Like your favorite restaurants on Facebook and you might be saving money the next time you dine out!
Restaurants are slowly but surely jumping on the social media bandwagon. Historically lax at marketing themselves, even the smallest of ‘Mom and Pop” restaurants may finally have found a type of advertising that works . . . and it’s cheap! With over 700 million users worldwide, the large restaurant chains especially are utilizing Facebook as a way to reach out to potential customers and let them know about specials, events, and even promotions & discounts. But social network marketing can be beneficial to smaller restaurants as well, word of mouth spreads exponentially faster through social media and most of a users “friends” will probably be in their same area, making them potential customers as well. And with this in mind, it makes sense for us diners to “like” places we actually like so that we can take advantage of deals and never miss another event.
For example, Applebee’s just recently launched their new “Check-In and Win” contest. All you have to do is go to Applebee’s on Monday night to watch football and check in through Facebook Places. The restaurant will provide a QR code to scan with your smart phone to make sure the check-in is valid. Each week you check-in gives you the chance to instantly win an Applebee’s Digital gift card for $5, $10 or $20. Also, every check-in is an entry into a sweepstakes offered by Applebee’s and ESPN where the grand prize winner will receive an “ESPN Full Experience Package.” The Grand prize includes three days and two nights in New York City (to visit ESPN headquarters) and Bristol, Connecticut (for a tour of the ESPN center studios.) The winner will also receive $200 worth of merchandise out of the ESPN exclusive store and an Applebee’s $200 gift card so they can enjoy the restaurant chain’s food while on their trip. All for doing what so many of us do anyway, talk about “eating good in the neighborhood?!”
Zagat conducts survey of chain restaurants in the US. Find out what fellow diners think and do you agree?
Zagat has a reputation for being a long-standing reliable guide and source for feedback about fine dining and upscale leisure activities. In recent years however, they have extended their listings to include more lower tier chain restaurant establishments offering both full and fast fast-food service.
This year’s Fast Food Survey is a great guide as to where popular chain restaurants in the United States stand with consumers. They have also taken the time to categorize the different chains, differentiating between establishments geared more towards “quick refreshment” or “full service”; and allowed consumers to vote on which establishments serve the best of a popular menu item, like burgers or coffee.
The big winners for “Best Overall Value” were McDonald’s and The Cheesecake Factory for fast-food and full-service respectively. But I think it’s a sign of the increased awareness for healthy eating that the most popular chains were Subway and P.F. Chang’s.
Curious to know where your favorite restaurant brands stand in the rankings? We were too, take a look at the 2011 Zagat Fast-Food Survey results! The most interesting part of the survey were the quotes that Zagat lifted from the comments left by consumers. So even though some of these restaurants came out on top of the “Best” list for a particular category, be advised that it may just be because they were the lesser of all the other evils that sometimes plague fast-food eateries.
The time has finally come! With all the lockout drama and anticipation for exciting preseason games, hello Philadelphia Eagles Vs. New York Jets & Atlanta Falcons Vs. Pittsburgh Steelers, NFL fans are practically panting for the regular season games to start. Even more exciting is that the first game of the 2011 season will be a matchup unlike any in the last 10 years; tonight at 8:30pm EST the Green Bay Packers are set to defend their title against than none other than the New Orleans Saints – aka the ultimate showdown between two Superbowl titans.
And on top of that, tight end Jermichael Finley and running back Ryan Grant have recovered from injuries and back in the starting line-up. Plus the exciting performances of rookies like Vic So’oto and Tori Gurley in preseason games we can’t wait for tonight’s game (can you tell we’re for the Packers?!) But this year more than ever, the start of an NFL season is the beginning of an American tradition of fantasy teams, water cooler debates, and wings, wings, and more wings! It’s not just about the game – it’s about spending game day around a big screen with friends, it’s about the pregame concert (tonight’s opening act will feature Kid Rock, Lady Antebellum and Maroon 5), and most importantly it’s about the FOOD!
Yes, the food ladies and gentlemen, and in honor of the first game of the season my thoughts of food and football are simple: no pair is sweeter than a cold one and some hot wings. And because you may be too busy arguing about who’s going to emerge victorious tonight, here’s a list of what we believe to be the some of the best chain restaurants catch some grub for the big game:
Buffalo Wild Wings – with 14 sauces and 4 different seasonings it’s easy to satisfy every person’s taste buds and with the amount of television screens inside it may be the ultimate place to watch the game.
Wingstop – with all the reviews out there, everybody couldn’t stop talking about their garlic parmesan wings
Planet Wings – they may be only located in New York, New Jersey, and Tennessee but if you’re close enough the drive may be worth it for their award-winning wings.
Quaker Steak and Lube – they serve more than just wings but the description of their atomic wings can stop you in your track when checking out their menu.. see for yourself.. “One bite will set your pores a steamin’,ears a hummin’ and temples a throbbin’, served with jalapeños to cool your palate.”
We can’t wait to get out from work, meet up at the nearest sports bar, and um . . . Go Pack Go!!!!
Restaurants like Taco Bell and Pizza Hut are lobbying to be able to accept food stamps as payment.
Currently there are over 45 million people on food stamps in the United States and this number has been increasing steadily due to the recession and recent natural disasters. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with more and more people relying on food stamps, the amount of places that are accepting food stamps has increased by 33% from 2005 to 2010.
Historically restaurants have not been a part of the group that accepted food stamps – now more commonly known as Electronic Bill Transfers – because in addition to the social stigma that comes with food stamps there are certain requirements vendors must meet in order for them to be redeemed as a form of payment. One of the following two conditions must be met:
You must sell a variety of staple foods in each of four food categories:
breads, grains, & cereals
fruits & vegetables
meat, fish & poultry
OR if more than 50% of your store’s gross retails sales comes from the sale of one of more staple foods. In this case staple foods do not include coffee, tea, candy, soft drinks, snack foods, or prepared items.
In the 1970’s the federal government delegated individual states the power to decide whether or not food chains should accept food stamps from the elderly, disabled, and homeless. Four states, Arizona, California, Michigan, and Florida, are currently accepting food stamps at restaurants. Just recently the YUM! restaurant group, the company that owns Taco Bell, Long John Silver’s, KFC, & Pizza Hut, is lobbying to try to get more restaurants involved.
The National Restaurant Association (NRA) is backing YUM! and why shouldn’t they? They recently launched their new initiative, Kids Live Well, which will provide healthier options at fast food chains which means that those who rely on food stamps could take advantage of the improved menu items. Take our poll, what do you think about Electronic Bill Transfers (EBT) as an acceptable form of payment at restaurants?
Presto E La Carte the new tableside tablet streamlines the dining experience.
Ever since Apple launched the iPad, tablets have been embraced by people of all ages across the country. Even if you’re skeptical of tablets and their practicality, it has been predicted that within eighteen months a tablet could easily make its way into your hands. This prediction, even if you’re not a tablet owner, may be more likely to become true than ever because tablets are poised to become a regular fixture on the tables of your favorite restaurants.
The Presto by E La Carte, a company founded out of MIT, is a new tablet dedicated to the restaurant and hospitality related industries that will allow consumers to order, pay a bill, and even play games right from their table without having to wait for a server. Currently in beta testing in San Francisco and Boston, the Presto reported an increase in the average bill by 10-12% because consumers can easily act on their impulses and sudden cravings as well as a 7 minute decrease off the duration of the average meal, allowing restaurants to turn over tables faster. Other major benefits include an eighteen hour battery life. The cost for each tablet owned by an establishment is estimated at $100 per month.
So far, Presto E La Carte has signed 100 eateries with a waiting list of 150. Co-founder Rajat Suri states within three to five years, you will see this technology on eighty percent of restaurant tables. There are just too many advantages for restaurants not to do it. Suri claims that the tablet will not replace actual wait staff, it is only meant to support them but what effect will the tablets have on diner’s proclivity to tip?
Have you come across the Presto E La Carte during one of your dining experiences? We want to hear your feedback!
Celebs have the where-with-all to start restaurants, but not all have the ability to sustain them
With a good buzz, owning a restaurant can be a very lucrative business. A lot of what creates a good buzz is the kind of atmosphere a spot has and the kind of clientelle it attracts. If a restaurant is known for having celebrities frequent their establishment it can be just as valuable to their business as having a reputation for excellent food. Celebrities are aware of the effect that their presence can have on a restaurant’s business and a lot of them have decided to own and invest in restaurants themselves and cash in on some of that buzz.
Some celebs are very open about using their popularity to attract visitors their restaurants, like P. Diddy, Michael Jordan, and Britney Spears; they are involved in the restaurant’s PR campaign and either frequent the establishments themselves or host events that attract other celebrities to the establishment.
Others are real foodies and their involvement is more low-key like Robert DeNiro, Ryan Gosling, Cathy Moriarty, Tony Hawk and Stephen Baldwin. For these celebs, partnering with talented chefs and restaurant groups is a passion and a smart investment. Not all celebrity owned restaurants are an automatic success. A high-profile name might get an establishment the initial recognition but it doesn’t necessarily come with a guarantee, even in the restaurant business fame is a fickle friend and the food and service still have to be “A-list” to last.
Here are some of the most successful celebrity restaurant business ventures: