Oldest Restaurants in the U.S.

The United States are home to thousands of restaurants covering every type of cuisine known to man. Some restaurants withstood the test of time, changing population, and economic fluctuations with grace and dignity. These are the oldest restaurants in America.

Fraunces Tavern
Established in 1762, this historic site serves up brunch, lunch, dinner, tapas, and features an expansive bar selection in NY, NY.

The Griswold Inn
Rustic American fare is on the menu at this landmark in Essex, CT established in 1776.

Union Oyster House
Started in 1862, this Boston, MA historic site still serves up your fill of oysters.

Antoine’s
This creole restaurant opened in New Orleans, LA in 1840. It is still owned by descendants of the original owner and boasts invention of Oysters Rockefeller.

Breitbach’s Country Dining
Opened in 1852, this family-run gem has survived two fires thanks to its loyal customers in Balltown, IA.

So, what sets these establishments apart? What is their secret to ultimate longevity? The answer lies in a unique combination of factors for each. Some of these factors we can see:

  • Timeless design and concept
  • Historical significance
  • Consistency in quality
  • Dedicated owner and staff

But, many of the reasons these restaurants still stand and serve are not as easy to discern. Perhaps each individual founder and owner had unique qualities and created lasting relationships. Maybe the way they make their food is unparalleled. We may never know the exact formula for creating a centuries-long culinary legacy. One thing is for sure, we have a lot to learn from these restaurants.

As you contemplate your new restaurant concept or pour through your own history, see if you have what it takes to last a couple hundred years. It’s clear legendary status hinges on the right combination of location, personality, food, and customer base. So, button up your chef coat and aim for longevity. 

Posted in Chef Coats

Fall Food and Wine Flavors

The air carries a slight chill, the leaves have a hint of color, and the meals are getting heartier. It can only mean fall is blowing in. The beauty of the season is in the bounty of its harvest. This is the time to infuse your menu with all those wonderful fall flavors paired with some scrumptious cold-weather wines.

Popular flavors in food and drink include:

  • Pear
  • Apple
  • Squash
  • Cranberry
  • Clove
  • Nutmeg
  • Cinnamon

While there is no hard and fast rule that says you must cook with these flavors or change your wine offerings by the season, it can be fun to explore fall’s fare.

Colder weather meals tend to be heavier and packed with a variety of flavors. Favorite wines in fall seem to follow suit. Look for wines that are heavier, oak-aged, and full-bodied to take center stage. You might even consider serving up a house-recipe mulled wine to peak interest. You don’t have to wear a sommelier’s apron to pair food and wine. 

You could stick with classic pairings like:

  • Sangiovese and tomato sauce
  • Pinot Noir with duck
  • Cabernet Sauvignon with steak

Or, you could try something different like:

  • Chablis with Elote
  • Spicy chili with Riesling
  • Semi-Sweet white with apple crisp

A few simple tips to match up great food and wine include:

  • Match the structure of the food with the structure of the wine
  • Offset a structural element of the food with the wine
  • Try regional flavors together

Fall food and wine pairings help chefs and guests get in the spirit of the season. Take care to consider how these flavors and tips can improve your business this fall.

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Pros and Cons of Mesh in Uniforms

Choosing the right fabrics for you kitchen uniform takes time and energy. The right fabrics can increase your comfort level and output while the wrong ones can distract you from your work. Before the widespread use of moisture-wicking materials was possible, mesh was the best way to keep cool. Many chef coats, kitchen shirts, and even chef pants offer options that include mesh panels and vents along the sides.

Mesh fabric is a knit that features small holes closely spaced together. This allows air to flow easily through the fabric. While this sounds ideal for hot workplaces like commercial kitchens, there are also some drawbacks. Consider the pros and cons before deciding whether mesh fabric deserves a place in your kitchen.

Mesh fabric has many great features including:

  • Wrinkle-resistant
  • Typically inexpensive
  • Often stretchy
  • Cooling/breathable material
  • Easy to wash
  • Comfortable

Some of the major downfalls of this fabric include:

  • Looks casual
  • Doesn’t provide protection for your skin
  • Retains odors if not laundered right away
  • The construction of the fabric is unstable which leads to shrinkage, stretching, and overall quick wear and tear
  • Can reveal too much skin if the holes are large enough and it hits you in the wrong places

Give all of these features, mesh is a popular fabric especially in clothing like athletic wear. Athletes need to feel flexible and cool to do their jobs, just like a chef or cook in a commercial kitchen.

When you are shopping for kitchen uniforms with style and function that include mesh, keep these tips in mind:

  • Look for mesh vents or panels in inconspicuous locations such as along the back near the shoulders or in the armpit area.
  • Choose a mesh with small holes that are close together so your skin isn’t visible.
  • Look for mesh panels that match the color on the clothing for a streamlined look and panels in a contrasting color for a more modern style.

The right clothing in the kitchen can make or break your day. Consider all the options, then choose wisely.

Posted in Chef Coats

Product Spotlight: Baggy Chef Pants

Baggy chef pants are an expected choice in kitchens around the world. The distinctive style paired with extreme comfort and flexibility make baggy styles coveted by back of the house staff. Those looking for this classic, comfortable style without a bunch of embellishment will appreciate these featured styles.

Basic Baggy Chef Pants by ChefWorks feature standard style and durability. Available in black or small check colors, these elastic waist pants also have a drawstring at the waist. The tapered legs and basic 2 front pocket/1 back pocket design offer comfort and versatility. Made from a cotton/poly blend, these pants are easy to wear and care for. Sizes range from XS-4XL. Pricing starts at around $25 each with 2XL-4XL sizes costing extra. As always when shopping with us, save big by buying in bulk.

 

Those looking for more modern features paired with that timeless style will love the Classic Baggy Chef Pants by Uncommon Threads. Made from recycled poly/cotton twill, these pants are environmentally friendly, easy to care for, and comfortable. The 2” elastic waist, brass zipper, and  three standard pockets keep in line with the classic feel. Available colors include black, chalkstripe, and houndstooth. Sizes range from XS-6XL with sizes larger than XL costing extra. Prices start at just over $25 each, with big savings when you buy in multiples.

Baggy-style chef pants are widely popular because they are comfortable and flexible for those long, hot, hard days in busy kitchens. Pair them with a kitchen shirt or chef coat and some stellar footwear for the perfect kitchen outfit. But, you don’t have to work in a commercial kitchen to enjoy the perks of these pants. Baggy chef pants are great for anyone working in similar conditions.

If classic style and modern comfort are on your wishlist, baggy chef pants are for you!

Posted in Chef Pants

When Change Makes Sense

Some restaurants thrive on their reputation for staying exactly the same across decades, while others keep guests interested by offering new menus daily. With so many successful restaurants using different strategies, how do you know if change is right for yours?

Knowing when it’s time for a change is part of being a successful restaurant owner or chef and takes some research mixed with gut instinct. While many embrace change, others have major concerns about how new menu items or decor will affect business. Sometimes changes help you gain customers by appealing to different crowds. The disappearance of long-standing favorites can also be a turnoff for loyal customers. But, what matters the most is the quality of their dining experience never changes.

The best place to start in deciding if your restaurant is ready for change is to look at the facts.

  • What dishes are selling and which ones aren’t? This may change over time, so be sure to evaluate your menu regularly.
  • Be aware of trends in the food industry. Does your menu support any new trends or does it leave out huge groups of diners?
  • Evaluate your finances. Are your costs too high?

Once you’ve done your homework and have a good handle on the numbers you can decide if change makes sense and if it should be big or small. The smoothest transition will come if you change one thing at a time, whether it be menu items or decor. This allows your service, atmosphere, and pricing to remain consistent with loyal customer expectations. Decide if you will make changes annually, seasonally, or in some other way. Once you have a plan, stick to it and ensure customers are aware.

If you’re ready to make some menu changes, there are many ways to start small and not replace your entire menu.

  • Keep your best-selling dishes and just change out the side dishes.
  • Have a separate specials menu that changes while the main menu stays the same.
  • Offer options so diners can decide whether they want to embrace the change.

There are many instances when change is warranted. However, there are cases where major changes don’t make a lot of sense. Restaurants with larger menus already provide tons of options so guests can have that feeling of adventure by trying one of the many items they haven’t already. Similarly, if you have a truly unique menu that guests won’t find anywhere else nearby they might not respond well to changes.

Restaurants are an outlet for culinary creativity and they are also businesses. Sometimes you have to turn your chef coat into a culinary suit jacket and get down to business. Change isn’t going to be embraced by everyone, but if you know your customer base well you can find ways to satisfy your desire for change and their desire for consistency.

Posted in Chef Coats

Sports Bar Basics

Sports bars are a staple of American food culture. Part of their popularity lies in the stadium-like atmosphere with a more affordable price tag. Sports bars not only offer a neighborhood feel, but also boast modern and classic American favorites. There are many components to a great restaurant or bar, but what makes a sports bar win over the crowd?

The hard and fast rule that all sports bars must follow is to put sports front and center. The idea is to create a place that feels as much like actually being in the stands as possible. A unique design and in-depth theme go a long way in sports bar success. From the name on the front of the building to the menu items and staff uniforms, every detail in a sports bar needs to be about sports. When choosing a theme, you can go as broad or specific as you’d like. Just make sure your market supports your theme. Some tried and true themes include:

  • One specific sporting event
  • Hometown teams
  • Sports mash-up including every sport imaginable
  • Locker room

Once you have a theme in place, the main attraction should be carefully planned out. Sports bars need to feature t.v.’s playing actual sporting events so that every diner can see and hear them. Large, high definition screens and a killer sound system are essential. Take it one step further by including playable games like darts or pool in a gaming area or featuring in-table games that guests can play while they wait for dinner.

The final component necessary to make any sports bar successful is the menu. Diners will be looking for foods reminiscent of what they might get tailgating or in the stadium. Staples include:

  • Beer
  • Fries
  • Hot dogs/sausage
  • Burgers
  • Sandwiches
  • Pizza
  • Nachos

Make a name for your establishment by creating one-of-a-kind versions of these classic American dishes. Slap on a clever sports-related name and make sure the food is a good value for the customers.

A sports enthusiast and creative chef make a great team in sports bar management. Grab your chef coat and baseball cap and start planning your sports bar.  

Posted in Chef Coats

Writing About Food

For those wearing a chef coat there are an endless array of viable marketing and business opportunities that pair well with actual food creation. One such option is writing about your food. From blogs to cookbooks, there are many ways any culinary professional can share their passion outside of plating food. Before diving into these deceivingly easy extracurriculars, consider what you’re really getting into.

Cookbooks

While most chefs don’t regularly use or hoard cookbooks, they do stock up on those that stand out. The real market for buying cookbooks lies with home cooks. Because of the audience, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before pursuing a cookbook.

  • Do I have a unique perspective, angle, idea to present? There are millions of cookbooks in the world, if yours is just going to be the same as many others, why should anyone buy it?
  • Do you feel a deep desire to create a cookbook or are you doing it for other reasons? If your motivation is not innate and strong, you may not make it to the end of this often lengthy process.
  • Are you looking to share your best/favorite recipes with the world? If not, a cookbook probably isn’t the best choice.

If you’ve decided a cookbook is the next step for you, be sure to include:

  • Forms of measurement specific to your audience
  • Larger print
  • Ingredients people can find, or list where to find them
  • Easy-to-follow directions
  • Specific sensory details at each step
  • Personal notes on preferred products, why this recipe is special, etc.
  • Great photos that actually depict the food as you’ve instructed

Blogs

Creating a cookbook is a great undertaking and a great risk. If you are looking for a different way to write about your food, blogging might be a better choice. Blogs should be:

  • Conversational
  • Provide a variety of topic areas
  • Consistent
  • Helpful and entertaining

While it can seem that blogging is simple and quick, when done well it actually requires a great deal of commitment. This is the place for readers to really see, hear, and feel who you are and what you are all about. It is a personal invitation into your culinary life.

Writing about food is evergreen, it never goes out of style. People will always need to eat and many will always need to find new ways or things to eat. If you’re looking for a long-term way to share your culinary passions, writing about food is for you.

Posted in Chef Coats

Product Spotlight: Bronx Bib Aprons

If you’re into street-inspired trends mixed with durable functionality, look no further than Bronx Bib Aprons by ChefWorks. These 100% cotton denim aprons pack a whole lot of style while meeting all the needs of modern day chefs.

The Bronx Bib Apron, 3 Pockets features an off-center chest pocket where the Bronx Bib Apron, 4 Pockets boasts a centered, layered chest pocket with pencil divide. Both aprons:

  • Are available in Black or Indigo Blue
  • Have double front pockets
  • Feature reverse fabric ties
  • Have adjustable metal neck buckles
  • Feature selvage edge pocket details and riveted pocket ends

For under $35 each, these trendy, durable aprons are perfect for restaurants and food trucks. Save up to 15% when you buy two dozen or more.

As with most of our apparel items, these aprons can be personalized in a variety of ways. Text embroidery is only an additional $9.95. With up to three lines of text, tons of thread color and font options, and eight locations to choose from, the possibilities are endless.

Logo embroidery is also available at only an additional $5.95. Upload your logo and choose from eight locations to make these aprons uniquely yours.

Outfit your servers, bartenders, or kitchen staff with these modern, durable aprons to help show off your personal style.

Posted in Chef Coats

Chef VS Cook: What’s in a Name?

One of the most widely argued aspects of the culinary world is the use of the words ‘chef’ and ‘cook’. While there is no clear agreement on who gets labeled with which term, there does seem to be a consensus that it doesn’t always matter. A chef and a cook are only as good as their products, so no matter the terminology success is determined by the individual.

Generally speaking, there are a few mostly agreed upon criteria that differentiate these two culinary artists.

Chefs typically:

  • Have some formal training whether it be formal education, apprenticeships, or extensive experience in the industry.
  • Are managers who oversee staff, create menus, and manage budgets.
  • Have been paid to cook or run a restaurant in some capacity.
  • Wears a chef coat.

Cooks typically:

  • Have little to no training and are self-taught.
  • Have never been paid to cook.
  • Make food for friends and family or work under a chef.
  • Wears an apron or kitchen shirt.

When you see it this way, it seems pretty clear cut. However, there are many that would argue this case. For some, the title matters for the sake of pride or marketing. For others, the title matters because of the hard work and dedication put into it. Then there are those who could care less what you call them, they let their food speak to their culinary ideals and talents.

By definition in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, a chef is “a skilled cook who manages the kitchen.” A cook is defined as “a person who prepares food for eating.”

It seems the answer to this age-old debate is left up to professionals and consumers to decide for themselves. Does the title matter to you, why or why not? If the food sounds, looks, and tastes good, does it really matter what the person who made it is called? This instance is one of few professional examples where a designated title does not necessarily require the acquisition of specific criteria.

Posted in Chef Coats

Creating a Refreshing Summer Drink Menu

Nothing says ‘Summer’ like a cold, refreshing drink. For those hot days and nights, a well-planned drink menu can set the tone for any summer party. From backyard barbecues to outdoor weddings, some drinks just taste better in the hot months of summer.

When creating a summer drink menu, drink specials, or personalized wedding beverages there are a few points to keep in mind.

The menu should:

  • Be small, 3-4 options will do
  • Include drink descriptions and/or ingredient lists
  • Offer mocktails and cocktails

The drinks should:

  • Be light, refreshing, and cold
  • Have creative, descriptive names
  • Feature local ingredients when possible – particularly in-season produce
  • Lower costs by utilizing the same ingredient more than once and eliminate the need for a fully stocked bar

Successful summer drink menus incorporate local goods, in-season flavors, and marketing techniques to form the perfect trifecta of beverage offerings. Limiting drink options to just those that can be made with the summer menu ingredients can help cut down on costs and take pressure of bartenders.

Summer drinks often feature unique combinations of standard ingredients. For obvious reasons, popular flavors include:

  • Berries
  • Mint
  • Lemon
  • Cucumber
  • Watermelon
  • Peach

Typical summer drink alcohols include tequila, vodka, and rum. For non-alcoholic drinks, lemonade, ginger soda, and club soda reign. Take any combination of these flavors and mixers, then add your own unique twist to make your summer menu stand out.

Creating a special summer drink menu is a fast and easy way to jump on the eat local bandwagon. Grab your chef coat or bartender apron, head to the farmer’s market, and get inspired by the colors and flavors of summer!

Posted in Chef Coats