Rapport Seattle

Rapport Seattle Bar & Kitchen
Capitol Hill
Seattle, WA

Rapport is a very innovative concept: It is a self- pour wine and beer restaurant where the guests visit the 90 some taps of wine and beer and make their own selections by the ounce. It is fun and very interesting and allows for sampling, tasting and enjoyment.

Rapport took over the Starbucks Café space at Broadway & Roy. This space lends itself perfectly to this concept. It is light and airy with plenty of glass with an interesting, contemporary finish.

By the way, Rapport does open at 7 am daily for espresso, pastries, and hand crafted breakfast and lunch items featuring house made biscuits to die for. The space lends itself to socializing with friends and family while still being very Covid safe. The food is very hand crafted and has many favorites like flatbread pizzas, charcuterie, and some marvelous small plates. Everything is really intended for sharing with one another.

This was a great project to work on and we still are involved. We assisted on the real estate, design & construction, financial modeling, business planning, funding, marketing & merchandising, systems & controls, and of course the menu.

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Sales Plan of Action for 2020

What were your sales in 2019?

How about 2017 and 2018? What do you think you will do in 2020? I like to budget anywhere from 3.5%-7% increase for the ensuing year. Why? Well, we all need goals and objectives to move our business forward. I know many operators are not necessarily thinking about their sales goals let alone creating a plan of action to improve one’s sales.

  1. What areas do we excel in and which ones need improvement? Send a note to your key members of your team and ask them this question and to list their answers in the following categories:
    • Concept
    • Facility
    • Service
    • Management
    • Food Program
    • Beverage Program
    • Marketing
    • In-store Merchandising
    • Sales
    • Other
    • In the note show them the previous 2 years in sales and what you think the operation can do in 2020. This should be a discussion point in the next step.

  2. Assemble a master list from the responses. Send this back to the team to think about each line item in each category and ask them to be prepared to discuss what the team can do to enhance the Brand and as a result increase the sales.
  3. Then, Assemble the team for a 1-hour meeting to discuss the findings and what they feel might be a good plan of action in each area going forward to improve the business. Generally, people sign up for certain tasks and accountabilities during this meeting.
  4. Write up the Plan with tasks and accountabilities of each person. This is just memorializing what has been discussed and resolved in step 3. Be sure to Prioritize the tasks. Sometimes long lists can be daunting, and people have a harder time finding their own priorities, so it is up to you as the leader to designate these.
  5. You as the owner/manager of the business will need to have a short visit with each team member each week to review their task list, how they are doing and what you can do to assist them to achieve success.
  6. Publish the weekly/monthly sales to team members showing the differences in the current year (2020) from 2019 and 2018.
  7. Meet monthly with the team for 1 hour to discuss sales, obstacles, successes, ways to adjust the pathways, etc. You should discuss the sales increases/decreases and why the sales changed and what you can do to move them in an upward manner. Sometimes the Plan needs to be changed. Don’t be fearful of doing this but make sure the team buys into any changes.

For assistance in the planning and facilitating of this process call Arnold at 206.679.1037. He has done this a number of times with various teams and sales do go up. This is a guarantee.

Farm 12 logo

Farm 12

Farm 12 is a retired tulip and daffodil farm in the Puyallup Valley which has been converted into a 100 seat restaurant and a 400 seat banquet center.

We assisted on the:

  • concept
  • planning
  • design & construction
  • menu development
  • equipment purchasing
  • interviewing
  • hiring and training with written documentation
  • and follow up for the ensuing year

Website: www.farm12.org

Farm 12 is owned and operated by www.stepbystepfamily.org, which is a non-profit operation which offices on the property.

Profit Erosion In A Very Tough Labor Market

August 2019 Newsletter - Profit Erosion in a Tough Labor Market


My kitchen labor cost is way up and my kitchen staff turnover is ridiculous.


Most of my time is spent running ads, interviewing (if they show up), hiring and trying to train the new people and then they don’t show up for work 20% of the time. This feels like an endless struggle. Help!


We believe that all our people should be treated with respect and dignity and regard them as assets of the business. If you do this then you will create longevity with employees.

So, how did RGI help with the solution?

We are meeting with management and ownership on spending more time with their people in short one on one meetings and sometimes one on two or three meetings.

We coach on listening, asking good questions, being concerned about the staff member’s well-being, and understanding their concerns. We discuss granting staff members to make more contributions to the business and the environment.

We follow this up with one on one meetings with management to check on their progress with staff members.


I am seeing the staff becoming more engaged in their work and seeing and hearing contentment within the ranks.


Food cost while maybe not going up needs to go down to help subsidize the increases in kitchen labor cost.


Be very careful about raising any prices to get a better food cost. Now is not the time to better one’s food cost through price increases. The marketplace wants more and more value not more and more price increases.


  1. I suggest you talk with your vendors about value propositions to help you achieve your cost goals.

    The suppliers are in for the long haul and are “your partners” in your business. I have found visiting with them about your dilemmas with costs has proved to be quite fruitful for the clients. It is just a matter of working with them on a closer basis.

  2. The second part of the food cost is to evaluate each item for its cost and see if there is any trimming in order with regards to the ingredients and the specifications.
  3. Fully engage your chef to be the driver on this process. Have him show you in writing and in metrics weekly what he has accomplished in terms of costing and bringing the overall food cost down. Track the purchases weekly and compare them to the sales.

RGI helped on this process by working through each one of these items with calls to vendors, evaluation of each item food cost and then working closely with both the chef and management to help engineer the food cost down.


I’ve seen this year food costs go down some 2%-4% this year by following the above pathway.


Part of reducing kitchen labor cost is scaling the prep work and making some menu items adjustments.


  1. Take all your daily prep items and list them on a sheet with a time spent for each task. This chart will show you where you are spending your time in the prep kitchen. I’ve seen prep reduced in the kitchens up to 20% when doing this study.

    One group was spending 2-3 hours per day making house-made crackers to serve with an appetizer dip. When we costed out the labor to do this task, we saw that we were spending $60/day, 6 days/week or $18,720 + the labor taxes of another $3000 or over $21,000/year. I am going to guess that you have several of these prep items on your list.

  2. I also found that some of the prep people were inadequately trained by the chef’s own admission, so we discussed furthering the development of these people through additional training. We want the prep person to feel good about what they are doing so we gave them a pathway to furthering their productivity which directly resulted in their salary level increasing.

    When explained well and when shown how to do the work more efficiently they got faster, and they made more money. Win-Win deal.

  3. Here is another item I found out about. I have a good friend who manufacturers high end sauces, marinades and dressings. The restaurants of course make all their own sauces, marinades and dressings because this is what prideful kitchen staffs do.

    Well, when doing a blind taste test of these various items we found out the manufactured ones exceeded the flavor of ones we made ourselves. And we now reduced the workload of the kitchen staff.


I’ve seen labor cost be reduced by 10%-15% and we are working on this more to get better results but still paying “good-great” wages and maintaining a prideful, happy kitchen.

This service to management takes several hours per week of intense discussion with management and ownership to discuss the process, monitor the actions and view the results and then start the process over again until we achieve our objectives.

Generally, I’ve seen a total reduction of costs about 5%-8%. It takes some time, but it is well worth it to all concerned.

Evaluate Where We Are & Where We Want To Go

“Do I need to rebuild/remodel my brand”?

And if so what are the steps required and where do I start?

Step 1: Idealize my Goals and Objectives for the ensuing year.

Here are some sample goals to look at:

  • Increase same store sales
  • Increase profitability
  • Enhance frequency of guest visits
  • Be the “go to” place in the neighborhood
  • Sustainability over the long haul
  • What makes us Unique
  • Staff Longevity
  • Pricing Strategy/Value Proposition
  • Data recording and feedback to the key stakeholders
  • And the list goes on…

Often, I hear the following with independent operators: “I am busy every day. I can hardly keep up. I don’t have any time to think this through. I am being reactive vs proactive. I am frantic. I say, STOP! At least stop for a moment and think this through a bit.

Let’s quantify your goals and aspirations for 2019 on paper. Sit down in a quiet area and write out a list. Make it extensive. Do not leave anything out no matter how little you believe the item to be. Go back the next day and review it again to ensure it is as complete as you can make it.

So, before you take this list and make it into an action plan you need to go through a process of evaluating your Brand. This process will include some “fact finding” and then some “idea formulation.”

The fact fining includes interviewing key stakeholders (your team) on what they think the Brand is, identifying your target markets and conducting some informal market research on how the public perceives your restaurant and how they perceive other like type restaurants. The internet can be very helpful to ascertain this info as well as some informal chats with guests and other operators.

Take all of the data you have and combine it into a short but succinct “white paper report” to give to your key stakeholders data to review and comment.

Step 2: Have a Meeting with the Key Stakeholders to Discuss the Findings and what should be added or deleted in order to form a re-versioned Brand and Plan of Action.

In the Brand Vision or idea formulation we would spend time discussing redefining the brand vision, the unique properties of the Brand, and what would be the ranking of these properties to the target market.

Step 3:-Develop Action Plan with Task Assignments and Timeline meet on an ongoing basis (weekly) to discuss the progress. Sometimes the progress can slow down because other operational issues “get in the way”. This is ok. You as the leader need to coach them through this in order to get the results. Don’t be impatient but be firm and active on the task accomplishments by the key people. Stay the Course!

Step 4: Measure the Results and show them to the team. You will find out you may need to do some “course corrections” to get to the end zone. Improvisation is going to be needed. It is ok to adjust as you go through this process but do not lose sight of the end zone.

For assistance in going through this process call Arnold Shain at 206.679.1037.

Promoting Gift Card Sales

Did you know that 30% of all gift cards purchases in restaurants go unredeemed?

We make a big deal of promoting gift card sales each and every year and each and every year our gift card sales go up. First, set a goal. It can be $5000, $10,000 or whatever you think makes sense. Do not set your goal too low!

Task List

  • Take inventory of gift cards, envelopes and card holders.
  • Set the dates – November 23-December 31.
  • You need POS for gift cards to include table tents, check presenters, danglers from the ceiling and/or lobby posters.
  • Decide on a guest incentive – it could be:
    • buy $100 and get $20 bonus card
    • buy $100 for $80
  • Develop a server/manager incentive and contest – use the LET’S SELL GIFT CARDS tracking sheet posted in the employee area.
    • First one to $500 gets $50 cash or anything you feel is appropriate.
    • First one to $1000 gets another $50 certificate.
  • Promote gift card sales on your social media weekly.
  • Coach staff per shift to reach their goals.
    • Maybe offer extra incentive one day per week. Anyone who sells $200 today gets $50. Pay the cash out at the end of shift.
    • Sometimes I’ve used an incentive with the guest that if they buy a card now, I’ll take 10% off of their bill. It works!

The end result is that staff will be excited which makes the guest excited. The service is better and the staff will sell more food and beverage at the table and the guest has a better time and everyone is happy.

Contact Restaurant Group

If you need a bit of coaching and encouragement call me and I can come to your business and help you. This is a really good promotion and you need to do it.

For more information or questions, please contact Arnold Shain at arnoldshain@restaurantgroup.com or by phone at 206.679.1037.

Jesters – Bellevue

Jesters-an Australian Pie Company
Bellevue Square
Bellevue, WA

  • Source Prime Location/Negotiate the Lease
  • Design Development/Construction Management
  • Menu Development
  • Staffing-Hiring & Training
  • Develop Operations Manuals
  • Set up Bookkeeping & Management Reports
  • Marketing & Merchandising

We took an existing Australian based concept, Jesters, which is small hand pie concept and then found a high profile location in Bellevue Square. The design and build out are stunning. Working hand in hand with ownership we developed the fillings to meet American taste profiles. Some of the pies offered are a deluxe double cheeseburger, tenderloin steak & mushroom, rosemary chicken, minced beef & mashed potato, just to name a few. Jester pies uses high quality, local and natural ingredients. All menu items are free of artificial flavoring and hand-made fresh to serve to customers. We searched for the “best” staff, trained them thoroughly and developed a full set of operations manuals. The store is to open the end of February. The first of many!

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