Monday, November 3, 2014

8 Tips for Safe Food Storage in Your Restaurant

Author: Jason Rahm
Food safety is a primary concern for every area of the commercial kitchen, including in the storage area. Here are eight ways food service operators can assure that food is stored safely:
  1. Follow the First In, First Out (FIFO) rule. The FIFO rule protects both food safety and food quality. Whenever new shipments of food arrive, the newer food is placed behind the older food so the older food is used first; this applies for both cold and dry storage. It also helps to label all food with the date it was received and a "use by" date to assure proper food safety and freshness.
  2. Place meat as low as possible. Even if it is in a sealed container, meat or meat dishes should be stored below other items so meat juices cannot drip down and contaminate those food items. 
  3. Store food in air-tight containers. Once air contacts food, the food starts to spoil. In order to increase shelf life and maintain food safety and quality, food should be stored in air-tight containers. Use food pans (with lids), ingredient bins and food storage boxes to keep your kitchen organized and safe from infestations and bacteria.
  4. Store all food off the floor. The 2009 FDA Food Code states that all food must be stored at least six inches above the floor.1 This is to prevent water, dust or other contaminants from soaking through bags or otherwise contaminating the food. A lot of local health codes go a step further and make the minimum height 12 inches.  
  5. Temperature control still applies. Refrigerators are essential to food safety, but only when they are at the right temperature. Every refrigeration unit should have a refrigerator thermometer so staff can check and make sure food is below the temperature danger zone.
  6. Do not overload refrigeration units. If there are too many items stacked in a refrigerator, the unit will have to work too hard to maintain the proper temperature. This could create hot spots in which certain areas of the cabinet are not cold enough. The refrigeration unit may even stop working altogether. Blocking the internal and external air vents will also cause the refrigerator to bog down and can result in unsafe storage conditions.
  7. Keep shelves and floors clean and organized. Use wall shelving and shelving units to keep  your kitchen organized. Anywhere there is dirt or food spills, bacteria can grow, so keeping floors and shelves clean are a must for maintaining proper food safety in the kitchen. Organized shelves with the items clearly labeled also decreases the amount of time employees have to hold the door open and locate items.
  8. When in doubt, throw it out. The bottom line for all safe food handling and storage practices is that when product safety is in doubt, err on the side of caution and throw the food away. Saying, "It should be fine" usually leads to a case of food poisoning.
Taken from:

Digital wallets: The new ‘interface’ of mobile payments

October 8, 2014
Seth Priebatch, founder, CEO and “chief ninja” at mobile pay company LevelUp, discusses technological advancements that could change how restaurants and other retail establishments do business. Priebatch, a speaker at the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Innovation Summit, Oct. 28 and 29 in Atlanta, shares his projections below on how mobile payment could affect your business.
Get ready for a shift in mobile payments that will rival the cash-to-card shift already in place. While doing nothing in the short term won’t hurt your operation, indifference over the long haul could carry some hazards, given the latest advances that are sure to change the technological landscape. Those changes include Apple Pay, Apple’s new digital wallet, which launched with the new iPhone 6.
Why should operators embrace new mobile payment options? One reason is to stay current and keep younger, millennial customers satisfied. Here are more reasons you should care:
The shift to mobile payment might not happen overnight, but it may seem like it. Look at smart phone adoption over the past five years. Today, 90 percent of customers carry them. Unlike the credit-card shift, which took more than 15 years, the mobile payment transition could take as few as three years.
Apple Pay probably will be a game changer for every business that takes credit cards. The safe bet is to assume that Apple's move will ignite the mobile payments space, just as they've ignited so many others. Fifteen years ago, 90 percent of restaurant transactions were in cash; more than 80 percent at full-service restaurants today are with plastic. The same could happen for mobile payments.
Payment processing rates will go up. Apple Pay, like many other digital wallets, will be tied to credit cards and their omnipresent and costly exchange fees. Apple plans to add to processing rates by tacking on a 0.25 percent fee. Issuing banks are paying that fee for now, but eventually they’ll pass that on to merchants.
If you don’t do anything, your business will be forced to pay that nominal increase. But if you shift to mobile payments, you will have an opportunity to compete with the big credit card companies for customer mindshare. The payment is the focal point of customer interaction, and whoever controls that interaction attracts the customer.
Forward-looking restaurant brands will leap at the chance to own customers’ payment. They’ll be able to gather analytics and data about customers’ transactional behavior. They could save on processing costs; entice consumers with special offers and loyalty campaigns; and control the receipts that show up. And they can use that data to engage guests through customized advertising. American Express, MasterCard and Visa are on to that, which is why they’re keen on mobile wallets.
The bottom line: Act now to open an ever-evolving world of next-generation payment opportunities. Now is the time to devise strategies to embrace the shift to mobile. It’s coming, and sooner than you think.

(Taken from and research )

Customers service is still key for new restaurant owners

By Virginia Bridges
vbridges@newsobserver.comOctober 20, 2014 
By Virginia Bridges The_News_and_Observer

Recently, some friends and I decided to check out a new restaurant near our Durham neighborhood. I was a little worried that we wouldn’t be able to get in on a Saturday night. That worry turned to concern when we arrived, and the place was almost empty.

While the evening started out with a friendly bartender introducing us to new beers and a sparkling cider, the service and general experience declined after we moved to a table, had a closer look at the menu and related portions, and waited for what felt like hours to get more drinks and our check.

The night got me thinking about best practices new restaurateurs should use to build a customer base in the competitive Triangle restaurant market, before those start-up struggles spiral out of control.
Scott Howell owns Nana’s and Nanotaco in Durham, has two new concepts in the works and has been involved in about six other eateries. He said that some of these younger, “hipper” restaurateurs don’t focus on basics, such as customer service.

“They are arrogant in opening a restaurant, thinking it is a privilege (for customer to be able to eat and get a drink there), but they are lacking in attentive, nice congenial service,” Howell said. “If you don’t have that, you might as well not open a restaurant.”

Howard Cannon, founder of Birmingham, Ala.-based Restaurant Consultants of America, said the complacency of the owners is often the source in failing to give customers what they have wanted for years: hospitality, quality, service, cleanliness and accuracy.

“If you look at restaurants that fail, usually what they are missing is the intensity by the person who’s in charge to drive speed of services, to drive product quality higher, to drive customer and employee satisfaction higher,” Cannon said.

To start, Howell said, in foodie markets such as Durham, good food has to be given, but it also needs to be priced right. With all the options in Durham, making entrees a couple of dollars more than they should be raises the expectations of diners and pits those newer spaces against chefs and owners with established reputations.

He’s right. After we paid for dinner and drinks, our thinking was that we could have eaten at a number of better, more established places for that same price.
Jason Smith, owner of three Raleigh eateries including 18 Seaboard, Cantina 18 and Harvest 18, said owners should seek out customers who are coming back again and again, and ask why and what they are enjoying.

Smith also said owners should avoid making significant knee-jerk changes, but should apply a “constant, gentle pressure” to build and improve the business subtly.

Wendy Dimitri, owner of the Charlotte-based restaurant consultancy The CRB Group and executive director for the American Culinary Federation North Carolina Chapter, said one way to build trust is by going table to table and asking for sincere feedback.

By seeking feedback, owners can make guests feel a part of a space’s success, she said

Read more here:

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Managing Your Liquor Liability Exposures

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2012, over 10,000 vehicle-related fatalities involved a drunk driver. Not only were these people liable for their actions, the establishments where they were drinking are also susceptible to punishment for over-serving clientele who then injure a third party.

These types of lawsuits are not cheap, either. Well-known liquor liability cases include the Outback Steakhouse, which was ordered to pay $39 million by an Indiana jury after a patron of the restaurant chain struck the plaintiff with his car, and T.G.I. Friday’s, which was ordered to pay $1 million to the parents of two 16-year-old teenagers who were killed after being involved in an accident with a drunk driver. Witnesses in the case claimed that the patron at T.G.I. Friday’s was drinking for eight hours at the establishment before the accident occurred.

These cases are not isolated incidents—victims and their families file suits against restaurants or bars every day for their role in serving a customer who is then involved in an alcohol-related accident. To help protect your establishment, employees and patrons, establishing a liquor liability prevention policy, training workers and transferring risk are critical to minimizing your liquor liability.

Prevention through Education

The most important defense against being liable for drunken driving accidents is prevention through education. It is imperative that you design a liquor liability training program for staff members who will serve alcoholic beverages to customers. In these training sessions, employees will learn important information such as how to determine if someone has had too much to drink, how to deny a patron service and how to identify valid forms of identification to prevent serving alcohol to minors. Once an employee has completed the training, he or she should sign an agreement form outlining that they comply with and understand the policies set forth by the establishment.

Specifically, training should include the following:
  • Signs of Intoxication
  • Monitoring Consumption
  • Offering Continued Service
  • Denying Service
  •  Reporting Incidents
  • Employee Legal Consequences
As part of your initiative to lessen risks, educate employees on how drunken patrons may affect their lives. Employees must understand how serving to minors who use fake IDs will result in large fines or how dram shop laws are stricter than ever and breaking them may pose serious consequences. Remind employees that they are liable and could a face a number of consequences for not cutting off patrons before they’ve had too much to drink. Types of employee liability include:

  • Criminal Liability: Employees can be found criminally liable for serving to minors with a fake ID or serving to a patron who appears intoxicated. The employee can face monetary fines, probation or jail time depending on state laws. In addition, your establishment can lose its liquor license and is susceptible to fines as well as higher insurance premiums.

  • Civil Liability: If employees are found guilty of civil liability for a patron’s injury, that employee, the owner and the establishment face large monetary fines. At times, these fines are so large that they cause bankruptcy.

  • Dram Shop Laws: These laws allow establishments, owners and employees to be sued by an individual after they’ve been injured by a patron served at the establishment.

Transferring Your Risks

To protect your business, it is wise to obtain a liquor liability policy either as standalone coverage or as part of a restaurant and bar package policy. Contact Naught-Naught Agency at 573-634-2727 for more information about these effective coverage options. We understand carrier requirements and the state’s dram laws to design a policy that suits you best.


These were the most frequently cited OSHA standards for the food services and drinking places industry last year:

  1. Hazard communication – Properly transmitting information on chemical hazards through a comprehensive program, container labeling, SDS and training.
  1. General Personal Protective Equipment Requirements – Selecting the correct PPE, providing instruction, monitoring its use and maintaining the PPE to standards.
  1. Wiring Methods, Components and Equipment for General Use – Using proper wiring techniques and equipment to ensure safe electrical continuity.
  1. General Electrical Requirements – Ensuring electric equipment is free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serous physical harm to employees.
  1. General Requirements for Walking/Working Surfaces – Housekeeping guidelines.
  1. Maintenance, Safeguards and Operational Features for Exit Routes - Exit routes must be kept free of explosive or highly flammable furnishings or other decorations.
  1. Portable Fire Extinguishers - Placement, use, maintenance and testing of portable fire extinguishers provided for the use of employees.
  1. Medical Services and First Aid - Ensuring the ready availability of medical personnel and first aid supplies on-site.
  1. Guarding Floor and Wall Openings and Holes - Ensuring every stairway floor opening has proper railings and other protection.
  1. General Requirements for All Machines - Providing proper machine guarding to protect the operator and other employees from hazards.

Security Protects Against Business Interruption

Restaurants can be easy targets for thieves. Dim lighting, high traffic and a fast-paced environment mean restaurant workers have trouble detecting and preventing theft. Fortunately, there are ways to improve security at your restaurant and avoid potential business interruptions.

Building Exterior Security

Keeping your restaurant safe begins on the outside. Consider the following measures to keep your building secure.
  • Lighting – It may seem simple, but lighting can have a big effect on building security, as criminals prefer to target places where their actions can easily be concealed by darkness. Make sure entrance ways, walking paths and parking lots are adequately lit. Motion-detecting lights are also helpful by doors that are not often used.
  • Locks – Again, a simple security measure that is also essential. Front doors should always be locked during non-business hours. Any back doors that are used for emptying garbage or employee breaks should remain locked at all times. If a back door is used frequently, install a key card entry system on the door. With this method, lock the door and turn the system off after business hours to further increase security.After locks are installed, they must be checked regularly to ensure they stay in working order. Also, keep an eye on the condition of doors. If they fall into disrepair, their effectiveness as a method of protection will be weakened.
  • Landscaping – A well-landscaped property can improve security at your restaurant in several ways. First, a well-maintained property gives the impression that the premise is under the supervision of attentive management, so show your presence by keeping the grounds well groomed. Second, just like poor lighting, an overgrowth of bushes and trees may create blind spots that can be used to conceal criminal activity. When choosing plants to be placed around windows and doors, pick ones that will remain relatively short, and trim them regularly.
  • Security cameras or on-site security personnel – Deciding to employ security guards or install security cameras depends on the individual situation. Often,, such measures are not needed on the building’s exterior to provide the reasonable amount of security required of restaurant owners, but they can be beneficial in situations where a specific security concern may need extra attention. If the property is located in a high-crime area, security cameras or on-site personnel may be necessary.
  • Steel bars/bulletproof glass – Steel bars and bulletproof glass can be important security additions to your restaurant’s windows, and are helpful if your restaurant has a drive-thru.

Building Interior Security

If a thief gains entry to the restaurant despite the exterior security measures, there are ways to deter the person once he or she is inside.
  • Alarm system – Install an alarm system that is monitored by a licensed security company. If there is a break-in, they will be notified and can dispatch the police to the restaurant to investigate. Make sure it is loud when triggered and is located where a thief can easily spot it.
  • Safes – Frequently deposit cash into a damage-resistant safe during hours of operation. Keep the safe out of sight and ensure only high-level employees know its location. Never leave the keys or code for the safe lying around. Safes that can only be opened at certain times add extra security.
  • Varying banking procedures – Thieves pay close attention to the routines of workers, so it’s important to change up how the restaurant does sensitive tasks such as banking and other cash handling activities. In this case, not having a routine is a positive thing.
  • Physical inventories – Either hire an outside company to perform physical inventories regularly or perform them in-house. If thieves see you physically counting merchandise, they are less likely to steal it.
  • Data security – Identity theft is a growing trend in restaurants. Thieves can place credit card skimming devices on point-of-sale (POS) terminals and collect a customer’s credit card information when the card is swiped by an employee. Employees that handle customer credit cards should be trained to detect any abnormal devices in and around POS terminals.
  • Never opening or closing alone – Make sure there is always more than one person opening or closing the restaurant. Before closing, check bathrooms and other areas where a person could hide to ensure thieves aren’t staying behind after hours.
  • CCTV – Install a closed circuit television (CCTV) system that is easily visible for both employees and customers. If thieves know they’re being watched, they are unlikely to steal from the restaurant. Make sure the video equipment is locked safely in a room at all times.

Don’t Take Anything for Granted

It doesn’t matter if your restaurant is big or small—thieves will take advantage if you have lax security measures. In addition to these various security measures, training employees on how to spot potential thieves will go a long way to maintaining a successful restaurant.