Yes, you need to start planning your office holiday party now.

So you’ve been tasked with planning the annual employee holiday party for your company. But that’s okay, you may think. After all, it’s only August, and I have still plenty of time. I’ll just put it at the end of my to-do list. Right?

Wrong. You are so, so wrong.

If you are reading this blog post now and haven’t done any prep work, you are already late in planning your office holiday party. Event spaces book up fast during the holiday season, restaurants are going to be slammed with catering orders, and employees need to know key dates for company-wide events well in advance so they can plan their schedules. The longer you wait to get started, the greater the chance that something is going to fall through the cracks. And with all of the employees who are planning to attend and judge every detail, it’s extremely important to put your best foot forward with this soiree.

Are you panicked yet? No need to worry – that’s why we’re here! Here are five steps that can make planning your holiday office party quick, easy and painless.

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1. First, pick a theme. Are you thinking black tie affair, or a night out playing arcade games? The possibilities are practically endless, and some may be more fitting than others, depending on whether or not families and significant others will be invited to attend. Get the theme figured out right away so that you can put a check mark next to the basics such as time, date, location, and even things like decorations and color scheme. Be sure to involve a handful of other employees to pick the theme out, too – that way you’ll have backup in your choice. Once you have your direction, you can select a menu that coincides with the theme. We at Dinova have made this especially easy with our Holiday Dining Guide, which can help you find a restaurant for your event in just a few minutes. Our Dining Guide showcases to holiday hotspots in our most popular locations for the season of lights and focuses on their party offerings, from catering to private dining venues.

2. Make an agenda. An agenda will help ensure that everything goes smoothly and that you have assistance where needed. Start your agenda with the time of day in which you or a party-planning company will be setting everything up so that you won’t be sweating the details at the last minute (like figuring out when the decor can be hung). Be sure to note all important times as well, including when you want the CEO to speak, when you plan to have food served, and so forth.

3. Have a team by your side. We recommend assembling a party team within your company to help bring everything from concept to execution, but remember – it’s about quality, not quantity. You don’t need a representative from every department to help you with this – in fact, that’s probably a mistake as it would distract from employees’ actual jobs. Empower a small team of individuals and be sure to include people in human resources and marketing – that way you’ll have someone to talk corporate policy and someone to talk look and feel.

4. Announce the basics. There are some key details that many office party planners fail to realize are of the utmost importance to employees attending the holiday party. What is the dress code? Will alcohol be served, and will it be an open bar? Will there be dinner or appetizers, and what time will the food be offered? Establish the answers to these questions well in advance and be sure to inform your company so that they are prepared. It’s also important to remind your guests that at the end of the day, they are representing the company at a workplace event and are expected to be on their best behavior as they enjoy the soiree.

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5. Do something good. One portion of the holiday party that is often overlooked until the last minute is the fundraising aspect, yet our research shows that corporate social responsibility is very important to employees. Consider designating a charity to partner with for your party and keep it simple. Tried and true ideas include a toy drive, sponsoring a family for the season or donating food to a local shelter. Heck, you can even make the fundraising aspect the theme for your event, such as participating in a pre-party Santa 5k walk/run!

While you are definitely behind schedule if you haven’t started planning your office holiday party yet, it’s not the end of the world. Keep things simple, invite collaboration, and of course, remember that the event is supposed to be fun! Go ahead and get started – and get a jump on selecting your party’s location and food choices by using our Dinova Holiday Dining Guide to find the perfect restaurant to best suit your needs.

Best of San Diego

Let’s face it business travel can be tedious. Flight delays, mediocre dinners in the hotel lobby, stressful meetings and of course, more flying. So, the next time you’re packing your bags be sure to throw that Hawaiian shirt in with your business khakis and build some exploration time into your agenda, especially in the summer when it seems like everyone else on your flight is on holiday!

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Famous Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, CA.

This August business people from all over the world will descend on San Diego for the Global Business Travel Association annual conference.  I admit San Diego is not a tough assignment, but if you tread a straight path between your hotel and the convention center you risk missing the So Cal experience. It’s not difficult to find fun local activities, especially with the convention center sitting on the waterfront downtown. So, allow me to offer a few ideas for your next business trip in America’s Finest City.

  • Downtown San Diego is home to Petco Park, the home of the San Diego Padres. If you’re a baseball fan then this state of the art baseball experience is sure to impress. Catch a fly ball, or enjoy the game with a cold one and take in the atmosphere.
  • If you’re looking to experience a little Puerto Nuevo style seafood without actually crossing into Mexico, Rockin’ Baja Lobster has a location right downtown in the Gaslamp Quarter. Venturing just north of downtown there is another Rockin’ Baja in Old Town. A trip to Old Town will transport you back in time as it is the oldest settled area in San Diego. Here you’ll discover historic buildings dating back to 1820.
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Tacos from Rockin’ Baja Lobster.
  • Downtown is also home to one of the largest “Little Italy” neighborhoods in the country and is a thriving pedestrian market place with restaurants, shops, wineries and more. If you set out to explore this historic area, make time to grab a bite at Indigo Grill. With a fire pit patio, it’s the perfect place to enjoy “Modern Latin Cuisine.”
  • Another downtown favorite for “social dining” is Searsucker. There are plenty of small plates to share, grilled octopus…duck wings…mushroom crepes…yes, please!  If you’re in the mood for something heartier, the prime dry aged New York strip with Japanese sweet potato and shishito chimichurri will not disappoint.
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Steak dish from Searsucker.
  • Balboa Park is in close proximity to downtown and this 1,200-acre urban oasis offers something for everyone. Museums, gardens, trails, theatre, the world-famous San Diego Zoo and of course, food! The award-winning Prado at Balboa Park in the House of Hospitality offers both indoor and outdoor dining.  A beautiful setting to taste the local San Diego brew with your lunch or dinner.
  • If you crave waterfront dining, Coronado Island is a quick 15-minute boat ride across the bay from the convention center ferry stop. Once you arrive at the Coronado Ferry Landing, head to Il Fornaio and sample some of its award winning Italian cuisine. Il Fornaio’s dining room and patio provide a glorious front and center view of the beautiful San Diego skyline.
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Pasta dish from Il Fornaio.
  • Another perfect vantage point for dining with a view is Coasterra, at the tip of Harbor Island just a short drive from the convention center. You will enjoy panoramic views of the harbor and city while feasting on modern Mexican cuisine.
  • Lastly if you can sneak away long enough to escape to La Jolla, a beautiful village offering ample dining options. Whisknladle is considered a “neighborhood gem” where inspired dishes featuring local ingredients change frequently to capture the freshest flavors of the season.  According to Edible San Diego, “the modern-rustic, indoor-outdoor dining room screams La Jolla chic.”
    • Across the way sister restaurant Catania features fresh, authentic, handcrafted Italian fare. Earning top accolades since opening, Catania’s perch on the top floor of the La Plaza Center offers stunning views of La Jolla and the Pacific beyond.
    • A La Jolla classic George’s at the Cove hosts three venues in one building. You can savor “California Modern” cuisine on the first level; on “Level2” you’ll be treated to an elevated cocktail experience featuring classic and innovative modern creations; and one level up is George’s Ocean Terrace, overlooking the Pacific, which Travel and Leisure named “one of the world’s hottest rooftop restaurants.”
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Cocktails from George’s at the Cove.

I hope I’ve lured you away from ordering room service and provided ample opportunity to put on that Hawaiian shirt and own your San Diego experience!

Written by Janice McEachen.

Power Breakfasts and the Business Breakfast Movement

 

We’ve all heard it, “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” But, do restaurateurs know just how important? Business professionals often use breakfast meetings as ground zero for negotiating, meeting up with colleagues or interviews. What happens over a breakfast meeting is very important, and what is even more important is the food. Corporate employees are getting smart about mixing food and business. While the traditional meeting over lunch and dinner is always a solid move, business diners are taking full advantage of the opportunity to get up early and meet over bacon, eggs and coffee.

Deemed the “power breakfast,” the movement is gaining traction throughout the restaurant industry, and many restaurateurs are taking notice by opening the doors earlier and adjusting offerings to accommodate this guest. In fact, many restaurant brands have re-branded, fast-casual version of their signature restaurant style to attract younger and more time-crunched customers while still appealing to their long-time patrons. This renewed focus on capturing the early birds creates a new revenue stream of customers that otherwise may not have been captured.

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So, how are restaurant brands approaching this change? Potbelly, once perceived as only a lunch and dinner brand, now offers business professionals a new breakfast section of their menu that takes the breakfast sandwich to an entirely new and mouthwatering level. Who knew you could order a delicious egg, sausage, and melted cheddar sandwich on top of a blueberry maple square bun while negotiating a high-level client deal?  Potbelly also provides corporate diners with the option to cater in breakfast for off-site meetings and events. Talk about power!

Diners are also paying careful attention to what they eat for breakfast as well.  The latest NRA State of the Industry study found that 7 in 10 diners would choose a restaurant where healthy food is available.  Millennials are also more likely to choose a restaurant with locally-sourced, or environmentally-friendly food items.

Bob Evans Breakfast

Another win in the power breakfast category is Bob Evans, where business diners can enjoy a variety of farm-fresh breakfast favorites and conduct an interview with prospective employees at the same time.  No matter the occasion, business diners can enjoy breakfast meals that includes the famous Farmer’s Choice Breakfast to the famous Pot Roast Hash.

“Business meetings allow people to savor great home-style breakfasts together, and at Bob Evans we’re serving more farm fresh fruits and vegetables than ever along with some fun new ways to enjoy them,” said a representative at Bob Evans. “It’s comfort with attitude for business diners: nothing short of simple, delicious, farm fresh, down to earth food done right! That’s the Bob Evans way.”

Whether it’s the road warrior looking for a quick breakfast bite with colleagues or the sales professional looking to engage with their prospects over pancakes, restaurants are stepping up the breakfast game in more ways than one in order to attract the everyday business professional.

 

 

 

 

Cool Summer Food Trends

It’s summer at last!  Don’t wait until you’re home on the weekend to celebrate the season.  If you find yourself on the road for business, fight the urge to order room service and go live it up.  Since it is such a short season, don’t bypass the opportunity for a seasonal experience because you’re away from home and perhaps traveling alone.  Make it a trip to remember by checking out the local food scene and indulging in the amazing cuisines that showcase the abundance of peak seasonal produce.

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Bidwell

If your travels bring you to our nation’s capital, venture out to Union Market.  After you’ve perused the goods that 40 local artisans have on display, have a seat on the patio at Bidwell.  Much of the produce at this Michelin Bib Gourmand-listed restaurant is grown on their aeroponic rooftop, the definition of hyper-local food.  What could be more refreshing than a lemonade infused with basil and cucumber that was grown on site?  Sounds perfect with one of Chef Mooney’s lobster taco appetizers!

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Joy District

“Handcrafted” and “modern” are defining terms on the beverage scene this summer.  Instead of classic soft drinks, bartenders are mixing it up by infusing sparkling soda with hibiscus or berries.  At the Kingside in Manhattan you can enjoy a rooftop experience while sipping on a lavender Collins or a Midtown Spritz, a vodka cocktail with elderflower, prosecco and mint.  If you don’t have an early meeting, Joy District in Chicago offers unique cocktails with a dance party rooftop experience!

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Table & Main

Take a stroll down Canton Street in Roswell, Ga., where you will find a variety of al fresco dining options.  Osteria Mattone offers a patio setting where you can dine underneath the large trees strung with white lights. The patio at Table & Main features a beautiful stone fireplace.  If you’re in the mood for seafood, The Big Ketch Saltwater Grill is just a few steps away with plenty of patio seating.  If you’re able to venture outside the city, The Farmhouse at Serenbe is one of Atlanta’s original farm-to-table restaurants.  The chefs reimagine the menu each month with a focus on local seasonal ingredients, much of what is harvested from their own gardens.

Embrace every opportunity to enjoy the season, it won’t last long!

Author: Janice McEachen

How To Plan The Perfect Company Picnic

Gorgeous sunshine, oh how we’ve missed that warmth! Feeling it again on our faces has us thinking of field days and class parties and – lucky us – now that we’re all grown up, that nearest adult equivalent: the company picnic.

Like any party variety, your company picnic can be mildly enjoyable or it can be memorably, ecstatically amazing, depending on your MASTER PLAN. Yes, the whos, the whats, the hows, the ooh-yes-pleases and all of the other don’t-forget-about-these details all need to be accounted for in one great big company picnic master plan. Whether you’re already knee-deep in arranging this summer’s big shindig or haven’t even begun to think about it and are starting to feel a little panicked, allow us to offer some suggestions on putting together a killer Company Picnic Master Plan.

STEP 1

Answer this: what’s the purpose of your picnic? Believe us when we say that your response, when filtered through your company culture, can help you crush your party plan.

Company tradition, employee appreciation, morale boost, celebrating a milestone, and team-building are all great reasons to throw a party. But throwing some potato salad on a picnic table does not say big love from the C-Suite.

A picnic themed around the year the company started can speak to tradition. Hosting your event at a stadium party room and treating employees to a Major League Baseball game cheers on great teamwork. Renting out a luxury venue says this company is celebrating success with the people who helped make it happen. Don’t bypass this opportunity to make your event truly meaningful to your attendees.

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Whether or not you invite kids will be a key factor in all activities and foods you plan for the picnic.

STEP 2

Set your limits. Your power to throw the ideal company picnic exists at the magical intersection of budget, attendees, and timing. Identifying these three constraints will help you sift down options into a perfectly optimized Master Plan.

  • Know your budget. Where’s the money coming from (if it’s not yours, buddy up with whoever you’ll need to have expense approval from), and of course, how much do you have to work with?
  • Know who’s invited. Is this event for employees only? Employees and families? What about contractors? If your purpose is team-building, an employees-only guest list is perfectly appropriate. You need to have a good estimate on the number – and a rough guess as to the age range and activity levels – of your guests from the start.
  • Know when you want to party. Host your company picnic during a workday and you’re sure to get strong employee participation, but be sure to clear the all-hands time away with your leadership team first. Host on the weekend and you’ll run into more scheduling conflicts, but you’ll also be sending a more family-friendly/inclusive message about your event. Have a meaningful date on which you absolutely must host your picnic? Recognize that your venue options may be more limited with a rigid target date, be flexible if you can, and if you run into too many issues, use this as motivation to start planning next year’s event further out.

STEP 3

Pick a theme. Themes give your event personality and help spark the details that tie your event together. Seriously – hit on a theme that blends your company culture with your party purpose and your picnic will become legend. Anything that engages your group’s enthusiasm, from music festivals to carnivals to superheroes, can be your inspiration. Some other examples …

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If your company culture enjoys healthy competition, a sports theme would be perfect!
  • Sports. Ideal for companies whose employees are anywhere from somewhat to extremely athletic/active/competitive. Throw your event at a community park and organize tournaments for softball games, relay races, frisbee golf, volleyball, flag football, and so on – complete with team tee shirts and trophies (to back up at least a year’s worth of bragging rights). Decorate with custom team pennants and banners and serve ballpark favorites like hot dogs, French fries and caramel corn.
  • Just Cause. Ideal for companies whose employees are particularly focused on volunteering or environmental issues. Organize a group volunteer activity with a nonprofit group – something like a charity bike build-a-thon, planting a community garden, or holding a bagging session for a food bank. Use compostable flatware, plates and napkins with your meal. Decorate (yes, even if you’re holding your event in a park) with live plants that employees can take home after the event.
  • Reality TV. Say what you want about reality TV, but give employees the opportunity to “speak to the camera” and bust out their competitive skills, and see if you don’t discover hidden talents galore. The competitions with this theme are key – for survivalist and ninja warrior types, obstacle courses, scavenger hunts and challenges are awesome; or give in to the drama and have departments put together group skits, songs, or dance-off routines for the chance to be your company’s next top whatever.

STEP 4

Make the food count. With the other elements simmering nicely, we can now talk about our favorite part of the master plan: the food. Picnics totally revolve around food. Mess this up, and it will leave a bad taste in people’s mouths. So, skip the bring-your-own-stuff-to-grill routine and save yourself major headaches. Trust the food to the chefs, restaurants and caterers who live to tantalize others’ taste buds. Talk with the restaurant’s event planner/catering manager. They can handle the food delivery and should be extremely knowledgeable about safe food handling and serving temperatures. Ask if they’re open to customizing the menu to fit your theme – and listen to them when they give you advice about quantities and what will and won’t work for your picnic location and logistics.

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Let Dinova help you find the best outdoor caterer for your company picnic!

Bonus: Not only can catering professionals deliver deliciousness to thrill your attendees, they typically are also extremely well connected. Ask for recommendations on service providers and rental companies they usually work with – for everything from sound systems and tents to tables and chairs and portable toilets – anything that might not be already available through the venue.

STEP 5

Brainstorm the extras – and go for it. Don’t forget about entertainment (again – go for something that ties into your theme, whether that means a live band, deejay, emcee, fireworks or even a special “celebrity” guest). Consider arranging transportation to and from the event – particularly if it’s in a difficult area to find parking at during the workweek (think buses, not cars). Give your event a hashtag, create a logo, and take tons of pictures and video clips before, during, and after to promote it on social media (both internal and external – company picnics are a great opportunity to show off your company culture!). Recruit influencers from different departments to help get everyone excited and involved – and help each employee feel a personal connection.

There’s a lot to do, but don’t let it grind you down. Remember, the whole point of this is to throw a celebration. So go forth and execute this choose-your-own-adventure party: plan it, tweak it, do it, own it – enjoy it!

 

Breweries For Business? Yes, Please!

The smell of wheat fermenting in wooden barrels, the background noise of a major sports game, and the taste of a good old-fashioned burger: the brewery provokes memories of wild Friday nights and lazy Sunday afternoons for any beer-loving (or fun-loving) American. But while breweries are widely known as hot spots for casual events, is it ever appropriate to go to a brewery for work? We emphatically say yes! Taking a client or group of co-workers to a brewery to wrap up business or relax after a busy day of meetings can add just right amount of hops-induced nostalgia that will strengthen bonds and create long-lasting relationships. A brewery is also a one-of-a-kind destination for large parties, such as an end-of-the-year soiree for the entire company.

We at Dinova love a good craft brewery for business dining needs, and that’s why we were thrilled to add 65 locations of CraftWorks Restaurant and Breweries, Inc. to our Marketplace. As the leading operator of brewery and craft beer-focused casual dining restaurants in the United States, the restaurants operated under CraftWorks are well known among brewing connoisseurs and offer a fantastic atmosphere for colleagues and clients alike. Restaurants include Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant, featuring handcrafted beer and made-from-scratch food, Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery, which makes everyone feel like a local, and Chophouse & Brewery, which features a menu that blends the classics of a steakhouse with inspiring items developed from local farmer’s markets. Let’s look at what restaurants we have in the Marketplace from CraftWorks so you can plan your next business dining experience, and use our app and web search to find the nearest CraftWorks cuisine near you:

Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery

  • When you hit Rock Bottom, you’ll not only enjoy handcrafted brews and made-from-scratch food, but you’ll feel a connection to the locals and the location that just doesn’t happen at many other restaurants. Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery is the perfect place for client appreciation parties in private and semi-private spaces.
  • Fun Fact: Rock Bottom’s beers are award-winning – no really, they have won awards for their brews! Six to be exact.

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Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant

  • Inspired by the Reinheitsgebot of 1516, the Gordon Biersch experience rests upon the foundations of purity, simplicity and precision. Gordon Biersch serves sophisticated gourmet food with authentic German lagers. This is a fantastic location for entertaining large parties in private or semi-private spaces.
  • Fun Fact: Gordon Biersch’s German lagers are crafted on-site using only malted barley, hops, yeast and pure, filtered water.

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ChopHouse & Brewery

  • Located in in Washington DC, Denver and Boulder, Colorado, the ChopHouse features a menu that blends classic steakhouse with ever-changing local and organic ingredients. Enjoy ChopHouse’s delicious cuisine any night for dinner or happy hour.
  • Fun Fact: The Boulder ChopHouse has a beautiful location, sitting at the base of Boulder’s scenic Flatiron foothills! The Denver location is right next to the Coors Field, which is perfect for dinner and a baseball game with a client. The DC location is right down the street from the Verizon Center!

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Big River Grille & Brewing Works

  • Big River serves a variety of cuisines, including Southwestern, Cajun, fresh seafood, chicken and pasta, and uses only the freshest ingredients for every plate brought to the table. Also, if you and your clients and colleagues love sport, you can enjoy a friendly game of pool before or after dinner!
  • Fun Fact: Big River’s original location in Chattanooga, TN is located in a historic trolley barn.

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A1A Ale Works

  • Located in historic St. Augustine, A1A Ale works serves fresh fish picked daily by the chefs. A1A Ale Works provides the freshest flavors while overlooking the scenic Mantanza Bay. A1A has a fabulous space for business banquets and celebrations in two private areas.
  • Fun Fact: A1A serves hand-selected loyal and hyperlocal craft beers, as well as beers from around the world!

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Bluewater Grill

  • Bluewater Grille brings their passion for classic steak and seafood dining to Chattanooga. The restaurant features unique décor and atmosphere that provides an inviting space for casually sophisticated dining occasions, social gatherings and private dining events for groups of up to 80 guests.
  • Fun Fact: When booking an event for a team, many will choose Bluewater Grill after an outing at the world-famous Chattanooga Aquarium! Plus, its private room and patio can accommodate these team events!

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Ragtime Tavern

  • Ragtime Tavern serves a variety of cuisines including Cajun, fresh seafood, chicken and pasta. Ragtime’s expert chef brings crave-able favorites to life and creates new specials all the time.
  • Fun Fact: Ragtime Tavern opened back in 1983 as a small neighborhood meeting place with only 12 tables and a single bar.

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Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery

  • Located in Southside Jacksonville, Florida, Seven Bridges serves a crave-able variety of fresh seafood, burgers, steaks, chicken, salads and more. The restaurant features a working brewery, bar and billiards as well as semi-private dining areas for groups and parties.
  • Fun Fact: Seven Bridges Grille serves beer that is brewed in-house and has a brewmaster dedicated to delivering the best beer to every table. The brewmaster taste tests all the brews, and if it isn’t up to their standards, it will never touch your lips. Period.

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Sing Sing

  • Sing Sing is Pittsburgh’s longest running and best Rock ‘n Roll, Sing-a-Long, Dueling Piano Show! Sing Sing features a full bar and serves up American eats.
  • Fun Fact: Sing Sing not only has music shows that are all based on the audience requests, but also comedy shows! You will either be singing or laughing when you go to Sing Sing, and it’s a fantastic team building activity! You can grab dinner before the show upstairs at Rock Bottom Restaurant & Brewery in Pittsburgh or book Sing Sing for private parties during the week.

 

Improve Your (Foodie) Selfie With The Perfect Foodie Shot

We love foodie shots. Scouring through Instagram and Twitter and finding the photos that make us the most hungry from our Dinova restaurant partners is one of our favorite parts of the job, because we get to know our restaurants better and we feel even more inspired to help them drive traffic. We’re really pumped about foodie photos this month, because we have a HUGE contest for all of our Dinova fans, where you’ll have the chance to win a $200 restaurant gift card:

     1. Take a photo of your food in a Dinova marketplace restaurant.

     2. Post onto the social media platform of your choice with the hashtag #dinova by           April 30th. During that time, I’ll be going through all of your photos!

     3. Check our website May 1st – May 15th to see your photo and promote yourself                 during the voting period. The photo with the most votes wins!

Thanks to social media portals like Instagram, diners are able to visually share their experience in a way far more tangible than word of mouth. On the one hand, this is great for restaurateurs – after all, who doesn’t love free marketing?! On the other hand, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to stand out from an overly saturated crowd – so much so that the National Restaurant Association cited this as one of the five key trends shaping the restaurant industry in 2017.

So how do you stand out in a sea of foodie photos? At Dinova we spend a ton of time scouring through the feeds of our restaurant partners, and we’ve noticed that there are three traps in the social foodie game that’s easy to fall into: 1) You think that your photos must be of the upmost professional quality, so you repeat the same 3-5 photos over and over again; 2) You’re not paying much attention to the social world but know you need to play, so you have someone on your staff quickly snap photos in the dark before the food gets served; or finally, 3) You don’t even bother because it just seems too overwhelming.

If you fall under these three traps, no need to worry! Social media can seem so overwhelming when you’re competing with people who have full time jobs in the industry. We at Dinova are here to help, so we’ve compiled our list of top tips to get the winning shot that will help you make your restaurant a talking point. Follow these tips and who knows – maybe you’ll be the next to break the Internet (move over, Kim K!)

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A beautiful example of indirect lighting from our partner View Restaurant in Oakdale, California.

1. Lighting is key. It’s unlikely that you have a ring light and professional camera readily available in the kitchen, but that’s okay! Sunlight is your BFF when you’re taking a foodie photo. Indirect sunlight will capture your food in the absolute best manner. Direct sunlight will blind the image, but indirect will work as a highly attractive background.

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A  fabulously flavorful angle from The Brixton in San Francisco!

2. Angle according to your diner. The best foodie shots in social media that deliver the most double taps and likes are the ones that make it look like the person viewing the photo is sitting at the table, ready to eat the delicious meal. When you take your photo, sit as if you’re the diner and aim your phone at a low angle.

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Bonefish Grill knows how to keep foods bold in flavor and in photography!

3. Be bold. Bright and vibrant colors are most eye-catching, so aim for food with bright vegetables and bold colors that will make someone stop their scroll.

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This delicious photo from Lure Atlanta highlights the food in a simple, white background.

4. Backgrounds matter. Keep the background simple and clean so that you don’t distract from the food – as Chanel says, less is more.

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In this scrumptious photo from The Southern Gentleman in Atlanta, the photo-taker focused on the fork full of mac n’ cheese (and we don’t blame ’em – it makes us super hungry!)

5. Keep focus. Tap on your phone where you want the best focus to be when you’re taking the photo and keep your hands as still as possible. It doesn’t need to be as perfect as a professional photo; it just needs to be clear enough for the food to look delicious!

6. Remember, it’s not a flyer. The use of clip art, logos or anything that you’d use on a flyer should never go on social media unless you’re promoting an actual digital advertisement.

7. Finally, trust your gut. If you find the picture appealing and it makes you want to dig in, others will probably feel the same.

Before we go, we want to make sure restaurateurs know that they too can participate in our Foodie Contest happening this month! In doing so, you’ll be promoted on our website during the voting period for an extra promotional boost! Check out our website for more details.

 

 

Forks Out! It’s Dinova’s Ultimate Steakhouse Dinner FAQ

Everyone knows that when you bring a client to a high-end, contemporary setting to pair a rich Merlot with a prime strip, you mean business. As a staple in the business dining experience, the American steakhouse is a tried and true tradition in the Dinova Marketplace.

Recently we’ve added the delectable Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse to the Dinova Marketplace and we couldn’t be more excited. Del Frisco’s stays true to time-honored principles – like chef-driven cuisine, impeccable wines and exceptional hospitality – to give you an experience like no other.

We know that not everyone is a red-blooded carnivore who knows the ins and outs of ordering steak, yet at some point in your career it’s likely you will be at a steakhouse for a quintessential special occasion at work. So in honor of the addition of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse, we’ve consulted with the experts to compile the ultimate Steakhouse Dinner FAQ so you can navigate any ordering complexities.

1. How do you know which type of steak to order? Let’s break it down one-by-one so you have a cheat sheet for your next soiree, based off of Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House menu:

  • Filet Mignon: This is a term you’ve probably heard frequently, even if you’re not a steak connoisseur. The filet mignon is cut from the tenderloin, which is the most tender part of the animal. This cut of steak is so tender that many will say it melts in your mouth. However, it doesn’t have as much flavor as a prime ribeye. Order up if you want to indulge in a tender, juicy cut of steak.
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Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House 45-Day Dry Aged Bone-In Prime Ribeye
  • Prime Ribeye: This cut of steak comes from the rib area and is known for its rich, juicy steak flavor. The ribeye is a top choice for steak experts thanks to its savory taste. Order up if you want the best in flavor.

 

  • Prime Porterhouse: The porterhouse steak comes from the lower rib portion, closer to the rear end, and contains a “T” shaped bone. While it’s somewhat similar to a ribeye, this steak has a lower fat content and two different textures as it’s made from two different cuts of beef. Order up if you love steak flavor but not the calories.

 

  • Prime Strip: This type of steak is cut from the rear-end of the steer and is known for its tight texture and moderate tenderness. It’s easier to trim and contains less fat than a ribeye, so its easy-to-eat qualities make this a steakhouse favorite. Order up if you want something that’s easy to eat while you chat with your client.

 

  • Wagyu: A unique addition to Del Frisco’s menu, Wagyu is a Japanese beef cattle breed. The distinct taste and tenderness of highly marbled Wagyu beef makes it a point of difference in fine dining, largely due to its incredibly high level of fat marbling that increases tenderness and softness without the unhealthy side effects of saturated fats. Order up if you are a regular steak lover who wants to try something new.

2. What’s the best answer when the waiter asks how you want your meat cooked? Nearly every steak expert will agree that the most flavorful way to cook a steak is medium rare, as this is when steaks are at their most tender, juicy and flavorful. If you’re truly not a fan of anything looking pink in the middle, though, don’t feel bad about going well done. It’s important that you are comfortable with your meal while you’re wining and dining your client.

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Delicious family style sides from Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House

3. What’s the best side dish to order? While this depends on your personal tastes, the potato is the ultimate BFF for the steak, and you can enjoy your potato in many flavorful forms. Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House has several spudtastic sides to choose from, including Uptown Del’s Potato with melted fontina, chives and shaved truffle. If you’re trying to keep things on the healthy side, skip the starchy carb and opt for a delicious vegetable side, such as Del Frisco’s Brussel Sprouts with smoked bacon, caramelized onions and lemon butter. And of course, order plenty of different sides to share if you’re in a group setting.

4. How do you know which wine goes with which steak? We don’t suggest trying to act like an expert in this category, as it varies with each restaurant. Always ask your waiter or the Sommelier for suggestions – not only are they the experts, but this will help enhance the experience for your client as well. Keep in mind that it’s unlikely that you’ll pair a steak with anything other than a red wine.

We hope that this Ultimate FAQ will cure your trepidation the next time you are ready to treat a client at a delightful steakhouse. To find the nearest Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House for your business dining needs, download our app or peruse our web search.

 

 

Dinova’s Best Irish Eateries

St. Patrick’s Day is this month! Whether you are looking to celebrate or are just craving some Irish specialties, Dinova has got you covered. From coast to coast, we are delivering you the best in Irish cuisine. Here is a list of some of the best pubs and taverns in our marketplace to get you in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day!

Finn McCool’s Irish Sports Pub located in Crystal Lake, IL and Schaumburg, IL. 

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Finn McCool’s Irish Sports Pub goes beyond typical pub food with unique & distinctive menu items, plus daily food specials. Finn McCool’s brings a taste of the pub scene to the Suburbs, with a decor of rich, dark woods, stained glass, a large fireplace and a collection of Celtic artifacts peppered with music and sports collectibles to create a fun and colorful montage throughout the pub.

 

O’Brien’s Irish Pub and Restaurant in New York, NY. 

O' Brien

Just steps from Times Square and Broadway, O’Brien’s Irish Pub and Restaurant is located in the heart of New York City. Featuring two levels of seating, one can enjoy a traditional Irish dish while relaxing in one of their two bars.

 

Belltown Pub in Seattle, WA.

Belltown

Belltown Pub specializes in taking traditional pub fare and twisting it deliciously. Belltown Pub offers fun, inspired cocktails and rotating local drafts, complemented by plenty of games like pool, cribbage and dozens of board games.
 Ringo’s Irish Pub in Plano, TX.
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Ringo’s Irish Pub specializes in European beers and specialty cocktails, as well as great fish and chips, burgers, salads and sandwiches. If you’re looking for a comfortable/cozy pub, Ringo’s is your place.

 

Meehan’s Public House in Atlanta, GA.

Meehan

Meehan’s Public House is an authentic Irish eatery that offers a full menu of classic Irish dishes elevated to the gourmet level. Meehan’s menu features Whole30 compliant items, as well as lots of vegetarian options.

 

Blaggard’s Pub in New York, NY.

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Blaggard’s Pub has a truly unique, award winning design. A spacious room with a high copper ceiling, a warm décor, and an ample size bar mentioned in Architectural magazine as one of the finest in the city. Built by Irish craftsmen, this bar truly is a New York experience.

 

Willie McBride’s Irish Pub & Restaurant in Branchburg, NJ & Hoboken, NJ.

Willie McBride

Willie McBride’s Irish Pub & Restaurant features outside dining, stone fireplaces, cherry wood furnishings, themed dining rooms and décor imported from Ireland. Willie McBride’s serves up delicious Irish cuisine that will always keep your appetite satisfied.

 

Five Roses Pub in Rosemont, IL.

Five Roses Pub

For centuries, pub culture has been associated with comfort and hospitality; a tradition Five Roses Pub has built into their pub. Enjoy amazing food, craft beer, and classic cocktails in this cozy eatery.

To learn more about Dinova and the restaurants we have in our marketplace, check out search.dinova.com!

 

Foodie Thoughts for February

February is a short, cold month here in New England.  It’s the perfect time to stay indoors and warm the house with the heat from the oven, and there are some fun themes this month to spice things up a little.

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King Cake: A NOLA favorite!

The Tuesday after Super Bowl is none other than Fat Tuesday!  While many of us associate Mardi Gras with the over-consumption of alcohol and those iconic beads, there are food traditions.  The celebration, on the day before Ash Wednesday, is to indulge in rich foods.  Shrimp and grits, jambalaya and beignets are a few NOLA favorites that we can make at home, but the most iconic Mardi Gras food is the King Cake.  The King Cake is a descendant of the French Gallette Des Rois, which was baked to honor the Three Kings. Hidden in the King Cake is a trinket, and the person that finds the trinket in their piece of cake is king for the day!  Today the cakes are frosted and decorated with purple, green and gold to represent justice, faith and power.

Heart shaped chocolates

Of course Valentine’s Day is on the 14th.  There are a couple of theories on how this celebration of love came to be and they both date back to ancient Rome.  The tradition began here in the states in the early 1800’s when, after receiving a Valentine from England, Esther Howland started designing and selling cards in her home town of Worcester, MA.  Chocolate is what comes to my mind when I think of food associated with Valentine’s Day.  Since oysters are said to be an aphrodisiac they are widely consumed on this special day as well. I think just about anything heart shaped, pink, or red fits the theme.

Chinese New Year, also known as Spring Festival, falls on February 16th this year.  The festivities conclude 15 days later with the Lantern Festival.  Celebrations will be held in many Asian countries, and if you have a Chinatown near you this would be a festive time to visit.  The traditional foods are very symbolic; for example, a whole fish is always served because fish represents prosperity and leaving the head and tail on symbolize a good beginning and end to the year.  Don’t cut your noodles, because they represent a long life!  Oranges and tangerines are handed out because the words sound like luck and wealth, and if you want a baby make sure there are some seeds at the feast representing fertility.

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South City Kitchen’s Shrimp and Grits – a delightful Fat Tuesday treat!

There are so many fun reasons to cook something different, but if you prefer to celebrate by letting someone else do the preparation here are a few ideas from our Dinova partners.  For Fat Tuesday, Shrimp and Grits are always on the menu at South City Kitchen, and if you’re in San Francisco, Brenda’s French Soul Food is the place to be for NOLA style food.  Most of our partners have Valentine’s Day specials, but if you really want to splurge $500 will get you and that special someone a four-course dinner including Veuve Clicquot and a necklace at Flemings.  In DC, Hank’s Oyster Bar will be hosting a “Lonely Hearts Club” celebration. At their festivity you’ll be welcome to write yourself a Valentine and you can even bring your ex’s clothing; they’ll donate them to a charity for you.  Hakkasan has a special Chinese New Year Menu that looks amazing, but if you don’t live near one you can always get your pot stickers at Panda Express!