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Working in a restaurant? Then these articles are probably perfect for you! From server issues to recipes for the cook, these are some of our favorite In The Restaurant finds.

Today’s Food Scraps = Tomorrow’s Soup du Jour

Today’s Food Scraps = Tomorrow’s Soup du Jour

Did you know that here in the United States we toss 40 percent of our food—perfectly edible food—into the trash? That’s a 50 percent increase since the 1970s.

At our nation’s restaurants, a pound of food is wasted per meal created. Food waste is the single most abundant material in our landfills. (Check out this infographic for more food waste stats—it’s an eye-opener.)

You don’t have to be a card-carrying, Greenpeace-dues-paying hippie to see the folly in this extravagance. Anyone with even a smidgen of thrift can see that this level of waste is utterly bonkers.

Here’s the good news: reversing this wasteful behavior isn’t hard, and you’ll save a bundle of money in the process.

So what can you do with your food scraps? An improvised soup—sometimes referred to as “garbage soup” or “kitchen sink soup”—is a good choice, particularly this time of year, with cooler temperatures ushering in the hot soup season.

Tip: Don’t call it garbage soup outside the kitchen. Today’s Food Scraps = Tomorrow’s Soup du Jour

I’ve found that the hardest part is simply getting in the habit of saving your scraps. One strategy is to designate specific food storage bins to collect scraps for later use, either for the fridge or the freezer. That way, there isn’t so much pressure to immediately put them to use.

So what kind of scraps can you freeze and use? Well, if you making stock, the sky’s the limit! Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Meat bones (be extra sure to keep frozen until you use them to prevent spoiling)
  • Corn cobs
  • Vegetable tops (e.g. carrots, leeks, beets and fennel)
  • Tomato skins, seeds and juice
  • Potato skins
  • Coffee
  • Shrimp shells
  • Mushroom stems
  • Carrot peelings
  • Cabbage cores
  • Brocoli stumps
  • Pepper seeds and pith
  • Celery root stems and leaves
  • Onion and garlic ends
  • Herb stems

Thrifty Good Life has a helpful warning:

Items to avoid: NEVER use any green parts from vegetables in the nightshade family (tomato, pepper, potato) as these plant parts contain toxic elements. This means – avoid the stems or leaves of bell peppers, tomatoes as well as potatoes with any sprouts on them or green color. Never use any vegetable with black mold or any old/rotten meat. 

Feel free to share your own food-scrap-saving tips in the comments!

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Are You Ready to Go Lead Free in 2014?

Are You Ready to Go Lead Free in 2014?

The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act takes effect Jan. 4, 2014. Are you ready?

Under the act, signed by Congress three years ago, “lead free” will be redefined as “not more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent lead when used with respect to the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures.”

This is a significant change, folks! The maximum lead content of plumbing products used to be 8.0 percent. When the law takes effect on Jan. 4, it will be illegal to sell or install products that exceed 0.25 percent lead.

If you live in California, Vermont, Louisiana or Maryland, you’re ahead of the curve. These states have already implemented tougher safe drinking water standards with respect to plumbing materials. The new federal requirements play catch up to these states’ regulations.

The Good News

The act does NOT require existing infrastructure to be proactively replaced. But when you eventually need to repair or replace a pipe, fixture or fitting, you’re probably going to have to find a compliant replacement that has less than 0.25 percent lead.

Also, just to clarify, we’re talking about drinking water here. The act doesn’t apply to non-potable-water plumbing systems, such as industrial processing, irrigation or outdoor watering. The law also excludes toilets, urinals, fill valves, flushometer valves, tub fillers, or shower valves.

What to Look for When Buying New Plumbing Supplies

NSF International and the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) have responded to the updated definition with NSF/ANSI 372, which will go into effect in October 2013 as certification for the 2014 lead-content restrictions.

Are You Ready to Go Lead Free in 2014?

Helpful Resources

Want more information about the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act and how it might impact your business? These sites can answer your questions.

This post is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.

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How to Clean a Commercial Griddle

How to Clean a Commercial Griddle

If you ask 10 professional chefs how to clean a commercial griddle, you’re likely to get 10 different answers.

There are several ways to skin the proverbial cat.

While cleaning methods and materials may differ from chef to chef, the goal is universal: a clean, sanitary griddle that allows for efficient cooking and delicious, unadulterated food.

What You’ll Need

It usually takes 5-10 minutes to properly clean a grill.

Directions

  • While the griddle is hot, pour 1 cup of cooking oil (you can use fryer oil) onto the griddle surface.
  • Scrub the griddle surface with a griddle brick/pumice stone, making small concentric circles—Miyagi style—until the surface is clean.
  • Scrape the oil into the grease trough and discard. Turn the griddle off.
  • Pour (carefully) 1 cup of club soda/seltzer water onto the still-hot griddle. The carbonation helps loosen and lift stubborn grease.
  • Scrub the griddle surface with your griddle brick/pumice stone, making small concentric circles until the surface is clean. Scrape remaining liquid into the trough for discarding.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of vinegar onto the griddle surface, spreading liquid out evenly across the entire surface and not allowing the vinegar to pool.
  • Rub the griddle surface with a rag, making small concentric circles until the surface is polished.
  • Scrape the vinegar into your grease trough and discard.
  • Rub the surface with a rag soaked in cooking oil to polish and reseason the steel.
  • Bask in the warm glow of your newly cleaned griddle.

“How Often Should I Clean My Commercial Griddle?”

If your griddle sees heavy daily use, we advise cleaning it daily. This will prevent flavor transfer, efficiency loss and unsightly burnt-oil-flake contamination.

Shop griddle supplies at eTundra.com:

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Routine Restaurant Maintenance Tips

Routine Restaurant Maintenance Tips

When restaurateurs, and others, in the food service industry are looking for ways to save money, all too often, those savings can be found in areas that are being neglected in-house. Say, what? That’s right, those big pieces of equipment in your kitchen need to have routine maintenance and cleaning, or they’ll breakdown. In fact, many equipment repair companies prefer to come into a kitchen that has been maintained throughout the year, because it’s easier to do big fixes – which means savings for you too. And once equipment gets to the point that it’s no longer running, you’re already out a lot more than you would have been if you would have kept up with routine maintenance.

When equipment is maintained throughout the year, it lasts longer. Condenser and evaporator coils on refrigeration units will build-up dust and grease, and if the mess isn’t cleaned up on a weekly basis (for most food service businesses), you’ll likely end up with broken equipment much sooner than you desired. And it’s not just the equipment you need to worry about. Of course, that’s where you’ll see the majority of savings coming back to you, but there are plenty of other areas throughout your business that can save you money. Let’s take the chairs and tables throughout the dining room for example, when’s the last time you made sure the screws and hardware were secure? What do you think a fall from a customer would cost you if a chair wasn’t thoroughly checked over at least once a quarter?

Maintenance Tips

These lists of routine restaurant maintenance tips aren’t necessarily a go-to-resource for every business, because every business, like every piece of equipment, has needs specific to the way they operate. However, what you can count on every time, is the owner/ operator manual that came with each piece of equipment. It is this information that will speak directly to the model you are caring for. Can’t find the manual? Most equipment manufacturers have digital copies on their websites for new and discontinued models. Should you need help finding the right manual, give our team a call, we will get you and your equipment taken care of!

DAILY

  • All kitchen equipment should be wiped down including the inside, outside and underneath the appliance. This includes all stainless steel surfaces.
  • Moisture is rusts best friend so it is important to wipe sinks & faucets dry with a soft rag.
  • Beverage machine faucets need to be unassembled and soaked to prevent sugar build-up.
  • Wash down floor mats in kitchen and bar areas to prevent grease build up.

WEEKLY

  • Dust the condenser coils on your refrigeration systems.
  • Clean air-intake openings on convection ovens.
  • Clean shelving panels using a mild detergent and soft cloth.
  • Have a professional cleaning company do a top to bottom cleaning of your restrooms.

MONTHLY

  • Change or clean the filter in your air conditioning units.
  • Clean combustion fans on fryers.
  • Wipe down the ceiling, floor and walls of your walk-in to avoid mold and bacteria growth.
  • Clean dishwasher including washing and rinsing arms.
  • Clean out and wash down prep table units entirely.
  • Inspect gaskets on every piece of equipment, wipe down and replace as needed.
  • Check grease filters for build-up.
  • Check gas hoses for leaks – soapy water works best; where there are bubbles, there are issues.
  • Change glue boards in pest control traps.
  • Re-stock your First Aid kits.

QUARTERLY

  • Tighten all hardware on dining room furniture.
  • Tighten all stall hardware in restrooms.
  • Inspect ventilation and exhaust hoods for loose belts.

SEMI-ANNUALLY

  • Change water filters on beverage and ice machines, combi ovens, coffee brewers…etc.
  • Have AC and heating unit checked by a professional.
  • Calibrate thermostats in appliances, i.e. oven, fryer, refrigerator.
  • Clean and inspect ventilation system hood, duct and exhaust fan.

ANNUALLY

  • Replace your ventilation system exhaust fan belt and makeup air belt.
  • Make it part of the culture of your kitchen to educate your employees! An educated staff can spot the signs and address any issues before they turn into bigger, more costly problems.
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How Parents Can Help Their Kids Be Better Restaurant Diners

How Parents Can Help Their Kids Be Better Restaurant Diners

Yes, your child is cute.  Especially when it comes to how cute they are as they run around a restaurant, throw their food on the ground, sloppily smear food all over the table and their mouths, scream at the top of their lungs, and impatiently wait for their meals.  Yes, the entire restaurant is sharing in all of the cuteness that is your child.

And how awesome are you to choose a restaurant that is the completely opposite of kid friendly.  In fact, the menu would probably be more appealing on mommy and daddy date night than it would on family night.  And it’s 9pm, so I’m sure your kids are going to just sit down and patiently wait for their late night meal, all without being irritable; especially, because you forgot to bring them any sort of entertainment as they wait their cute little faces off.

Oh you, you deserve the parent of the year award.  The rest of us will just find one of those restaurants that don’t allow kids anymore.

Behavior Expectations for Kids in Restaurants

If you’re one of those parents that’s up in arms about the recent child ban in restaurants, then you aren’t going to like this post (I should have probably led with this sentence, but the cuteness of your child took over).  Not because I’m going to tell you I’m pro- or anti-kids in restaurants, but I’m going to be honest with why restaurants have gotten to the point to enforce a child ban.

It’s because you need to teach your children dinner table manners before you start venturing out into restaurant dining.

Yes, it’s your fault.  But, you can help your child be a better diner, which will save other restaurant patrons a lot of stress while dining out, and to be honest, you as well.  I’m a parent of two little boys, and I know what dining at a restaurant with children is about.  I know how it can get stressful and how they can make messes, but I also know that there are things that I can do to help them not be a restaurants worse nightmare.

It starts at home.

If your child doesn’t know how to properly use a napkin, including keeping it in their lap or tucked into their shirt, you should stick with a restaurant that you know is kid friendly.  They need to know that milk-mustaches may be fun at home, but not when dining out; that is, unless you’re cool with seeing a grown man show off his milk mustache while dining out – awkward, right?

Have your child ask to be excused from the table.  They shouldn’t be getting up and down throughout the meal.  It’s a time to sit and enjoy each other’s company.  If they are still too young to sit through an entire meal, then just keep working on it.  I have my children ask to be excused, which helps them remember that staying seated is important.

Expand their palate.  Yes, hotdogs and chicken nuggets are kid staples, but if you are going to venture out to a restaurant that you know doesn’t have things like this on the menu, then they need to be willing to try what is available.  For example, The Kitchen Next Door, in Boulder, Colorado, is happy to be kid friendly, but they don’t bother with changing their menu just to suite kids’ palates.  Instead, they offer fun, new things like kale chips, marinated beans, slow roast pork sliders, and beet burger sliders.  If your child would turn their nose up to different foods like this, try introducing new foods at home first.

In the restaurant.

How Parents Can Help Their Kids Be Better Restaurant Diners Pick a restaurant that’s perfect for your child.  If you know they won’t eat anything on the menu, that it’s too late to take them out, or they aren’t behaved enough to not drive other diners crazy, pick another restaurant.  I know you may be craving a certain menu item at a particular restaurant, but you need to be willing to know what restaurants are for date night and what restaurants are for kids dining night.  My husband and I love our local sushi restaurant, but we wouldn’t take our kids in there just yet.  We don’t feel that it’s a good fit for our kids, but hat’s okay though, there are plenty of other restaurants I can take them to, and we can expand their palates for sushi, at home (the bonus with sushi is that it’s also fun to make at home with the kiddos).

And to even think about walking into a nice restaurant late at night, already brings on feelings of anxiety.  Kids are tired, hungry, and irritable late at night.  They’d be much more suited for a quick drive through or dine-in option at that point (think Noodles & Co, Chipotle, Mod Market, etc.).

When you do decide to dine out, bring something for them to do while they wait for their food.  Not all restaurants are going to have things to entertain your child, so take some of that responsibility on.  In this day and age, the majority of parents have smartphones and tablets that will pacify any child, but there are plenty of other fun things that you can bring along to help pass the time.

If your child doesn’t like anything on the menu, odds are you picked the wrong restaurant.  However, it’s nice when kids are willing to try new things.  When we go to a Mexican restaurant, my youngest has no idea what half of the menu items are, but I explain what is in the dish and he’s always sold when I mention cheese; he’s actually tried a lot of things that he ends up loving.

This one’s a given to me, but I’ve seen so many parents just leave messes lying about.  Clean up your messes.  Accidents happen, crumbs fall, and mouths get messy.  I know.  But if you aren’t willing to clean up (or at least help clean up) your own messes, don’t expect someone else to; that’s just rude.

It’s nice to give a helping hand.  Seriously, stacking the dishes, collecting the silverware, and pushing it off to one area of the table is just polite.  I used to waitress and loved when families came in and did this.  It made it totally worth it to serve their table.  I do the same thing when we eat out – almost obsessively – and our servers LOVE it!

If your children can’t keep quiet just yet, pick a restaurant that you don’t have to worry about them being too loud.  I swear by sports restaurants like Buffalo Wild Wings, because they have the perfect mix for all of us!  The noise level is always up, so we don’t have to be particularly quiet, and there’s a game on the screen that keeps us all happy.

And finally, set realistic expectations for your child.  If you know they aren’t a good diner at home just yet, don’t expect them to be good diners at a restaurant.  Nothing is worse than a child misbehaving, and frustration levels climbing because he/she won’t listen.  If you know your child will be okay at a restaurant, remind them of their manners before entering, and if they mess up, that’s okay but talk with them about it afterwards.

What Weird Things Do Your Kids Eat?

As I wrote this, I started to think of all sorts of foods that my kids eat that are likely not seen as normal to most; at least, I know I wasn’t eating these things when I was younger.  Here are a few things that our kids beg to eat again and again…

  • Raw Oysters.  Yes, I know they’re pricey, but they are so darn good!  We started by getting a plate for my husband and I for an appetizer, and after the boys tried one, they were sold!  So, now we have to get a much larger plate of them.
  • Kale Chips.  If you haven’t tried these for yourself, you’ve been missing out!  They are super yummy, and, surprisingly, the kids love them!
  • Brussels Sprouts.  I don’t know if this is a weird one, but when I grew up, I thought it was odd that I was the only one of my friends that didn’t turn their noses up at these little cabbage greens.  I suppose that’s why I think it’s odd that both of my boys love Brussels sprouts too!
  • Sushi.  It’s kind of hard for them to roll the sushi, but they have no problem putting all of the ingredients together to make their own roll.
  • Salads.  Instead of putting all of the salad together in one big bowl, I separate each item into smaller bowls so they can pick what vegetable and/or fruit they want to eat.  Even if it doesn’t include lettuce, each of my boys has their own favorite pick that they choose – it makes dinner time fun and healthy!

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Restaurants & Kids

Restaurants & Kids

Yes, I know there are restaurants that cater to kids and restaurants that don’t.  I’m a mother to two awesome little boys – online I call them Max and White Bread – and we typically have to pick our restaurants based on whether the boys are joining Mom and Dad, or not.  So, I know that these “kids in restaurants” posts need to be in three parts:

My original article was going to be on making a more kid-friendly restaurant, but as I started talking about this subject, I learned that people are really passionate about this topic.  And I get it, even as a Mom.

I’ve been in a restaurant with screaming kids, and you think to yourself, “Seriously, are you not going to take your screaming kid out to the car until they are done with their fit?  The rest of us are trying to enjoy our food!”

I’ve also been the parent whose kid is screaming, and I’m like, “Ugh, okay, let’s go outside until you cool off and we’ll start over.”  But I’ve also learned that I can teach my children manners and choose restaurants that are great for them, that are kid-friendly.

We also have restaurants that we refuse to bring our kids too.  Those types of restaurants are for when Mom and Dad are dining alone, and we’re okay with that.

I’ve also been a waitress in a restaurant and know what it’s like to serve a table full of kids – there’s likely to be a mess, a lower bill (hence a lower tip too), and screaming (oh, the screaming).  But again, parents and servers can learn a thing or two to make the entire experience better.

With that, I’ll end by saying that I hope that you get a chance to read each of the articles posted before sounding off.  I know we all have passion in one of these areas, but we all live our own lives and can share compassion for one another – play nice folks.

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How Kid-Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

You got the crayons, the coloring mats, and the fun kids cups, but then stopped there.  There are so many other things you can do to make your restaurant more kid-friendly (yes, more).  Creating a little fun and teaching your servers what being kid-friendly means can really help increase sales in the end.

This doesn’t mean you have to become a fun zone, you can keep your style; just add a little spice, a little flavor, and you’ll turn your restaurant from a place that serves kids meals to a place the kids beg to come back to.  Here are some great ideas that I’ve seen some restaurants do right when it comes to being kid-friendly.

Toys & Games

1. Fun Area & Chalkboard Wall

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

No, you don’t have to have a complete game room like in the picture above, but these are great distractions for small guests.   I love how this restaurant created a nook in the backend of the building, so that other non-kid diners could still enjoy their meal in peace towards the other end of the building.

The chalkboard wall is easy – some paint and chalk, and you’re set.  You can even wash it clean and do your own doodles on it.  Just remember that little artist might think it’s fun to scribble all over your doodles, so don’t get upset about that.  Also, make sure to get the big chalk so that little ones don’t choke on the small pieces of chalk.

2. Make Your Kids Menu Fun

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

Kids like to be independent, and if they can order their own food, well, at least at the beginning of the meal they’ll be entertained/preoccupied if your menus are written for them.  I love this kid friendly menu that blogger Kimberly came up with (she has free printables too), but if you don’t want to waste time cleaning them, just turn them into paper ones to throw away.

And it doesn’t have to be just about the food, include some games, jokes, and fun facts.  I love how The Kitchen Next Door does their kids menus.

3. Restaurant Bingo!

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

These bingo cards are fun and can be changed up a bit to include different items – even branded just for your restaurant.  My kids would sit well past waiting-for-food-to-come time and end up playing right through the meal!

Anyone else notice how dated that phone was?  So 90’s, pssh.

4. Awesome Coloring Pages

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

I don’t know a kid out there that wouldn’t be occupied with these cool coloring pages; in fact, I think the kid in all of us would have fun coloring these.  Make sure you have fine tip markers for the small areas; although, crayons would be interesting for those young scribblers.

5. I-Spy Bottle

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

These neat I-Spy Jars could keep kiddos occupied for hours (well, at least a good 20 minutes)!   The best part about them is that they’re cheap to construct, easy to make, and can be themed around the food you’re serving, i.e. if you serve organic-food-to-farm style food, throw in little veggies (plastic of course), or if you’re an Italian style eatery, find some little toys that remind you of Italy.

6. Shut The Box

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

Most of us have heard of the dot game (and I’m not bashing it, it’s still a fun game that we all enjoy), but have you heard of Shut the Box?  My life changed when I learned about this game; seriously, it’s enough entertainment to keep the kids busy until the food comes to the table.  With my kids, we reserve this game for restaurants only so that they don’t bored of playing it all the time at home (mom tip, not necessarily a restaurant tip).

Gracious Servers

7. Snacks, Always Snacks

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

Before your servers even take drink orders, they already know if kids are sitting at their table, so encourage them to bring out edibles as they approach the table – bread, crackers, chips, whatever.  When I used to waitress, all I had available to give to kiddos was oyster crackers, but that was enough to keep them occupied until I could get their drinks.

8. Special Requests

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

One of our favorite Mexican restaurants, Azteca, has an enormous menu and tons of great food.  They have the perfect environment for us to visit, and they know that there are picky eaters even amongst the adult diners.  Yes, they have an authentic kids menu with Mexican dishes, but they also have Gringo Dishes for those diners that just like chicken (pollo) nuggets.

No matter how much I beg my kids to try a tostada or enchilada, they always go for the American plates.  They aren’t trying to be picky (and they’d likely eat anything we chose for them, if we made them eat another menu item), but kids like things like hamburgers and hot dogs, and sometimes it’s a hamburger and hot dog type of day (even if it is at a Mexican Restaurant).

This was a long tip, but my point was that when it comes to kids, be polite when it comes to special requests.  If your trying to teach them different tastes, I get that as a Mom, but if they don’t want red sauce on their noodles (and it’s not too much to ask), can we just get plain noodles with butter and parmesan?

9. Cook For The Kids First

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

I can wait for my food, but the kids get impatient.  As soon as the food is ordered, your servers should be putting high priority on the kids’ menu choices.  Mac and cheese takes minutes to make, so if it’s done before the parents meal, ask them if they want it early… they’ll thank you for it!

10. Don’t Discriminate

How Kid Friendly Restaurants Can Better Cater To Kids

If the restaurant is clearly kid-friendly, you and your servers shouldn’t get upset when kids walk through the door.  If you do, you (or your servers) need to find another job.  Besides, like Andrew Knowlton said, “After all, you’re probably going to be in the same boat as I am in a few years.”

And for the sake of all humanity, please, don’t discriminate against people with special needs.  My son has a disability, I know what it feels like when you stare at us uncomfortably (and how do you think that makes a little boy feel?).  I’m not at your restaurant for you to cater to his needs, that’s why I’m there too – I’ll take care of him.  If you’re curious about what he has, I’m okay with you asking me, just don’t be rude, okay?

Pinterest Fun

A lot of these ideas we were able to pin over on our Pinterest board, “For the Kiddos,” in addition to some fun, kid-friendly recipes.  Have fun pinning!

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6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

No questions about it, people eat with their eyes.  Once a plate is sat down in front of a guest they have already passed judgment on how that food is going to taste.  They look at the plating, they look at how the food is arranged, and they look at the flatware and glassware.  They haven’t even tasted the food yet, but they have already formed an opinion on what the food is going to taste like.

At this point, we think you could agree that having some sort of presentation with the tableware is as important as making sure the food tastes good.  But you don’t necessarily have to go overboard to make a great presentation.  Here are our top 6 tips for bringing a little pizazz to the table:

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

1. Use larger plates and bowls.  When there’s a lot of empty space, it helps the food speak for itself.  It puts emphasis on the food, much like a solo artist under the spotlight – all eyes are on them.

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

2. Stack food.  If the food goes well together, try stacking it instead of having everything spread out.  You don’t have to opt for mile-high towers, but a little height looks nice.

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

3. Wipe up dribbles.  Unless it’s artfully done, dribbles are distracting and take away from the main attraction.  Wipe up spills and keep the dish clean.

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

4. A dash of color.  Sprinkle on some chives, parsley, or micro greens to add a dash of color to food that may otherwise look plain.

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

5. Make the right cut.  Think of other ways you can cut the food.  Doing big chunks of vegetables on a plate looks much different than thinly sliced, peeled, and shredded food.

6 Tips for Better Plating & Presentation

6. Learn to swoosh.  Spoon swooshes are a great way to add a little oomph to a plate.  But take our advice on this one: never, ever touch a swoosh twice (things will get messy if you do).

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Shut The Fridge Door: How Cloud-Based Temperature Monitoring Systems Can Help Save Your Business

Shut The Fridge Door: How Cloud Based Temperature Monitoring Systems Can Help Save Your BusinessHow many times as a kid did you hear your mom yell, “Get what you need and shut the fridge door already!”  Well, turns out that mom was right, studies have showed that refrigerator door openings account for 7% of fridge energy use.  Now, think of that number with a walk-in refrigerator that’s average cubic feet is easily more than twice the size of a home refrigerator (yikes, that’s a lot of energy wasted), and what if that same walk-in refrigerator was accidentally left open all night.  Now we’re looking at an entirely different type of loss: lost energy and lost food.

But accidents like this can be prevented.  Cloud-based monitoring systems are quickly changing how restaurant and food service owners are able to accurately monitor temperatures.

What is It?Shut The Fridge Door: How Cloud Based Temperature Monitoring Systems Can Help Save Your Business

Cloud-based monitoring essentially means that information is sent wirelessly from sensors to an online system, and that information can be accessed from anywhere in the world, as long as you have a computer, tablet, or smartphone.  The information that can be sent is limitless, and is used in many different ways.

For cloud-based temperature monitoring systems, like NotifEye, the information being sent is temperature degrees ranging from -40⁰ to 257⁰F. Sensors are placed in different locations (wet or dry locations) throughout the food service establishment and they gather temperature readings that are then sent to a secure online system.  The data sent over can be viewed anytime of the day, but even more importantly the software monitors the readings and will alert you when a temperature is off, like the refrigerator door being left open, the fryer not keeping oil hot enough, the holding case losing temperature, etc.   Notifications can be sent to you via email or text.

What Kind of Temperatures Could I Monitor?

It’s up to you.  The standards are walk-in refrigerators, freezers, ice machines, and dry storage area, but we found uses for temperature monitoring in just about every area of the restaurant.  What if the heater was set way too high in the dining room and blasting 90⁰F all night?  You could walk in the next day and find out about it, or you could be notified about it as soon as readings are gathered.

Why is it so Important?

There are multiple reasons why it’s important to monitor temperatures on a regular basis. Every year there are thousands of businesses in the food service industry that lose valuable inventory or get fined by the local health department because temperatures are inadequate.  Monitoring temperatures ensures that equipment is running how it should, and saves your business from potential risks.

It helps prevent health violations and harm to your customers, and it helps save your business.

Is it Pricey?

All cloud-based temperature monitoring systems are priced differently, but we’ve seen plenty that are very reasonably priced.  Many restaurant owners that have installed the systems have reported return on investment in less than two years.  And since temperature monitoring seems to be one of the core values in the 7 steps of HACCP, we see it as an investment that could save your business one day.

What Are The 7 Steps of HACCP?

Glad you asked, HACCP (Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point) is a list of seven recommended food safety rules originally written for NASA, but has since been adopted in the food service industry by the FDA and USDA.  The 7 steps are:

  1. Conduct a Hazard Analysis. The hazards are grouped into 3 categories: biological, chemical, and physical.
  2. Identify the critical control points, including cross-contamination, cooking, cooling, and hygiene.
  3. Set up actions to ensure safety is maintained at all of the critical control points defined.
  4. Establish monitoring procedures for the critical control points, and make sure to use the right signs, tools and training materials to make sure they are monitored accurately.
  5. Establish corrective actions for the critical control points.
  6. Set-up recordkeeping procedures to log information, like with flowcharts and temperature checks.
  7. Verify that the system put in place is working: validation, ongoing verification, and reassessment.

By the way, HACCP is pronounced “hassip.”

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7 Tips for Printing Restaurant Menus

7 Tips for Printing Restaurant Menus

Printing your menus may be the final step, but don’t let it be an afterthought. Once you’ve invested in a branded design that’s engineered for success, you’ll want to see that quality carried through to the finished product. Visually appealing menus generate more sales, so follow these simple tips to maximize your menu’s payoff.

1. Give Specials a “Special” Sheet

Your unique, fresh items (daily, weekly, seasonal) boost sales and keep customers coming back for more. But listing them on your main menu requires costly reprints, which can cause reluctance to update specials regularly. Display them instead on a small insert to maximize flexibility and minimize cost.

2. Isolate Your Upsell Items

Everyone wants to beef up their bottom line by selling more drinks, desserts and daily specials.

Studies show that these items sell better when presented on attention-getting separate sheets or table tents. But limit the list to 4-7 items; it’s easier for customers to choose when they don’t feel overwhelmed.

7 Tips for Printing Restaurant Menus

3. Use Photos to Increase Sales

People focus on images first, so telling customers an interesting story with pictures can make your brand more memorable. You might feature black & white or sepia-tone photos of early founders, showcasing a bit of your company history. Casual restaurants might feature pictures of entrées; limiting them to 1 or 2 per page piques interest without cluttering the menu.

4. Order Professionally Printed Menus

The menu is your primary selling tool, and a top-notch menu tells customers you are passionate about every facet of their experience. With professional digital printing, resolution and colors are vibrant, and the quality is far superior to what home/office printers can do.

5. Choose a Clean, Simple Paper

Use a nice sturdy white cardstock that prints well—you can print any background color on it.

Printing on colored paper may seem cheaper, but your fonts, colors and images may look muddy or discolored instead of crisp and sharp. Consider a slightly glossy paper—it will stay cleaner and colors will pop.

7 Tips for Printing Restaurant Menus

6. Get a Press Proof

This is a step you don’t want to skip. Ordering a sample print lets you see exactly how your finished menu will look. Before you submit a big order, take this chance to double-check copy and font size. Is it legible in restaurant lighting? Test it on your staff and customers. Make any changes at no extra cost and then order the full quantity.

7. Consider Having Your Menu Laminated

A laminated menu is more durable while being lighter and easier to carry around than a bulky cover. Laminated menus stay much cleaner and can be gently wiped off, so replacements are needed much less frequently.

Ordering professional printed menus will save you time, and quite possibly money. No need to buy paper or ink cartridges, no time wasted trimming edges or folding! Menu printing services like MustHaveMenus will deliver table-ready menus right to your door. Following these best practices for high-quality printed menus will pay off in bigger tickets and satisfied diners.

7 Tips for Printing Restaurant Menus

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