Chef Eileen Andrade Aims to Make a Destination Out of Miami Suburb, Kendall

Chef Eileen Andrade Aims to Make a Destination Out of Miami Suburb, Kendall

"If I could describe my style of cooking, I would definitely say— bold," says Chef Eileen Andrade.

And “bold” is right as her restaurants serve up a combination of Cuban, Peruvian and Korean dishes.

There is no stopping this fierce Miami-based chef from accomplishing her goals.

In her mid-twenties, Eileen Andrade, opened her first restaurant, Finka Table & Tap in Kendall, an unassuming suburban Miami neighborhood. Now, the 29-year-old sits down with Foodable to talk about her newest restaurant concept, Amelia’s 1931, which she opened less than a mile away from her first concept.

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5 Reasons Why You're Hiring the Wrong People And What To Do About It

5 Reasons Why You're Hiring the Wrong People And What To Do About It

Have you ever spent weeks sifting through resumes (online or offline), spent hours sitting in interviews listening to the same copy and paste responses from everyone, only to hire a handful and they just turn out to be mediocre employees? Or maybe you’ve spent all of this time, money, and energy training someone only to have them leave you for another job?

According to the National Restaurant Association, the turnover rate for the restaurant sector was 72.9 percent in 2016 which was higher than it was in 2015. The biggest reason for that is most people see restaurant jobs as transitional positions. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t snag some amazing people on your team.

Here are five reasons why you’re hiring the wrong people and what we can do to start hiring the people you need for your business to be a success:

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Why Restaurants are Hiring Less

Why Restaurants are Hiring Less

It's a great time to be a foodie, but not so much for an operator. 

In recent years, the restaurant industry has expanded with so many new innovative concepts. 

Several established chains were also hiring to accommodate for growth. Since mid-2009, the industry added 2.3 million jobs. In 2015, consumers spent more at restaurants than at grocery stores. 

It's looks as though for several of these big guys, things are slowing down. In 2016, hiring at restaurants and bars started to move at a much more sluggish pace.

“The best times for restaurant employment have passed,”  said Ryan Sweet, a Moody’s Analytics Inc. economist. He also said it will take some time for the industry to bounce back and that “it’s unlikely restaurants will be able to duplicate the kind of job gains we’ve seen since the expansion began.”

The QSR brands McDonald's and Subway are not opening as many stores this year and have even closed locations. 

As fast food customers are gravitating to other options like prepare foods at grocery markets and meal kit programs and as labor wages increase, chains like Wendy's and McDonald's are turning to automation technology. 

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Building a Start-Up Restaurant Brand

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The risk involved with a startup restaurant can be steep. How steep depends on the source of the report, as Upserve suggests, with a reported failure rate ranging from 17 to 30 percent.

No matter the study, and no matter the percentage, restaurants fail.

The reasons for failure run the gamut from poor hiring to lack of inventory controls. While those things can bring down even the most successful of establishments, the lack of a cohesive concept and brand serve as the culprit in many startup failures.

Don’t be a statistic.

Decisions, Decisions

An idea for a concept must be thought about in every aspect of the business and foundational planning upfront helps make the rest of the process of opening a new concept easier. Learn from the big concepts and consider things like mission statements and coming up with a target consumer.

What exactly is your goal other than making some money selling delicious food or beverages? What is your affiliation with the community going to look like? Who are the faces you want representing you? What exactly IS your target demographic?

There is much to consider and if the opening process is brand new to you, consultation with an industry professional is highly recommended. The details that need to be fleshed out are truly that important.

Spreading the Word

Budgeting for marketing materials and building excitement around the startup is an important part of the process when starting up a restaurant brand. Having a great product is just not enough.

Fortunately, the ability to generate a buzz and get the community excited about the opening of your establishment can start happening well before the doors open. Embracing the power of social media on various platforms can help position the company for a truly grand opening. The targeted approach of using hashtags and geolocations can build community excitement as construction takes place or when menu is being developed. Offering a sneak-peek into the planning phases will give your potential guests a glimpse of what to expect.

Care must be taken with the rest of the details, because when excitement is built and the doors open, guest will expect the best. Soft opens only give you a little wiggle room, so ensure everything is set before go time.

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Assembling the Team

Higher level decisions need to be made before staff is hired and in place. The last thing you want to do is hire a staff and then make game-time decisions to completely alter what they were hired for.

Decide what kind of company culture you would like to establish and be prepared to consistently lead by example. Figure out who your target market is and hire accordingly – who do you want to be the face of your establishment? Who can you work alongside and trust to carry out your plan until every guest leaves happy?

Don’t wait until the last minute to hire before opening. Despite the multitude of loose ends that will rule your life, you must make time to hire properly. Take the time to lay out expectations and write a quality recruitment want-ad, then filter the responses and find the worthy needles in the haystack of resumes you’ll receive. Take the interview process seriously and budget quality time for that process, as these people can make or break your concept.

Arm yourself with quality training materials, and be sure they are complete, with all expectations laid out clearly for employees to agree to, and then refer to as necessary. These materials can range from a printed paper packet, straight out of Microsoft Word, to an interactive, online on-boarding program. I all depends on your budget! No matter the delivery method, be sure employees understand what you and the restaurant are all about. Be prepared to live whatever is in the training materials, because it only takes an instance of giving the green light to something that is against company policy, for the rest of the policies to unravel.

Consistency is key, and when mixed messages surface, your team will do what they wish.  

Vision vs. Execution

There will be adjustments along the way, so be prepared for that. Staffing may not be what you thought you needed. Menu items may turn out to be a flop. Closing procedures may need to be adjusted. These changes are okay, so be sure to be transparent with the staff about them.

Troubleshoot with the team about things like workflow, kitchen layout, and menu development if they have suggestions or concerns. Implementing suggestions from the team will increase their vested interest and make you all stronger. Curtail bad habits immediately by teaching in the moment, documenting issues that need to be relayed to the entire staff. Communication is key.

Front-loading the opening process with planning for every aspect of the operation is the only way to open a new concept. Plan, review, revise, and revise again. Have others try to poke holes in the business plan and concept, and the result will be increased confidence when training and eventually opening a new concept.

By Brian Murphy, Industry Expert

Getting Past the Labor Crunch Affecting the Restaurant Industry

Forget why it happened - or continues to happen - but there is a very real shortage of kitchen labor.

You can have a shimmering five-star Yelp rating, a filled dining room, and the best craft beer list around, but without staff to make food and make drinks, you are nowhere.

Throwing your hands up in meaningless desperation because ‘there aren’t people out there!’ is less than productive. Instead, get real about plugging employment holes.

Money Is an Option, but Not the Only Answer

Engaging younger employees, for instance, is a strategically smart move. Ask what they want and listen to their answers.

Some common requests, most often heard when talking with Millennial staffers, are:

  • Flexibility in scheduling - wanna bet your clutch salad guy won’t quit because he is scheduled during tomorrow’s DJ Khaled show? Be flexible or be rigid. One will break you.
  • Working with friends - dangerous footing, yes. But, especially significant to the highly social, younger employment pool, find some middle ground.
  • Let me use my phone - set guidelines, but don’t rip their phones from their hands. How do you feel about being out of touch?
  • Feed me - staff meal, for sure. Make it something that can be photo-worthy so they can talk about it online.
  • Keep me connected with something big - whether it is local charity support, a tie-in with a community group or a national campaign, social activism has spilled across many demographics. We all want to feel like we are identified with something bigger than ourselves, this can be a win on many levels.

Transportation Matters

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If your restaurant is in a metro setting, parking might be an issue.

Cooks’ and servers’ wages can succumb to costly transportation costs. Work a barter deal with a garage owner to secure spaces for your crew to park.

Encourage biking by having adequate bike racks and even give away locks.

Merch

Part of identifying with a purpose or mission, treat staff like a team not by just saying that you have a team. Branded shirts, hoodies, or jackets go further than you think.

For your modest investment, the team gets to reap the benefit of getting gear that represents their place of employment and you get walking advertisements. It’s a pride thing.

Using Social Media for More Than Driving Sales

Give your crew reasons to share the virtues of their great job.

Taking Phone Pictures of Food

Create Instagrammable moments with community-based events, mission-based experiences, and, just a lot of fun times.

Digital natives broadcast their days. Give them fodder to share with friends; friends that could need - or want - a job with you.

Feed them a great staff meal and let them share pics.

Spending Money on Staff Doesn't Have to Be Just Payroll

Adam Marcus, owner and operator of two Chick-fil-A locations in northern Delaware has a problem we all wish to have— the restaurants are too busy! This energized operator got serious about doing what bosses are supposed to: providing employees the resources they need to be even better at their jobs.

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Marcus went extreme and closed a very busy Bear, Del. location for an extensive remodel and retool, to ensure a better experience for customers, but equally important improvements for the employees.

“We’re investing in some pretty cool equipment [like] commercial dishwashers, lettuce spinners. [We] just bought a machine that juices lemons rather than hand squeeze for lemonade. We are compartmentalizing our kitchen so that everyone has specific tasks rather than overwhelming the staff,” said Marcus who believes that a direct spend on the staff works just as well to hold onto the crew. “For kitchen leadership we've increased hourly pay and have thrown in performance based incentives, offered health insurance, increased vacation pay,” said Marcus.

Shane Timmons, a Montana line cook at Bullwinkle's Saloon & Eatery, seconds Marcus’ approach. “Reward your employees. Make them feel appreciated. Give them what you can afford to when you can. But most of all, let them work towards something," said Timmons. "Let them prove themselves and work towards a possible promotion or more hours if they are good employees.”

When in Doubt, Poach

Some of the better cooks are working across the street. Cliche, but true: Desperate times call for desperate measures. Find a shortcoming with a competing operator’s employment, path and/or exploit.

Seriously.

If a really good sous chef is unhappy at vegetarian place up the street, what can you do to make her happier? Is it creative input for the new menu? Perhaps a little better schedule?

The obvious caveat is that poaching can be a bit nefarious and can backfire. That neighboring owner might show up at the next local business owners’ meeting and sit next to you. Just be careful. A little competition is good when it’s done right. Just remember: what you do to another can be done unto you.

restaurant recruitment

If you haven’t noticed the shortage, good for you. Like most ripples, the splash will hit your operation soon enough. Be prepared by being proactive. Insulate the staff you have with good vibes, more than adequate tools - and meaningful pay - to keep them connected to your spot.

No more skipping the overtime pay or inflexible scheduling. Will a free t-shirt mend the rip in labor mesh? No. Are there steps you can take right now? For sure. There is not a singular approach to loosen the crunch.

Listening to current staff is a start, while being open-minded does more than ignoring the seriousness of where our industry stands right now.

By Jim Berman, Industry Expert