Quick Service, Full Service, and Fast Casual: What’s the Difference?

Monday, December 30th, 2013

Quick Service, Fast Casual, and Full Service: What’s the DifferenceIf you’re starting a restaurant, you’re facing a lot of decisions that determine how your business will be run. From the concept of your restaurant to the kinds of restaurant equipment you’ll need, there are a lot of factors that determine a restaurant’s success. If you’re not sure what kind of service format would best fit your restaurant, read on for ShortOrder’s breakdown of the types of restaurant service formats.

First, the quick service restaurant, or QSR. Also known as “limited service” restaurants, QSRs are all about fast service and convenience. The price point of the average meal at a QSR is about $5, and the meal might include “combo” options for a better price with additional sides or drinks. QSRs have no table service, have simpler interior décor and ambience, and are often structured with a single service counter and/or a drive-thru. Although food at QSRs is known for being of a lower quality, a trend toward upscale food in QSRs is currently on the rise. Expanded menus with specialty items are becoming popular. Although QSRs can be difficult to manage due to a high turnover rate, they are easier to franchise. Popular restaurant equipment items in a QSR could include Gen2 fryers, Vulcan ranges, and commercial microwave ovens.

Full service restaurants, which can include both casual dining and fine dining, include full table service and a “sit-down” meal with a relatively extensive menu. There is a heavier emphasis on décor and ambience in a full service restaurant. Casual dining is often accompanied by a family-friendly atmosphere and professional but informal service staff. Fine dining has upscale ambience and a professional, knowledgeable wait staff. Casual dining restaurants can attract a wide customer base with better affordability and wide menu selection, but must compete with a wide range of full service restaurants. Fine dining establishments are known for their quality service, food, and wine, but may find it hard to compete with the lower price points of casual dining restaurants, QSRs, and fast casual restaurants in a poor economy.

The fast casual restaurant—a relatively modern term—is sort of a hybrid between quick service and casual dining. Fast casual is all about speed and convenience, but sets a price point between $7 and $10 per meal and aims for better service and higher-quality food. Recently, new fast casual restaurants have become more concept-focused, like the idea of the fast casual pizza restaurant, or fast casual potato dishes. The focus may also be on customizing your food order, so fast casual restaurants often have restaurant equipment like combiwave ovens to produce hot, customized orders quickly. Fast casual restaurants also have a wide customer base. However, like QSRs, fast casual establishments can also experience a lot of turnover.

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How to Make an Inventory Form for Easier Ordering

Monday, November 4th, 2013

To make a restaurant kitchen run smoothly, there are a lot of factors that need to be accounted for. While having a smoothly-running front-of-house is a very important part of keeping customers coming back, it’s just as important for behind-the-scenes operations to run well. Restaurant equipment that functions optimally is one of those factors. With the right quality restaurant equipment, you’ll experience less downtime due to malfunctions, be able to increase rate of production, and produce dishes that are of a higher quality. In addition to great restaurant equipment, you’ll also need to keep the right amount of food and supplies in stock at all times.

There are two secrets to an efficient ordering process: an efficient inventory and an excellent inventory form. First, you should streamline your inventory process so you can take food inventory faster. It’s best to do inventory weekly. (While this may seem too frequent, it will save you time in the long run.) You should also be sure your space stays clean and tidy to help things go faster.

When it comes time to actually take inventory, you need an order form that will facilitate a quick, accurate count. Make one form each for each product or food category. Some might include:

1. Meat
2. Produce
3. Alcohol
4. Paper products
5. Cleaning supplies

Each order form should have at least 8 categories:

1. Description
2. Ordering unit
3. Price
4. Supplier
5. Weekday par level
6. Weekend par level
7. On-hand quantity
8. Order quantity

You’ll probably need to tailor your inventory form so it is specific to your restaurant, of course, but the idea is that you make it as comprehensive and orderly as possible. For example, “alcohol” could be further divided into “liquor,” “beer,” and “wine” and you might need to add a section for reminders to certain forms. When it comes to food forms, you should list each food product to mirror the order in which it is arranged on your shelves. (Dry, then refrigerated, then frozen is the most likely order.)

Restaurant Equipment and More from ShortOrder

How do you make inventory and ordering easier? What restaurant equipment do you use to make your kitchen run at its best? Find ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and give us your tips! You can also follow us and keep reading here at What’s Cooking to stay in the know about restaurant equipment and the restaurant industry.

Blender Equipment: All-in-One Efficiency and Healthy Recipes

Friday, October 25th, 2013

Among your business’ restaurant equipment, whether it be in a restaurant, coffee shop, or bakery, you may find a lonely, unused blender with untapped potential.  Sure, you break it out every once in a while to mince the garlic or speed up some vegetable purée, but there are so many advantages to a good blender that may motivate you to begin exploring your blending options.

Of the top advantages of having one of the best brands of blender equipment, the simple idea of efficiency is probably the first. By taking the all-in-one approach of combining ingredients, you eliminate the prep time involved in cooking three different courses with four different dips to match. Not only will combining raw (preferably local ingredients to ensure freshness) ingredients in one blender save prep time, it will also severely reduce the clean up involved afterwards. Without having to fire up the grill and get into the messy business of pots and pans, all you’ll have to worry about is washing the blender after a quick meal.

Another benefit of opting for a blended snack or meal is, of course, the nutritional benefit. By blending and puréeing your raw ingredients, you are facilitating a much easier digestive process and intake of nutrients and vitamins. The simple fact of the matter is that our chompers don’t physically break down food the way a high-powered blender can. The other nutritional benefit of creating a blended meal is retaining the maximum amount of proteins and nutrients within your food, much of which is denaturated or broken down when you introduce the element of heat through grilling, frying, boiling, or baking your vegetables. Blending food is also a fantastic way to get your day’s worth of vegetable and fruit servings without having to sit down and gnaw through it all over the span of a day.

Here are some of ShortOrder healthy blender recipes, easily customizable and full of purposeful nutrients:

    • Mean and Green: Try combining kale, green grapes, cucumber, and granny smith apple for a delectable combination of both fruits and vegetables. This eerily green concoction will provide guests with a burst of energy and improve general health.
    • Boost of Immunity: A mix of your citruses (grapefruit and oranges) with kiwi will pump you full of the Vitamins A and C you need to help guests combat the inevitable sickly seasons.
    • Hummus: Top-grade blenders are not restricted to making smoothies and fruit juices. Try throwing chickpeas in with a number of fresh ingredients (garlic, parsley, red pepper) to make a fresh, healthy hummus to serve with pita chips!
    • Soup: Puréeing vegetables such as broccoli or tomatoes for use in a warm, simple soup served with a side of bread can always be a great way for guests to enjoy something light and healthy.

 

Check out ShortOrder’s selection of blenders to see which fits your business’ menu the best! Have some favorite blender recipes of your own? Share them with ShortOrder via Twitter or Facebook!

The Gameday Essentials Checklist for Restaurants

Wednesday, October 16th, 2013

Has your restaurant seen an increase in action every Monday night since the football season started up? If so, there are a few appliances that your restaurant needs to have to be able to run a successful Monday night football event that will not only keep your customers happy, but keep them coming back for more.

The first item, and probably most important piece of restaurant equipment on our checklist, is a good draft beer cooler. Draft beer is more popular than ever, so it’s a good idea to keep plenty on tap to cater to guest’s tastes. ShortOrder suggests getting one with a 2+ keg capacity so that your customers have a few options to choose from. Plus, by using a Kegerator that has a multiple keg capacity, you’ll have a smaller chance of running out during a big game. After all, the last thing a football fan wants while watching their favorite football team play is to run out of beer.

Next on our list of essentials is a nice, heavy-duty commercial fryer. When you get a fryer from ShortOrder, you don’t have to worry about it breaking down in the middle of a football game when your customers are ordering a plethora of fried foods. If this happened, your customers would not be happy, and might change their gameday hotspot for watching the football game.

Last on our gameday checklist is the perfect commercial charbroiler. Any restaurant that caters to football fans knows that on Mondays it’s best to be fully stocked up on favorites like hamburgers and hot dogs, which are staples in the Monday night football fan’s diet. This is why you need a charbroiler that will grill a great hamburger every time.

So are you ready for next Monday based on our checklist? If not, contact ShortOrder today and let us take your kitchen to the next level.

Opening a Bakery? Restaurant Equipment You’ll Need for Sweet Success

Monday, September 30th, 2013

If you’re about to dive into the world of puff pastries and pies, you’ve got an adventure ahead of you. Opening a bakery takes a lot of planning (from the right restaurant equipment to an excellent selection of treats), but its rewards can be sweet. After you’ve crafted a mouth-watering menu, you’ll want to start putting together all the necessities to get your kitchen up and running. Here’s what restaurant equipment you’ll need for ultimate bakery success:

Storage

Keeping things organized, both in the kitchen and out front, are key components in making a bakery run smoothly. Though decidedly unglamorous to implement and maintain, good organization will make life a lot easier, allowing you to keep supplies within easy reach and making food inventory easier.

Restaurant Equipment

You’ll need all the restaurant equipment basics to bake up a bevy of classic bakery treats. For example:

Fryers will facilitate the creation of donuts, fritters, fried pies, and the like.
Convection ovens cook foods more quickly and evenly, and cause the butter in baked goods to lose its moisture faster, resulting in a flakier, crispier food
Commercial mixers make it easy to combine larger amounts of ingredients with minimal effort, mess, and cleanup.

Display Shelving

What’s a baked good without a proper display case? Unlikely to get eaten, that’s what. Make sure your bakery items are well-displayed on display shelving or in glass cases so that customers can eyeball their chosen foods before selecting their favorites. After all, it’s fairly easy to resist a doughnut on a menu board, but much harder when all that glazed, sugary goodness is right in front of you.

Tell ShortOrder Your Restaurant Equipment Tips!

What restaurant equipment is most important in your bakery? Any restaurant equipment we missed? Visit ShortOrder on Facebook or tweet us to tell us what you think!

Clean Up Your Restaurant Equipment for National Food Safety Month

Monday, September 9th, 2013

Happy National Food Safety Month, everyone! September 2013 has been designated by the National Restaurant Association as a month to spotlight the awareness of food allergens, which can help restaurants that are concerned about keeping their restaurant equipment safe for those with food allergies. National Food Safety Month was created in 1994 to increase the awareness of the importance of food safety in kitchens everywhere. Previous spotlights have included hygiene and general food handling safety. This month, to get the word out this month about food safety with allergens, the National Restaurant Association has prepared activities and information covering everything from cross-contact to food transportation. To get your staff, students, or family involved, check out the National Food Safety Month website.

Cross-contact was the focus of this week of National Food Safety Month. Cross-contact on restaurant equipment in the kitchen can be a big concern for restaurants that want to be friendly to those with food allergies. Here are some easy things you can do in your kitchen with your restaurant equipment to prevent cross-contamination for customers with food allergies.

• Be careful to use separate restaurant equipment and utensils if you are preparing food for a customer with an allergy.
• If you can’t use separate equipment, clean the preparation surface thoroughly before making a dish for a customer with a food allergy.
• Store foods that could contain allergens in containers separate from other foods.
• Wash and dry hands thoroughly before preparing a dish for a guest with an allergy.
• Designate specific pieces of restaurant equipment (like blenders, for example) as “nut-free” or “dairy-free.” Label it and make sure your staff knows that it’s available for food prep.

What tips do you have for keeping your restaurant equipment safe for people with food allergies? Find ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and tell us how you are allergen-conscious in your kitchen.

Meatless Mondays May Be Good for Restaurant Equipment Business

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Just a heads up to those in the foodservice industry: it might be time to prepare your restaurant equipment for Meatless Mondays.

“Really?” we hear you ask. “Didn’t Meatless Mondays go out with World War I?” Well, yes and no. During WWI, the U.S. Food Administration encouraged rationing of staple foods by promoting “Meatless Mondays” and “Wheatless Wednesdays.” Today, Meatless Monday plays something of a different role. The modern Meatless Monday was actually established in 2003 by Sid Lerner, an advertising agency executive, and is an international health campaign intent on improving the world’s eating habits one week at a time. The idea is that by cutting out meat from our diets once weekly, we can reduce our cholesterol levels, improve our heart health, and generally improve our physical well-being. It turns out that thousands of restaurants, schools, and companies have jumped on board this movement.

In many foodservice establishments, this has translated into an altered menu on Mondays, and it turns out the move may actually be good for business. Participation in Meatless Mondays allows restaurants to attract new customers, especially since, as Meatless Monday’s campaign director Peggy Neu says, it “plays into the vegetarian and ‘flexitarian’ trends.” It also allows restaurants to turn their attention to utilizing fresh, seasonal produce and local resources. But don’t worry: you don’t have to take all of your omnivorous entrées off of your restaurant equipment to participate in Meatless Monday. Add vegetarian dishes to your Monday specials and advertise your existing vegetarian dishes more prominently as well.

So go ahead, get your restaurant equipment and char broilers and cook up your favorite vegetarian recipes for your customers. You might find that it’s both good for you heart and good for business!

More Tips and Restaurant Equipment from ShortOrder

Do you participate in Meatless Mondays? Has it been a profitable a practice for your restaurant? Find ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and tell us about your experiences with Meatless Mondays and restaurant equipment!

Restaurant Success in the City: Urban Franchising Tips

Monday, August 5th, 2013

If you’re franchising your restaurant in an urban area, you’re going to need more than quality restaurant equipment to make it work. While, yes, your focus should always be on turning out a quality product and providing excellent service, setting up a franchise location in an urban environment comes with a special set of challenges.

How can you open your restaurant and ensure that your restaurant equipment will always be busy? Read on for tips for urban franchising success.

Get the Word Out

To gain publicity in an urban area, creating awareness online can be a great stepping stone. Turn to your own social media outlets, connect with others, and invite food bloggers to come in to create a buzz about the opening of your location.

Know the Codes

Urban locations may have special regulations that other locations lack, and you should make sure your restaurant can comply with them. Whether it’s the method of trash storage and disposal, the location of deliveries, or special fire code limitations, it’s important to be well-informed before starting operations.

Bring in the Experts

Franchisees who have experience in an urban market are ideally-prepared to help with the opening of a city franchise. Using operators who are already familiar with the operational challenges and quirks that come with the urban restaurant business can eliminate some of the floundering that may occur when a franchise location first opens.

Prepare for Lunchtime

There are several challenges that come with operating a restaurant in the city during lunch. In a smaller community, customers might come in to your restaurant for a leisurely lunch. In a city environment, however, the lunch hours are often populated by hurried patrons and professionals who are lunching within a time limit. As a result, lunchtime will see a higher volume and intense activity on your kitchen’s restaurant equipment. Prepare for this by making to-go ordering easy (as with a separate waiting area or ordering station), clearing space for large lines, and servicing your restaurant equipment regularly to make sure it is working optimally.

Employ Locally

If you’re expanding in an urban area, you want the people working your restaurant equipment and running your restaurant to be from the area, as well. Hiring the right staff may allow you to be connected with local vendors right away, be aware of the area’s regulations from the start, and be able to connect with the people of the city on a more personal level.

More Tips and Restaurant Equipment from ShortOrder

What tips would you give someone opening a franchise in an urban area? Connect with ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and tell us about your experiences with urban franchising and restaurant equipment!

For more restaurant industry tips, the latest on quality restaurant equipment, and more, you can keep reading What’s Cooking.

Fire Up Your Restaurant Equipment for the Food Truck Buzz

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

In recent years, the humble food truck has moved beyond the street vendor stereotype into the realm of specialty foods, serving up everything from Asian fusion to gourmet doughnuts. That’s why food trucks employ all kinds of restaurant equipment to serve up their unique mobile cuisine to fans and followers. It seems that there is now a fleet of food trucks in every major city, and the types of food they serve are just as numerous as the trucks themselves. Some cities even have designated places where food trucks can congregate during the day, allowing patrons to travel to them.

If you are considering catching the food truck wave, read on. You can use these tips to make your way to portable culinary success.

Choosing a Concept

A food truck doesn’t have to rely on a gimmick or a complicated concept to be successful. While competition for quality is indeed high amongst food trucks, the important thing is to consistently serve quality food in a clean, friendly atmosphere. So whether a food truck’s menu is rooted in Brazilian street food or French desserts, great food and great service should always be top priority.

Buying Restaurant Equipment for a Food Truck

There is no major difference between the actual restaurant equipment for a full-sized kitchen and restaurant equipment for a food truck. However, you should consider the size factor when buying restaurant equipment for a food truck. You will have less room to maneuver than in a normal kitchen, so space-efficient equipment is best.

Setting up a Food Truck

The arrangement of your food truck’s kitchen will help determine its efficiency and success. You’ll need to choose restaurant equipment that allows you to move freely, especially during peak business hours, but you’ll also need your layout to be flexible so you can change out restaurant equipment if your menu alters.

Powering a Food Truck

Different components inside a food truck’s kitchen will have different power requirements. Keep in mind that everything in your mobile kitchen should be 120V. Additionally, griddles and ovens have a higher power requirement than other pieces of restaurant equipment like refrigeration units, so they will most likely need a tow-able generator.

Connect with ShortOrder

What restaurant equipment do you use in your food truck? Have you had success in the food truck business? Reach out to ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and tell us about your experiences!

How to Improve Your Restaurant’s Website for Better Business

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Want to keep your kitchens and your restaurant equipment busy? If your restaurant is not online yet, you’re probably missing out on a big opportunity to improve business for your restaurant. Equipment and quality service aren’t the only things it takes to keep customers coming back. Being able to locate your restaurant online is a major avenue for new customers learn about it, and often how they ultimately choose to venture there for the first time. If you’re thinking about redesigning your restaurant to get to your restaurant equipment back in commission, there are a few things you should know first.

Here are some basic dos and don’ts when it comes to building a better website for your restaurant.

Do: Get to Know Your Customers

When redesigning your website, ask yourself: Why do your customers use your website? Is it to find your locations? To view your menu? To order food online? To give feedback about their experience? To find catering information? Tend to those needs first and foremost when reconstructing your website.

Don’t: Make Your Site More Complicated

A surplus of pages and graphics are not the mark of an upscale business. In fact, sometimes the websites that offer the simplest user experience are the most helpful. Be sure that your website is efficient and easy to navigate. Just like good restaurant equipment, you want a website that gives the customer a quality product quickly so that they are most likely to come back again.

Do: Show Off Your Social Media

If you already have accounts for your restaurant on outlets like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, give your customers a way to navigate to those profiles from your homepage, and vice-versa. The more ways users can encounter your website and find information, the better.

Don’t: Ignore Your Phone

In a survey by Nation’s Restaurant News of about 1,500 smartphone users, 81% said they had used their phones to search for a restaurant in the last six months, and 84% said they also compared restaurants before choosing. While it’s a good idea, but not absolutely necessary, to create an app for your restaurant, you should at least optimize your site for mobile. Smartphone users will have an easier time navigating it and making a decision about where to eat. And speed isn’t just a matter of convenience; 62% of users said they were less likely to choose a restaurant if its website was difficult to read on a phone.

More Tips and Restaurant Equipment from ShortOrder

For more tips on running a successful restaurant, news about quality restaurant equipment, and more keep reading What’s Cooking.

What do you wish you could find on other restaurants’ websites? What restaurant equipment do you use most? Connect with ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and tell us about your experiences with marketing and restaurant equipment!

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