big Bang, as the time goes by (and more restaurants move into your market) you’ll start to become a little less appealing to the shiny new restaurant brands popping up.

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You’ll try something new to get your brand back on top. Maybe some video marketing on social media. You’ll get a few likes and then it seems to die off. You throw in the towel and throw out the excuse that your guests don’t want that. You could be so wrong.

Marketing is not a one time thing. It’s a consistency thing. Throwing out that video and then not really promoting it is your downfall. You made a half-ass commitment and the results show. If you want to play the social media marketing game, you will need to put in the energy and effort to get the results you want. Is everything you put out there going to stick? Of course not! Then you try something else. If that doesn’t work, you try something else. If that doesn’t work, you try something else. If that doesn’t work, you try something else. If that doesn’t work, you try something else. If that doesn’t work, you try something else. If that doesn’t work, you try something else. Get the hint?

You keep working and refining your message until you hit the nerve that gets a response from your guests. Then you market it relentlessly! Marketing is about keeping your brand in front (top of feed) to your market. If you don’t want to spend the time and invest in promoting your brand, your competition will.

I think it’s safe to say that almost everyone reading this know who McDonald’s is. Do you see them backing off on the amount they market? Hell no. They keep their foot on the marketing accelerator all the time! When you see McDonald’s slow down on marketing is the time you should slow down. Until then keep your brand at the top of social media feeds to keep your name top of mind.

Stop throwing caution to the wind. Stop playing it safe. Stop playing small in your market. Stop trying to improve things that won’t really improve your restaurant. Focus on becoming the best version of yourself. Control your calendar. Keep your marketing fresh and frequent. Refuse to surrender to complacency and mediocrity!

Want more tips from Donald Burns on how to create a better restaurant? Check out the recent episode of The Barron Report below where Burns breaks down some of the psychological principles that get in your way from building the restaurant and life you truly desire.

Are you a Chef? You Should be Looking at These Opportunities in 2019

Are you a Chef? You Should be Looking at These Opportunities in 2019

Call it innovation, call it being ahead on trends. Either way, there are untapped opportunities to grow business, impact sales, and develop as a professional.

What’s next for the astute chef that is looking to build fiscal strength and operational mastery?

Delivery is its own segment

Menu engineering that accounts for the booming delivery segment is emerging. But not all dishes do well when they grow legs; Delicate fried items, for instance, get soggy before they make it home. Some dishes, on the other hand, are marvels of transportation efficiency. More of these items are making their way onto menus because these dishes travel best.

Why? Unless you have been unplugged for the last few years, you can’t help but notice that delivery is big, with over 8% growth in the segment projected for 2019. Third party transportation operators are ubiquitous and those with disposable income - yes, millennials - are all abuzz about good delivery options.

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5 Lessons About Restaurants You Can Learn From Superheroes

5 Lessons About Restaurants You Can Learn From Superheroes

We all want a hero. We scoop up comic books and buy tickets to blockbuster movies to watch their adventures unfold before us.

The internal battles they face, the external forces of evil set to destroy our world, and the compassion they demonstrate for others. Superheroes give us hope. They restore faith. They inspire us to become more than we are.

Success leaves clues and the nature of superheroes is no different. Look closer at your favorite hero and you’ll see traits that many also share. These traits have nothing to do with having superpowers. They come from their character. They come from within themselves. They also can be a lesson for you in your quest to build a better restaurant. It’s the character of the leader that shapes the direction of a brand.

Weak brands have weak leaders, it’s that simple.

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