Indonesian Makes it in Chicago

October 24, 2014 by
Oscar Setiwan, Gastro Guide

Oscar Setiwan, Gastro Guide

Sticking to classic Indonesian street-food recipes and keeping the business in the family is how Rickshaw Republic has maintained success—and a loyal customer following. One of the first Indonesian restaurants to stake its claim in Chicago, you’ll not only leave satisfied but you’re likely to have learned something about the region where the recipes are from—Palembang in South Sumatra.

In honor of Taste of Groupon we thought we’d spotlight some of the awesome restaurants using Breadcrumb who have found success with their unique ideas and perspectives on how to make it in this industry. We took some time to chat with Oscar Setiwan, co-owner and the son of chef Elice Setiwan (mother), to talk about Rickshaw, what makes it successful and why mom is always right.

When did you know you wanted to be in the restaurant industry?

My mom has been a chef for awhile but we hadn’t owned a restaurant until two years ago. I knew I wanted to do this in order to help my mom’s dream come alive. Prior to Rickshaw Republic, she  worked at a high school kitchen, opened a catering business, and worked at a small fast-food counter place in Boston, so we’ve always been involved in the food business.

How did the idea for Rickshaw Republic come about?

We sat down with the family and it was the right timing—our finances were good and we found a place for the restaurant. There are also no Indonesian restaurants in Chicago so we felt it was the perfect opportunity.

What does it take to be a chef?

  1. Passion about food and working hard to perfect your craft
  2. Ability to learn as you go
  3. Perseverance—never give up
  4. Flexibility

What’s your favorite dish and recipe?

Beef Rendang: A beef curry that’s very popular in Indonesia with over 27 spices and braised overnight. We Only use the freshest ingredients so  it’s very prep-heavy. If you have the time, check out our recipe and give it a shot at home!

Beef Rendang

Beef Rendang

What’s the most common kitchen mistake you’ve seen over the years?

Trying to put too many items on the menu at the sacrifice of quality. We started with the most authentic, select dishes. You want to start small and go from there, train staff, etc. Newer restaurants should open with a smaller menu and go from there. You have to master select items. Specializing in a few items is really good—that’s what people are looking for and what you become known for.

Is it complicated to run a business with your family?

The good part is that we have known each other for a long time—we know each other’s likes and dislikes, avoiding a lot of common problems that new partners encounter. Our arguments are how to serve the customers the right way—my mom is more traditional, I’m more modern—but we end up coming up with great solutions. We also get a lot of feedback from customers and try to incorporate it within reason. It’s ultimately up to us how we want to serve it even if it’s a 100-year-old recipe. Most fights I lose to my mom. She knows the food.

What are your thoughts on the recent responses to picky customers from restaurant owners, such as Mission Chinese Food’s use of MSG and SO Restaurant’s infamous “We don’t give a sh*% about gluten free” rant?

The customer needs to understand what caused that to happen. For example, we do have several options for gluten-free or peanut-free; we can accommodate but I do understand. Some restaurants draw from a recipe that’s 100 years old and they want to execute that item. Some food can be accommodated but it won’t be good. It’s important to stay authentic, because it’s served this way. If you’re allergic, we recommend different items that could work. We want to represent the authenticity of the food we serve. It’s very different than a diner where food is made -to -order.

What does the future hold for Rickshaw?

We were talking about opening a second location but it would probably be a different concept. Probably a different name but still revolving around our roots.

Why do you choose Breadcrumb?

It’s a revolutionary POS system. Breadcrumb takes all of the extra hassle out. It’s in a tablet we can carry around and I love it because we can show customers how tech-savvy we are. Waitresses can walk around with it and put the order in the tablet and it looks really cool in the front of house.

On the backend, Breadcrumb saves us hours and hours of work reconciling. It’s all in one in Breadcrumb HQ. It also helps me in planning for the future. I can see what the most popular items are, what aren’t, and why…how many mistakes we’ve made on any given night and we have the numbers to back it up.

Interested in learning more about why Oscar uses Breadcrumb? Visit us for more information on Breadcrumb’s iPad cloud-based point of sale system at Breadcrumbpos.com.

 

Whisky Meets Jerky at Third Rail

October 24, 2014 by

 

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Jeff Lyon, Co-Owner at Third Rail

Third Rail is the latest from the team behind one of San Francisco’s favorites, Range: former bar manager Jeff Lyon and chef-owner Phil West. The concept was inspired by the location’s railyard past, with local beer and wine on tap, craft cocktails and plenty of jerky to pair with your drinks. That’s right—not cheese, jerky. And it is delicious.

For the next in our series of interviews spotlighting some of our favorite restaurants and bars in honor of Taste of Groupon, we had the chance to sit down, grab a drink and chat with bar manager and co-owner, Jeff.

How did Third Rail come to be?

I had been the bar manager at Range for some time and had decided that I eventually wanted to open up my own place. Lacking the ownership experience or capital made the first steps pretty daunting. I started having conversations with Phil and Cameron (the owners of Range) about my long-term goals and eventually Phil approached me about partnering up. We began the process by going out to every bar we could think of to drink, eat, and discuss what we wanted and what we didn’t. Pretty soon we had a clear picture of what we wanted.

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Why the Dogpatch?

We really liked the idea of being in a neighborhood that was on the verge of blowing up. The area is definitely growing but to many people it’s still the frontier over here. The area seems hip without being hipster, which is pretty refreshing! Actually, when Phil and Cameron were looking for a spot to create Range, they considered the Dogpatch but that was over 10 years ago and it was even more industrial and isolated. So they went with Valencia and 19th, which was pretty undeveloped at the time. Things have certainly changed! We expect the same kind of growth from the Dogpatch.

What was the most challenging aspect to opening the bar?

That depends on the hour you ask me. The design and build process was slow, long, and frustrating. I didn’t take a day off until the bar was six months old and most of those days were 14 hour days, so that was tough. Not being able to spend more time with my wife was very difficult! Now that we’ve been open for a little over nine months, the main challenge is to get more and more people excited about Third Rail. We have a great group of regulars but it would be great to keep expanding our fan base.

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How do you stay ahead of, and prepare for, consumer trends?

We don’t really focus on trends but instead try to do what we do really well. Sure, if everyone wants bourbon drinks, we’ll deliver. We’re not going to fill our cocktail list with aquavit, grappa, and brandy just because we like those spirits, but we’re not trying to pander either. We concentrate on making tasty, balanced cocktails and jerky, and we trust that our bartenders can guide our guests through the menu and beyond.

What is the most popular drink?

The namesake Third Rail is the most popular. It’s easy drinking and is fairly simple: bourbon, Lillet, lemon, honey, and orange bitters. We have regulars who only drink this one.

What’s the secret to turning a one-time visitor into a regular?

It’s about making a connection. Every bar has a lot of booze to offer and so many places have a great cocktail list but I really feel that it’s about sharing a laugh or just having a decent conversation with someone. Bring a little humanity to the situation. It’s just a bar, after all. I’ve even had people come in who practically broadcast that they don’t like cocktail bars, often for pretty legitimate reasons. But we try to take it beyond just exchanging some money for a fancy drink. We don’t always succeed but we try.

Are there any mixologists out there changing the game?

I have a ton of respect for the bartenders who are bringing hospitality back to the bar world. There are hundreds of men and women out there who can make a killer drink, but the ones who can make people feel welcome—those are the good ones!

Bars tend to come and go—one minute they’re hot and the next they’re not. How do you stay relevant?

I’d love to know the answer to that one! My guess is that to stay relevant, you have to be sort of timeless. Warmth in your personality and coldness in your drinks is timeless. Obscure tinctures, housemade bitters, and esoteric, 15-ingredient cocktails are not essential.

What’s the hottest ingredient for fall?

Not sure yet! We’ll see how this drought affects us.

What’s the best way to get a bartender’s attention?

Patience, eye contact, a smile, and a distinct lack of desperation.

What is your favorite Breadcrumb point of sale feature?

I like how easy it is to add and edit items and menus. I can do it on the bar terminals, in the office, or at home. I also like many of the report features. It’s fairly easy to track items or revenue trends. The whole staff also loves the search feature.

Groupon Interviews Celebrity Chef Carla Hall

October 23, 2014 by

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Today Groupon is kicking off Taste of Groupon, a celebration of the best of breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a selection of the most in-demand culinary experiences around. As part of this mouth-watering week, Groupon will be donating meals to Feeding America*, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief charity.

Here at Breadcrumb we thought this would be the perfect opportunity to celebrate the amazingly diverse and successful restaurants and bars using Breadcrumb—Taste of Breadcrumb. We’ll be running a series of interviews with restaurant and bar owners, managers and chefs as well as posting some photos of favorite places we’ve eaten at.

Today we start with a great interview with celebrity chef Carla Hall. Ms. Hall also volunteers with Feeding America.

A version of this interview first appeared on The Groupon blog.

GROUPON: How did you first discover Feeding America?

CARLA HALL: I first discovered Feeding America when I joined ABC’s, The Chew. One event in particular stands out for me. While we were creating food bags (for Feeding America), I remember handing out the food to people who look just like people I work with every day, people who looked just like me. Food insecurity doesn’t have a face or a sex, that’s when it dawned on me how dire the food issues are in this country.

GROUPON: What’s something unique about Feeding America that sets them apart from other hunger-related charities?

CARLA HALL: Feeding America is an amazing organization that encourages anyone and everyone who wants to get involved find some way of contribution that’s right for them. From organizing a food drive, to launching a virtual food drive online, to donating your spare change at your local grocery star through Coinstar, there are ways to give that fit everybody’s lifestyle.

GROUPON: What’s the first dish you remember cooking and feeling proud of?

CARLA HALL: Chicken pot pie. Took me three days to make it, or it felt like it at least! Complete with store-bought crust. I was so proud.

G: You’re from Nashville. What’s your favorite place to eat there?

CH: It’s hard to say. … There are so many I love! My two favorite places for hot chicken are Hattie B’sand Prince’s, probably.

G: Today, you’re a host on The Chew. Who’s your dream guest for the show, and why?

CH: My grandmother. She’s passed away, but she was the one who inspired me to cook, and she’d be so proud for how far I’ve come. I’m sure she’d also get a kick out of knowing that I’m known for my Southern cooking and that I’m using her food in a restaurant concept.

G: Do you have any fun, behind-the-scenes stories about your Chew cohosts?

CH: Mario [Batali] and Michael [Symon] play tricks on one another. Like the time when Mario put salt in Michael’s coffee. Another time, Michael put a brick in Mario’s bag so that when he grabbed his bag, it was really heavy!

G: What’s an unexpected difference between cooking on TV and cooking in your kitchen?

CH: The biggest difference between cooking at home and on TV is time limits. When cooking on TV you typically only have five minutes—maybe two segments if you’re lucky—to teach someone how to make a dish. At home there’s typically no time limit. Also, while you’re on TV you have to talk through your dish, forcing you to multitask. When you’re home, you’re primarily focusing on what you’re making.

G: What’s the worst mistake you’ve made in the kitchen, and what did you learn from it?

CH: Serving undercooked chicken. I learned that no matter how much someone is expecting their meal, you need to make sure it’s cooked properly.

G: What’s your favorite dish to make for a family dinner?

CH: A big pot of black-pepper chicken curry, and it’s also great for the next day. I call this the one pot wonder.

G: What’s your favorite dish to bring to a potluck?

CH: My sweet and savory Petite Cookies. The savory ones are great before the meal, and the sweet ones are the perfect little nibble after, even for the person who doesn’t like desserts.

*One meal will be donated to Feeding America for each Taste of Groupon deal that’s purchased, up to 500,000 meals.

Buying Equipment for Your Restaurant

October 22, 2014 by

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Opening a restaurant is exciting, but there’s a lot you need to learn, including how to buy restaurant equipment. Buying a stove or pots and pans for your home can be fun, but with a restaurant there are a lot more decisions to make, not to mention expenses. It’s important to remember that food supplies  and equipment intended for home use simply won’t work for a commercial kitchen.

Plates intended for a family kitchen can’t withstand the constant use and washing of a restaurant. Home cooktops and mixers are not large enough to serve a commercial kitchen. However, if you have a favorite brand of dishware, cookware, or equipment it’s worth inquiring if the brand makes a commercial version.

Before looking for equipment or other restaurant supplies make sure to give some thought to your kitchen design and menu. You don’t want to buy a range top only to discover that it doesn’t leave enough room for the chopping station.

Restaurant equipment can be purchased either directly from a manufacturer or from a distributor representing mutliple lines. Food supply companies such as Sysco also offer other restaurant products. It may make sense to buy the majority of your supplies and food from one company so as to establish a relationship and take advantage of better pricing.

Used Equipment
It’s a sad fact that a lot of restaurants don’t make it. That doesn’t mean that their restaurant equipment was to blame. There are many resources for buying used restaurant equipment including auctions. If you are renting or buying restaurant space from another restaurant owner, you should inquire as to whether you can purchase the equipment. With used equipment you want to look for top of the line brands and equipment that isn’t more than three years old. You may also want to consider “scratch and dent equipment.” That is, equipment that looks a little used, but was actually just a floor model. However, if you plan on inviting guests or investors in to your kitchen you’ll want to make sure your kitchen looks as good as the front of the house. Overstock items are another affordable possiblity. Keep in mind that most used restaurant equipment does not include a warranty.

Pricing Strategies for Your Restaurant Order System

October 14, 2014 by

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With food costs rising and an impending increase in minimum wage, a lot of you may be wondering—are my menu prices right? Whether you’re a new restaurant owner or you’ve been in the industry for awhile, reviewing your menu and setting prices can be a daunting task. Even as consumers we’ve often wondered, how did they decide on that price? This is how.

Food Costs

The most important factor when pricing your menu—how much does each dish cost to make? This includes the cost of every ingredient, from the protein to the vegetables to the spices. On average, food costs run about 33% of your menu prices, though this can differ (see pricing calculator below). For example, if you’re running a fine-dining establishment you’ll typically see higher food-cost percentages than you’d see at a quick serve establishment. Percentages will also vary from item to item where entrees often have higher cost percentages than soups and appetizers.

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When setting prices don’t forget to consider your sales mix, you can often increase prices on lower-cost items to offset the higher-cost ones.

Additional Costs

There are a lot of additional costs to consider when setting prices, chief amongst them: labor, overhead and giveaways.

Labor Dishes that require a lot of time, effort and talent merit a higher price point. Not only are the ingredients a factor but you also have to pay and train the staff to prepare the dish properly. Anything that is made from scratch in-house will cost more than something that simply requires heating and serving.

Overhead While these costs aren’t as prevalent, it’s still important to keep in mind. This includes decor, product presentation and marketing efforts that go into not only each dish but keeping your restaurant up and running.

Giveaways Often forgotten about but important to remember, keep in mind any free bread, tortilla chips, salsa, butter, etc., that is given out—be sure to include this cost and add it into your menu prices.

Competition

Keeping an eye on what your competition is doing is smart and they’re likely keeping an eye on you! Take a trip and visit a competitor—what are their prices? What are their portion sizes and presentation? Are they busy and during what times? You can learn a lot from seeing what a competitor has to offer and where you can incorporate, and even improve upon, some of their ideas.

What Has Worked, What Hasn’t?

What are your customers loving? It’s always important to answer this question on a regular basis. This helps you to not only understand your customers but it will also help you lower your overall food cost. If there are items you’re not selling, do away with them and save yourself the additional cost of stocking up on the ingredients specific to the dish.  For commonly used ingredients, research cost-saving options such as a cheaper vendor or substituting ingredients for similar but more affordable options.

Menu Editing Tool

Decided to raise your prices? If you’re a Breadcrumb user, save time and make changes to your menu on the fly using the menu editing tool!

Visit us for more information on Breadcrumb POS at Breadcrumb.com.

Following the Breadcrumb Trail with Founder, Seth Harris

October 7, 2014 by

View profile at Medium.com

The Breadcrumb trail

Top Whisky Drinks to Keep You Warm

October 6, 2014 by

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It’s official—we’re whisky lovers. With the days growing shorter and the weather turning colder, why not turn on the heat and impress your customers with some of these hot whisky-inspired drink recipes? Top 5 whisky drinks to keep you feeling warm and fuzzy inside:

Hot-Toddy

 

The Perfect Hot Toddy

Why start with anything other than the classic hot whisky drink? Not only does this one warm us up but anytime we’re feeling under the weather, this seems to pick us right back up! See the full recipe on Blue Apron.

Hot Cocoa & Kilbeggan Whiskey

Hot Cocoa & Kilbeggan Whiskey

Hot chocolate is a winter staple that deserves to have a companion—Irish whiskey. This recipe Serves 4-6, more at The Kitchn.

hazelnut whisky

Hot Buttered Hazelnut Whisky

Considering our love for the most hazelnut of hazelnut snacks—Nutella—this drink is sure to keep us warm and happy. May even replace our Nutella-and-toast breakfast routine. Recipe available on Adventures in Cooking.

Chai Toddy

Dirty Chai Toddy

Next time you’re craving a chai latte from Starbuck’s, or a hot toddy, consider this glorious union of both; it may put that extra hop in your step! Recipe available on Food52.

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Hot and Nutty Whisky Sour

Last, but certainly not least, another version on a favorite classic: the whisky sour. Martha Stewart, you’ve nailed it again with this recipe!

Michelin’s 2015 New York City Ratings Out!

October 1, 2014 by

 

Michelin came out with their ratings for New York City today and there were some notable ones that we’re huge fans of as well! No huge surprises this year but Brooklyn and Queens are gaining more and more notable traction in the culinary world. Find out who’s in (and who’s out) and where to start making reservations. (If you’re still not sure what all of this Michelin-hype means, your secret is safe with us, here’s a brief history).

Here are some Breadcrumbers we wanted to give special shout outs to—congratulations!!

Three Stars

Chef's Table at Brooklyn Fare

Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare

Two Stars

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Atera

One Star

Delaware & Hudson

Delaware & Hudson

 

The Musket Room

The Musket Room

 

Telepan

Telepan

ZZ's Clam Bar

ZZ’s Clam Bar

 

Hot New Restaurants We’re Excited About This Fall

September 17, 2014 by

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If this fall is any indication, the polar vortex will be a distant memory. Grab a pen, pull up your notes app on your smartphone—these are the restaurant openings you can’t miss this season.

Berg’n Brooklyn has become the hotspot for young, ambitious chefs, and Berg’n is no exception. Smorgasburg founders Eric Demby and Jonathan Butler have opened their massive food and beer hall in Crown Heights. Inside the former garage are food counters from Mighty Quinn’s, Asia Dog, Ramen Burger, and Pizza Moto, plus a well-stocked beer bar and plenty of picnic tables. There’s also a coffee bar in the morning, oyster happy hours, weekend brunch, and the occasional DJ set.

Brooklyn Fare The Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, Brooklyn’s only three-starred Michelin restaurant, is coming to Manhattan! This local favorite that became a very well-known hit is setting another table. So, for those of you who don’t want to make the trek to the other side, you’re covered.

Mulino a Vino Another new welcome addition to Manhattan making some noise but this one is taking a unique approach—order your wine first then pick food that will pair well with it. Italian chef Davide Scabine, who runs the Michelin-starred Combal.Zero is behind the menu at Mulino a Vino where dishes will range from traditional pasta bolognese to a cacio e pepe bombolone.

DBGB Kitchen + Bar Chef Daniel Boulud has returned to the city he got his start in—in Washington, D.C.’s downtown’s CityCenterDC development. DBGB opened last week to rave reviews and is the first time Boulud’s company, the Dinex Group, has done a project outside of New York with no hotel partnership. D.C. is a tough city to make it in but we’re sure his menu—featuring everything from burgers to boudin blanc—will prove to be a hit.

Lazy Bear This is one of San Francisco’s most highly-anticipated pop-up restaurant and, judging by the success and word-of-mouth, there’s no chance of chef Daniel Barzelay’s life slowing down anytime soon. Lazy Bear’s brick and mortar is set to open September 25th in the foodie-saturated Mission district, mark your calendars!

Merchant James Beard Rising Star award winner Gavin Kaysen, former executive chef of NYC’s Cafe Boulud, is breaking out on his own with his new restaurant in his hometown of Minneapolis. This much-anticipated opening is back by some serious top chefs including Daniel Boulud and Thomas Keller. Set to open in November, Merchant could give Thanksgiving a run for it’s money.

Butcher’s Bistro The space at 2233 Larimer St. in Denver—formerly occupied by chef Jeff Osaka’s Twelve—will be the new home of Butcher’s Bistro, a “rustic American” restaurant and retail shop focusing on Colorado-sourced meats like beef, lamb, pork, and poultry. Look for dishes like cassoulet, house-made charcuterie, bone marrow, short ribs, and sausage-sampler plates.

Stay up-to-date on the latest industry news by following Breadcrumb on Twitter or Facebook!

Got Whisky?

September 9, 2014 by

We took a look at the most popular adult beverages sold across Breadcrumb’s biggest cities (San Francisco, New York and Chicago). What do your customers want and how does your bar compare?

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