If you are new to the restaurant business or have decided to open a venue, you are probably aware of most of the health codes that apply to the service industry. However, there are most likely some regulations that you weren't aware of and that you might have forgotten to abide by. Here is a simple guide to following health code regulations and what you should know before getting a visit from the inspector.
Typical Things Inspectors CheckDepending on your state or county, the health codes could differ slightly. Most states however, check for pretty basic things. You just need to take preemptive measures. One of the first things that anyone who enters your kitchen will notice is the cleanliness (or vice versa). Bacteria can be found anywhere and kitchen equipment that isn't cleaned properly will be covered in it from top to bottom. Make sure that all equipment is cleaned properly with the right chemicals. Food preparation and storage is another huge factor that comes into play. There are very specific guidelines about where food should be stored and what it should be stored with. - All food must be covered or wrapped and stored at the appropriate temperatures, no exceptions. - All produce must be washed thoroughly and must be kept away from raw poultry during preparation. Frozen foods must be thawed according to certain health standards. Heating and re-heating methods must follow set guidelines. - There should be minimal, if any, hand contact with prepared food. All employees must wash their hands thoroughly before handling food, must have hair pulled back, and may not eat or drink near restaurant food. - All equipment should be cleaned and sanitized throughout a shift, not just before and after. - All food and beverages must be labeled according to shelf life and may not be served after specified date. - All ingredients and food must be purchased and delivered from approved sources. They may only be used if they arrive in good condition. Good inspections are not just due to the cleanliness and presentation of your kitchen and staff. Your establishment will also be checked for rodents, other pests, foul odors, mold, overstuffed trash receptacles and the area around them, and the appearance of your restrooms.
What to Expect from an InspectorTypically inspectors will arrive without warning, but they do generally come just once a year so you will have a pretty good idea of when they might stop in. When the inspector does show up, make sure to ask for their credentials and let them know that you want to follow them around the venue. Inspectors will notice your willingness to correct things if you follow them and take immediate notes about violations, and may allow you to make some changes on the spot. Once the inspection is done, ask the individual to inform your entire staff about his or her findings. This shows the inspector and your staff that the proper measures will be taken to make improvements if necessary. Make sure to sign the report, which only indicates that you received a copy, but you don't necessarily need to agree with the findings. Never offer food or other things to an inspector as a way of bribery. Never refuse an inspection because the health department is still capable of getting an inspection warrant.
Action to Take in Case of a CitationNo matter how careful you are there is always a possibly of missing some small detail that an inspector will surely notice. Their job is to notice those small details. You have to learn to have a very keen eye for things that are out of place or not properly taken care of. Most likely you can correct the small things that you are cited for while the inspector is still present. If the problem is taken care of immediately and appropriately, it is likely that the inspector will remove the citation. If for some reason you don't understand why you received a citation then ask. Inspectors are trained to answer any and all questions about restaurant health codes and they will be more than happy to help you understand. If you don't agree with the citation, do not say anything to the inspector because this can only stir up trouble. Sign the report and appeal the decision later.
MORE RESOURCES:FDA Model Food Code (National Restaurant Association) How to Prepare for a Health Inspection (National Restaurant Association)
Not Sure If You Should Invest in a Floral Case?Why not? Any way that you can boost sales and help your business is well worth it in the end. The initial investment is easily taken care of within no time, especially if your business is a hot spot for family time and dates. If you don't think you have enough room to buy another piece of equipment, then you should definitely consider checking out a smaller floral case. No matter the size of the case, a great display for your products is better than no display at all. The advantage to the True Floral Cases is that they have mirrored interior backs to give off the impression of more space.
They Aren't Just for FlowersThe common misconception about floral cases is that they can only be used for flowers. The true is the lights are a little softer so flowers won't get burned and the fan blows more gently. However, the case temperature settings are exactly the same as other refrigerator units that are commonly used in all kinds of businesses. What this means is that you can store other products that your business sells rather than flowers during the times that there are a big gap in holidays. Not sure what else to store in your floral cases? If you work in or own a restaurant, you probably have things that you sell and that you might want to display. Wine, cakes, pies and chocolate are just a few examples on what you could display year round. By showing off these items, your sales could sky rocket. When the holidays roll around you'll be prepared to store flowers that guests can purchase for a special someone or a special occasion.
Be a Step Ahead of the CompetitionHow many restaurants or cafes have you been to that display and sell their products rather than just on a menu? They are probably pretty few and far between. You can have an edge on the competition by providing merchandise to your customers and putting the idea in guests' heads that they should buy that extra bottle of wine or piece of cake to take home.
EXTRA TIPS:- True Refrigeration offers a one year parts warranty and labor and a five year warranty on the compressor and condensing units. - Mission Restaurant Supply stocks GDM-23FC 1 Door Floral Cases, GDM-49FC 2 Door Floral Cases, and GDM-72FC 3 Door Floral Cases. What does that mean for you? FAST shipping! - Mission Restaurant Supply offers FREE shipping, lift-gate, and notification before delivery on select True products. - Features/Benefits:
- Energy efficient, thermal glass.
- Option of chocolate, red wine or white wine thermostat.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:- Can I purchase a floral case for my home business or privately owned business?
- Yes. Just make sure that you have enough space for the floral case before making the purchase.
- True Refrigeration would be happy to send someone out to your business or home to help you out.
- Yes. Mission Restaurant Supply offers the bottom dollar price on all True Refrigeration products.
MORE RESOURCES:- Information about our floral cases:
Floral Cases are a great way to showcase the fresh, colorful flowers and arrangements that you have ready for sale at your business. Designed to prolong the freshness and the lifespan of your blooms, these flower cases will deliver quality service to your operation while boosting sales and your bottom line! True Refrigeration is one of the most trusted brands when it comes to commercial refrigerators, freezers, and flower cases. Depending on the size of your business and what kind of business you run, there are many options available. Here is a quick guide to purchasing your commercial floral case.
Timing is EverythingNo matter what you are shopping for you should consider a timeline for your business. If the product seriously affects your sales, the sooner you buy it the better. Marketing for holidays well in advance will also greatly improve your sales and alert customers that they can place orders long before the holidays roll around. You also might want to consider birthdays, anniversaries, and graduation announcements along with specific discounts for each one so that customers that have purchased products from you before will return and give great referrals.
Case Size is a FactorThe larger your floral case is, the more flowers you can stock and sell. No matter how big your business is or how much you rely on flower sales you need to consider the fact that when holidays come up you will need the space provided by a larger case. For gaps between holidays, you can spread out your products and allow more space for your displays. If your business is pretty small or you don't rely heavily on these sales, then buying even a small case would still be a great investment in the long run.
Variety in Your ProductsThe most obvious use of a floral case would be for the purpose of keeping your flowers fresh and beautiful. However, you might want to look into providing other products for your customers, such as pretty plants for around the house or small accessories that would go with the plants. A floral case is not just a case -- it is also a display case for other gifts. Customers love variety and they love to know that you have products that go well together. Pairing products is just another way to increase sales. At Mission Restaurant Supply, we stand by our products and bring you only the best equipment and supplies no matter the occasion. Feel free to call us at 800-319-0690 with your questions or comments!
So you have made the decision to open a restaurant, whether it be a privately owned or franchise restaurant, and you are ready to get the ball rolling in the construction process. Obviously the first step in any business plan is to figure out what kind of budget you have and how much of your money is going to go to each step of the construction. Knowing who to talk to in the beginning and who to keep in contact with throughout the years of your business will most certainly help to determine your future success.
Know the Rules & RegulationsNo matter where you decide to build your restaurant, there will be zoning laws that affect the type of businesses that pop up around you and that affect your taxes. Not only do you want to choose a lot that is in a commercial zone, you also want to build your establishment near businesses that will bring more traffic to your area, such as movie theaters and malls. City officials and the zoning department will let you know if you chose an appropriate location, but you will also need to be checked out by the Environmental Protection Agency before starting construction. - Ask your city utilities department when you need to set up an account. Before the construction of your restaurant is finished you will need to start paying for gas, water, electricity, cable, trash, etc.
Construction is UnderwayThe first step you need to take is to meet with a consultant and a commercial kitchen designer. Depending on the kind of food you plan to serve and how big your operation will be, these two people can help you to figure how large your kitchen needs to be and what equipment is absolutely necessary. Next you need to find an architect and an engineer. Your architect will draw up the plans for your restaurant and the engineer will let you know if the building is according to code and ready to be put up. Your architect, interior designer and general contractor will work closely to make sure that your ideas come to life as accurately as possible. Your interior designer should have an extensive portfolio and if they know your general contractor or architect from a previous job you know you're in good hands.
What comes next?It's time to start pouring the foundation and putting up the walls. You will have two different carpenters - framers and finish carpenters. The framers are responsible for putting up the body of your restaurant, while the finish carpenters work on all the final details. The only thing these two types of carpenters won't take care of are the insulation of the building and the roofing. Your electricians and technicians will make sure that all of your wires, electrical outlets, and lighting are done correctly. The interior of your restaurant will slowly come together as your painters, carpet layers, and interior designer add finishing touches. The last thing to take care of before final inspections are done is to have a landscaper take care of the outside décor and to hire a graphic artist to design all of your menus, business cards, gift cards, posters, to-go menus, gift certificates, and flyers. Once your final inspections are done, you are ready for business!
EXTRA TIPS:- You must run your plans by the Department of Building and Safety, your County Health Department, and the Fire Marshall. - Did you know that Mission Restaurant Supply offers commercial kitchen design services? - Make sure that your interior designer has an extensive portfolio. Most of them have a contract that requires half of the money up front, so if you become unhappy with the job they are doing you could be out a lot of money. - Research, research, research. - Selecting glossy paints saves time when cleaning or repainting, and provides a nice glow in your dining room. - For cleaning purposes, try rugs instead of carpet. - Try zero scaping outside of your restaurant to cut back on allergens, bugs, and cost of upkeep. - ALWAYS ask for references.
QUESTIONS TO ASK:- Interior designer & architect: Have you worked on restaurants before? What is your proposal on how to save money? Do you have a portfolio? - Food service consultant: What is the absolute necessary equipment? What equipment will make my kitchen run most efficiently? What equipment can I go without or buy later? - Equipment dealers: Do I have to pay shipping on large orders? What kind of warranties do you offer? What are the most trusted brands and why? - General contractor: Are all of your licenses up-to-date? Do you have your certificates of insurance? Have you worked on restaurants of this scale before? - Graphic artist: Do you have a portfolio? Do you have your own software? Do you do web design as well?
MORE RESOURCES:- A restaurant construction checklist by Mosser Design:
If you are new to the restaurant business you probably have a lot of unanswered questions. No matter how ready you feel for the big day when you finally open your doors to the public you may not realize that you actually have a lot more work to do. You will be competing with huge franchises as well as small family-owned restaurants that have been around for years and have a strong reputation. There is nothing wrong with being too prepared. Here is a simple guide to being ready for your restaurant's grand opening.
Make Sure That You Have Well-Practiced Chefs and CooksNothing is worse than having multiple individuals in your kitchen that have their own cooking styles and habits. The minute your chefs and line cooks step into your restaurant they should have a strong understanding that the food will be prepared to your liking and that everyone must prepare it the exact same way. Consistency with your food keeps people coming back because they expect to get the dish they loved the time before. If there are any flaws or changes, the patron will notice and most likely they won't return. Your cooks and chefs should be well-versed in the recipes, serving sizes, cooking styles, and flavors of the dishes on your menu, and should be tested until there is consistency across the board.
Prep Your Servers, Bartenders, and HostsYour hosts should have a general idea of what food you serve and certain menu items to suggest to guests, especially appetizers. Simply by mentioning that the patron would love a certain dish will most likely result in more sales. Your servers should not only be able to suggest dishes, they should know what their favorite items are, what all of the ingredients are (in case of food allergies), and be able to suggest a drink that would go great with the meal. Your bartenders need to take it one step further. They need to know a lot of information about your specialty drinks and wines. Knowledge of good wines means selling more expensive wines by the glass and bottle, which results in much higher revenue. Sales from the bar can be most lucrative. Lastly, make sure that all of your staff works together and helps each guest individually.
Marketing is KeyNot only do you need to know how to market your restaurant, but you also need to know where and who to market to. Most likely there is a magazine or newspaper in your town that features certain restaurants, especially if they are asked to come to your grand opening and be a special guest. Marketing for others will create allies and will greatly help your reputation just by word of mouth. Know what kind of crowd you want to market to and what part of town would be the best to reach out to (at least in the beginning).
Plan a "Soft Opening"Soft openings are a great way to bring attention and new guests to your restaurant. The idea is to have a special event before you open your doors to the public for those individuals that helped your restaurant in some way or will be able to help your restaurant in the future. This includes wine reps, liquor reps, important figures or officials in your city, journalists, and family members of your employees. Family members will be the most likely to bring in more guests with them the next time they come and journalists will be grateful and willing to write you a wonderful review. This event also allows you to work out last minute kinks with your food or presentation (even though there really shouldn't be any at this point) and make your staff feel more comfortable about the big day.
Plan Future EventsOther than your soft opening, your grand opening is your first opportunity to market your restaurant even more. Planning events that will be taking place at your restaurant in the near future will prompt guests to make plans to return. Some ideas for this are hosting a wine dinner where your food is paired with some of your delicious wines, having a food tasting where guests can try small samples of certain items (drinks not included so you can make a profit), and offering to cater private events at a discounted rate to guests that plan to book their events before a certain date.
EXTRA TIPS:- Make sure to have a take-home menu for guests, starting with your soft opening. They need to be able to study your menu before returning and it will allow them to work up a craving for something new. - Plan events that will make guests feel like it is free, but where you are making some kind of profit. Offer free food with a cash bar or a few free drinks with the purchase of a meal. - Have a food tasting with your entire staff so that describing the items is a breeze for them. - Introducing your head chef and managers to guests will make them feel important and they will want to become regulars at your establishment.
Executive chefs, sous chefs, line cooks, culinary students, housewives, and just about anyone that's ever prepared a meal all have something in common: the tools they use in the kitchen. Most novices, at-home cooks, and even respected chefs don't need the expensive specialty tools sold at high end outlets to whip-up a meal. If every executive chef in the US were asked to pick the three tools they use most often during the course of their work day I'd be willing to bet one tool would find itself on every single list: a knife. Obviously, the shape and size of the knives would vary, but the fact is kitchen knives are one of the most essential culinary tools. That being said, it's important to pick the right knife for the job. FORGED KNIVES VS STAMPED KNIVES: Forging is a method that involves heating steel or steel alloy at extremely high temperatures then setting and hammering the steel into a desired blade shape. Once the steel is forged into a blade it's heat-treated, ground, polished and sharpened. The end result is generally a thicker and heavier blade that's able to retain its sharpness longer while remaining properly balanced. Stamped knives are "stamped" or cut out of sheets of rolled steel. Although stamped knives are lighter and more affordable, they lack the quality and balance of forged blades and usually need to be sharpened more frequently. DIFFERENT STYLES:
CHEF'S AND COOK'S KNIVES:
- All-purpose knife
- Vary in size (6-12 inches in length), 8 inch being the most popular
- Wide, curved edge ideal for chopping, dicing, mincing, and slicing
- All-purpose knife
- Vary in size (usually 2-4 inches in length) and style (sheep's foot, spear point, chef's style, clip point, tourné)
- Smaller size ideal for garnishing and peeling
- All-purpose knife
- Between paring and chef's knives in size (6-7 inches generally most popular)
- Useful when cutting non-solid fruits and vegetables, like oranges and tomatoes
- Commonly referred to as the "Asian Chef's Knife"
- All-purpose knife generally lighter, shorter (5-7 inches in length), and thinner than chef's knives
- Straighter, more blunted edge ideal for chopping, dicing, mincing, and slicing
- Primarily used for cutting and slicing meats
- Long and narrow knife (usually 8-14 inches in length), often has a rounded tip
- Long, flexible blade makes it easy to cut meat into thin slices
- Used to separate bones from meat
- Narrow blade (4 to 8 inches in length), either flexible or stiff
- Flexible boning knives are great for fish and poultry, while stiff boning knives are better suited for beef and pork
- Serrated knife used to slice loafed bread or food with a hard outer surface and a soft center
- Shorter and heavier than a slicer (6 to 12 inches in length)
BUTCHER KNIVES AND CIMETERS:
- Suitable for chopping, dicing, mincing, and slicing meats, as well as trimming and cutting joints
- Long, wide knife with a breaking blade (8 to 12 inches in length)
- Used to pry open oysters
- Short knife (3 to 4 inches) with blunted edge and tip
- Used to cut through and split bones
- Thick, heavy blade is rectangular in shape and very stiff
- Light-duty "Chinese Cleavers" are similar in shape but aren't intended for the same use
Choosing the correct knife for different culinary duties usually isn't difficult. Obviously, it makes more sense to use a large chef's knife to slice a watermelon than it does to use a small paring knife! There are other things to consider when choosing the right knife, though. The blade of a knife is extremely important, but the handle can't be overlooked when deciding which knife to purchase.
Food-borne illness is a genuine scare in the food service industry so cleanliness keeps the doors of restaurants, bars, hotels, and other eateries open for business. An easy way to avoid contamination and keep the health department happy is to use knives with anti-microbial handles. These handles act as a safeguard against the growth and spread of microorganisms. Although there are a number of materials used for knife handles, in the food service industry it's absolutely necessary to use a handle that's going to reduce the risk of food related infection.
Although most restaurants have become more conscious of adding healthy menu items or offering fewer dishes perceived as unhealthy, you'll still find deep fried entrees on the carte du jour. It's hard to resist a heaping mound of crispy, golden french fries or beer-battered southern fried chicken! If you have a hamburger on the menu more often than not it's accompanied by some form of deep fried goodness. It doesn't take a lot to make fried fish or onion rings taste delicious but it also doesn't take much for them to taste inedible either. The number one priority of restaurant owners and operators is to make sure the customer is satisfied with their meal when they leave. Their second priority is keeping food and operating costs low. The oil used in deep fryers is not only responsible for making fried food mouthwatering, it's also a HUGE operating expense. To ensure the flavor of fried food is never compromised and the cost of shortening remains low, it's absolutely necessary to filter your oil! We've already established the importance of filtering your fryer oil: assuring food quality and reducing operating costs. But what choices are there for filtering? grease filter cone rack. These are perfect for restaurants and bars that only have a few fried items on their menu. All that's needed is a grease filter cone rack, grease filter cones, and a large stock pot. To filter the oil, insert a grease filter cone into the rack and then place the rack on top of the stock pot. Fryers have a drain valve in front of the unit. Attach a separate hose or over-flow pipe to the drain valve and gradually let the oil run through the filter cone into the stock pot. The paper filter cone will collect crumbs and food particles that can cause unwanted taste transfers. By reducing the number of contaminants in your shortening you'll also maximize the life of your oil. Not only will your fried food taste better, you'll also get more use out of your expensive oil! For high volume restaurants that primarily offer fried menu items it's probably necessary to buy a portable fryer filter machine. When using a fryer filter machine you simply roll the low-profile, portable unit under the fryer's drain valve and slowly drain the oil from the fryer into the filter. Once the oil has been filtered, a return hose pumps the oil from the filter back into the fryer's vat. There are also fryers that have built-in filtration systems installed by the manufacturer but they are often expensive and unnecessary for Mom and Pop restaurants. Of course, oil has to be replaced regularly; but to enhance the taste of your fried food and reduce operating expenses it's important to filter your oil weekly if not daily. For more information about fryers, portable fryer filter machines, and grease filter cone racks visit Mission Restaurant Supply!The least expensive way to filter oil is to use a
If you live in North America you've undoubtedly become accustom to having ice in most, if not all, of your beverages. Nobody wants to drink hot tea, or any other hot beverage for that matter, when it's reaching 100 degrees Fahrenheit outside! A cold glass of just about anything on a blistering summer day is what patrons expect when they enter a bar or restaurant. That being said, it's important to know how much ice your foodservice establishment should have on hand. Below is an Ice Usage Guide from Hoshizaki America's website that will give you a better idea of your ice needs: Restaurant: 2 lbs. per person Cocktails: 3 lbs. per seat Water Glass: 4 oz. per 10 oz. glass Salad Bar: 30 lbs. per cubic foot Quick Service: 5 oz. per 7-12 oz. cup 8 oz. per 12-16 oz. cup 12 oz. per 16-24 oz. cup Buying the right ice maker for your bar or restaurant doesn't have to be frustrating. Of course, you don't want to choose an ice maker that's too small; but most places won't require 1000 pounds of ice each day either. Hoshizaki America's Ice Usage Guide makes it easy to select the right commercial ice machine for your application. For information about Hoshizaki commercial ice machines visit Mission Restaurant Supply!
Buying restaurant equipment is no different than buying a new car. Once you drive off the lot there are certain things that need to be done regularly to keep your car from breaking down. Every 3,000 miles the oil needs to be changed. Tire pressure should be checked frequently. The air filter needs to be cleaned or replaced after a while. Although commercial refrigerators don't have radiators to flush or windshield wiper blades to replace, there is a certain amount of preventative maintenance that needs to be done to ensure they don't fail. Service companies are more than happy to stop by your restaurant and "fix" the problem. They're also more than happy to give you the bill for their service. To avoid product loss, lost sales, and staggering service bills the condenser must be cleaned regularly! • Unplug your commercial refrigerator so there isn't any electrical power. • Depending on whether the condenser is mounted on the bottom or top of the refrigerator, remove any protective housing or louvered grills. You'll need a screw driver for this step. • You'll probably see dirt and dust on the condenser coil. Using a brush or a vacuum, remove any visible debris. Compressed air can also be used to blow out debris. • Once all of the debris has been removed replace the protective housing or louvered grill and plug the unit back in. No matter how clean your commercial kitchen is your condenser will inevitably accumulate dirt and dust particles. If too much debris from the air is pulled through the condenser it can lead to a failed compressor. By cleaning the condenser monthly you'll be able to avoid those expensive service bills and even lower your electric bill! For more information about True Manufacturing commercial refrigeration visit Mission Restaurant Supply!