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!   

 

This Valentine’s Day, Romance Them with Non-Alcoholic Drinks

Tuesday, February 9th, 2016

fancy teaA simple, and often overlooked, way to increase per-table sales is non-alcoholic beverages. They can quickly add up, leading to a higher check total, which is good for the server and the restaurant! Valentine’s Day is coming up, one of the busiest days of the year for any restaurant. Try these tips to help boost your sales:

Start with the menu. Be sure to give the non-alcoholic drinks their own section on the menu. As a recently pregnant diner, I was frequently frustrated by many restaurants lack of a beverage menu. Many restaurants will opt to exclude them, but it’s important to increase sales.

Offer limited-time-only beverages. Nothing generates interest like knowing something is only available for a limited time! Rotating seasonal beverages can help you test new flavors and if something really takes off, you can add it to the menu full time.

Education is key. Educate your serving staff to sell non-alcoholic beverages. They know to offer a glass of wine or beer, but teach them to suggest a few non-alcoholic options as well. A cool glass of tea on a hot day or a warm cup of coffee at brunch might strike a perfect balance with that mimosa!

Pair them with a meal. When your table full of “I’ll have water” customers orders, suggest a non-alcoholic beverage that goes great with that dish. Flavored teas are perfect for this, when you consider their herbal qualities and subtle flavors.

Develop a “signature drink.” Create a taste that is worth coming back for. Flavored teas and lemonades are HOT right now, and might make the difference between you and the restaurant across the street.

Put them on display. Frozen drink dispensers rotating in the background, bubbling lemonade in the mixer and even bottled beverages in display refrigerators all help keep the beverages on display and in the customer’s minds. Increase sales by keeping both alcoholic AND non-alcoholic options visible to your customers.

One of the greatest margins in any restaurant is the beverage service. Don’t miss this opportunity to boost sales and revenue with a few simple steps this Valentine’s Day.

 

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.

Tips to Help Your Food Truck Survive Winter

Wednesday, December 16th, 2015

According to industry experts, food truck operators can expect revenues to drop off by nearly 50% in winter. That’s a huge decline, especially if the truck is your sole source of income.

Does this mean you should put your vehicle into long-term storage and get a different job until warmer weather returns? Maybe not. Try these tips to help your food truck survive the winter slump:

  • Change your menu to suit the season: Cold weather calls for warmer and heartier fare such as soups and stews, as well as hot drinks like espresso, tea, and cocoa. These items can easily be prepared and kept warm with the help of one of the multi-quart table top kettles we have at ShortOrder.com, and will attract customers who otherwise might not be willing to brave the elements.
  • Team up with another business: Is there a bar or winery in your area that doesn’t serve food? If you specialize in desserts, is there a coffee shop that doesn’t offer sweets? Contact those business owners ASAP and try to work out an arrangement in which both parties can benefit.
  • Consider catering: Catering is another popular winter option for food truck operators. Though these jobs might be on a larger scale than you’re used to dealing with, if you’ve got the time, equipment, and personnel, it could be worth your while to check into catering holiday parties, business events, school functions, and social occasions.
  • Try direct delivery: You know those office complexes and buildings you regularly service during the warmer months? That’s an established base for your business and shouldn’t be given up just because the customers don’t want to wait around in freezing temperatures for their food. Talk to the office manager and see if you can arrange a direct delivery service for orders placed before a certain time each day.
  • Be on the lookout for special events: Many cities and towns have winter festivals or other special outdoor events that can provide you with extra income opportunities. Check out your city’s events calendar (and those of neighboring towns and suburbs) and hit as many as you can.

Surviving the winter decline is a challenge familiar to every food truck owner and operator, but viable solutions do exist. If you haven’t done so before, try one or more of the revenue-generating ideas listed here so you can keep your business up and running all year round.

Ketchup, it’s Not the #1 Condiment Anymore

Tuesday, May 26th, 2015

KetchupNo, I’m not kidding. Salsa is now the most popular condiment in the United States, surpassing even ketchup! Is this just an interesting fact or maybe an opportunity in disguise? I think it’s the latter.

Let’s face it. Ketchup is just ketchup. That segment of condiment world is owned by two primary brands. You have one, or the other, or you are cheap. Customer’s expect ultimately one brand over the other, but both are acceptable. Ketchup is interesting as it isn’t something that most people make in-house and push as a “homemade” item. Homemade ketchup wouldn’t really be a destination or a draw for your business.

No one is having ketchup festivals that I am aware of… but salsa is another story. To this day, chips and salsa are still my favorite pre-meal food. Traditionally, salsa was solely a mexican restaurant staple. No one was serving Pace at good quality mexican food places. More often than not, the salsa was homemade and a thing of personal pride; Grandma’s recipe, shared with the clientele. (more…)

Dude, Chill! How Choose Refrigeration For Your Food

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

Randell Standard Top Sandwich Prep RefrigerationHaving a refrigerator or freezer in your facility might not be enough. Commercial foodservice regulations are so strict that those units must maintain very tight temperature tolerances to safely store food. Food storage temperatures can affect many aspects of the product being stored. Nutrient content, appearance, taste and safety can all be compromised if the product is not stored at the correct temperature.

So what is the right temperature? For refrigerated goods, the holding temperature should be maintained between 35F to 38F. At this temperature, bacterial growth is greatly slowed allowing for prolonged freshness and safety. The lower the temperature, the longer the bacterial growth will be hindered. Since every unit can vary slightly, make sure to know the cold zones in your refrigeration unit to reduce the chance of accidentally freezing products like produce and dairy. (more…)

Brand Spotlight: Vulcan Restaurant Equipment

Tuesday, October 21st, 2014

Vulcan Brand Cheese MelterVulcan restaurant equipment started way back in 1890 with the formation of the Vulcan Gas Heating Company. For nearly 125 years, and through a few incarnations, the name Vulcan has been synonymous with quality heating and cooking equipment. Today a part of the ITW Food Equipment Group, Vulcan continues to expand its product line through an ongoing commitment to research and development.

Vulcan is the single largest manufacturer of commercial cooking equipment, distributing gas- and electric-powered ranges, ovens, and dozens of other cooking devices to commercial businesses from Los Angeles to London and Cordoba to Kyoto.

You can count on Vulcan to already know what food service needs are developing, and be in the process of making new products to address the needs of the ever-changing market. Boasting close affiliations with national organizations like Energy Star®, the National Restaurant Association, the School Nutrition Association, and the Foodservice Consultants Society International, Vulcan is right at the beating heart of food service both culturally and industrially. (more…)

Time to Buy a New Ice Machine? What to Look for

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

Two Different Ice MachinesIce machines are one of the ‘grunts’ of the kitchen, constantly in use and long-suffering. It is easy to just keeping using yours until it breaks down and you have to buy a new one. But how do you deal with the sudden lack of ice? Is there a better way to handle the switch?

Signs You Need a New Ice Machine

Ice machines seem simple enough on the surface – their main function after all is to make ice. But there are a surprising number of factors to consider when deciding whether or not to upgrade:

  • Energy efficiency gets better the newer your machine. In some cases, the cost of upgrading might be made up within a couple of years of energy savings, which makes it nearly a no-brainer.
  • Sheer volume might inspire you to upgrade if your old machine just can’t keep up with your customers’ needs.
  • Cubic footage is always at a premium in a commercial kitchen, and finding out that there’s a machine that makes the same amount of ice in half the space is huge.
  • Types of ice vary a surprising amount, and if you find that a new twist to your menu or prep process means suddenly you need more crushed than cubes or flake than blocks, a new machine can be the only answer.
  • Maintenance schedules are the final and most common reason why an ice machine gets replaced; when you reach a point where predicted maintenance costs outstrip new machine costs, the choice is obvious.

(more…)

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…)

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