Restaurant Industry Insider 2/5/2011

Each week, I write a column entitled “Weird Restaurant Stories” for another site in The Hospitality Formula Network.  This requires me to search through hundreds of headlines to find the strangest stories to occur in restaurants during the past week.  This is generally light hearted reading designed to entertain.  During this search I also run across numerous stories that I find informative and think would be of interest to managers, owners, and corporate officers.  This week, I have decided to introduce a new feature to share some of this information with you.

My intent is not to interpret the stories for you.  I simply want to provide you with easy access to stories that I have read this week.  I read quite a few articles during the week and this is my way of trying to save you the hassle of sifting through all of them to find the information you need to know.  Here are some things going on in the restaurant industry this week:

The NRA has put out their annual forecast.  Highlights include: an expected growth in sales, a trend toward local produce, and an increase in online marketing efforts.  (The Packer)

Darden has released it’s forecast for food prices over the next 18 months.  It expects the rising price of beef and seafood to drive up food costs.  It is looking towards a decrease in the price of chicken and other cost saving measures to maintain profitability.  (Reuters)

An interesting article discussing discounting and how to break the habit.  (Sign On San Diego)

There has been a great deal written about consumers wanting healthy options.  Unfortunately, too many restaurants are learning that consumers might not be willing to pay more for it.  (The Chicago Tribune)

We all know the actions we take can result in positive or negative publicity.  This week some restaurants learned how quickly this news can spread.

Chick Fil A is all over the news for donations they have made that are seen as anti-gay rights.  (CNN)

Chili’s is also being targeted for boycotts as being pro-gay rights.  (One News Now)

A Minneapolis Restaurant has been under fire for weeks for terminating a female server who shaved her head as a sign of solidarity for an Uncle who had cancer.  (The Vancouver Sun)

Researchers at MIT are testing a program to make online reviews more useful and accurate.  (PC magazine)

After a report came out last week touting the benefits of Kansas City’s smoking ban after one year, some bar owners disagree.  (The Kansas City Star)

Some interesting legal issues arose in the last week that you might want to be aware of:

A restaurant in Hawaii instituted an automatic gratuity for diners who do not speak English.  (Fox News)

Restaurant owners in Fort Smith, AR are lining up to fight a proposed “prepared food tax.”  (The City Wire)

An underage alcohol sting in Gastonia, GA netted 8 servers.  This is probably a good time to remind your staff of what would happen to them in this situation. (Gaston Gazette)

Finally, an interesting look at some faulty management styles.  (SF Gate)

That is this week’s recap.  Let me know what you think of this new feature.  I am going to give it a try for a couple weeks to see what the response is like.  If you find it useful, let me know.  Suggestions to improve it are always welcome too.

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About David Hayden

David Hayden is a restaurant marketing and training consultant based in Kansas City, MO. He writes a series of 9 blogs collectively known as The Hospitality Formula Network and is the author of "Tips2: Tips For Improving Your Tips" and "Building Your Brand With Facebook"

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