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1. There seems to be more and more technology that has found its way into NYC restaurants. What’s your read?
The proliferation of restaurant technology is helping restaurants in so many different ways but it also poses challenges for operators who have limited time and resources to dedicate to technology. So it’s important that restaurateurs invest in technology that will enhance the way they run their business and will actually be used. If you’re not executing action plans based on guest analytics your technology provides you, or you don’t have the time to train your staff on accepting the six different mobile payments you now process, you may just create confusion and be wasting time and money.
Then there’s the integration factor and finding technology platforms that complement each other. The changing needs and demands of the restaurant industry require technology companies to continually modify their platforms to accommodate this. For example, is your Human Resources Management System being updated to help you comply with the ever changing employment laws and regulations? It doesn’t seem that the number of technology platforms entering the market is slowing down any time soon and there’s no doubt that technology can greatly improve operations if implemented strategically.
So I think it’s wise for restaurateurs to really think about what they want to accomplish by introducing technology into their business and then take time to research the systems and choose the ones that align with their goals.
2. Happy New Year! Coincidentally there’s been a call from NYC Council to bring Kosher and Halal meals to NYC schools. What are your thoughts?
The Alliance has not taken a position on this as it doesn’t directly impact the operations of New York City restaurants and is therefore outside of our mission. I will say, however, that it’s another example of how methods of food preparation and consumption are at the forefront of people’s minds and an important consideration for many.
3. Did the New Yorker article on “The Thrill of Losing Money by Investing in an NYC restaurant” get a bit carried away? Is it an indictment of the industry or just business people regardless off industry that don’t know what they are getting involved with?
There seems to be a public image that the restaurant industry is all glitz and glamor and people are making lots of money. Yet the reality involves less red carpet and more taking inventory in the basement, trying to figure out how to comply with all the laws and regulations, trying to hire a strong workforce, all while trying to pay your rent on time. Oh yeah, then there’s of course the incredibly important element of serving great food and hospitality. I think this article helps the non-industry person to understand the realities of the restaurant industry from the perspective of someone who decided to invest in a restaurant and subsequently learned about it.
It’s also a good article for politicians to read so they understand the challenges of running a small business so they may think twice before supporting regulations that will only make it more expensive and challenging to run a successful restaurant. There’s obviously some opinions in the article that not everyone will agree with but overall I thought it was a good read. It reinforces what I always say, which is that if you’re getting into the restaurant industry you need to be a real business person, passionate about the industry and have a little luck.