Connecticut Restaurant Association Offers ServSafe Courses

February 9, 2016
ServSafe pic

ServSafe
Image: ctrestaurant.org

During its seven years in business under the leadership of Chris Bruno, Chris’s American Restaurant became a staple of Brookfield, Connecticut, serving a variety of progressive American dishes. Known as Fiddler’s Restaurant in the 1990s, Chris’s American Restaurant belonged to the Connecticut Restaurant Association (CRA), which offers weekly ServSafe training courses to members of the state’s culinary community.

ServSafe courses equip chefs and kitchen personnel with the necessary training to help prevent foodborne illness, learn proper food safety, and acquire mandatory state certification as a Quality Food Operator (QFO). For eating establishments to meet state and national food regulations, kitchen personnel must include at least one employee with QFO certification. Connecticut eateries also are required to employ a certified Alternate, who handles the QFO-certified individual’s duties in their absence. In addition, the CRA offers ServSafe professional development seminars certified by the Educational Foundation of the National Restaurant Association.

Seminars cost $140 for members and $175 for non-members, and course fees cover registration, lunch, diagnostic and practice tests, and textbook materials. Courses are conducted in eight-hour sessions, and participants are expected to review materials prior to attending their first class. Additionally, participants must complete the diagnostic test before the session. Participants need to register for courses in advance.

For more information about ServSafe courses offered through the CRA, visit the training webpage at www.register.ctrestaurant.org.

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Six Considerations when Hiring a New Restaurant Chef

January 27, 2016
Hiring a New Restaurant Chef  pic

Hiring a New Restaurant Chef
Image: onsmb.com

Purchased as Fiddler’s Restaurant in 1990 and later rebranded by Chris Bruno, Chris’s American Restaurant remained a staple of Brookfield, Connecticut, until 2010. Individuals who take ownership of eateries like Chris’s American Restaurant sometimes find themselves making staff changes, and the position of executive chef is one of the most important ones to fill. The following tips include points to consider when hiring a new chef.

1. Cooking skill and creativity. Make sure your chef possesses the ability to cook a wide range of food that looks and tastes great. You want a chef who can consistently create good dishes and knows recipes well. Additionally, you also may benefit from a creative chef who can put a new and interesting spin on an old dish.

2. Leadership abilities. Chefs need good leadership skills to effectively and efficiently lead the kitchen staff. Select a candidate who can supervise, assist with training, and earn the respect of your staff.

3. Budget-minded. If your executive chef will aid in the selection and purchase of ingredients, make sure to review the candidates’ ability to budget and find quality, cost-effective solutions. Additionally, you can test their ability to make good dishes on a low budget.

4. Credentials. Review the backgrounds and career histories of each chef candidate to ensure he or she possess previous cooking experience. Check where they attended culinary school, what types of cuisine they know how to cook, and previous kitchen positions.

5. Dish preparation speed. Restaurants particularly those with enough steady business to remain successful, produce large quantities of food in a short amount of time. Make sure your chef can prepare food quickly without sacrificing consistency or quality.

6. Know where to look. Restaurant owners can search for potential candidates by viewing online job postings, talking to food or equipment suppliers, or using a recruiting agency. You can also review the experience and eligibility of your current staff and give the position to one of them.


Liquor License Laws for Restaurants in Connecticut

November 4, 2015

Chris Bruno, formerly the owner of Chris’s American Restaurant (previously known as Fiddler’s Restaurant) in Brookfield, Connecticut, sold his restaurant to Eli Hawli in 2009, after nearly 20 years of operations. Although Chris’s American Restaurant was granted a license to serve alcohol, it was not allowed to transfer its liquor permit, as such permits are nontransferable in Connecticut.

A new restaurant owner must apply for and receive his or her own permit before he or she may begin selling alcohol. Upon becoming a liquor permit holder, one must frame and hang the permit in a visible location where alcohol is being served. In the case a patron is suspected of being underage, a permit holder must have the person in question complete an Age Statement Form prior to serving alcohol. All liquor must be bought wholesale and poured from the bottle in which it was purchased.

Purchasing an existing business with outstanding liquor bills may make the new owner subject to payment. In order to avoid such a scenario, filing a “buyer affidavit” will indicate that the purchaser has checked for unpaid liquor bills. For more information about Connecticut liquor laws, please contact the state’s Liquor Control Division.


Brookfield Chamber of Commerce: Supporting a Robust Business Community

October 21, 2015

Chris Bruno works as a professional chef and restaurant industry consultant in his hometown of Brookfield, Connecticut. After graduating from the culinary arts program at Johnson & Wales University, Mr. Bruno returned to Brookfield, where he purchased Fiddler’s Restaurant (later renamed Chris’s American Restaurant) and ran the establishment for nearly two decades. Following his success with Chris’s American Restaurant, Mr. Bruno went on to found other restaurants in a community with a strong dedication to supporting area businessmen and businesswomen.

Brookfield’s thriving economy derives its strength partly from an eclectic regional community of entrepreneurs and independent businesspeople. At the center of that community is the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce, an institution active in building business unity and in encouraging support for “buy local” programs.

Each month, the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce organizes luncheons and events to gather input and perspective from business owners and operators and to encourage stronger ties among these institutions and between them and their community. For example, the chamber holds monthly networking sessions known as Business Gatherings at member restaurants and non-restaurants. The organization also runs Lunch and Learn sessions, which feature workshops on various business technologies, community trends, and other topics. Lastly, the Chamber holds annual events, such as the Best of Brookfield Trade Show.


Marketing Tips for Restaurant Owners

October 13, 2015

Chef, entrepreneur, and restaurant manager Chris Bruno once owned Fiddler’s Restaurant, an eatery in Brookfield, which he revitalized and renamed Chris’s American Restaurant. The menu featured meals that mixed American and foreign influences, including Thai, Creole, and Italian. Chris’s American Restaurant remains a hotspot for customers who crave the establishment’s unique tastes.

Websites and social media can spread the word about a restaurant’s dining options and ambience, but owners still need to brainstorm ways to distinguish their restaurants from the competition. For example, they can establish bonds with their communities by hosting special events such as charity dinners. To do this, they choose a charity to sponsor and then decide on the type of event. The possibilities include large-scale dinners with a portion of the proceeds going to the charities. For these events, owners can spread the word by posting press releases in local newspapers, advertising on news stations, and posting announcements on websites and social media pages.

Depending on the type of restaurant and clientele, owners may want to consider adding live entertainment to their restaurants. Casual establishments could bring in local bands on weekends, and more upscale establishments could host wine tasting events with classical music.


Three Strategies for Attracting More Customers to Your Restaurant

September 30, 2015

An accomplished restaurant owner and operator who now works as an industry consultant, Chris Bruno previously founded and led Chris’s American Restaurant. At age 24, Chris Bruno purchased the historic local establishment Fiddler’s Restaurant in his hometown of Brookfield, Connecticut. After more than a decade of running Fiddler’s, he renamed the business Chris’s American Restaurant, which he sold in 2009.

In the 21st century, successfully attracting new customers to a restaurant often requires a careful balance between providing good food and service and integrating creativity and technology into a marketing strategy. Some simple ideas that address the latter half of that equation include:

1. Provide check-in apps. Check-in apps, like those available from Yelp and Foursquare, allow users to notify followers when they visit an establishment. These apps offer the added benefit of providing free advertising. Restaurant owners-operators can leverage this technology by rewarding customers who frequently check-in at their business.

2. Brand recipes. Revealing a restaurant’s recipes may seem like it would take away from that establishment’s customer base. However, innovative recipe branding may instead attract new customers and add new revenue streams. Local restaurants could contribute some of their signature recipes to cookbooks or food blogs or start a special “recipe of the month” promotion.

3. Organize in-restaurant events. Wine tastings, themed dinner parties, and similar events all help to promote and generate interest in establishments while also attracting clientele that seeks more than the traditional dining experience. These events, however, require careful planning for best results.


Progressive American Cuisine Embraces International Culinary Trends

September 22, 2014

Chris Bruno is a chef from Brookfield, Connecticut, and the former owner of Chris’s American Restaurant. After purchasing Fiddler’s Restaurant in 1990, he eventually transformed the establishment into Chris’s American Restaurant, serving what he calls “progressive American” cuisine, dishes that fuse locally sourced, regional favorites with international fare. Although the restaurant now operates under a different name and owner, Chris’s American Restaurant is remembered in Brookfield and the entire Danbury region.

“Progressive American” food can encompass a variety of culinary concepts. Many modern diners seek an escape from the more traditional palette, taking interest in dishes that incorporate unusual, exotic, or otherwise alternative ingredients and cooking methods. For example, Chef Bruno served a dinner entree of panko-fried tilapia with sweet and spicy chili sauce, bok choy, and rice noodles, a Japanese-inspired dish, alongside entrees with inspirations hailing from Italy, Latin America, and even New Orleans’ Cajun heritage. This range of culinary styles, fused with dishes and ingredients prevalent in parts of the United States, is a progressive take on cuisine.

American cuisine doesn’t necessarily fall under one solid category. Because of its size, the United States tends to reflect more regional cooking sensibilities as opposed to a definable national flavor. While many dishes are shared, the overarching reality tends to include pockets of very particular food traditions. For example, southern California prominently features Mexican dishes due to its close proximity to Mexico. However, the region is home to its own unique versions of more traditional Mexican dishes. Texas has a similar tradition, known as “Tex-Mex.” Around the United States, cooks like Chris Bruno are creating their own sense of culinary tradition through progressive cuisine.


Ryan McElroy Children’s Cancer Foundation Benefits Sick Children

August 11, 2014

Chris Bruno is a chef and the former owner of Chris’s American Restaurant, originally known as Fiddler’s Restaurant, in Brookfield, Connecticut. Residents of Brookfield and Danbury enjoyed a menu featuring an abundance of fusion dishes, incorporating dishes from around the world with traditional American fare. Chris Bruno made the change from Fiddler’s Restaurant to Chris’s American Restaurant in 2003, and enjoyed two solid decades of success with the business. Mr. Bruno credits his success to his community, supporting charities like the Ryan McElroy Children’s Cancer Foundation.

The New York-based charity was created in 1998 in honor of the two founders’ son, Ryan, who died from a rare form of bone cancer just before turning 5. The proceeds of the foundation’s annual fundraising events go to the families of children who are fighting cancer. The annual Clay Shoot is one such popular event, drawing teams out for a day of clay disc shooting and festivities. The 2014 Clay Shoot will be held June 7. Another popular fundraiser is the Milebrook Dualthon and Kids’ One Mile Run. Planned for May 10, 2014, the event draws teams and individuals who walk, bike, or run the course. The Kids’ One Mile Run starts half an hour before the adult event. Both fundraising events honor children who have lost their lives to cancer. For more information, visit http://www.ryansfoundation.org/.


Things to Consider When Opening a New Restaurant

August 3, 2014

After completing a culinary arts program and gaining experience as a sous chef in New York, Chris Bruno purchased Fiddler’s Restaurant, which was then an Irish Pub, and later changed the name to Chris’s American Restaurant to reflect a revised menu. Chris Bruno owned and managed Chris’s American Restaurant in Brookfield, Connecticut, for nearly two decades.

When opening a new restaurant, an owner needs to consider zoning laws, food safety requirements, and insurance options. Zoning laws apply to existing and new buildings and can have significant impact on the location of a new restaurant. Regulations vary by city and state, but generally encompass the right to practice business in commercial versus residential areas, make improvements to an existing building, and construct a restaurant from the ground up.

To obtain a permit allowing business activity to commence, owners must meet local food safety requirements. Restaurants are expected to safely source food, properly handle food, and store food at the correct holding temperatures. Local health departments conduct regular inspections of restaurants in order to ensure adherence to these rules.

Owners should also choose an insurance plan that protects the business and public. Available insurance options include coverage for the property as well as general and liquor liability. Depending on the state, owners might also need to purchase workers compensation insurance.


Ryan McElroy Children’s Cancer Foundation: Upcoming June 2014 Event

February 11, 2014



Entrepreneur Chris Bruno, the former owner-operator of Chris’s American Restaurant in Brookfield, Connecticut, enjoys giving back to his community and to worthy initiatives in his free time. A successful restaurateur, Mr. Bruno purchased Fiddler’s Restaurant in 1990 and transformed it into Chris’s American Restaurant. Mr. Bruno also donates his time and resources to the Ryan McElroy Children’s Cancer Foundation of nearby Pawling, New York.

The Ryan McElroy Children’s Cancer Foundation raises funds for cancer research and for children with cancer and their families. The nonprofit was named in honor of 5-year-old Ryan McElroy, who suffered from a rare bone cancer for three years before succumbing in 1998.

The Ryan McElroy Children’s Cancer Foundation depends on regular fundraisers and generous benefactors to achieve its goals. On June 7, 2014, the organization will hold its annual clay shoot at the TMT Hunting Preserve and Sporting Clays in Clinton, New York. At $150 per head, the event includes a full day of clay shooting, along with breakfast and lunch, a raffle, and a live auction. Learn more about the event at www.ryansfoundation.org.