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  • 20 Aug 2014 10:03 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Music is one of the most important elements in establishing the mood in your restaurant, but under law, you must make sure you have the necessary licensing to comply with copyright statutes before playing it. Performing rights organizations (“PROs”), such as BMI, ASCAP and SESAC, act as intermediaries between restaurants and songwriters to protect intellectual property and make licensing more cost-effective and convenient. Restaurants pay a fee to the PROs for a blanket license that grants permission to use all of the music each organization represents, and they, in turn, distribute the fees, less operating expenses, to their affiliated songwriters, publishers and composers as royalties.

    Here are answers to frequently asked questions about music licensing:

    Q. If I pay a licensing fee to BMI, do I have to pay one to ASCAP as well?
    A. It depends. If you know that all of the music you’re playing in your restaurant is under the copyright licensing of BMI, then the answer is “no.” However, if that music is licensed by either of the other two major licensing entities, ASCAP or SESAC, the answer is “yes.” If you aren’t certain about what music may be played, it’s safest to have licensing agreements with all three PROs – BMI, ASCAP and SESAC.

    Q. What are the exemptions for radio and TV?
    A. Federal copyright law, Section 110 (5)(B), exempts restaurants that play music transmitted via radio, TV and cable and satellite sources if they don’t charge to hear the music. Music played by other means, such as live bands, CDs, etc., aren’t covered by the exemption.

    The exemption applies to establishments smaller than 3,750 gross square feet in their premises. It also applies to those with 3,750 square feet or more of gross square footage if the operation has no more than four televisions. “Gross square footage” includes all interior and exterior space used to serve customers, including kitchen space, bathroom and storage space, but excludes the parking lot (unless used for something other than parking).

    Any foodservice or drinking establishment that is 3,750 square feet or larger, must secure public performance rights for TVs or radios if any of the following conditions apply:

    For TV, if the business is using any of the following:
    • more than four TVs; or
    • more than one TV in any one room; or
    • if any of the TVs used has a diagonal screen size greater than 55 inches; or
    • if any audio portion of the audiovisual performance is communicated by means of more than six loudspeakers, or four loudspeakers in any one room or adjoining outdoor space; or
    • if there is any cover charge.
    For radio, if the business is using any of the following:
    • more than six loudspeakers; or
    • more than four loudspeakers in any one room or adjoining outdoor space; or
    • if there is any cover charge; or
    • music on hold.
    Q. If I offer only live music once a month, do I need to pay licensing fees?
    A. While the exemption in the statute doesn’t specifically address this question, the answer is likely “yes.” Generally, the exemption doesn’t apply to exclusions and situations not covered in the exclusionary language.

    Q. I use Pandora for music. Do I have to pay a fee?

    A. Pandora’s “terms of use” specifically prohibit businesses from streaming music without setting up and complying with the terms of a paid DMX/Pandora business account. If a bar or restaurant has a business account with Pandora or SiriusXM and the music is used only for background, the establishment does not allow dancing to the music, or charge a cover fee to enter, then the provider of the music such as Pandora or SiriusXM, should be paying the public performance fees to BMI, ASCAP and SESAC. Should the business have any additional music, live bands, DJs, or Karaoke, they need to license with the PROs directly for those uses.

    Q. BMI is threatening to sue me. What can I do?
    A. If you’re playing licensable music, it’s a better business decision to license than not to. While some business owners may avoid paying licensing fees for a while, it can be much more expensive than the cost of a music license in the long run. Federal penalties for using music without permission, which are set forth by the judge presiding over the litigation and not the PRO, can be high, with each musical composition used without authorization entitling copyright owners to damages between $750 to $30,000, or more if the infringement is found to be willful.

    Q. Do PROs share customer lists? If I pay one, will the others know and bill me?
    A. No. PROs, like most other businesses, do not share customer lists with each other. They do, however, contact thousands of businesses every day, so it’s likely they will contact you to license if you’re playing music.

    Q. What size businesses are exempt from paying fees?
    A. The exemption applies only to radio and TV. All other music uses should be licensed despite the size of the establishment. For specific details on exemptions for radio and TV use only, see the second question above.

    Q. My small restaurant with no seating has a television for employees only. Am I exempt?

    A. Licensing obligations apply only if the communication of the music is “intended to be received by the general public.”

    If only your employees hear the music, the transmission isn’t intended to be heard by your customers or the “general public.” If customers can hear the music when they pick up their take-out orders, ASCAP, BMI and or SESAC could argue that the “general public” receives the transmission as well as staff and that licensing obligations apply.

    In general however, if your restaurant is less than 3,750 square feet and you have only one TV with a screen size smaller than 55 inches, you’re probably exempt if you meet all other criteria. Please review the specific details on the radio and TV exemption above before deciding not to license.

    Q. I don’t understand the rules about number of seats and exemptions.
    A. The square footage of an establishment and not the number of seats is what determines the radio and TV exemption under Section 110 (5)(B) of the federal Copyright Act. Total occupancy, however, may be a factor in determining the license fee for all other uses of music.

    Q. If I use my own iPod and have paid to buy the music, do I need to pay licensing fees as well?
    A. Yes. Under the Copyright Act, exemptions apply only to radio and TV. Purchasing music allows you only to listen to it privately. Once you play music from your iPod or other device in a business, it’s a public performance and must be licensed.

    Q. I play only a few albums from the 1950s. Do I still have to pay?
    A. Unless the music on the albums is in the public domain and not protected any longer by copyright law, you need a license. All three of the PROs have searchable online databases of the music they represent; it would be best to start there or contact them for assistance.

    For National Restaurant Members who want assistance with music licensing questions, contact the National Restaurant Association at (855) 514-8155.
  • 15 Aug 2014 9:16 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association 
    This content was provided by NRA partner CareerBuilder.

    Capitalize on social media to find job candidates. That’s what Hard Rock Café did when it needed to hire 120 servers and managers for a new restaurant in Florence, Italy. Within four weeks, it received 4,000 applications, which led to 1,000 interviews.

    Ninety-five percent of candidates who received job offers accepted. The secret behind the success: Facebook.

    “Hard Rock Café has a well-known and unique company culture,” says C.J. Reuter, senior director of global client success at Work4, the company that helped with social recruiting efforts. “The team at Hard Rock Café realized that people who are fans of the brand would be a great cultural fit as new employees hired to work in a restaurant.”

    Here are few ways to reach out:

    Include job openings on your Facebook page. The Hard Rock page included a Work4 tab that listed all job openings. Candidates could apply directly within Facebook undefined diminishing applicant drop-off rates. Targeted Facebook ads reached people close to the new location who were most likely to respond to job content.

    “There are convincing statistics to support why employers are turning to social media for their hiring needs,” Reuter says. “More than 70 percent of online adults use social media networking sites, and they spend an average of one minute on Facebook for every seven minutes they spend online. That’s a tremendous opportunity for restaurant businesses to grab the attention of relevant job candidates.”

    Leverage available technology to advertise openings, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. If you have a fan base of people who frequent your restaurant as patrons, they likely will want to work at your establishment or refer others who will be more than willing to work for you, says HR technology manager/consultant Tiffani Murray.

    Post job descriptions on your website and include contact information, such as an email address where applicants can send their résumés.
  • 07 Aug 2014 1:24 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Start small when incorporating local or seasonal ingredients on menus. Here are a few tips to help:
    1. Go to farmers markets, recommends Chef Zak Dolezal, owner of Duke’s Alehouse and Kitchen, a 120-seat restaurant in Crystal Lake, Illinois. If the vendors don’t have the ingredients you want, they will tell you who does, he says.

      That’s how Ryan Stone began adding local flavor. When he came from Vancouver, British Columbia to Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California, he began calling California companies that had supplied his restaurant in Canada.

    2. Do your homework. Stone also read grocery store labels to find the names of local producers. Research what’s in season and when your growers expect to have certain items. “If Brussels sprouts come in, they are on the menu in eight different ways the next day,” says Greg Christian, CEO of Beyond Green Sustainable Food Partners. Learn what is coming up next and start planning ahead, he says.
    3. Develop a sustainable food supply by working with growers associations and cheese-maker guilds.
    4. Check out the competition. Explore other restaurants’ menus that list food sources.
    5. Edit your menu. The smaller the menu, the easier it is to cook seasonally, Christian says.
    6. Manage customer expectations. Know what to say when customers complain if a favorite dish is out of season and no longer on the menu. It's not always easy to explain that the parsnips they had one day might not be available the following week, says Karen Malody, a consultant for Culinary Options in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
    Learn how to save money and resources with the expert advice, tips and tools in our new Spotlight on Sustainability report. Visit the NRA’s Conserve website for more ideas.
  • 31 Jul 2014 4:53 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Save money in the long run by investing in energy-efficient appliances and equipment. While they might cost more at the start, they can help you achieve your sustainability goals, says Richard Young, education director, Food Service Technology Center.

    “Efficiency is saving you money,” he said. “It impacts sustainability. Sustainability is money. The market wants it, and it's the right thing to do … It's good business.”

    Here are some tips for choosing energy-efficient equipment:
    • Do the math. How much will a $700 standard fryer cost you in electricity? A $1,400 energy-efficient fryer could save $600 a year in utility costs, Young says. That means you break even in just over a year.
    Bonus: The more expensive fryer operates better, which extends the life of the oil, providing additional savings. Add in rebates from your utility company for the more efficient fryer, and the appliance quickly pays for itself, Young says. That makes your investment “worth every penny in the long run.”
    • Go high-tech. At this year’s NRA Show, Young and restaurant designer Tarah Schroeder explained how to create a modern, sustainable kitchen. Their advice: Adopt induction cooking, efficient fryers and griddles, and variable-speed hoods that adjust to the level of heat on the stoves and ovens underneath them.
    “Foodservice is very energy-intensive,” Young says. “Purchasing and using sustainable equipment is the best thing you can do to create a sustainable kitchen.”
    • Set clear goals and reevaluate to stay on track. As a principal with Denver-based Ricca Newmark Design, Schroeder helped design a café for the Environmental Science and Forestry School at the State University of New York in Syracuse. The school’s goal was to reduce waste, and energy efficiency was critical to that goal, she says.
    With Schroeder’s help, the school selected Energy Star-rated equipment, variable-speed hoods, and parallel refrigeration, which uses a single compression to power different refrigerators. Yet the kitchen’s energy output remained high despite the new equipment. Ultimately, Schroeder recommended replacing a char broiler with a griddle after meeting with the chef to discuss his menu plans.

    The ROI: The school reduced the energy use for the cook line and the exhaust hood. “Eliminating a char broiler is not always going to be the best strategy for every project, but here it was the right thing to do.”

    Learn how to save money and resources with the expert advice, tips and tools in our new Spotlight on Sustainability report. Visit the NRA’s Conserve website for more ideas.
  • 23 Jul 2014 8:54 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Once you begin working with a charitable organization, you can leverage your good deeds to boost employee morale and retention.

    The key to leveraging community involvement as an employee recruiting-and-retention tool is to get staff "buy-in" on projects. Employees feel good knowing they are not just making a living, but are also making a difference in the lives of those in need. This can be particularly true for certain demographics. In Cone Inc.’s Cause Evolution & Environmental Survey, 87% of Millenials surveyed take cause marketing and a company’s commitment to the community into consideration when deciding where to work.

    “What started with a few team members painting over graffiti in a playground has evolved into a company wide program that recognizes our team members as they volunteer for community projects and charities across America.” – Rob DeLiema, President, BJ’s Restaurants Foundation

    How can you make this a win-win for your business?
    • Listen to your staff. Your employees are your greatest asset when it comes to charitable giving, so support causes that they care about. In fact, not only do restaurants benefit from the community goodwill for helping their neighbors, but there is a real correlation to community involvement and employee morale. In Cone Inc.’s Cause Evolution & Environmental Survey, 89% of employees surveyed felt a strong sense of loyalty to their employers when they are familiar with their companies’ cause programs.
    • Empower staff to select the charitable programs and volunteer efforts. Several companies have created task forces or committees made up of staff members at all levels to help decide what charities to support and to organize volunteer days.
    • Observe your staff for in-house opportunities. For example, you might discover that some employees could benefit from additional English language training or financial literacy skills. You could contact an organization to educate your staff and improve their lives.
    • Organize community-service projects for staff. By working together outside the restaurant with your staff, you can build more camaraderie. Some companies also offer paid time-off for staff to volunteer. BJ’s Restaurants, headquartered in Huntington Beach, Calif., gives its employees ample opportunity to volunteer through BJ’s TASC Force (Team Action to Support Communities). Employees have participated in a variety of events, including painting houses for needy seniors, donating their tips to purchase holiday gifts for foster and adopted children, assisting in community clean-up campaigns and supported local food banks, among many other activities. TASC Force volunteers are rewarded with service pins and celebration t-shirts.
    • Encourage your chefs to teach cooking and nutrition courses to individuals at risk of hunger and malnutrition. There are several organizations – such as Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters, the American Culinary Foundation Education Foundation Chef & Child Foundation, Feeding America’s Kids Cafe – that offer such classes, and it is a great way for chefs to share their love of cooking with those in need.
    • Hire local high school students. These students could work at your establishment and on your charitable project. Learn about the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation’s ProStart program and how you can get involved.
  • 17 Jul 2014 9:17 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Land more tourism business by making international visitors feel welcome.

    Nearly 70 million international travelers visited the United States last year, a record high, according to the Commerce Department’s Office of Travel and Tourism Industries. Expect international arrivals to grow, as OTTI projects 83 million international visitors by 2018.

    Here are a few ideas to win international tourists:
    • Be a good sport. Nothing makes sports fans feel at home like being able to watch their local teams. New York City’s Crab City and Seafood Company reels in tourists from around the globe by showing international soccer matches. Likewise, Courtyard Hooligans, a sports bar in Charlotte, North Carolina, attracts business travelers who want to catch an international soccer or rugby match. The pub’s décor features international flags, setting the welcoming tone.
    • Don’t get lost in translation. Find out what languages your team members speak, and put their skills to use when needed. At San Francisco’s Café Majestic, managers plug into the language skills of restaurant staff, as well as bellboys and other employees at the Hotel Majestic, which houses the restaurant. The staff also relies on Google Translate to help communications, manager A.J. Patel says.
    • Create a welcoming committee. Keep track of your staff’s travels, recommends Julie Zucker, director of marketing and promotions for Branded Restaurants USA, which operates City Crab, Big Daddy’s and Duke’s restaurant in New York City. Have staffers greet customers whose home countries they’ve visited. For example, if a team member recently traveled to Australia, the manager might send them over to say g’day to a table of Aussies and strike up a short conversation.
    • Be respectful of cultural differences. Train your staff to be sensitive to cultural differences. For example, free refills are uncommon in England, so your British guests might bristle when a server automatically brings a fresh soda. Mark Krehbiel, co-owner of Courtyard Hooligans, has found that Brits typically won’t sit in the bar area. “We’ll wave them forward to let them know it’s OK. We might say, ‘You can get a better view of the TV here.’ ” When customers choose to hang back anyway, team members are careful not to make them feel uncomfortable. Another big difference is tipping, which isn’t customary in many countries. “Often guests will realize it’s the custom here. But we never mention it,” says Krehbiel. “For every person who doesn’t know to tip, there’s someone who gives generously and makes up for it.”
    • Be guests “home” for the holidays. Far from home, international travelers often have nowhere to go for a July 4 barbecue or Christmas dinner. Make your restaurant their “home” for the day. “We’re open on all the holidays,” says Zucker of Branded Restaurants USA. “We know tourists still need places to dine out.”
    • Keep calm and carry on. Language barriers, thick accents and cultural differences can test a server’s patience. “We’re always training our staff to have some extra patience in these situations,” Zucker says.
    • Offer a taste of home. Café Majestic welcomes international travelers by offering their hometown specialties, including Austrian wiener schnitzel and Spanish paella. The restaurant launched the international menu two summers ago to attract foreign travelers, but it’s proven so popular that Café Majestic now offers it year-round in addition to the regular menu. More adventurous travelers will want to try your regional dishes, so keep those on your menu also. Prepare your servers to explain dishes foreigners might not be familiar with.
    • A smile means friendship to everyone. A universal smile and a warm greeting is the simplest way to welcome international travelers - or any guest for that matter. “A lot of people skip it because they get too busy,” Krehbiel says. “But it’s the easiest thing to do.”
  • 03 Jul 2014 10:07 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Being a small business often means you have limited resources, but it doesn’t have to mean that you have less of a voice in the news media. National Restaurant Association research shows that seven in 10 restaurants are single-unit operations, so entrepreneurs are the backbone of local communities across the country.

    Whether you’re participating in a national campaign or just want to keep your name top of mind with consumers, there are ways you can get your name out there without spending a lot of time or money. In previous articles, we covered the basics of interacting with news media proactively and reactively – here are some additional tricks of the trade to get the most out of your news media outreach:
    1. Seize every opportunity. Sending a news release or responding to an inquiry is not the only way to engage with news media. Sign up for a free service like or to get daily emails of reporters looking for sources on a variety of topics.
    2. Post your news online. While sending news releases directly to reporters is important, also posting it online can help get the word out further. There are several free tools available for posting news releases online, which helps get better pick-up in search engines (reporters Google things just like the rest of us). Also post news releases on your website and use the links on social media.
    3. Put your announcements in context. Journalists are more likely to use a news release if it connects to a wider story idea, so think of how your news fits into the bigger picture. For example, if you announce that you have added new healthful menu items, include the reasons why you did that, such as consumer trends, guest requests, and commitment to kids’ nutrition.
    4. Don’t ignore bloggers. Blogs can be as well-read as traditional news outlets these days, so spend some time identifying who blogs in your community. You can often find links through other social media outlets, or use one of the many available online blog directories.
    5. Connect with journalists on social media. Many journalists are active on social media, specifically Twitter. Their Twitter handles are oftentimes listed along with their bylines or elsewhere on the media outlet’s website, or you can use an online directory to find them. Also use hashtags to join conversations on Twitter, as writers often use these to find sources for stories.
    6. Know who you’re pitching. Tailor pitches to individuals rather than sending mass emails. While it might take a few more minutes, it makes reporters more likely to pay attention to what you’re saying. Review their recent articles to get a sense of what and how they like to cover local news and angle your pitch accordingly – nothing turns journalists off more than getting pitches that are not relevant them.
    7. Tell your community story. When participating locally in larger campaigns (like Small Business Saturday), think of specific ways your business fits into it and tell your unique story to news media. For example, are you a multiple-generation family business? Do you and your employees participate in community service activities?
  • 25 Jun 2014 3:10 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Donating surplus food to charities is a way to divert waste from landfills while doing good.

    It helps feed the hungry, offers tax credits to restaurateurs who donate to nonprofit organizations and protects the environment, says Laura Abshire, director of sustainability and government policy, National Restaurant Association.

    “By reducing food waste, restaurateurs can save on their operating costs,” she says. “Companies participating in food donation programs are eligible to receive tax credits. That makes food donation a financially sound business decision. Reducing food waste is not only good business, but also helps the environment and the communities we serve.”

    Jim Larson, founder and director of the Food Donation Connection, an NRA partner that acts as a liaison between restaurants and social agencies to arrange food deliveries to people in need, offers five tips for food donation:
    • Follow safe food handling practices. Develop a process for your restaurant. FDC has some time and temperature standards, but it customizes them for each donor and works with them to see what makes the most sense. “We only accept food that’s never been served,” he says. If it’s left the kitchen, don’t donate it. Usually, that food was a mistake or was hot-held beyond the hold time. That doesn’t mean the food is bad, but it probably doesn’t meet the standards for your customers.
    • Familiarize yourself with your food surplus. Most operators think they don’t have enough volume, but it doesn’t take a lot to make a big difference, Larson says. That’s what leaders at Chipotle thought when the company began working with FDC in 2007. When FDC representatives toured four Chipotle stores, they explained the company could donate small quantities of meat, beans and rice from multiple locations, rather than large quantities from one site.
    • Develop a pilot test. Chains looking to donate food should test their donation program in a handful of stores before rolling it out system-wide. After developing your process, test it for about 60 days, Larson advises.
    • Connect with a local nonprofit to take your donation. If you’re going to take the tax credit, you must partner with non-profit organizations registered as 501(c) 3. If you’re working with FDC, it can find a nearby organization that can pick up your food. Consider donating to local schools or fire departments, as well, Larson suggests. “That’s great community relations work, but typically you would not be able to take an enhanced tax deduction for those donations.”
    • Track your donations. FDC sends monthly reports to donors so they can see what was donated by item, location and region. They can look at it in terms of pounds of food, fair market value or cost. Tracking is also important in case of a product recall, especially for retailers. “By tracking the products, we’re able to see if they’ve been donated and from what store to what charity,” Larson says. “This gives us better control to make sure [potentially tainted product] is not consumed by anyone."
    Make donation part of your company culture. Donating surplus food is good for employee morale, says Larson, whose organization has helped facilitate the collection of more than 210 million pounds of food to nonprofit hunger-relief charities. “Someone, like a chef, who has a passion for creating food for people, hates throwing food away,” he says. “You don’t want to create something to just throw it out. So much was invested in it. It was planted, harvested and transported – only to be thrown away. It’s kind of a crime.”
  • 13 Jun 2014 8:21 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Turning organic materials into compost helps divert waste from landfills and returns nutrients to the soil.

    One way to reduce waste at your restaurant is to implement an on-site composting program. Turning organic materials into compost helps divert waste from landfills and returns nutrients to the soil.

    Need help getting started? Patrick Cuccaro, general manager of Affairs to Remember Catering, Atlanta, and Christy Cook, senior manager, sustainability field support, Sodexo, offer these tips.

    Find your champion. Look for an employee who is a major Influencer with the rest of your staff and who is passionate about the environment, says Cuccaro, founding member of the National Restaurant Association’s Zero Waste Zones initiative. Choosing the right person to champion your cause will ensure that someone besides you takes ownership of the task. It helps if these employees aren’t managers, he says. The cultural shift that will put you on your way to successful composting can happen very quickly if the desire and will to do it grow organically with your staff.

    Create your team. Make sure each department has at least one member who can speak passionately about the environment, Cuccaro says. As an owner, you can connect the dots and show them how doing good is good business. It translates to healthier finances and greater employee engagement.

    Claim your real estate. At Affairs to Remember, chefs and cooks have a small buckets or containers to temporarily place compostable materials. They empty them into a large, centrally located bin in the kitchen. Other departments don’t generate as much compostable material, Cuccaro says, but each person has a convenient receptacle to regularly empty into the central bin.

    Measure and share your results. Affairs to Remember recently celebrated diverting 300 tons of materials from Georgia’s landfills. Staff measured progress from Day One and shared details with clients, suppliers and competitors. “People need to hear your story, and if this is an important part of your brand, it’s perfect for social media,” Cuccaro says.

    Find the mentors. Find out who’s in the know, and use them as a resource. Most people involved are happy to share ideas and other resources freely that will put you on your path to success, Cuccaro advises.

    Educate your employees. Your employees need to learn and understand how to carry out the tasks involved to complete them correctly. If you’ve hired a company, or hauler, to help you with your composting service, have them perform the training, says Cook, a member of the NRA Conserve Sustainability Advisory Council.

    Post clear signage.
    Make sure your signs are easy to understand and concise. And remember: A picture is worth a 1,000 words.

    Make it easy for employees to compost. Set up a composting program that “fits” your facility, Cook says. Ensure containers are the best possible size, and follow the flow of the kitchen to increase odds employees will use them properly.

    Explain why composting is important. Give your team at least one reason why composting is worth the extra effort, Cook says. Examples that might resonate with them: The compost helps build healthy soil future fruit and vegetables, or it reduces methane gas landfills release, therefore lessening greenhouse gas emissions.

    Share the message: Don’t waste, no matter what. In some locations, the volume of compost materials increases because employees and customers feel it’s OK to have more waste if it’s being composted, Cook says. It’s not.
  • 06 Jun 2014 9:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Ten tips to attract tourists

    Boost your sales this summer by attracting more tourists to your restaurant. Travelers spend more than $200 billion annually on food service in the United States, according to the U.S. Travel Association. On average, tourism accounted for nearly a third of fine-dining sales and almost a fourth of casual-dining sales in 2012, according to National Restaurant Association research.

    Try these 10 tips to attract tourists:

    1. Connect with concierges. “The concierge is the first person that hotel guests ask for a dining recommendation,” says Julie Zucker, director of marketing and promotions for Branded Restaurants USA in New York City. “We invite concierges for a meal so they can recommend us with confidence.” The company owns and operates three restaurant concepts, Big Daddy’s, Duke’s and City Crab.

    Supervisors from San Antonio’s Mi Tierra Cafe & Bakery visit area concierges weekly, greeting them with baked goods and a stack of “Amigo cards” to give hotel guests. The cards, which feature the concierge’s name and hotel, entitle customers to free desserts. Mi Tierra tracks the referrals, rewarding a concierge for every 20 customers.

    2. Plug into social media. As soon as tourists head into Las Vegas and “check in” to a location with Facebook, the ads for local attractions start. Among them is Blondies Sports Bar & Grill on the Strip. “That’s been a great tool,” says manager Catherine Pavesich. “We find it works better than the old-fashioned visitors’ guides.”

    Branded Restaurants USA uses Twitter to get the word out. “We look for the Twitter handles that tourists follow and post there,” says Zucker. For example, she might tweet at #nycgo that Big Daddy’s is offering free milkshakes with a purchase.

    3. Act as area ambassadors.
    Build your reputation as a restaurant that welcomes visitors. “We train our servers to talk knowledgeably about the area and the local culture,” says David Cortez, co-owner of Mi Tierra. Some team members are certified city ambassadors through a program a San Antonio Convention & Visitors Bureau program that develops customer service and area expertise. Similar Certified Tourism Ambassador programs are available throughout the country.

    4. Team up for cross-promotions. Work with local theaters, museums and other area attractions to piggyback promotions. For example, Havana Central in New York City’s Times Square, which specializes in Cuban cuisine, found a natural partner in Broadway’s “In the Heights,” which is set in a Latino neighborhood. The restaurant promoted a 20 percent discount code for “In the Heights” and offered a dining discount to guests presenting their ticket stubs. “We also catered their cast party,” says managing member Jeremy Merrin. “That was tremendous exposure for us.”

    5. Become a “bus stop.” Havana Central brings in the tourists by the busload, usually at off-peak times. “We offer a prix-fixé meal at a discount,” says Merrin. “It’s a win-win for everyone.”

    Building up the tour clientele took time, says Merrin. “Originally we would spot bus drivers on the street and ask them what tour groups they were with.” After some cold calls to tour agencies, the restaurant began to land tour groups. “One you get on their schedule they come back again and again,” he says.

    6. Make time for timeshares. Mai Kai, a Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., restaurant that runs a Polynesian revue show, offers a bulk discount to a local timeshare. The timeshare company purchases vouchers for a fixed-price dinner and show, using them as tour incentives.

    7. Manage your online reputation.
    Monitor what tourists say about your restaurant on review sites such as TripAdvisor. Respond to reviews, especially negative ones, so you control your reputation. For example, if a tourist tries oysters and dislikes them, restaurant staff thank him or her for dining at the restaurant. “Then we might say: ‘While we think oysters are great, they’re not for everyone. Next time you’re in town, let us know if you want something you don’t see on our menu,’” Zucker says.

    8. Become a site to see. Tourists flock to Mi Tierra for its festive décor and strolling musicians, to Mai Kai for a tropical waterfall view and to Polynesian revue and to Big Daddy’s for pop culture memorabilia, such as an autographed photo of the “Bay Watch” cast.

    9. Work with your local convention and visitors bureau. These organizations can help promote your restaurant through their websites, visitor centers and more.

    10. Find out how the tourists found you. On their comment cards, Mai Kai asks guests how they heard about the restaurant. The responses help guide future marketing decisions.
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The Georgia Restaurant Association represents all restaurants including Independent Bars and Independent Restaurants

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