Social & Environmental Issues Calendar for your Cafe or Restaurant

There are special days and months all through the year, to celebrate and commemorate important themes and social issues. There may be ways to include them in the calendar of events at your cafe or restaurant, on social media or just as a reminder to staff. Customers respond very positively to your support for social issues.

January – suggestions welcome.

February – suggestions welcome.

March 8 — International Women’s Day. Here are some ways to celebrate the women you work with.
21 March – Harmony Weekcelebrating the diversity of cultures and races in Australia.
21 March – Clean Up Australia Daycommunity campaigns for reducing litter
22 March – World Water Dayhighlighting the importance of sustainable water supplies.
Share the Dignity Month – giving those experiencing period poverty the dignity they deserve. Twice a year the public is asked to donate pads, tampons, period underwear, incontinence pads etc. to Dignity Drives across the country.

April 22 — Earth Day, supporting environmental protection.

May 9 — Mother’s Day. Celebrating the mothers who raised us, mothers who work with us, and the women who raise children in the face of difficulties. There are many ways to celebrate this throughout the week.
11 May – International Nurse’s Day – on the birthday of Florence Nightingale, founder of modern nursing
17 May – Day against Homophobia and Transphobia
31 May – World No-Tobacco Day. Highlighting the health dangers of tobacco, and an opportunity to support your staff to Quit. Hospitality workers smoke at more than twice the rate of the general population.

27 May – 3 June – National Reconciliation Week – a time for all Australians to learn about our shared histories, cultures, and achievements
June 20 Refuge Weeksupporting the needs and achievements of refugees in Australia and internationally
Pride Monthsupporting Gay, Lesbian and Trans Pride with events and celebrations

4-11 July – NAIDOC Week. Celebrating the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islanders in Australia.
Dry Julysupporting people to go alcohol-free in July, and raise funds for cancer support.

Share the Dignity Month – giving those experiencing period poverty the dignity they deserve. Twice a year the public are asked to donate pads, tampons, period underwear, incontinence pads, menstrual cups etc. to Dignity Drives across the country.

7 August – Aged Care Employee Dayhonouring the people who look after our family as they grow old

September 5 — Father’s Day – celebrating the fathers who raised us, other fathers in your family and the many fathers who work in hospitality. Make it more than just a day for a packed booking diary.
September 9 – RUOK Day. Supporting mental health, when people are urged to support colleagues and friends struggling with life’s difficulties by asking ‘are you OK?’
September 21 — International Day of Peace, supporting the end of war and violence.

Breast Cancer Awareness Monthraising awareness and funds for breast cancer support and treatment.
7 October – Teachers Day in Australia, often extended into Teacher Appreciation Week. Dates vary internationally.
19-25 October – Gambling Harm Awareness Week. Talking about the harms associated with gambling and the effects they can have on communities, families, friends, workplaces and individuals.
31 October – Grandparents Day. To celebrate the bonds between grandparents and grandchildren.

November 2021
Movember monthgrow a moustache and raise funds through sponsorship to raise awareness of men’s health issues and suicide.

1 December – World AIDS Day. Raising awareness of the AIDS pandemic, and remembering those who have died from the disease.

We will keep adding to this calendar, and your suggestions very welcome. Many more dates are listed on the Social Justice Calendar and the Health Events Calendar.

🤚 Check the weekly discoveries on Hospo Reset – information & inspiration for restaurant, cafe & foodservice operators.

5 Ways to Drive Word of Mouth Marketing for a Cafe or Restaurant

Many people assume ‘word of mouth’ works automatically, and it’s always positive. As if people will say the nicest things without you making any effort. Sorry, that’s not going to  happen! And word of mouth can also be negative – ‘OMG did you hear that place got a food poisoning fine, and they’ve been underpaying their chefs!’.

However there are ways to guarantee that people have a lot to talk about, and you rise above the sameness of other new places having their six  months of fame. It starts with the promises you make – if they’re too flamboyant, you’re asking for disappointment. Claiming to have ‘Adelaide’s best dessert menu’ implies a 10/10 experience, so what happens when customers enjoy it but only feels it’s worth 8/10. In other situations, 8/10 is a great result, but here they have been disappointed. Under-promise so you over-deliver.

Here are the 5 sure ways you can put Word of Mouth marketing on automatic, ticking over each day and giving people lots to share with their friends.

Design is the first – does your place look wonderful, or quirky, or unusual? Does it have some features like no-one else? It could be beautiful lamps or mirrors, or filled with original paintings like Lucio’s Restaurant in Paddington. Or have wonderful views or a garden courtyard, an old fireplaces with real fires or a big bowl of fresh fruit (like the picture below). Something that lifts it beyond the average and, these days, gets people to take out their phone and snap a photo. Up onto Instagram or Snapchat, making their friends a little jealous. What can you add that’s bigger, brighter and bolder?

Speed and Movement is next – it’s the opposite of slow and boring. Most times we don’t want to be rushed, but if we only have 30 minutes for lunch, the place that can seat, serve and take our payment in 25 minutes is the one we will tell all our friends about. Or a place with a visible kitchen, and chefs flaming food and calling orders. Or the cocktail bar is alive with action as drinks are built, shaken and served with flare – have you been to that place? You can design in these features, but make sure you don’t sacrifice service.

Generosity is a sure-fire WOM promoter – did you see those family-size pizzas loaded with toppings? Not like the $10 special that disappointed us last week. Help yourself at the amazing buffet, and your wine by the glass is filled to half full, not just a mean little puddle.

This also works in the community – people hear about your consistent support for community groups, apprentice training, recycling programs and homeless relief. Make sure they acknowledge your contribution.

Great Flavours drive word of mouth – Australians like big, bold tastes and textures. The famous Strawberry Watermelon Cake at Black Star Pastry, or the hot, spicy coconut laksa at your favourite Malaysian place. The IPA ales that a new craft brewery creates are way better than the beer giants, or that delicate Victorian pinot gris you serve by the glass. Memorable.

Inside Information is your final WOM booster – with the crazy growth of TV food shows, cooking classes and social photos, everyone loves to know what’s happening back-of-house. Where the beef comes from (and why you changed suppliers), how you get such intense flavours in the dessert, and where the pastry chef was trained. And with that $20,000 oven you’ve just installed – offer a sneaky kitchen tour when the rush dies down. And is that Justin the head chef talking to customers? Wait till I tell my friends!

Fresh quinces are an unusual thing to find in a cafe, and sure to be something that food-loves notice…

Show the Sparkling Cleanliness of Your Business to Reassure Anxious Customers

News about the spread of Coronavirus is not good, and people are starting to panic – we need to stand as islands of calm and true hospitality, while taking important precautions. It’s also time to take urgent management action to protect your profitability.

You can stand out from the crowd by being spotlessly CLEAN and HYGIENIC. Here are some quick ways to make this obvious to customers. There also need to be special precautions with staff who are coughing or appear to be sick. If they’re casual or on hourly pay, they may feel they can’t afford to miss work, even if unwell – watch closely.

It’s essential to get staff on board with the reasons, not just the actions – discuss with the team HOW they can be subtly showing just how clean and responsible your place is. Their education is vitally important. Explain the theatre of it – we don’t just DO clean, we show off how thorough we are, and many small things make a difference. It’s using the well-known marketing principle: Know > Like > Trust…

  • Get KNOWN as a reliably hygienic, friendly, clean place
  • Be well LIKED for all the little things
  • Building TRUST keeps people coming back

Front of House:

  • Have hand sanitiser available for customers at the entrance. And on the counter, where staff are seen to use it.
  • Spotlessly clean uniforms – how are those aprons and chef jackets looking? If they need an upgrade, include everyone – don’t leave the poor kitchen hand in his street clothes and old apron #respect
  • Blitz and tidy the drinks station, with baristas and bar staff constantly wiping down surfaces. These areas are often full of clutter – take a hard look.
  • Suspend the use of reusable cups (Keep Cups) for takeaway coffee – it’s great to avoid single-use cups, but cups that customers bring could be a contamination risk.
  • No more clearing glasses with fingers through the rim! Trays should be standard for clearing and delivery – this will also make it faster. Remind staff that they may be touching people’s spit, and encourage lots more hand-washing.
  • Clean condiment bottles plus salt & pepper containers on tables very regularly – make it obvious. Might be time to temporarily swap to disposables.
  • Stop offering cutlery in a container on the table – it’s not hygienic, especially with the knife blade and fork prongs facing up! Think about it!
  • Review cleaning practices: do staff wipe down a seat then use the same cloth to wipe the the table? Ewww! Or use the same cloth to wipe the drinks bench and the steam wand on the espresso machine? Yukkk! Handling garnishes for drinks with their hands – no way!
  • Food Safety Supervisor courses are always useful, and there are many online – encourage more staff to do them, and pay the fees. They cover much more than hand-washing. Promote the number of graduates you have (post on Facebook or Instagram), and give them a special role to play, front and back of house.
  • Using kiosks for ordering? Have someone regularly wiping them down with a sanitised cloth. People cringe at the sight of sticky finger marks.
  • Dump the grubby toys in the kids corner – they should have gone years ago! If you want something for children, have new small toys in sealed bags – check a party supply shop.
  • Scrub the chair legs – they’re often scuffed and marked. You don’t notice, but it adds to an overall impression of untidiness.
  • Double check for ‘sticky places’ – chair arms, under the edges of tables, worn carpet, table surfaces. These buildups happen over time and need a special cleaning effort – eliminate the yuk factor.
  • Is it time for a mystery customer program, with a special section on cleaning and hygiene, not just service.?


  • Check the public view of the kitchen from outside – through a window or back door. How does it look – as clean as a hospital, or a mess? It’s easy to overlook cracked tiles, dirty bins and greasy surfaces when we’re busy, but now that it’s quieter, there is no excuse. Time to lean = time to clean.
  • Upgrade the view through the pass into the kitchen – can customers see pots and pans with grubby bases? They need to be scrubbed to a shine, because the overall appearance is gross.
  • Replace fluorescent tubes that have lost their brightness – they fade long before they die. You need the space very well lit, so dirt and stains are easily seen.
  • Double-down on glove use, and avoid staff touching food with bare hands where customers can see it. We know that gloves don’t guarantee hygiene, but the perception is important. Use latex-free gloves to avoid allergies.


  • Clean and repaint the bathroom – is it a sanctuary, an afterthought, or gross? Any cracked tiles or loose fitting that need fixing? People assume your kitchen will match the cleanliness of the toilets.
  • Upgrade the soap dispenser, towels and hand-drying facilities. Add sanitiser.
  • Reinforce the cleaning patrols, all through the day and night. Have a special bucket with equipment and gloves. It’s no-one’s favourite job – include the manager and boss so you all share the ‘dirty work’.
  • Put up a cleaning checklist and timetable on the back of the door – you don’t just do this, but you advertise how conscientious you are.

This is just the start… 2020 could be a challenging year, and your obvious commitment to hygiene can give you a strong marketing advantage.

Your comments and suggestions are very welcome – please send them to me through Linkedin or Facebook.

Preparing your Cafe and Restaurant for the 2020 Recession

The last time we had an impact like this in Australia was back in 2001, after the 9/11 attacks in New York. Then there was the Global Financial Crisis in 2007 – 2009, which affected Australia to some extent, but a rapid economic response by the government stopped it from having the effect here that it had elsewhere.

I wrote a fairly lengthy article back in 2001, with advice on how to manage the effects on small businesses – it still holds up well. Plus some thoughts last month on the need for a 2020 Plan B.

Now we can see another recession unfolding in front of us.

In Australia, 120,000 Chinese tourists have stopped arriving (one sixth of the normal total), and at Feb 29th 2020, there are still more than 100,000 Chinese students who can’t come back to school or university in Australia – one in four of our international students are from China. And Chinese restaurants, one of the foundations of our modern industry, are facing a catastrophic loss of customers – many have already closed.

Dramatic disruption to Chinese manufacturing and supply chains mean there could be shortages of kitchen equipment, spare parts, appliances, packaged food and chemicals. In Australia, China makes (or supplies parts for) almost everything we use!

China is a massive importer of our raw materials (from coal and minerals to lobsters and meat) – as they and other countries close borders, trade will be hit in many, many areas. A record number of purchase and supply contracts are being cancelled because of force majeure (unforseeable force).

Hospitality thrives on optimism and prosperity, not fear and contraction – we will feel these cold winds very quickly.

Can hospitality handle this crisis more effectively than before?

  • We can see it coming – this is a slowly unfolding catastrophe, so we can do some planning, but speed is essential, and there will still be unexpected events and panics.
  • We have much better management tools for handling cost-cutting – rostering systems, powerful POS systems to pinpoint customer spending, transparent online ordering for the best prices, and bookkeeping systems that give immediate insight into Profit & Loss.
  • There are great options to rent new equipment – no need to run down your capital. Renewal and innovation can’t stop during a slowdown.
  • We also have low-cost and sophisticated ways to reach out to customers, through targeted social media, email marketing, online bookings, websites and online directories – we can communicate much more effectively.
  • What’s not different is the painful necessity of reducing staff hours and paying the same rent with fewer sales dollars.

Buckle up folks – I’m an optimist by nature, but 2020 is going to be a very bumpy ride!

Your comments and suggestions are very welcome – please send them to me through Linkedin or Facebook.

How to ask your Member of Parliament for financial help or to change a policy…

Tourism and hospitality are reeling from fires, drought and the COVID-19 crisis – the effects on small business are catastrophic. That means a lot less employment, no-one investing in new equipment, and a lot less money in the economy. A recession is already here.

It’s time for much more government financial support for small business operators in Australia – on the scale of what was done after the GFC (Global Financial Crisis) in 2007-9. Through generous, and targeted government spending, Australia was one of the few countries in the world that managed to avoid most of the terrible consequences of that downturn.

It’s also time to write to your local member and request more action – the Australian government holds the purse strings. Government spending can help to revive business, but they need to hear from those affected. Too often business owners complain quietly to themselves but only act at an election.

You can find your Federal MP here, and they all have a link for emailing them directly.
State Government MPs are here: NSWVictoriaQueenslandSouth AustraliaWestern AustraliaTasmaniaACTNorthern Territory

Keep your message short and polite, and quote some real numbers and comparisons. This is the information that shows the reality of a downturn – here are some that you could easily gather:

  • Number of people employed this month (or week) compared to 12 months ago.
  • Number of hours you paid people for this week compared to 12 months ago.
  • Sales this week or month, or in December, compared to 12 months ago.
  • How much you paid your suppliers this month compared to 12 months ago.

Tone down the politics. You may have strong feelings about how climate change has been handled, or the actions of politicians. Keep those for a separate email. For now, make your tone factual and sober – you’re alerting your representative to what this is doing for you and your family, the people you employ and the whole area. These are her voters! Get busy…

Be careful with fundraising – protect your reputation…

The bushfire catastrophe in Australia has gripped the nation, and the world! It’s truly horrifying with the loss of life, buildings, businesses, forests and native animals.

It’s natural that there’s an outpouring of generosity and fundraising – many cafes are raising money by collecting tips, donating money from every drink sold or even a day of profits.

And… where there is money in large quantities, there are risks. Transparency and squeaky-clean care are essential when you handle donations – people are becoming aware of this issue.

Here are a few thoughts on how to protect and grow your reputation…

  • If you’re running something like ‘$1 from every coffee is donated to the fire brigade‘, keep a list on show of how much was raised each day, plus where and when you sent it.
  • Post your results on Facebook or social media, maybe featuring some customers who have donated – be proud of this!
  • Set an end date for your campaign, so it doesn’t just fade away. If the issue is still important, start a fresh round, maybe raising money for a different organisation.
  • Smaller community groups are also in great need and may not have the ability to fundraise like large ones – they will be extra-appreciative if you seek them out.
  • Attach real people to the campaign – if you are donating to a community group, ask them to keep sending photos and information. Photos of kids and animals get a strong response.
  • Make friends for the long-haul – there are likely to be fires every summer, and the need of these groups will not go away.
  • Print off large quotes from customers (eg Facebook comments) and recipients about your donations and generosity. Put them on the wall and social media.
  • Make the burden on staff realistic – they may be donating tips or a day of labour, but they’re usually on low wages and can’t afford to be as generous as the boss.
  • Try and avoid politics – opinions are running hot about ‘greenies’ or ‘climate neanderthals’. Those disputes are for elsewhere – remove snarky comments if they appear on social media. You’re offering a place of peace and hospitality…
  • Yes, this is another list-building event – if people share their contact details, send them follow-up information about what your business does all through the year.

Restaurants & Cafes with B Corp Accreditation

The B Corp movement says that business impacts and serves more than just shareholders – it also has a responsibility to the community and to the planet. B Corps meet high standards of social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability. They ‘aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems’.

In the latest podcast interview, Ken Burgin talks with business advisor Tim O’Brien of about the value of B Corp accreditation, and how to achieve it. This involves assessing your performance in the areas of environmental impact, the workforce, customers, community and corporate governance. Start with the free B Impact Assessment – you may be surprised at how well you do, and B Corp advisers will help with the process.

For more on B Corporations in action, hear how Pablo & Rusty Coffee Roasters became certified, and the value it has added to their business. Plus the interview with Court Desautels of Canada’s Neighbourhood Restaurant Group, on the value of their B Corp accreditation, and Silver Chef founder Allan English on Business as a Force for Good.

How to Promote your Green Credentials for a Marketing Bonus

Whatever you’re doing on the environmental front, it’s worth talking about and publicising. Consumers are very interested, and so are corporate and government clients – in some cases, they’ve been told to make this a priority in their choice of venues.

Put a short Environmental Action Statement on your website, and  keep adding to it as you make improvements. Here’s what to include:

Energy Efficiency: how you work to reduce energy use with lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, appliances, office equipment, and transport.

Green Power: is your electricity supply contract from renewable resources that use wind, solar, geothermal or hydro-electric?

Carbon Offset Program: explain the program you use and the savings made. Comparing the numbers before and after can be very impressive.

Water Conservation: methods used for kitchen appliances, equipment and landscaping, and in a way that does not compromise hygiene and cleanliness.

Recycling: glass, plastic, metal, cardboard, paper, corks, waste oil, ink and toner cartridges are all a part of daily operations. Describe how you recycle them.

Source Reduction: Do suppliers take back the packaging supplied with deliveries or eliminate it altogether? Are polystyrene foam boxes and package still accepted with deliveries?

Sustainable Food: used where possible to support the long-term viability of agriculture, fishing and grazing. Sourcing food locally to reduce the use of fossil fuel in transport.

Tree-free Products: used wherever possible, ensuring that wooden furniture and any wooden items do not come from old-growth forests.

Non-toxic Cleaning Products: are used that are biodegradable, free of hazardous ingredients, and safe for people and the environment.

Employee Education: at the heart of an environmental commitment – how are staff educated and how is their commitment sustained? It would not be possible without their contribution.

Start with what you do now, and update as you add activities – it won’t take long for the page to be impressive! Need inspiration? Listen to this recent Podcast on Sustainability for Cafes & the Coffee Industry.