3 Secrets to Overcoming Bar Competition

It’s every bar owner’s greatest nightmare.  You’ve fought to get your customers, you’ve figured out exactly what they like and you’ve made your bar a great place to hang out… and then a new bar moves in down the street and tries to actively steal your customers away from you.  Bar competition is fierce and can sometimes destroy good neighborhood bars whose owners have taken years to establish a solid customer base. If you should happen to find yourself in this position, make sure to follow these three secrets to overcoming bar competition and you’ll end up fine. Read more

How Can Bars and Restaurants Respond to the 2014 Lime Shortage?

 2014 is being called the year of the Great Lime Shortage, and bars and restaurants are scrambling to figure out what to do about the rising costs that have resulted. The fruit is used in popular bar foods like fish tacos, guacamole, ceviche, and Thai food, and while such items can always come off the menu for now, what’s more important to many is how the shortage threatens the fate of the margarita and the famously lime-garnished Corona.

We as a country typically consume 500,000 tons of limes every year, so there’s no way around the fact that this is going to sting. So far, bars are coping with the lime shortage in many ways, from simply breaking the news to patrons to actually offering customers deep discounts for bringing in their own bags of the fruit. Read more

Bring in More Bar Customers by Hosting these Activities

Your great drink selection speaks for itself, and your bartenders are top-notch. You also have an awesome bar menu, if you don’t say so yourself. So where are all the customers?

People come to bars to have fun, so between the alcohol and the company, one would think that patrons would be able to entertain themselves. However, the truth is that customers sometimes need a little help getting the ball rolling. It’s to your benefit if they have such a great time that they stick around for another round, spread the word, and keep coming back. That’s why offering a range of activities or events throughout the week is a smart way to draw new customers in and keep existing customers around.

Here are some suggested activities you can try hosting throughout the week or month, or just a few times a year: Read more

The 6 Places You Have to Try for Austin Restaurant Week

Austin Restaurant Week is finally here! This twice-yearly event happens in the spring and fall, and the springtime event will be Sundays through Wednesdays, May 11-14 and 18-21. This year’s prix-fixe menus include $12-$17 for two-course lunches (though, I admit, I didn’t see any $12 lunches on the site), $17 brunch, and $27-$37 for three-course dinners.

Austinites like to do everything different, including Restaurant Week, so not only does this fine week of eating boast its own app, it also is primarily a fundraiser for Meals on Wheels and More, a service that cares for home-bound older adults. In the five years that Austin Restaurant Week has been running, the event has managed to raise over $72,000, so keep the trend going and eat heartily: for every meal you purchase, $2 will be donated to Meals on Wheels and More.

Not sure where to eat? Here are my 6 top picks. Read more

25 Things to Do to Make Your Bar a Failure

Sure, you had a lot of great ideas when you started your bar–but it can be tough to balance your need for a profitable bar with your need to be original and true to your startup ideas. Perhaps over the years your “great ideas” have become “silly ideas,” and you’ve started falling into a lot of the traps that slowly kill bars. Take a good look at this list, and then take a good, hard look at your bar at both peak operating hours, and during your lulls. Are you doing any of the 25 things that are sure to make your bar a failure? Read more

What Kind of Bar is this, Anyway?

What’s the oddest thing that any of your bar patrons have ever done? Some customers have strong opinions about whether a bar is an appropriate place to, say, bring small children or read a book; however, not everyone agrees on these matters.

The basic definition of a bar is really just a place where one can go to order a drink. Beyond that most basic fact, the rest gets decided through those who run the bar and those who patronize it. If you’re operating a drinking establishment, you may feel as though you’ve seen it all. Subtle and not-so-subtle ways you run your business have a direct effect on what most patrons will and won’t do. In any case, it’s best to be prepared to handle any situation that might one day arise. Read more

What are You and Your “Non-Drinking” Patrons Doing for Each Other?

Only about half of Americans are “regular” drinkers today, and another eleven percent drink but only infrequently. In this case, “regular” is defined as twelve drinks per year or more, and “infrequent” means less than twelve.

Twelve drinks is only one drink per month on average. What this means is that even among the half of the population that drinks what can be defined as “regularly,” some of those folks are actually ordering very little alcohol.

Nonetheless, bars are great places to socialize and are central gathering spots where people get together to celebrate birthdays or simply catch up with friends. With so many other things vying for people’s time, however, once a group of friends has had a chance to talk a little, those among them who don’t do much drinking may be ready to call it a night. The company may hold their interest, but how many diet soft drinks can one person drink in one sitting, and, more importantly, how much profit is this making you?

Sugar, Sugar Everywhere, and Not a Drop Worth Drinking

There are many different reasons for being a so-called teetotaler, but health is certainly one of them, and most bars don’t exactly offer the healthiest beverage options. Once the “virgin” cocktail and soft drink options are exhausted, what’s left includes cranberry “juice,” which generally contains high fructose corn syrup, and orange juice, which still contains more sugar, albeit naturally occurring, than the health-conscious patron desires without seeming to offer much else besides vitamin C in return. Even if you keep decent tea and freshly-brewed coffee around, a lot of people swear off caffeine past morning hours, so you may be left with half of your patrons chatting up a storm but hard-pressed to think of anything on your menu worth spending money on.

Healthier Options

“Drinkers” tend to look forward to enjoying what they order, while non-drinkers feel stuck with looking for something they can tolerate. Unless they’re really thirsty, they may feel that they aren’t “getting anything” out of the limited beverage choices on the menu.

If you think past basic juices like orange, cranberry, grapefruit, and apple, however, you’ll realize that variations like pomegranate and açai, while also being high in naturally occurring sugars, have become increasingly popular in recent years due to the health-boosting antioxidants they are also said to contain. As a bar and not a health food store, the question of whether they do in fact contain healthier ingredients than orange juice is of less concern to you than whether people will want to order them, and apparently they do. Kombucha is another drink that may appeal to patrons looking to get their “health buzz” on for the evening, as are beverages containing real ginger, such as ginger beer.

Spritzers, Etc.: Another Clear Menu Choice

If keeping a variety of juices beyond standard cocktail ingredients seem like too big of a risk, there are other ways to go, too. Just offering patrons an interesting, unique, and more classy alternative to soft drinks will make your menu of nonalcoholic options stand out as well. Well-made traditional thirst-quenchers like iced tea and lemonade are good choices, and changing things up with alternatives like Moroccan mint iced tea or limeade can help make these beverages memorable for non-drinkers. Spritzers that simply combine sparkling water with a simple syrup (basil-lime, for instance) can be finished off with whatever appropriate twist you have on hand (such as a sprig of mint). Don’t leave it up to patrons to ask what you can scrounge up; put these in a special section of the menu highlighting nonalcoholic choices.

Remember, people don’t just come to bars to drink alcohol. They come to socialize – and maybe that’s all they want, but you’re not making a dime from all the talking and laughing if it’s not interspersed with some drinking. If half the population doesn’t drink much alcohol, then that’s an untapped demographic that could be earning you profits some other way, so don’t ignore them. If you put your mind to it, the nonalcoholic drinks that you serve change from a glass “half empty” to a glass completely full of possibility – for you and your patrons alike.

Coffee Prices Are Skyrocketing, Here’s What to Do

On April 25, 2014, the Financial Times reported that coffee prices had reached a “26-month high,” with bags of Arabica coffee costing an average of $2.09 per pound for wholesalers. The price hikes were due to droughts in Brazil (where much of the world’s Arabica is grown), and coffee growers warn that the bad weather is likely to affect next year’s coffee prices as well. Ouch.

As if higher prices weren’t bad enough, coffee experts are also predicting that the current supply will be unable to met demand…and that’s bad news for your business. Or is it? This article will explain coffee basics, and makes some recommendations about how your restaurant or bar can leverage the coffee price hikes to your advantage. Read more

cocktail menu Uncorkd

The 3 Top Ways to Spice Up Your Cocktail Menu

The recent mixology and cocktail fever sweeping America can be seen as nothing but good fortune for today’s bars and restaurants. However, even good fortune can have its downsides, and the recent cocktail craze has left some in the food and beverage industry scrambling to invent new and exciting drinks to tempt their customers’ palates. Here are the three top tips that you can use to spice up your cocktail menu.

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Burgers Too Expensive? Try Food Mashups on Your Bar Menu

It’s official now: Beef is too darn expensive. What started as a surprising price increase at the beginning of the year has turned into a long, drawn-out phase of disappointment for those of us who love bar food, and who especially love burgers. The price of beef is at it’s highest since 1987, and it’s high time you rethought your bar menu–before it’s too late. Here are 7 creative food mashup ideas you can use to brainstorm for what you want to add to your new bar menu.

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