postheadericon Five Benefits of Owning an Investment Property

  Five Benefits of Owning an Investment Property

There are many benefits to owning an investment property. If you are in the position to do so it can be financially beneficial to choose property investment. Like everything to do with money it is wise to get the right property investment advice, so speak to your financial planner, your mortgage broker and real estate professionals.

1. Capital growth:

Through owning an investment property you will see a long term growth in your capital. Buying a property is usually a long term investment. When you purchase the property it is normal to intend on having that property in your possession for a long period of time. If you purchase land you can increase the value by building a house, and in time both the land and home will increase in value. If you do go to sell the property you are likely to make a decent return on your initial outlay.

2. Minimize tax:

You are able to claim any depreciation on the buildings fixtures or fittings, and if the building is new or bought off the plan then you can claim for the maximum amount. Make sure that the structure of the ownership of the property is considered carefully as this can affect the investment property tax deduction rate. You may own the property yourself, or joint own it with a partner, or it could even be owned by a company. You can also get tax benefits through negative gearing.

3. Renting:

You may choose to rent the property out. There are many benefits to renting a property, the main one being an increase in your cash flow. Your tenants can effectively pay your mortgage for you on the property, with their rent covering some, if not all your mortgage. You even may choose to make additional payments to speed up the process, which in the long run will mean you pay less interest on the loan. It is a good idea to have a real estate agent handle the lease for you, and make sure that the tenants pay bond. Don't accept tenants into your home on a hand shake agreement.

4. Future use:

You may choose, down the track, to move into the investment property yourself. Depending on where you purchase the home, you might decide in the future to use the home as a holiday home. An investment property does not just have to be a residential property in the suburbs. You might buy a beach home, an apartment in the city, a bush block or a rural property. Other types of investment properties can include commercial property, a warehouse, a shop or vacant land.

5. Secure investment

Buying property is considered a more secure investment than some other types of investments, including investing in shares, super funds or investing in a start up business. There is a certain element of risk to all investments but some are more volatile than others. Shares are affected by global financial activity, and the recent global economic downturn has seen many people lose a lot of money on the shares, as well as through their super funds. A new business starting up carries a lot of risk as there are many factors involved in it being successful. There are risks with investing in property, for example your house may burn down, but being a physical asset you have a lot more benefits.


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postheadericon Hungry? Apps Help Find Restaurants

Paul Szelc was in Columbus, Ohio, not long ago - he travels frequently for his job as a college basketball official - and was in the mood for a burger.

So he turned to the Urbanspoon application on his iPhone and found Thurman Café.

Although he might have found the restaurant another way, a user review of the place mentioned that diners needn't worry about the long lines stretching out the door - the restaurant turns tables quickly, and single diners often can find a seat at the bar.

"Had I driven up to it without reading that review, I probably would have said, 'I don't want to wait all day,'?" the Wauwatosa man said. Instead, he got in line and presently was sitting down to the burger he'd been craving.

Apps for Apple's iPhone and other smart phones are helping users in all sorts of realms; they're helping diners select restaurants, navigate their way to them, pick a sure thing from the menu and calculate the tip, too.

Of course, other avenues exist for finding the information, though none as handy as having all the resources with you as you're walking down the street, phone in hand.

Users say the apps aren't perfect but are a big help nonetheless.

For example, Szelc noted that he uses the free Urbanspoon app in tandem with Zagat to Go - at $9.99, one of the priciest dining apps. Casual places such as burger and pizza joints are more prevalent on Urbanspoon, but if he's looking for someplace more upscale - like the Italian restaurant he recently visited in Detroit - he turns to Zagat to Go.

From the same people who produce the Zagat guides, this app includes useful categories, ranking restaurants by food, cost or decor. Szelc said he's less likely to trust the Urbanspoon rankings, turning a skeptical eye on something like a "most romantic restaurant" rating for Olive Garden.

Another caveat with Urbanspoon that Szelc noted: A glowing review could just as easily have come from a restaurant owner or employee, whereas Zagat ratings come strictly from diners before being compiled into an aggregate score.

Apps that help find a restaurant are most valuable when he's traveling, Szelc said, although he'll use them locally to retrieve a restaurant's phone number or menu. And he did try the applications first in town, where he knows the restaurant landscape, to see whether he could trust the recommendations.

A last-minute victory

Andrea Avery, gallery manager and curator for the Union Art Gallery at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and a graduate student at the Peck School of the Arts there, relies on iWant - which combines Yelp and Urbanspoon restaurant reviews with nearby movie showtimes and Yellow Pages - and OpenTable apps.

In town, she mainly uses the apps to provide visiting artists with restaurant options. Traveling, though, is when they really pay off.

Last year, when she went to New York for restaurant week, she was able to score last-minute, hard-to-get reservations at the vaunted WD-50 through OpenTable.

"It turned out to be an unforgettable time, and we were invited to take a kitchen/lab tour," she said. There, she met chef-owner Wylie Dufresne and his pastry chef, Alex Stupak.

The downsides

Apps have their limitations and frustrations. Avery's annoyances with the restaurant finders mainly have been with bad directions and closed restaurants.

Another downside: Mom and pop places might not be included on an app, leading diners to overlook some treasures, Avery noted.

And relying on apps does remove the human element. "There is pride in finding a gem on your own or getting a suggestion from a local about 'that one' amazing dish you 'have to try' at some place that is off the beaten path," she said.

And, of course, the apps aren't effective everywhere. Traveling in Asia recently, Avery found her favorite meals at street markets and in private homes where she was invited, not in restaurants.

That bubble is an eatery

Some apps offer more than just reviews, hours and addresses. A couple let diners find a place to eat through the lenses of their smart phones using a technology called augmented reality.

Augmented reality blends real and virtual information in real time, often combining computerized content with a live video feed. The augmented-reality features in Yelp and Zagat to Go turn the iPhone's camera, with help from its GPS, into a digital viewfinder that highlights restaurants with bubbles appearing in the direction of nearby places to eat. Pan the phone around to find bubbles and then tap a bubble for all the basics, including reviews and ratings.

The technology is useful when exploring unfamiliar territory, according to Michael Massie, an iPhone app developer in Milwaukee who has used dining apps including Urbanspoon, Yelp and Zagat to Go.

Massie started his dining app testing long ago with Urbanspoon - among the first dining apps on the market - but found its suggestions repetitive. Yelp is sometimes useful, he said, although he takes issue with some of the reviews.

"Urbanspoon kind of always gave you the same places," he said. "Yelp I like, but I am getting a bitter taste in my mouth about it because it's written by users. They will get on their soapbox and give a place one star because someone next to them was too loud. I am not sure how big a fan I am of the public review process. I don't give them a lot of weight."

Zagat, however, has all the polish of the professional publication in addition to the augmented-reality technology, which it calls Retina.

"I do like Zagat very much," said Massie, a frequent business traveler. "Its content is so much better."

Friends' words

Massie noted that Foursquare, the social media app that lets friends share their whereabouts by "checking in" to different venues, is also a useful tool for dining because people can leave suggestions. And since those suggestions are from people he knows, they mean more to him than a rant from a stranger.

"I think there is more potential there because .?.?.?people you follow on Twitter or Foursquare, those I will appreciate more because we at least share some similarities and interests."

Massie noted that Foursquare also suggests discounts at nearby bars and restaurants, offering another incentive for trying new places or revisiting favorites.

"I wish more dining apps integrated that, because it really adds value," Massie said.

A better app

Fred Gillich, another iPhone app developer in Milwaukee, said there is still plenty of room for dining apps to improve. He'd want a dining app giving restaurateurs more control over the content, allowing them to post updated menus, discounts and special events.

"I would love to see a resource compiled where restaurants could upload and generate their own content," he said.

Restaurants could better promote their philosophies - such as using organic foods or free-range meats - or give potential customers advice on when to avoid the bar crowd or other factors that can affect the dining experience.

Current iPhone apps are fine as a starting point in a new city, he said, but are only really useful to him when he's not in Milwaukee.

"One of my favorite things is food," Gillich said. "If a new restaurant is opening in town or I am looking for a place to go here, it's not all that helpful. Generally I am on top of that."

The Journal Sentinel has just launched a smart phone app that, among other things, gives users access to Carol Deptolla's restaurant reviews. Free Apps for iPhone or Droid are available for download.


postheadericon Latest Chefs on the Move

Tracey Bloom, Bernard McDonough, David Martinez and others September 10, 2010 | By Bret Thorn Previous Pause Next 1234 Tracey Bloom Bernard McDonough David Féau Jeff O'Neill

Tracey Bloom, a former “Top Chef” contestant, is the new executive chef of Ray’s at Killer Creek in Alpharetta, Ga. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., she previously was executive chef of Table 1280 in Atlanta.

Bernard McDonough has been named executive chef of the Hotel Matilda, which is slated to open this month in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. A veteran of private clubs, he most recently was executive chef of the Snake River Sporting Club in Jackson Hole, Wyo. At the Hotel Matilda, he will be focusing on updated versions of comfort food.

David Martinez is the new chef of 5 & Diamond in New York City. Born in Valencia, Spain, Martinez grew up in Crawford, N.J., cut his culinary teeth working in the kitchens of Bouley and Aureole in New York City before taking a position as executive sous chef at the Hotel & Resort Sol Melia in Costa Brava, Spain.

Lloyd Cremer is the new executive chef at the Westin Casuarina Grand Cayman Beach Resort & Spa on Grand Cayman Island. Previously, he was executive chef of the InterContinental Abu Dhabi. He also was the opening executive sous chef of the Fairmont Heliopolis in Egypt.

David Féau has been named chef de cuisine at The Royce, which will open in October in the space that previously was the Dining Room at The Langham Huntington in Pasadena, Calif. The former executive chef of Lutèce, first in New York and then in Las Vegas, most recently was executive chef of Café Pinot, a Patina Group restaurant in Los Angeles.

Jeff O’Neill, who worked for four years as the Trump family’s chef at Mar-A-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., is the new head chef of The Villa By Barton G in Miami Beach, Fla.

Contact Bret Thorn at

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postheadericon Restaurant Design Trends 2010

Meet The New School Restaurant Design Trends of 2010

Thursday, June 24, 2010, by Greg Morabito 254

After taking a look at all the big bars and restaurants that have opened in the past six months, it was hard not to notice that a few of the same design elements kept popping up. Some are as small as a piece of furniture, some are as large as entire dining room concepts. Here now is a list of ten of the New School Restaurant Design Trends of 2010:

10) Boiler Room Chic: Dining rooms with exposed brick, tan wood accents, and utilitarian lighting fixtures give off a cool, subterranean vibe, that is also at times reminiscent of a janitor’s closet. The message here is that the food is the main attraction, or that cocktails are best enjoyed in a secret, craggy nook where no one will find you. (see: Hecho in Dumbo, Penny Farthing).

Fake Ivy, Recycled Junk, Pottery Barn Nautical, and more.>>


9) The Lyon Stool: This boxy, tin, backless chair has made appearances at many, many new restaurants this year. It has a clean, vaguely retro look, as well as a certain craftsman appeal (it is most commonly found in electrical and carpentry workshops). You might see these in grey or red, with an oval-shaped hole in the top, or with a patch of cork board on the seat. (see: Betel, Anfora, Terroir).


8) Lady Parlours: A lot of the big new lounges and cocktail dens this year boast antique fixtures, splashy paint jobs, mix-and-match patterns, over-stuffed furniture, and tchotchkes galore. It’s a lush look, and one that is undeniably feminine. (see: Cocteleria, Rabbit in the Moon, Mari Vanna)


7) Fake Ivy: Long, creeping tendrils of ivy on brick exteriors make a restaurant look both old and prestigious (and vaguely clubby). Unfortunately, a proper ivy wall takes years to grow, but the fake stuff can be put up in no time at all. (see: The Lion, Rabbit in the Moon)


6) Recycled Junk: Furniture and architectural details made from discarded or repurposed materials not only draw attention to the design interest of the space, but also suggest an eco-friendliness. Sometimes this can give off a nice lived-in feel, other times it makes an eatery look like a tricked-out tree house. (See: The Collective, ABC Kitchen, Lady Jay’s).


5) Stationary Retro Food Trucks: A few new restaurants have incorporated Airstream diners and vintage food trucks into their permanent designs. It’s all the fun of a food truck, without all the actual headaches of operating a mobile restaurant. (see: Le Bain, Goods Food, Senor Tacombi).


4) Pottery Barn Nautical: This style references the classic Jolly Roger vibe of a touristy fish shack, in a pared down, refined way. There may not be buoys hanging from the wall, but a nicely matted, Captain Ahab illustration from an old edition of Moby Dick, or a vintage painting of a weary Maine lobsterman are all par for the course. (see: Choptank, Luke’s Lobster, Mermaid Inn Oyster Bar).


3) Nothing, or One Thing on the Wall: A "less is more" aesthetic is having a moment right now. Some places keep their walls totally empty, others hang one impressive, unusual piece of art so that diners can use it as a conversation piece. (see: Ma Peche, Luke's Lobster).


2) Exposed Wine Cases: Not a new trend, but a popular one this year. These temperature controlled, transparent cases make a restaurant’s wine collection into a strange piece of glass sculpture, while also suggesting that the bottle list is some next level stuff. (see: Quattro, The Mark).


1) Creams, Dark Pastels, Shades of Grey: For whatever reason, a few of the big new restaurant spaces this year have put the design focus on big swaths of mute colors, sometimes paired together in various geometric shapes. (see: The Mark, Faustina, Tamarind, 1 or 8)


postheadericon Training Tools to Promote Food Safety

Training tools available to promote food-safety education

Posted by NRA Staff on August 18, 2010 9:52 AM

Restaurateurs are gearing up for National Food Safety Education Month in September by taking advantage of the free training materials at

The National Food Safety Education Month materials include downloabable posters and games. The free materials are based on the NRA's ServSafe food safety training and certification program. The materials are designed to communicate food safety concepts quickly to employees. Activities can be completed in less than 10 minutes.

Virginia Petrancosta, National Restaurant Association marketing director, offers 10 ideas for how operators can spotlight their food safety education efforts this September:

1. Conduct a food safety training class for all employees.

2. Conduct a “High-Risk Customers: Serve Your Fare with Extra Care” quiz for employees during National Food Safety Education Month.

3. Ask each head cook/manager to review the weekly activities with staff through contests or games and offer prizes to encourage participation.

4. Promote National Food Safety Education Month in your operation’s employee newsletter or magazine.

5. Institute a “Best Food Safety Idea” contest with an award to employees with ideas to improve food safety in the company’s restaurants.

6. Place the NFSEM logo on all memos to employees, employee bulletin boards and in team break rooms.

7. Add the NFSEM logo on e-mail and invoices, and place it on tabletops and check-out stations to spread the word to your guests and vendors that you are committed to food safety.

8. Offer goodie bags to team members with thermometers, food safety pamphlets and other items.

9. Promote National Food Safety Education Month, and your involvement in this national campaign, on your website.

10. Highlight your food safety training programs to local media.

The theme of this National Food Safety Education Month is "High-risk customers: serve your fare with extra care."

The five weekly activities focus on children and food safety; how to recognize high-risk customers; foods that high-risk customers should avoid; cooking foods to the proper internal temperatures for high-risk customers; and the top five food safety risk factors.

Visit for details.

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