Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Impact of the economy on the F&B Industry

- Economic weakness and food inflation are hurting casual dining restaurant chains, according to industry watchers, as families shun moderately-priced restaurants for cheaper alternatives. Restaurants claimed a big casualty Tuesday, when S&A Restaurant Corp., owner of chains including Bennigan's Grill & Tavern and Steak & Ale, said it filedfor Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The private company, which owns hundreds of restaurants, said it was shutting its doors. Analysts say the industry has been declining for years, despite the National Restaurant Association's current projection that sales will increase 4.4 The National Restaurant Association said it took into account the current economic conditions when preparing the 2008 Restaurant Industry Forecast and continues to project moderate growth, though less than in previous years. "The absolute sales are up for the restaurant industry; that's because new units are opening," said Lynne Collier, restaurant analyst for Keybanc Capital Markets. "But when you look at same-store-sales, that has been negative for the industry for quite a while now." Collier said that same-store-sales, a measure of locations that have been open for at least one year, were flat in 2006, down 1.1% in 2007, and down 1.1% year-to-date. This is in spite of a slight uptick in May, which she attributed to the government's stimulus checks. Subprime crisis and inflation The biggest declines, according to Collier, are occurring in states hard-hit by the subprime-related real estate fallout, such as California, Florida, Nevada and Arizona. "That tells me that subprime in the real estate market is the number one factor that is dragging down sales for the restaurant business," she said. Rising gasoline and food prices have also taken a toll, said Bryan Elliott, restaurant analyst for Raymond James. Elliott said consumers' purchasing power began to "slow noticeably" when gas prices shot up in the spring of 2006. Later in 2006 and into 2007, he said the "ethanol-derived jump in food prices" cut into the industry's bottom line. "The combination of those two things have been a big factor in the shrinkage of purchasing power," said Elliott. He said these factors led to Ruby Tuesday's (RT) 10% decline in average sales per store over the two years, and the 10% decline for The Steak n Shake Company (SNS) since 2005. Discount and value But low-cost fast-food chains like McDonald's (MCD, Fortune 500) are thriving, analysts say. Collier said "quick service" restaurants like McDonald's are attractive to families because they tend to cost less than sit-down casual dining restaurants like Bennigan's. Quick service restaurants also have added salads and chicken meals that have increased their "price value perception," according to the analysts. This perception of "value" is also why Darden Restaurants (DRI, Fortune 500), owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants, is doing well, said Elliott, even though they are part of the hard-hit casual dining segment. "[Olive Garden] appears to be gaining share through a strong value message," he said, who praised the company for its effective advertising and marketing. "All-you-can-eat bread sticks and salad creates a perception of lots of value for the money." 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Orange Sesame Ginger sauce: coming this weekend at the Limelight Dipping Bar & Grill

Orange Sesame Ginger salad dressing

2 tablespoons of sesame oil
1/2 cup of Olive oil
1 cup of fresh squeeze orange juice
4 teaspoons of soy sauce
6 tablespoons of rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons of peeled and ground ginger
2 cloves of garlic chopped finely

Mix all the ingredients together and shake well. You will love this as a dipping sauce or a salad dressing. So much flavor!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chef Lefty and the Foodies: Customer Service is the key, but not for everyone ...

Chef Lefty and the Foodies: Customer Service is the key, but not for everyone ...: Customer service is the key factor for getting satisfied customers. This plays a very major role in each and every company's success. A ...

Customer Service is the key, but not for everyone in the valley!

Customer service is the key factor for getting satisfied customers. This plays a very major role in each and every company's success. A company with unsurpassed customer service is the most preferred company. Restaurants are one of the major industries where the customer service is expected more. A restaurant with good Customer service will be ranked higher than any other competitive restaurants.

I really thought that all professionals in our industry think the same way until last week I visited a local chain restaurant-bar in Chandler, AZ. It was a particularly bad experience that left me speechless.

We are sitting down in a restaurant for happy hour, with all our friends and one of them carries a plastic water bottle, filled with specially filtered water, something recommended from a doctor for her allergies. The server took it upon herself to tell that lady that she couldn’t have that water bottle with her or else she had to leave the restaurant. The server said that!!!! When the lady asked the reason why, the server called the assistant manager. The assistant manager insisted that this is a Maricopa County Environmental Services Department  very strict regulation.  He said that there is extreme danger of contamination.  Then the GM approached the table and insisted the same thing.  They actually made that lady get up and leave the establishment in tears.

Naturally, I had to intervene. I kindly introduced myself to the Assistant Manager and asked him his reasoning for such behavior. He immediately told me that these are their house rules and that he should call his GM.  It was a little sad that he didn’t have anything to tell me and he just looked so wide of the mark in front of someone that knows better than a “poor” girl that is not in the F&B Industry.  Surprisingly, the GM approached me and we started chatting.  He was a young guy that proved to be very inconsiderate and very much so in his own world. He tried to convince me that the Maricopa County Environmental Services Department does not allow water bottles to be brought into an establishment. He also tried to tell me that AZ Department Of Liquor Licenses & Control can revoke their liquor license because of that. This is the GM of a major local chain telling me this. How obtuse did something like that sound in my ears? I can’t even describe. I just left that establishment and I made a promise to myself to never go there again. I refuse to patronize places that have no idea what customer service is.
And just so everybody knows; it is rude to bring your own drink inside a restaurant and you shouldn’t do it. But if there is a medical reason that requires you to do so, do not hesitate to defend yourself, if someone tries to convince you otherwise. If anyone tells you that you can’t bring your own water because the “liquor board” doesn’t allow it, remind them of BYOB. And if anyone in a restaurant or bar disrespects you in such a way, contact their office or owner. People like these make all of us look bad in our “guests” eyes.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Organic vs non organic

Farming has existed for nearly as long as we have. In the past, most people in the country farmed as a means of living; this was the main lifestyle before the industry and automobile age. A non-organic way of farming that has been adopted is to use methods that fight pest infestation and to produce higher quantities of crops.
The first methods are pesticides and herbicides, which are used to combat insects and weeds. However, these highly toxic chemical residues have been found in the crops themselves. The FDA has since banned these chemicals from being used. However, since some crops are imported, they come into the country, and many DO contain these chemicals.
The second method used is contaminated sewage sludge. This was found to be a great idea as it made use of human waste as fertilizer for non-organic crops. At first it seemed to be a great idea, as it was cheap and easy to obtain, however, recently tests have shown that large amounts of this may contribute to chronic illnesses.
A third method used is hormones, antibiotics and remains of other animals. All of these contribute to quickly fattening up animals for the market. Hormones, while expensive and often illegal, are injected into animals to quickly bring them up to market size. Antibiotics are in fact used to keep the animals alive until they are butchered. However, a great problem with this is when we eat this meat; our bodies are ingesting antibiotics in high volumes and are becoming immune to their bacteria fighting abilities. So when we go to the doctor for an antibiotic shot, it does nothing for us. As to carcass meal (remains of other animals) which are often fed to animals in the meat and dairy industry, many doctors now believe that this has helped to lead to the disaster which we now are beginning to realize. Carcass meal helps contribute to mad cow disease by keeping the diseased animals in the food chain. This is especially dangerous for humans when we ingest it.
The last method is irradiation. Spices are exposed to radiation to kill bacteria or microorganisms that may be present. This also does more harm than good since it can lead to various diseases.
Recently, studies have shown that chemicals and other substances are toxic and cause various illnesses and death. Seeing the oncoming threat, the government has been making changes in the agricultural industry. They are encouraging farmers to shift from this chemical way of farming to something that is less threatening and safer for all.
Organic farming is all about developing crops and livestock using the most environmental, humane, economic systems available. In order for this to work effectively, two things are needed. The first is fertile land which can be used to plant a diversity of crops. Other is people who are willing to work on the land and learn this method of farming. In Europe, many of the countries are leaving the toxic chemical approach for a healthier organic method. These countries call it ecological agriculture which relies heavily on taking care of the environment.
Organic farming relies on the following principles:
1. Ensuring that the soil can be used for many succeeding generations without using the fertilizers that were used in non-organic farming.
2. Properly caring for the crops by using soil organisms and not by using pesticides. 
3. Recycling livestock manure and organic materials, including crop residue.
4. Control weed growth and insect infestation with crop rotation. Also, not using anything that science has used in conventional non-organic farming. non-organic farming.

5. Not tampering with genes of animals, no genetic engineering. Allow animal life to remain as it should.
6. Lastly, determining the effects of this method on the environment.
In deciding which is better, everyone can see that the organic method is safer and better than the non-organic toxic chemical one. Organic farming no longer uses genetic engineering, sewage sludge and irradiation.
However, it is not an easy task to stop non-organic produce from entering the market. This is because some products, which the consumer demands, have to be imported. Regardless of what regulations and bans the government places on products grown in the USA, other countries that export here are not regulated as we are.
Unless other countries agree on the same regulations, there is no guarantee that the food we consume from them is safe and free from toxic chemicals and sludge. The best thing we can do is buy organic food, and substitute for the food that is not organic.
This requires participation on our part to be more aware of what we buy and to raise our voices, if need be. We can let our opinions be known even in the most simple ways. A good example is when we shop, if there is no substitute for the product we need, let the store owners know, they will surely change their products.
The number of organic farmers has more than doubled in the past 16 years. This will continue to grow as long people continue to see the bigger picture.