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On Premise Advice: Spring Is in the Air

By April 6, 2024Rhode Island, Top News

Len Panaggio, Beverage Consultant

By Len Panaggio

Spring is here! I hope the change in season has brought you all some happiness. Beyond the shift to brighter and warmer days, April is a critical month on many levels. First is Tax Day. Hopefully you all did your end-of-year inventory, the most important one in my opinion. If you drill down, you should have assessed what’s moving and what isn’t, coupled with your product mix from your POS system. If you still have some dogs, get rid of them and start the season off with a clean slate. Also, check your pricing again. Bottom lines are under enormous pressure and you need to be vigilant.

Ironically, April 15, Tax Day, is also Patriots’ Day in Massachusetts, which is the date of the Boston Marathon AND the Red Sox play at 11 a.m. It is only observed as a holiday in Massachusetts, but I am always amazed at how many schedulers in restaurants and hotels seem to gloss over it and get caught with their collective pants down. A lot of Bay Staters cross over to our state, especially to the coastal communities, for a three-day weekend. You might also see an uptick in lunch business at the bar with folks excited to see the TV broadcasts of the Marathon and the Sox (maybe?). Be prepared!

Our bars will also have the final rounds of March Madness televised early in the month and that always draws a lot of college basketball fans—and not just to sports bars. Again, be prepared.

Aside from these events, we are inching closer to summer, and hiring will be top of mind as May is a very busy month. The entire state benefits from the busy weekends in May—Mother’s Day, Memorial Day weekend and graduations galore—which require staff, lots of it. The labor problem persists in our industry and you need to be very proactive and creative. The days of when we were inundated with younger people are somewhat over.

Next, keep your eye on our legislature. They are in session and seem to always introduce bills that may adversely impact your bottom line. I know it is difficult to go and testify in person, but email is an effective alternative to making your voice heard by the bill sponsors.

And speaking of the legislature, I need to praise our now-retired President and CEO of the RI Hospitality Association (RIHA), Dale Venturini. I served on the RIHA board in many capacities during her tenure. When she started, it was a man’s world. She surely changed that!

Dale navigated those days and truly gained the respect of the legislature and all the governors she worked with over time, working tirelessly to ensure the voices of our industry were being heard. Many things have changed in the hospitality world in her 35-plus year career; she kept up with them and, in many cases, led changes that were recognized nationally. I wish her the best of luck in her new chapter in life. She will be missed on many levels; I salute her for a job well done!

Len Panaggio’s career in food and wine spans more than three decades as an owner and as a beverage director at some of the top restaurants in Rhode Island. Currently a hospitality consultant, Len is a graduate of the University of Rhode Island and has attended the Culinary Institute of America Master Sommelier program and the Sterling School of Service and Hospitality.

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