Cheers-Nov-Dec 2016

Cheers is dedicated to delivering hospitality professionals the information, insights and data necessary to drive their beverage business by covering trends and innovations in operations, merchandising, service and training.

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Page 31 of 63 32 • November/December 2016 holidays. A number of national chains offer bonus gift cards to customers who purchase holiday gift cards. At Brio, for instance, customers who purchase at least $100 in gift cards receive a $20 gift card to use themselves. Also, those who host a holiday event of 10 or more people during mid-November through mid-January (as well as their guests) will receive a $10 bonus gift to use in the fi rst quarter of the new year. The Palm restaurant offers 10% back in the form of a gift card for purchases made beginning at $250 from November to December, says Liermann. "In the past, we [also] offered a Palm Party Card to encourage private dining room bookings earlier in the week: Sunday through Thursday nights and Monday to Friday lunch," she notes. The high-end steak house operates 26 locations in the U.S. PREPARE YOUR STAFF FOR THE SEASON The holiday season can be stressful for guests and restaurant staff alike, says Greg Majors, beverage director for the Blue Bridge Hospitality. "Poise and patience" are key in dealing with holiday crowds and stressed-out guests, he notes. "It's very important that our staff puts those dining with us at ease and makes them feel like they are at home," says Majors. "Be empathetic, which will help put your staff and guests at ease." Preparation for seasonal events and offerings will hekp your team cope. Brio trains servers to upsell wine and cocktails to enhance the celebratory mood, and ensures that they are well versed in the seasonal food and beverage options. It's easy for staff to get caught up in the festivities, but Pendleton points out that servers, buspeople and bartenders need to keep in mind they are at work. "I tell my staff to remember that we were not invited to their party, we are working their party, so we need to keep the focus on the guest's happiness." REMEMBER IT'S NOT FOREVER The holiday season is frazzled, but it's also fl eeting, says Collins. "Enjoy the business while it's there; the season comes and goes very quickly." Indeed, Liermann says, holiday is a great time of year to build sales: "It will be fast-paced with long hours, but it will pay off at the end!" In general, staff and management should try to get plenty of rest and stay hydrated, says Pendleton. "You have a small window of time to be especially busy, and you can't do that if you are sick or tired!" It also helps to hire holiday—or any—workers with a heart for service. "I can train anyone to do the technical parts of our jobs, but what I can't do is train how to be a naturally nice and hospitable person," Pendleton says. "Guests will overlook a multitude of mistakes if you are kind and gracious." Kelly Magyarics, DWS, is a wine, spirits and lifestyle writer, and wine educator, in the Washington, D.C. area. PHOTO CREDIT: JOY ASICO ANOTHER MIRACLE ON SEVENTH STREET Inspired by the 2014 pop-up Christmas bar "Miracle on Ninth Street" from the folks at Mace in New York, Angie Fetherston thought it would be fun to open up a Christmas-themed bar in the Washington, D.C. So Fetherston, CEO of Drink Company, last year turned the fi rm's sherry bar Mockingbird Hill into Miracle on Seventh Street, a holiday wonderland complete with Christmas kitsch and a Hanukkah Hangout. "We thought it was a wonderful idea to bring some Christmas magic to our bars," she says. "Our team was so excited and joyful to be part of this, and that energy was shared with all of our guests." The concept proved to be so popular that the bar remained open well after Christmas, with lines out the door, and plenty of Instagrammed shots of the over-the-top decor and cocktails. The drinks all had a holiday slant and name, such as I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus, with pink peppercorn- infused dry gin, Suze, Dolin Rouge and conifer. Other cocktails include Can I Interest You in Hanukkah? made with PX sherry, U-Bet chocolate syrup, Xocolatl mole and whiskey barrel bitters, cream and soda, and You'll Shoot Your Eye Out, with blended Scotch, pisco, Drambuie, lemon curd, pistachio orgeat and gingerbread cream. Most cocktails were priced at $12. This year, the Christmas bar will open the day after Thanksgiving, and run through New Year's Eve. It promises to be even bigger and better, involving all three of Drink Company's adjacent bars in the city's Shaw neighborhood: Mockingbird Hill, Eat the Rich and Southern Effi ciency. (All are overseen by Drink Company founder and bartender Derek Brown.) "Last year, we didn't know how crazy it was going to be," Fetherston admits. "This year, we're going in prepared and hiring an army of elves!"—KAM

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