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  • 18 Apr 2014 8:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Conduct a waste assessment to determine how you can reduce food waste and divert it from the landfill.

    Explore the root causes of your waste generation. Is it because of policies, processes or customary behaviors? Document your findings, and develop plans to address those that make the biggest impact on your business.

    The Food Waste Reduction Alliance, a project of the National Restaurant Association, Grocery Manufacturers Association and Food Marketing Institute, offers tips to get started. For more ideas, download the toolkit.
    1. Go dumpster diving. Recruit a small group of employees, lay out tarps, and start sorting through trash. The exercise will help you categorize and quantify the materials in your waste stream. Consider using the Environmental Protection Agency’s WARM model. Don’t limit your assessment to food waste; recycling opportunities for plastic, metal, glass, paper, etc. should be part of your landfill diversion strategy. Plus, recycling those materials can add to your income.
    2. After you’ve established what kind and how much material you’re discarding, create a baseline from which you can measure progress over time.
    3. Investigate ways to reuse, recycle or otherwise find value in those materials outside of landfills.
    4. Create a waste baseline. Determine your diversion rate baseline, including historical waste/recycling data and seasonal fluctuations (i.e., all waste and recycling hauling service tonnage, by a vendor, for at least one year). It will provide insight into where you’re starting from, and the point from which you can measure your performance to goal.
    5. Execute waste assessments. Identify waste diversion-improvement opportunities by looking at the materials in a sorted and weighed sample of solid waste from a compactor load. That shows what you’re throwing out.
    6. Conduct site assessments. Conduct a site walk through to understand all policies, processes and employee actions related to the collection and disposal of waste materials. That will help explain why materials end up in the solid waste container. It also will give you insight into how you can improve your diversion processes and programs and reveal new best practices.
  • 11 Apr 2014 11:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Curbside pick-up is becoming an increasingly popular option to drive business growth.

    The concept is simple: a customer calls in an order, drives to the restaurant, parks outside and a runner brings the food to the car.

    Customers like it because they don’t have to get out of the car, and restaurants like it because it increases sales without adding seating capacity or raising prices. According to the National Restaurant Association 2014 Restaurant Industry Forecast, 46 percent of all customers – and more than half of frequent off-premises dinner customers and frequent quickservice customers – say they would use curbside options at tableservice restaurants.

    If you’re considering starting a curbside pick-up service, or you have one in place, follow these best practices for curbside success:
    1. Plan for efficiency at your location. Reserve a few parking spaces near your front door for curbside pick-up only. That ensures your customers have convenient places to park and that your staff can easily find them. It also advertises your curbside service as customers walk in. The parking spots should be near a window and easily accessible to your designated pickup station. If you can’t allocate spaces close by, consider installing a security camera in the parking lot and a monitor at the curbside station so your staff knows when customers arrive.
    2. Carefully structure your staffing. As with dine-in, service is key to generating repeat curbside business. If you have a host stand, you might able to leverage that staff to run the food out if it won’t negatively affect your dine-in guests. It’s best to dedicate staff to take orders, watch for arrivals and deliver food to cars. Train employees to note the make, model and color of customers’ cars when taking orders so curbside staff can identify them when they arrive.
    3. Select appropriate packaging. It’s worth spending a little extra on quality carryout containers to make sure hot foods stay hot, cold foods stay cold, and liquids stay in containers. It helps preserve the guest experience all the way home. Containers also offer valuable advertising space, and a small investment in printing can extend your brand recognition beyond your parking lot.
    4. Ensure pickup is quick and efficient. It’s imperative to minimize trips back into the restaurant, so make sure your curbside staff carries cash to make change. They should be able to take credit card payments at the car by using a secure, wireless credit card terminal or a mobile payment app on a smart phone or tablet.
    Heartland Payment Systems is the National Restaurant Association’s endorsed provider of secure payment processing and payroll and marketing solutions and the developer of Freshtxt, a comprehensitve front-of-the house management systems.
  • 04 Apr 2014 10:09 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Win over health-conscious diners by offering them more choices and accommodating their food preferences. When people look for ways to get healthier, they are looking for more, not less: more healthy snacks, more exercise, more whole grains, more fruits and vegetables, says Steve Walton, general manager at Healthfocus.

    Restaurants have an opportunity to give today’s diners more of what they want. Here are five tips from the recent National Restaurant Association Nutrition Study Group spring meeting.
    1. Give customers what they want. For example, Chick-fil-A spent 10 years designing a new grill to produce juicy grilled chicken for an upcoming sandwich, said Brian Wray, manager of product strategy and development during a tour of the company’s new research and development facility. Chick-fil-A will serve the new sandwich on a wheat bun.
    2. Get educated on allergens. Train your employees on cleaning, sanitizing, and emergency protocol. For example, never move a person that is having an allergic reaction. Food allergies – including wheat, peanuts, eggs, shellfish – can be life-threatening. Post an allergen chart and make sure to update it regularly. The ServSafe Allergens Online Course helps front- and back-of-the-house employees better accommodate the growing number of guests with food allergies.
    3. Make menu swaps to accommodate lactose-intolerant guests. For example, some cheeses, like cheddar, are low in lactose and the enzymes in Greek yogurt help the body to process lactose.
    4. Accommodate gluten-free guests. For example, add “gluten-free certified” products to your menu and avoid cross-contamination by having separate fryers and pots for gluten-free items.
    5. Educate diners about calories. Federal law soon will require that many restaurants put nutritional information on their menus, but research conducted by Darden Restaurants found that consumers lack knowledge about calories. Restaurants will have to educate consumers about nutrition in our meals, said Cheryl Dolven, Darden’s director of health and wellness.
  • 25 Mar 2014 3:38 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    Take advantage of National Nutrition Month to evaluate your menu. Make sure you dedicate as much culinary strategy and talent on healthful items as you do for center-of-the-plate protein, says Deanne Brandstetter, vice president, nutrition and wellness, Compass Group North America.

    Nearly three-fourths of consumers say they’re more likely to visit restaurants that offer healthful items, according to NRA research. Four of five consumers say restaurants offer more healthful menu options now than they did two years ago. And four of five restaurant operators say their guests are paying more attention to nutrition now than they did two years ago.

    Brandstetter, a member of the NRA’s Nutrition Study Group and the Culinary Institute of America’s Healthy Menu R&D Collaborative, offers a few easy ways to improve the nutrient content of your menu items:
    1. Increase produce on the plate. Fruit and vegetables have a huge water content, are low in calories, lower in sodium, and have no saturated fat in their natural state. The more produce you place on a plate, the less you need of other items. The challenge: making produce as interesting and craveable as your proteins.
    2. Add umami with mushrooms. Mix ground mushrooms into ground animal protein to decrease calories, sodium and fat and increase fiber, selenium and Vitamin D. Let customers know about it. They’re no longer into “stealth health,” Brandstetter says. They want to know that you’re making your menu items more nutritious – and how you’re doing it.
    3. Reduce sodium by using salt as a “finisher,” rather than in every step of the preparation.
    4. Explore new salt replacements. In response to restaurant and consumer demand, food manufacturers are developing innovative, new products to reduce sodium. One example: diamond-shaped salt crystals, which are hollow inside and have more surface area than traditional salt crystals.
    5. Improve carbohydrate quality. Use whole grains in pasta, pilaf, risotto and other dishes. Experiment with grains other than whole wheat, such as millet, quinoa and spelt. Get ideas and resources from the Whole Grains Council.
    6. Create interesting, lower-calorie beverages. Offer house-made, healthful beverages, such as ginger water, sparkling water with fruit or tea infused with fruit or herbs. Serve juice made with fruit and vegetable purees.
    7. Consider strategic calorie design. Create plates with a limited number of calories. For example, if you are designing a plate with no more than 600 calories, make sure every element builds flavor, satisfaction and craveability. The 42,000 restaurant locations that participate in the NRA’s Kids LiveWell program offer an entrée, side option and beverage for 600 calories or less.
    8. Rethink desserts. Instead of serving a large slice of cheesecake with a strawberry garnish, create a miniature cheesecake surrounded by strawberries. “The CIA calls it the ‘dessert flip,” Brandstetter says. Customers appreciate tiny dessert portions rather than low-calorie versions, she says.
    9. Allow for indulgence – on a small scale. Instead of a platter of all fried seafood, serve a few fried shrimp and many, many more grilled shrimp on skewers. “It balances it out a little bit,” she says.
  • 21 Mar 2014 8:26 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    When you cook food that will not be served immediately – for example, when food handlers partially prep dishes early to save time when they’re ordered – it’s important to get the food out of the “temperature danger zone” quickly.

    The temperature danger zone is the range between 41˚F and 135˚F (5˚C and 57˚C). Harmful bacteria grow well in that zone. And within that zone, bacteria grow even faster between 125˚F and 70˚F (52˚C and 21˚C). Food must pass through this temperature range quickly to reduce this growth.

    The general rule: Foods that need time and temperature control for safety (TCS food for short) must be cooled from 135˚F (57˚C) to 41˚F (5˚C) or lower within six hours.

    Follow these guidelines:

    First, cool food from 135˚F to 70˚F (57˚C to 21˚C) within two hours.
    Then cool it from 70˚F to 41˚F (21˚C to 5˚C) or lower in the next four hours.
    If the food hasn’t reached 70˚F (21˚C) within two hours, it must be reheated and then cooled again. If you can cool the food from 135˚F (57˚C) to 70˚F (21˚C) in less than two hours, you can use the remaining time to cool it to 41˚F (5˚C) or lower. However, the total cooling time cannot be longer than six hours.

    Always be sure to check and comply with your local regulatory requirements.

    Visit ServSafe.com for more food-safety tips and to learn about the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe Food Safety Training Program.
  • 13 Mar 2014 3:03 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    More than 3,000 people die each year as a result of choking, according to the American Red Cross. Would your staff be able to recognize if a person started to choke in your restaurant? Do you know what activities might lead to choking?

    Understand some common causes of choking:
    • Trying to swallow large pieces of poorly chewed food.
    • Drinking alcohol before or during meals. Alcohol dulls the nerves that aid in swallowing.
    • Wearing dentures. Dentures make it difficult to sense whether food is fully chewed before it is swallowed.
    • Eating while talking excitedly or laughing.
    • Eating too fast.
    • Walking, playing, or running with food or objects in the mouth.
    Consider offering these safety tips to parents:
    • Don’t leave small objects such as buttons, coins and beads within an infant’s reach.
    • Have children sit in a high chair or at a table while they eat.
    • Do not let children eat too fast.
    • Give infants soft food that they do not need to chew.
    • Make sure that toys are too large to be swallowed.
    • Do not give infants and young children foods like nuts, grapes, popcorn or raw vegetables.
    • Make sure that toys have no small parts that could be pulled off.
    • Cut foods a child can choke on easily, such as hot dogs, into small pieces.
    • Supervise children while they eat.
    Source: American Red Cross
  • 07 Mar 2014 9:20 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association

    California restaurateurs are responding to their governor’s call to reduce water usage by 20 percent as drought continues to affect the state’s reserves.

    “Our members are taking [the drought] very seriously,” says Angie Pappas, a spokeswoman for the California Restaurant Association. “Restaurants are heavy water users for a number of reasons, many of which have a lot to do with food safety, but they are all digging in to do what they can.”

    Many restaurants are serving water to guests only on request and running dishwashers only when full.

    But water is integral to restaurants for sanitation, refreshment and other tasks, such as cooking, and washing dishes, pots, pans, and floors.

    The National Restaurant Association’s Conserve program offers tips on how to reduce water use.

    Some suggestions:
    • Thaw food in the refrigerator rather than running hot water over it.
    • Install and use high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves before loading the dishwasher. By installing a $70 pre-rinse spray valve in your dish room, you can keep 7,000 gallons of water from flowing into the sewer, saving $115 to $240 in energy and water costs every year.
    • Make sure to purchase dishwashers, ice makers, steamers, combi ovens and other equipment that are Energy Star-rated. That will increase your energy efficiency and cut down on water waste. Making smarter equipment-purchasing decisions can save thousands of dollars a year.
    • In the front of the house, consider installing low-flow aerators for your sink faucets and WaterSense-certified toilets.
    • Ensure all leaks are fixed right away. A faucet leaking just two-tenths of a gallon of water per minute wastes at least 100,000 gallons of water a year. You’ll also save $700 per year. If it's hot water, you can double those savings.
    “From environmental and economic standpoints, it is so important to reduce water waste,” says Jeff Clark, Conserve’s program director. “No matter the size of your restaurant or your menu, there are numerous, low-effort, and low- to no-cost ways of cutting water usage every single day.”

    Restaurateurs who actively reduce water waste should make sure their customers know exactly what they are doing and why.

    “Publicize what you are doing,” Clark says. “Your customers care and will support your efforts to protect the environment. They will be eager to show that support with their loyalty every day. Market your thought-leadership around water efficiency when you can. Don’t forget: You can do good and perform well at the same time.”
  • 28 Feb 2014 10:40 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association and Restaurant Startup & Growth

    Hidden dust and dirt are everywhere. Here are some areas you may have missed in your housekeeping. Check the following to make sure your dining area is in tiptop shape.

    Look up. Check where the wall meets the ceiling for cobwebs, “dust bunnies” or whatever name you have for them. You can rid yourself of them with a towel wrapped around a broom, a special duster with an extension pole or even by standing on a ladder with the feather duster.

    Green, growing things. Plants can enhance your restaurant, but they need upkeep. Pruning regularly of dead and dying leaves will keep your plants looking healthy.

    Wall art.
    Even art can get dirty. Make sure the tops of frames are cleaned regularly. Also check the glass on framed pieces from different angles. Finger marks and streaks from previous cleanings may be visible.

    Air ducts. When you get up close and personal with the air duct, you can see a whole lot of dust and dirt. Use a vacuum from time to time to clear out the debris that’s accumulated there.

    Tabletop items.
    Don’t neglect items that stay on the tables, such as salt and pepper shakers and sugar holders. Everyone touches them. Children put them in their mouths. Think about it.

    Light bulbs. A burned-out light bulb isn’t a cleanliness issue, but it is suggestive of neglect. What’s more, it just plain looks bad, so make sure all light bulbs are in working order. Have a supply on hand of all the different light bulbs you use in your restaurant for quick replacement.

    Baseboards.
    When vacuuming is done quickly, it’s easy to overlook the place where the floor meets the wall. This is an important area to check out, especially if just daily spot vacuuming is done. Debris tends to get pushed against the wall. Carefully run the vacuum along the baseboards at least weekly.
  • 20 Feb 2014 11:14 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association's Bread & Butter

    Unlike a fine wine, your profit and loss statements don’t get better with age. The sooner you get your P&L, the more relevant the information and the faster you’ll know if you can relax or that you've got a problem on your hands.

    Operators that allow their accountants to complete their financials two or three weeks after the period usually end up getting stale information. And if food costs or operating expenses are out of line, there’s really not a lot that can be done about it at that point. Look at how much time has passed and how much money has probably been lost compared with knowing about such problems 10 days or two weeks before.

    With the technology available today, there's no excuse for you to wait several days to get your numbers. Here are some tips on how to reduce the time it takes:

    • Make it a priority. As the owner, you have got to make getting your financial statements quickly a priority, not just for your bookkeeper or accountant, but for your entire organization. An accountant must have invoices, sales reports, ending inventory and other information to do his or her job properly. Therefore, it's necessary the restaurant managers be part of the process, too.

    • Get your managers and accountant together. Have your accountant make a list of all the information needed to prepare your financial statements and highlight those items that come from the restaurant. Have a meeting with your managers and accountant to determine the format this information should be in so the accountant can quickly complete the financial statements. Prepare a schedule showing what information should be routed to the accountant and when it’s due. Also, identify which manager is going to have ultimate responsibility for seeing this gets done on time for each period.

    • Get online access to your bank. As already mentioned, accountants will use the “bank statement in the mail excuse” for a slow turnaround. When you gain online access to your bank, usually for a nominal fee, the accountant can have access to your deposit and check information in real time so the bank reconciliation can be completed the day after the end of the month.

    • Process invoices, payments and sales reports daily or weekly. Don't wait until the end of the month for your accountant to begin processing transactions.

    • Don't wait on missing invoices. Have your accountant create a checklist of all recurring expenses. If invoices are missing, have vendors fax or e-mail invoices that you haven't received or have your accountant book an estimate in the case of a utility or similar expense and reverse it when the invoice is received.

    Putting these simple steps into practice can dramatically reduce the waiting time and enhance the usefulness of your P&L and other financial reports.
  • 14 Feb 2014 8:51 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
    Source: National Restaurant Association and RestaurantOwner.com

    Most independent restaurants calculate their food cost only once a month, but virtually all of the major chains calculate theirs each week.

    According to industry averages, chain restaurants ‑ before corporate expenses ‑ are two to three times as profitable as independent restaurants. While weekly food costing isn't the entire reason for that profitability, it's part of it.

    To accurately calculate your cost weekly, you'll need to take inventory weekly as well. The only method for computing accurate cost of sales is to take physical inventories and then calculate the value of inventory on hand. Many operators erroneously believe that what they spend on food and beverage purchases is their cost of sales. While this may be true in the long run, for specific-period analysis it is inaccurate.

    The correct formula for calculating cost of sales for each category is this: Beginning Inventory plus Purchases minus Ending Inventory equals Cost of Sales.

    Taking weekly inventories doesn't mean you have to spend half the night to do it. Here are a few tips to help you take inventory quickly. Properly applied, these principals will help you to be more accurate and should reduce the time spent counting your food inventory to under two hours.

    Get organized. It is virtually impossible to take an accurate inventory when the stock room or walk-in is in disarray. Be sure all store rooms, shelves and refrigeration units are organized and clean. Product should be easy to see and count. Labels should be used for hard to identify product. Don't put items in incorrectly marked boxes or containers.

    Count it on Sunday. Most restaurants are open seven days a week. A natural tracking period is from Monday to Sunday. Also, inventory levels will be at their lowest on Sunday evening. If you are closed Sunday, then count it on Saturday evening or early Monday morning.

    Separate your inventory into groups. Group your inventory into cost categories, such as meat, seafood, produce, dairy, grocery, etc. This will make it easy for cost calculations and help to organize your inventory. Grouping your inventory also makes it easier to zero in on cost control problems.

    Arrange items in shelf order. Some managers advocate arranging items on the inventory sheets in the order they count the inventory. If you are using an order guide, arrange your spreadsheet to match that of the order guide. You can then record your counts on the order guide and transfer them to the spreadsheet for calculating the total value.

    Use two people for taking inventory. One counts and the other records; the one recording is also an extra pair of eyes so nothing is overlooked. Also, be sure to use a pencil to encourage correcting mistakes.

    'Paint' your restaurant. Always conduct inventories by starting at one end of the building and counting everything in a contiguous order. This practice will help ensure nothing gets skipped. Jumping from one area of the restaurant to another and back again will almost certainly cause you to miss something. It is much easier to flip to the proper page several times for a particular item rather than try to visit all of the places that item may be stored.

    Keep counted areas off limits. Some kitchen managers like to get a head start on the inventory counting process. This approach is fine as long as counted product isn't subsequently sold that same day. Once you have counted an area, make sure nobody removes or adds product to that area. For instance, maybe you have already counted the freezer, but later find out that the cooks need another case of frozen hamburger patties you have already counted. Be sure you adjust your count before putting them into production. That case will end up in an area you have not yet counted and thus will end up being double counted.particular item rather than try to visit all of the places that item may be stored.

    This article is presented courtesy of RestaurantOwner.com, a source of operational and business resources for independent restaurant operators. For more information, visit www.RestaurantOwner.com.
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