ShiftForce Blog

Posts by:

Leigh Anne Thompson

I'm passionate about the restaurant industry, and nothing makes me happier than helping clients achieve greatness in their organization. As a restaurant professional, I work hard to build relationships with my clients and I think they appreciate my honesty, integrity, perseverance, and candor." My job isn't done until I've made a positive impact on my clients organization. Technology may help the restaurants bottom line look better....but I help them get there faster.

Restaurant Experts You Should Be Following in 2018

 Being a restaurant manager is no easy feat. Challenges in the workplace are ever-present – from developing smart systems, hiring and retaining good workers and training, to restaurant layout and menu preparation, and employee management, every day is filled with unique situations and opportunities to maintain a healthy heartbeat in your restaurant.

Yet, taking time out of your workday to read up on professional development opportunities is often overlooked. Luckily, you can leave this to the experts! They already have smart systems in place to make your restaurant more efficient, profitable, sustainable, and frankly more delicious.

Back by popular demand (we covered this same topic in 2017), here are the top 10 restaurant experts –writers, editors, chefs, and food industry thought leaders – to follow in 2018.

Media - Food Writers and Editors


     Eric Caccitore (Host of the Restaurant Unstoppable podcast)

Eric is an enthusiastic host of Restaurant Unstoppable, a podcast that empowers independent restaurant owners, managers, and operators with the tools, knowledge, and attitude to be successful. Eric features a special guest each week — either a popular chef or a mover and shaker providing a unique service to the industry. Eric is a hard-working hospitality guy with epic advice and an all-star list of guests. Some previous podcasts include topics like:


     Tara Fitzpatrick (Senior Food Editor at Food Management News)

Tara is the senior food editor at Food Management News, a sister publication to Restaurant Hospitality News. She loves food folklore, old cookbooks, BBQ, and reporting on up-and-coming food trends and chefs. In addition, she covers sustainable restaurant business practices, avant-garde cooking techniques, and food history. Caution: don’t ask her to report on baking – she strictly sticks to cooking!


     Heather Lalley (Editor of Restaurant Business Magazine)

Heather Lalley is the Editor of Winsight's Restaurant Business Magazine, covering emerging restaurant concepts and food industry news. She also works with Winsight's sister company, Technomic, to produce reports on emerging restaurants and franchises.

Heather is also the author of "The Chicago Homegrown Cookbook" which features farm-to-table chefs in the great culinary hub of Chicago. She has journalism degree from Northwestern University and is a graduate of the Washburne Culinary Institute in Chicago. If you connect with her, ask her about her love of tater tots!


     Jenna Telesca (Editor in Chief of Nation's Restaurant News)

In 2017, Brooklyn-based Jenna Telesca became Editor in Chief of Nation’s Restaurant News. As part of the appointment, Telesca also was promoted to editorial director of Restaurant Hospitality, Nation’s Restaurant News’ sister publication for independent restaurants. Since then, she has advanced the content strategy for the leading foodservice media channels. She is a long-time veteran at Nation’s Restaurant News, serving up breaking news and analysis in the food industry, as well as reporting on foods service, retail, and agriculture trends. She is a graduate of the University of Chicago and has a master’s degree in writing from CUNY Queens College.


Food Consultants


     David Henkes (Advisory Group Senior Principal, Technomic Inc.)

David is a global food and beverage industry consultant and trend watcher. He is the senior principal of Technomic, Inc., where he manages client engagements and development, engagement oversight, and industry relations.

He is a well-known restaurant industry commentator, and has appeared regularly on Bloomberg, CNBC, Fox Business, MSNBC, CBS, NPR, and ABC, among others. Dave is also a featured speaker at high-profile industry events, including the National Restaurant Association Show and BAR Show, the Flavor Experience conference, the Nightclub & Bar and VIBE annual trade show/conference, the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association’s (IFMA) Forecast and Outlook and Introduction to Foodservice Fundamentals seminars, the Beer Summit, Foodservice Equipment & Supplies State of the Industry seminar, and more.

Dave earned a bachelor’s degree in International Studies from American University and a master’s degree in Marketing and International Business from the University of Illinois - Chicago. 


     Jaime Oikle (Owner, Restaurant Report and

Whether you are in the restaurant industry or not, you know there is a lot involved in running a restaurant. This is where Jaime Oikle comes in. He is the owner of Restaurant Report and, a consultancy dedicated to helping restaurants profit through interactive seminars, webinars, downloadables, and classes. He even offers helpful resources to manage smart systems that improve efficiency of your restaurant’s operations, training, inventory management, cost analysis, and marketing efforts. 




     Anthony Bourdain (Food Enthusiast, Chef, Author and Host of CNN’s “Parts       Unknown”)

Anthony is an American author, chef, and TV personality. Here are a few tidbits about Anthony that make him worthy of being followed:

  • He’s a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.
  • He’s a veteran chef of notable restaurants such as Brasserie Les Halles.
  • He first became known for his book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, which was published in 2000.
  • He’s known for his no-BS approach
  • He has hosted Travel Channel’s “No Reservations”, “The Layover”, and most currently hosts “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown” on CNN.

     Marcela Valladolid (Chef, Author, and Television Personality)

Marcela is a celebrity chef, television personality, author, and businesswoman. She began her professional career as a Food Editor for Bon Appétit Magazine. Since then, she has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, Food & Wine Magazine, Los Angeles Magazine, NY Daily News and has appeared on national TV shows such as The TODAY Show, The Talk, The Chew, The View, Access Hollywood Live, The Rachael Ray Show and more.

Marcela was the host of the Food Network’s television series Mexican Made Easy and a co-host of The Kitchen. Marcela is an author to multiple food books, including “Mexican Made Easy,” “Fresh Mexico,” and most recently “Casa Marcela,” which published in late 2017.

Marcela is also an avid social media – posting her finest Mexican-American, fresh, and farm-to-table creations.


     Marcus Samuelson (Celebrity Chef and Restaurateur)

Part Ethiopian, part Swede, Marcus serves up the ultimate mash up of cultural dishes. Marcus is the owner and operator of 12 restaurants and a nationally recognized food personality. In his early 20s, Samuelsson became executive chef of Aquavit, and soon after that became the youngest ever to receive a three-star restaurant review from The New York Times. In 2003, he was awarded "Best Chef: New York City” by the James Beard Foundation. Marcus is also the author of multiple cooking books, “Yes, Chef”, “New American Table,” “The Soul of a New Cuisine,” “Marcus Off Duty,” and The Red Rooster Cookbook,” and “Make it Messy: My Perfectly Imperfect Life”.


     Zachary Engel (Culinary Director at Pomegranate Hospitality)

Zachary is the new Culinary Director at Pomegranate Hospitality, Which is in the work to open 2 new restaurants this spring.  Zachary is the 2017 James Beard winner in the “Rising Star Chef of The Year” and also was named among Forbes’ coveted “30 Under 30” list.  While working to earn his business degree at Tulane University, he met Alon Shaya and soon realized he wanted to become a chef.  After college, he racked up experience, traveled throughout the world and spent almost four years working under Michael Solomonov at Zahav, the celebrated Israeli restaurant based in Philadelphia before joining back with Shaya in New Orleans.  Zachary rose from sous chef to chef de cuisine within one year before moving on to his new role as Culinary Director.


ShiftNote is an Online Manager’s Logbook and Employee Scheduling Software available to make all those hairy management tasks easy to control in one simple interface. Start your research and see how technology can help your management by exploring ShiftNote!


Spring Forward Your Manager's Logbook


Everyone is sick of winter and ready to spring forward into warmer weather on March 11th. But this spring, you should do more than just change your clocks. Spring is all about cleaning out the old and starting fresh, so why not take this opportunity to start improving your management as well? Here are some tips to spring clean your management style.

Create Open and Frequent Communication

Let’s face it - we all get into ruts with the way we do things. Your communication with your employees may be less than stellar coming out of the holiday rush. Re-evaluate how you have been handling communication in your restaurant and think of how it could be improved. From scheduling to training, make it easy for your employees to communicate with you and to stay up-to-date on changes in the restaurant to make their workday easier.

Plan for the Year

Times are busy and it can be easy to brush off large projects, especially when it comes to planning and strategizing for the upcoming year. But it is very important that you spring forward with your planning. This can include everything from your monthly sales projections from last year to planning hiring strategies based on gaps and busy time periods. Make a to-do list of everything that you know needs to be done throughout the year at this time and keep updating it as you go. Then come up with a planning strategy to accomplish each task in a timely manner.

Get Organized

The most important step of your management spring cleaning is to get organized. Not only should you organize the restaurant itself and clean out storage, but take a hard look at how you keep your information organized during your management tasks. Do you have papers littered across your desk with notes and reminders about your employees’ availability and training opportunities? Are your Excel sheets out of control with sales data and schedules? Do you feel like you are frequently having to go back and make corrections on communications, schedules, training, menu planning, and more?

These are signs your organization as a manager is a little chaotic. Start investigating ways to declutter your desk and get your management organized, like these 101 ways to log notes for a more productive organization. Technology presents so many opportunities to consolidate tasks that take hours into simple, streamlined processes.

Software is available to make all those hairy management tasks easy to control in one simple interface, like our ShiftNote software! Start your research on how technology can help your management by exploring our Online Manager’s Logbook and Employee Scheduling Software.


Tell us in the comments below: What are your leadership tips for 2018?
(and you could win a 2018 special edition ShiftNote T-Shift)


How Restaurant Design Affects the Customer Experience

There are several things that will make or break the customer experience. From menu selection to wait staff performance, there are a multitude of factors that will play into whether a customer decides to become a patron of your establishment. While it is impossible to make everyone happy all the time, there are subtle customer psychology tactics you can implement to help improve every customer’s experience. One of these tactics rests in your restaurant design.

This goes beyond choosing the coloring and furniture for your restaurant. Consider managing your restaurant as a daily practice in curb appeal. The same way curb appeal works for your home, you need to manage daily care of your restaurant’s appearance. Upkeeping your restaurant curb appeal will instill a subtle sense of impressment in your clientele.

What Customers See in Restaurant Design

As we mentioned before, your design goes beyond your décor (although all of that contributes to the atmosphere!). There are certain subtle elements on the outside and lobby area of your restaurant that will leave a good or bad first impression with your customers. To get into your customer’s psychology, start with these small changes.

  • Music. The type and volume of music you play will go a long way in presenting a perfect atmosphere and start the experience out on the right foot. Not only should the music be playing in the restaurant, but also outside as people are walking in. Carefully choose your music selection in line with the theme of your restaurant. Then experiment with the volume. You do not want it to soft where there is an awkward feeling while people are waiting, but you also don’t want people to complain that they had to shout over the music to hold a conversation. For more information check out ROCKBOT.
  • Lighting. Much like the music, the lighting will help set the mood of the restaurant as soon as they walk in. While you want brighter lighting where people are eating, you can create a dimmer mood lighting in the waiting area. Also, don’t forget about adding accent mood lighting on the exterior of the restaurant as people are walking in. Consider colored lights as an accent or putting a spotlight on features in your restaurant.
  • Cleanliness. Arguably one of the most important parts of your curb appeal and restaurant design, you want everything to be clean and presentable both inside and outside of the restaurant. There should not be trash in the parking lot or in the landscaping around the restaurant. Likewise, the lobby and bathrooms should always be wiped down and kept clean and tidy.
  • Amenities. It is all about the little things and ensuring they are ever-present in your restaurant. Consider the amenities you provide as part of your design. Things like an umbrella holder or a heater in the entryway for long waits on cold days can make a big difference. The amenities should also represent convenience and communication while waiting for a table.
  • Exterior Presentation. Items that are not part of your restaurant should also be considered as part of your presentation and curb appeal. The parking lot should be smooth without potholes. Parking spaces should be plentiful and clearly marked. Some of the ugly but necessary components like trash bins and air conditioning units should be clean and camouflaged as well.
  • Signage. There should be a careful balance when it comes to your signage to present your restaurant in a positive light. First, all signage should clearly communicate instructions to your guests. You don’t want to overkill how many signs you place, but you also don’t want instructions to be lacking where guests aren’t sure what your hours are or if they need to seat themselves. Likewise, carefully consider what vendor signage you place in your restaurant. It can be easy to throw up banners for every brand of beer or top shelf liquor you carry. But too many vendor signs can cheapen your restaurant.

How to Improve Curb Appeal

Believe it or not, your restaurant design can change from day to day! Implementing the subtle elements we outlined above is not a one-time task. There is a huge importance on taking a daily walk through at the start of each day to ensure your curb appeal is still appealing.

  • Start with the exterior and ensure everything is clean and presentable.
  • Test the music and the lighting.
  • Ensure all trash cans are emptied even if the bags aren’t full (food starts to stink after awhile!).
  • Provide the amenities as necessary for each day’s activities, such as having the umbrella stand out if it will rain or the heater on if it is chilly.
  • Review your signage to see if you need to make changes for clarity or elegance.
  • Scrutinize the lobby and ensure every part of the space is clean and comfortable.

Taking time every day to ensure each of these elements in your restaurant design are top notch can make a big difference in the customer experience. When some of these items are out of place, they can serve to make every small bad moment a customer has in your business a little bit worse. The more positive psychological influence you can place in the subtle details of your curb appeal, the better experience you can provide.

Download This Incredible Free E-Book
  • Consistently grow sales & profits.
  • Enhance your training program.
  • Become a great leader.
ShiftNote Blog