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Showing posts from July, 2019

Is today's market too tough for upscale restaurants?

Operating a restaurant is never easy, but is it particularly challenging for upscale restaurants?

Restaurants Unlimited Inc., for instance, which operates 35 fine-dining and “polished casual” eateries, filed for bankruptcy in Delaware last week. Earlier in June, the Four Seasons Restaurant, an iconic spot for power lunch in Manhattan also closed for business after its reopening within less a year.

Are these two examples an isolated case or the tip of the iceberg? Then, if upscale restaurants are struggling to survive in today’s market, what challenges are they facing?

The rising labor cost

According to the Bloomberg report, Restaurant Unlimited Inc. hires 50 salaried employees at the chain’s headquarter in Seattle, plus another 168 full-time and 1,885 part-time restaurant workers. The rising wages in Seattle, San Francisco, and Portland have resulted in a total of $10.6 million wage expenses in the fiscal year of 2019. Nevertheless, its revenue for the year ended in May dropped 1%, at $…

Tech trends revealed at HITEC 2019 Minneapolis

I was in Minneapolis last week for HITEC 2019 (Hospitality Industry Technology Exposition & Conference), marking the third time when I attended the conference’s exposition after HITEC 2018 in Houston and HITEC 2017 in Toronto. This time, I put my special attention to the new technologies and products on the exhibition floor, such as those using facial recognition or AI in providing robotic services.
Last year in HITEC 2018, for example, I was hoping to see more automatic services with newer generations of robots and more companies using facial recognition to enhance service operations. This year, I was still unable to recognize any revolutionary innovations in the exposition, but I believe two of my observations may warrant some discussion.
Amazon’s Alexa is officially in HITEC
Last year, I found a few devices that worked like a customized Alexa by Amazon or Google Home, allowing travelers to receive information and make service request by talking to a machine instead of service st…