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Chambers of Commerce Sponsor Restaurant Seminar

Focus is on how to thrive.

On Monday, the Hercules Chamber of Commerce will sponsor Thriving in the Restaurant Industry, a half-day seminar detailing the finer points of the restaurant industry, held in the Chamber of Commerce room at El Cerrito City Hall from 12-4 p.m.

Other sponsors include the respective Chambers of Commerce in Pinole, Crockett, and Rodeo, as well as the cities of El Cerrito and San Pablo.

A donation of $250 assured the Hercules Chamber priority seating for its organizations, which will include the Powder Keg, among others. Although the registration deadline is May 6, attendees may be seated at the free event on Monday with space permitting.

The symposium is hosted by the Business Development Center of West Contra Costa County, a community-based non-profit organization dedicated to helping local business generate jobs and stimulate the economy.

“A lot of the clients we have revolve around food,” said Business Development Center program manager Waleska Haro. “We wanted to focus on providing them tools that they can implement within their systems.”

The first half of the seminar will include a workshop taught by San Francisco-based Five Star Restaurant Consultants lead consultant Louise Dawson, which includes education specific to the restaurant industry. Dawson has taught similar classes in other areas under the name Restaurant Bootcamp.

“We want to provide a platform for the industry community to come together and serve each other in an educational way,” Dawson said. “Restaurateurs don’t have time to attend multiple weekly classes and make all these contacts.”

After a brief networking opportunity from 2:30 to 2:45, the afternoon will close out with a panel discussion focused on marketing strategies entitled “Creating the Marketing Buzz”. The discussion will have a distinctive West Contra Costa County slant with panelists such as Gary Wong of Pinole’s Pear Street Bistro and Jennifer Arrouzet of El Sobrante’s Jennifer and Todd’s Café Soleil.

Additionally, Heather Mlodinow of Southern California text message marketing specialist Frextr, Durk Edwards of New York’s OLO online ordering platform and gift card marketing specialist Lance Joe will give the panel a cosmopolitan flair.

“The second part of the afternoon will focus on different marketing approaches such as gift card marketing and social media networking,” said Ivette Ricco, who was hired to do public relations for the Business Development Center and is also the President of the .

The Business Development Center is also in the process of building a culinary kitchen in Pinole this summer, which will be available to West County businesses to utilize for their food preparation needs.

“They’ll probably hold some educational events there as well, but it will primarily be to give independent restaurant owners, or those that are in the business such as at a farmer’s market, a place where they can have a big kitchen that they can use,” Ricco said. “It should be open for July.”

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