Every journey begins with a single step. And a server’s career begins with several missteps. Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant, or anywhere for that matter, has made mistakes traveling along their job’s learning curve. Most aren’t a big deal and can be laughed away, or used as fodder for hazing newbies and rookies on staff. Some mistakes an be charged to inexperience, but there are a handful of bad habits that even veteran servers fall into. It’s up to management to identify and coach these bad habits out of servers through proper training. Here are 5 mistakes that all severs make, and tips to correct them. Read more
Where do you stand on the trend of small plate dining? Have you ever grumbled at the wee bit of food that you’re expected to share with a group of four? Or maybe you’ve marveled at the range of dishes you were able to try. The small plate trend has been building for a few years, and now more new restaurants are pledging themselves to the small plate zeitgeist. There is a division of opinion on small plate dining that, like properly placed forks and knives, occupy space on either side of the plate. But despite conflicting views, there is one problem that both sides must agree on: some restaurants are flat out doing small plates wrong. See for yourself, here are the most common problems with small plate dining, and tips to fix them. Read more
Even a well run restaurant is chaotic. When a dining room is packed and service is in full swing, each moving part of a restaurant must run properly for service to be successful. A smooth shift is a combination of customer service and technical execution. But what helps restaurants run smooth year after year is consistency and the helpful hand that pulls employees out of the weeds. As a manager, how can you make sure you’re leadership is inspiring your employees to work hard and be successful, instead of just correcting mistakes and being authoritative. Thinking of yourself as a mentor instead of a manger might be the golden ticket to a successful restaurant. Read more
There has been a revolution in the past decade. Diners and drinkers are now more in control of what they consume than twenty years ago. Whichever the buzzword may be – gluten-free diet, craft drinker, scratch cooking – the culture has collectively raised its expectations on what it wants from bars and restaurants. In 2016, there is no reason your bar should feel dated. There are few practical tweaks to your beverage program that will make it fresh and vibrant again. No, you don’t have to call your bartenders mixologists. Honestly, you shouldn’t. And you don’t have to reinvent the martini. You just need to take a few simple steps that show commitment to a good program. Read more
Customer experience can make or break a restaurant. That’s always been the case. But in todays world of social media, word travels at hyper-speed. You don’t want your restaurant’s reputation to be shredded by an angst-fueled Yelper with a bone to pick over bad service. There are a few easy steps to follow when it comes to customer service. These are guidelines to great service. You should implore your service staff to remember these tips. Trust me, your guests will care more about these things than they do the Saturday night fish special. Read more
It can be intimidating to start your wine education. As you dig down into the soil bed of wine you can find yourself pushed up against thousands of years of nuance and history associated with the fabled elixir. There are important geographies, a unique lexicon, long histories that span across countries, famous vintages, and much pride that comes along with wine production. I
If you work at a restaurant or bar, or are just a curious consumer, there is a lot you feel like you’re missing when you’re dealing with wine. For me, one of those head-scratching moments comes from understanding the differences and similarities between French and American wines. In this post, I aim to help you out with some of those distinctions. Read more
We talk to dozens of restaurants every day and they often tell us one of their top challenges is training their wait staff. And training staff on the wine list and beverage program can be extra difficult because there can be a lot of items, many details to know and it changes all the time. There’s a few core things you want your wait staff to know about your beverage program: Read more
Your customers know that wines can be scary, but do you know how to soothe their wine woes? At Uncorkd, we know how stressful it can be to order an unknown bottle of wine in a restaurant. In fact, that’s why Uncorkd was started—because purchasing a bottle of wine at a restaurant used to be a somewhat daunting scenario. Truthfully though, with the right pitch and the right questions, you can inspire your customers to order those higher priced items off your wine menu. Here are the three questions your servers must always ask every customer as they peruse your wine list.
The last few days has seen quite a bit of news about Olive Garden and their parent company, Darden. Starboard Value, a hedge fund that is one of the largest shareholders of the public company, has recently put forward a slate of 12 new board prospects to replace the entire board of Darden. Now, Starboard has released a 300 slide deck blasting the inefficiencies they see with Olive Garden and other concepts like Longhorn Steakhouse, while outlining turnaround steps they would take to get the brands on the right track. According to Starboard, Olive Garden is missing out on $56 million in annual earnings by not taking basic steps with their beverage program.
If you are in the hospitality industry, I highly recommend taking a look at Starboard’s analysis and proposal for yourself. But after spending hours reading through their materials, I’m going to highlight several things called out in the report that all restaurants should be focused on to improve the guest experience and bottom line. While there are a lot of problems identified and solutions proposed in the report, I’m going to focus on alcoholic beverages based on our experience at Uncorkd and provide information on how to improve your beverage sales. Read more
Training your wait staff on your beverage menu can be difficult. With frequent turnover among servers, new wines, beers, spirits and cocktails to learn and so much else to do, we hear frequently that staff training if one of biggest challenges for restaurant owners and managers. Most of your staff already has smartphones and tablets, or at the very least, access to the internet. So why not have your servers brush up on their knowledge away from the restaurant using their own devices?
Uncorkd digital menus make it easier to train wait staff on wine and other beverages. Servers can use their own iPads or borrow them from the restaurant to study up on all your drinks, reading tasting notes, understanding producer information and learning food and wine pairings. Many of our customers allow staff to take an iPad home for the night to study up on the menu, which can be very helpful when new beverages are added.
Beyond the iPads, Uncorkd provides a web-based version of the menu, complete with pictures and tasting notes. Staff can access the beverage menu online from their computers or smartphones, to read up on things as well. With access to the internet everywhere, there’s no excuse for servers to not be up to date on your latest menu changes.
If you’re focused on ensuring your staff is knowledgeable and well-trained, and all successful restaurants are, then Uncorkd can better educate your staff (and your customers) on your beverage selections. Cheers!