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Marketing your restaurant

Starting a restaurant is still one of the most popular entrepreneurial ventures in this country. All sorts of people do it, from trained chefs with experience in other restaurants to immigrants straight off the boat looking for the American dream. Tons of factors go into whether a restaurant will succeed, from location and ambiance to the quality of the food. Of course today they also have to compete against the chains who have every part of the consumer experience down to a science. But still, many can succeed with hard work and the right formula.

Still, another important factor includes marketing and the intelligent use of promotional dollars. In today’s world, there’s a huge opportunity with social media. It’s no longer sufficient to just have a website. You need to have a Facebook page and a Twitter account, and you better be on top of what customers are saying about you on Yelp. Of course, older methods still matter. Menus can be like print brochures for your establishment, and you can save a ton of money with online printing. Radio and TV advertising can also help. But the best use of time and resources today just may be social media. Learn it, or find someone who knows about it to help you.

Decorate you man cave

With the 50th anniversary of the first James Bond film and the opening of “Skyfall,” the interest in James Bond memorabilia is definitely back, and it offers some cool ideas for decorating your man cave. The whole idea of a man cave has evolved, as many of them have wet bar or are located next to the grilling area, so in terms of food many guys have evolved beyond simple beer and chips. We’re also focusing on some bold furniture ideas as well to go along with the massive flat screen TV that’s a must in all of these rooms. Throw in a pool table and you’re making real progress.

But you want to add some character as well, and posters can go a long way here. Check out the classic “Goldfinger” movie poster above. A collection of classic James Bond movie posters properly hung after shopping for wholesale poster frames can add the final touches to your man cave, and it sets the perfect tone. Who else would appreciate the concept, even though Bond’s tastes are probably much more refined than the average guy. I guess you have to make sure your bar is properly stocked!

Offal = Awful

I won’t mince words here. The thought of eating offal–i.e. organ meats and other parts of animals–makes me want to hurl and/or run for the nearest exit. I won’t tell you that brains, tripe, eyeballs, hearts or blood in general don’t taste good. It’s just that I don’t want to try them to find out. I start gagging as the thought of something like that crossing my lips seems just wrong. It’s a mental thing with me. I can’t get past what I would be eating. Now, I did make an exception last year when we went to Graham Elliot in Chicago and had the foie gras lollipops. Those were decadent and delicious and I’d eat them again. But I won’t go much further beyond that. Heck, I only recently started enjoying fish.

I felt compelled to write about this when I saw Chris Cosentino win Top Chef Masters recently. Chris’s specialty is offal meat, as evidenced by this website of his. And he made tripe, blood sausage and some other really gross looking dishes on his way to winning it all. A few seasons ago on Top Chef Masters, they also had an episode where the contestants had to make things like tacos out of things like tongue. I’m sorry, but ewwwww. I often look at the judges to see how they react to this stuff. And I think that I could never be a full-fledged food critic because there are foods I won’t touch, much less enjoy, with a ten foot pole.

How about you? How do you feel about offal?

Product review: Planters NUTrition peanut butters

I’ve always loved peanut butter, but for whatever reason it’s the type of food that I eat for a while, and then take a break from it. So I hadn’t eaten any peanut butter in a few weeks when a food publicist I work with sent me the new Planters NUTrition peanut butters to try. There are three varieties–Banana Granola Nut, Berry Nut, and Cinnamon Raisin Granola Nut.

These aren’t just peanut butters, they are like mix-ins. If you like spreading peanut butter on, say, a granola bar, then this stuff is for you. The Cinnamon Raisin Granola Nut is the best one–it’s like cinnamon toast spread with peanut butter. It just works, has great flavor, and the crunch is an added bonus. The Berry Nut (with dried cranberries) is pretty good and a good one to spread on an apple. The Banana Granola Nut, however, I was not a fan of. It had the strong taste of a very ripe banana–which may appeal to some of you, but not to me.

As for the nutrition part, each serving has 6-7 grams of protein and at least 5 vitamins and minerals, and it’s a healthy snack when paired with fruit, whole grain crackers or breads such as bagels or English muffins, or in recipes. Or there is one of my other favorite ways–with a big spoon right out of the jar. Of course, you could be like George Costanza and use your “disgusting index finger.”

If you like peanut butter, you will love this stuff!

Product review: Green Mountain Naturals K-Cup Hot Apple Cider

Being a K-Cup Ambassador is really cool, and while our last review meant cool in the literal sense when we covered ice coffee beverages, September’s monthly mailing featured Green Mountain Naturals’ Hot Apple Cider. When you think about the Keurig concept and the fact that you don’t have to be limited to coffee and tea, the cool factor (there’s that word again) goes up even higher.

The cider itself is delicious–it’s made with just five simple ingredients, and you can tell because it’s not overly processed tasting–it’s a clean brew that is not too tart, not too sweet, and is perfect when it comes out at just the right temperature as well. It also tastes just like the cider you get at the pumpkin patch, as if you poured some from a jug and heated it up in the microwave or on the stove top. So for the convenience factor alone (the K-cup packs do not take up fridge space and it’s super easy to make a single cup).

So if you see this Green Mountain Naturals K-Cup Hot Apple Cider, go for it! All you need is one of those apple donuts they have at those fall pumpkin patch places.

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