The Rush by Toast - September 20

By: Isabelle Hahn and Chelsea Verstegen

5 Minute Read

Sep 20, 2019

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Welcome to the eighth edition of The Rush, where we cover notable happenings in the restaurant industry. This week's coverage includes: why restaurants are opting for smaller dine-in spaces, a new way to equip your employees with sexual harassment training, and how Domino’s Pizza is repairing city infrastructure. 

⏳ Here's what you need to know this week in 10 seconds or less:

  • With takeout taking over, restaurants are opting for smaller dine-in spaces.

  • Homeroom’s Erin Wade is adapting her restaurant’s renowned sexual harassment training policy for restaurants around the country. 

  • Domino’s Pizza is taking on pothole repairs due to the direct impact on delivery.

⏰ If you have more time:

Smaller Restaurants, Bigger Profit

  • Restaurant layouts are changing in favor of smaller dine-in areas to address revenue shift.

  • Ghost kitchens, or to-go only locations, are on the rise. 

Traditionally, restaurant owners have focused on minimum guest count and maximizing seats in the dining room. But due to increases in takeout and delivery — which are expected to be a $200 billion industry by 2025 — physical dining room space is costing more than it contributes to restaurant overhead. According to a Restaurant Dive brief, dine-in now accounts for around 15% of a restaurant’s sales compared to 40% previously. With rising rent costs, there’s also more of a push to make smaller spaces work. Restaurants can open within retail blocks rather than stand-alone locations, giving them more visibility as well as lower operating costs.

Other restaurants are putting pick-up as the main priority. Starbucks is set to launch a pick-up only location in New York, to be followed by others in other major cities. This strategy allows for maximum output and minimum labor and real estate. McDonald’s is executing a similar concept in London, with a to-go only location aimed at getting diners in and out in record time. Cutting out the dining room completely is not an option for every restaurant, but utilizing table space to expand your kitchen or install take-out counters could allow for greater revenue.

Arm Your Staff with Sexual Harassment Training

  • Homeroom’s Erin Wade is adapting her restaurant’s renowned sexual harassment training policy for restaurants around the country.

  • According to the 2019 Restaurant Success Report, only 32% of restaurants provide sexual harassment training to their staff.

Erin Wade, the owner of Homeroom and author of The Mac + Cheese Cookbook, is perhaps best known for her internal sexual harassment training she equips her employees with. Now called the Color Code of Conduct, this training sets clear expectations for managers and employees when dealing with customers. In her popular original op-ed for The Washington Post, Wade talked about the importance of building sexual harassment training in creating a restaurant culture that is inclusive, diverse, and counters toxic industry norms. 

Her Color Code of Conduct has now been named a national best practice by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), according to Eater, and is being brought to restaurants across the country through posters and an illustrated zine.

For many restaurants, training continues to be a challenge. In the 2019 Restaurant Success Report, 35% of restauranteurs say training staff is a top challenge, and only 32% of restaurants provide sexual harassment training to their staff. Utilizing a system like the Color Code of Conduct can eliminate your staff’s stresses about unwanted sexual conduct from guests, and takes the guesswork out of dealing with such issues.

A New Ally for City Infrastructure 

  • Last year, Domino’s launched the “Paving for Pizza” initiative, which offered a cash grant of $5,000 to a select 20 local governments to fix potholes. 

  • Due to the success of the initiative, Domino’s now plans to offer up to $250,000 total to help one jurisdiction in every state.  

In an effort to save delivery pizzas from any pothole-related defects, Domino’s launched a campaign last year to allow local governments to submit their neighborhood for a $5,000 facelift. The campaign was such a huge success that now 50 municipalities will receive the upgrade. This has been an interesting marketing strategy for Domino’s on pavingforpizza.com, with videos taken from inside a pizza warmer driven over roads of differing quality, along with a “Pothole Impact Meter” that allows the user to see what certain road conditions can do to their pizza.

The success of the campaign has not only benefited Domino’s through brand recognition and pizza-approved streets, but also the 50 different local governments that won’t have to use taxpayer dollars to patch up pothole-ridden roads.

Why These Trends May Impact Your Restaurant Operations

  • Restaurant size refresh: With a significant drop in dine-in preference, restaurants should consider utilizing space to expand their kitchen, add a third-party pick-up station, or perhaps downsize space to save on rent. Learn more about dining standards and trends in our 2019 Restaurant Success Report

  • Staff training resources: Restaurants are competitive and stressful environments. Help your staff feel less stressed by proactively offering, or requiring, different types of training. Sexual harassment training is only one type of training your employees need to feel prepared to be on the floor. In this article, we list educational resources for managers and staff on training, as well as ways to keep the millennials on your team engaged with training and professional development.

  • Pizza-approved: Creating valuable company initiatives can equal big business and big societal impact. Whether it’s through in-house fundraisers where a portion of your dinner rush proceeds go to a local charity, or something more out-of-the-box like Domino’s strategy, you can utilize your restaurant’s resources to create influence and action.

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