Category Archives: Industry

starbucks-owner-gun-policy

Starbucks Owner Gets Political, Weighs in On Gun Conrol

Gun control is a contentious topic in America, and one most businesses like to stay away from, as their clientele could easily fall on either side of the divide. With multiple mass shootings in America this year alone, people have chosen to make their opinions known.

Starbucks has decided to throw their hat in the ring, and while not a policy change for the company, is a divisive plea to their consumers and patrons.

Starbucks Chairman/President/Chief Executive Officer Howard Schultz, in an open letter to the public, has made this statement:

Recently, however, we’ve seen the “open carry” debate become increasingly uncivil and, in some cases, even threatening. Pro-gun activists have used our stores as a political stage for media events misleadingly called “Starbucks Appreciation Days” that disingenuously portray Starbucks as a champion of “open carry.” To be clear: we do not want these events in our stores. Some anti-gun activists have also played a role in ratcheting up the rhetoric and friction, including soliciting and confronting our customers and partners.

For these reasons, today we are respectfully requesting that customers no longer bring firearms into our stores or outdoor seating areas—even in states where “open carry” is permitted—unless they are authorized law enforcement personnel.

As it’s stated in the letter, this is not an outright ban of carrying firearms into a Starbucks, but a plea and request. This gives any and all gun owners a chance to respect their request and not have a ban forced upon them. This also skirts a potentially scary incident of having a Starbucks employee request an armed individual to leave the premises.

This announcement is made in light of recent “Starbucks Appreciation Days”, in which gun owners and gun supporters were to drink at Starbucks, perceiving them to be a champion of the “open carry” laws many states have. Schulz claims that the announcement is not in response to these incidents, nor in response to the Washington Navy Yard shootings earlier this week.

While tragedies are horrible and no company, business, or restaurant should be caught promoting or profiting off of them, they do force business owners to look at how they handle situations.

Does your restaurant lean towards more allowing guns or banning them? It may be a slippery legal slope to fall under, and a hard one to balance with your audience. You may lose customers if you announce a stance one way or another on this hot-button topic. At the same token, you may gain new customers if you make a stance. For example, if you declare that your restaurant is a “gun-free zone”, you may engage new customers who are appreciative of this stance, or new ones that feel safe in your establishment. On the opposite, if you embrace the right to bear arms, you may get new customers who applaud you for your commitment to their rights.

In any situation, think long and hard about your stance. If you don’t feel strongly either way, or are too worried for a negative response, you can always just not make a stance.

public-relations-for-chefs

The Benefits of PR for Restaurants and Chefs

 The restaurant world is highly competitive for today’s new chefs and restaurateurs. It seems that nearly everyone has a good idea, and foodies have grown especially reliant on the Internet for their information. If a restaurant owner is going to compete in the new market, they must have an effective public relations strategy. Attention is key in the restaurant industry, and a proactive public relations plan can help garner the attention necessary to put a new restaurant on the map. Here are some ways that restaurant owners and chefs can benefit from public relations.

Credibility Starts With Traditional Media

Restaurant owners must get inside in the minds of customers. When a customer thinks about the hottest restaurants, she will inevitably look to certain media sources to confirm her feelings. For many customers, a restaurant is not a legitimate choice unless some media outlet has run a good story on it. More importantly, with so many options at their disposal, many potential restaurant customers just don’t know about an option until they see it on the news, in the newspaper, or in their favorite local magazine.

One of the chief benefits of a public relations plan is that it can help a restaurant get recognition from those media sources that will ultimately provide much-needed legitimacy. This might mean putting out a skillfully crafted press release to catch the eye of a newspaper. It might mean having a local food magazine or television station run a special on the restaurant. All of these things can bring publicity and help to craft the sort of public image that a restaurant owner will need in order to find long-term success.

Highlight The Event

A good public relations plan will help a restaurant promote its biggest events. Whether it is the grand opening, some seasonal special, or the introduction of a new menu, a proactive public relations approach will connect the restaurant with the customers it needs the most. Simply having a great restaurant or a game-changing menu is not enough in a highly competitive marketplace. The restaurants that win are those that actively craft their image using all forms of media.

Utilize Social Media

In the past, a good PR plan involved nothing but press releases and contacting traditional media sources. Today’s PR professionals have the ability to integrate those trusted outlets with new media. A host of good websites are out there, and they connect food lovers with restaurants that are sure to wow those foodies. By bringing a restaurant to these new sources, a restaurant owner can reach out to those diners who are increasingly reliant on the Internet while choosing where to have their next big meal.

 A good public relations plan will help a restaurant promote its biggest events. Whether it is the grand opening, some seasonal special, or the introduction of a new menu, a proactive public relations approach will connect the restaurant with the customers it needs the most. Simply having a great restaurant or a game-changing menu is not enough in a highly competitive marketplace. The restaurants that win are those that actively craft their image using all forms of media.

Drive Diverse Customers

In the past, a good PR plan involved nothing but press releases and contacting traditional media sources. Today’s PR professionals have the ability to integrate those trusted outlets with new media. A host of good websites are out there, and they connect food lovers with restaurants that are sure to wow those foodies. By bringing a restaurant to these new sources, a restaurant owner can reach out to those diners who are increasingly reliant on the Internet while choosing where to have their next big meal.

How To Become A Restaurant Critic

A food critic at an restaurent

A dining experience includes not only the tasty morsels that decorate your plate but also the ambiance of the restaurant and the dedication of the wait staff. With this in mind, the general public often relies on the reviews of a food critic to decide whether an establishment is worth their time and money. Food critics must be able to convey through their words what they taste, see and feel, and they must realize the power their reviews have on the restaurant they applaud or criticize. If you want to be paid for your critiques, working for a newspaper is your best bet. Although there are other online outlets like blogs and social networks, newspapers still reign supreme when it comes to restaurant opinions. Listed below are twelve actionable steps that’ll help you on your way to becoming a published, well-respected restaurant critic.

Step 1:

Apply to be a reporter at your local newspaper, if you have the appropriate background and skill set. Email your resume and attach three writing samples or links to your work online to the newspaper’s Human Resources department, as well as the Managing Editor of the Features Department, which typically handles the restaurant reviews. Locate contact names and/or emails on the second page of the local newspaper or through the “Contact Us” tab on the newspaper’s official website.

Step 2:

Explain during your interview your writing experience, whether it be as a hobby or in print journalism. Describe your talent for not only meeting deadlines but delivering superior articles that help readers make informed decisions. Request to work in any capacity with the newspaper’s Features Department, even as a freelancer if no open positions are available.

Step 3:

Tell your managing editor about your desire to be a restaurant critic. Wait for that writing position to open up and apply for it. Alternatively, ask your editor if you can review restaurants not typically featured in the newspaper, such as establishments that are considered “dives” or serve budget-friendly meals.

Step 4:

Join a professional writing group to improve your writing. Learn from your co-members how to write succinctly, informatively, and in an interesting manner. Pay attention to the constructive criticism provided by your peers. Take part in as many assignments and group-sharing workshops as possible. Locate a nearby writing group by entering “professional writing group” and the name of your town in a search engine; otherwise, inquire about any writing groups at your local library.

Step 5:

Write free restaurant reviews for local blogging sites to get practice in the trade. Take note how your fellow bloggers with a large fan base appeal to the public through their reviews. Observe their humor, professionalism, and what they focus on in their review. Inquire from friends and family what they want to know about when visiting a restaurant for the first time.

Writing Your Reviews

Step 6:

Identify restaurants in the area you’ve been assigned to cover, and keep a detailed directory of each place in a journal or on your computer. Update the list periodically to account for new restaurants and to cross out places that have closed. Research the background and menu of the restaurant you plan to review by visiting the restaurant’s website or social media page, if applicable.

Step 7:

Order multiple appetizers, main courses and desserts when you visit the restaurant. Bring friends along so it doesn’t look odd that you ordered nine plates of food. Sample your friends’ dishes so you can taste as much of the menu as possible. Visit the restaurant on two separate occasions to confirm your initial impression. Note any inconsistencies in the meal and service in your review.

Step 8:

Take note of the restaurant’s decor and cleanliness. Ask yourself questions that a diner might like to know: How bright or dim is the lighting, how are diners dressed, is the seating spacious or confined, are the glasses and silverware clean, how is the parking situation, do they accept credit cards?

Step 9:

Test the service of the wait staff. Don’t order your food and sit quietly until the check arrives. Ask for your meal to be prepared or served in a certain way. Observe how long it takes for the wait staff to take your order, refill your water, fulfill your requests, and bring you your check.

Step 10:

Write your review to the specifications outlined by your editor or the publication for which you write. Keep your review in the required word count. Include all the contact information for the restaurant, so readers know the address, phone number and website of the establishment. List a price range for a typical meal that includes an appetizer, main course, drink and dessert, and include the prices of your menu items in your review.

Step 11:

Be objective with your critiques and compliments. Leave out phrases and wording that point out your own food preferences or favorite cuisines. Review the dishes on their presentation and taste. Use descriptive and specific language that paints a picture of how the meal was prepared, such as its coloring, level of spice and texture.

Step 12:

Keep track of your receipts, and submit your detailed expense reports to your editor. Discuss your budget with your editor occasionally to make sure you have enough funds to cover the restaurants you want to review.

Step 13:

Attend food and wine festivals to expand your culinary vocabulary and to learn about new food-preparation techniques. Attend culinary classes to become more familiar with what goes on in a restaurant’s kitchen, or take courses at a local community college to improve your writing. Inquire with your employer if such classes can be paid for by the company.

 

Helpful Tips

Maintain your anonymity so you can review restaurants like a regular customer. If you need to speak with the restaurant manager or chef for the article, conduct a phone interview so restaurant staffers only know your name and not your face.

Eating out on a regular basis can destroy any diet, so stay on top of your health. Maintain an exercise regime so you remain healthy and can do this job for as long as you’re able.

If you are new to writing or reviewing restaurants, get practice by reviewing restaurants (for free) through social media sites like Yelp or creating a free blog that features your articles, such as through Blogger.com. You can direct friends and families to your site and try to build a fan base through word of mouth.

If you get a paid job at local newspaper, magazine, or online publication, accept smaller writing assignments at first because your managing editor may want to see what you’re capable of doing. Listen to the constructive criticism of your editors and co-workers as you learn the writing style for the newspaper and what they expect from you.

Warnings

Never accept free drinks or food or any type of special treatment that could question your impartiality and the integrity of your review.

Don’t be overly kind to protect a chef’s feelings or overly critical in order to attract readers. Your job is to help diners get an idea for a place they’re thinking about patronizing. If you remain objective and truthful, you’ll be able to stand behind your review under any sort of criticism by a disgruntled chef or skeptical reader.