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
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
April 22 — Earth Day, supporting environmental protection.

May
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.

June
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

July
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.

August
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.

September
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.

October
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.

December
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.

10 Ways to Celebrate Your Restaurant’s Birthday, and Make a Real Impact

People love to see a business succeed, and if they’re regular customers, they have watched your growth and development. An annual birthday celebration is a great way to share the love and build loyalty. Not sure when it is? No problem, make it up! Once you’ve set the date, here are some easy ways to spread the word, and remember, social media is your #1 friend for this!

Birthday Week, not just One Day: milk this for all you can – start promoting in the week before, so people take notice. You could even do a countdown sign – 7, 6, 5, 4… This is when you’ll be rolling out the publicity events listed about below.

Birthday Cake on the Day: square cakes are much easier to cut into small pieces, or prepare dozens of tiny cupcakes. Bright icing and a candle – everyone gets a piece.

Candles, Candles, Candles: on all desserts on the day, and maybe there are a couple of big candles on the counter. Label them for what they are, so people don’t think it’s a religious ceremony (!).

Gifts for the Customers: a voucher given out on the day, a free beverage or appetiser – something that will make an impact. Red Envelopes will also work a treat – bringing people back like a boomerang.

Show Old Photos: put an album together on a noticeboard, or better still on Facebook and Instagram.

Show it at the beginning: construction work, the old kitchen, the first espresso machine and some of the original staff. Plus milestones since then – look through your hard drive, there are tons of pictures! Create a slideshow video – they’re easy to make, just ask one of your young staff.

Where Are They Now? Tell people about staff who’ve moved on (the nice ones), and how many people you’ve employed over the years. It’s another reminder of the value of hospitality, and what you contribute to the area – a major employer.

Big Thank You Signs: in the window – get stick-on letters from a signage shop or a mega-sized poster. With all accounts given to customers, include your business card with a sticker on the back explaining that it’s your birthday and why you are proud. Or print a special slip with this information – make sure people know why it’s a big deal.

Boast About Some Numbers: ‘in the two years we’ve been open, we have served more than 50,000 happy customers, poured 22,000 beers and used 1500 kg of strawberries’. You get the idea – the numbers are light-hearted and also meant to impress. 50,000 customers over 2 years is still only 500 per week – maybe yours are much more!

Sing Happy Birthday: your staff do this for customers, now’s the time to do it on the hour throughout the special day. OK, not in the middle of peak hour, but you get the idea. We are hard-wired to respond to this music with a smile and a cheer, so play it up! There are other Happy Birthday songs (eg Stevie Wonder) – post the YouTube videos of these on Facebook throughout the week.

#Hashtag it: on Facebook & Instagram, set up a #hashtag just for the occasion and have an Instagram competition for the person who posts the best photo tagged #TroppoBirthday (for Cafe Troppo).

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

40 Photo Ideas for Your Restaurant’s Christmas Social Media

Social media posts thrive on visual content, and there are dozens of opportunities to take all sorts of photos during the Christmas season – food, decorations, people and local scenes. They will look good on Facebook, Instagram and your website. Snap and share, and many can be used again next year.

  • Gather props – Christmas balls or decorations, Santa hats and strings of lights – they will all be useful.
  • Starting the Day – setting up the kitchen, turning on the coffee machine, hosing the courtyard, Christmas food deliveries, first customers etc
  • A Special Christmas Offer – your Christmas Hamper offer or photo of a special menu item
  • On the Christmas Menu – food or beverage item from the special menu – different items can be added every few days
  • Christmas Gift Card – held proudly by a typical customer, or with Christmas decoration around it
  • Something Funny – a Christmas joke – add it to a seasonal image using Canva.com
  • Christmas Quote – find some suitable quotes from this Quotes Website – add them to a seasonal image using Canva.com
  • Christmas Cracker jokes – put them on a background of a Christmas cracker and share the best or worst ones. A Christmas tradition – find a bunch of them here.
  • Something that Sparkles – add tinsel or shiny Christmas balls to any of the images you already use. Garnish a dessert with something sparkling.
  • The Weather Today – a photo of the beautiful day outside, whether it’s sunny or snowing
  • Seen on the Way to Work – a local landmark or something unusual or amusing – a local sign, quirky shop, landscape formation etc
  • Seen in the Neighbourhood – outrageous Christmas decorations, big Santa, house with the most Christmas lights
  • Someone we Remember – used to work here or a favourite customer or local character
  • Festive Fashion – staff or customers wearing Santa hats or reindeer ears, Santa suits etc
  • Santa’s Helpers – get some elf hats from a party shop and take a photo of staff hard at work, as if this is what they always wear!
  • Customers in the Christmas mood – have a basket of Christmas hats and props and share with your party customers. Take photos of them dressed up and having fun.
  • My Morning Drink – the coffee, herb tea, chai or juice you have to start the day
  • On My To-Do List – take a screenshot of a list in bold text, with some serious and some amusing
  • Our Christmas Tree – if this is something special, show it off and take close-ups of special decorations
  • Our Christmas decorations – if they’re big and wonderful, take a photo, especially with light shining on them
  • A Special Tradition – something that’s done every year in your area or household, or in the restaurant
  • On the Front Door – if you have a Christmas wreath, share a photo
  • Something We Made – the food the dessert, the Christmas scene etc
  • How We Relax When Not at Work – a photo of staff relaxing – at the beach in Australia, or in the park, Christmas shopping etc
  • Your Christmas Workspace – a photo of your busy desk or workbench, but style it so it looks productive, not just a mess
  • Outside the Window – busy people, a busy street, birds flying, a Christmas scene – something amusing or interesting
  • A Symbol of the Season – a star, crib, Christmas decorations – local shops or churches may have good subjects
  • Something Sweet – Christmas desserts, special drinks, a gingerbread house
  • Best Part of the Day – having a well-deserved break, or when customers arrive or closing up at night
  • Bright Lights – take a slightly blurred photo of Christmas lights, or of local buildings lit and decorated
  • Work Hard, Play Hard – staff playing sport on their day off – ask them to take some photos and send to you
  • My Christmas Family – ask staff to share some photos of people they will be having with them on Christmas day
  • The Spirit of Christmas – photos of local charities who will be helping people on Christmas
  • Your Inspiration – a saying, a photo, a holiday memory, a special person – explain why
  • A Happy Customer – photo taken of them enjoying food or a drink
  • A Happy Party – photos of party groups having a good time – best if you take groups of just 3 or 4 at a time so everyone is seen clearly
  • After the Party – busy and happy staff stacking chairs or cleaning up after a party. Use the Instagram app Hyperlapse to take a short, speeded-up video of the action
  • Chefs at Work – up-close video of them decorating desserts or garnishing canapés or preparing food – hands is enough. Use the Instagram app for a video of up to 30 seconds.
  • Selfie Time! Have a selfie stick available for customers to borrow and ask them to text or email you the best photo. Show them how to use the trigger by linking with their Bluetooth phone settings
  • Warm and Cosy – if it’s cold outside, a photo of a scene that’s warm and glowing. These can look good from outside looking in at night
  • Cool and Relaxed – if it’s summer at Christmas time, photos of cool drinks and your garden or outside seating with relaxed customers
  • Something Brand New – some new equipment, a new menu item, new decorations etc

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

Promoting Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Your Cafe or Restaurant

It’s an important annual event in October and might be forgotten with all the COVID issues on our mind. It’s had less publicity in the last few years but is no less valued – we all have mothers, sisters, daughters and friends who have been affected.

The purpose of the month is to raise money for breast cancer medical care and research. It also raises awareness of an issue that affects tens of thousands of women and even some men.

How to get started

  • Check out these websites to understand the issue and the programs that need support: NBCF, McGrath Foundation and BCT. Plus information on Wikipedia and Cancer Australia.
  • Brainstorm with your staff – as you engage them, their enthusiasm to communicate with customers will become natural, not something they need reminding about. It’s an issue for women and for men.
  • Make plans to share with customers in your venue, on social media and through your email communication. If you’re making deliveries, include a flyer. If you’re raising money, tell everyone how it will be used.

Promotional ideas…

  • Just like food and drinks go green on St Patricks Day, this is the month to put a pink blush on desserts, drinks and decorations – there are opportunities all day, every day of the week. Pink latte anyone?
  • Promote the month with posters and flyers – free online design service Canva has some great templates ready to use.
  • Work out the best way to raise money, and choose a non-profit group (see above) to support. In previous years, fund-raising lunches were held – this is more difficult in 2020 but there can still be raffles and donations. Even raising $100 can make an impact. It could involve donations from customers on a certain day, a special fund-raising meal, or selling pink ribbon merchandise.
  • Take lots of photos – they don’t have to be clever, just real. Remember the digital photo rule – take 20 pictures and only use the best ones.
  • Share personal experiences – if you have staff who are willing to talk about how they or family have been touched by this issue, social media can be a good place for a photo and some simple words.
  • Have a special ‘wear pink’ day, just like they do at the cricket! Pink t-shirts are easy to organise.
  • Organise some pink lighting for your venue. You can do it with strings of lights or lanterns, or just change a few globes.
  • Make pink food and drinks – here’s a bunch of pink recipes, pink cocktails, rosé is more popular than ever, and there are plenty of ‘pink’ songs on Spotify to add to the playlist.
  • Celebrate what you did at the end of the month – be proud, sharing photos and stories about events and fundraising. Save the best experiences to repeat next year!

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

How to Use Special Weeks for Restaurant & Cafe Promotions

The Aussie Artisan Week promoted by Pepe Saya Buttery got me thinking about how else the ‘Week of…’ idea could be used for interesting promotions. They can be short and punchy, and bring in outsiders or employees, or run with different food & beverage themes.

Here are a few ideas I’ve come up with so far. Run the week over 5 days or 7, and a big topic could even stretch to a month. Pile on the content, with a new post every day. Plan it in advance and most of it can be scheduled in advance – Facebook, Instagram and email promotions all ready to click over. Maybe do a special week every 3 months?

Week of Suppliers – each day featuring a different food or beverage vendor, with a link and some photos, ideally with real people ie the producers or delivery person.
Week in the Kitchen – each day highlighting the work of a different staff member, with photos of them working, and something about their background. Don’t forget the kitchenhand!
Week in the Bar – a version of Week in the Kitchen, this time with staff showing the variety of things they do and products they serve. Even some short videos taken with a phone (horizontal format works best).
Chocolate Week – each day featuring a different dessert or drink, plus some information about where chocolate comes from. There are interesting YouTube videos available that could be added to Facebook posts.
Week of Summer Fruits – featuring plums, peaches, apricots, cherries and all the wonderful products that appear over Christmas. I’m amazed at how many varieties of plums appear week by week in most fruit shops.
Week of Spices – featuring cumin, coriander, nutmeg, turmeric and many more. Especially good if they’re the foundation of your cooking eg Indian food. Show photos and YouTube videos if available, and highlight your menu and recipes. Repeat for a Week of Herbs.
Week of Favourite Recipes – chefs nominate their favourite recipes and food, including things they cooked when they started their training. Or highlights from previous menus.
Week of Favourite Cookbooks – another one for the kitchen, each day with a photo of a well-loved cookbook and why it was chosen.
Week of Knives – a chance for the kitchen crew to show off their kit. First knife, oldest knife in their collection, strangest knife, how they are used etc.
Week of Business Supporters – this one highlights all the people who keep you operating. The cleaners, electrician, fridge repair people, exhaust hood cleaner, linen suppliers and window washer. Hopefully, you can get a photo of them at work, or find one from their website. This helps people understand what complex businesses we run!
Week of Community Supporters – highlighting a range of local charities, non-profits and volunteer organisations. Some of them you may support directly, others are just well recognised. One each day with photos and links.
Week of Sport – maybe this is team members nominating their favourite team and players. Or the sport that some of them play – lots of photo opportunities. This would work well around the time of grand finals.

Have fun with this, and there’s an extra bonus for staff motivation if they are involved in choosing themes and examples.

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

Real not Fake: How to Build a Positive Reputation for Yourself and your Restaurant

Customer BS radar is on high alert – they’re swamped with hype, and can learn a lot about your business before they even visit. Have you googled your name and business lately?

Make those buzz-words ‘transparency’ and ‘integrity’ your marketing advantage – share real, honest information about the management team, staff and daily activities. Consumers find ‘behind the scenes’ of hospitality endlessly fascinating, so give them facts to feast on.

Keep the Menu Honest: is ‘home made’ really made in someone’s home? How fresh is ‘fresh’ and can we trust the terms ‘organic’, ‘local’ and ‘made daily’? There are plenty of ways to write an enticing menu without overloading the adjectives. And reassure people that allergy-friendly items are the real deal.

Upgrade the About Us page: with real names of owners and managers, plus information about how the business has developed – timelines can be interesting. So many of these pages are full of fluff, and when no names are mentioned, we wonder if the place is run by robots!

Show Real Faces on the Website: we all relate to ‘people like me’, not glamour models or people with perfect CV’s. Take care if you’re promoting a celebrity chef – other staff are also doing great work. And be careful with stock photos – the photo libraries are handy (we use them too), but the images are everywhere. Taking decent digital photos is now a basic restaurant skill, like typing and Google searches – a project for one of your team, if you’re too busy.

Share Videos of Daily Life: not big-budget productions, but a quick look at daily activities eg meet the new staff, watch us make pasta, the barista at work, installing the pizza oven. Share them on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. A local media student can make these look sharp in no time.

Be Authentic on Social Media: an interesting Facebook Page is essential, and it needs to be updated at least daily with content that is informative, inspirational and sometimes entertaining. Include plenty of people shots, behind the scenes and produce stories – always of interest. Twitter is popular with chefs and restaurateurs, and Snapchat should also be on your list.

Share a few Mistakes: we all make them – the wine you chose that no-one would buy, a recent kitchen drama, the new stove that wouldn’t fit through the door. Now we can relate to you! Facebook, Twitter or a Blog can be a great way to share the daily bustle of hospitality life.

Actively Encourage Feedback: whether it’s on Facebook, feedback cards or a special website page, most comments are positive and you’ll be glad the negatives come directly to you. Most businesses make giving feedback too much of an effort – how is it at your place?

Respond to all Online Feedback: if it was good ‘thanks for the very nice comments…’. If it’s critical, it still needs a response – ‘thanks for letting us know – please call or email so we can follow up’. Unanswered online criticism looks bad, and makes it appear that you do not care.

Talk with Pride about your Area: places to visit, a popular park, places for children to play, recent events – share them on a web page with a map, and make sure staff know where customers can find an ATM, transport and parking. This can also be the basis for a good local-knowledge training quiz for staff – they all need to get 100%!

Nat shares his dislike of crap food, and millions agree…

What is it about Nat the muso cook that people love? [warning: lots of swearing].

He’s raw and real (his dad was a chef), he hates fake food, and he’s getting media attention. What can we translate from this into restaurant & cafe land? Enthusiasm ✅, energy ✅, love of real food ✅, potty mouth 🤔. …

I asked a bunch of restaurant mates if Nat actually helps the industry:

Absolutely yes I love him. He’s bringing accessible cooking to people who wouldn’t watch a Jamie Oliver or Gordon’s Ramsay video. He’s real, funny and entirely a good thing as far as I’m concerned. – Rob

I had a mate yesterday mention this and he is a convert. He reckons his approach works for him and he rarely cooks. As for how it impacts cafe customers – my mate is a good example as he is high income and eats out regularly (hence not cooking much!) but he uses Nat when he has to cook. – Gordon

It’s not about us, it’s about the kids that have been scared to cook for themselves. All power to him! – Paul

I’m a big fan, he’s a hard case dude alright and his cooking is awesome. “F#*k JAR sauce!!” – Lisa

How Restaurant & Cafe Owners Can Learn from Sport Teams and Violin Players

What can sporting clubs and a classical violinist teach us about staying in touch with our customers? And not just ‘don’t forget me’ messages, but spending this time of enforced separation to build their love, enthusiasm and loyalty?

Two widely contrasting social media posts landed in my feed recently – one from ‘sports fan engagement specialist’ Blair Hughes, and the other from young violinist rock star Ray Chen.

Blair is a lifelong sports nut, and watches the way smart clubs build their connection with fans, spectators and players – at the game and through the rest of the week, online and offline 24/7. He’s just shared 200 Fan Engagement Ideas to Educate, Entertain & Connect Sport Fans During Covid-19. A week later he shared one that’s even more relevant for cafes & restaurants: 150+ Fan Engagement Ideas for Craft Breweries to Entertain, Educate and Drive Revenue.

Ray Chen started as a child prodigy violin player in Brisbane, then moved to the US on a scholarship when he was 15. His career has skyrocketed since then and he travels the world giving concerts, until the start of 2020, when live events ground to a halt. He’s rapidly pivoted to a wide range of YouTube activities – live streams, practice sessions with fans, online meetings with other performers. He even has merchandise for sale. These are not just the usual ‘turn on the camera and start recording’ videos, but he gets them cleverly edited to add snap, crackle and fun. He knows his audience!

What do they have in common? Imagination, and a commitment to the pleasure, enthusiasm and loyalty of every single fan and follower. What lessons can we take from these two passionate experts to maintain and develop our own customer connections and fan base?

Here’s Ray in a recent online coaching session, and here he is jamming Waltzing Matilda

My interview on hospitality and the Coronavirus crisis – Sky News Australia, March 21, 2020

I had a short interview on Sky News today about the state of the hospitality industry. I was given four questions to consider, and prepared some bullet point reminders. In the event, only the first three were asked… and I was relaxed!

1. You’ve been in the hospitality industry for more than 20 years. What we’re seeing right now is unprecedented – what should restaurant & cafes owners be doing?

  • Communicate like never before with your customers
  • Offer & sell food and drinks in new ways – delivery, take home packs, takeaway
  • Write to your local MP about the number of jobs that will be lost without direct financial support. There is a lot of cynicism about whether government support will actually help – tax concessions aren’t any good if you’re not making a profit.
  • Talk to your landlord, preferably with your lawyer’s help – urgent negotiation is needed.
  • Overcommunicate how you are operating responsibility – remove tables to stick to the 4 sq m. rule, and cleaning very visibly.

2. Business owners are going to have to have some really tough conversations with their staff – what’s the best way to go about it?

  • Be as fair and transparent as you can – there is so much pain for operators around this
  • Be open with your staff about the real cost of running a business, and what you can afford.
  • Help them apply for benefits.
  • Move quickly – and get support from colleagues or professionals

3. How can Australians support the hospitality industry right now, while we’re social distancing?

  • Keep ordering and keep buying!
  • Share words and acts of kindness with local businesses – message them, share positive reviews online, post on their Facebook and Instagram
  • Lobby for government support for business owners, workers and all the people who will lose jobs

4. What’s your advice to restaurant and café owners in communicating with their customers right now?

  • Do much more of it, use new channels and change the tone – warm and honest, trying to find positive angles if you can
  • Use more channels and put your face and your team into the story – delivering food, cleaning, cooking, making coffee, sharing with customers
  • Daily Facebook posts and try Facebook Live for a TV view of what’s happening – you’ll get better at it! Pump up the instagram, and if you’ve never done email, now’s the time – you’ll be surprised at how many customer contact details you can find. Even TikTok if that’s your demographic – you have staff who can help with all of these, just make sure to give them guidance on the message and the tone
  • Rediscover the neighbourhood – most operators don’t live where they work, and don’t have time to connect with neighbourhood activities – now’s the time. AND don’t stop once this is over!

Taking the Stress & Shame Out of Self Promotion

Where did we learn that self promotion is a bad thing, and why do we accept that as the truth? Marie Forleo feels you should feel ashamed if you don’t promote your skills and achievements.

This should resonate with people in hospitality – by definition most of us have to be ‘out there’ with the public and promoting the next event, tomorrow’s lunch or just an extra round of coffees. In many small operations, the owner is the business.

She sums up the issues in this snappy video:

  • Focus on what you can give, rather than what you can get – see self-promotion as service.
  • Stop caring! Not about other people, just what they think – who are you living your life for? If they don’t like you, being quiet probably won’t make much difference!
  • Don’t be a broken record – endlessly talking about how great you are! In Australia we have the expression FIGJAM – it stands for F* I’m Great, Just Ask Me. We’ve all met the FIGJAM people – and you’re not one of them!

A few more suggestions… from Ken Burgin 😉

  • Update your Linkedin profile (here’s how) – it does the promotion for you. When you describe yourself in the ‘Summary section’, use some numbers to show the scale of what you’ve done eg number of people in your team, or number of customers served each day.
  • Talk about ‘our team’ when appropriate – you may feel more comfortable including the people who work for you., when describing achievements.
  • There are many simple ways you can stand out as someone with interesting insights and ideas – a thought-leader. More suggestions here

Most people grow up being told not to brag or show off – let’s untangle that message from the importance of sharing your gifts with the world.