eTundra Categories

Archive | Restaurant Management and Operations

Find great resources and tips on restaurant management and operations topics like human resources, food safety, going green, and more.

Food Service Gloves: Pros and Cons

Food Service Gloves: Pros and Cons A line cook at a bar and grill is preparing a hamburger. He puts on food service gloves and grabs a handful of raw ground beef and forms a patty. Without changing gloves the worker proceeds to top the grilled patty with lettuce, tomato and onions. After sending out the burger the line cook starts the process over without changing his gloves. This is just one example of food service glove use gone wrong. The problem is that this scenario is probably not uncommon and is just one of the many ways food can be contaminated through improper glove use.
 

The Food Service Glove Problem

Food service gloves can provide a false sense of security for employees and customers. Once the gloves are on people feel as though the food being handled is safe and not being contaminated by the server’s hands. This can be true if the server closely follows the right protocol but the majority of the time the gloves are not helping and in some cases they are hurting the situation.

Studies have found that improper glove use can be a bigger problem than poor hand hygiene. This is true for a few different reasons. Gloves do not provide the level of protection that many people think they do and still require hand washing. Also workers tend to become more careless and take more risks when wearing gloves.

The Journal of Food Protection studied food service glove use in 2007 and 2010. The journal reported that hand washing was less likely to occur when employees were wearing gloves. This is a frightening trend for restaurateurs because these gloves will not fully protect food from being contaminated when the hands they are covering are not clean. In fact, gloves can act as a breeding ground for bacteria and actually raise the risk of food contamination. In their 2010 study the Journal of Food Protection concluded that the warm, moist conditions inside a glove are necessary for microbial proliferation and can increase pathogen transfer onto foods through leaks in the gloves, exposed skin or just by taking the gloves off.

Using food service gloves in a restaurant on a daily basis can also be very wasteful. Most of these gloves are disposable and pairs can be discarded a dozen times an hour just by one employee. These numbers start to add up fast. This is wasted money for your business and more trash in the environment.

During food prep a server or line cook can be handling several different types of food at the same time. If one of these foods is raw meat then the server is required to change gloves before picking up a different piece of food. Or if the worker opens a refrigerator, sneezes, coughs, handles money or touches any other contaminated surface they are required to change gloves. If servers are changing gloves as often as they are required to, which most of the time is not the case, they will be using a large amount of disposable gloves and slowing down the food preparation time.

Having said this there are some positive reasons to wear food service gloves. One situation where glove use can be important is when preparing sushi. Because these workers are handling raw fish they need to take certain precautions to ensure customer safety and gloves make it easier to do so. For example, if a sushi chef is preparing a roll with shellfish and a customer orders a different roll and is allergic to shellfish, gloves make it easy for the chef to switch materials safely.

Food service gloves also create a positive customer perception about the cleanliness of your business operation. This as mentioned before may be a false sense of security for the customer but either way they have a positive outlook about the restaurant.

Types of Gloves

There are currently many different options when buying food service gloves. From latex to polyethylene they’re all a little different and they all have their own benefits and problems.

Latex

Latex gloves are frequently used in the food industry. They can withstand exposure to high heat, feature a tight fight and good dexterity. The main problem with latex is that some people are severely allergic to the material and use of these gloves has been banned in 3 states.

Nitrile

Nitrile gloves are durable with good dexterity. The problem with this material is these gloves often contain DEHP. DEHP is a potential carcinogen and could be harmful to customers and servers.

Polyethylene

Polyethylene gloves are the cheapest of the group. These gloves may be affordable but are far from durable because they tend to tear easily and can not be exposed to heat.

Vinyl

Vinyl gloves tend to be considered an acceptable alternative to latex but they have problems of their own. These gloves have been described as “infection control nightmares” by Food Safety Magazine. This is because they can begin leaking sometimes as soon as they are donned by the worker.

The Centers for Dieses Control and Protection (CDC) recommends that instead of requiring businesses to use food service gloves it would be better to revise food prep methods to reduce the number of times an employee needs to wash their hands. This can be done by limiting the number of times the worker has to handle raw meat or other contaminating materials.

The issue of food service gloves and their safety is important because it can directly affect the public’s health. Food borne illnesses can be very dangerous and detrimental to diners’ health.

As a restaurateur you are in a position to positively impact this issue. Whether you decide it is better for your servers to use gloves or practice regular hand washing it is important to commit to making sure your food is safe. This can be done by training the staff on the correct way to use food service gloves and on maintaining proper hand hygiene. Make all of the necessary equipment readily available to make this easy for your employees. Do this by always having a supply of gloves near the food prep area or by always making sure your sink is stocked with enough soap and towels.

Continue Reading

10 Restaurant Marketing Tips That Will Crank Up Your Revenue

10 Restaurant Marketing Tips That Will Crank Up Your Revenue
After a year of dedicated blogging on The Back Burner, I took a minute to reflect recently about where the food service industry has been and where it’s going in 2010.  That reflection got me thinking: after a year and 350+ posts, what were the 10 simplest, most effective ways for a restaurant to boost their business?

Over the course of the last two months, I combed every resource and post I had and started putting together a list of the most effective restaurant marketing tips I could find.  Then I condensed them into a single article that was easy to read and even easier to implement.

I’m calling this article “10 Restaurant Marketing Tips That Will Crank Up Your Revenue,” and after two months worth of effort, I think it’s a pretty good practical guide for any restaurateur looking for easy, affordable ways to get more butts in seats in their restaurant.

This article is posted on The Back Burner’s sister site www.etundra.com and is free for anyone to download.  If you’re looking for a competitive edge for your marketing efforts, you need to download this article right away.

Download It Now!

Already read 10 Restaurant Marketing Tips?  Tell us what you think below!

Continue Reading

Restaurant Glassware: Use Style And Function To Sell More Drinks

Restaurant Glassware: Use Style And Function To Sell More Drinks

Every restaurant takes good food presentation seriously – after all, no one wants to eat something that doesn’t look absolutely delicious.  You carefully place garnishes, make sure the entrée has the proper color, and serve everything on a stylish plate with matching silverware.

So why aren’t you paying the same amount of attention to your bar presentation?  Top mixologists from around the country agree the glassware you use can be just as important as the drink inside the glass.  And just like that perfect presentation you obsess over in the kitchen, first impressions can be everything when it comes to selling drinks from the bar.

This is especially true for specialty drinks.  So many restaurants have introduced their own specialty drink menu that it isn’t even a hot trend anymore; it’s the norm.  However, you may not be maximizing your drink sales if you don’t have the presentation down right.

Consider two main factors when selecting restaurant glassware:

Style.  Everyone knows what the standard drink glasses look like.  Communicate the originality of your drinks by using glass styles that are a little different.  You can also differentiate your offerings by mixing up the style of glass you use for each type of drink.  The idea is to make the customer feel like they’re not just getting another mojito, they’re getting your special version that can only be ordered in your restaurant.

Function.  Thick stems and wide bases are key to the success of any good glassware.  Don’t let style get so out of hand that the glass doesn’t perform its basic duties properly, namely, holding and dispensing drinks!  Many bartenders also favor thick bases to their glassware because once it cools, it can preserve the temperature of the drink for a longer period of time.

Stocking up on a good variety of stylish yet functional glassware is just another subtle way you communicate to your customers just how good the drinks are in your restaurant.  And while true success lies in making a good drink, good glassware is part of the foundation for any successful bar.

Continue Reading

6 Cool Ways to Use New Technology in Your Restaurant

6 Cool Ways to Use New Technology in Your Restaurant When you think of a restaurant you don’t normally think of modern technology. Usually these businesses are manually run and operated. Restaurant owners typically rely on outdated computers or old-fashioned books to manage their business.

Times are changing. In this day and age of cutting-edge technology there are far more efficient ways to compile information and manage your company. Apple’s iPad is a device that can help your restaurant jump out of the stone and make your operation much more efficient in the process.

The iPad can help you and your staff track and manage daily activity, helping to increase efficiency and profitability.

This technology is also attractive to your customers. People love what’s new and cool and by integrating iPads into your restaurant’s operations your business will be described in this way.

By employing iPads in your restaurant you can improve many different parts of your business including customer loyalty, inventory tracking and marketing.

Customer Loyalty Program

Go cardless with your loyalty program. An iPad in your restaurant will allow you to discard your current program and revamp customer interest in the process. Instead of burdening customers with the task of carrying around a loyalty card and bringing it with them every time they come in, allow them to simply enter their email address into your restaurant’s iPad to access their loyalty program. This will increase customer participation and also give your restaurant a more modern feel as a bonus.

Manage Your Budget

Bring your spreadsheets straight to your fingertips. An iPad will offer spreadsheet programs that you can use to manage your budget. Other computers will do this as well, but iPad is sleek and transportable which will allow you to work on the go. Make this information very easy to take with you to meetings, presentations or to your home. Budget information will also be very easy to transfer to other devices with an iPad.

Track Your Inventory

The iPad is a great device to use to compile information. Similar to managing your budget the iPad allows you to manage inventory information on the go. This can be very helpful for inventory. You can take this portable device with you while surveying the storage room. You can even take pictures of inventory items with your iPad and add them to the database!

Improve Your Menu

iPad provides you with the technology to make your restaurant’s menu more interactive than ever. You can take high-definition photos of menu items and display them to customers. This is a great way to improve customer service and satisfaction by displaying exactly what they are ordering before they make their final decision.

Take Customer Orders

Providing servers with an iPad to record customer orders is a great way to make your service more efficient. The device helps to eliminate the human error involved in the customer order process by allowing servers to send order directly to the kitchen. Also as mentioned earlier an iPad will allow your servers to display high-definition photos of menu items to diners as they make their final menu decisions. An added incentive to this is the modern presentation your customers will notice.

Improve Your Marketing

iPad will also help improve your restaurant’s marketing. It offers an easy way for customers to provide their contact information. Placing an iPad by the front of the restaurant gives customers an opportunity to sign-up for email marketing and promotions while they wait to be seated or place their take-out order. Give customers incentives to offer this information in the form of coupons, deals and specials.

Now is the time for your restaurant to integrate technology into its everyday business. This will improve your restaurants functionality and presentation. Invest in an Apple iPad today and help develop every facet of your restaurant’s operation.

Continue Reading

Choosing a POS System That Best Fits Your Restaurant

Choosing a POS System That Best Fits Your RestaurantWhen choosing a POS system for your restaurant, there are many things to consider. One must choose the system that will best suit the needs of the type of restaurant in question. However, every restaurant needs a terminal that allows them to place orders for food and drinks that are then transferred to a kitchen where the orders can be carried out.

The first criteria one must keep in mind is finding the right POS system that best suits their type of restaurant, including:

  • Fine dining and casual table service
  • Nightclubs which provide limited amounts of food or none at all (drinks only)
  • Quick Service Restaurants (fast food)
  • Pizza takeout and delivery.

Each of these types of restaurants are in need of some sort of POS system.

In addition to the stations themselves, the owner must choose a database that will store the data that is needed on a day-to-day basis. The majority of professionals dealing with POS systems would agree that their preferred type of database for restaurants is the SQL, Structured Query Language.

The advantage that SQL provides is the ability for the operator to experience as little data corruption as possible. Stability is something that should come expectedly, and without question, when purchasing a quality POS system. There should be no need for repairs here and there to correct issues with failure and/or corruption.

When purchasing a POS system, it is also very important that the terminal updates any changes within seconds, without the need for rebooting or manually giving commands.

A crucial aspect of the POS system is the printer.

It is imperative that the chosen system operates with a dedicated print server. This server ensures that at any time a printer becomes offline or runs out of paper, the job will within seconds be rerouted to a backup printer. Before buying a POS system, one must be aware of the time it takes to reroute a job. If minutes pass by before a problem is detected, customer satisfaction could decline due to the lack of timeliness in processing an order. In the restaurant industry, timing is everything.

System restoration is an integral part of the POS system that will keep your business running smoothly.

In the event that something should go wrong with your POS system, there must be a plan within to restore itself. Remote backup is crucial for single station restaurants. You must ask your provider if they can rapidly deploy new hardware with a backup copy of all data, including all open checks, since there is only one station. If the restaurant has multiple stations, they should be networked together for ultimate redundancy. If one unit fails, the rest will continue operating as if nothing happened.

Finally, there is one last thing to ensure before deciding on a POS system that best fits your restaurant’s needs: make sure that the system is PCI (Payment Card Industry) compliant.

Whether the business is brand new or has been in operation for a number of years, it is imperative that the owner finds the POS system with all the essentials that best fit the needs of the restaurant, ensuring customer satisfaction.

Curtis Stevens is a sales rep for Gotmerchant.com, a point of sale provider that offers a free POS system.Choosing a POS System That Best Fits Your Restaurant

Continue Reading

Troubleshooting Commercial Refrigeration Problems

Keeping product out of the danger zone and ready for preparation on the line is one of the most important tasks facing any commercial kitchen, and your Troubleshooting Commercial Refrigeration Problemscommercial refrigeration units play a critical role.

Maintaining and fixing the refrigeration units in your restaurant can be expensive, which is why it’s all the more important for you to be able to fix common issues that come up quickly without wasting a lot of time waiting for help.

Here’s a list of common commercial refrigeration issues and how to address them:

Did this troubleshooting guide help you?  Is there something that we missed here that will help others?  Leave a comment below and share your experiences fixing commercial refrigerators!

Before taking action from the content or resources published here, we request that you visit and review our terms of use.

Continue Reading

How To Calibrate A Thermometer

How To Calibrate A ThermometerThink of a good thermometer as the crescent wrench of your food safety program.  Without it, you have no idea what the temperature of your food products are, either when you cook them or when you store them.  And that means you can’t tighten the bolts of your food safety program, locking out food borne illnesses and locking in food quality.

The problem with thermometers is that they lose their bearings over time and use.  If you’re using that thermometer to make sure food is staying out of the danger zone, and your thermometer is more than a couple degrees Fahrenheit off, you’re taking a risk your restaurant really can’t afford.  Luckily, calibrating a thermometer is easy and it should be done regularly in your restaurant.

You should re-calibrate your thermometer if:

  • You dropped it (especially if it’s a dial thermometer)
  • Before you use it for the first time
  • If you use the same thermometer to measure very cold and very hot temperatures
  • Daily or weekly if you use the same thermometer multiple times

Most health inspectors will recommend daily recalibration if you are checking many temperatures throughout the day (and hopefully, for the sake of your food safety program, you are!).

There are two methods for calibrating thermometers:

Ice point.  Fill an insulated glass with crushed ice and then add a little water.  Let it sit for at least five minutes and then insert the sensing part of the thermometer into the cup.  Make sure the sensor is in the middle of the glass and at least an inch from the sides, bottom, and top of the glass.  Hold it there for 30 seconds or until the dial stops moving or the digital thermometer beeps.  Your thermometer should be reading 32 degrees Fahrenheit after 30 seconds.  If it’s not, it needs to be recalibrated.  The ice point method is the most accurate way to calibrate a thermometer.

Boiling point.  Boil at least six inches of water.  Once the water has reached a rolling boil, stick the sensor part of the thermometer into the middle of the water, taking care to keep it at least two inches from the sides, top, and bottom.  After 30 seconds, the thermometer should read 212 degrees Fahrenheit if you’re at 1,000 feet or less of elevation.  See below if you are at a higher altitude.  If it doesn’t read 212, your thermometer needs to be recalibrated.

Changes in boiling point temperature by elevation:

  • Sea Level: 212 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 1,000 feet: 210 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 2,000 feet: 208 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 3,000 feet: 206.4 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 4,000 feet: 204.5 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 5,000 feet: 202.75 degrees Fahrenheit
  • 8,000 feet: 197.5 degrees Fahrenheit

How To Calibrate A ThermometerHow To Calibrate A Thermometer

Dial thermometers have a little screw or nut that adjusts the dial to the correct temperature.  Simply turn the adjuster until the dial reads the correct temperature according to the method you’re using to calibrate.

Digital thermometers have a reset button.  Simply push that button when you’re at the temperature point and your thermometer is ready to go.

If you have employees who regularly take temperature readings, train them on how to calibrate thermometers correctly.  Of course, simply showing an employee how to calibrate a thermometer isn’t enough to ensure calibration is happening on a regular schedule and to the correct specifications.  You must trust but verify.  The easiest way to do this  is to schedule a time for all employees to calibrate their thermometers.  That way you can ensure calibration is done regularly and accurately.

Continue Reading

Restaurant Grease Management: How Traps Will Save Your Butt

Restaurant Grease Management: How Traps Will Save Your ButtGrease is an inevitable byproduct of your restaurant’s kitchen.  Unfortunately, grease doesn’t disappear when it gets washed down the drain.  Instead, it tends to build up and stick to the sides of pipes and drainages, just like cholesterol in diner’s arteries.

And just like cholesterol, that buildup over time can cause some serious problems.  Best case scenario, your kitchen smells like a rotting cesspool.  Worst case, you floor drains start spouting the soupy mix that can only be created when the drains of your dishwasher, pot filler sink, and pre-rinse sink combine.

The resulting food safety nightmare would make any health inspector shudder.  The damage is usually measured in the thousands of dollars.  You definitely don’t want that to happen in your restaurant.

Local codes usually require some sort of grease management system for commercial kitchens.  Otherwise cities end up with thousands of dollars worth of damage to municipal water lines.  But just because someone stuck a grease trap in the cellar 20 years ago doesn’t mean your restaurant is safe from the doomsday scenarios I lined out above.

Effective grease management means committing to an ongoing process that is usually unpleasant and never in the cleanest parts of your kitchen.  Some tips to make sure grease waste isn’t creating problems in your restaurant:

Evaluate your grease output.  Some restaurants produce more grease than others, plain and simple.  If you already have a grease trap system, check it once a week for a month and see how quickly grease builds up to the point where a cleaning is needed.  If you don’t have a grease trap, install one right away, then check it regularly to see how often it’s going to need to be cleaned.

Grease traps work by using a series of baffles to prevent grease from flowing from one end of the system to the other.  Since grease is lighter than water, it collects at the top of the trap.  Sooner or later so much grease will collect that it starts to flow over the top of the baffles, and the trap ceases to trap grease.  You want to clean your system well before this happens.

Use this information to formulate a regular cleaning schedule.  You might also want to rotate the poor sucker who gets this thankless task.  You may want to install smaller undersink traps on the biggest grease producing drains in your kitchen that are more accessible than the main trap, which makes cleaning easier and reduces the likelihood of plumbing system damage.

Many restaurants use a professional service company to clean and care for their main grease trap.  This can get expensive, but depending on the size of your establishment and the amount of grease you produce, it could be a worthwhile investment.  Some services even convert the grease they recover from your trap into biodiesel, adding a renewable element to the process.  It’s probably still a good idea to use undersink traps to supplement your main system even if you use a cleaning service, since this will reduce the frequency of their visits.

In general grease traps are pretty indestructible, especially if you clean them regularly, but eventually they will need to be replaced.  Look for damage to the baffles in the trap and cracks or excessive gunk buildup in the inflow and outflow pipes.  Canplas grease traps are one of the best in the business and my personal recommendation if you’re in the market for a new one.

The most effective way to manage grease in any commercial kitchen is to be proactive about it.  Don’t wait to clean traps and don’t assume the problem will take care of itself.  Otherwise your restaurant might look like this:

Continue Reading

How To Battle The Evil Reservation No-Show

How To Battle The Evil Reservation No ShowReservation no-shows are a frustrating experience for any restaurant.  On an especially busy night like New Year’s Eve or Valentine’s Day, they can really cost your restaurant some serious money.  Not only do you have to depend on walk-in traffic to fill those seats, but there’s a good chance you turned down other customers looking for a reservation leading up to that high-traffic day.

So how do you fight the evil no-show?

Traditionally, restaurants don’t require a reservation confirmation using a credit card, especially for non-holidays.  In recent years that’s been changing, with many restaurants requiring a credit card for the big days like New Year’s.  Some have even begun holding a credit card for regular weekend nights, especially in locations where foot traffic is very light and the restaurant is heavily dependent upon reservations.

First, the 101 on credit card reservations.

Two schools of thought dominate the discussion over credit card reservations.  The first maintains that anything making it harder for your customer to enjoy a meal in your restaurant, like the inconvenience of giving out your credit card and being on the hook for a fee just to make a reservation, is just plain wrong.  The second school says that taking a credit card protects you from losing business, especially on busy nights, and that many other types of businesses like airlines and hotels require a credit card to secure a reservation, so why not restaurants?
How To Battle The Evil Reservation No Show
Both approaches have a point.  Most restaurants probably shouldn’t sweat a cancellation on a weeknight, and therefore there’s no need to make your customer go through the hoopla of putting a credit card down.  Weekends are (hopefully!) a different story, but for most restaurants higher walk-in rates offsets cancellations, so unless you have the uncommon good fortune of owning a place that is always packed to the gills with reservations every weekend, taking a credit card probably doesn’t make a lot of sense.

The big dining days should be a different story altogether.  If you’re turning down reservations for New Year’s or Valentine’s, then you should be securing the reservations you do have, because people usually don’t walk in on those days, they get a reservation first.

OK, 101 – Check.  What if there’s a better way than taking a credit card?

Ah ha – now we’re talking.  I don’t know about you, but anytime I have to pull out my credit card I have to pause and think about it.  There’s something mildly unpleasant about giving your credit card number to someone else, especially if all you want to do is take your wife out to dinner.  There’s got to be a better way to maximize the number of people who make a reservation versus those that actually show up.

Really, your reservation crowd is a great one to get to know.  That’s because these are people who are already sold on how great your restaurant is.  They want to eat in your establishment and they’ve made an appointment to do so.

So why not follow up with them?

Collect an email address and/or a telephone number and call them and/or email them 24 hours before their reservation to confirm.  The vast majority of no-shows simply had their plans change or decided to eat somewhere else and never let you know.  Taking the time to engage this customer not only shows how interested you are in their business, it allows you to make your reservation process more efficient and leaves fewer holes due to no-shows.How To Battle The Evil Reservation No Show

Naturally, some days, like New Year’s, are always going to be credit card days.  You just absolutely have to know who’s doing what on those days.  But for the rest of the year, requiring a credit card seems like too much, and relying on your customer 100% of the time seems like too little.  Engaging your customer, especially since they’ve already indicated they’re interested by calling for a reservation, is a great way to bridge that gap.

Continue Reading

Commercial Gas Range Buying Guide

Commercial Gas Range Buying Guide

A commercial gas range

A good gas range is the center and the soul of a restaurant or commercial kitchen, and every kitchen is different.  Choosing the best unit to suit your specific needs can be a challenge, but if you keep a couple things in mind buying the range you need shouldn’t be hard.

BTUs and Gas Type

Commercial ranges vary in the heat output they produce, which is measured in BTUs (British Thermal Units).  Depending on the cooking application and energy usage concerns, you may want to purchase a unit with a higher or lower BTU rating.

Higher BTU ranges are going to heat things faster, but at a higher rate of energy consumption.  A higher BTU rating also means quicker heat recovery times

Lower BTU rates will heat things more slowly, but more efficiently.  Lower BTU ratings mean a slower heat recovery time

Most gas ranges are outfitted for natural gas.  Natural gas is the most common gas type and chances are you are hooked up to natural gas.  LP gas or liquid propane is the gas you get if your range is connected to a propane tank, usually for rural locations or portable operations.

griddle and Charbroiler Add-On Options

Griddles are ideal for cooking multiple foods at once.  The large, flat metal plate that makes up the griddle distributes heat evenly over the entire surface.  Heat can be controlled either manually or thermostatically.  A grease trough allows for easy cleaning.

Charbroilers allow you to broil poultry, seafood, and meat quickly and effectively.  Most restaurants and commercial kitchens purchase a separate charbroiler unit, but combination range and charbroiler units can be special ordered.

Necessary Accessories

Casters allow you to move your commercial gas range quickly and easily for cleaning or rearranging.  Manufacturers charge a ridiculous fee for casters that come with their restaurant cooking equipment.  Instead, buy your casters separately and save a bundle.

Gas hose connector kits allow you to connect your new restaurant range to your kitchen’s gas source, whether it’s natural or LP gas.  Make sure you check the diameter of your range’s connection before ordering.

Don’t Forget Your Altitude!

If your commercial kitchen or restaurant is above 2,000 feet in elevation, you may need to have the gas valves on your new range adjusted.  Make sure you tell the manufacturer or vendor you’re buying from if you are located above 2,000 feet.

Continue Reading