Joe Abuso - Genuine Hospitality Consulting
Articles by Joe Abuso in RS&G Magazine
Joe Abuso is a regular contributor to Restaurant Startup & Growth magazine.  Here is a sampling of some of his articles.  To visit the magazine's website, click here.

How to Make Quality Pre-made and Speed Scratch Work for Your Concept
Written by Joe Abuso   

2013-09-RSG-Cover-SMALLSeptember 2013

Every chef contends with the balancing act of producing the variety and quality of foods that their customers and bosses want with the reality of the capabilities of their staff, the size of their kitchens and their budget. In the perfect kitchen there would be just the right amount of culinarians possessing all the skills, expertise and experience needed to consistently knock out any gastronomic whim of the powers that be, without breaking a sweat or going into overtime.

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The 5 Points of Proper Portion Control
Written by Joe Abuso   

2013-05_RSG_CoverMay 2013

Although portion control probably doesn’t top many chefs’ lists of the most fun or creative parts of their job, it is still an important task for which they are responsible. Without it, both sides of any restaurant’s basic equation - customer satisfaction & profitability - crumble.

Let’s take a look at a number of ways that will help chefs master this essential part of running their kitchens. Good portion control depends on implementing specific systems and procedures at five distinct points in a kitchen’s workflow.

 

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10 Things You Can Do Today to Increase Menu Profitability
Written by Joe Abuso   

2013-03_Cover_SmallMarch 2013

More and more operators are making the observation that it is getting harder and harder to make a buck in the restaurant business. Between fewer customers, many of who are demanding more satisfaction but expect to pay less for it, and rising costs, not to mention plenty of competition doing their best to rise to the challenge, they have a point. Much of the wiggle room many restaurateurs have had in the past in terms of profitability is gone.

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One Big Job: How to Hire your First or Next Chef
Written by Joe Abuso   

2013-02-Cover-SmallFebruary 2013

In almost any restaurant no position is more important than that of the chef. Of course other positions, such as the dining room manager and GM or owner/operator, are just as critical. But if the menu is not appealing, the food not consistently well prepared, the food costs not kept in line and staff turnover not kept to a minimum, the chances of any operation’s success recede to zero. Most operators understand this, which explains the level of apprehension, if not the genuine anxiety, that many feel when faced with the task of hiring a new chef. Let’s examine just what we should be looking for in a chef, and how to best go about finding it.

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Climbing the Ladder: Helping your Kitchen Staff Develop their Skills and Careers
Written by Joe Abuso   
2012-11_RSG_Cover_SmallNovember 2012

One of the worst, but undeserved, stereotypes that the hospitality industry endures is the concept that it offers nothing but low paying, boring, dead end jobs to people who have no better options in life. But ask anyone who has been a proud member of our fraternity for any length of time and the overall impression you’ll get is just the opposite. It is an industry that has been consistently growing for years, has a genuine need for workers at every level of expertise and ability, and is hungry for people who are willing to work their way up the ladder as far as they are able to go, with little or no arbitrary limits placed on anyone willing to rise to the occasion.

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First Things First: Making Prep Work More Efficient
Written by Joe Abuso   
2012-10_RSG_CoverOctober 2012

As any good chef will tell you, there is nothing more important than the part of each day dedicated to prep work. Without well-planned and executed prep, labor and food costs, as well as quality, are impossible to control. And although service time is where the rubber meets the road, prep time is where we install the tires. When our restaurant’s doors open, we all want our kitchens to perform like a perfectly designed, well-oiled machine from the very first order through to the very last dessert.

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How to Build your Holiday Business with Proper Planning
Written by Joe Abuso   

2012-10_RSG_CoverOctober 2012 Feature Article

For many operators the promise of a strong fourth quarter can, at worst, partially make up for an otherwise lackluster year. On the other hand, if things are already going well, a strong finish will turn a good year into a great one. During the Holidays most peoples’ spending patterns loosen up, there are more reasons and occasions for individuals and families to splurge and celebrate and corporate revelry kicks into high gear (albeit not as high as a few years ago.) This is good news for restaurateurs.

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How to Drive your Business During Seasonal Slumps
Written by Joe Abuso   
2012-09_RSG_CoverSeptember 2012 Feature Article

When it comes to keeping our dining rooms filled, certain times of the year just seem to take care of themselves – others, not so much. If your restaurant is located near a beach, summer is probably fine, and winter might be good too; but the fall, when the kids go back to school, might be a little on the slow side. If you’re located in a ski town, when the conditions on the slopes are great, so is your guest count. But before the first snowfall arrives, or after the last is just a memory, depending on how much of a draw your area has for non-skiers, things might start to feel a more peaceful than you’d like.

 

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How to Conduct an Effective Menu Tasting for Your Staff
Written by Joe Abuso   
2012-07_RSG_Cover

July 2012 Feature Article

Everyone in the restaurant business understands and appreciates the fact that nothing is more important than providing great service. It is often said – and I, for one, agree – that great service can make up for mediocre food, but great food will never make up for miserable service. No matter how well thought out your wine list is, if it’s served by waiters who succeed in making your guests feel inadequate for their selection, everybody loses.

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Building Appetizer and Dessert Sales
Written by Joe Abuso   
2012-05_RSG_Cover

May 2012 Feature Article

Every operator knows just how much thought and effort go into getting their dining rooms full of happy customers. Or even, when our wildest dreams aren’t quite coming true, half full of happy customers. Every seat that is filled is a testament to our ability to get people to believe in what we do enough so that they choose to come into our restaurant, instead of one down the street.

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Walking the Line
Written by Joe Abuso   
2012-05_RSG_Cover

Improving Kitchen Efficiency & Quality

May 2012 Chef Training and Kitchen Management Article

As restauranteurs and chefs, we do a lot of planning. Almost everything we are responsible for getting done requires that we think things through early enough to get the ball rolling soon enough to get each task accomplished by the time it needs to be done. We have to write our menu in time to source the ingredients, and have an inventory done in time to place an order by the deadline to get our delivery when we need it, schedule enough cooks to do the prep and work the line, and then make sure they are all shown exactly what we want them to do before they head off too far in the wrong direction; and on and on.
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Cutting Your Own Meat
Written by Joe Abuso   

2012-04_RSG_Cover_SmallThe Pros and Cons

April 2012 Chef Training

One of the most basic decisions a restaurateur makes when developing their concept is where his or her kitchen will exist on the continuum that starts with buying everything pre-prepared, and ends with doing everything from scratch. Very few restaurants occupy the terrain at either extreme, with most fitting somewhere in between.

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Clean Enough to Eat Off of
Written by Joe Abuso   

2012-03_RSG_Cover_Small10 Critical Points of Kitchen Sanitation

March 2012

I don’t think I am going out on a limb to say that most of us don’t get into the restaurant business because of a visceral attraction to the field of sanitation. More likely, we chose this path because of a love of food and wine, a proclivity to hospitality, or the possibility of turning a passion (or, at least a talent) into a livelihood.

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Feel The Love
Written by Joe Abuso   

2012-01_RSG_CoverHow to Prepare for and Profit from St. Valentine's and Mother’s Day Traffic

January 2012 Feature Article

For many restaurants, St. Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are the two biggest days of the year. With a little planning and forethought these Holidays have the potential to turn an otherwise ho-hum February and May into real bright spots in your yearly sales picture, while also earning you some new, regular clients. On the other hand, if executed poorly, they’ll just be two more days of the week at best, or actually leave a bad taste in the mouths of both new and old clients.

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When Less is More
Written by Joe Abuso   

2011-10_RGS_CoverAccommodate Guests and Create an "All-Day" Day Part with Smaller-Portion Menu Items

October 2011  Chef Training Article

One of our major challenges as restaurateurs is to always be aware of the changes taking place in the preferences of our customers. When we become complacent in our efforts to keep our finger on the most current pulse of what’s hot and what’s not, we risk becoming lukewarm ourselves. No good would come from changing course every time we detected the slightest hint of the latest fad. But rejecting out of hand anything unfamiliar or new will not serve us well, either.

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Building Sales Through Check Average and Frequency
Written by Joe Abuso   

2011-08_RSG_Cover_Small August 2011  Feature Article

To make the most of their operations, restaurateurs need to leverage every asset they have available to them. Whether it is making sure that every bit of their chef’s experience and talent is evident on the plates in their dining room, that the most appropriate and pleasant wines their vendors can supply are being sampled and considered for inclusion in their wine program, or negotiating the best terms for a line of credit with their banker, the more effective they are at not wasting opportunities, the better off everyone is. When it comes to assets, one of the biggest you can have as a restaurateur is your current client base.

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New and Proven Front of the House Training Techniques
Written by Joe Abuso   

2011-07_RSG_Cover_Small July 2011  Feature Article

There is not a person in the restaurant business that has any doubts that the service their guests receive is at least as important as any other aspect of their operations. No matter how compelling the concept, how perfect the location, how amazing the food and how well thought out the beverage selection, a disinterested, unorganized, incompetent or unwelcoming front of the house staff will spell certain doom for any restaurant.

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Par and In-House Baking for the Independent
Written by Joe Abuso   

2011-07_RSG_Cover_Small July 2011 Chef Training

One of the most important things that every restaurateur needs to figure out is how they can differentiate their restaurant from all the others, giving customers a compelling reason to choose theirs over the rest. Couple that idea with the fact that everyone loves freshly baked goods but very few restaurants offer them, and the short, obvious answer to the question posed in the title of this article is: “Yes!” The longer and more useful answer is, “Yes, but…”

 

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Why Kitchen Service Backs Up and How Chefs Can Avoid It
Written by Joe Abuso   

2011-05_RSG_Cover_sml May 2011

Your dining room is full of happy customers looking forward to a great meal. You are proud of the job you’ve done putting together some crowd-pleasing specials that the waiters are having no problem selling alongside your classic dishes. The orders start coming in and, at first, things in the kitchen are humming right along. But before you can begin to relax a little and start to enjoy the well-oiled culinary machine you thought you had assembled, you notice a few things aren’t quite right.

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Determining the Most Effective Staffing for Your Kitchen
Written by Joe Abuso   

2011-04_RSG_Cover_Sml April 2011

Along with food costs, kitchen payroll is one of the two most important, easily quantifiable things for a chef to control in his or her kitchen. Like controlling food costs, payroll is a balancing act between what is obviously sufficient, but not practical (i.e., affordable), and what will make the bean counter in your organization happy (at least in the short-term), but cause your erstwhile clients to choose to go elsewhere to spend their dining dollars.

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Fire Safety Basics in the Back of the House
Written by Joe Abuso   

2011-02_RSG_Cover_SmallFeb 2011

One of my most vivid memories from my early days in the fine-dining kitchens I learned my craft in doesn’t have anything to do with the great food, cooks or menus I was privileged to work with. It is the recollection of how the entire kitchen staff reacted to the fire in the kitchen’s exhaust hood as smoke filled our workspace one night. From the pot washers, to each line cook to the chef - as he fearlessly wielded a fire extinguisher while he calmly, but very emphatically, directed all of us out the back door – every person acted with as much professionalism and seemingly practiced direction as they did on a normal busy Saturday night.
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Raising Prices, When is it Safe?
Written by Joe Abuso   

2011-01_RSG_Cover_SmallJan 2011 Feature Article

Properly pricing your menu, always as much of an art as a science, is one of the most mission-critical responsibilities that you, as an owner/operator, ever perform. The reality is that many different factors come into play: some emotional, some mathematical, some within your control, some not. This makes menu pricing an activity that deserves more than just your cursory attention and efforts.
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How to Maintain a Good Health Score
Written by Joe Abuso   

2010-09_RSG_Cover_SmallSeptember 2010

While maintaining food safety is not the most glamorous part of running a restaurant, without it, everything else we do is for naught. No matter how inviting the dining room, how beautiful and tasty the food, how innovative the wine list and cocktails are and how impeccable the service, if someone gets sick from food they’ve eaten in your establishment, it could cost you everything you’ve worked for in one miserable, avoidable moment.

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