Tag: coronavirus


How To Select Talent From a (Rapidly) Growing Talent Pool

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Unemployment is one of the most painful byproducts of this unstable, uncertain market. It’s impacting every industry, of course, but hospitality has taken one of the biggest hits.

Hundreds of thousands of jobs have been cut — in fact, restaurants and bars account for 60% of the losses. While some are (hopefully) temporary, other jobs have been permanently lost, as many restaurants have little hope of weathering this storm.

It’s a cruel twist of fate: for years, hospitality employers have battled against one another in a highly competitive labor market. Now, though, there’s willing, able and experienced talent everywhere you look. 

Who’s hiring at a time like this? 

You’d be surprised. With off-premise sales spiking, delivery restaurants and chains are in need of extra hands. Pizza Hut, for example, indicated they’re hiring for 30,000 permanent positions. Other restaurants who have pivoted in this market are hiring in anticipation of the virus striking their team and taking out part of their workforce. 

If you’re in the hiring boat, you might be wondering: How should my recruiting practices change in light of this burgeoning labor market? (And how should they stay the same?) 

We’ve got 3 tips for restaurateurs who are hiring during this crazy time.

  1. Don’t lower your standards.

If you’re in a bind and in need of help ASAP, you may be tempted to make a hasty decision, setting aside your typical hiring process

That’s understandable: in the current environment, survival depends on your ability to be nimble and move fast. But when it comes to bringing new people on board, moving too fast could backfire.

Right now, restaurant patrons are anxious. People need to eat, of course, and many genuinely wish to support the restaurants they love — but they’re worried about their safety, and rightfully so. Plus: federal, state and local guidelines for essential businesses are constantly evolving, and in general, health hazards are high.

Taking all of that into account: seek out employees who are reliable, experienced, and have a can-do attitude. Before you make new hires, ask yourself: will they be considerate of and accommodating toward anxious patrons? Will they follow new, extensive sanitation and safety guidelines? And can they adapt to a role that may include changing responsibilities, as your business shifts to respond to the market?

Pro tip: Don’t skip references. Now more than ever, it’s important to require references for candidates — and don’t neglect to actually reach out to those references. Aside from confirming previous employment, questions you may want to ask include:

  • What were the candidate’s key responsibilities?
  • Where did the candidate excel? What were his/her key strengths?
  • Did you ever experience any performance issues with the candidate?
  • Is there anything else I should know?
  1. Broaden your horizons.

If you’ve just pivoted to curbside or delivery service, you may need to look for a different kind of background than you’re used to hiring for. Seek out people with skills or experience that are directly applicable to the roles you need to fill.

That may seem obvious — but many restaurateurs are used to only hiring either front-of-house and back-of-house staff. Now, they’re suddenly looking for drivers. While you shouldn’t lower your standards (see above), you may need to shift required qualifications and experience.

A few key considerations if you’re hiring drivers:

  • Do they have solid driving credentials?
  • Will they be using a company car? If not, do they own or reliably have access to a vehicle?
  • How will they be compensated? Will they make tips? Will they receive a stipend for gas and wear and tear on their car?
  • Will they be an employee or an independent contractor? If it’s the latter, are you in compliance with state and federal labor laws?

Pro tip: If you’re hiring for a different kind of role than you’re used to, talk to other restaurateurs who have experience with this model to get an understanding of what kinds of qualities and qualifications you should focus on. 

  1. Think long-term

We can all agree that this is a strange and difficult time. But good news: it’s not forever.

It may not be weeks or even months, but at some point, we’ll return to some semblance of normalcy. And while everyone in hospitality is trying to be nimble and pivot fast, savvy restaurateurs are making strategic shifts — not band-aid solutions. 

So wherever possible, think ahead: are the changes you’re making going to benefit your business now and in the long term? 

This is especially important when it comes to your people. Every employee you onboard right now is still going to require some level of ramp time, which means you should hire the right person for the role and the team, so you can ultimately minimize turnover

Pro tip: Don’t neglect your restaurant’s culture. Think about what new hires are going to bring to your team: how will they fit in? And will they want to stick around, even after things go back to a (new) normal?

Bottom line: if you’re hiring in hospitality right now, you’re in a fairly unique position. You have a wealth of talent at your fingertips that, just weeks ago, was next-to-impossible to find. And more importantly, you can help workers who have lost their livelihoods and are desperate for gainful employment. Remain committed to smart, strategic hiring practices, and your business, your employees and your new hires all stand to benefit.

Coronavirus: How to Quickly Pivot Your Operation to make it through this time

Table full of fresh, colorful produce.

As operators close dine-in operations, successful operators are quickly pivoting their restaurant to include more take-out, delivery, curbside, and other innovative ways to continue to bring customers to their doors. Below are a few common ways we’re seeing operators make a change to their operation to stay afloat.


Update your menu and business model to incorporate take-out and delivery

Shortening your existing menu down to fewer items will increase your operating efficiency and help ensure more success in delivering great food! Here are some options to keep in mind when thinking through your menu.

  • Make sure to engage your staff; servers and chefs can have great ideas for a take-out menu.
  • Publish your to-go menu on your website and Facebook pages so that diners can view your offering and place orders for carry-out or delivery!
  • When moving to Curb Side or Take-Out look at providing a condensed or temporary Menu. This will enable you to not only execute quicker but will look after your in house inventory & product spending.
  • Cross utilize and condense ingredients
  • House-made soups are a great way to use ingredients up that may have fallen off the menu or you’re overstocked on – create them and sell in quart or larger containers
  • Consider prepared or ‘take and bake’ family meals, ie. pasta or lasagna or pot roast. Look for comfort-food entrees and round out the menu with a salad/vegetable and dessert
  • If shrinking down your menu, set aside or freeze the items that don’t travel well. Or use them to feed your staff.
  • Consider packing some ingredients separately – such as sauces, toppings, croutons and dressing Items that work very well for to-go:
  • Lasagna and other bulk pasta dishes
  • Anything braised such as stew or pot roast • Roasts – consider prepping roasts raw by cutting, seasoning, packaging then provide instructions for the customer to bake at home

To increase profitability, also consider pairing each entree with a beverage to make it simple for customers to order the combination with one click rather than having to click through to the drinks section and order a la carte. Put bundles first in your online menu lineup.

Consider adding grocery items to your operation

At Consolidated Concepts, we’ve seen several clients begin to offer selling fresh produce, shelf-stable items, and some paper products. If you’re looking to add this to your operation, consider connecting with your distributor and begin advertising on your online menus and any third-party delivery apps you are working with.

Man with arms raised in kitchen with fresh produce in bins.
Blue Moon begins to offer fresh produce, canned goods and more.

Stay in the know of state and federal regulations

As we’ve all been witness to, the changes in the industry both on the federal and state level are happening quickly. While it’s a trying time for all, there are a lot of reputable resources sharing consistently updated information.

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As the Coronavirus Spreads, Restaurants Fight Scare with Super Hygiene Tactics

On December 31, 2019, China reported several cases of pneumonia caused by an unknown virus in the port city of Wuhan. One week later, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that they had identified the causative virus as belonging to the coronavirus family.

How the Coronavirus Began

There are several speculations as to how the virus first affected humans. Whether the Wuhan coronavirus found its way via workers at the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market, leapt from bats to humans, or, as conspiracy theorists are prone to believe, is associated with weapons research at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, it’s clear that it has changed the face of China and possibly the world…at least for now.

And restaurants are not immune.

McDonald’s recently shut down approximately 300 restaurants in China and set up an epidemic task force in response to the virus. A Chinese restaurant in San Gabriel that specializes in dry hot pot from Wuhan has seen their orders cut in half. Diners are changing their destinations, leaning away from big city Chinatowns. When a Philadelphian took a random Facebook poll, 40 out of 100 respondents said that, for now, they would avoid Philadelphia’s Chinatown.

Dr. Allen Chan, owner of Jasmine Seafood Restaurant in San Diego, reported to 10News that, after the WHO declared an international public health emergency due to the Wuhan coronavirus, customers dwindled. As a doctor, he decided to take things into his own hands and “fight the fear with hyper hygiene.”

He installed sanitation pumps at the entrance, and reminded customers to avoid double-dipping or shared cups. Remarkably, he even played the CDCs notes on the virus on a giant projector. He’s also ordered masks for servers which, due to high demand, are on back order. While some restaurant operators may see these actions as a little over-the-top, Chan’s customers seem to appreciate his actions and concern.

Steps to Help Keep Guests and Employees Safe  

For those in the restaurant industry, there are simple steps you can take to minimize the chance of a virus, be it the now infamous Wuhan coronavirus or the common influenza, from gaining hold in your establishment and taking down staff and customers alike.

Laurie Garret, a reporter who traveled throughout China and Hong Kong during the SARS epidemic of 2003, shared in Foreign Policy the several important steps she learned to help her keep virus-free despite being in both cities and rooms with those who were infected. Here are a few or her tips as well as other important preventative strategies that restaurants can incorporate.

  • Take a close look at public areas where people commonly put their hands. This includes doorknobs, menus, and the back of chairs. Be sure to wash these areas regularly, as well as handheld devices that your staff commonly uses such as phones, keyboards, stairway banisters, and POS systems.
  • Frequently used items such as towels in the kitchen and pens in the front of the house should be given out with the names of staff members written on them. Viruses thrive in damp towels, so make sure that the staff is aware of this and that they trade in their towels for new dry ones on a regular basis.
  • If you offer family meal style food or group appetizers, nudge your guests to avoid double-dipping by supplying an abundance of utensils and small plates. Consider creating individual serving size portions.
  • Put a sign up for both guests and staff reminding them to avoid touching their face, including rubbing their eyes, and washing their hands frequently, particularly after touching surfaces that are commonly handled. Single-use gloves in the kitchen are always a good idea as well as a reminder to follow established hygiene practices by washing their hands before handling food, after using a tissue, coughing or sneezing, and after eating or drinking.
  • Retrain staff on the basics of good hand washing practices which includes scrubbing in between fingers, under nails, and washing for a minimum of 20 seconds.
  • Masks, on the other hand, may not be very helpful, and are a visual reminder of the reason that many people have opted to forego dining out for now. If one of your staff comes to work with signs or symptoms of an illness, it’s best to send them home. In this day and age of labor shortages, it can be tempting to ignore the signs that an employee is sick, but your guests and other employees will appreciate your consideration regarding their health and well-being.
  • With the current estimated incubation period (time of exposure to the development of symptoms) of the coronavirus ranging anywhere from 2 to 14 days, people may be contagious before they even know that they are sick. Because of this, those in the hotspots, such as McDonald’s, have gone so far as to measure the body temperatures of all employees when they get to work.

Keep in mind that, while some people are putting in their online orders for masks, meals, and services, and avoiding human contact as much as possible, others are wondering why mass hysteria seems to be setting in.

Just to put things into perspective, last year’s flu season resulted in approximately 34,200 deaths in the U.S alone. While this may do little to ease your fears regarding an unknown virus and its potential mortality rate, numbers like this remind us that we live in a world inundated with viruses, bacteria, mold, fungi, and tiny insects that we cannot see, but can kill us. Feel better?

While it’s important to take necessary precautions, it’s also wise to maintain calm amidst a storm of unending end-of-the-world diatribes. The unknown has always had the ability to take our minds and run with the worst-case scenarios. While we don’t know when the virus will die off or the final toll it will take, we do know that, as with any virus, by taking necessary precautions, we can minimize the risk to both our customers and employees.