Combine forces with your tech
As restaurant technology helps manage a range of food safety concerns in foodservice businesses, complementary technologies can meet a broader assortment of needs than many operators realize. That’s according to a report in Food Safety Tech, which found that even tech-savvy operators weren’t using technology to their fullest advantage. For example, many operators have automated the HACCP food safety reporting process or are considering it. They are starting to replace time-consuming, error-prone manual data collection with mobile apps that digitize those tasks and make data easy to find when needed during review by management or inspectors. Fixed temperature sensors, wireless or wired, are also catching on as a means to accurately monitor refrigerators and food-warming appliances. The frequent monitoring that these sensors offer, along with alerts when a temperature slips beyond a prescribed range, can help operators minimize the time required for HACCP monitoring. Yet according to the Food Safety Tech report, the vast majority of restaurant brands they surveyed that have automated food safety reporting or are looking to do so have implemented one or the other but not both of these approaches. Taken individually, automated temperature monitoring systems don’t address all aspects of the food safety process and mobile technology can’t provide real-time alerts about food safety problems — and they require staff time. Try testing out both on a trial basis. One restaurant operation studied in the report used fixed temperature sensors in refrigeration and other equipment, but still collected data manually. After testing a mobile digital task list app in a group of its restaurants it winnowed its HACCP data collection process from 17 minutes to two minutes and saved a significant amount of time for staff.
Can a consultant help?
According to research about the reasons for restaurant failure by Professor Dr. HG Parsa of the University of Denver’s college of business, 59 percent of hospitality facilities fail in the first three years. During that period, the first year is the most critical, with 26 percent of businesses failing. Do you know when to ask for outside help and prevent a closure? Perhaps it makes the most sense before the business opens, or when sales decline, or after the buzz begins to wear off after a strong launch. Even when you have positive reviews, steady traffic and a strong professional background, something about your restaurant can still feel not quite right. That’s what happened for chef Ari Kolender and his Los Angeles restaurant, Hayden. Skift Table reports that though the restaurant had a positive debut in July 2017 and Kolender had a devoted following (he had previously worked at respected Los Angeles restaurants like Red Medicine and Providence, and was pegged for a James Beard Rising Star Award while at Leon’s Fine Poultry & Oyster Shop in Charleston, S.C.), the restaurant wasn’t performing as well as could be expected. Instead of experimenting or letting the challenges run their course, Kolender and his partners called in a consultant right away. They hoped that conducting a forensic analysis of a restaurant —from financials to menu to décor, and with help from someone who could bring objectivity to the assessment — would help the restaurant meet its potential. Holly Fox, whose firm Last Word Hospitality advised Kolender and his partners, said the restaurant had all the right pieces but not in the right order. In the end, they changed from a counter-service model to a full-service model (without adding staff) to help justify larger ticket prices, added a host stand to direct traffic in the restaurant’s large space, changed the lighting, added artwork, high-top tables and counter seating, and installed a new wall that accommodates a new banquette. They also now serve one menu throughout the day instead of two — and feel like business is back on track.
Keep large batches of food out of danger zone
Bacteria grow especially well in the temperature range between 135˚F and 41˚F. It’s important for the food you cool to pass through this zone quickly to prevent safety hazards. Large batches of food, in which the cooling temperature is inconsistent throughout, require special attention. In addition to stirring these foods to even out the internal temperature, consider separating it into smaller containers. StateFoodSafety.com says it’s especially important to cool rice in this way, as its ability to retain heat well makes it pose more of a risk.
Global innovation without the commitment
Want to add more global flavor to your menu, or test out emerging trends — all while using ingredients you already have in the pantry? Try infusing your condiments with international flavor. As Flavor & the Menu reports, condiments explain why concepts like burgers and tacos are such ideal platforms for innovation: “Their formats are safety nets, ready to support all sorts of daring menu moves.” Consider the gochujang-spiked mayonnaise-dijon mixture on Ando’s pork and pickle sandwich, or the five-spice mayo in the fried-chicken banh mi at Starbird Chicken. Rob Corliss of All Things Epicurean suggests ketchup as a good foundation for heat in a dish. He created a ketchup with togarashi and fresh lime that he adds to Korean cole slaw on a hot dog, along with caramelized kimchi and nori.
Unimpressive web traffic? Check your speed.
Your website has key information about your restaurant, along with professional photos and an updated menu. So why is your SEO not where it should be? Check your page load time. Surveys by Akamai and Gomez.com found that nearly half of web users expect a site to load in two seconds or less —and are likely to abandon a page that does not load within three seconds. A report in Social Media Week suggests several areas that might impact your website load time: lack of browser cache and Gzip compression, slow hosting, the use of many fonts and scripts, and images that haven’t been optimized for your site.
Accounting for delivery
As operators consider how to accommodate food delivery via third parties and whether it makes financial sense, they also need to consider the accounting behind the contract — it may not be as straightforward as it seems, according to the accounting and business advisory firm BDO. Operators need to clarify who is responsible for food and pricing, and who is the real consumer of the delivery so they can present their revenue at gross or net under the FASB’s accounting rule Revenue from Contracts with Customers (Topic 606). In other words, if the food arrives and isn’t the proper temperature or the pizza was delivered vertically instead of horizontally, whose responsibility is it? If you control the food prior to it being received by the customer, you are deemed the principal in the arrangement and record revenue at a gross amount. If not, the delivery entity is deemed the principal, and you record revenue net of the delivery costs. Ensure you read and analyze contracts with third-party delivery services so you’re clear about where your control ends and theirs begins in the arrangement.
Ready for takeout
Nearly one-quarter of consumers in Gen Z order food for takeout three of four times each week — more than any other generation. That’s according to a study by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association and the Center for Generational Kinetics. In the study, millennials followed suit (21 percent) followed by Gen Xers (17 percent) and Baby Boomers (6 percent) in their rate of ordering takeout. Be prepared to wow those consumers online. Recent data from the National Restaurant Association found that 74 percent of millennials in the U.S. report that being able to view a restaurant menu online makes them more likely to choose one website over another.
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