4 Reasons a Social Media Strategy is Vital to Your Restaurant

4 Reasons a Social Media Strategy is Vital to Your Restaurant

When marketing your restaurant, you may treat social media as an afterthought. After all, does having a Facebook page or Pinterest account really matter when it comes to attracting new guests?

In short, the answer is a clear yes. Social media, when done correctly, can play a significant part in helping you grow awareness of your restaurant in the area. The key, of course, is to take a strategic approach to marketing. Here are 4 reasons a social media strategy is vital to the success of your restaurant.

1. Reach your audience where they spend their time

Social media has long moved beyond a fad that only a defined audience uses. Today, 78% of the United States population has a social media profile. More than 200 million people hop on Facebook or other networks for almost two hours every day to engage and interact with friends and family.

Through a strategic social media presence, you can become a part of that conversation. By creating relevant content for your target audience, you begin to establish yourself as a resource worth following. Sooner or later, your restaurant becomes a natural part of your guests’ social media feeds anytime they log in.

Through your social media presence, you can share visuals and attract guests to your restaurant.

2. Create a visual presence of your restaurant online

We’re visual beings. Research has long shown that if we have the choice between reading content and viewing the same content in a visual format, we will choose the latter every time. Through social media, you have a unique opportunity to take advantage of this tendency.

Restaurants have plenty of content to share on a regular basis. Pictures of meals, full dining rooms, desert tables, and outside space on a summer day all lend themselves to making your restaurant look attractive. Through your social media presence, you can share these visuals and attract guests to your restaurant.

3. Allow guests to share their experiences 

A major benefit of social media is in its name. Rather than being limited to a one-way communication channel, Twitter, Instagram, and other networks allow your guests to have a voice and share their thoughts about their experience at your restaurant.

Through a social media presence (and a social listening strategy), you can jump into these conversations and further broaden your reach. Not everything your guests share about your restaurant will be positive. But even for the occasional negative comment, wouldn’t you prefer to know about it and be able to address it?

By their nature, social media networks are more intimate and personal than print ads or other traditional promotions would be.

4. Offer a glimpse behind the scenes

Finally, don’t underestimate another benefit of a social media strategy for your restaurant: it’s ability to go beyond the types of messages that other marketing channels have to offer. By their nature, social media networks are more intimate and personal than print ads or other traditional promotions would be. If you approach social media strategically, you can take advantage of that expectation.

Find out how Sirvo can help your business utilize social media to hire top industry talent.

The most natural way to endear yourself to your audience on social media is to share content that offers a glimpse behind the scenes of your restaurant. Who are your chefs? What’s their favorite meal to cook, and how do they cook it? What does your kitchen actually look like? If your social presence can answer these types of questions, you’re well on your way to executing a strategy that promotes both first-time and return visits to your restaurant.

In short, social media can and should be a core part of your digital efforts. The above-mentioned points are just some of the benefits it offers. As long as you understand both your audience and the medium in which you operate, you can take advantage of its benefits to strategically reach out to potential visitors and grow your restaurant.

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Why Soup is a Must-Have on Your Restaurant Menu

Why Soup is a Must-Have on Your Restaurant Menu

When it’s cold outside, everyone loves a hearty soup, but surprisingly, lots of people want their chili or lentil soup in the summer too. And for those who don’t…a refreshing cold summer soup like gazpacho or cold cucumber soup is just the thing.

Yes, soup is for you! It’s elegant, nutritious, exciting, calming and cost-effective for everyone all year ’round. In fact, you should have at least one soup, preferably two or three or more, on the menu every day of the year. Here are ten reasons why we think so.

1. Soup is really easy to make and mistake tolerant

What could be easier than throwing a bunch of plum tomatoes into a large pot, adding a little extra virgin olive oil, salt and hot paprika, cooking, pureeing in a high-powered blender and throwing in some basil to chop at the end? If a soup is too liquidy, various thickeners, including cooked, mashed potato, will thicken it right up. If it’s too thick, water will fix it. How can you go wrong?

2. Soup reduces food waste

It’s a great way to use up leftovers or surplus ingredients. It’s a great way to use that overload of inexpensive seasonal veggies coming in from farmers’ markets or local gardens and farms. With food waste at 30-40 percent, it’s a huge issue in the U.S. and around the world. Chefs have an opportunity to lead the way in reducing hunger and environmental impact by demonstrating their know-how in using potential food waste to make delicious soups.

3. Soup reincarnates

Didn’t finish a soup today but want to change it up for tomorrow? Make your leftover soups part of a great new and different soup. You’ll come up with surprising new combinations and flavors.

4. Soup is cost-effective

Soup is one of those items that costs little to prepare and allows room for a nice profit. Spending $5-$10 on a 3-gallon pot of soup if you charge $5/cup…well, you do the math. And your customer will appreciate enjoying something substantial for $5, especially if you throw in some whole grain bread sticks or crackers and a pleasant environment.

5. Soup is where creativity shines

Because soup is easy, and because soup is mistake tolerant (also read: flexible), and because you can use leftovers or leftover soup in new combinations…and well, just because…soup gives you a chance to create some exciting, even surprising, new tastes.

6. Soup is comfort food

People will come back often if they know they can expect a great bowl. Some of us love tradition. We find something we love, and we make a ritual out of it. These rituals make us feel comfortable, secure, connected. Be sure to choose some well-known kinds of soups, substantial soups that resonate with your customers. Have a soup of the day as well to satisfy the palates of those who want a new adventure every day. But have those traditional daily soups that other customers will love and want to make part of their daily ritual.

7. Soup is healthy

Remember waterless cooking to preserve the nutrient content of veggies? Soups involve cooking in water, but all the nutrients stay right there along with the thickened water that makes up your soup. Science tells us that the best foods for human beings are grains, legumes, seeds, fruits and veggies. All of these are premium ingredients for fresh, delicious, substantial soups. Make them fresh, make them delicious, and they will be the healthiest thing your customers eat all day.

8. Soup is a great vegetarian or vegan option

Every day it seems there are more people looking for vegetarian and vegan options. Not every restaurant or eatery is prepared to go full-veg, but soup is an easy and satisfying option for any veg-person. Who doesn’t love a great lentil soup? There are so many ways to make to create healthy options for your guests.

9. Soup is an easy carry-out even if you’re not a carry-out kinda place

Some places keep beautiful display refrigerators with several soups in them. Some sell to other locations. Some serve up soups to seated customers but also have them available to customers who phone in for a quart or two or more. It’s an easy way to extend your possibilities and let people know how delicious your food is even if they don’t come in for a full meal.

10. Soup is something you can serve for more than one meal or even one day

Unlike those wonderful custom-prepared meals you serve up to your customers each day, you can prepare a soup at the beginning of the day. Then have it available all day, and serve it again the next day and even the next, still tasting just as good, sometimes even better.

Oh, and if you really just can’t think of anything to do with a boatload of extra soup…your local shelter will happily receive it as a contribution. So gear up, assemble your files of souper duper soup recipes and some pots, and start souping it up. Your customers will love you for it, and so will your bank account. 

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Sirvo Says: Elevated Dining in Denver & Boulder

Sirvo Says: Elevated Dining in Denver & Boulder

If you’re looking to go big for your next meal, then Denver and Boulder definitely have options that fit the bill. With the elevated dining scene booming in Colorado, this list could very easily be larger. For now, here are 10 fine dining restaurants that will without a doubt satisfy your appetite.

1. Frasca

Named after social gathering places in northeast Italy, Frasca is one of Colorado’s finest dining establishments. Restaurateur Bobby Stuckey and Chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson have created their own sort of gathering spot on the famed Pearl Street in Boulder. Sit back, relax and enjoy a quite memorable experience. Not too much else can compare with an elevated Italian cuisine, a broad and notable wine list and a level of service you have seldom seen anywhere else.

2. ChoLon

No stranger to praise, Chef Lon Symensma has been creating some of the most innovative dishes this city has ever seen. His plates are full of color, texture and most importantly, flavor. ChoLon’s Southeast Asia inspired menu helps elevate a dining scene that is often dominated by roasted meats and macaroni and cheese. Our suggestion – order the Grilled Octopus with Chinese sausage, young potatoes and pickled grapes. If you’re hoping to make an impression on someone and are unsure of where to go in town, make a reservation at ChoLon and let them take care of the rest. 

3. Elway’s

When you put an iconic name on the front of your restaurant there is a lot of pressure to not just be good, but to be great. Elway’s is just that. Despite the emerging competition, this fine establishment continues to offer next level service with memorable cuisine. Elway’s is your classic Denver steakhouse and is the right place to go when you want a hearty meal that justifies the price and satisfies your appetite.

4. OAK at Fourteenth

Another exceptional restaurant from owners Steven Redzikowski and Bryan Danton and yet another Boulder establishment listed in the top five of this list. A New American seasonal menu featuring locally sourced ingredients and a high (high) level of hospitality. OAK is constantly making measured adjustments to stay relevant and ahead of the game. The name represents the oak oven and grill used to prepare some of the best dishes in the state. It doesn’t have to be a special occasion to dine here, but it sure will feel like it’s one.

5. Shanahan’s Steak House

Okay, let us be clear here for all of our out of state transplants. Yes, Denver has two steakhouses named after a couple of local football heroes. Welcome to Bronco Country. Shannahan’s is very symbolic of local culture serving large servings of red meat within an elegant setting. What differentiates this steakhouse from the other ones in town? Probably it’s 6,000 bottle wine cellar. Take your family, take an important client or simply go and enjoy a great dinner with friends.

6. Flagstaff House

This former cabin retreat nestled into the side of a mountain is the perfect Colorado upscale restaurant. The views are breathtaking and the dining experience is one of kind. With over 15,000 bottles of wine to choose from and a phenomenal menu selection including our choice the Hudson Valley Foie Gras, pan seared and served with crispy braised Sweetbreads. Flagstaff House is truly a place to celebrate a special occasion with loved ones and you will enjoy every minute of it. 

7. Panzano

Located in the Hotel Monaco, this Northern Italian influenced restaurant has been one of the best places to eat in Denver for the last 17 years. Despite the departure of Chef Elise Wiggins, her influence and legacy carry on at Panzano. We advise ordering the Doppio Ravioli di Vetri, braised lamb, polenta rustica, calabrian chile and pecorino cheese. Panzano doesn’t just have great food, there is an elevated level of hospitality one feels right when they walk in the door. The perfect night is taking a loved one out on the town, reserving a room at the Hotel Monaco and eating at one of the best places in the city. Very memorable.

8. Del Frisco’s

For years Denver diners have been making it a point to eat at Del Frisco’s. Known as one of the best steakhouses in the country it was impossible to not place them on this list. This beautiful establishment is the definition of upscale dining in this great city. Despite the appearance of only catering to a more affluent customer base, Del Frisco’s treats all of its guests to a wonderful meal and experience. Don’t wait for that next special occasion, call today to reserve a table and enjoy.

9. The Nickle

The Hotel Teatro is one of the most charming places to stay in the city and located on the main floor is their equally charming dining establishment, The Nickel. Located in Denver’s historic Tramway Building, The name of the restaurant pays homage to the price of riding the train. Once again this is a great place to get a room and enjoy a great meal. The Nickel has an excellent food and beverage program as well as talented staff that delivers top notch service.

10. Edge

You may be thinking, “Another steakhouse?”. While Edge may offer a fine selection of steak options, it is much much more than your average steakhouse. First off, it is an extremely beautiful space located within one of the best hotels in the city, The Four Seasons. Edge has a wide selection of from the grill options, seafood plates and an array of delicious side dishes. The minute you enter the restaurant, you instantly feel like you are somewhere nice. That’s the whole point of dining at places like edge, right?

There is nothing better than treating getting dressed up and treating ourselves to a nice night on the town, hence this list. Sirvo loves and supports the local Denver dining scene! We have such an amazing food culture that just keeps getting better year after year. 2016 has seen the arrival of many great restaurants and we imagine 2017 will bring some more. If you or someone you know are looking to work within this thriving industry, head to our job board to search for that next great opportunity!

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Lessons from Las Vegas

Lessons from Las Vegas

In the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, it’s important to refresh yourself and your staff on the best practices that have been in place for many years.

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Implementing Responsible Alcohol Service in Your Establishment

Implementing Responsible Alcohol Service in Your Establishment

Each state regulates alcohol — from its manufacturing, to selling, and the actions resulting from its use. This includes assessing the liability of any violations. If you serve alcohol in your restaurant, it is important that you and each staff member are aware of the laws, rules, and best practices in your state. Serving alcohol involves many risks. 

The failure to act responsibly may result in fines, loss of your liquor license, increased costs of insurance, or even imprisonment. Ultimately, it could result in losing your business.

Consequences of Serving an Intoxicated Guest

In almost every state, it is illegal to serve alcohol to an intoxicated person. There are numerous types of liabilities associated including criminal, administrative (liquor control commission), and broad civil liabilities via the Dram Shop Law. Therefore, it is imperative that you develop specific policies that ensure the responsible serving of alcohol in your establishment. This includes having a clear concise process for the difficult situation of denying service to an intoxicated guest.

Alcohol Awareness Training

Most liability insurances now require that all members of a restaurant, bar, or tavern staff undergo this type of training. Additionally, it is important because it helps underscore the importance of responsible service as well as the consequences of failing to do so. It also provides bartenders and servers with a factual base that enables them to make informed and often difficult, service related decisions with confidence. In addition to outside training, it is important that you have internal policies that define what to do when faced with these judgment calls.

The failure to act responsibly may result in fines, loss of your liquor license, increased costs of insurance, or even imprisonment.

Situational Awareness Training and Empowerment

Each member of your staff, no matter if they serve alcohol are important in the success of these policies, as often situations like these can be prevented. Train your staff to be observant. They should be listening and watching what is going on in your restaurant. Encouraging them to use their best judgment, empower each staff member to report any person or group they believe may present a problem. This is the best opportunity you have to prevent an incident from occurring. Once a report has been made, that is the time to have a manager or the owner drop by the table, speak to the patron, further assess the situation, and perhaps intervene.

Other Preventative Measures

  • Servers and bartenders keep track of how many drinks have been served.
  • Don’t serve drinks ordered for someone who is not yet present. As this person could already be intoxicated or perhaps even underage.
  • Have a visible authority presence in the bar area. This could be security or management.
  • Have signage posted with your policy

…it is important that they have the trust and support of management.

Tips to Refusing Service to an Intoxicated Patron

Because this is a judgment call that servers and bartenders are in the best position to make, it is important that they have the trust and support of management. Having a written policy that outlines the process is also helpful. These factors make it easier for them to exercise good judgment of how and when to refuse service. Robert Plotkin, founder of Bar Media offers the following advice on how to cut off an intoxicated guest.

  • When in doubt – don’t serve- Make this your policy. Because of the potential liability, isn’t it better to err on the side of caution?
  • Keep it simple- In the fewest words possible, explain that as a matter of policy, you will not be serving any more alcohol.
  • If possible, be discreet- There is no need to cause a scene that may embarrass the patron and potentially provoke an incident.
  • Utilize tact and diplomacy- Avoid using inflammatory language, disapproval, or criticism.
  • Remain firm- Once you have committed to this decision there is no turning back. To do so would undermine your credibility and authority.
  • Keep everyone in the loop- Notify the other staff and servers so that they do not mistakenly serve the guest additional alcohol.

For general precaution, management on-duty should be notified to take any further action needed, allowing the bartender or server to resume their regular roles. Management should determine whether to offer and arrange alternate transportation for the patron.

Keeping the patrons safe from harm and your establishment safe from liability is a job that falls to every employee. Knowing when and how to cut off an intoxicated guest is a judgment call often left to the bartender and servers. It is sometimes awkward and difficult, however, with proper training, guidelines, and internal support it can be accomplished with dignity and tact. 

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Why Your Restaurant Should Focus on Kids (Hint: To Increase Profits)

Why Your Restaurant Should Focus on Kids (Hint: To Increase Profits)

Want to increase your restaurant’s bottom line?  Consider making your eatery kid-friendly. According to Bloomberg, Americans’ spending on dining out has outpaced their spending on groceries for the first time. This includes parents taking their children out to eat in restaurants. With dining out becoming more popular, catering to families makes financial sense. Kids might not eat as much as adults, but making your restaurant kid-friendly can increase your overall volume.  

Include a Variety of Kids’ Options on the Menu

Recent surveys by the American Culinary Federation show that healthy, locally grown menu items are a top choice when eating in a restaurant. This applies to parents as much as anyone else, particularly when they read news stories about the dangers of childhood obesity. Offering healthy menu items for children does not mean that you have to ditch the hot dogs, French fries and macaroni and cheese, but it does mean that adding items like sliced fruit, whole grain bread, low-fat milk and lean meats are a good idea. Parents are more likely to return to a restaurant where they know that they can feed their kids a delicious healthy meal.

With dining out becoming more popular, catering to families makes financial sense.

Pay Attention to Service

Remember that kids are customers, too. They should not just be an afterthought. Respect all customers, regardless of age. Warmly greet parents with children in tow and give them a larger table so that they have room to store all of their gear. A larger table also gives parents room to move items out of kids’ reach if necessary. If appropriate, ask the parents if their kids would like a high chair or booster seat.

Children, depending on age, want to be treated like adults and appreciate being asked directly what they would like to order. Serve kids’ meals quickly, even if the adult food is not ready. Parents very much appreciate speedy service. Show flexibility when it comes to food items, since many children these days have food allergies. Be ready to offer substitutions and give information about food ingredients if needed.

  • Make sure every bathroom has a changing station. Put a short stool under the sink so that children can stand on it when they wash their hands.
  • Offer an online menu. Parents appreciate knowing what options are available for their kids ahead of time.
  • Have kids-eat-free days. Offer a free child meal for every adult meal purchased. This is a simple way to attract more families.

Ensure that Children Have Plenty to Do 

Children become bored easily and quickly. Ensure that they have plenty to do while waiting for their food to keep them from acting out. Provide child-friendly appetizers, paper tablecloths, coloring books and crayons. Make the menus colorful, entertaining and even interactive. They might have a word search game, a crossword puzzle or a fun worksheet on the back. You can also hand these out to kids and their parents while they wait for a table.

Remember that kids are customers, too.

Consider creating a kids’ corner. It should be a place that is visible from every angle in the restaurant so that parents can see their kids at all times. Add pillows, coloring books, drawing papers, Lego blocks, reading books and other kid favorites to give children a place to play while waiting for their meal. While these areas can often be tedious to manage, they serve as great ways for parents to offer their kids distractions when patience runs short. Rotate the toys out to avoid old ones getting grimy.

Making your restaurant a child-friendly place takes a little work but is worth the effort.  Parents will appreciate it, and children will, too. They might even become lifelong customers.

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