Sourcing Food for your Restaurant

greengrocerSo far we have discussed how restaurant owners can get ideas for recipes and put together a menu, but now we go back to something a little bit more basic – sourcing food for your restaurant! Buying food is something you will do on a regular basis along with paying your bills and restaurant insurance, and sometimes this means that owners forget that you don’t just have to go to the same shop again and again! Here we look at some different ways of sourcing food for your restaurants:

Local Produce

So many people complain that supermarkets are harming local businesses, however many fail to do anything about it! Why don’t you do your bit for the local community and look at all the different ways you can buy ingredients from local shops and farms? For instance, if you serve bread at the beginning of each meal why don’t you talk to your local baker and see if he can provide it for you? You could also talk to your local greengrocers and butchers, and if you are planning on offering them repeat business for a long period of time they may offer you a discount!

Wholesalers

Going to a wholesaler is a great way to save some money as you can buy everything you need in bulk for a cheaper price, especially for non-perishable items. Flour, sugar, teabags, and even serviettes and toilet roll can all be bought in large amounts for cheap at your local wholesaler, however be warned that you will have to sign up first before you are allowed to buy your goods there by providing proof you own a restaurant. Also, there is a tendency for some to get carried away whilst they are shopping and forget that everything they buy needs to be stored somewhere! The best way to avoid this is to make a list and stick with it whilst you’re there!

Grow your Own

People often forget that it’s actually quite simple to grow certain things in their own back gardens, and also extremely cheap as you can often pick up plants for pennies! Herbs such as parsley and thyme are especially easy to grow yourself and are used in a wide variety of dishes. If you are feeling more adventurous you could even have a go at growing your own tomatoes or peas. This is also a great way to make your menu look more impressive, especially if the tomato soup is home-grown and 100% fresh!

Sourcing food for your restaurants can often end up just becoming another chore, but by looking at news ways not only can you have fun but also end up saving yourself some money!

Tips on Parking your Motorhome

motorhome in carparkMotorhome owners love the fact that they can just jump in their vehicle and go on a journey whenever they like, with the possibilities for freedom and adventure one of the main reasons many people invest in a motorhome in the first place! However, there is one thing that nearly every motorhome owners despises and that’s parking, so here we give you some helpful advice on parking and your motorhome.

Facilities

It’s all well and good going on an adventure but if you can’t park your motorhome when you get to your destination you will soon become extremely stressed, which is the exact opposite reason you went away in the first place! Whilst it may take some of the mystery and excitement out of your motorhome journey, it’s sometimes a good idea to check before you go whether there are adequate parking facilities for motorhomes. You will also need to know if there are time and height restrictions in certain car parks so that you don’t overstay your welcome and end up with a fixed penalty fine!

Manoeuvring

Manoeuvring a car into a parking space can be difficult enough at times, so think about how much harder it can be for something almost triple the size! If you are not confident that your motorhome parking skills are up to scratch then you should definitely research parking facilities for motorhomes in the area you are travelling to before you leave, or even book a pitch at a caravan park. However if you are feeling brave then all you have to do is remember to take it slow and try and decipher how much space you have before you attempt to get into a tight spot. If you have a passenger with you they could always give you a hand by guiding you from outside the vehicle!

Technology

To make motorhome parking easier many companies have created cameras and sensors that you can attach to the back of your motorhome. Cameras will enable you too accurately see how much space you have behind you, and hopefully prevent you from bumping into any pillars or posts that are in your blind spots! Sensors can also alert you as to when you are too close to something, but if you are going to fast they could alert you too late and you may have to end up claiming on your motorhome insurance.

Planning ahead is one of the best ways to avoid parking nightmares on motorhome holidays, however if you really want to perfect your skills then you can always visit a car park at night and practice! Remember, take it slowly and you should be fine!

Creating Menus for your Restaurant

MenuLast week we discussed how going to food shows can help you come up with new ideas for recipes as well as enable you to network with other members of the restaurant industry. Today we will look at how you can take all the ideas for new recipes and put them all together to create a menu that will not only be enticing for your customers but also something you can be proud of! Here are some of our top tips:

Budgeting

The first thing you need to consider is what ingredients your restaurant can realistically afford, and this usually depends on how much you think your clientele will be happy to pay for each dish! If you think that you could charge £20 for each customer’s main course then you can start thinking about making dishes with ingredients such as lobster and caviar. However, overly expensive dishes could drive your customers away, so sometimes it’s best to stick with more simple ingredients and give them an unexpected twist! You could also invest in fresh local produce that will taste great and help fund other businesses in your community!

Think about Flavours

One of the most important things to consider when deciding your menu is to think about what flavours go together as a whole. For instance, it’s generally not a great idea to have something overly spicy or flavoursome for a starter and then have it followed by a creamy pasta dish as the flavours may not go well together. The best thing to do is think about what you would order in a restaurant and go from there. Don’t forget the best way to know about flavours is to try the food, so why not get your staff together and have a tasting session to see what everyone likes the most?

The Chef

It’s all well and good picking a dish that you like and will impress your customers, however before you even think about adding it to your menu you need to talk to the person responsible for cooking it – the chef! Not only do you need to make sure that he has the skill to create each dish you want to put on the menu, but also that he has the realistic amount of time to do so each and every night. Furthermore, you will need to make sure he has all the kitchen utensils he needs so he can create the dish quickly and safely. The last thing you need is a kitchen disaster and having to claim off your restaurant insurance!

Choosing a menu is not always easy, but with a little time and effort you will be able to create one that will be tasty, exciting, and will hopefully lead to your customers coming back for more!

Visiting Food Shows

tomatoesIf you own a restaurant you know how important it is to keep your menu fresh and exciting so that you can retain your normal clientele and also entice new customers. Restaurants that put time and effort into their menus usually reap the rewards, and one of the best ways of coming up with new ideas is visiting a food show. Here we look at what you can expect to find at one and how to get the most out of them!

Food and Recipes

Obviously the most important part of a food event is experiencing new types of food, and also new variations of recipes that you would have never thought of on your own! At most food shows there will be companies trying to sell their foods by hosting demonstrations on how to cook recipes using their product, and most of the time there are free samples for you to try. Even if you don’t want to use the specific ingredient they are trying to sell, you can still think about ways to adapt their recipes with ideas of your own. The inspiration these stalls can provide is truly amazing!

Networking

One great thing about food shows is that there are so many like-minded people all in one place, so you will be able to talk to caterers, wholesalers, cooks and even other restaurant owners. By putting yourself out there and engaging with as many people as possible you can get advice on things such as kitchen appliances, cheap restaurant insurance providers and tips on finding and hiring your staff. Most food shows also have a celebrity chef there, and if you’re lucky you could bump into one of your idols!

Upcoming Events

The great thing about food shows is that there is not a specific ‘season’ which they are all in, in fact you can find a food show happening near you practically every week of the year! This is also handy if you want to change your menu by the season, as shows in the summer will generally have different exhibitions than those in the winter. The BBC Summer Good Food Show is coming up in June in Birmingham, which will sure to be a great day out or you could visit the Love Food Festival 2013 which is one of the most popular shows in the UK.

Going to food shows is not just about getting some great ideas for your restaurant, it’s also great fun! So why not get online and start looking for one in your area?

Becoming a Commercial Property Landlord

officesWhen thinking of landlords the first thing that comes into most people’s minds is private rented accommodation such as flats or houses. Whilst this market is doing extremely well at the moment there are other types of properties that landlords can invest in, and doing so will not only give you a more well-rounded property portfolio but also give you a deeper knowledge of the rental and property markets. So what do you need to know before becoming a commercial property landlord?

Buying a Commercial Property

Generally, if you are planning on investing in a commercial property it will be based in a town centre or industrial estate nearby. However, there are companies which choose to be based in areas that are more suburban as they feel it is a nicer setting for their employees, so make sure you have a look around and see if you can spot something special you could convert! At this point you will have to think of what type of commercial property you would be happy to let and whether there is demand for it in the area. For example, if you want to let out a shop then it’s a good idea to be near to public transport services, whilst offices need areas with good parking facilities.

Your Responsibilities

Becoming a commercial landlord means that you will have to adhere to regulations such as making sure that the property is safe and well maintained. If you are planning on letting out an office space you will need to check if there are regulations on the building concerning how many people are legally allowed to work in the office before you place it on the market. Most commercial properties will also expect certain things as standard such as facilities that enable them to set up the internet quickly and easily, and the ability to modify and personalise the property so that it is in line with their company’s image.

Damages

It is more likely for damages to occur in commercial properties rather than residential ones due to the fact that so many people will be there for long periods of time during the day. Therefore, you need to make sure that you have commercial property landlord insurance that will help pay to keep the property maintained if there are damages. If you are letting a shop commercial property landlord insurance will also cover damages caused by customers, as well as other situations such as malicious damage caused by passers-by.

Whilst becoming a commercial property landlord may sound difficult at first, remember that many companies are prepared to pay for well-maintained properties. And if you keep the property in good order you could find your tenants wanting to stay there for years on end!

What Dishes to Have on your Motorhome Trip?

Motorhome foodThe benefits of having a motorhome or campervan are that you have the choice of making homemade food away from home, as well as spoiling yourself at a nearby restaurant. This means that if there are quite a few of you on holiday, you can save a bit of money by cooking your own food and spending quality time together around the campsite rather than eating out each day and night.

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