How to Host a Fundraiser Night in Your Restaurant

As a restaurant or bar owner, you may get requests from local groups who want to host a fundraiser night at your venue. Hosting a fundraiser night can be an excellent opportunity for your restaurant or bar to give back to the community and create some regular customers. If you're on the fence about hosting these types of benefit nights at your establishment, then take note of some of the following tips, and see if hosting a fundraiser night would be a good idea for your restaurant or bar.

Why Host a Fundraiser Night?

Hosting a fundraiser night in your bar or restaurant is a big commitment. Not only do you have to set aside a certain amount of time for the event, but you may also have to create special menu items and advertise your event. But, the pros of holding events in your space outweigh the cons. Here are a few reasons why you should host a fundraiser night in your restaurant or bar:

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  • You can interact with your community. Partnering up with local organizations like schools, PTA groups, sports teams, and booster clubs allows you to build brand recognition and loyalty in your area.
  • It can bring in new business. Hosting a fundraiser can be a great way to advertise your establishment and bring in new clientele that have never visited.
  • It can boost your profits in the short and long term. While you are donating a portion of your profits toward a charity or cause, typically you will see increased traffic on fundraiser nights, so you can still increase your short-term profits. Plus, by hosting an event, you're creating goodwill with your community and convincing customers to come back, helping to increase your profits in the long term.

How to Plan a Fundraiser Night

Once you have decided to host a fundraiser night and have picked an organization to work with, there are some other things to consider. For example, how you're going to donate the proceeds of the event and how to advertise your event.

Decide How You're Going to Donate

It's very important to be upfront and clear with the leader of the group wanting to host their event at your venue. While you want to donate a fair portion of the proceeds to your cause, you need to make sure that hosting a fundraiser night is fiscally viable for your establishment. When deciding how much you want to donate and how you will divide the earnings, there are a few options you can consider:

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1. Donate a certain percentage of the night's total sales. Typically this amount ranges between 10 and 25%. Donating a percentage is the most convenient option, as you can simply offer your regular menu items and then donate a portion of your profits for the night toward the charity or cause of your choice. While this is the easiest option, it also depends on a sizeable turnout to be a profitable idea.

2. Create a new menu item and donate all sales from that specific dish. This option gives you an opportunity to show off your creativity. You can also customize the recipe to reflect the organization or cause that you're supporting, such as Cajun food for hurricane relief in the Gulf region or pink lemonade and vodka to support breast cancer research. Creating a drink special is an excellent idea because each guest can order more than one, whereas with appetizers and main dishes, each person typically only orders one.

3. Offer a prix fixe menu at different price points. For example, you can offer an affordable option that includes a sandwich, side dish, and a drink and a more expensive option that includes an appetizer, entree, and cocktail. This is an appealing choice because it makes customers with varying budgets feel welcome in your establishment. It also gives guests an option on how much they want to donate to the cause. Depending on your menu items and which meal package your guests choose, this option can have a large profit margin.

Choose a Time for Your Event

When you host a fundraiser night at your establishment, you want to acknowledge the request of the group, but you need to make sure you're not interrupting your busiest night. Generally, you'll want to host a fundraiser night on one of the slower days of the work week. That way, you're not missing out on potential sales, and you're bringing in more business on a typically slow night. You'll also want to set a timeframe for your event, so you don't interrupt your regular business too much. The ideal timeframe would be four or five hours in the evening, like from 5pm to 9pm.

How to Advertise Your Fundraiser Night

Once you've made plans for your fundraiser night, you need to get the word out so that people show up to your event. Here are a few tips on how to advertise your fundraiser night:

Use Social Media

Your best tool for free advertising is social media. You can take advantage of your establishment's various social media accounts to notify the community of your upcoming event. Additionally, people who see your posts on social media can share them, helping amplify your reach.

Use Print Advertising

Old fashioned advertising methods like printing flyers work wonders, as well, especially for engaging with your community that is not connected with you via social media. To make your flyers stand out from the pack, use bright and colorful paper with big, bold lettering that will grab people's attention. You can also use door hangers to advertise in nearby neighborhoods.

Offer Incentives

Another way to bring customers to your event is to offer an incentive or discount. For example, you can mail out coupons for the event that are good for a free appetizer or drink. While this will cause you to lose some money upfront, the increased traffic and orders will make up for the loss. Additionally, you can sell tickets ahead of time for your event. Selling tickets for your event makes it feel more exclusive and creates a sense of urgency. Plus, if someone buys a ticket, they are more likely to attend the actual event and make purchases.


After your event has ended, make sure to post on social media how much money your fundraiser raised. You can also thank your guests for coming and donating their time and money, leaving them with a good feeling and encouraging them to become repeat customers. Hosting a fundraiser night is an excellent option for restaurants and bars, as you can increase your short-term profits and cultivate long-term customers while supporting a worthy cause.

5 Drinks of Summer

If you're looking to revamp your restaurant, resort, or nightclub's drink menu, our list of five of the most delicious drinks of summer is a great place to start. These cocktails blend a variety of fresh herbs and fruits with boozy favorites like gin, vodka, tequila, and wine for the ultimate blend of summery flavors. From caipirinhas to sangria, these five drinks of summer are crowd pleasers that will also raise your establishment's profits. Keep reading for recipes and directions!



1. Caipirinha

Brazil's national drink, caipirinhas combine lime and a sugarcane spirit called Cachaca for a sweet and tart concoction your guests will love.

Caipirinha

Caipirinha Ingredients

Yield:1 cocktail

  • 1/2 quartered lime
  • 1 tsp. white sugar
  • 1 1/2 oz. Cachaca

Directions

1. Muddle the lime quarters in a rocks glass.

2. Add sugar.

3. Add ice.

4. Add Cachaca.

5. Stir and serve in a rocks glass over ice.


2. Applejito

Your guests already love the refreshing taste of mojitos, but why not kick it up a notch by adding delicious apple juice?

Applejito

Applejito Ingredients

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 1/3 cup vodka
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 1 oz. bar syrup
  • 10 mint leaves

Directions

1. Add the bar syrup to a cocktail shaker.

2. Muddle the mint leaves in the shaker.

3. Add vodka.

4. Add orange juice.

5. Shake and pour the cocktail into a highball glass over ice.

6. Garnish with mint and apple slice.


3. Gin Basil Smash

This unique cocktail blends the savory flavor of basil with lemon juice and gin, so it's perfect for your more adventurous bar guests.

Gin Basil Smash

Gin Basil Smash Ingredients

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 4 oz. gin
  • 2 oz. lemon juice
  • 2 oz. bar syrup
  • 10 basil leaves

Directions

1. Add basil leaves to a cocktail shaker.

2. Add lemon juice.

3. Add bar syrup.

4. Muddle the basil leaves, lemon juice, and bar syrup together in the shaker.

5. Add gin.

6. Pour the cocktail into a rocks glass over ice.

7. Garnish with basil leaves and lemon twist.


4. Mexican Mai Tai

This tasty drink swaps out rum for tequila and adds an almond-flavored liqueur called orgeat and orange curacao for a unique twist on a classic tiki bar cocktail.

Mexican Mai Tai

Mexican Mai Tai Ingredients

Yield: 1 cocktail

  • 1 1/2 oz. tequila
  • 1/2 oz. orange curacao
  • 1/2 oz. orgeat
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • Rimming salt

Directions

1. Pour the liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker and shake them thoroughly.

2. Rim a margarita glass with salt.

3. Shake the cocktail and pour it into the glass over ice.

4. Garnish with a lime slice.


5. Peach Mango Summer Sangria

Fresh fruit, wine, and Grand Marnier mingle together to make this drink a summer favorite that's perfect for serving a crowd.

Peach Mango Sangria

Peach Mango Summer Sangria Ingredients

Yield: 1 pitcher

  • 1 cup Grand Marnier
  • 1/4 cup bar syrup
  • 1/4 cup mint
  • 1 bottle white or blush wine
  • 1 diced mango
  • 2 sliced peaches
  • 1 cup seltzer water (optional)

Directions

1. Pour wine into pitcher.

2. Add sliced mango and peaches.

3. Add mint leaves.

4. Add Grand Marnier.

5. Add bar syrup.

6. Stir and serve in stemless wine glasses over ice.


Be sure to stock up on these essential supplies for your bar to craft your own creative cocktails:



Whether you run a poolside tiki bar or a tropical resort, these five drinks of summer are must-have additions to your cocktail menu. In addition to being easy to make, they take advantage of fresh ingredients to wow your customers' taste buds. So, stock up on the ingredients and supplies you need, teach your bartenders how to make them, and start stirring!

Posted in: Recipes | Seasonal | Bars & Breweries | By Nora Fulmer

5 Tips for Outdoor Catering

Now that summer is underway, more and more events are being held outdoors. These warmer months are the perfect time for large events like weddings, picnics, and festivals. Taking on outdoor events can open up a number of opportunities for your catering business, but first, you must be ready to create dishes outside of a typical kitchen setting. Check out our top 5 outdoor catering tips to help you get prepared for your next outdoor event.

1. Get Familiar with Your Outdoor Venue

If you are able, visit the site well in advance of the event, so you can plan your outdoor catering setup and see the resources that are available to you. The venue layout could dictate what equipment you’ll need to bring, and it also could impact your serving plan. For example, if you’re working out of a truck that needs to be parked out of sight from guests, it’s important to know how far your servers will need to carry dishes and other supplies from your preparation space. A long distance or unmaintained path could slow things down and cause a holdup if you don’t account for it ahead of time.

If you are unable to go to the venue before the day of the event, be sure to contact the location’s representative and talk to them about the site plan. Remember to ask about even the smallest details that you might have discovered if you had seen the site. Asking about the terrain, electrical hookup placement, and light levels can easily be overlooked, but these details could influence how you are able to work on the day of the event.

2. Know Your Zoning Restrictions and Have the Required Permits

Especially if you are working in a temporary event space like a closed street or parking lot, there may be zoning restrictions for the event based on your local government’s policies. Zoning ordinances define how particular geographic areas, or zones, can be used and are principally used for differentiating between commercial and residential spaces. In many places, permits are also required for approval from the health department, fire marshal, and other officials. If you aren’t planning the event, make sure that you know what the approved plans are, so you can avoid fines.

3. Plan Your Menu According to the Space

When choosing your menu items, consider how the outdoor conditions could affect what your guests would like to eat. The available space, time of year, and even noise level can factor into what kinds of foods your customers could be looking for. For instance, if your eating area is right next to speakers that are playing music loudly, some patrons may not want to sit for very long and would prefer easily portable food to take to a quieter location. Customers in crowded eating areas may feel the same way. On the other hand, guests at an outdoor wedding are typically prepared to remain seated for a full meal, no matter the noise level or number of people present.

4. Have an Inclement Weather Back-Up Plan

One of the trickiest parts of outdoor catering is the weather. Precipitation can put your meal service out of commission if you are not properly prepared for it. At the same time, do not make the assumption that your event will be cancelled if the weather turns out to be less than ideal. In addition to providing shelter for guests, remember that your equipment will need to be protected. While preparing for your event, take the time to find out if the extension cords and generators powering your equipment can be safely shielded from rain. Many outdoor catering supplies are not completely weatherproof, so cover over your preparation area is a must-have in order to keep them safe. Failing to prepare a contingency plan could leave you scrambling on the day of the event and may hinder your ability to perform your duties.

5. Choose Equipment That is Compatible with the Event Space

Without the comforts of a kitchen, having the right outdoor catering equipment for your space can determine how smoothly your event runs. Below are some key components to consider when deciding how to create your temporary outdoor kitchen.

An Electrical Power Source and Hookups

Having an electrical power source is useful for any refrigerators or holding cabinets you may need for food preparation. Even if the venue provides them, consider having a generator and extension cords on hand to ensure that your equipment can be powered when you arrive on site. When purchasing a generator, make sure that its voltage is compatible with your equipment. You do not want to invest in a generator with a lower capacity than your equipment requires.

Liquid Propane or Natural Gas for Cooking

Decide whether you would like to work with liquid propane or natural gas as your heat source for cooking. Liquid propane is more energy efficient, so you may not need to bring as many heavy tanks with you to your location. On the other hand, natural gas is often more economical than propane. When selecting your power source, do not feel limited by which option your equipment is already set up for. In many cases, you can purchase conversion kits to make your supplies compatible with your selected source. Be sure to arrange for a professional to safely install your conversion kit in advance of your event.

Portable Cooking Equipment

If you cater outdoor events often, you may want to invest in mobile outdoor catering equipment. Supplies like portable outdoor grills and portable gas ranges are easily moved from one site to another. Additionally, many options are designed for simple setup, so you can connect to power and begin cooking.


Catering outdoor events can help your business to make the most out of the warmer months. Before you take on an outdoor event, refer to our top 5 outdoor catering tips to learn about what kinds of supplies and strategies are required for a successful event.

Posted in: Catering Tips | Seasonal | By Christine Potts

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

If you're like me, you can't start your day without a cup of coffee or three. Coffee is one of the most popular drinks in the United States, and a report showed that over one-third of the U.S. population drinks coffee daily. Due to its popularity, baristas are constantly experimenting with inventive ways for people to get their caffeine fix.

One of the newest crazes is cold brew coffee, which is when the coffee is brewed at room temperature or in the refrigerator over a long period of time, typically overnight. The result is a rich and full-bodied coffee that is strongly caffeinated without the bitterness and acidity of drip or French press coffee.

Why Cold Brew Coffee?

  • It has a silky smooth flavor. When making hot coffee, the boiling water burns the beans, which gives the brew an acidic and bitter flavor. Cold brew coffee steeps at room temperature or in the refrigerator, so you get a rich and smooth taste without the bitterness.
  • It's strong. Cold brew coffee is, on average, much more potent and caffeinated than drip or French press coffee. Plus, because the coffee is already cold, you don't have to worry about diluting it with ice.
  • Cold brew coffee is versatile. You can make your cold brew concentrate stronger or weaker by adjusting the ratio of coffee beans to water. For a stronger concentrate, use more coffee, and for a weaker concentrate, use more water. You can also serve the concentrate with cream, milk, or water for a lighter flavor. If you prefer a steaming cup of coffee in the morning, you can even microwave the cold brew until it's piping hot.
  • It's cost effective. Our recipe yields 6 gallons of cold brew coffee, which is 96, 8 ounce portions. If you sell each portion for $3, that's $288 in profits from a $15 bag of coffee beans.
  • You can make it in bulk. Because cold brew coffee takes so long to make, you can easily prepare one big batch and portion it out as necessary. One batch of cold brew coffee can stay in the fridge for two weeks.

How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

One of the best things about making cold brew coffee is that there is a lot of room for adjustments and versatility. For example, you can let your coffee grounds steep in any large container you have on hand. If you're making small batches, preparing cold brew coffee in mason jars can add a fun and interesting twist. When straining cold brew coffee, there are a few different options. You can use several coffee filters, but cheesecloth is the best option. This is because Cheesecloth is very fine and can strain out many small particles that other filters will miss.



Cold Brew Coffee Concentrate Ingredients:

  • 5 lbs. of coffee beans
  • 3.5 gallons of water

Cold Brew Coffee Equipment:


Step-by-Step Instructions: How to Make Cold Brew Coffee

  • 1.

    Grind your coffee beans on the coarsest setting. Your ground beans should be chunky, similar to the texture and size of Kosher salt.

    2.

    Place your coffee grounds in a 22 quart container and add 3.5 gallons of water. Stir until the coffee is thoroughly moistened.

  • 3.

    Let your coffee steep for 18 to 24 hours.

    4.

    The following day, strain your mixture through a chinois and cheesecloth. Don't press down on the coffee while it is straining because it can add bitterness and acidity. Strain the mixture a second time, if necessary.

  • 5.

    At this point, your coffee is ready to drink, but there will be some silt leftover. If desired, put the concentrate in the refrigerator until the silt settles at the bottom of your container.

    6.

    Pour your cold brew concentrate into another container, leaving the silt behind.

  • 7.

    Add water until you have a 1:1 ratio of clean water to coffee. Serve your coffee over ice and add milk, cream, or simple syrup to taste.

One of the best things about cold brew coffee is how adaptable it is, and you should play around with the recipe until you find the ratio and strength that works best for you. This recipe can also make cold brew coffee concentrate, which you can use if you prefer your coffee strong or if you want to make coffee smoothies and frappes. To make a cold brew concentrate, simply skip adding a 1:1 ratio of water in the last step. Just be warned that the concentrate is very strong and slightly bitter, so if you're planning on serving it black, it's best to dilute it with water first.

Posted in: Coffee & Tea | Recipes | By Richard Traylor
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