Keep informed of the latest news, trends, strategies and tips for Restaurants


Our Dads Recommend the Perfect Spots for Father’s Day Dining

Posted by Kate Seiferth | 6/12/2014 | Restaurants

Are you looking for a place to treat your dad in the Chicago area this Father’s Day weekend? Check out these tasty picks from the dads around our office. Whether your dad prefers Mexican to BBQ or steak to burgers, our dads have the perfect recommendation to make this your dad's favorite Father's Day ever!

Brian Pautsch wouldn't turn down a trip to Mama Maria’s Taco and Tequila Bar in Orland Park, Illinois!  Dads who appreciate a fine tequila and a sizzling fajita platter will love this place!

Chris Pautsch is a foodie with a taste for the fine dining at Perry’s Steakhouse and Grill at Oakbrook Center. For several years now, Chris' urge for a great steak has subconsciously limited his options to those well-established, go-to fine steak restaurants in Chicago such as Gibson’s, Smith & Wollensky, and Kinzie Chophouse. However, in an effort to avoid the long drive to downtown Chicago from the suburbs, a recent impromptu dinner with friends landed him at Perry’s Steakhouse and Grill in Oak Brook, Illinois. They found the restaurant spacious with a contemporary atmosphere and chose to sit at a table in the bar. The group started with orders of the Cherry Pepper Calamari and the Asian Ahi Tuna Tartar, which were exotic and tasty. Next, Chris had the delicious Iceberg Wedge Salad with Applewood Smoked Bacon. For dinner. he devoured the 12oz. Filet Mignon topped with a perfect helping of crab meat (Oscar style). It was perfectly prepared, and he says it was one of the best steaks he ever had! Desert included a shared order of the Warm Chocolate Cake and Rocky Road Bread Pudding and both were excellent. They finished off the night with a glass of Port. They had such a memorable meal and experience, it is now on their top 10 lists for steak joints. Perry's is having a special on their famous Pork Chip entree for Father's Day so call now to reserve a spot for your pop!

Geoff Skyles says take your dad to Sweet Baby Ray's! Geoff would love to go to Sweet Baby Ray’s in Elk Grove Village, Illinois, which usually has a Father’s Day brunch. But he's not positive they are having one this year. Bummer, Geoff. Sweet Baby Ray's is the perfect choice for the dad who loves to BBQ but wants to relax on his big day even without a special buffet.

Keith Franklin has a taste for the Meed, a honey wine, at Ethiopian Diamond, or the margaritas could pull him in the direction of a Mago Grill and Cantina. Keith also says he wouldn't turn down a trip to Florence, Italy for some authentic Italian food. Since you eat off a shared platter with your hands and Injera at Ethopian Diamond, Keith says that it is a real family experience. Followed closely by Mago Grill & Cantina with their great margaritas and not your run of the mill Mexican food. These restaurants are fabulous for a dad with a taste for the exotic or a father with a flair for adventure.

Dan Strabbing likes that the kids are entertained at Dave and Buster's and Meatheads. Dan prefers places that keep the kids entertained as well as fed so he says Dave and Buster’s is the best place ever to go with his kids. There are a lot of food choices, but really his family goes there for the games. The kids love the racing games and games that award tickets so they can pick out a toy when the family leaves. Another place Dan and his family like to go a lot is Meatheads. They have really good food, but they also offer small extras to keep the kids entertained. They give each kid a little gift bag that has an activity sheet – connect the dots game, etc. – but also has Wikki Stix. Dan's family uses them to make glasses, bracelets, crowns, animals or write their names. But the most fun Dan says is when he makes handcuffs and tells the kids they can’t escape from him. They laugh when they break them. Dan says that they also have temporary tattoos that the boys like to put on their arms. Both places are really fun for families of all ages and dads of all ages, too. (We think Dan is using his kids as an excuse, and he really loves it more.)

Mike Biasi picks dinner with Da Coach at Ditka's. This is a great selection for the Chicago sports fan dad who appreciates a good steak and a cold brew.

Restaurant Trends for the New Year

Posted by Patricia Gorecki | 12/11/2013 | Restaurants

The new year is quickly approaching. 2014 is set to continue blurring the lines of hospitality, as vegetables are incorporated into desserts and ice cream sandwiches get the gourmet treatment.

MojoBistro has the rundown on what is sure to be trending in the restaurant industry starting in 2014.

Ice Cream Sandwich

Top Food Trends for 2014

  • Ice Cream Sandwiches: As food trucks and pop-up restaurants continue to grow in popularity, these portable desserts are about to get the same treatment as the cronut of yesteryear.
  • Seafood: Sea-to-table will introduce far out fish dishes including octopus and monkfish liver.
  • Combinations: Unusual pairings are sure to be a hit. Follow in the well-received footsteps of the ramen burger or dessert pizza with your own concoction.

Infused IceTop Beverage Trends for 2014

  • Tea: Tea is the hot item for 2014. Look for the introduction of tea cocktails in the coming months.
  • Infused Ice: Bars and restaurants are enhancing the flavor in their drinks with infused cubes of ice. From herbs to lavender, cocktails are sure to be filled with new flavors.
  • Drink Fusions: Restaurants will continue to expand their food/drink combinations. Spiked snow cones and other treats are set to remain on menus into 2014.

Top Restaurant Trends for 2014Top Restaurant Trends for 2014

  • Multipurpose Dining: It is two restaurants in one. Look for local eateries to begin implementing a more multipurpose design with fine dining on one side and a more casual atmosphere on the other.
  • Specialized Ethnic: 2014 introduces the concept of hyper-local ethnic cuisine. From small geographic regions to a single city focus, specialized ethnic cuisine is becoming very specific.
  • Tableside Service: From the traditional—tableside guacamole—to the exotic—tableside margarita carts—tableside service is getting a renewed focus in 2014. These entertaining presentations are sure to delight customers and translate to an increase in sales.

Looking for more tips and trends? Check out the MojoBistro Blog for the latest news and inspiration.

Thanksgiving in Chicago: Dining Out Options

Posted by Patricia Gorecki | 11/27/2013 | Restaurants

Still recovering from last year’s deep fryer disaster? Overwhelmed with the task of feeding the entire family? Scrambling for a last minute solution following a kitchen melt-down? We have got you covered with our top picks for dining out in Chicago this Thanksgiving.


(312) 573-5160
11:30 am to 6:00 pm
$130/person, $45/children
Located in the Ritz-Carlton, deca offers an unparalleled Thanksgiving day brunch and dinner. Go traditional with brined and roasted turkey, sauteed green beans and cranberry chutney or try something out of the ordinary with seafood gumbo and sushi and sashimi prepared to order. Do not miss out on dessert which includes such sweet options as pumpkin pie, cinnamon flan and cranberry almond puffs. 


(312) 917-3404
11:00 am to 6:00 pm
$70/person, $65/senior, $40/children
Spend your Thanksgiving meal at the luxurious Palmer House Hilton with seating options available in the dining room or mezzanine, overlooking the hotel’s historic lobby. An expansive spread starts with autumn greens and Belvedere cheeses before moving on to entrees of smoked lake trout and maple honey molasses-roasted turkey. As an added bonus, children five and under eat free.


(312) 360-9500
2:00 pm to 7:00 pm
$65/person, children’s menu available
Delight your taste buds with a four course menu fit for a true foodie. Pumpkin raviolo, wild boar terrine, fame consomme and turkey roulade all promise a savory take on your Thanksgiving staples. Just make sure to save room for some pecan ice cream.

Looking for a budget-friendly option for your meal? Here are some great choices for $60 and below.

Big Jones

Big Jones: 
(773) 275-5725
$48/person, $20/children
Celebrate Thanksgiving the Southern way with a Southern-inspired feast from Big Jones. Deep-fried turkey, giblet gravy and cranberry sauce are sure to please. Dessert options include sweet potato pie, coconut cream cake and bourbon bread pudding.

Mity Nice

Mity Nice: 
(312) 335-4745
12:00 pm to 7:00 pm
$47/person, $17/children
Head to Water Tower Place for Mity Nice’s annual Thanksgiving dinner buffet. Oven-roasted turkey, pineapple glazed ham and traditional sides such as stuffing, brown-sugar glazed sweet potatoes and green bean casserole are sure to please even the pickiest of eaters. Leave room for dessert, with options ranging from pumpkin chiffon and pecan pies to chocolate layer cake and New York-style cheesecake.


(312) 266-6691
11:00 am to 8:00 pm
$49/person, $24.50/children
Offering the largest selection of menu items out of all the restaurants on the list, ZED451 has got your family covered. You can be sure that everyone can find something to enjoy with their bountiful Thanksgiving buffet.

Celebrating the epic holiday mash-up that is Thanksgivukkah? We have just the place for you!

Red Door

Red Door: 
(773) 697-7221
12:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Gourmet dining at a reasonable price meets the holidays at Red Door’s Thanksgivukkah feast. Dine on everything from roasted turkey breast and brussel sprouts with lamb bacon to noodle kugel and latkes.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Delicious by Design

Posted by MojoBistro News | 11/18/2013 | Restaurants

Restaurant DesignYour restaurant's interior design is key in selling your brand. A great atmosphere and ambiance can set you apart from the competition and lead to success. The National Restaurant Association has put together some great tips on how to update your restaurant to help you stand out from the crowd.

  • Let your restaurant's personality drive your design. Your look should reflect your concept and menu.

  • Keep it timeless. Focus on creating a design that will withstand the test of time and will still look fresh 15 or 20 years down the line.

  • Use your design to tell your story. Include some unique, personal elements in your design. Customers will enjoy seeing those little touches throughout your restaurant.

  • Looking for some more tips on how to design your restaurant for success? Read the entire article here.

    Study: Consumers to dine out less often in 2014

    Posted by MojoBistro News | 11/4/2013 | Restaurants

    Consumer SurveyAccording to a twice-annual survey conducted by the North American Restaurant Consumer Sentiment Review, restaurants' key concern for 2014 will be maintaining customer traffic. Consumers are reporting that they plan to eat out less often in the upcoming year, but the reason why may surprise you.

    Health concerns tops the list of reasons for limiting the number of restaurant visits, surpassing concerns of budget constrains and other financial woes.

    National Restaurant News' Lisa Jennings has more information on the survey findings that health concerns trump saving money in consumer plans to curb dining-out.

    With the increased competition, what can you do to set your restaurant apart? Check out the MojoBistro Blog for tips and inspiration on maintaining and building upon your restaurant's success.

    Restaurant Marketing Myths

    Posted by MojoBistro News | 10/14/2013 | Restaurants

    Restaurant Marketing MythsYou've decided to spend some time dedicated to marketing your restaurant. You do some research, ask friends and family, scoped the internet ... and you are all ready to go with your restaurant marketing campaign. But are you sure you've gotten the best advice?

    The internet is full of ideas and "rules of thumb" for marketing a business, but many times, these cookie-cutter ideas are not the best fit for your situation. To bring some clarity to the situation, Jeffrey Summers, founder of Summers Hospitality Group, has outlined some of the top myths surrounding restaurant marketing. Check out his article, Restaurant Marketing Myths and Bad Best Practices for the inside scoop.

    Looking for tips on how to do restaurant marketing the right way? Find great tips and ideas with our Mobile Marketing Blog Series!

    Restaurant Marketing Ideas for October

    Posted by MojoBistro News | 9/30/2013 | Restaurants

    Apple CinnamonIt’s that season again! Pumpkin spice, cinnamon apple and harvest flavors galore! Fall is the perfect time to ramp up your restaurant marketing. The month of October is full of festive food focused days that create the perfect starting point. From National Caramel Custard Day on the 3rd to National Chocolate Day on the 28th, you are sure to find inspiration for your next marketing campaign. Looking for some ideas? Make sure to check out this piece from for some more ideas and motivation.


    Marketing to families: Promotions, pricing, presentation

    Posted by MojoBistro News | 9/9/2013 | Restaurants

    Many restaurant customers are families with children under 12. Still, it’s often easy to overlook kids this demographic as vital parts of a restaurant’s service and marketing strategy. Why should you be sure to pay attention to this segment?

    Dining with Family

    Because nearly seven out of 10 consumers say they take into account a restaurant’s family or child friendliness when choosing where to dine, according to National Restaurant Association research.

    “Parties with children under 12 account for $17.7 billion in annual restaurant spending,” says Ian Davidson, brand insight senior manager for C3, a marketing agency that specialized in children and family promotions.

    “The degree to which kids are considered depends on the brand,” says A.J. Mesalic, general manager of Las Vegas–based The Family Hospitality Group, which specializes in children’s premiums and ways to engage and entertain kids. “When they are considered, they can boost the bottom line. Bob Evans is just one good example. By revamping their kids program, they increased their revenue by 30 percent in that segment.”

    Mesalic also maintains a long-term view of children at restaurants.

    “Beyond being customers, children are the future of the restaurant industry. The positive experiences they have at your establishment now can attract them to the profession – and even to working for your restaurant – later on. It’s important to always create comfort and familiarity between families and your brand.”

    Here are six ideas to help you enhance your appeal to families:

    1. Designate a family night. Create one night, such as Monday, as a “kids eat free” promotion. Those promotions often are successful at casual-dining restaurants and can help boost dinner sales.

    2. Aim your marketing at Mom. Moms want their kids to be treated special, so you’ll win them by how you make their kids feel, says mom blogger Julie Casey, known as the Restaurant Mom.

    3. Develop a coupon strategy. Although many restaurants have robust coupon strategies to encourage repeat visits, many overlook families, says Ian Davidson, brand insight senior manager for C3, a marketing agency that specializes in children and family promotions. Create coupons that allow patrons to bundle low-priced individual items for combination meals. Such promotions are particularly successful at quickservice operations.

    4. Stand out from the crowd.Offering memorable presentation will encourage children to ask their parents to revisit your restaurant regularly. “Presentation is a must for children, and marketing/promotional materials should reflect that,” says Jennifer Bilbro of consulting company Out to Eat with Kids. “Variety is essential.”

    5. Engage young guests through interactive activities.Casey encourages operators to offer a variety of games and interesting content on take-home menus and update them regularly. “If kids like the restaurant’s play materials, they’ll take them home.”

    6. Consider digital entertainment.“Kids as young as 12 months are playing games with their parents’ technology,” Casey says, noting that many children are using their parents tablets or smart phones on the way to or from the restaurant.

    “Digital gaming is the modern bridge between parents and children,” says Ian Macdonald, managing director of Kidzsmart Concepts, a Canadian marketing company that specializes in children’s promotions. “It is where restaurants will need to go in marketing to the whole family.”

    Dining with family at restaurants

    An example of digital gaming is the Legend Hunters game for Texas Roadhouse. The program features an ongoing story with characters discovering legends such as Blackbeard. A QR code on children’s menus activates a downloadable application for their parents’ iPhones, smartphones and tablets. Kids can then color scenes from the story, save or print them, upload them to their Facebook pages or e-mail them to family and friends.

    Mesalic of the Family Hospitality group says digital entertainment is the future. He recommends designating at least six tables for kids’ entertainment, depending on the restaurant’s concept and size. “This engages kids in a branded experience that can occupy them for a good part of their restaurant visit.”

    By understanding and adapting to children as profitable and influential customers, you have great potential to grow your business well into the future.

    Source: National Restaurant Association,

    Annual Gallup poll shows Americans retain positive view of restaurants

    Posted by MojoBistro News | 9/4/2013 | Restaurants

    Americans continue to view restaurants in a positive light, according to a Gallup survey released last week. The restaurant industry was again found to be one of the most highly regarded business sectors in America – a position the industry has held since Gallup started its annual poll of consumer perception of industries in 2001.

    This year, restaurants came in second only to the computer industry, with farming and agriculture ranking third.

    According to National Restaurant Association research, 93 percent of Americans say they enjoy going to restaurants, and 79 percent say that dining out is a better way for them to make use of their leisure time than cooking at home.

    Restaurants are also strong contributors to the nation’s economy and to local communities. Employing more than 13 million people, the restaurant industry continues to post job growth at double the rate of the overall economy and is expected to outpace overall employment growth for the 14th consecutive year in 2013.

    In addition, more than nine out of 10 restaurants are actively involved in charitable activities. Collectively, the charitable contributions of the nation’s nearly one million restaurants are estimated to reach up to $3 billion each year.

    The Gallup poll asks Americans to rate industries on a scale from "very positive" to "very negative." Lowest on the list this year are oil and gas, the federal government, and the healthcare industry.

    Source: National Restaurant Association,

    Report: Deals not driving restaurant traffic

    Posted by MojoBistro News | 8/26/2013 | Restaurants

    Offers must be revamped to attract younger diners, NPD researchers say

    Restaurant Traffic ChartDeals and discounts did not drive restaurant traffic in 2012 as much as they did in prior years, and operators need to re-engineer offers to appeal to younger diners, according to research released Monday by The NPD Group.

    Restaurant visits driven by a deal or discount declined 3 percent for the year ending in December 2012 compared with the prior year, according to Port Washington, N.Y.-based NPD’s foodservice market research.

    Researchers blamed the decrease in deal traffic on the increased reliance on bundled meals and value menu offerings, tactics that many restaurant chains used last year with the hope of weaning consumers off of straight discounts.

    “Deals and special offers definitely influence restaurant visits, and if it weren’t for deals during the recession, the industry would have fared much worse, but some of the deals being offered today aren’t resonating with consumers,” said Bonnie Riggs, restaurant industry analyst for NPD.

    In 2008, when consumers were hit hardest by the recession, restaurant visits based on deals or discounts rose 5 percent, while non-deal traffic fell 1 percent, NPD said. That trend continued into 2009, when deal-related traffic rose 3 percent, while non-deal traffic declined by 4 percent.

    By 2012, however, those trends were reversed. Deal-related restaurant traffic fell 3 percent last year, and non-deal traffic rose 2 percent.

    One factor may be that many restaurant deals, such as "two for $20" lunch deals in casual dining, have been in place for several years now. “After certain deals have been in the marketplace for a while, they become the norm," Riggs explained. "It becomes no longer a deal to consumers."

    In addition, in the quick-service world, in particular, the disparity between deal and non-deal pricing is shrinking, she added. That factor has hurt traffic among younger consumers specifically, an age group that continues to be very price sensitive.

    Going into 2013, value remains top of mind for all consumers, especially as the payroll tax increase and rising gas prices take a toll on discretionary spending, said Riggs. NPD has projected that overall traffic overall will remain slightly negative in 2013, especially among full-service restaurants.

    The NPD report, “Planning for Growth in the New Normal Marketplace,” explores how restaurant operators can rethink their value message. “Considering current consumer sentiment and their continuing frugality, the deals that have historically appealed to restaurant customers need to be re-engineered and the next generation of deals introduced,” Riggs said.

    Mobile CouponsRestaurant operators are going to have to get more innovative and creative, she noted. “They’re going to have to make deals seem like something new and different.”

    Coupons — especially those available on restaurant company websites — continue to be traffic drivers, Riggs said, while bundled meals and value menus are not as effective in getting diners through the door.

    “People tend to want a discount on regular menu items, things they like,” said Riggs, rather than targeted items with low prices. “You can have something that costs $1, but if it’s not decent quality and doesn’t taste good, it’s not worth $1.”

    Looking for innovative ideas to drive traffic? Check out MojoBistro's Coupon Feature for details on how app coupons can help your business!

    Source: Lisa Jennings, Nation's Restaurant News,

    Restaurant Owners: How to Deal with the Deals

    Posted by Mike Mulhausen | 11/12/2012 | Restaurants

    Dealing with Restaurant Deals
    Some restaurant patrons have become addicted to the deals and discounts restaurants offer them.  Discounts have become the crack cocaine of restaurant marketing. And like any drug, it requires more and more to get any response at all.

    This dilemma is magnified through the recent scrutiny of daily deal websites like Groupon, who offer deals on things like manicures, vacations and restaurant meals.  The recent uproar has created a sputter of sorts for websites like Groupon and LivingSocial who have seen their appeal (and stock prices) plummet. What some restaurant owners have said is consistent with recent reports on the deal and discount addiction.

    Restaurant patrons who respond to these deals do so in mass, and then mostly disappear until the next deal comes out.  The restaurant owners may see more tables getting filled with these deals but are these the type of customers they really want?  

    In fact, here is a breakdown of a couple of restaurant owners' general observations:

    • Most of the people who took advantage of these discounts never become regular customers.
    • Most of the people who used a coupon were generally more of a pain in the ass to deal with than their regular customers.
    • Most of the people tried to circumvent the system bypassing any fine print or limits involved in the deal and would get angry when confronted.

    Additionally, here is how repeated discounts, in general terms, can hurt restaurants:

    • They make the restaurant appear desperate.
    • They re-position the restaurant as a low-end operation.
    • They attract bargain hunting "junk traffic".
    • They cut into a restaurant's sales and profits.
    • They train customers to "wait" for the deal.

    So how should restaurants deal with the deals?  

    Deals and discounts should be used sparingly and mostly for driving new traffic to your restaurant. These new customers brought in from discount offers should be immediately enrolled in a customer data base or rewards program for follow-up marketing in exchange for the discount. Much like retail brick and mortar companies use loyalty cards that must be presented (or looked up) to qualify for a discount (i.e., A supermarket preferred customer card), restaurant owners should continue to offer deals and discounts to their current customers building on their continued loyalty to your restaurant. Use this data to create new marketing ideas for your restaurant.

    Find unique and creative ways to offer discounts to your most loyal customers and entice potential customers with discounts to join in your program.  This will help enhance your connection with all of your customers.     

    4 Steps to Taking Your Restaurant Mobile

    Posted by Chris Pautsch | 4/23/2012 | Restaurants

    Like numerous business processes, others have identified successful steps involved. Many companies are considering or have creating mobile apps. This is good news for you, as others have learned the ideal process to market apps.

    Once you create your apps and/or mobile website, MojoBistro will provide tons of wonderful recommendations to let customers and the press know about your apps. Below is the framework for undergoing a marketing campaign around your app.

    #1 PlanCreating a plan is an essential component to your success. Your objectives will likely change periodically so create your plan. Components of a successful marketing plan include business objectives, social media strategy & tactics, schedule and success metrics. Check-in with your marketing plan often.

    #2 Execute After you’ve created a set of objectives and success metrics start yourself off with a bang. Planning a launch party, tweet-up or other activity with lots of positive branding materials (such as posters, banner ads, table tents or otherwise).

    #3 Report How are you measuring against your success metrics? Create another document outlining analytics like Facebook engagement (available in several formats on your Facebook Page admin), measuring Twitter followers and Retweets. Moreover, have your Yelp reviews improved or increased? Have your reservations increased? Has per person spending increased?

    These are all valuable representations of how your mobile presence is affecting your business.

    #4 Improve Creating your app is the easy part. Improving it takes work, but is very much worth it! Have you changed your current business objectives to include a new item or money maker? Your apps and/or mobile website should reflect your new goals in order to maximize your budget. Are your users recommending you include another feature on the App Store or on Google Play?

    We’re constantly reflecting the most important recommendations into mobile app features. This ensures your app continues to get the highest ratings and increases downloads.

    Not sure how to keep your app successful? We have plenty of recommendations, and will keep you full of ideas on how to keep your app compelling. Follow our social media channels to get constant recommendations for marketing your apps. We’re on Facebook. We’re also on Twitter @MojoBistro. Need help? Tweet us at @MojoBistroRX.