If 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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While most restaurants do not require their employees to be certified food allergen experts, the right knowledge and training for your restaurant’s employees can make a crucial difference in reducing your liability. National Food Safety Month may be over, but safe food handling where it concerns food allergies is a year-round must. Ingredients that are commonly seen in almost every restaurant’s menu – milk, fish, wheat, nuts, shellfish, eggs – can have some uncommonly devastating effects on patrons with certain food allergies. It is estimated that over 15 million Americans are allergic to some of the most common kitchen ingredients, which could very well threaten their lives and your business in an emergency situation.
Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to ensuring that your staff is properly trained and educated about food allergies, so your guests can feel safe eating at your restaurant and your staff will feel comfortable knowing how to safely handle restaurant equipment to prepare allergy-sensitive food. The list of food allergy preparedness to-dos include:
Because there is less time between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year, restaurants are coping with a shorter holiday shopping season, and are looking for ways to make up for missed revenue. Fortunately, it looks like it is prime time to take advantage of the gift card. Overall, more than 80% of shoppers plan to buy at least one gift card during the holidays this year, according to the National Retail Federation’s gift-card spending survey. And as the economy improves, shoppers are moving away from retailer gift cards and willing to buy restaurant gift cards. Both full service and fast casual restaurants are faring well with this trend, with everyone from Olive Garden to Starbucks showing up as top contenders in the top 20 of a survey of most-desired gift cards by the Baltimore-based card-exchange company, GiftCardRescue.
So how can your restaurant capitalize on rise of the gift card? Here’s how to boost your restaurant’s gift card sales.
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:
4. Paper products
5. Cleaning supplies
Each order form should have at least 8 categories:
2. Ordering unit
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.)
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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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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