Protecting Your Investment: Fryer Maintenance

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

ShortOrder_Frymaster-FryersAll equipment needs TLC. The “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” mindset is really only applicable to prep-tables. Almost everything else in your kitchen needs routine maintenance.

Consider the workhorse of many American facilities, the fryer. Fryers are a pretty simple machine. They have targeted jets of flame that heat-up the underside of a pot that contains oil. The oil heats and is used to cook food. When the oil is used, you filter or replace it and move on. Not much to it, right?

In reality, it does still need some routine maintenance. Daily, the exterior should be wiped down and cleaned. Focus on the  rim, sides and front. This is more than an aesthetic thing. Dripping oil on the floor can be a very dangerous matter for your employees. In addition, make sure to clean the fry baskets daily. Remove them from the oil, wash them and let them dry overnight.

When you filter the oil, make it a habit to clean the elements under the fryer. These can and will get congested with oil mist and other contaminants. Filter the oil, clean the elements.

It’s important to boil out your fryer at least twice a year. Remove the oil. Replace with water and cleaning solution. Allow the water to heat and scrub the fryer pot as instructed by the manufacturer. Be careful not to splash hot water on yourself or others while you scrub. Been there, done that – ouch! Once complete, carefully drain the water and rinse the pot with warm water. Once complete, towel dry and replace the oil. You’ll be good for another three to six months.

Full inspection of the unit should be done annually. Check all electronics and make sure they are free of debris. Look at the legs or casters and make sure they are in good working order and stable. Inspect your fry baskets to make sure the handle is secure to the basket. A basket breaking during agitation or product transfer can cause serious injury.

These simple maintenance techniques will increase the longevity of the fryer, keep the foods prepared in it tasting good, keep your workers safe and maximize your return on investment!   

 

Ways to Share Valentine’s Day with Your Customers

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2016

valentines dayDining out is one of the most popular ways for couples to celebrate Valentine’s Day, which gives restaurateurs a tremendous profit making opportunity in the midst of the winter lull. And with February 14 falling on a Sunday this year, there’s a chance to generate even more revenue than usual by offering breakfast and/or brunch in addition to dinner.

But Valentine’s Day success doesn’t just happen. You must be willing to temporarily tailor your menu, decor, services, and operating hours towards attracting customers for the holiday, especially if your restaurant is not typically known as a romantic destination. Here are some suggestions on how to do just that, even with a limited marketing budget:

 

  • Make sure would-be diners know your restaurant will be doing something special for Valentine’s Day by getting the word out on all of your social media accounts and posting notices within your establishment.
  • Offer a complimentary appetizer, drinks, dessert, or other freebie or discount for the first 20-25 reservations or for making a reservation prior to a certain date to encourage early responses.
  • Create holiday-specific dessert options, such as red and pink or heart themed desserts, or ‘dessert for two’ menu offerings.
  • Based on the number of early reservations you get and the number of walkups you can expect, be sure to have enough kitchen help and waitstaff able (and willing) to work.
  • Alter the ambience of your restaurant to suit the occasion by dimming the lights, placing candles on each table, choosing soft background music, and adding red or pink accents to the interior decor.
  • Create some kind of keepsake that customers can take home to remember the experience. Popular keepsakes include special menu covers, custom champagne flutes, personalized matchbooks, or a printed photo of the couple.
  • Promote red or pink drinks such as strawberry daiquiris, pomegranate margaritas, Jack Rose cocktails, blood orange mimosas, and cosmopolitans to help diners get in the spirit of the evening. Save time and keep the fun flowing by using a Bunn frozen drink dispenser or a Waring high-powered commercial blender (both available at ShortOrder.com) behind the bar.
  • Serve heart-shaped versions of appetizers, breads, and desserts, and arrange the food in the main course into a heart shape prior to serving.
  • Give each departing couple a red rose and a voucher or discount coupon for a future date.

 

While some people might cynically dismiss Valentine’s Day as a “made up” holiday, few restaurateurs can afford to ignore the occasion. Demonstrate your willingness to share Valentine’s Day with your customers by using some of the ideas listed above to make their dining experience unforgettable.

Ways to Improve Your Food Business in the New Year

Tuesday, January 12th, 2016

Now that the New Year is officially under way, this is the perfect time to evaluate your restaurant, cafe, food truck, or other food-related business to uncover and shore up weaknesses. Chances are, no matter how well your business did in 2015, there is still room for improvement in a major area such as quality, service, or overall efficiency for the new year. To help identify current shortcomings and set future performance goals, consider taking one or more of these steps:

improve restaurantExpand (or reduce) your menu

Whether you use an expensive point-of-sale tracking system, have tight inventory controls, or personally take orders every single day, you probably have a very good idea of which menu items consistently sell well and which lack customer appeal. Try new recipes that complement the bestsellers and ditch the underperforming dishes to reduce associated waste in food, ingredients, or storage space.

Spend off-peak hours wisely

Slow periods are inevitable in the food service industry, so it’s important to spend that time wisely. Clean up and preparation for the next meal rush are obvious ways to use downtime, but they’re not the only ways. Many business owners have increased revenues by offering off-peak specials such as early bird dining discounts, extended happy hours, or limited late-night menus.

Give your staff the right tools for the job

If your food business is plagued with operating inefficiencies, it might be tempting to place the blame on your kitchen or wait staff. But before doing that, find out whether or not they have the necessary tools for getting the job done. Is there adequate prep space in the kitchen? If not, consider buying more work tables. Is most of the mixing, blending, and chopping of ingredients being done by hand? If so, consider providing commercial food processors to improve speed, efficiency, and safety in these areas.

Develop a social media presence

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and other social media sites are no longer optional for businesses—particularly those in the food service industry. Today’s customers expect to be able to find your company and engage with you on one or more of these platforms, and it’s in your best interest to oblige. Being active on social media not only gives you the opportunity to improve your responsiveness to inquiries and complaints, but also helps you manage your brand in a positive way.

Improvements for the New Year don’t have to be radical or expensive in order to be effective; they simply have to fill a void in your business. So start examining your current practices now to see if your bottom line would benefit by implementing one of the above ideas at some point in 2016.

The Value of the Microwave in the Restaurant Industry

Thursday, October 8th, 2015

microwaveBack in the day, seeing a microwave on the cook line or assembly area of a restaurant was considered bad form. I knew some folks that would judge the quality of a place by first looking for the existence of a microwave.

I think those days have passed. Seeing a microwave on the line is a normal occurrence. They offer speed and convenience. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to go to a high-end fish house and see them throwing a handful of Gordon’s fish nuggets in the microwave to later throw on a fancy plate and charge me $100. No offense to the Gordon’s fisherman, but I don’t trust him in a high end kitchen.

One of the reasons that microwaves are less disheartening to see commercially, is the success they have in our home kitchens. There are many reasons for that, but it’s a 50/50 split between better frozen foods and better microwaves.

A simple, yet impactful, change in the microwave’s design is the carousel that rotates the product to provide for more even heating. Given the nature of microwaves, heating is often uneven. Rotating the product help foster even heating.

Convection microwaves are starting to get traction domestically. RV’s and houses are starting to see the convenience and flexibility these units can provide. They can even cook bread! They are fast and efficient.

All microwaves are not alike. Different technologies provide different functionality at different price points. To warm sauces, a $3,000 microwave would be overkill. In the same vein, using a low watt unit may not be suitable to every need. Check out our microwave buyers guide for some tips on finding the right unit for the right job. 

Football Frenzy: Prepping Your Restaurant For The Season

Thursday, August 13th, 2015

Football FansThe beloved American football season is fast approaching. Whether or not your restaurant caters to gathering around to watch the game, the game’s spirits are high no matter where you are. To prep your business for the frenzy of football, consider the best ways to prepare food and drink for the season that fans love the most.

Direct Draw Kegerators
Let’s cut to the chase: football and beer are best friends. An effective and efficient way to keep your draft beer cold and on-hand is a direct draw system that keeps your beer on the floor and easily accessible. With some models holding up to five kegs, you can pick the commercial kegerator that suits your business best.

Undercounter Refrigeration
In addition to a draft system, you’ll need convenient storage and refrigeration for your bottled brews as well. Undercounter refrigeration units vary far and wide according to the amount of space you need and the way you’d like to organize your beverages. (more…)

What Equipment Do You Need For A Food Truck?

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

Foodtruck

Don’t you wish you could open a famous restaurant? Do you want to share your food with the world? What’s stopping you? Afraid of the investment? Afraid of locking in a long-term lease and the cost build out? If so, consider… a food truck. Thousands have and many have succeeded. Sure it’s a trend, but it ain’t going anywhere soon!

If I wanted to open a food truck today, I’d have a lot of decisions to make. The old adage is the best designed kitchens are designed where everything is at most, one-step away. In a food truck, that’s not only a feature of good design, it’s also forced by space limitations. (more…)

3 Ways To Outfit Your New Restaurant Affordably

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

New RestaurantYou’ve always wanted your own commercial restaurant, but you never thought it was possible – yet, here you are. The financing is secured, a location has been chosen, and the menu you’ve been perfecting over the years is finally complete. If all goes well, you’ll be the proud owner of your city’s soon to be most raved about culinary sensation. However, before you dole out that first serving of your signature dish, you’ve got to have something to cook it in!

That’s where we come in. At ShortOrder, we understand better than anyone what it takes to get a restaurant up and going—and staying that way. Outfitting a new restaurant can be stressful, especially if you’re on a tight budget. Just mind these three tips for outfitting your new restaurant affordably, and you’ll be cooking up a storm sooner than you think. (more…)

Introducing Smallwares on ShortOrder.com

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

Smallwares Food CanisterShortOrder.com has been in the business of providing high-quality, low-cost restaurant equipment since 2007, and we’re proud of the products we offer and the service we provide. That said, we are always looking for ways to improve our service and offer additional quality products for the food service industry. In an effort to expand our product offerings, we proudly announce the introduction of smallwares!

What is a ‘Smallware’?

Smallwares are the small items that every kitchen needs in order to function. We are moving beyond just kitchen equipment and adding a variety of vital and useful items, including:

  • Plumbing Supplies: Faucets, water filters, pre-rinse lines, drain baskets, and more.
  • Disposables: Plastic cutlery and dinnerware, food wrap, take-out containers, etc.
  • First Aid, Personal Safety, and Food Safety Supplies
  • Janitorial Supplies: From brooms and mops to cleansers to soap dispensers and beyond.
  • Kitchen Supplies: Including aprons, food scales, cutlery, timers, serving cards, and so on.
  • Food Service Equipment: From condiment pumps to overhead warmers and more.
  • Dining Room Supplies: Flat- and dinner-ware, beverage and napkin dispensers, etc.
  • Restaurant Hardware: From power cords and switches to trash bin coasters and beyond.
  • Restaurant Furniture: Child seats and crowd control barriers.

(more…)

Get Ready for Kickoff: The Necessary Restaurant Equipment for Football Season

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Tailgating Football FansFootball Season starts September 4th — is your restaurant ready? The football crowd has its own dynamic and its own wants and needs; if your restaurant equipment is not up to the demands they are going to place on it, you may be leaving money on the table. So what exactly do you need?

Fryers

There is nothing the football crowd loves more than deep-fried food. Hot wings, chicken fingers, onion rings, french fries, and mozzarella sticks; these should all be a snap for your kitchen to pump out when the guys arrive for their ritual of beer and carb-coated snacks dipped in boiling oil. Fryers should be easy to access and well-maintained, because they are going to be seeing a lot of use this season.

Kegerators

Did we mention beer? There’s a good reason for that; it’s always been popular among the football crowd. This season, it’s going to get cranked up another notch as craft beers become the standard in many places from the Pacific Northwest to the Alamo. Kegerators combine the fresh-from-the-fridge taste of a bottle with the direct-to-the-mug convenience of draught — be sure you’re equipped.  (more…)

How to Maximize Your Commercial Restaurant Equipment’s Layout

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Designing a Commercial Kitchen Layout with EquipmentArranging a commercial kitchen can feel like playing Tetris… but instead of directing falling blocks on a screen, you’re moving around giant pieces of restaurant equipment to create the perfect kitchen floorplan. That’s because commercial kitchens have to be laid out correctly, or even a couple of minor inefficiencies can compound to slow down service for every customer. For this reason, focusing on eliminating bottlenecks and creating a high-flow workspace is critical. So turn up that MIDI-generated theme song, take a good look at your kitchen, and maximize your layout with these tips.

“Behind You!”

If you have watched more than one episode of Top Chef, you have almost certainly heard someone crying out “Behind you!” as they pass behind other chefs with a dangerously hot tray of hors d’oeuvres. That’s because a professional kitchen requires people to move hot food, large equipment, sharp utensils, and other dangerous materials very quickly from one station to another; and a jostle at the wrong time can spell injury or disaster. Having a kitchen that allows enough space for that kind of transport is a must.

Ergonomics

Ergonomics, in short, is ‘the science of minimizing the number of steps needed to accomplish your work tasks.’ Designing your kitchen so that each employee needs to change stations as infrequently as possible is one key to keeping things efficient. That means that the arrangement of restaurant equipment should facilitate the order in which a string of tasks occur.

Energy Concerns

In the same way that restaurants need to be concerned about efficiency and ease of motion, they also need to think about keeping costs down. Part of that is keeping the refrigerator and freezer as far away from the ovens and cooking surfaces as possible, so cooling equipment doesn’t have to fight equipment that is giving off intense heat. Additionally, it’s best to keep all of the heat-producing items close together under the minimum number of vent hoods.

Adapt or Die

The last key to kitchen configuration is recognizing that your configuration will need to change as time goes by. Keeping your options open and not permanently locking things in place (for example, by sinking bench legs into the floor) is an important part of being able to adjust to circumstances.

 

Maximizing a kitchen’s layout is half science, half art, and all focused effort. Do it well and your bottom line (and chefs) will thank you.

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