Attract Guests with (the Right) Outdoor Seating

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

restaurant outdoor seatingThere’s no question customers love outdoor dining in the spring and summer. In fact, many restaurateurs report that patrons would rather wait for a table on the patio than be seated immediately indoors. So if you’re looking for a proven way to attract even more guests to your establishment this season, follow these tips to make sure you do outdoor seating right:

  • Confirm that your available outdoor space is suited to customer seating. At a minimum, this means having enough square footage that the tables aren’t crowded too close together. A pleasant view of the surroundings wouldn’t hurt, either.
  • Select weatherproof furniture that is durable yet comfortable. The pieces should be easy to clean and the general style should fit with your restaurant’s overall decorative concept.
  • Protect your customers from the elements with the help of patio umbrellas, awnings, and natural insect repellents like lavender, basil, lemongrass, and citronella.
  • Add extra lighting in the form of tiki torches, Chinese lanterns, tea lights, and other decorative options so customers and staff for visibility after sunset.
  • Consider putting a portable refrigerator or back bar storage cooler near the outdoor seating area to facilitate serving larger happy hour and weekend crowds.
  • Hire seasonal help (if necessary) to ensure you have enough employees to handle the influx of customers.
  • Get all the necessary permits and licenses required by your state or municipality so you can be in compliance with the law and avoid penalties, fines, or even a shutdown.
  • Advertise your newly opened patio space, and generate even more interest by hosting special events such as live music or game nights.

If you have the space and resources to set up an outdoor seating area this summer, you should be able to attract many more guests so long as you use the above tips to help get things right.

A New Year Means a Clean Slate

Tuesday, January 26th, 2016

restaurant in kitchen

Chipotle has been in the news a lot lately, and not for the reasons any restaurant would want! They’ve shut down and promised a “deep clean” of all locations and hope to recover from the PR beating they’ve had lately. What can you do to help prevent an outbreak of sick guests at your location? Start with a deep clean, clean often, establish a routine and train your employees.

The obvious place to start is with your equipment and prep areas. Clean those well, and keep them clean. Food code requires establishments to clean and sanitize food contact surfaces after each use. But we all know that! What about the other places that are often touched by customers and employees alike, and are often missed during daily cleaning?

  • Door Handles: They are used by every person entering your restaurant. It’s important to clean the front door handles, but don’t forget the other ones too. Door handles like those to offices, storage areas, refrigerators, restrooms and the back door are equally as important to wipe down daily.
  • Community Areas: Community tables, chairs and benches all need cleaning and sanitizing. They are all touched often and can harbor bacteria. Don’t forget the arm rests and bottoms too.
  • Light Switches: Though the switches in the main dining area may only be used in the morning and evening, those that are in storage closets, restrooms and offices might be used much more frequently.
  • Railings: You might have them next to steps and stairs, you might have a banister on your second floor that overlooks the lower level. They are used frequently and should be cleaned frequently.
  • Tables for your customers: Establish a cleaning routine that is done between each customer. You can use a disinfecting spray in a marked bottle and disposable towels or pre-treated cleaning and sanitizing towels, whichever works best for your restaurant. Make sure it’s clear which roles in the staff are responsible for cleaning duties.

As important as the initial training is, it’s also important to revisit the steps and expectations often. Make sure your employees, both new and old, are familiar with their cleaning and sanitizing responsibilities.

As a manager, remember illnesses like Norovirus are highly contagious and can spread fast, especially in a restaurant setting. If one of your employees is having intestinal issues, play it safe and send them home. Then, make sure the surfaces on this list get a thorough going-over that day.

It just takes a few minutes to clean and sanitize around your restaurant and it can do wonders to prevent the spread of illness.

Pros tell all about their favorite kitchen appliances

Monday, June 18th, 2007

In an article from SF Gate, professionals talk about what kitchen appliances they use. The list of “pros” includes people who work as kitchen designers, architects and interior designers. It’s always interesting to hear about what professionals are using at home — you’ve gotta assume they know what they’re talking about!

Interior designer Ann Jones raves about the Viking six-burner gas range with oven, a consumer gas range similar to the commercial restaurant ranges we carry at Short Order. Ann Jones says she loves how evenly pans are heated thanks to the burners. Jones also notes that she uses a Bosch dishwasher because it’s quiet.

Cooking school director Mary Risley also mentions that she uses a Viking commercial stove. Risley uses the Viking dual-fuel four-burner range, noting its insulation is great. Apparently a fan of Viking commercial products, Risley also uses the Viking side-by-side refrigerator.

Carlene Anderson, a kitchen designer, uses the Jenn-Air single convection oven at home — and her oven is almost 30 years old! In addition to the Jenn-Air convection oven, Anderson also uses a Wolf gas cooktop because it has such powerful burners and plenty of room for big skillets.

Seems like these pros won’t settle for anything less than the best when it comes to their home kitchens. You can find many great commercial restaurant appliances at Short Order.

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