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10 Uses for an Immersion Blender

Dynamic Mini Pro Mixer

There’s no denying that you can taste the difference of freshly made dishes from scratch. The real question (and challenge) is finding the time (and money) to create products you can scale for the commercial market. You may find that a simple homemade vinaigrette or a freshly prepared hummus makes all the difference between charging $5 or $10.

Easy to prepare and easy to store, here are a few items you can whip up with an immersion blender (like this one from Dynamic) to quickly transform menu items from ordinary to extraordinary:

 

immersion-blender-use-whipped-cream

Photo Credit | © iStockPhoto

1. Whipped cream

It’s literally just, whipped cream right? Sure is—but when you make it from scratch, you forego all those added chemicals and “tinny” quality that traditional canisters impart on whipped cream. Also, consider adding a little vanilla or citrus zest for a subtle and refined flavor that will keep customers coming back for more.

 

2. Mayonnaise and Aioli

Use an immersion blender for mayonnaise and aioli

Photo Credit | © iStockPhoto

It might be the little things, but I’m a sucker for freshly made mayo on my sandwich, or a garlic aioli accompaniment to my fries. It’s creamy, inexpensive and tastes profoundly better than prepackaged mayonnaise. Call it the ‘umami’ of your sandwich—guests won’t know why it tastes so good, just that it’s the best sandwich they’ve ever had!

 

3. Creamy Vinaigrette

Use an immersion blender for a creamy vinaigrette.

Photo Credit | © iStockPhoto

A housemade vinaigrette quickly turns a hum-drum salad into something spectacular. Easily transform your regular menu salad into seasonal favorites when you pair with a variety of vinaigrette that showcase what’s currently in season. It’s a simple way to add the popular ‘farm to table’ flair to your restaurant.

 

4. Pesto

Use an immersion blender for pesto.

Photo Credit | © iStockPhoto

This Italian favorite is extremely versatile, and can be used on sandwiches, pastas, chicken, potatoes, salads and more. Try making the traditional way with basil and roasted pine nuts, or get creative and utilize different greens like spinach to create a nut-free option for guests with allergies. Pesto also has a great shelf life, and can typically be stored for up to 10 days.

 

5. Hummus

Use an immersion blender for hummus.

Photo Credit | © iStockPhoto

A common appetizer perfect before lunch, dinner, or as a midday snack, hummus is lauded by many as a deliciously healthy treat that pairs well with a cold brew (we need to get our calories from somewhere, right). You can also get creative by whipping up batches that include red pepper, avocado, and (my favorite) some jalapeño for an added kick.

 

6. Mashed potatoes

Use an immersion blender for mashed potatoes.

Photo Credit | © iStockPhoto

A side dish that’s quick to prepare and easily dressed up (truffled mashed potatoes anyone?), an immersion blender helps you remove all the bumps and lumps in mashed potatoes that food processors and blenders may leave behind.

 

7. Soups

Use an immersion blender for pureed soups.

Photo Credit | © iStockPhoto

When you’re making a creamed or puréed soup, save the extra step of moving your soup into a blender or food processor by using an immersion blender in the stock pot itself. Not only will you minimize product loss bound to occur by changing vessels, but you’ll save yourself some extra dish work by keeping your sink free and clear.

 

8. Tomato Sauce

Use an immersion blender for tomato sauce.

Photo Credit | © iStockPhoto

When you don’t have time to cook tomatoes down in your tomato sauce, try blending them instead. A quick way to add a lot of flavor to your dish, fresh tomato sauce will exhibit brighter flavors than competitor’s canned varieties.

 

9. Coulis

Use an immersion blender for savory and sweet coulis

Photo Credit | © iStockPhoto

A fancy way to refer to a thick sauce made from pureed and strained vegetables or fruit, you’ll find that a coulis is an easy way to elevate both sweet and savory dishes alike. Featuring concentrated flavor in a visually appealing bright color, a coulis can easily be paired to elevate existing menu items and delight diners.

 

10. Desserts

Use an immersion blender for desserts like cheesecake.

Photo Credit | © iStockPhoto

You don’t need a large commercial-sized mixture if you’ve just started to dapple in baking. Cheesecake, crepe filling, and more is easily made in advance with an immersion blender that lets you prep, mix and store all in the same large container.


People are willing to pay more for value, but it’s your job to create and deliver that value in the first place. With just a little extra work, you can easily enhance your existing menu items to deliver a beautiful (and delicious) dish.

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5 Things to Do Before Starting a Restaurant

opening-new-restaurant

Opening a new restaurant isn’t for the faint of heart. Be sure to do your homework before starting a new venture. | © iStockPhoto

Opening your own restaurant is exciting! And perhaps it’s also a little daunting. Before you move forward with your new business venture you’ll want to do some legwork so you can minimize potential mistakes you might make. Preparation is key in the restaurant industry and without proper planning you could find yourself scrambling for funds and customers early on. Consider these five tasks before embarking on a new restaurant.

1. Assess your personality and lifestyle.
Starting a business that conflicts with your nature and schedule is either going to reflect poorly on your personal life, or your restaurant. Before deciding on a food concept and bringing your idea to life, take an honest look at what personality type you have and your lifestyle. For example, if you’re a morning person that likes to be in bed by nine, you’re not going to fair well in a late night bar environment. A bakery or coffee shop would better suit you, as you’d be required to rise at the crack of dawn with your customers rather than saunter home after 2 a.m.

2. Draft a partnership agreement.
Just like our personal relationships, a business relationship can quickly go sour. When starting a restaurant with a partner or team of investors, it’s important that you have a formal partnership agreement in writing. This contract should clearly state each individual’s roles and responsibilities, and what would be the exit plan or buyout should someone choose to leave later on. Foregoing this document can lead to more conflict, financial debates and even lawsuits. No matter if you’re going into business with a family member or friend, a partnership agreement is a must before any real maneuvers are made.

3. Research your location.
When choosing a location for a restaurant, owners sometimes focus on traditional features like the cost and layout and fail to properly research the property. It’s in your best interest to learn as much about your prospective location as possible. Who were the previous renters? Does the space have a history of failed businesses? If a spot has a long track record of restaurants going out of business, it’d be naïve to think your restaurant would be any different. In addition to doing a background check, a little investigation into the future can eliminate surprises down the road. Check in with the city’s planning and zoning department and inquire about any future construction or development scheduled in the centralized area.

4. Create a marketing strategy.
Don’t start writing your business plan before having spent some time thinking about marketing. It’s something you will want to include in detail, and can be a lifeline for a new restaurant. The first year can be rough — customers will come and go and unexpected expenses can eat up funding faster than you thought. Your marketing strategy should include different methods, such as how to reach out to local businesses and your approach for social media, so that you can obtain and retain a loyal customer base that will help get your business off the ground.

5. Tap into local and government resources for small businesses.
If this is your first restaurant, you’re probably unaware of the assistance available to help first time business owners. Your local city hall should be able to educate you on registration procedures and point you in the direction of the city’s building department. From there you will be instructed on permitting procedures and restrictive ordinances that will strengthen your knowledge on securing a restaurant location and making any renovations.

For more generalized procurement information, the U.S. Small Business Administration is a helpful resource that can provide you with facts on how to start a restaurant, applying for grants and loans, and different programs available to entrepreneurs. Tap into any free education available and learn what red tape you’ll face before you finalize any plans.

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What Can You Learn from Homebrewing?

Homebrewing beer requires lots of beer bottles.

Photo Credit © iStockphoto

It’s true that craft breweries nowadays are as ubiquitous as fast food restaurants. But unlike a common retail chain, each craft brewery differentiates itself by showcasing unique flavor profiles of beer. Some specialize in hoppy IPAs, while others like to develop a rich and complex stout reminiscent of campfire s’mores (we’re looking at you Wild Woods Brewery). Like a painter to his portrait, or a chef to his culinary art, the personal attention and thoughtful care in today’s brewing results in a rich, flavorful beverage we can’t get enough of.

In many ways craft brewing has its roots in homebrewing, which gained traction in the early 20th century during Prohibition—where it became a kind of home skill passed through the generations like baking or canning. Brewing beer has evolved into an art, as brewers experiment with different hops, fruits, fermentation periods and more to enhance and develop rich flavor profiles.

And the public loves it!

These new craft beers vary in flavor and aroma, showcasing unique flavors not typically found in regular offerings. Which is why even if you’re not a craft brewer, you should consider hopping on the trend by offering customers a selection of local (and popular) brews to excite and entice them.

But where to begin on this highly popular trend?

Try homebrewing yourself.

No seriously, try it.

You may not become an avid brewer at home, and maybe your first batch won’t elicit much more than a ‘Meh it’s ok’ for taste—but it’ll still be beer. Real, legit beer you made yourself. When it comes to understanding an art like beer, there’s something to be said for getting your hands dirty to truly understand the process. The knowledge and respect (and passion!) you’ll gain from brewing just one batch of beer will translate to your staff, who will become more knowledgeable on products you want to sell.

Let’s get started.

Homebrewing storage closet

Homebrewing is addictive. Don’t be surprised if your closet transforms into a storage room.

What equipment do you need?
The American Homebrewers Association can hook you up with a starter kit sold in your area which includes all the materials you’ll need for making your first batch. But if you’re ready (or have access to) the individual materials, they also have a fantastic list of equipment beginners will need for brewing their first batch of beer.

That list includes:

Now you BREW!
Now the fun part. What do you enjoy drinking? Starting with a flavor you know and love is a great way to get your feet wet in brewing, and then you’ll be more apt to get creative and discover surprising (and delicious) new flavor profiles.

Brewing with malt extract is a great starting point for new homebrewers because the process requires minimal equipment and procedures.

Check out great step-by-step instructions (with pictures!) from the American Homebrewers Association for more »

CAUTION! Brewing can be lethal to your dogs

We know you love your furry friends, so take caution when you brew beer at home. Ingesting hops can be highly toxic to dogs, in which our canine friends may develop a condition called “Malignant Hyperthermia,” in which the body temperature rises uncontrollably. Symptoms include restlessness, panting, vomiting, seizures and more, and can be harmful if not fatal to your pooch. Because brewed (and unbrewed) hops run serious risks to your dog, be sure to never use hops in your compost bin or garden (where other animals including your dog has access) and of course, if you must grow hop plants in your hard be sure to carefully contain the plant should it drop cones to the ground.

Keep hops in a secure location away from your pets, and after brewing place in a sealed bag that goes straight into the trash can.

What’s Next?
The Brewers Association has a wide range of information on their website, featuring helpful articles on everything from marketing to selling your beer. Or for more detailed information and tips for homebrewing, check out the American Homebrewers Association.

 

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Back of House Inspection Checklist

health-inspector-safety-checklistVisits from the health inspector are typically unannounced, so you’ll always want to be prepared. Follow these 10 simple back of house practices to pass any inspection with flying colors.

1. Temperature Logs

Maintaining proper product temperatures is one of the most important items on your checklist. Your product is one of the largest operating expenses you’ve got, and to throw it all in the trash would be a serious hit to your bottom line—not to mention serious consequences if any of your diners became ill. Be extra vigilant in warmer months by regularly checking temperature logs on your refrigerators, freezers and dry storage areas.

2. Do not overfill food pans

Perhaps not as obvious as #1, but overfilling your food pans almost guarantees that the top layer of the food will rise in temperature. Most are designed to ensure foods are 41° F or below, and will safely store cold foods (not cool them). Only fill your pans to their prescribed levels to ensure foods stay cold and safe to use.

San Jamar - RCU64 - Rapi-Kool 64 oz Cold Paddle

San Jamar – RCU64 – Rapi-Kool 64 oz Cold Paddle

3. Try a Cold Paddle

Cool soups and stock quickly and safely by investing in a Rapi-Kool® Cold Paddle from San Jamar. Putting hot food directly into the refrigerator will cause the inside of your refrigerator to warm up faster than the fridge can cool it down (and warm food will start to spoil). Designed to chill foods from the inside-out, you’ll decrease your risk of bacterial growth when you use an ice paddle made of food grade plastic that’s safe to use for rapidly cooling hot foods. Plus, it’s dishwasher safe!

4. Check your deliveries

Never take it for granted that product arriving to your restaurant each morning was stored and packaged properly during transport. Take the extra time, and keep a few thermometers (like a thermocouple) in your receiving area so you can check the temperature of your protein without poking a hole.

5. Protect food from cross-contamination

Raw proteins are known to carry harmful bacteria, like Salmonella (chicken). Bacteria can easily spread by sharing utensils, cutting boards, etc. Ensure you keep your guests safe by dedicating certain supplies for protein and the other to vegetables. Also, wash your hands frequently!

6. Storing the sanitizer bucket

One evening while dining out with my family, both my husband and mother asked for a refill on waters at the end of the meal. Suddenly both found themselves choking. Apparently, instead of pouring water into their glasses, the server reached for a pitcher of cleaning chemicals instead—sending both to the emergency room.

The pitcher of cleaning solution, we learned later, was sitting on a bus cart. The server was unaware that the pitcher contained toxic chemicals.

In June of this year, Andres Lorente of Bernicarlo, Spain, was served a clear, odorless, glassful of industrial cleaner that had been stored inside a wine bottle inside the fridge. Unfortunately for Lorento, he did not survive the severe burns to his throat and stomach after taking a small sip of the liquid.

San Jamar - KP196RD - Kleen-Pail® 6 Qt Red Sanitizer Bucket

San Jamar – KP196RD – Kleen-Pail® 6 Qt Red Sanitizer Bucket

While you may think both of these examples are exaggerated, Who would store cleaning chemicals in a pitcher to serve water? Why would anyone put dishwasher cleaner into a wine bottle in the fridge? Stories of these are all too common, and it’s better safe to prepare for a lack of common sense than to cause serious harm to patrons and lose your restaurant (and reputation).

Keep chemicals in approved chemical-only buckets and containers, and ensure your sanitization buckets (like this sanitizer bucket from san Jamar) are always located below and away from food to prevent cross-contamination. Also consider investing in sanitizer test strips to monitor the concentration of your sanitizing solution because more is not necessarily better. Also ensure you use separate wipe cloths for cleaning food prep equipment (like cutting boards) and for disinfecting surfaces.

7. Check plumbing frequently

Regular maintenance of your plumbing can save you some big bills later on. Health inspectors check for proper plumbing fixtures such as backflow devices, and also check to make sure you have sinks designed for food safe operations (like rinsing dishes) and cleaning (like a mop/slop sink).

8. Keep food surfaces fully operational

You might not have noticed that your cutting boards look a bit worn lately, sporting deep grooves that could trap unsafe bacteria and be difficult to clean. Or maybe your equipment and utensils are sporting wear like corrosion or peeling (non-stick pan?)—whatever the case, anything that comes into contact with food needs to be in proper working order.

9. Cleanliness is next to…

Well you know how the saying goes. Keeping a clean kitchen is one of the easiest (and most obvious) things you can do stay on the good side of health inspectors. Rodent droppings, excessive flies, or other insects can contaminate your food stores and spread disease. Need help cleaning in the hard-to-reach places? Check out our blog post for some help »

10. Lead your staff

You can’t be expected to be in the kitchen 24/7 (though it feels like you are). Take the time to train your staff on proper safety measures and you’ll pass any inspection with flying colors. It’s a two-way street though—you can’t expect your staff to follow proper protocol if you don’t, so lead by example and set the stage for an A grade from the health inspector each and every time.


Interested in finding out other violations that inspectors look for? Check out the guide, What to Expect When You’re Inspected: A Guide for Food Service Operators from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene. Though specific to NYC, this guide has great information on the inspection process and what items you could be graded on.

You can also get more tips from the National Restaurant Association »

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Marketing Events and Collaboration Ideas for Restaurants

restaurant-event-sceneFeel like you’re in a slump?

Eager to get creative with your marketing efforts?

Lure diners into your restaurant by creating personalized experiences that excite and engage them. An event gives you a platform to showcase the best of your restaurant, and your chef will also be excited at the prospect of getting creative with a special menu. Fun events transform your establishment from just a restaurant to a destination—where you become an important note in a diner’s personal calendar.

Here are a few ideas that wouldn’t take much to implement, but could make a positive, lasting impact on your bottom line:

Wine Flight
Get your wine rep and chef together to plan a pre-fixe four course wine dinner with a set per person price. Guests will enjoy the opportunity to learn more about wines and their regions, particularly as they are paired with complementary dishes. Bonus—as your rep if he or she can bring along extra bottles for diners to purchase at the table.

Farm Dinner
If you’re lucky enough to operate near a local farm, see if they’d be interesting in hosting a farm dinner on their property. Your chef will revel in the opportunity to get creative with fresh harvests, and diners will enjoy the surrounding terroir. Farm dinners are best for warm, summer nights.

Collaborate with Another Chef
Put competition aside and take the opportunity to collaborate with a talented chef to put a unique spin on your menu for one night only. Not only do you have the opportunity to market this event to your own customer base, the guest chef will also promote it within their own network. You may find unexpected pairings and some fun twists on your menu through this thoughtful collaboration!

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The Elkay Difference

elkay-foodserviceNowadays, stainless steel in a restaurant kitchen is as ubiquitous as the kitchen sink!

And companies like Elkay do both (and more).

Family-owned since 1920, Elkay entered the market by creating the high quality sinks. Serving both the residential and commercial markets, Elkay quickly expanded into the manufacture of faucets, water coolers, drinking fountains and better fillers to meet new demands of a changing marketplace. Elkay products have been praised for their durable products all crafted in stainless steel.

We hear about stainless steel all the time: cooks have long used stainless steel cookware, doctors use stainless steel instruments, and homeowners everywhere love the sheen of a stainless steel kitchen. But what exactly is stainless steel and why do we love it so much?

Stainless steel is a steel alloy with a minimum of 10.5% chromium content by mass. Chromium is a lustrous, hard and brittle metal which takes a high polish, resists tarnishing and has a high melting point.

Still with me?

As a result, stainless steel does not easily corrode, rust or stain plus it’s extremely durable, recyclable—and for chefs, stainless steel (when wrapped around an aluminum or copper core) creates even heat transfer.

Plus, it just looks pretty.

You might not be concerned with aesthetics as much in the kitchen, however, where functionality is key. Elkay crafts their products in stainless steel because it’s long-lasting, easy to clean, and will not absorb odors (like plastic or other materials).

Shop Elkay SSP
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Trends in Glassware

glassware-wineFashion is fickle—I think we can all agree on that. In the last 50 years we’ve witnessed bellbottoms, the powersuit, grunge, hipsters and lumbersexuals. In many ways, fashion trends extend beyond the clothes we wear to the places we inhabit. More restaurants are stripping their interiors to their structural bones, showcasing exposed ventilation, decades old brick walls, and pairing it with warm, rustic tables.

When you open a restaurant, you should probably spend as much (or even more) time on the design than you do on the food. Why? These details are your first impression to the diner and help set an expectation for their meal and dining experience. And even then, diners will drink something long before they have a taste of something from your kitchen.

So what do you do?

Glassware is the easiest way to affect the mood and appearance of your restaurant. Think about it—if you charge $7 for a gin and tonic, what if I told you that you could charge $11 for the same gin and tonic, but served in a more elegant way? Perhaps you serve it in a wide rocks glass to accommodate a single large ice cube, or you add a lemon or lime twist. I’ve even seen some bars add a sprinkling of lavender petals on top of an orange slice to enhance the appearance of their lavender cocktail. Perception is proportionate to value, and you may find diners are willing to pay more if they deem it worth the price.

Let’s take a few familiar industry favorites and find out new ways to reinvent them:

GET Enterprises - 6616-1-2-R - 16 oz Red Pebbled Tumbler

GET Enterprises – 6616-1-2-R – 16 oz Red Pebbled Tumbler

1. Red Tumbler

The classic, plastic red tumbler (like this one from GET Enterprises) has been seen for decades in diners and dives alike. These all-purpose cups are in it for the long haul—and by long haul, we’re guessing you’ve had them for at least 10 years already. Designed to add some color to the table, you may find the red tint also changes the appearance of most beverages to a muddled, brown color.

 

Instead try…

Cambro - LT16 - Laguna® 16 oz Hammered Finish Tumbler

Cambro – LT16 – Laguna® 16 oz Hammered Finish Tumbler

Clear Tumbler

It doesn’t cost much more, but you’ll instantly transform your patron’s perspective by opting for something more similar to glass. This Laguna Hammered Finish Tumbler from Cambro not only hides water spots and scratches, but it’ll have the same look and feel of glass.

Thinking of spending even a little more? Try the polycarbonate Tom Collins Glass, like this one from Thunder Group. More expensive than the red tumbler, but much cheaper than glass, you’ll have the durability of plastic with the beauty and appeal of glassware.

 

Cardinal - 15442 - 12 oz Excalibur Margarita Glass

Cardinal – 15442 – 12 oz Excalibur Margarita Glass

2. Margarita Glass

The classic “inverted sombrero” shape of the margarita glass has been synonymous with its potent namesake since at least the 1950s. Still, the margarita glass serves just one distinct purpose—to serve margaritas; this is fine if your restaurant specializes in this popular beverage, but if a margarita is just one of many cocktails you serve, you may find shelf size at your restaurant comes at a premium. Sure some establishments have tried to make this glass perform double-duty by serving guacamole and even shrimp cocktails (we’re looking at you, 1980s), but suffice it to say this glass takes up a lot of shelf space for little return.

Instead try…

Cardinal - 10007 - 10 1/2 oz Cabernet Rocks Glass

Cardinal – 10007 – 10 1/2 oz Cabernet Rocks Glass

Rocks Glass

If margaritas aren’t your main cocktail, or if you’re hoping to give your restaurant an update, try serving the beverage in a double old-fashioned or rocks glass, like this Cabernet Rocks glass from Cardinal).

More and more casual and fine dining restaurants are updating the classic boozy beverage by giving it an elevated look that diners enjoy. Salting the rim is a snap, and you’ve just cut down on your glassware expense.

 

Cardinal - 71083 - 10 1/2 oz Excalibur Tall Wine Glass

Cardinal – 71083 – 10 1/2 oz Excalibur Tall Wine Glass

3. Traditional Wine Glass
The traditional wine glass is a tried and true favorite, typically consisting of softly-rounded edges and a tall stem meant for holding. Though some say the stem is to prevent dirty smudges from appearing on your glass (which it will), the presence of a stem is actually to ensure that you don’t inadvertently warm your wine.

Although beautiful, a slim, delicate stem makes for a precarious design in a busy, commercial setting. You may have to replace stemmed wine glasses more regularly due to their instability.

Instead try…

  Cardinal - C8832 - 9 oz Perfection Tumbler

Cardinal – C8832 – 9 oz Perfection Tumbler

Stemless Wine Glass

This trendy take on the classic wine glass not only minimizes the occurrence of breakage, but you’ll soon love the versatility of the stemless wine glass (like this Perfection Tumbler from Cardinal Glassware). In addition to red or white pours, you can also give both iced tea and soft drinks an elevated touch when you serve it in these glasses. Just make sure you opt for either fully tempered glass or kwarx so you have something more durable.

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Should Restaurants Cater to New Parents?

As a new parent myself, I’m familiar with the fiercely debated stories of patrons changing dirty diapers on dining tables; the reason for this, as most parents insist, is because the restaurant neglected to install a diaper changing station in the restroom. Of course, this quickly turns into a debate on whether or not it’s the restaurant’s responsibility to supply a changing table in the restroom.

Regardless of which side of the fence you reside, I think most agree that given another option, a parent would choose not to change their child on a dining table.

So the question is, “Is it the restaurant’s responsibility to be kid-friendly?”

QSR magazine recently highlighted new parents as an overlooked demographic through the Hartman Group’s recent findings; new parents are described as being not only “more purposeful in making healthy food choices,” but they are “also looking at restaurants from a different angle: one in which they must consider the logistics of dinging out in a new way.”

The author and her daughter.

The author and her daughter.

Recently we featured the pros and cons of having a diaper changing table in your restaurant, and many of these points still hold true. As a parent who has changed her baby both in the car and on awkward side tables in the restroom (you do what you gotta do), I appreciate having a changing table accessible. Though I never considered accommodating a specific child’s needs to be a restaurant’s responsibility per se (because let’s be honest, kiddos need a lot), it does impact my decision for repeat visits. For example, when planning a family dinner out with a large group, I’ll probably pick a place which has changing facilities because it makes my life just a little easier.

Where there is need, there is opportunity: restaurants can make small changes that could translate into return visits and even more loyal customers. I’m not even talking about loading up on crayons and butcher paper-lined tablecloths, but rather, small discreet accommodations that most diners probably wouldn’t even notice:

Install Changing Tables
In my own personal experience, one of the first things I do at any new dining establishment is to pop into the restroom and assess the changing facilities. It’s all about planning after all, and if I need to get creative with changing my baby at some point during the meal, I prefer to be prepared. For example, the car might not be an option if we parked several blocks away, or if there’s inclement weather—and under no circumstances is the bathroom floor ever an option.

While I don’t necessarily expect a changing table in the restroom, I absolutely appreciate one in place. My husband and I often enjoyed dining out for two, and that hasn’t changed since the little one’s arrival (except now our reservation is a table for three). And with newer, stylish options like this Koala Baby Changing Station with stainless steel veneer, you don’t have to compromise style with function.

Set Aside a Table or Two with More Room
My husband and I have dined at several places where two tops (one side is a booth, the other are chairs) are stretched along a wall, and the tables were pretty much right on top of each other. In these situations, I found it difficult to shimmy myself between two tables just to make it to the booth—and don’t even think about any bathroom break during dinner. Not only that, try maintaining a consistent conversation string when you’re so close to your neighbor you can hear them chew.

If you find diners struggling to get in and out of your seats on date night, consider diners with children or even those with special needs. Children not only come with lots of gear (diaper bag, snacks, carrier and/or stroller), but they also want to grab everything within reach—you’ve seen it before… glassware, plates and utensils pushed to one side of the table while the child gets the most elbow room of everyone.

Try giving extra room to a couple tables for diners who are unable to make the tight squeeze to their seat. You’ll be pleasing more diners than just the new parents.

Straws
This should already be on your inventory list, but I have encountered some newer farm-to-table like venues who opt to go straw-less. Saving the environment is noble and I do commend it, but even a paper straw kept on hand for requests is helpful for children who have yet mastered the art of drinking from a glass. Not only will you save a (potentially) big mess, but the parents will thank you for making their lives much easier. Bonus: have a few kid cups with lids (or try these Disposable tumbler lids from Cambro that’ll transform your existing drinkware into kid cups) and those parents will be over the moon.

Above and beyond – the outdoor space
Here in Colorado, we experience a range in temperatures—from the high highs of 100 degrees (but it’s a dry heat), to the low lows of 0 degrees. Still, when one local restaurant transformed the old parking lot into an astroturf play area, parents were thrilled.

lucky-pie-louisville

Lucky Pie, located in Louisville CO features an astroturf area where kids can move around and guests can sit to enjoy their ice cream from Sweet Cow located next door.

Why? Instead of waiting in the tight entryway for a table during peak times, kids could stretch their legs and release some energy while parents could put their feet up. Lucky Pie in Louisville, CO utilized the new space to showcase their raised bed gardens (you can only order a margherita pizza when the tomatoes are in season) and filled the area with ample seating.This space is great for all people (not just families) as a way to spend those moments waiting for a table that much better.


What tips do you have to accommodate different diners?

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Top 10 Easy DIY Fixes For Your Restaurant

kitchen-diy-fix

Between the front and back of house operations, chances are you have several different supplies and equipment that are used regularly in your restaurant. High-volume wear and tear on your equipment takes its toll on your products, and you may find yourself with breakages and breakdowns. The good news is that many items can be fixed yourself at a fraction of the price you’d pay for a service technician.

At Tundra Restaurant Supply, we sell over 22,000 parts that cover everything from beverage and cooking equipment parts, to electrical, furniture, janitorial and more. Getting just a little handy around the restaurant will save you time, and more importantly, money. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of 10 Easy DIY Fixes you can do now:

1. Utility Carts

The unsung workhorse of your kitchen, utility carts help your staff move dirty dishes, fresh utensils, and any other bulk items quickly and efficiently. If your cart loses a caster, it’ll be down for the count. Keep the workflow moving by stocking up on casters from brands like Rubbermaid.

2. Pre-Rinse Hoses

In a busy kitchen, your wash station is key to being clean and organized during the rush. When a breakdown happens, save yourself the cost of purchasing a brand new Pre-Rinse Assembly (which can set you back anywhere from $200 to $700), and instead locate your model’s pre-rinse hose part and make the fix yourself.

3. Refrigeration Gaskets

A tight seal on your refrigerator door is crucial to maintaining a low temperature that keeps product fresh and safe for diners. Not only that, when the seal on your door is weak, your refrigerator has to work harder to maintain a proper temperature—which creates a downward spiral of higher energy costs and poor performance that could result in more costly fixes down the road. Lucky for you, refrigeration gaskets are easy to replace and cheap enough to keep a few extras on hand. Be sure to check out our Refrigeration Door Seal & Gasket Buying Guide for more information »

4. Burner Valves

If your gas range seems like it’s on the fritz in your restaurant, don’t be alarmed. Burner valves regular the gas flow within your equipment, and chances are a quick replacement of this small part will get you cooking again. And the good news? It’ll only cost you $100 or less.

5. Food Storage

Your staff is in and out of your food storage containers several times a day, taking a toll on latching mechanisms. Luckily several manufacturers sell replacement covers, latches and more so you aren’t footing the bill for an entirely new container.

 

6. Mop Buckets

They’re not the most glamorous item in your business, but you can’t imagine keeping on top of your operation without it. Mop buckets serve a key purpose of keeping your restaurant clean (and in code). Don’t let a loose (or broken caster) prevent you from doing the job quickly and efficiently; keep a few casters on hand and you won’t be sorry.

7. Refrigeration Hinges

Your refrigeration hinges serve an obvious purpose—keep the door on! Protect your product within your refrigerator, walk-in, blast chillers and more with proper hinges. A quick hinge fix can save you a lot on unspoiled product. Interested in learning more about your refrigeration equipment? Check out our Refrigeration Buying Guide here »

8. Floor Drain Covers & Strainers

Less of a DIY and perhaps more of a simple fix, floor drain covers and strainers keep your pipes clean from debris. Prevent a pipe backup (and a bigger expense) cheaply and easily by stocking up on several of these products.

 

9. Light Fixtures

Sharp objects and darkness don’t mix. Keep the lights (and your thumbs) on and intact by keeping light fixtures on-hand for unexpected burnouts. Your kitchen staff will thank you.

 

 

10. High Chair Strap Kit

Kids are surprisingly strong, so don’t be surprised when you go through 4 or 5 high chairs before you find one without a broken strap. Have a few straps available to switch out and your diners will thank you.

 

 

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Juicing 101 – An Introductory Guide to Juicing

orange-juiceBoth commercial and residential fans have long praised the healthy, delicious taste of freshly-made squeezed juice. When you juice your own fruits and vegetables, you easily avoid the added sugars and other additives commonly found on marketplace shelves—and trust us, diners will notice the fresher taste. For those at home, juicing is also a great way to mix vegetables into the diets of picky eaters.

Ready to take the plunge and juice? Let’s get started!

There are different kinds of juicers?
Before you get started in juicing, consider which type of juice would work best for you. In the commercial environment, you’ll often find manual citrus juicers perfect for that homemade orange juice in the mornings.

For those at home, the prominent types of electric juicers on the market on centrifugal and masticating.

Breville JE98XL Juice Fountain Plus 850-Watt Juice Extractor

Centrifugal
Physical attributes: a large, stout base with a tall, primary column
Cost: Anywhere from $50 – $200 (typically)

The centrifugal juicer works fast, and by fast, I mean that suction in the column is strong and it’ll suck up your orange in a heartbeat. Less components also means less cleanup—which I definitely encourage you do immediately following each juicing session to keep the filter clean and operating efficiently.

Omega J8006 Nutrition Center Juicer

Masticating
Physical attributes: long, horizontal spout where pulp is discarded—looks similar to a meat grinder
Cost: Anywhere from $100 – $400 (roughly)

The masticating juicer mashes products through a rough mesh, making it ideal for extracting lots of juice from leafy, green vegetables. What you gain in output, you lose in time–it takes a bit longer than a centrifugal juicer to extract those juices and clean all of the components.

What do you do with leftover juice pulp?
Juice pulp, or the fibers that remain after extracting the juice from your fruits & veggies shouldn’t be thrown away! Often lauded as the healthiest part of the food, juice pulp can be added to a variety of dishes you can make. Including:

  • Breads (like carrot bread, zucchini, and more)
  • Muffins (leftover fruit pulp like apple works well for muffins)
  • Pasta sauce (works well with carrot, beet and other root vegetables)
  • Vegetable broth (be sure to remove the vegetable pulp before you juice your fruits)

You can also store leftover pulp in an ice cube tray and freeze for ‘green’ smoothies later.

Awesome, I’m ready to juice! Now what?
Deciding on a centrifugal or a masticating juicer is really a sense of preference; it should fit your lifestyle and your needs. Some questions you might want to consider are:

  1. Speed
    If you’re juggling a busy household and a full-time job, you’ll want something quick to juice and quick to clean. Centrifugal juicers are known for their speed, and with minimal parts to clean (which are easy to disassemble and reassemble again), you’ll be out the door in minutes.
  2. Price
    You can find both masticating and centrifugal juicers in the same pricing ballpark, depending on the model, however masticating juicers do start on the higher end. If that extra money for a masticating juicer is more than you’re comfortable to spend, then stick with the centrifugal juicer—the variance is output is relatively low when compared to its masticating counterpart.
  3. What do you plan to juice?
    Seems like a no-brainer, but if you’re more concerned with regularly juicing leafy vegetables, you’ll see a larger yield with a masticating juicer (and a larger bang for your buck). However, if you’re most looking forward to some fresh orange juice on Sunday mornings with the family, you might find the ease of a centrifugal juicer more your speed.

Whichever you juicer you decide, I guarantee you’ll find it hard to go back to the store-bought stuff after having fresh juice on the regular. And speaking of fresh juice, check out this simple (and easy) recipe for a healthy juice that’s perfect for sipping on while you cruise the farmer’s market:

Summer Cleansing Juice Recipe

  • 1 beet
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 apple
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 2-3 celery stalks
  • Dash of ginger (ginger is great for the digestive system!)

Cut the leaves off of the beet and celery, and make sure everything is washed thoroughly before putting in your juice. Then, put everything in your juicer, and enjoy!

What kinds of juice will you enjoy this summer?

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