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Archive | June, 2012

Food Service Product Watch: 10 Products For Your Restaurant

Food Service Product Watch: 10 Products For Your RestaurantEvery restaurant kitchen is full of tools of the trade, from heavy duty gas ranges to the lowliest spatula, it takes a lot of equipment to serve your customers right – day in and day out.  Keeping track of all the equipment and products that can help make your operation run more smoothly could be a full time job in itself, and I know you don’t have the time for another full time job.

These Back Burner posts cover some products that might be of use in your commercial kitchen.  Feel free to browse through and see if you find something you like:

Crocs Shoes For Food Service Professionals - These Crocs are designed specifically for the food service industry and have proven to be a hit with the chefs and waitstaff that have tried them.

Two Levels Of Oven Mitt – There’s your standard, garden variety oven mitt and then there’s Tucker, which takes the commercial oven mitt to a whole new level of safety and convenience.  Learn the difference in this post.

Floor Matting - If your kitchen doesn’t have floor matting, or if you need to replace the worn stuff you’ve got now, this post will help you understand why you need new matting for the sake of safety and which type will work best.

The Poseidon: The New God Of Digital Portion Scales - If you haven’t heard about The Poseidon digital portion scale from Edlund, you’ve been missing out on one of the hottest new products in food service.

How Ice Machine Water Filters Can Help With More Than Just Ice - If you’re not filtering the water coming out of your glass filler, you should be.  Luckily, you can easily add a water filter just like the one you use for your ice machine to produce clean, fresh, great tasting water for your customers.

Restaurant Equipment Casters: Buy Smart – If you need to replace the casters on your restaurant equipment, or if you need to add casters to new equipment, read this post first to make sure you don’t pay too much and that you get the right casters the first time.

The EndoTherm Thermometer: Does It Really Help You Save Energy and Improve Food Safety? – The EndoTherm is a thermometer inside a liquid gel that mimics food product in your walk-in.  This allows you to check the actual temperature of your product rather than the ambient air temperature in the walk-in giving you a more accurate sense of food temperatures.

Lincoln Smallwares: A Little Cookware For Everyone – Lincoln has four lines of cookware and each one is designed for a different chef.  No matter what, you’re going to find the line that’s right for you.

Hoshizaki Ice Machines: The Preferred Choice – Hoshi ice machines are a great choice if you’re in the market for ice machines.  Learn more about their products here.

Krowne Underbar Equipment – You already know about Krowne’s great restaurant plumbing, but if you haven’t seen their modular underbar equipment, you’re in for a pleasant surprise.Food Service Product Watch: 10 Products For Your Restaurant

BONUS PRODUCT: Handle Bulk Vegetable Oil The Smart Spout Way – The Smart Spout makes pouring bulk vegetable oil safer and easier.  It’s one of those simple product innovations that really makes you wonder why you didin’t have one before this.

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How to Wage War on Water Orders

How to Wage War on Water OrdersNow is the time for your restaurant to take a stand. The war on tap water is steadily spiraling out of control. You may have lost the battle but the war can still be won.

Whether it’s their growing waistlines, shrinking budgets, or a combination of the two, restaurant diners are ordering more tap water when dining out. The motivation for customers to do so is obvious: tap water is free and contains zero calories.

Over the last five years tap water has become increasingly popular, while other beverage sales have suffered. According to NPD Group, a market research company, tap water accounts for 10% of beverages ordered in the past five years, and total beverage orders are down 6%.

This is a trend that restaurant owners want to reverse. Beverages sales make up a large part of a restaurant’s revenue and when customers are sticking to water this revenue is diminished.

Restaurant owners need ways to attack their falling beverage sales. Here are a few possible ways to increase your restaurant’s beverage sales.

Maximize Your Beverage Options with Coca-Cola Freestyle

Coca-Cola Freestyle is a new beverage dispenser that offers more than 100 different drink options. Customers are able to choose their favorite option or customize their own beverage.

This is a great way to increase your beverage options and provide customers with a selection they cannot ignore. Five Guys and Burger King restaurant chains have already endorsed Coca-Cola Freestyle and will install machines in restaurants nationwide.

Create Your Own Unique Beverage Options

Instead of presenting diners with the same beverage list they might find at any other restaurant put a creative and customized spin on your drink menu. By putting in the extra effort to set your drink menu apart from the rest you will provide your customers with more incentive to indulge and experience drinks they have not encountered before.

Millennium, a gourmet restaurant in San Francisco, has embraced this idea and created an extensive customized drink menu. This drink menu includes specialty cocktails made of hand-crafted ingredients (like ginger agave) prepared by the kitchen staff, the bartenders then use these ingredients and their creativity to concoct unique beverages. The restaurant also offers specialty non-alcoholic juices and natural sodas.

Train Staff to Sell Beverages

Your servers are fighting on the front line and you should provide them with the artillery to combat incoming water orders. It is common for restaurant servers to just ask a customer whether they want a beverage and accept “no” for an answer.

Train your employees to use “suggestive selling” to help persuade diners to order a beverage with their meal. This can be done by suggesting an item from the drink list that would complement the meal they ordered or by highlighting some of the more unique and enticing beverage items your restaurant serves. It is important that your staff knows how to suggest a beverage without being too aggressive and overwhelming in the process.

Combo Meals

Creating combination choices on your restaurant’s menu is another good way to increase beverage sales. Combo meals can be implemented in any style restaurant, whether it is fine dining or fast food.

This is a great way to get your customers to order a beverage, allowing you to combine an entree with a beverage option and provide your customers with an easier and more affordable way to order a drink with their meal. Combo meals also create an opportunity to add an appetizer or dessert to generate more orders for these parts of your menu.

Happy Hour

Offering a happy hour for customers is a great way to not only increase beverage sales but also increase foot traffic that comes through your restaurant daily. A happy hour provides customers with a reason to stop by your restaurant frequently and order drinks.

This promotion will also increase appetizer sales. People are constantly looking for a reason to go get a drink with friends; by creating a happy hour you are giving them a reason and a place to go.

With the war on water out of control it is time for your restaurant to make a strategy change with its beverage sales. Tap water orders are becoming more and more popular as other beverage sales fall. Your restaurant needs to plan its counter attack today. By employing a new plan of action you may be able to reverse or at least slow this troubling trend.  Don’t loose your beverage sales in the fight against tap water.

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Scheduling Your Way to High Customer Praise

In order to survive (and thrive!) in a dynamic and fast-changing industry, food and beverage businesses need tools and services that help with management and scheduling to make the day-to-day and overall business run smoothly and efficiently. Whether you have a fairly regular schedule, or your business runs on irregular events, effective staff scheduling is essential. But before you can schedule efficiently, you need an effective scheduling software application.

Effective scheduling software essentially implies that, overall, you save time and money. Streamlining your business processes and, furthermore, doing it from one integrated, centralized platform makes your end goal of increasing your net profit, much easier and attainable.

A management application that is scalable, flexible and adaptable give food and beverage businesses the buffer zone they need, as well as the resources to grow. In an industry where most employees are interacting regularly with customers, your business’ success relies heavily on presentation. With staff scheduling under control, you will offer better services, avoid looking frantic or under pressure, be more present and confident and ultimately develop higher customer praise – which then increases your net profit!

On top of that, having a realistic understanding what you and your employees can achieve in any given amount of time and having a better planning method to make the best use of the available time will improve your business functionality.

 

Managers are able to stay on top of their business operations, which will happen faster and smoother, with more efficient scheduling. This is beneficial for both the business and the customers. Scheduling with better communication and being more resilient to change will make your food and beverage business run more seamlessly.

Does your business need an accurate and efficient scheduling? You, too, can schedule your way to customer praise and see the results by increasing your net profits.

Ming Ong regularly blogs about staff scheduling and workforce management for ShiftPlanning Inc.

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17 Energy Efficiency And Going Green Tips

17 Energy Efficiency And Going Green TipsImproving your restaurant’s energy efficiency and sustainability practices has two rewards: reduced costs and great PR opportunities.  Studies have shown that consumers are increasingly aware of “green” issues and that they care about them, even in a down economy.  That means you can connect with your customers and build brand loyalty while streamlining your operation at the same time.  These articles will help you take advantage of green opportunities and shed some light on what’s coming down the pike in the near future:

1.  Stop Giving Waste Fryer Oil Away! – More than likely someone is recycling your waste fryer oil for you.  Hopefully you’re not paying for that service.  Soon, though, you’ll want to keep that oil to yourself and generate your own electricity.  Learn why in this post.

2.  Chefs Make Their Own Honey – From vegetables to honey, chefs are making a lot of ingredients themselves these days, and saving a lot of food miles in the process.

3.  How Chipotle Went Platinum- A Chipotle franchise in Gurnee Mills, IL recently won Platinum energy efficiency from LEED.  Learn more about the program in this post.

4.  Have You Joined The NRA’s Conserve Initiative?- The National Restaurant Association’s Conserve Initiative is and effort to bring more of the food service industry into the energy efficiency fold.  Learn more in this post.

5.  Can We Bring Bluefin Tuna Back From The Brink? – The bluefin has been fished nearly to extinction, but an Australian fisherman has figured out how to bring them back from the brink.  Learn more in this post.

6.  Is Your Kitchen Ventilation Sucking Up Money? – That hood in your kitchen uses A LOT of energy.  Learn how to make sure it’s running as efficiently as possible in this post.

7.  The Conflict Between Local Food And Local Government – “Urban farming,” the increasingly popular practice of planting vegetables in vacant lots and rooftops in urban environments, sometimes comes into conflict with municipal ordinances.  Learn how that conflict is shaping up in one California town.

10 More Energy Efficiency Tips Here

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Product Watch: Fagor Commercial Dishwashers

Fagor commercial dishwashers are a great choice for any restaurant or commercial kitchen.  These dish machines are affordable, energy efficient, and very durable.  Fagor has always been known internationally for their quality products and it’s only recently that they’ve made a name for themselves in the U.S.

When selecting the right Fagor dish machine for your business, make sure you choose the right sized unit for the job.  Undercounter units can handle up to 35 racks per hour.  Door type units can process between 35 and 60 racks per hour.  And the Fagor single compartment conveyor dish machine can wash up to 150 racks in a single hour.

When calculating how many racks you need to wash per hour, consider the following factors:

  • About 35 racks of dishes are produced for every 100 meals served
  • Your dish machine should be able to easily handle peak demand volume like Valentine’s Day dinner rush
  • Dish machines have a 5 – 10 year lifespan, so add 10% – 20% capacity for future growth

Once you have an accurate estimate of your dishload, choose a Fagor unit that works best for your situation:Product Watch: Fagor Commercial Dishwashers

Undercounter Dishwashers – These undercounter units feature a Hot Water Assurance booster heater that guarantees NSF required 180 degree water temperature.  Add in Energy Star rated efficiency, with less than one gallon of water used per rack, and rugged stainless steel construction, and you’ve got a high performance unit that’s both efficient and effective.

Door Type and Conveyor Dishwashers – These high volume dishwashers can handle all the needs of a commercial kitchen or restaurant without sacrificing the efficiency of other Fagor models.  Stainless steel construction, dual powerful water pumps, and a heat booster guaranteed to achieve 180 degrees make these units a quality choice in commercial dishwashing.

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Efficient Restaurant Tips: Manage Equipment (continued)

Here are some more tips on how to make sure your restaurant equipment is performing at maximum efficiency.

Perform regular equipment maintenance. Simple parts on cooking and refrigeration equipment break down or degrade over time from constant use, reducing energy efficiency and equipment performance.

Usually these parts are so easy to replace you can do it yourself:

 

Efficient Restaurant Tips: Manage Equipment (continued)

Different refrigeration gasket styles

Door gaskets. The constant opening and closing of oven, steamer, and refrigerator or freezer doors leads to wear and tear on the gasket that helps seal in heat or cold.

Replace these gaskets as they become worn to reduce leaks.

Thermostats. The thermostat on your freezer, refrigerator, or fryer can lose its calibration or wear out, meaning the machine isn’t operating at optimal temperature.

Check thermostats regularly with a commercial thermometer and recalibrate or replace them as needed.

Check pilot lights and clean burners. Pilot lights are convenient but also represent a constant use of energy in your kitchen.  Make sure they aren’t using more energy than needed by checking them regularly.

If the flame is taller than a couple inches or yellow in color, adjust the flame until it’s small and blue.  Also clean oven and range burners regularly and replace burners that have worn out to maximize their efficiency.

Train kitchen staff. Implementing the tips above sounds good in theory, but unless you train your staff to think about energy efficiency, these strategies will remain just a theory.

Set idle time and shut down procedures for all your equipment to minimize their energy use.  Train head staff to check for bad door gaskets and thermostats.  Make sure full racks of dishes are going through the dishwasher instead of half full or mostly empty ones.

Most importantly, get your staff to understand why energy savings are important, and incentivize them to act efficiently.

Efficient Restaurant Tips: Manage Equipment (continued)Buy Energy Star rated restaurant equipment. Replace old equipment in your kitchen as quickly as possible.  When shopping for new equipment, look for Energy Star ratings.  Most restaurant equipment has annual energy usage statistics.  Use this information to compare units and purchase the most efficient one.

No matter what, new equipment is going to be more efficient and perform better than old equipment.  Often the annual energy savings from new equipment will recoup the cost of purchasing it within a few years.

Also check for rebates from your local, state, or federal government for purchasing energy efficient equipment.

Carefully calculate capacity. One of the most common mistakes restaurant or commercial kitchen managers make when purchasing new equipment is buying too big.

Ice machines, refrigerators or freezers, and dishwashers are big energy users and are the most common units where this mistake is made.  Of course, buying too small is just as bad, and that’s why it’s important to accurately calculate your production needs.

Start by analyzing peak demand.  Once you know how many people or how many meals you serve per hour at peak demand times, you can better analyze what size equipment you need.

However, you should also take into account future growth.

Most restaurant equipment, if properly maintained, should last 5 – 10 years.  In that time your business should grow as well, meaning peak demand 5 years from now is going to be more than peak demand right now.

In general, overestimate equipment capacity by 10% – 20% to make sure it can meet your needs over the entire lifetime of the unit.

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Why Tundra is Your Salad Bar of Product Awesomeness

Why Tundra is Your Salad Bar of Product AwesomenessTundra’s new product selection is like your favorite salad bar of products because:

You like everything chilled! We recently added 95+ True Refrigeration units that will not only add efficiency to your establishment but also add a clean, fresh look that will have Why Tundra is Your Salad Bar of Product Awesomenessyour customer’s gawking in no time! True offers luscious stainless steel refrigerators and prep tables, retro merchandisers and back bar coolers that will, without a doubt, not break the bank because guess what? You get free shipping on all True units!

Greens are good for you! Tundra’s new eco-friendly disposables are just the ticket for customers who need to take their leftovers back to the home front. Eco-Products brings the whole kit and caboodle to the table! They manufacture renewable resource and recycled content cups, plates, bowls, food containers, utensils, shopping bags and much more. Now, not only could you prevent food waste, you could prevent disposable waste too!

Gotta have something to snatch up those croutons! That’s why G.E.T. Melamine dinnerware and supplies joined the Tundra family. With a product line of over 2,300 products, G.E.T. offers hundreds of quality serving solutions. The dinnerware comes in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors and designs geared toward meeting the diverse needs and images of food service establishments around the world. In addition to melamine dinnerware, G.E.T. offers fast food trays, hardwood high chairs, serving trays and tray stands.

Why Tundra is Your Salad Bar of Product Awesomeness

Nothing beats bacon bits! With Pitco & MagiKitch’n cooking equipment you can sizzle your little buns off! We would be shocked if you could not find a Pitco fryer or Magikitch’n charbroiler, griddle or outdoor catering unit that didn’t exceed your expectations. These bad boys shoot for quality, performance and durability in the kitchen.  You can’t beat that!

Can’t eat salad without a great seat! Grosfillex offers hundreds of outdoor and indoor seating combinations with styles and colors that will wow your guests in seconds. But not only does Grosfillex manufacture commercial dining furniture; they have lounge and deck options too!  You can get anything from umbrellas and chaise lounge chairs to barstools and tables. And the best part is that everything is weather resistant and durable for the everyday ware and tare of a busy restaurant.

Don’t forget the wet wipes! Tundra has really stepped it up by bringing Boulder Cleaners into the lineup.  Boulder Cleaners are 100% natural cleaning products that cover all of the bases including all-purpose cleaner, dish liquid, hand soap, shampoo, glass cleaner, bathroom cleaner, granite + stainless steel cleaner as well as laundry detergent. So don’t forget to scrub up your buffet and prepare for the next heat of people. Turn ‘em and burn ‘em with Boulder Cleaners.

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Laudisio’s Restaurant: Cibo, Vino, Amici!

Laudisios Restaurant: Cibo, Vino, Amici!“Cibo, Vino, Amici” (Food, Wine, Friends) is the motto Antonio Laudisio has followed faithfully over the course of 20-plus years in the food service industry.  His landmark restaurant, Laudisio’s, has long satisfied the hunger, thirst, and loneliness of Boulder locals and visitors alike with authentic Italian cuisine, fine wines, and an atmosphere that is at once inviting and comfortable.

Laudisio’s menu includes applewood-fired pizzas baked in onsite wood burning ovens, seasonal offerings sourced locally whenever possible, and a delectable wine and dessert list, making for a delicious array that could put a warm smile on the face of even the most strident critic.

“Italian cooking is ingredient centric,” he says.  “I like to run a proletariat kitchen, where you let the ingredients speak for themselves and the cook takes his ego out of it.”

Food and wine may make up two thirds of the words in the Laudisio motto, but anyone who has spent time with Antonio knows that friendship and community come first in his book.  “The challenge of all business is how we treat our employees and the community.  We’ve been living in a CEO-take-all culture that is subject to the tyranny of the cash register.  I think it’s more important to close the circle with the community.”

Laudisio’s commitment to sourcing locally means he serves the freshest ingredients possible while also supporting local business and agriculture.  The restaurant is also committed to an environmentally sustainable business model that is progressive even for a Boulder restaurant: waste is composted or recycled; energy efficient dishwashing units, compostable to-go containers, waterless urinals, and natural lighting all reduce the operation’s energy use.

But perhaps his biggest contribution to the community is the gathering space at the restaurant.  Long famous for its extended Happy Hour and extremely friendly staff, Laudisio’s is a place where the people of Boulder can congregate and enjoy the pleasure of their mutual company.

“Especially during tough times, it’s important to have a refuge, and I think it’s important to nurture our customers,” says Antonio.  His patrons know exactly what he’s talking about.

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6 Ways Tundra Is Like Your Best Server

6 Ways Tundra Is Like Your Best ServerAs a restaurateur, entrepreneur or restaurant manager you know who your all-star employees are. These are the servers, cooks, hostesses and back waiters who you can count on to work extra hours, cover shifts, provide the best service and go above and beyond.

Here at Tundra we work hard for you to make sure you can easily order what you need, when you need it, with the best experience possible. Tundra is like your best server in 6 distinctive ways:

1. We love working doubles! Our Boulder, CO showroom is open from 7:30-5:30pm MST daily. Not local? No problem, our website features over 50,000 restaurants products and is always open! Many of our items ship same day, our pricing is competitive and our customer service can’t be beat!

2. We deliver your order fast! Our shipping and receiving team is top-notch. Any in-stock order placed by 5:00 pm. MST will be shipped same day. We have 5 warehouses across the country to ensure timely shipments of all orders placed online.

3. We have an awesome menu and we know every dish on it! Our online catalog has grown to over 50,000 products so we’re confident you’ll find what you need. Plus, our customer service department is fully stocked with expert service agents ready to assist you with any questions you may have.

4. When you snap your fingers, we respond! We recently added Live Chat to our website which gives you the opportunity to engage with a real-life customer service agent anytime during your online shopping experience. We’ve found Live Chat is benefiting you in a variety of ways:

  • Provides instant communication.
  • Live chat boosts customer confidence, providing a reassuring shopping experience.

5. We care about your experience! Since 1990 Tundra has grown with a single purpose: “We respond immediately to solve the needs of our customers, so that they can sustain and grow the relationship they have with theirs”. We take our values seriously and live them everyday.

6. We take care of our regulars! Like many restaurants you often take your most frequent customers for granted. Tundra offers an exclusive VIP program which emails you useful information and tips about the food service industry and offers you the best deals. Sign-up is easy and free!

Tundra will continue to be your reliable source for restaurant supplies, equipment, replacement parts and more. Our customers are the most important piece of our business and helped us grow this far – we’ll continue to work hard for you, offering cutting edge technology and programs to help you grow your business.

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Food Safety Tips: Vacuum Breakers & Backflow Valves

Vacuum breakers and backflow valves are an easy thing to overlook in your restaurant’s kitchen.  They are relatively easy to install, and since health inspectors are going to require them, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t take the time to make sure you have some of these simple plumbing parts installed correctly in the right places in your establishment.

First things first: what the heck is a vacuum breaker and a backflow valve?  Both prevent potentially contaminated water from flowing back up a hose, faucet, pre-rinse, or toilet fixture and into the potable water system in your restaurant.  Waste and sewage water is rich with microorganisms that can quickly infect an entire water supply, and that’s why these plumbing valves are so important.

Food Safety Tips: Vacuum Breakers & Backflow Valves

Vacuum Breaker

Vacuum breakers a rubber diaphragm inside this valve opens when water goes out but seals shut when a faucet is turned off, which prevents a vacuum inside the line to suck contaminated water back up into the plumbing system.  Over time this rubber diaphragm wears out and loses its seal.  Fortunately this is easy to replace, saving you the expense of ordering a whole new vacuum breaker.

Check with your local health department for a complete list of places where a vacuum breaker is required.  The most common fixtures are mop bucket sinks, pot filler assemblies, commercial dishwasher lines, pre-rinse assemblies (in addition to a continuous pressure backflow valve), and toilets and urinals.

Food Safety Tips: Vacuum Breakers & Backflow Valves

Backflow Preventer

Backflow valves – these metal valves have a spring loaded ball inside that is forced open when water pressure flows out of the line.  When a faucet or pre-rinse is shut off, the ball seals shut, preventing any contaminated water from flowing back up the line.  A backflow valve is most commonly seen on pre-rinse assemblies and faucets with a hose attachment.  Note that most pre-rinses should also have a vacuum breaker.

These simple plumbing parts can play a big role when it comes to passing a health inspection, so make sure your kitchen is up to code.  Even more importantly, these valves prevent contaminants from getting into your water supply, which could cause a huge headache down the road.  An ounce of prevention is worth its weight in gold when it comes to vacuum breakers and backflow valves.

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