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

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