Learn Finance and Bookkeeping for a Restaurant

Controlling inventory contribution and turnover is difficult in the food industry.Starting any business can be a challenge for someone who has little to experience running a company. The food industry, especially the restaurant industry, can be even more challenging because of all of the unique demands in this competitive market place.

New York is one of the busiest and most crowed cities in the United States with more eateries per capital than almost any other city. This volume of choices means only one thing for young entrepreneurs and bookkeepers: lots of competition.

Most new restaurants need to be different enough from their competition in order to survive. The food must be better, the atmosphere must be unique, and the prices must be comparable. This is one of the main reasons why opening a new eating establishment is often more difficult than opening another form of business like a retailer.

Restaurants are also notorious for being a capital-intensive project to begin with. Owners have to purchase large fixed assets like ovens, refrigerators, and dishwashers that usually can’t be rented. Financing this kind of equipment is usually difficult for a newly formed business because the owner’s have to apply for bank loans. Often times the banks will not approve loans unless the owners are will and able contribute the amount of capital required to meet the loan agreements. The owners’ ratio formula for contribution margin generally depends on the structure of the company. For instance, corporations and limited liability companies generally have different debt covenants with banks.

Aside from the general financing of the business, restaurants have unique problems with inventory management that different types of businesses like retailers don’t have. For instance, a retailer usually tends to turn their inventory every three to four months with the changing seasons and fashions. Retailers’ merchandise doesn’t go bad and can’t really spoil. Burger places’ food, on the other hand, has extremely limited shelf life. The food must be ordered to meet the next few days demand and typically can’t be ordered in bulk because freezer space is in short supply. Restaurant owners have to manage inventory turnover and control turns much more efficiently than other forms of businesses.

Bookkeeping can also be a nightmare for eateries that aren’t using more modern point of sale devices. With hundreds of customers a day, counting and adding up receipts can be almost impossible. Many younger entrepreneurs try to do their own bookkeeping, but trust me. It’s not worth your time as an owner. Your time is better spent inside the kitchen and on the dining room floor making sure your customers are happy and making sure the back end is running smoothly.

In short, starting a business is difficult in any industry. Keep your nose to the grindstone and your eyes on your vision and you will be successful. To the future burger places in the city, I can’t wait to try all of the great food that you are going to create. I wish you the best and keep up the good work!

Burger Pros Sponsor Student Writing Group

Burger pros teach writing and grammar instructionThose of you who read this blog regularly know that I not only like to go around and review new and existing burger establishments but that I also like to give you updates on what they are all doing. Occasionally they have certain specials going on, and a lot of burger places have seasonal price deals: like half of burgers on Mondays. Well, on top of the special deals, some of the burger places I frequent are regular contributors to the community and I like to highlight that when I get the chance.

One of those such establishments is the Burger Pros restaurant over on E. 32nd street. Students approached the restaurant with their desire to go to a national writing competition in San Diego, but they had a lack of funds. The owners of the local burger joint were touched by the students’ willingness and desire to compete on the academic level and helped organizer a fundraiser for the students.

It took a few weeks, but eventually they got enough money raised to send in the application and participate in the national writing competition.

I recently spoke with the two owners, a couple in their early 50s, and they told me a little bit about the writing competition these students will be competing in.

The conference is called, “Write Now.” It’s part of a nationwide effort to get kids writing and exploring what they can do with the written word. These students have been participating in the monthly “Learning to write essays” contest where students submit their work to the national headquarters and all of the student participants have the opportunity to go to San Diego for the announcement of the winner.

The San Diego competition will feature different writing professionals from all different backgrounds and genres, from poets to novelists to biographers and screenwriters. It really is a writer’s dream conference. For some of the younger students there will be basic grammar instruction along with explanations on some of English’s most confusing words. Students will learn more about the proper usage of compliment and complement and other troubling words.

There will be a speed essay-writing contest where each student is given 45 minutes to write a narrative essay about a topic that they pull out of a hat. It can be fictional or true. After the 45 minutes is up, the essays are collected and reviewed by a panel of judges for style, clarity, grammar, emigration or immigration definition and other homonyms. The winner receives a $1,000 scholarship that can be used for college tuition or school supplies.

As you can see this really is a great program that these students are participating in. Not only is it a great way to celebrate the work that they have been doing all this time during the “Write Now” campaign all school year, it’s also a great learning tool with all the various speakers and lectures, and if that isn’t good enough, there are scholarship opportunities! It’s great to see Burger Pros help these kids out in their academic studies.

Local Dentist Pursues Passion

junk food can cause dental implant problems

It looks like we’ll be having a new, one-of-a-kind burger joint popping up in the area quite soon. Jeff Bridges, a local dentist and oral surgeon has recently decided to take a stab into the restaurant business now. I saw the construction of a new building with a burger sign out front that read, “Coming Soon.” I took a look around the building and Jeff happened to be there himself, so we chatted it up for a few minutes. So all of you are first to read and hear about it!

Jeff, who is now 46 years old, is a dentist by trade. He started working in the field around 20 years ago and has spent the last 10 years working primarily in oral surgery. He, along with his business partner, has set up a series of dental implant practices across the country that have been very successful. His flagship practice was based in Connecticut, his home state, were he lived and operated from until his move to New York City. His business plan was to bring Bloomfield Hills MI inexpensive dental implants and its surrounding areas in Hartford.

Now, however, he wants to have a more “hands-off” approach to the dental practice and pursue a dream he has held ever since childhood: restaurateurism. Ever since he was a kid, he has dreamed of owning and running his own restaurant, specifically a burger joint. Nothing big, nothing fancy, but a place that offers the best burgers you can buy. “Our place won’t have all the glitz and glamour and fancy decorations you see in a lot of the new places, but you can bet that the burgers will be amazing,” he told me during my visit.

This particular burger joint, carrying the name “Downtown BurgerTown,” should be open in 8 months. They would be open sooner, according to the owner, but permitting was delayed by city officials, which stalled the project’s completion.

I only happened to see this place because I was driving by. I haven’t heard much buzz around town about it, and it’s also a bit far from my usually frequented areas. I asked Jeff if he had any plans to set up other franchises around the city. He laughed and said, “We’ll play that one by ear. First we need to see if we’re successful or not.” He compared the idea of expanding to his dental practices. The first city after Farmington to which they expanded was to bring dental implants operations into Bloomfield Hills, Mi. He said that this took him years to do, however, because of the costs and risks involved with a business expansion.

Either way, it is nice to see someone pursuing their dreams and aggressively going out there and doing what needs to be done to accomplish them. It’s clear that Jeff Bridges is, in a very serious way, looking to make his mark on the New York burger scene. Can’t wait for his establishment to open up and give it a review.

Stay tuned on this story for new developments; we’ll keep you up to date.

Perfectly Melting Cheese At a Cookout

melting-cheeseHave you ever been to a cookout, whether it be for the Fourth of July or Memorial Day, were whoever is cooking the hamburgers doesn’t melt any of the cheese that they’re putting on the burgers? They just slap it right on the patty as they dish it out. Un-melted cheese is also very common at fast food places, although in their case I believe it to be unintentional. As much as I like their burgers, Five Guys seems to have a problem with melting the cheese on their hamburgers. And so does McDonald’s, but I’m also not totally convinced that is even cheese, ha! Or have you ever experienced the other extreme when the cheese is melted but the burger is way overcooked because it sat in the grill too long to melt the cheese? Well in this post I want to talk about how to get a perfectly melted piece of cheese on a hamburger for your future cookouts.

Burgers are meant to be served hot. This is an obvious statement; no one wants a cold hamburger. But just since burgers are meant to be served hot doesn’t necessarily mean that all of your toppings are also meant to be served hot. For instance, lettuce is always cold. Onions can be raw or cooked, same with green peppers. Tomatoes should definitely be cold. But what about the cheese? Should that be hot or cold? Well, since a burger is a hot sandwich, I think that the cheese should be hot. After all, you can’t truly appreciate cheese on a hot sandwich unless it is melted.

Now the secret to getting a perfectly melted piece of cheese on a burger is to place it on the hamburger maybe two minutes BEFORE the hamburger is done cooking. That’s right, don’t wait around until the hamburger is cooked to the right temperature to put the cheese on because if you wait that long, the burger will be overcooked by the time that the cheese melts.

That is a classic mistake. People wait until the burgers are cooked to their liking and then they put the cheese on only to find out that the burger now is overcooked. The best time to put cheese on a burger is about 2 minutes before your burger is done, depending on the thickness of the cheese of course.

So next time your find yourself cooking at a grill-out or you find yourself talking to the guy doing the grilling, give him the secret and watch the crowd go wild with how much of a different that that makes on the hamburgers.

Notice however that this doesn’t even address the type of cheese to include on a hamburger, only when to place it on the patty itself. The variation of cheese flavors is something that will be discussed in future posts as we could easily write another 1,000 words on the subject. Who ever knew that making hamburgers was such a science? Or is it an art form? You decide.

My First In N Out Burger

ino-vs-5My First In N Out Burger

Now, I live in New York City, so the majority of the burger joints that I review and talk about on this blog are located in and around New York, but I recently took a trip out to California and was instructed by a number of fellow burger lovers to visit an In N Out Burger. They all gave it stellar reviews and gave a list of items that I needed to order when I got there. So here is the account of my first In N Out Burger! :]

First thing’s first, I arrived roughly 1:15 p.m. and the placed was absolutely packed. This is usually a good because there is no worse feeling than walking into a restaurant during lunch hours and having it be completely empty. Really makes you question how good the food is. But luckily for me this wasn’t the case; it was hopping! So busy in fact, I always had a hard time finding a table to sit at once I got my food.

At In N Out you get a ticket, sit down, and wait for them to call you name. Once they call your name, you head up to the counter, get your food and go back to your table.

So, as my friends advised, I got a Double-Double Burger “Animal Style.” Animal Style hamburgers are all the rave at/about In N Out. It is a special type of sauce that they include on the burger for these. You can also get animal style french fries which have cheese and chili on them.

Now this is where some of my California readers might want to stop reading, ha! The reason I say this is because in California and in the surrounding states, In N Out Burger is an institution and any criticism of it is not allowed. Here are my thoughts on my In N Out experience. The burgers were good, but they weren’t great. I did thoroughly enjoy the animal style sauce that was on both the burger and the fries, but that in and of itself wasn’t enough to set the place above and beyond.

Now before you all cry “heresy!” hear me out, because I have a rational for this.

Five Guys have become pretty popular all across the United States in the last five years or so, and, in my opinion really stepped up the fast-foodesque burger game. Sure they are more expensive than places like McDonald’s but can you really compare Five Guys to McDonald’s? But what has now happened since establishments like Five Guys have become so popular and widespread is that they have cause other burger establishments that ordinarily would have been a great eating place when compared to McDonald’s or Burger King to fall into the “okay” or “pretty good” category. Five Guys has in effect raised the bar of what a fast good burger should taste like.

So, back to In N Out, the burger was good, but was it better than a Five Guys burger? I can’t say that it was. Is Five Guys better than In N Out? I’m not sure I can say that either, but I am certain that there isn’t a clear-cut winner. I would say that the fries were probably better at In N Out.

What do you think? Do you think my comparison is accurate?

What Makes A Good Burger?

what-makes-a-good-hamburgerPeople routinely ask me what is it that makes a good burger? What are the ingredients? What is the temperature? What kind of toppings should you put on it? All of these kinds of questions I get asked on a very regular basis, and I usually have to go into a detailed explanation of what it is to make, cook, and prepare a good burger. Well, no more explanations after today because I will have an entire blog post dedicated to it, so I can direct anyone and everyone who asks me from now on to this page! :]

So what’s the secret?

Well, the “secret” isn’t all that secret in my opinion, but I’m going to lay out some of the best burger making tips I can in this post.

Temperature

Probably the most important element to cooking any hamburger is cooking is to the proper temperature. Like any meat, you cook it for taste and to rid it of any bacteria that it has. The hotter you cook the meat, the more bacteria that is killed. This is why at restaurants you usually see a note on the menu that says, “Consuming raw or undercook meats can increase the likelihood of food borne illness.” This is because the less you cook a hamburger the more bacteria that is able to survive. Now, you may be thinking, well we should just cook it super thorough to get rid of everything! Right? Well, the problem is if you cook a burger too much it can start to lose a lot of its taste. Also, the more you cook it the tougher and drier the meat becomes, and no one like a dry burger.

The best temperature for a burger is medium. This was you are still cooking out plenty of the bacteria but you are keeping as much taste as you can. A true medium should still be pink and juicy in the center.

Seasoning

Now, a good piece of meat doesn’t always need a lot of spices or seasoning, but a great way to spice up your burger if you don’t have the best cut is to put some seasoning on it. It’s important not to go overboard with them though because you want to keep the burger in mind. The burger is what you are featuring so you don’t want it’s taste to be drowned out by other seasonings. A great all-purpose seasoning is Lawry’s season salt. It is a combination of salt, pepper, garlic salt, and just a great medley of seasoning.

Toppings

Toppings are very much to taste. I would say even more so than temperature and seasonings. Some people like their burgers plain, while others like to load them up with tons and tons of toppings. I prefer mine to be right in the middle. I like all of the traditional toppings you might find on a hamburger, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and pickles, but I am not a big fan of some of the more extreme toppings like hot sauce or onion rings and French fries. I am, however, a big fan of green peppers on my hamburgers.