Florida Tech to Host Free Restaurant Foodservice Webinar for Central Florida Restaurateurs

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida – The restaurant business is not easy at the best of times, but the past two years have tested even established businesses.

“Obviously, the labor shortage has been the thing that has affected my peers as much as anything,” said Drew McLeod, owner of Savor in Tallahassee, and chapter chair and member of the State Council of the Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association.

Add to that the COVID-19 closures, supply chain issues, rising labor costs and rising customer expectations, and restaurateurs can feel like they’re swimming alone in infested water. alligators.


But help is available. McLeod will be part of a panel of business and legal experts sharing advice and expertise during a free webinar from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Jan. 13, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.

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Sponsored by weVENTURE Women’s Business Center at Florida Tech Bisk College of Business, the Restaurant Recovery webinar will give restaurateurs the opportunity to ask questions and seek advice from peers who are experiencing similar issues.

Join McLeod, who is also a senior consultant in the hospitality industry; will be lawyer Kelly Swartz of Widerman Malek, PL, in Melbourne; and Kathy Knowles, Human Resources Advisor, Intuitive Strategies in Melbourne.

McLeod draws on more than four decades in the restaurant industry when providing advice to other restaurateurs.

“The biggest thing that I have found that has been effective for me has been finding ways to really take care of your staff,” McLeod said.

Customers can’t have a good restaurant experience without a great team, he said.

When it comes to hiring new employees, McLeod said going with the most experienced person might not be the best solution.

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“Sometimes we’re looking for the perfect employee,” he said. ” They do not exist. Find the character you want, whatever your experience, and take the time to practice.

When it comes to dealing with staff and supply shortages, McLeod said restaurateurs need to be honest with themselves and what they can realistically handle.

Savor only is open Tuesday through Saturday for dinner. Could he make more money by opening a sixth night or for lunch? It’s possible, but that would essentially mean hiring a second staff to handle overtime, or expecting its current staff to work overtime.

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Even five evenings a week, if McLeod doesn’t have adequate staff, he accepts fewer bookings to ensure customers have the experience they expect.

“I control the number of people we serve,” he said. “We will sacrifice revenues to ensure quality of service. “

As for harsh criticism from Keyboard Warriors, that can be difficult, he said. “We want to defend ourselves and we want to defend our team. But social media has changed so much, we have to be careful what we say and how we say it. “

The best defense is to build a brand with an expectation of a level of excellence that can withstand a few unflattering online reviews.

“But also, we have to be ready to apologize and admit our mistakes,” he said. Use customer feedback to make adjustments if necessary.

“If you have thin skin and are in the restaurant business, you should probably consider another line of business,” he said.

McLeod sees the industry changing. More fast and casual restaurants will open over the coming year, places that require fewer staff to operate.

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But those who have chosen restaurants as a lifelong career do so for love, he said.

He loves to see the smiles on the faces of the customers and he loves to see the employees grow and develop. Even if they don’t stay in restaurants, they learn things by working in kitchens and dining rooms that can take them further in life.

“There is a lot to be said about the industry and the way it develops character, life lessons that make you a better member of the team no matter where you decide to work.”

No, restaurants are not an easy affair, he said.

“It’s a challenge every day,” he said. “But we love to make people feel special, and we go the extra mile to do that.”

Check Florida Gourmet Podcast. You can find each episode in the media player below:

How to register for the Restaurant Recovery webinar

Restaurateurs who wish to benefit from McLeod’s expertise and that of the other panelists can register for the webinar by visiting weventure.ecenterdirect.com. Click on “training events” to find the Restaurant Recovery webinar.

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The webinar is free, although registration is required, and is open to all restaurateurs, not just women. While weVENTURE offers one-on-one coaching, Executive Director Kathryn Rudloff said the center also wants to foster peer-to-peer conversations.

The webinar is funded by a grant weVENTURE received to help businesses through the process of economic recovery.

Funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the US Small Business Administration, weVENTURE’s Women’s Business Center offers free one-on-one consultations, as well as free and low-cost business education and networking opportunities to women entrepreneurs. and business owners in Brevard, Indian River and Saint Lucia counties.

Topics to cover include rising minimum wages, growing desire for takeout and delivery, rising food costs, and labor shortages.

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Rudloff said she hopes restaurant owners get valuable information and support in the New Year.

“For many, it’s just one thing after another,” she said. “It’s like Wack-a-mole.”

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