3 Questions To Ask Before Buying A Commercial Range

May 14th, 2015

ShortOrder_Range-Garland-h284Whether you’re looking to broil, fry, grill, or simmer, commercial ranges offer an array of cooking choices in one piece of equipment. As one of the most useful tools in the kitchen, finding the right commercial range for your restaurant is important. How many burners do you need? Will you want griddles? Before investing in a range for your commercial kitchen, ask these 3 questions:

How much output do you need from your range?

There are two basic types of commercial ranges: restaurant duty and heavy duty. Restaurant duty ranges—the most common choice—work great for most commercial kitchens. They are made to stand alone, with durability and easy use in mind. Additionally, restaurant duty ranges are less expensive than their heavy duty counterparts. For kitchens that require high volume usage, a heavy duty range is the best option. However, these ranges typically cost more up front and are more expensive to maintain.

What kind of top(s) do you need?

Ranges come with a variety of options when it comes to top configurations. If your restaurant serves up breakfast, you’ll probably want at least part of your range to have a griddle top. Additionally, burners come with their own special features like ring or star burners, different flame heights, and removable grates (which are recommended for easier cleaning).

What type of bottom do you want?

Like the tops of ranges, you have to decide what type of range bottom best suits your kitchen needs. Is your kitchen lacking in space for pots and pans? A range with a storage base has an open cavity for storing kitchen tools. Alternatively, you can choose to have an oven on the bottom of your range. Oven bases typically come in two options: standard, which is at least 26”, or space saver, which is approximately 20” wide. Once you know which size oven you need, you’ll also have to decide between a standard oven and a convection oven. Depending on what you’ll be cooking, a convection oven might be a better choice, even if it is a bit more expensive.

 

Once you have the answers to these questions, you’re ready to start the buying process for your next commercial range! Want more information about purchasing a range for your kitchen? Check our out helpful Buying Guide for Commercial Ranges.

 

Promoting Your Restaurant on a Small Budget

May 5th, 2015

Male Owner Of Coffee ShopOK so you opened your restaurant and you’re trying to get the word out about the new place in town. Or, you’ve been open a while and want to try to drum up some new business. Either way, you’re probably wondering where to start.

Let’s start with the budget. Think about how much your average customer spends. You can calculate that on the average table or you can calculate it based on the customer. Then, calculate how much you make off that ticket. So, for every person or table that walks in the door, you make an average of $x. Of that money, what percent do you feel comfortable spending on advertising?

Another consideration: what percent of your customers come back? You might be able to spend a bit more to get someone to come in the first time if most of your new customers turn into repeat customers. Keep in mind, if you’re offering a coupon or opt to run a Groupon-type special, you’re likely to see fewer customers return than your average. There is always the table/person that is just there because they got a good deal. Don’t let that discourage you – just account for it in the budget.

Don’t stress about a small budget. There are a number of ways to promote your business without breaking the bank. Avoid the big three: TV, Radio and Print – those will bust your budget, and fast! Here are some options for those on a smaller budget:

Think social! Social media is an affordable way to advertise and maintain a relationship with your customers. Don’t feel obligated to post only about specials and deals on your social media. While enticing at first, most customers will bore of the same content over and over. Use this avenue to allow customers to get to know you. Did you see a funny picture? Share it! Did you go to a winery to taste some wines that you’ll soon be carrying? Post a picture! If you notice that a post is getting some good attention (i.e. lots of “likes”, “shares”, “comments” etc) consider “boosting” your post. On Facebook and Twitter, you are able to spend a small amount and share your post with some very specific target audiences – think men and women, in your area, that like your type of food.

Referrals! It doesn’t get any cheaper than word of mouth advertising. Would you believe the cheapest promotion is also the most effective?!  Consider creating a referral program for your customers. Give them “free appetizer” cards to hand out (one for them, one for their friend), offer a free dessert if they “check in” at your restaurant on social media – bonus points if they share a picture of their food, get creative and have some fun with it.

Give-Aways and Sweepstakes! You can run these in-store, online or both. In store, have guests leave a business card, or fill out a simple form with their name and email address to win a free meal. You’ll get a ton of email addresses – that you can add to your email list and keep in touch that way. Online, you can post a pic of a new dessert and have a contest to see who comes up with the most clever name. Use the name on your menu and they get a free one on their next visit. People will share these posts with their friends and boom! You’ve been promoted.

These are just a few ideas to get your creative juices flowing. You obviously know your customers better than I do. Choose promotions that will resonate with them. Don’t be afraid to try anything once. Some will work out better than others. Don’t panic if one promotion doesn’t bring a ton of attention, just remember that didn’t turn out the way you thought it would, learn from it and try something else next time. A lot of marketing is trial and error. Failing is ok, so long as it doesn’t stop you. I heard a quote, and I can’t remember where, but they said, “An unsuccessful person will fail. A successful person will keep failing until they succeed!”

One final word of advice. Start somewhere. Don’t think about it for days or weeks trying to settle on the “perfect” promotion. There’s no such thing. Just pick something and try it today!

Stop, Watch and Learn

April 21st, 2015

Line Cooks In Restaurant KitchenSince I’m in the biz, I can’t stop watching and analyzing operations in restaurants… often times to my wife’s dismay! I look for missed opportunities and often suggest to the managers a slight change that might make a big difference. Recently, I was at a diner where my family and I enjoy dining on a regular basis. The place is always packed on the weekends and the speed of service is… fair. The food offsets the wait for a seat and the time it takes to get served. The diner is an open-kitchen operation. You can sit at the counter and watch the sausage being made. A couple visits ago, the place was a madhouse. Customers were waiting, the kitchen staff was arguing and the food was moving slowly and with little accuracy. Remakes were clogging the already bogged down line.

In the hour or so I waited for my food, I drank coffee and watched the craziness, I noticed something. The font on the tickets was too small! The confusion in the back was being greatly increased because the tickets were hard to read. The staff had to actually pull the tickets off the rack and hold them up to their eyes to see what they said. On top of that, everyone had reading glasses on their heads. They needed two hands to read each ticket! Read the rest of this entry »

4 Considerations When Buying A Work Table  

April 16th, 2015

ShortOrder_Work-TableAre you looking to add more area for prep to your commercial kitchen? If your restaurant is lacking counter space, a stainless steel work table could be the solution to your space problems. Before purchasing a table, ask these 4 questions to make the buying process easier and more efficient:

What size and shape?

The first things to determine when looking for a stainless steel work table are the size and shape suitable for your needs and restaurant kitchen space. The standard widths available are 24, 30, and 36 inches—while standard lengths range from 20 to 120 inches. Make sure to measure the area you’re looking to place the table (or tables) in before ordering. Read the rest of this entry »

BBQ Season in Texas

April 7th, 2015

Grilled Meat On BarbequeWhen I first started this topic, I thought that March or April would kick off the barbeque competition season here in Texas. Upon further research, it looks like the “season” really has no beginning, or ending for that matter. As I’m sure you’ve heard, we take our BBQ seriously in the Lone Star State! Some rumors and legend are just that (like riding horses to work?), but this one folks, is true! (Thank Goodness!)

According to the International Barbeque Cookers Association website, there are competitions starting in early January, and they run all year long until the 2nd weekend in December. I guess the pros take a short break for the holiday season. No matter where you live in Texas, you’re sure to have a competition near your location sometime during the year. Read the rest of this entry »

Maybe You Should Sweat the Small Stuff

March 24th, 2015

KolpakP7-054-CTWalk-in coolers can be the most overlooked piece of equipment in your facility, even though it’s one of the most used. Most restaurants carry a high dollar amount of product in their walk-in cooler and freezer. In many operations, the top of the walk-in becomes a convenient place to store dry goods and consumables like plastic cups or to-go boxes. While I understand that sometimes you “do what you gotta do,” it’s import to remember a couple things.

Storing items on top of  the walk-in can decrease the airflow to self contained refrigeration units. This reduction in air-flow can increase the heat bubble around your unit’s cooling system. Over time it will have to work harder, decreasing the life of the unit. In many cases, it can cause the unit to fail entirely. As good as foam to-go cups are at keeping beverages warm or cold, they do an even better job of holding heat around the compressor.

Another issue with storing items on top of the walk-in is cleanliness. Even though items are stored in boxes that won’t come in contact with food, it increases the chance that contaminants will come in contact with food. As much as I hate to admit it, more than once I’ve seen workers pulling to go cups from the top of the walk-in, just as someone pushes a cart of back-ups to the front line. You can see the debris fall from the top of the walk-in and contact the food that is about to be served to your customer! Be honest, how often do you clean the top of your walk-in? You can use degreasers and general cleaners to help with this task, but how often will you do it? Sadly, it’s more likely that the floor of your facility is cleaner than the top of your walk-in. Consider adding a walking check of the top of the walk-in to your daily routine. Make sure that dry goods, consumables and other things are not stored on top. Read the rest of this entry »

Product Highlight: Beverage-Air Back Bar Refrigerator Storage BB94-1-B

March 19th, 2015

Beverage Air Back Bar StorageRunning a bar is hard work for management, bartenders, and bar backs. On a busy night or even during happy hour, you could go through many, many bottles of alcohol that need to be readily available. If you don’t have enough storage capacity behind the bar to serve up beverage after beverage, your customers may leave without the smile and tip you’re hoping for. If you need to take your back bar equipment up a notch, see what the Beverage-Air Back Bar Storage BB94-1-B has to offer.

Capacity

This high-value Refrigerated Back Bar Refrigerator Storage Cabinet is nearly 8 feet wide, over 3 feet tall, and holds almost 40 cubic feet. On top, you have 2 inches of stainless steel to protect your contents. This Beverage-Air cabinet features three sections with three solid, swinging doors so you can divvy up your supplies as needed and access them easily. Read the rest of this entry »

Save Water – Save Money – Save the Environment

March 10th, 2015

 

Running FaucetMany parts of the country are experiencing droughts like they haven’t seen in years (I’m talking to you Texas and California!). Businesses and residents are being asked to conserve water and make lifestyle changes to preserve the water supply. Even if you don’t live in one of the hardest hit areas of the country, you can still benefit from conserving water. Yes, it’s better for the environment, but it’s also great for the bottom line.

Don’t let the thought of conserving water intimidate you. There are 3 areas of any restaurant where taking steps to saving water will make a large impact, with minimal effort on your part.

Ice Machines

Ice machines are a large source of water usage in all restaurants. Some things you might consider help conserve: Read the rest of this entry »

Weekly Food Inventory Counts Can Save Time And Money

February 24th, 2015

Short-Order_Food-InventoryDid you know that according to industry averages, chain restaurants are two to three times as profitable as independent restaurants? How do they do it?! One way to cut costs is to do a weekly food inventory count and food cost calculation. While most independent restaurants do a monthly food inventory count, most chains calculate their food inventory weekly.

Though it seems like a daunting task to tackle weekly, don’t fear! We found some tips from RestaruantOwner.com to help you streamline the process.

Get organized! Accurate inventory counts can go out the window when your stock room and refrigerated storage are unorganized. Products should be easy to see and count. Read the rest of this entry »

What Kind of Refrigeration is Best for Your Restaurant?

February 19th, 2015

 

Short Order RefrigerationRefrigeration units play an essential role to any food-related business. Refrigerators help keep food and drinks fresh and ready for customers whether they’re sitting down for a steak dinner or grabbing a sandwich from a display. Just like our restaurant clients own a diverse range of businesses, we here at ShortOrder pride ourselves on offering a diverse catalogue of professional-grade refrigerators. To help you decide which unit works best for your needs and space, we’ve compiled a list of the basic types of refrigerators and quality examples of each.

Undercounter Refrigerators and Freezers:

Undercounter units are ideal for businesses with smaller or nontraditional spaces. For those of you cooking in a cramped area like a small kitchen or a food truck, an undercounter refrigerator capitalizes on typically unused and underappreciated space. A prime example of an undercounter refrigeration unit is the True Undercounter TUC-60-32F. This deep undercounter freezer offers stainless steel tops and sides as well as four coated-wire shelves and two stainless steel doors. If you need to maximize your space while still providing plenty of deep-space storage, then a True undercounter refrigerator could be for you. Read the rest of this entry »

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