Waste not, want not
An increasing number of restaurant operators nowadays are looking to cut back on their food waste, whether for the health of the bottom line, the good of the planet, or both. But some operators are taking the trend to new levels. Take Copenhagen chef Matt Orlando of the restaurant Amass, which has adopted a zero-waste policy. According to Skift Table, Amass incorporates food from the restaurant’s organic garden, uses only a limited amount of refrigerator space, and keeps stems, skins, seeds and other often-discarded items to use as seasonings, misos and crisps. The restaurant uses dehydrators to ensure food byproducts are dried and incorporated into recipes instead of taking up space. While the restaurant offers many high-end items on its 10-course, $163-per-person prix-fixe menu, it spends only 18 percent of its budget on food by finding uses for everything. One case in point: The restaurant has a nightly bonfire where guests eat s’mores browned with recycled coffee vinegar. At the end of the evening, the bonfire ash is used to make lye that is then used to soak vegetables for extra texture. At Washington, D.C.’s Kyirisan, chef Tim Ma looks at food waste as a challenge to his creativity, in addition to a means of saving money. NPR reports that at the restaurant, carrot tops are blended into a creamy pesto and carrot peels are fried and used as a crunchy garnish. Sea bass bones are used to make stock and their heads could be deep-fried and served as an off-menu item. Ma told NPR, “At the end of the day, it's a business decision. You do this as a function of saving every penny that you can, because the restaurant margins are so slim right now."
Blockchain fact and fiction
The market for blockchain is expected to grow exponentially in the next few years, according to Statista, and a number of companies in the food industry, from Tyson to Starbucks, are launching pilot programs to explore the technology further. That said, it’s important for restaurant operators to appreciate what blockchain is and is not before they entrust it to solve the next contamination crisis. Food Safety Tech shared some tips to help separate blockchain fact from fiction. First, blockchain has the potential to do for the supply chain what email has done for communication, but it may take a while – perhaps 10 years – for the technology to become ubiquitous enough to be that powerful. Second, you need much more than blockchain software to create a traceability program. Blockchain is about speeding up the existing traceability processes in place, expediting the flow of data between partners in the supply chain. The foundation needs to be strong in order for the overlying technology to deliver. Third, blockchain does have the power to reduce the time needed to issue food recalls from weeks down to minutes, but that’s only true when there is a food traceability program already in place. A traceability program that protects food safety is achievable without blockchain; the technology merely accelerates the communication between partners in an already-established system. The potential for blockchain is enormous and, when developed further, should give restaurant operators significant predictive powers when making decisions about everything from inventory to energy costs. In the meantime, shore up the foundation supporting you and your partners in the supply chain.
Be a treat for tourists
Summer holidays are on the horizon. Is your restaurant a destination for tourists – or would you like it to be? For many people, eating meals at restaurants is a big part of the appeal of travel: the U.S. Travel Association reports that tourists spend $209 billion on eating out each year. To claim your piece of that pie, Ctuit suggests you form partnerships with your local travel bureau and nearby hotels and inns, offering discounts (to both the concierge who tries your restaurant, as well as their future guests) so you’re front-of-mind when tourists ask for suggestions. Play up your local appeal by using and promoting regional products on your menu – and give visitors an authentic feel for the region where you’re located. Finally, make sure you have a presence on travel sites like TripAdvisor and Yelp, then commit to tracking and responding to comments so you can build up the ratings that will bring travelers through the door.
Wash twice to prevent contamination
Do you enforce double hand washing at your restaurant? Ensuring your employees understand the need to wash hands in the restroom and once again before resuming work can help to not only reduce the risk of contamination but also send the message to your guests that you prioritize food safety. StateFoodSafety.com advises you not only enforce this practice but ensure your team appreciates the reasons behind it. Since it’s likely that not everyone using your restroom follows proper hygiene, one person who doesn’t wash hands in the restroom can spread pathogens to restroom door handles and other areas. When food handlers on your team wash their hands in the restroom and then wash once again in your handwashing sink prior to returning to work, they (and your guests) get extra assurance that they won’t be spreading germs inadvertently.
Dubai’s model of food delivery regulation
In the race to provide delivery to hungry consumers, the growth of food delivery companies has happened faster than the development of guidelines to ensure their safety. According to McKinsey & Company, the home food delivery market comprises about 1 percent of global food business and the number of food deliveries by UberEats, the leader in food delivery, grew 24 times in one year. Global Food Safety Resource says that in most countries seeing a boom in food delivery, to include the U.S., there are no regulations in place to ensure food stays out of the temperature “danger zone,” that the driver does not contaminate the food and that the food doesn’t come into contact with areas of the delivery vehicle that could pose a safety threat, for example. Dubai, on the other hand, is an example of a country with a regulated food delivery industry. Global Food Safety Resource says food delivery drivers there must be registered, operators must follow strict guidelines pertaining to food temperature, delivery drivers cannot deliver food using general-purpose vehicles, and food can be traced door to door. As food delivery comprises a growing part of many restaurant businesses, Dubai’s example is worth considering.
Automation changes restaurants and retail
Costco is considered the fourteenth largest pizza chain in the U.S. due to the retailer’s store count – and automation is allowing the company to leverage that scale to make sure it churns out consistent pizzas quickly. Business Insider reports that Costco’s special mechanical saucing process ensures tomato sauce is spread on each pizza evenly and to the edge of the crust. As this kind of automation continues in restaurants as well as in retail establishments that sell food, expect significant changes to the labor force. A 2017 report from the investment advisory firm Cornerstone Capital Group said between 6 million and 7.5 million retail jobs could become automated in the years ahead – currently 16 million people are employed in the retail industry, compared to nearly 15 million in the restaurant industry. How do you see your kitchen and your team adjusting?
More restaurants see efficiencies in going cash-free
The march toward cash-free restaurants continues to build momentum. According to a Federal Reserve study in 2016, non-cash payments, including payments made with credit and debit cards, grew more than 5 percent annually between 2012 and 2015. Those figures are likely to continue to rise as more merchants accept Apple Pay and other contactless payment systems – and as more consumers start to trust those payment systems more readily. USA Today reports that despite millennials’ preference for paying in cash, restaurant operators are likely to see greater benefits in going cashless, from cutting seconds off of each transaction to seeing greater tips for staff.
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