Emerald Coast

Preparing Your Restaurant for Reopening During the Pandemic

Around the country, restaurant owners are handling the ups and downs of keeping their business open while in a pandemic. Some are open with outdoor seating options, some are allowed minimal indoor seating, and others are sticking with takeout only. Whatever your level of openness is right now, we have a few tips for you to keep in mind that will help you prepare:

  • Embrace takeout and delivery.

Offering customers takeout and delivery should be a must-have for your restaurant. While it can be a difficult transition if you haven’t offered it before, doing so will provide you and your customer many benefits. To streamline the expense related to packaging and fees, consider offering large meals suitable for a family. Not only will this be suitable for group orders, but it will also work well even for single individuals who are ordering food because this gives them a meal they can stretch over a few days. Be prepared to continue offer takeout and delivery once you are partially or fully open. 

  • Boost your online presence.

If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to develop your online presence. Start by creating an e-newsletter for your customers. Write about updates for your restaurant, recipes inspired by menu items, feature your employees, and share content related to your restaurant theme. You can also deliver out updates as well, such as encouraging customers to buy gift cards, host giveaways, and so much more. Develop social media and select one that is right for your business, such as Instagram and Facebook. Now is the time to develop this presence before you get busy all over again. 

  • Keep an eye out for unique opportunities.

While things are restricted, and there continue to be risks out there, use this time to pivot your business. While things are slow, take a close look at what you have to offer. Examine menu options and revamp your selections. Remove menu items that are not proving successful and introduce new dishes that meet your customers’ current needs. Many restaurants are even taking a unique approach by offering virtual cooking classes for their customers or offering their restaurant for private events. So, don’t be afraid to get creative and try something new. 

  • Streamline as much as you can.

Speed and efficiency in business will be among the most important qualities as we begin to open things up around the country. Now is when you want to improve your onboarding processes and update any training guides. If you are considering opening to new customers soon, make sure you have clear guidelines about where customers can be seated, how they can stay six feet apart, and provide additional resources such as hand sanitizers, masks, etc.

Remember, this pandemic will not last forever. However, it’s important to prepare and be open to change. That’s the way to be successful in this time. Whether you are considering buying or selling your restaurant, contact us at Emerald Coast Restaurant Brokers and Consultants.

How to Grow Your Restaurant Sales in 2021

The food service industry was among the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly 17% of the restaurants in the United States closed in 2021. In most states, restaurants have to abide by occupancy restrictions. There are some areas where restaurants can only operate at 25% capacity. If you are looking at 2021 as your rebuilding year, you need to roll up your sleeves and make it happen.

The long-term goal most restaurant owners have is selling their restaurant to the highest bidder and retiring. The only way to make your investment in a restaurant profitable is by growing sales. Below are some things you can do to grow your restaurant sales in 2021.

Expand the Services You Offer To Customers

Operating a restaurant in the age of the Coronavirus is challenging, to say the least. If you operate in an area with tight COVID-19 restrictions, you have to adapt to survive. Many restaurants have started offering delivery services during the pandemic. These smart entrepreneurs realize that without a delivery option, they will be unable to compete in their area.

If you want to make the ordering process easy for your audience, then investing in a mobile app is a great move. Most people use their phones to buy things online. Appealing to modern consumers is easy if you have an easy to operate and appealing mobile application. While a mobile app is costly, it is worth the investment. Using push notifications is a great way to keep your customers engaged and interested in what your restaurant has to offer.

Take Online Marketing Seriously

Before the pandemic, an online presence wasn’t something most restaurant owners viewed as necessary. However, these businesses have quickly realized that without a website and a presence on social media, keeping up with the competition is difficult. If you want to attract attention online, you have to invest in digital marketing campaigns.

These campaigns should include things like blogs on your website and profiles on multiple social media platforms. Creating frequent posts for your website and social media profiles is a great way to generate a buzz about your restaurant. Hiring a marketing professional to create and manage these campaigns is crucial when trying to achieve your growth goals in 2021.

Reward Customer Loyalty

Attracting new customers is far more expensive than marketing to your existing fanbase. If you want to entice loyal customers to visit your restaurant more, then offering them loyalty rewards is crucial. These rewards should be things like discounts on meals or even a free dessert. You should also online discounts to expand your reach.

Most people will try a restaurant if they can get a discount on a meal. Once you show a new customer what your restaurant can do, they will be back time and time again.

Need Help Selling Your Restaurant?

Are you ready to gracefully bow out of your career as a restaurant owner? If so, contact Emerald Coast Restaurant Brokers and Consultants and let us help you sell your restaurant.

What’s In a Feasibility Study?

At Emerald Coast Restaurant Brokers and Consultants, we help restaurant businesses to stay alive and thriving in a competitive market. As a brokerage, we help these businesses to change hands, but as a premier consulting service, we also help to ensure that they are in good shape to be passed on at some time in the future.


One of the things that we do for restaurants involves conducting feasibility studies that will provide a window into the business as a whole, and help chart a course for the future.


Feasibility studies are often used by large corporations or municipalities to determine what to do with assets and operations. It’s the same way for restaurants – a careful evaluation and enumeration of assets helps business leaders to plan.


What’s in a feasibility study? Here are some of the things that provide value as we conduct this type of research for restaurants.


Guest Profiles


Part of the work of the restaurant feasibility study goes into the customer – determining what the target audience is. We include demographic information that helps with a comprehensive guest profile that will show how the business matches demand, and how it attracts its core constituency of patrons, or in other words, the customer base. This direct kind of correspondence is a valuable part of the research that we do for restaurant clients.


Comparative Studies


You may have heard of comparable or comparative studies in the real estate world, where real estate agents look in detail at properties that tend to reflect the same kinds of value according to their build, location and other factors.


These comparative studies are also important in a feasibility study, and they’re useful for buying and selling as well. Part of our reputation rests on the quality of our comparable reports and what we provide to clients in that segment.


General Market Research


Parts of our feasibility studies look at the environment that the restaurant is operating in, to figure out whether the business is doing well, and how it can do better. This is where we look at what’s being bought and sold in the local area, and the impact that has on both core sales and customer psychology.


In addition, there are a number of on-site operational aspects that have to be cataloged in a feasibility study. Menu costing is a prime example – your food costs are a core part of your business accounting, and one part of the business vitally affects another.


Ask us about the feasibility studies that we do for restaurants and what these research processes can do for your business.


Handling Menu Costs

Food costs are a big stressor for many restaurant operators. Your menu cost is a very basic and fundamental part of your expenses that goes into your bottom line and how much profit the restaurant makes, no matter how hard people are working.

At Emerald Coast Restaurant Brokers and Consultants, we help clients to stay on top of menu costing with specific industry best practices and core frameworks that control the money that you spend on inventory. Your food costs are vitally important!

Portioning Systems

Obviously, a kitchen is a fast-paced environment. It’s not going to be up to the executive chef or front-line people to work out consistent portioning on the fly. Having a system behind the scenes creates that consistency and universal plating that you need to both understand food costs and control them, and have a consistent presentation. Both of those help a kitchen to operate at peak accuracy, and that’s going to show when it’s time to order or go over the books. It’s not a minor detail.

A Par System

The par system is standard practice when related to restaurant food ordering. When you have a par system set up, you know how to reconcile a particular ingredient’s demand according to table service, and how to make additional inventory requests. If you don’t, the food side of your business can evolve into chaos.

Recipe Cards and Photos

There’s a visual side to coordinating the food ordering that goes on in the off hours, and the frenetic plating that goes on during a busy breakfast, lunch, or dinner service.

One of our consulting standards is for clients to set up recipe cards that spell out the ingredient portions and take photos that show plating, offering a consistent picture to everyone working in the restaurant.

Menu costing is just one small part of what we do for our restaurant clients. We are a full-service consulting company helping with zoning, health inspections, liquor licenses, and more. We also hope to broker deals between restaurant buyers and sellers. Take a look at our website for more on how we work with restaurant owners to keep a business operating in the black. In some ways, a restaurant is a data-driven business, even though chefs aren’t sitting back in the kitchen with a computer. They’re working on a decidedly analog set of equipment, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t benefit from the best technology on the back end.  We can help put those ordering systems in place that actually make a restaurant a more harmonious and profitable place to work.

Tips for Adding Delivery Services to Your Restaurant

Even before COVID-19, delivery services was on the rise. Now, many customers are reluctant to go to restaurants, but still want to enjoy their favorite meals. So, your restaurant may be opening up, but social distancing is limiting the number of customers that you can at any one time. That’s why it’s essential to add delivery services to your restaurant.

  1. Upgrade your technology.

To successfully expand your business, you will want an updated POS (Point of Sales) system that will handle online orders, delivery options, and customer details.  The upfront costs can be high but will be worth it in the long run. The most beneficial aspect is having information about your customer data, which will allow you to market to your customers better. Plus,make sure your website reflects the new updates to your restaurant.

Many restaurants partner end up partnering with a third-party service, such as Grubhub or UberEats. However, there are significant pros and cons you will have to weigh before you go that route. Often, you end up dealing with increasing costs as many of these services take a large cut in the sales you make and control your menu and prices.

  • Prepare your kitchen and menu.

Before you start accepting online deliveries, it’s essential to prepare your kitchen and even your menu, for this service. It’s essential your staff is trained to keep the workflow streamlined and efficient.

Also, you will want a specific area of the kitchen for drivers to pick up orders. If you include a pick-up service as well, you will also want to be sure that the delivery area. It will keep things organized and keep everyone at a safe, social distance.

You may also want to consider creating a take-out and delivery only menu. Some items may be harder to deliver than others, so keep that in mind as you prepare your menu. There are creative packaging solutions if you are open to the added costs.

  • Decide who will deliver.

When deciding to hire a delivery person, you may want to consider hiring someone who can exclusively do deliveries or a couple of part-time people who can share the responsibility. However you decide to hire someone, transportation is your most significant consideration. Many restaurants will have the worker use their own car. However, if you do that, you will have no control over the employee’s vehicle maintenance. They may not even have enough room in their car to take the orders. That is why having a company vehicle with your restaurant’s brand is a huge perk. You not only have the chance to promote your restaurant through branding the car, but you can also maintain the vehicle as well.

There are many other considerations to consider when adding a delivery option to your restaurant, but we hope these tips get you started. With COVID-19 still on the rise, more restaurants are having to face alternative options to reach their customers. Reach out to Emerald Coast for our consulting services if you are in need of help in growing your restaurant business.

Signs It Is Time to Update Your Restaurant’s Menu

If you own a restaurant, there’s a good chance you have asked yourself on several occasions – “what in the world am I doing wrong?” What do you need to update in your restaurant to continue increasing your sales?

When considering these common questions, several answers may come to mind. You may think about changing up the interior, seating, service, and food. However, one of the most essential elements of any restaurant is often ignored – your menu. The menu design will have a direct impact on your restaurant sales – sometimes in ways you never imagined.

Some of the top signs it is time to consider a menu redesign can be found here.

Slow Decline in Sales

While your restaurant may have been a hit when you first opened, have you begun to see a gradual decline in sales? Is there no explainable physical reason for this to happen? If so, the issue may be the menu design.

If you have a menu that is unable to guide your guests to the right items they need to order, their entire experience will be compromised. This will result in your customer base fading away or defaulting to the most common items that don’t produce enough sales.

Lower Profits

Even if your sales are fine at your restaurant, you may not be making a decent profit. When this happens, it is time to look at your reports. However, when investigating the underline issue, it is a good idea to look at your sales reports focused on “high-profit items.” There is a good chance the menu items with the highest profit margin aren’t being sold often enough.

This means your menu design hasn’t been thought out carefully in terms of item placement. In this situation, it means the soft spots in your menu, nor your highlights or decoys have been used properly. All this will provide visual benefits through graphics or pictures (if used in your menu) redundant.

This is another sign that you need to recharge and redo your menu design. This is especially important if your restaurant always seems to be full of people, but you aren’t generating enough revenue.

Unpopularity of Certain Items

While you may think it’s not a problem to have items that aren’t that popular listed on your menu, it can actually be damaging to your business. For example, if specific items aren’t being ordered, the ingredients you have on hand may expire, and you have to re-stock those items just to let the spoil again. You will also be losing out on selling a different menu item that may be more popular.

If you are dealing with any of the issues here, now is the time to consider redesigning your menu. Doing so will help ensure the desired results are achieved and that your menu helps ensure the success of your restaurant rather than hindering it. If necessary, seek help from the professionals who can help guide your menu redesign.

Selling Your Restaurant: Everything to Know

If you own a restaurant, you have likely thought about selling at one time or another. However, even if your restaurant is a huge success and customers are lined up at the door, figuring out how to sell your restaurant is not as simple as selling a car or a home. It may take a few months to make a sale, and it will pay to start preparing as much as a year ahead of time.

Deciding to Sell

You may get into the restaurant business to keep it until you retire. However, today, this is rare. Several obstacles may be keeping a good restaurant staying that way. Illness may affect the owner’s productivity, burnout can occur, and economic conditions can change.

However, not everyone will decide to sell because something went wrong. Partnership disputes may occur, or owners may get bored with the business. It does not matter what the reason is for wanting to sell; you must decide this is what you want and then set your mind to it.

Create a Marketing Plan to Sell

After you have decided that selling is the right option, you must market the business. There are several things to consider when creating a marketing plan. These considerations include:

  • What does your location offer?
  • Does your restaurant offer any unique features?
  • Is scarcity a selling factor?
  • What is the lifestyle of a potential buyer?

When you consider these things, you can begin to build a viable marketing strategy that will ensure you have the best chance of selling quickly and for the price you want.

Appraising Your Restaurant

After you have created a marketing strategy, you can set a price. Setting the right price for your restaurant is often tricky. If you choose a price that is too high, you may have to wait for years to sell. However, if the price is too low, you may be giving buyers the idea there is something wrong. Also, you will lose money on the sale.

If you want to figure out the value of your restaurant, you must assess everything valuable, from the smallest to the largest. Your physical assets are the easy part of this process. It is possible to put a fair market price tag on your building, the land, and equipment. The next step is your financials. Possible buyers will want to know if your restaurant is making money and request your bank statements and tax returns to back up the claims.

Are You Ready to Sell?

Are you ready to sell your restaurant? If so, it is a good idea to seek help from professionals. They can help you figure out the right steps to take to ensure that you get the right price and that you can sell with ease when the time is right. Being informed is the best way to ensure you are successful. While there are no guarantees. Since this is true, working with a restaurant consultant is a smart move. 

Important Things to Know About Buying Restaurant Insurance

When you discuss or hear about restaurant insurance, what is really being discussed is insuring all different types of hospitality businesses. This includes everything from entertainment venues and night clubs to sports bars, taverns, bars, quick service, and full-service restaurants, food trucks, caterers, delis, pizzerias, and more. 

What Are the Basic Needs that Restaurant Owners Have? 

There are four basic types of insurance that restaurant owners need to purchase. These include the following:

Property Insurance

This allows you to insure the things that your business owners, which include the food in your freezers, your restaurant equipment, the building your restaurant is in, and even insurance for business interruption if your restaurant is unable to open or operate because of some issue, like a fire. If a storm, theft, or fire results in property loss, having the right property insurance policy in place will ensure you are covered. 

Liability Insurance 

With liability insurance, you are protected from claims that come from others, including any lawsuit that may be filed. The most basic type of liability insurance is “general liability.” However, there are more specific options, too, including employer practice liability, liquor liability, and cyber liability

Workers’ Compensation Insurance 

In most cases, having workers’ compensation insurance isn’t an option – it is mandated by the government. This insurance provides coverage for medical benefits or wage replacement if an employee is injured on the job. 

Commercial Auto Insurance 

This is for all vehicles that are borrowed, rented, leased, or owned by the business. For example, if you have a restaurant and your workers use their personal vehicles for delivery, you should have a commercial auto policy. 

What Factors Affect Restaurant Insurance Costs? 

Insurance for restaurants is underwritten specifically for the type of restaurant that you have. When you fill out an insurance application, you will find there are dozens of different questions you must answer. The underwriters at the insurance companies will also do research and a bit of reconnaissance on the restaurant before determining the price they quote you. 

While this is true, there are some general considerations that an insurance company will make when evaluating your restaurant’s coverage, including:

  • The location
  • Lease requirements
  • Property type
  • Coverage levels
  • Volume
  • Years in business
  • Activities
  • Loss history
  • Alcohol sales (if any)
  • Hours of operation

Keep in mind, if you are leasing the building for your restaurant, there will likely be specific insurance requirements written into your lease that you must meet or comply with to avoid being in violation of the lease. 

What Type of Insurance Does Your Restaurant Need?

As you can see, there are several considerations you must keep in mind when purchasing insurance for your restaurant. While this can be confusing, there are professionals who can help you with this. Working with a restaurant consultant is the best way to ensure that you get the right insurance for your restaurant and that you are fully covered if an adverse event or situation occurs.

Methods for Pricing the Menu Items at Your Restaurant

Your menu is the main force in encouraging your customers to come to your restaurant. They want to pay for the quality they receive. Also, the prices on your menu will directly affect the profitability of your restaurant. This means you have to consider the method of pricing you use carefully. While this may seem like a challenging and daunting task, it doesn’t have to be. There are several tips that can help with this important decision.

Keep reading to learn some of the most popular and common methods used by restaurants for establishing menu prices here.

The Ideal Food Cost Pricing Method

With this method of pricing, you take the real cost of your menu item and divide it by the established ideal food cost percentage. For most, this ranges between 25% and 30%.

For example, if you have grilled barbeque chicken as a menu item and it costs $4.25 to make, you would divide that cost by 30%, which yields $14.16. However, $14.16 isn’t considered an ideal price. This means you should lower the price to $13.99.

Keep in mind, though, this method isn’t always reliable because you have to consider other factors, such as competitor’s costs, price instability, and indirect costs. You must account for items, such as salt, pepper, condiments, and fryer oil. If you have a food cost percentage goal of 30%, it’s smart to aim for 26% to make up for these additional costs.

The Competition Pricing Method

With this method, you would assign prices on your menu based on the general market price or the prices charged by the competition. There are three basic options to choose with this option:

  • You can price your item the same as your competition
  • You can choose to price the item higher to attract people who are searching for higher quality options
  • You can choose to price the item lower to attract those who are looking for a deal

The Demand-Driven Pricing Method

When the demand for food is higher than the supply available, people will pay more. Airports and sports stadiums will gouge prices because people here don’t have the option of going anywhere else. If you have specialty items on your menu or if you have created a unique atmosphere, you can do this because your guests are paying for the experience provided with the food.

It’s a good idea to maintain a balance in pricing so you don’t drive potential customers away.

Seek Help When Pricing You Menu Items

It’s clear that pricing the items on your restaurant’s menu can be challenging. While this is true, there is help available. In addition to using one of the methods here, you can also seek the help and guidance of the professionals. Restaurant consulting services can help with this pricing and ensure you use the method that will yield the most profits while still appealing to local customers, which is the ultimate goal of any restaurant.

Identifying and Capitalizing on Popular Food Trends

Think fast: what’s the number one food trend taking the culinary world by storm right now? Throughout the years, there have been several food trends that have enjoyed their five minutes of fame before vanishing into obscurity. Does anyone remember the molecular gastronomy trend of encapsulating foods in agar bubbles? Perhaps not so much. Other trends, however, have actually managed to stick around to remain in rotation. For instance, acai has remained in the spotlight for quite some time, and cupcakes don’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. As a restaurant owner, it’s vital to not only spot these food trends early, but also recognize which ones will actually be profitable for your business. Here are four food trends that may be worth considering including in your restaurant lineup this year.

Superfood Smorgasbord

Kale. Quinoa. Avocados. These foods all have one thing in common: they’re universally accepted as being superfoods. These so-called superfoods are believed to have extra amazing health benefits, which means that when people spot them on your menu, they’ll order them without hesitation. Finding fresh new ways to incorporate them in your menu, therefore, is an incredibly practical and logical idea.

CBD Infusions

Cannabidiol (or CBD) has been steadily growing in popularity over the years. More and more people are reaching for CBD to holistically treat a myriad of health concerns, and this non-psychoactive hemp compound has started to sneak its way into foodstuffs, too. While CBD edibles are a given, it’s also found its way into milkshakes, beer, and other recipes. By adding CBD to your menu, you’ll be able to entice the health-minded public to dine at your restaurant.

Cauliflower Everything

The low-carb craze is still going strong, and thanks to it, cauliflower has become seemingly ubiquitous overnight. Cauliflower has become a substitute for a variety of starchy carbs, replacing rice in stir-frys and flour in pizza crust. If you want to capture this carb-conscious market, you need to find a way to add cauliflower substitutes in for their higher-carb counterparts on your menu.

Veggie Friendly

In the past, vegetarians had to dine on sad chunks of tofu or plain pasta when they went out to eat. Today, though, more companies are recognizing that vegetarians and vegans have spending power, and they’ll patronize restaurants that cater to their specific diets. With so many delicious meat substitutes on the market now, adding veggie fare to your menu really could not be easier.

Introducing new items to your menu can be challenging, but as your restaurant consultant, I can help guide you through every step of this process. I have been active in the restaurant industry for over 35 years, helping owners like yourself regain control of their restaurant business. If you’re interested in learning more about how I can help keep your restaurant both popular and profitable, please don’t hesitate to contact me today!

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