The “restaurant family meal” is a central event in many well-run restaurants. Just before the dinner rush front of house and back of house staff gather to enjoy a well-cooked meal prepared by the chef. The family meal is a great way to foster positive interaction and a feeling of camaraderie among your employees. It also gives you a chance to get on the soapbox and talk about issues and work on training.
During the year that I worked as a server in Indianapolis, I was never lucky enough to work in a restaurant that supported a family meal. In terms of improving employee morale and retention, the family meal has some real benefits for your business.
While this may seem obvious, there’s another, less apparent benefit to the family meal: you can reduce your food waste by investing in them. Smart restaurateurs take the perfectly edible leftovers that are inevitably created while preparing meals and save them for the family meal. This means your investment is minimal and the benefits can be immediately realized.
Saving for the family meal also gives you a chance to get your line thinking about everything that can be saved while they cook. In the process of getting creative for the next meal, kitchen staff will inevitably become better at reducing food waste in general.
Your restaurant’s family meal doesn’t have to be anything fancy: many restaurants, even fine dining establishments, keep the meal for staff firmly in the realm of comfort food: sloppy joe’s, casseroles, meatloaf, etc.
Nothing appeals to the basic human sense of community like sharing food. And nothing you do for your employees will create as much goodwill for as cheap of a price as using your leftovers to create a hearty meal before the shift starts.