eTundra Categories

Tag Archives | restaurant tips

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

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

How to Wage War on Water Orders

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

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

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

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

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

Maximize Your Beverage Options with Coca-Cola Freestyle

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

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

Create Your Own Unique Beverage Options

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

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

Train Staff to Sell Beverages

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

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

Combo Meals

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

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

Happy Hour

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

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

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

Continue Reading

How To Sell Your Restaurant

How To Sell Your RestaurantThe time to sell your restaurant may come for many reasons.  Whatever the motives are behind this difficult decision, the process of selling your establishment needs to be handled carefully to make sure you get the right price at the right time.  Achieving that is often the result of a long, tedious process, with many pitfalls along the way.  Some tips to help you through:

Broker or go it alone?  The very first decision you have to make is whether to use a broker to market and sell your restaurant or whether you want to try to sell your business yourself.  Brokers have some great advantages.  They already have a network of buyers, they know where to advertise, and they can qualify potential buyers very well.  The downside of using a broker is they will take a cut of the sale price, usually to the tune of 10% – 25%.  If you go it alone, be prepared to spend A LOT of time fielding inquiries, managing advertising, and qualifying buyers.

Prepare your restaurant for valuation.  In an ideal world, you would have at least a year leading up to the sale of your restaurant to maximize profit and loss statements and make sure equipment and infrastructure are up to snuff.  In the real world, you may have much less time than that.  No matter what your time frame is, a few key factors will bring you the best price for your establishment:

  • Profit.  If your restaurant is making money, then you’re good to go.  Try to minimize expenses in the months leading up to the sale to boost your profits even more.  However, remember that fraudulently inflating profits is a serious crime.
  • Maintenance.  Make sure all your equipment is up to date on scheduled maintenance and that it’s in good working order.  Even if this means replacing that ancient range you’ve been riding for years, you’ll make that investment back when you sell.  Of course, these expenses have to be weighed against your profit statements.
  • Cash or charge.  Decide if you’re willing to finance a deal with a potential buyer or if you want all the cash up front.  Cash up front is much less risky and puts a nice chunk of change in your pocket all at once, but the buyer will expect a discount for paying a lump sum, often in the 20% – 30% range.  On the other hand, if you are willing to finance, you can charge a higher than average interest rate and still get a pretty hefty deposit without having to lower your price.

If you don’t own the building, talk to your landlord!  By far the biggest deal breaker in a restaurant transaction is your landlord.  They must be willing to assign your lease to your buyer for the sale to work.  If you lease, involve your landlord early and keep them involved throughout the entire buyer qualification process.

Qualify buyers.  Prepare a tiered system to filter out good buyers from bad buyers.  Start by getting some references and feeling out their business capabilities and professionalism.  Next ask for financial records that reflect their ability to pay the price you’re asking.  Finally, run them by your landlord if you lease to make sure he/she is willing to assign the lease.

If you have a broker, they will help you with this process.  If you don’t, be vigilant about qualifying buyers before you reveal financial information about your restaurant!  Only show your profit/loss statements to buyers who have been thoroughly vetted.  It’s also a good idea to agree on the price and have the buyer sign a confidentiality agreement before you show these records.  The last thing you want is private financial information getting back to your competitors.How To Sell Your Restaurant

If you’re going it alone, get some help.  If you’ve hired a broker, they will probably require you to get a lawyer and an accountant or they may even provide those services.  If you’re going it alone, get a lawyer and an accountant!  You’ll need the lawyer to prepare the purchasing agreement.  You will especially need a lawyer if you plan on financing the buyer.  You’ll need the accountant to make sure you pay the proper local, state, and federal taxes associated with the sale of your business.  These services cost money, but they are absolutely essential to a successful sale.

Selling a business takes a lot of time and energy, but if you carry it out properly, you should be able to walk away with a fair price for your restaurant.  Making sure you have all your bases covered is the essential ingredient to getting you to a successful closing.

Continue Reading

Replacing Refrigeration Door Gaskets

The rubber door gasket on the inside edge of the doors of all your refrigeration equipment is very important. It prevents cold air from escaping, which means the unit will stay colder longer and use less energy.  Old refrigeration door gaskets wear out and lose their seal. Even worse, older gaskets can pose a food safety risk because they begin to collect grime and food bits and become a breeding ground for bacteria.

Luckily, it’s easy to replace door gaskets!  There are several different styles of gaskets. To ensure you get the proper gasket, gather the following information:

1. Dimension of gasket – Measure from outside corner to outside corner for both height and width.

2. Manufacturer – Get the manufacturer’s name and the model and serial number of the piece of equipment (the serial number may not be needed).  Search for refrigeration door gaskets by manufacturer here.

3. Style –  Check to see if the gasket is magnetic or non-magnetic(compression). Almost all newer refrigeration equipment will have a magnetic gasket. A magnetic gasket will be hard and square at the point where it contacts the inside frame of the unit. Magnetic gaskets will also snap shut when you hold the door less than an inch from the frame because the magnet attracts to the metal.

Replacing Refrigeration Door Gaskets

Magnetic door gaskets are the most common

Compression gaskets usually need a door latch to hold them tight in place to get a good seal. These gaskets are soft and compress easily at the point where they contact the inside frame of the unit.

Replacing Refrigeration Door Gaskets

A compression style door gasket

Door gaskets are also categorized by how they attach to the door.  There are 3 ways a door gasket mounts on a door: snap in (or dart), push in, and screw in.

How To Replace Refrigeration Door Gaskets By Style

Snap in (or dart) door gaskets

Replacing Refrigeration Door Gaskets

Note the arrow shaped “dart” in the middle. This snaps into a slot on the door.

Removal – Remove the old gasket by grabbing a corner and pulling.  The dart section of the gasket, which fits snugly into a slot in the door frame, will pull out.

Installation – To install the new refrigeration door gasket, soak it in hot water for a few minutes. This will make it more flexible.  Begin by snapping in a top corner first. Then, using a mallet or a block of wood and hammer, tap into place the top of the gasket. Continue by installing the sides from top to bottom, and finally the bottom.

Note: Make sure the hinge side of the gasket does not roll under when you close the door.  If it does, push it into position and you may have to tape the door closed to get the gasket to seat itself. You might also try a hair dryer to heat the gasket as this will help it seat. (Make sure you don’t melt the gasket!)

Replacing Refrigeration Door Gaskets

A push in style door gasket

Push in refrigeration door gaskets

Removal – Remove the old gasket by grabbing a corner and pulling!

Installation – Push in gaskets may require vinyl cement. To install the new gasket brush some vinyl cement into the channel and press the gasket into the channel.

Note: Make sure the hinge side of the gasket does not roll under when you close the door.  If it does, push it into position and you may have to tape the door closed to get the gasket to seat itself.  You may also use a hair dryer to heat the gasket as this will help the gasket seat.  (Make sure you don’t melt the gasket!)

Screw in door gaskets

Removal – Simply remove screws.

Installation – Screw in the new gasket using retainer strips.

A screw in style door gasket. Note the strip for screwing in the gasket.
Continue Reading

Food Safety At Turley’s Part 2: Staff Training

Food Safety At Turley’s Part 2: Staff Training

Turley’s restaurant in Boulder, CO

Earlier this week I ventured to get a feel for practical food safety practices in a real restaurant.  Turley’s, an iconic Boulder, CO eatery known for its eclectic menu full of healthy eating and fantastic international flavors, was kind enough to spend some time talking to me about their food safety program.

I sat down with second and third generation Turley family members and managers David and Sandy for an extremely informative chat on practical food safety applications in a working restaurant.  What I soon discovered is that procedures and guidelines are all well and good, but if you don’t promote a food-safe culture through staff training and pure vigilance, all those rules aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on.

Turley’s staff start their food safety education with a S.T.A.R. (Sanitation Training Assistance for Restaurateurs) course through the Boulder CountyFood Safety At Turley’s Part 2: Staff Training Office of Public Health.  The course covers six fundamental food safety concerns: viruses and bacteria, potentially hazardous foods, time/temperature control, personal hygiene, cross-contamination, and sanitization.  Turley’s management are also ServSafe certified.

However, it’s not enough to just teach staff about food safety issues once and then get on with the hectic life of the restaurant business.  “We have goals, not rules,” says David, “And it’s an ongoing thing.  We’ve got to be a food safety driver, because if you’re not willing to commit, the issue just goes away.”

Turley’s keeps food safety front and center by carrying out campaigns on specific topics, starting with the daily shift meetings.  One recent campaign focused on disposable gloves for staff working the line.  Because cross-contamination and hand washing are vital concerns, but also extremely hard for management to constantly police, disposable gloves are required for anybody on the line in Turley’s kitchen.

At first, everyone wore the gloves with few exceptions.  But as time went on, busy kitchen staff sometimes forgot to put on the gloves while prepping food, and the disposable glove policy started going by the wayside.

Turley’s management responded with a campaign, reminding kitchen staff at the shift meetings to wear their gloves at all times on the line, and soon the repetition of the campaign turned glove wearing into second nature for the staff.

David sometimes feels like a broken record, but the harping has paid off, and the management’s commitment to following through on campaigns is a vital follow up to the basic training courses.

Food safety campaigns for the front of the house are a little more difficult because turnover in a college town like Boulder makes training new staff a constant chore.  Turley’s management continues to focus on education, however, and take a mentoring rather than policing approach.  Every shift meeting presents a new challenge and a new opportunity for improving the awareness of the front of house staff.

The evolution theme is probably the most important lesson about an effective food safety program that I took away from Turley’s.  Even as I learned about all the things the restaurant does every day to manage food safety, the management was already looking ahead to the next campaign, and the next strategy.

David is thinking about conducting self inspections: unannounced walk-throughs of the entire restaurant with his health inspector cap on, looking for things that are hard for management in their normal roles to catch.  It’s just one more way Turley’s works to keep the restaurant in top shape for their customers every day.

Continue Reading

Restaurant Replenishment: Don’t Get Caught With Your Pants Down

Restaurant Replenishment: Don’t Get Caught With Your Pants DownEver noticed the paper towel dispenser spinning uselessly in your restaurant’s bathroom, ventured into some dark back storage area to retrieve a new roll, and discovered – to your horror – that replacements were nowhere to be found?

Stuff runs out. Stuff needs replacing. And there are much, much worse things that can (and probably have) happened in your restaurant than forcing customers to return to their table with wet hands.

Ever fired up a fryer a few hours before the dinner rush and watched the pilot poof out time after time?

An even more enjoyable scenario is the fryer burner that refuses to cut out when the oil reaches temperature – making for an oil bomb just waiting to go off.

Common parts and components in all kinds of restaurant equipment will die on you at some point. The worst part is, you can’t just run out to the store and get a replacement. Parts are a whole different animal, and that’s why you should really think about keeping some common parts on hand so your equipment doesn’t leave you hanging out to dry.

Some common parts that are really, really nice to have around:

You can also learn how to troubleshoot and fix common problems with common restaurant equipment by reading these Back Burner articles.

Ever completely forget to change out the water filter cartridge for your ice machine, steamer, or beverage equipment? Nothing beats white scaly mineral deposits building up in your equipment and making beverages taste funny.

Water filters need their cartridges replaced every six months. If they don’t get replaced then minerals in the water don’t get filtered out, and when those don’t get filtered out those minerals don’t get filtered out they leave scale in the water lines of any piece of equipment that uses water, and after awhile that water starts tasting bad.

Even better, that scale can cause breakdowns and void warranties. So don’t get caught with your pants down: replace those water filter cartridges when you’re supposed to.
Ever been in the depths of a busy dinner rush and walked in back to grab a couple water glasses and found a stack of empty glass racks? Have you then proceeded back to the dishwashing area and been forced to grab a couple steamy hot glasses right out of the washer?

Glasses, dishes, flatware, and bar supplies all break, disappear, and just simply wear out. Being short a few glasses is maybe not as bad as an overheating fryer, but believe you me it’s also not a problem you want to have on a consistent basis. Replacing common supply losses is just one more area where you have to be on the ball or you will get caught with your pants down.

Tundra knows how busy you are.
That’s why we’ve developed a simple way for you to make sure simple products are always available. If you buy common replenishment and replacement products from us, we’ll send you a simple reminder a few months down the road, letting you know it’s probably time to stock up again on whatever it is you bought last time.

We’re not trying to be pushy – just helpful. A note in your inbox with a quick link to the products we’re pretty sure you need might be just the thing that saves you from a pants down moment later on.

So keep an eye out for your friendly reminders from Tundra. And definitely don’t get caught with your pants down.

Continue Reading

Fryer Oil Maintenance: Tips To Make Oil Taste Better & Last Longer

Fryer Oil Maintenance: Tips To Make Oil Taste Better & Last LongerThe fryer is one of the central cooking appliances in many restaurants and commercial kitchens.  And central to every commercial fryer is the shortening or oil in the vat.  Maintaining that oil is key to producing great-tasting product every time.  Oil maintenance is more involved than you might think, and if done properly, can add significant time to the productive life of your fryer oil and improve the taste of your product.

Fryer oil is an organic compound.  That means it breaks down naturally over time, just like any of the food product in your walk-in.  At over 300 degrees Fahrenheit, that degradation process is accelerated.  As if that weren’t enough, three things contribute to the even more rapid deterioration of fryer oil:

  • Oxidation – contact with air makes the oil “stale” over time, just like a bag of chips.
  • Hydrolysis – the presence of water in fryer oil is unavoidable when frying food product, but as water interacts with the hot oil, acidic compounds form that can really affect taste.
  • Polymerization – As oil breaks down, compounds form and bond together, which leads to surface foaming and the further breakdown of oil quality and taste.  This process is made even worse by food particles, which will inevitably collect in the oil as product is cooked.

There are several things you can do to combat the three enemies of oil quality.  Here’s some tips that address each one specifically:

Fighting oxidation: minimize fryer oil contact with the air whenever possible.  The most common method for doing this is to cover the fryer vat when the unit is shut down.  Also regulate oil temperature so that it doesn’t exceed 360 degrees Fahrenheit.  During lulls, reduce heat to 280 degrees.

Fighting hydrolysis: don’t fill fryer baskets directly over the fryer vat.  This is especially true for frozen product, because ice crystals will end up in the oil.  Of the three, hydrolysis is the hardest to fight, because there is going to be water in everything you cook.

Fighting polymerization: again, don’t fill fryer baskets over the vat.  Food particles speed polymerization, so a good technique is to load the fryer basket away from the vat and give it a few good shakes to allow any free particles to fall away before the product takes the plunge.  Another polymerization agent are seasonings, especially salt.  Add any seasoning away from the vat to keep them out of the oil as much as possible.

Of course, no matter how hard you fight, eventually it’s going to be a losing battle.  Water, air, and particulates are going to end up in your fryer oil no matter what you do.  Your only choice is to take them back out before the oil breaks down.  You can do this effectively with a good filtration system.

How much you filter your fryer oil depends on what you’re cooking, in what volume, and how often.  In general, breaded foods like fried chicken or fish mean you should filter more often, because of all the food particles that are going to end up in the oil.  French fries are much cleaner and therefore the oil can handle a lot more rounds before filtering.

Fryer Oil Maintenance: Tips To Make Oil Taste Better & Last LongerNo matter what, you should develop a filtering schedule.  Fryer oil test strips are the best way to keep track of oil quality, and they’ll give you a starting point for your filter schedule.  Filtering fryer oil greatly extends the life of the oil, and smart restaurant operators filter the same oils several times to get the maximum life out of it before having to refill.

Portable fryer filters provide an easy way to filter fryer oil without slowing your busy kitchen down too much.  And when you’ve squeezed every last minute of cooking capability out of that vat of oil, dispose of it safely with an oil transporter.  Finally, use a Smart Spout for pouring new oil into the vat without spilling.Fryer Oil Maintenance: Tips To Make Oil Taste Better & Last Longer

Before you refill with a new batch of oil, however, you’ve got to clean that fryer vat out.  It’s a thankless job, but someone’s got to get in there and remove as much of that great friends of polymerization, food particulates, as possible.  Especially focus on cleaning the “cool zone,” the area underneath the burners in the vat where particles are intentionally concentrated in order to prevent them from heating up too much during cooking.  A water/vinegar mix is a great way to make sure detergents are neutralized after you’ve thoroughly cleaned the vat.

Maintaining fryer oil quality takes a lot of work.  But in the end, it’s worth the extra effort because you get a lot more mileage out of each vat of oil.  And if saving money isn’t enough of an incentive for you, then the prospect of serving great tasting fried foods to your customers every time should do the trick.

If you’re in the market for a new fryer, check out this commercial fryer buying guide.

Continue Reading

Casual Dishonesty: Any of These Need Your Attention?

Casual Dishonesty: Any of These Need Your Attention?Ever seen staff help themselves to food, drink or cash, and they seem to think it’s OK?

You call it shrinkage, waste, ‘unders’, discrepancies or theft. What do they call it?

It’s the grey areas that cause problems: drinks or food for friends and family, sloppy work that results in waste, or taking home left-overs. Grey has to become black or white. Does the culture you’ve created reward honesty, or overlook those who break the rules? Do the consequences encourage the behaviour you desire?

Don’t beat around the bush – make it clear what’s not acceptable. And let’s tell the truth – sometimes it’s the boss’ shortcuts or bad example that encourages staff to make the wrong choice.

What would your ruling be on these situations?

* Free drinks or meals for friends or family who come to visit.
* Special prices for staff visiting from other hotels, cafes or clubs.
* Staff drinks at the end of the night that go one more than the rules allow.
* Sloppy writing up of the Stock-transfer Book so the stocktake makes no sense and is disregarded – again.
* Cook allows something to burn because she won’t get properly organised.
* Beer lines contaminated and keg wasted because cleaning procedures not properly followed.
* Using the computer at work to write up your resume to apply for another job.
* Using the ‘Open Key’ on the Cash Register because it’s quicker and easier. As a result sales count figures at the end of the week are invalid and stock usage can’t be checked.
* ‘I’m just putting the money in the till while we’re so busy – I’ll ring it all up later’.
* A staff member says ‘I won’t charge you for that because I know the service you got wasn’t very good’. A better tip follows…
* Kitchen worker asks the bar ‘can I have some beer for my buddies in the kitchen?
* The Till is ‘over’ – so it must have been a tip that we forgot to take out.
* Employee overstates hours or changes times because the hard work she’s been doing is going unrecognised.
* Signing for lesser quality meat or produce and ‘we’ll fix it up on the invoice next time’ – which we forget to do.
* Personal phone calls received or made in work time.
* Keeping free samples from vendors eg food samples, bottles of wine or liquor.
* Serving adults at junior or senior prices ‘because they can’t afford it’.
* Chefs or bar managers expecting personal gifts from suppliers to secure an account.

Code of Conduct – it’s one of the important sections of the Staff Manual you can download from the Staff Management Forms and Downloads. In Word format, you can modify it as much as you like – it’s a solid start to prepare this essential policy document.

Continue Reading

Buy The Right Flatware For Your Restaurant

When purchasing flatware for your restaurant or commercial kitchen, the two most important factors to consider are the type of stainless steel the flatware is made from and the weight of the flatware you want to buy.

18/10 vs. 18/0 Stainless Steel

Buy The Right Flatware For Your Restaurant

Windsor pattern flatware

All flatware is made of stainless steel, but not all types of stainless steel are the same.  The term “stainless” is actually a misnomer because stainless steel does in fact stain and rust over time.  Most stainless steel is mixed with other metals like chromium and nickel to improve durability and rust resistance.

The amount and type of metals added to the steel affects your flatware’s performance and cost:

18/0 flatware contains 18% chromium and 0% nickel.  The chromium forms a thin layer over the steel, making it stronger.  18/0 flatware is more affordable than 18/10 flatware but stains and rusts more easily and isn’t as shiny.

18/10 flatware has 18% chromium and 10% nickel.  The nickel gives the flatware a bright shine and is less susceptible to staining and rust.

Flatware Weight

Flatware is also made in different weight classes.  The heavier the weight, the sturdier the flatware, but also the more expensive it will be.  There are four common weights:

Medium weight flatware. Also known as “economy weight,” this flatware is easily bendable and has a relatively short lifespan.  It is, however, very affordable compared to other types of flatware.  This type of flatware is ideal for restaurants where flatware is frequently lost.

Buy The Right Flatware For Your Restaurant

Dominion Heavy Duty Flatware

Heavy Duty flatware. This flatware is probably the most common.  It is much sturdier than medium weight flatware but can still be bent by hand.

Extra Heavy Duty flatware. This is the heaviest weight flatware and is by far the strongest.  Heavier duty flatware costs more up front but lasts longer and is less prone to breaking or bending.

European Style flatware. European dinner knives and dinner forks are about a third heavier and a third larger than normal heavy duty flatware.  This type of flatware is most commonly found in high end restaurants.

Caring For Flatware

Flatware is a large up-front expense for any restaurant or commercial kitchen, but at least once you purchase flatware, especially if it’s heavier duty, it will last a long time.  However, improper care can cause flatware to tarnish or rust and reduce its usable lifespan.  A few simple care techniques can help maximize your flatware investment:

Pre-Soak your flatware for about 10 minutes before washing. Pre-soaking for longer times isn’t recommended as this encourages rust to start forming.  If possible, remove food bits manually with a soapy sponge or a pre-rinse.  Don’t use an abrasive pad as this scratches the finish and encourages rust to start developing.  Washing flatware as soon as possible after it has been used is ideal to help prevent tarnishing.

Use flatware holders to store and transport flatware. Do not use aluminum or metal pans for pre-soaking or transporting your flatware because the metals interact with chlorine in the water and speed the oxidization (or rusting) of stainless steel.

Use a high temperature dishwasher to wash flatware. Most restaurants and commercial kitchens already have a high temp dishwasher to meet NSF regulations.  However, if you don’t, avoid using chlorine or bleach products to sanitize stainless flatware as these chemicals will damage it.

It’s also recommended to use a scale inhibitor filter on the water line to your dishwasher.  A scale inhibitor removes minerals from the water, preventing harmful buildups on your flatware.

Dry flatware quickly. As soon as possible after washing your flatware, dry it and store it where it will stay dry.  Wetness is the friend of rust and therefore the enemy of your flatware.  Most commercial dishwashers have a drying cycle, but this doesn’t always get flatware completely dry.  It’s a good idea to wipe down your flatware after it comes out of the dishwasher.

Don’t use abrasive detergents or materials. Whenever you clean flatware, avoid anything abrasive that will score or scratch the stainless steel surface.  Those scratches penetrate the thin film coating of chromium and nickel on your flatware that protects the steel from rusting and tarnishing.

Continue Reading