The FDA Food Code and Your Restaurant: What You Need to Know

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

Chef Preparing a SaladThere are a lot of rules in the 2013 Updated Food Code published by the FDA. Most of them are commonsense rules, but there are some very important bits that every restaurateur should know for fostering a safe work environment, safe storage and handling, cleaning restaurant equipment and much more.

The HACCP

The FDA strongly encourages the creation of a Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point. Essentially, this is a document printed out and available to all of your kitchen workers that details what how to correctly respond to any form of common kitchen emergency. The FDA offers a useful document called “Managing Food Safety” that explains precisely how to execute this process. Having an HACCP isn’t mandated nationwide yet, but a good number of municipalities require it within their borders. (more…)

How to Save Space in a Restaurant Kitchen

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Restaurant Kitchen With Dishes Stacked Under CounterThink all professional kitchens looks like the spaces on Iron Chef? Think again. In reality, the fact is that professional kitchens are often small and cramped; hardly the conditions you see on TV. What’s more, there are two types of restaurant kitchens: those that run like well-oiled machines, and those that are chaotic and messy. Fortunately, by using space logically, following the rules of ergonomics, and leveraging some equipment that can perform several functions, you can create an efficient kitchen no matter how much restaurant equipment you have filling your space.

Less Is More

Finding items that can do more than they appear is the key to saving kitchen space. Don’t have room for a food processor, blender, coffee grinder, bread maker, and mortar and pestle? One good tool (be it a food processor or a Hamilton Beach blender) can do all of those things and more. And as much as chefs love knives, a kitchen only needs a serrated knife, a chef’s knife, a paring knife, and a slicing knife. And the right box grater can take the place of a mandolin, a spice grinder, and multiple different kinds of shredders at the same time. (more…)

Guide to Buying Certified Restaurant Equipment

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

certified-equipmentBecause not all restaurant equipment is created equal, it’s important for your equipment to have the right certifications. But which one does your operation need? And what do all those acronyms stand for, anyway? Just FYI, here’s the DL on the NSF, FCE, CE, and more.

California Low Lead Qualified

Products bearing the California Low Lead Qualified certification are compliant with the California low lead law. To be compliant with this law, plumbing materials that convey or dispense water for human consumption are allowed no more than 0.2% lead in solder and flux and 0.25% in wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures, as determined by a weighted average.

CE (Certified European)

Equipment with the Certified European label complies with the requirements the European commission has for the import and sale of products.

Energy Star® Certification

An Energy Star® certified appliance is backed by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) and has been proven to perform as well as or better than a product of its kind that consumes a higher amount of energy. The certification was created in 1992 to encourage the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. Today all kinds of appliances bear an Energy Star® label, from washing machines to ice makers.

EnerLogic™

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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.

More Restaurant Equipment and Tips from ShortOrder

Want to keep up with the latest in the restaurant and restaurant equipment industry? Keep reading What’s Cooking, and follow ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook!

 

How to Keep Your Commercial Restaurant Equipment and Kitchen Safe and Clean

Monday, December 23rd, 2013

Keeping Commercial Restaurant Equipment and Kitchen Safe and CleanA restaurant’s kitchen can be a hazardous place. It’s a fast-paced environment with all manner of dangerous areas and precision commercial restaurant equipment. Unfortunately, the best commercial restaurant equipment is also the equipment that is kept the sharpest or is able to heat the highest, so you and your kitchen staff need to exercise caution day in and day out in the back of house. Here are some guidelines to evaluate the level of safety and cleanliness in your kitchen so you can be productive and cautious at the same time.

Have a Cleaning and Safety Checklist

Sanitation and safety should the top priorities in the kitchen. Preventing food-borne illnesses and problems that stem from food allergies are major concerns for restaurants, and nipping those problems in the bud with a strict cleanliness policy is a must. Likewise, it is critical that you ensure that the kitchen is a safe environment. Creating a checklist for the end of the day can encourage good habits. A proper safety and cleaning checklist should include items like …

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Undercounter Glass Washers: The Busy Kitchen’s Secret Weapon

Friday, October 11th, 2013

This week at ShortOrder, we’d like to spotlight undercounter glass washers in keeping with the “undercounter” theme (see last week’s undercounter ice machine post), Although undercounter glass washers may be rather under-celebrated in the world of commercial restaurant equipment, the fact is that they’re an extremely useful asset in a kitchen or behind a bar. Read on for ShortOrder’s glass washer exposé.
Did you know that in order for dishes to be truly sanitized, the water they’re washed in needs to reach at least 140° F? Unfortunately, this scalding temperature can be hard to reach when washing glasses by hand. Additionally, washing glasses one at a time is slow work, which in turn slows down operations in the kitchen and behind the bar, two areas that require a quick and steady pace throughout the day. The advantage of undercounter glass washers is that they both save time and fully clean and sanitize your glasses. Glass washers like the Hobart Glass Washer LXEC-3 wash 34 racks per hour, and provide auto chemical priming, detergent, a rinse aid, and sanitizer pumps.

And undercounter glass washers aren’t just efficient; they’re good for your employees, too. Bartenders in particular have to wash a large volume of glasses over the course of a day, and doing so manually can be hard on the hands, thanks to the scalding temperature that true sanitization requires, as well as any harsh chemicals in the cleaner. Automatic glass washers eliminate this problem, as they generate the high temperatures and cleaning agents you need.

On the whole, when it comes to undercounter glass washers, it turns out that less is more. Undercounter glass washers tend to be less expensive than their full-size counterparts, they use less water per cycle, and most are designed to fit underneath a standard bar counter, so you won’t have to sacrifice space at the expense of efficiency.

Do you use undercounter glass washers in your establishment? Look up ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and let us know what you think of your undercounter glass washer.

 

The Care and Keeping of Food Slicers

Monday, September 23rd, 2013

Food slicers are a necessity in many kitchens. Useful for cold cuts, sliced bread, fresh-cut fruits and vegetables, and so much more, every good kitchen should have a food slicer on hand. Using a slicer is faster and more uniform than slicing large amounts of food by hand, so you end up saving both time and capital. This week in What’s Cooking, we bring you some quick tips so you can get the most out of your slicers and keep your kitchen running efficiently.

Care and Maintenance

Be good to your food slicers! Just as with any other piece of commercial restaurant equipment, food slicers can last a long time with the right maintenance and treatment. Keep these tips in mind as you operate your food slicers.

• Make sure that the blade diameter you choose is approximately equal to the diameter of the product being sliced.
• Lubricate your food slicer’s blade with mineral oil rather than cooking oil, since the latter can eventually jam up the machinery.
• Keep your food slicer’s blade sharpened.
• Lock your slicer’s blade when not in use.
• Return your food slicer’s blade to its original setting if you adjust it to cut thinner or thicker slices.

Slicing Meats

• Never slice frozen meat—it will damage the slicer.
• If your meat is of an uneven texture, it will slice much more easily if partially-frozen.
• Never use your hands to move meats toward the blade; instead, use the food pusher to steadily apply pressure and move the meat.
• Make sure the meat is completely boneless before you slice it.
• Choose light or standard duty slicers for slicing deli meats.

Slicing Cheeses

• Lightly wetting the slicer’s blade will produce a finer cut when slicing cheese.
• Cold cheese is easier to slice, especially if dealing with a soft cheese.
• Medium or heavy duty slicers are best for cheeses.

Slicing Produce and Breads

• De-seed fruits and vegetables before slicing.
• Produce is easiest to slice when cold.
• Always slice bread at room temperature.

Connect with ShortOrder

What do you use your slicers for? What kind of slicer do you prefer in your kitchen? Let ShortOrder know by finding us on Twitter and Facebook and let us know!

Into the Fryers: The Designer Doughnut Trend

Friday, September 13th, 2013

It all started with the Cronut.

Well, perhaps not, but it certainly exploded after the Cronut. Pastry-hawkers the world over have been heating up their fryers to participate in a deep-fried, sugar-glazed fad: the designer doughnut trend.

The Cronut is a cross between a croissant and a doughnut, and it is just as delicious as it sounds. Dominique Ansel Bakery in New York launched the Cronut on May 10, 2013, and it has since exploded into viral fame and become a much-imitated favorite. However, the Cronut was not the first to use fryers to put a high-end spin on America’s favorite deep-fried breakfast food. Places like Voodoo Doughnut in Portland, Oregon have been making unusual doughnuts since the early 2000s, and Psycho Donuts in Campbell, California has been in operation since 2009. Today, doughnut purveyors of all kinds are producing gourmet glazed goodness from their fryers. Designer doughnuts are showing up in all segments of the restaurant industry, from fine dining to fast food. In fact, according to Datassential’s MenusTrends data, doughnuts are now on 4% of all restaurant menus, a 27% increase since 2008.

Dunkin’ Donuts is just one of the many establishments capitalizating on the designer doughnut fad. Dunkin’, which seasonally offers pumpkin-flavored doughnuts, is adding a new one to its fryers this fall: a pumpkin pie doughnut filled with buttercream, topped with white icing and graham cracker topping. Likewise, Gourdough’s, a food truck in Austin, Texas that opened in late 2009 that serves up artisan dessert doughnuts from its fryers, expanded its options earlier this year by opening a brick-and-mortar restaurant with a menu full of savory doughnut dishes like chicken and doughnut hole dumplings, donut burgers, and salads that come served with a “piping hot garlic doughnut”.  And Earth + Ocean Food and Drink in Mt. Prospect, Illinois, which opened in February of this year, features Portuguese doughnuts (“malsadas”).

What do you think of the designer doughnut trend? Have you used your restaurant’s fryers or commercial restaurant equipment to create artisan spins on old fast food favorites? Connect with ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and tell us! You can also follow us to keep with more restaurant industry trends and tips.

Fast Casual Pizza: What’s Next for Commercial Restaurant Equipment

Friday, August 30th, 2013

The fast casual restaurant is on the rise, cooking up a frenzied variety of foods on eateries’ commercial restaurant equipment to great financial success. According to the NPD Group, the number of fast casual chain restaurant units increased by 7% from last year’s spring census, and visits to those units increased by 9% during the same time frame, even as traffic in the rest of the restaurant industry was flat.

“Fast casual” is defined as somewhere between a fast food restaurant and casual dining restaurant. The idea is that fast casual restaurants offer higher-quality food than a fast food establishment, without the full table service that comes with a casual dining restaurant. Included in the fast casual category are restaurants like Chipotle Mexican Grill, Panera Bread, Noodles & Co., Smashburger, and Fazoli’s.

Fast casual has been around for decades, but there is a newer trend that has been surfing the fast casual wave that has consumers excited. The “fast casual pizza” trend is one that has been growing for some time now, but seems to have spiked in the last year or so. The concept of fast casual pizza has been referred to as “the Chipotle Mexican Grill of pizza,” meaning that customers proceed through an assembly line of ingredients to build their own single-serve pie. The kind of commercial restaurant equipment and ovens used to craft these personal pizzas vary from conveyor ovens to deck ovens. Consumers appreciate the fast casual pizza concept thanks to its ability to create an American favorite in a healthier, more personalized way, while still serving it quickly using powerful commercial restaurant equipment. Current contenders in the world of fast casual pizza eateries include Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza, The Pizza Studio, PizzaRev, MOD Pizza and Pie Five Pizza, but there are also places in the market like Zpizza, a fast casual pizza chain that has been baking made-to-order pies for 27 years.

Commercial Restaurant Equipment and News from ShortOrder

What’s your opinion of the fast casual pizza trend? What commercial restaurant equipment have you used in your fast casual restaurant? Look up ShortOrder on Twitter and Facebook and let us know!

 

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.

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