Tips and Advice


22 AUGUST 2019


How to be successful in the competitive restaurant business.

1.   Define the Concept of Your Restaurant Business

Research what works for your restaurant’s location, and develop a strong concept that suits your potential clientele. Choose a theme that will be familiar enough for local patrons but distinguishable from other restaurant businesses in the area. Once you have decided the overall vision of your restaurant business, don’t underestimate the power of a catchy name.

2.   Develop a Budget

Possibly the most important phase of restaurant management is developing a budget and sticking to it. Many experienced restaurateurs say that underestimating start-up costs is one of the most common mistakes of new restaurant business owners. If you’re interested in working with investors, you’ll need to design a business plan that illustrates your restaurant concept and includes risk assessment and plans for return on investments.

3.   Design an Appropriate Restaurant Space

Everything from the lighting to the table settings should be consistent with the general vision of your restaurant business. An effective restaurant design has two main elements: a relaxing ambiance and functionality. A restaurant should feel warm and inviting to customers while being easy to clean and maintain. You’ll need ample storage and kitchen space along with enough room for customers to sit while waiting for a table.

4.   Hire and Retain Quality Employees

The success of any business can often be measured by the happiness of its employees. Give yourself plenty of time to find a great staff. During construction, post a “Now Hiring” sign in the front window and place ads in the newspaper or online. As early as six weeks before opening, start interviewing and developing training schedules for kitchen and wait staff. Once your restaurant business is open, maintain a positive work environment by immediately addressing any issues among employees and establishing incentive programs that encourage teamwork and creativity.

5.   Publicize Your Restaurant

While your restaurant business is still in the construction phase, start your marketing campaign by hanging a banner that reveals the name and the expected time frame for opening. Attract potential customers by sending press releases to local media groups and throwing an opening night party with free samples of the food. Once it’s open, continue to promote your restaurant business by hosting local food events and investigating ways to advertise without spending a lot of money.

Tips and advice


19 AUGUST 2019


Statistics have shown that restaurants, particularly those that open early and close late, are especially vulnerable to robberies…. and the number of incidents continues to rise.

This increased criminal activity is due to many factors applicable to the restaurant industry:

-extended nighttime hours allow more time for robberies to be carried out under the cover of darkness
-large amounts of accumulated cash kept on-site can be alluring
-high rates of employee turnover can mean less extensive background checks
-large staffs can lead to “friends helping friends” take advantage of less secure situations
-set routines, day in and day out, help criminals plan their stealth moves for the least secure times

Are restaurants doing enough to enhance their security plan?

What can you do to increase security? There are several steps you can take to mitigate the possibility of a robbery at your place of business. Remember, a thief wants your money or your property and they want it fast! But they also want to get away with the crime, so whatever you can do to foul their plans will help protect your employees and your business.

Beef up your “late-night and early morning security menus!”

Here are some steps you can take to protect your restaurant from a robbery:

1.   Secure opening and closing times.

Insist on the “buddy system” for opening and closing your restaurant. Law enforcement says this is one of the most important things you can do to curtail robberies at your place of business. There are specific security protocols for how one employee should open, unlock, enter, and check the premises while another employee stands ready to call for help should anything be amiss. Recommendation: Never schedule an employee to be alone in a restaurant at any time.

2.   Follow established protocol for cash handling.

Keep cash on-hand to a minimum; don’t let cash accumulate in the cash drawer. Keep large bills in a time-controlled safe. Studies show that most robbers won’t wait around for twenty-minutes for a safe to unlock itself. This information, as well as your policy not to accept large bills, should be communicated to all employees and to the public. Combinations to safes should be changed regularly and especially when an employee entrusted with the access code is terminated. Don’t schedule bank trips at the same time each day. Your habits may be watched and assessed for a “robbery” opportunity. Recommendation: Change the route that the depositor takes to the bank each day and don’t have him/her carry a “cash bag” – use a container that is less obvious.

3.   Know your employees.

Employee theft is the most frequent criminal activity in a restaurant. Deterring robberies at your restaurant starts during the employment screening process. Require references and then consistently conduct criminal background and reference checks. Restaurant employees are often nomadic and yet they are frequently allowed unlimited access to restaurant resources. This can be an open invitation to steal. Restaurants should have an honesty policy in place stating that any theft of money or resources is unacceptable. All employees should be required to sign the restaurant’s honesty policy, stating that they understand what actions are unacceptable and that they agree to comply with the policy. Recommendation: Assure applicants that lying on an application will not get them the job. When the word gets out about your background check follow-through, applicants with a criminal history of theft won’t bother to apply.

4.   Schedule security training for employees.

Restaurant managers have lots of available resources to address security issues: crime-prevention videos, training session how-to’s, law enforcement presentations, security seminars, handouts, and take-home literature. Employees should be directed to never discuss sales volumes, disclose bank information, reveal alarm or safe codes, or divulge robbery prevention procedures with anyone. Reviews (quarterly, semi-annually, etc.) are vital to all employee continued training programs. Some restaurants report monitoring security issues “several times a day” to assure that security procedures are being followed. These reviews and follow-ups send positive security messages to employees, eliminating potential opportunities for would-be thieves. Recommendation: Regularly provide employee training that addresses the punishment for engaging in criminal activity, as well as the repercussions for “abetting” any criminal activity.

5.   Enhance the security of your employees and your business.

There’s lots of other things you can do to protect both your employees and your premises. Some restaurants have invested in bulletproof drive-through windows, state-of-the-art digital video security cameras, and high-tech safes that can’t be opened by workers or robbers. Some businesses have installed silent alarm systems with activation buttons either located strategically throughout the building or on remote transmitters. Consider strategic video camera surveillance to include placing camera monitors near cash registers, in loading and receiving areas, near trash disposal areas, and beside exterior doors in full sight of customers. Always secure the back door; it should never be propped open. Recommendation: Install a peephole in the back door through which employees can view any and all activity in the rear of the restaurant and to prevent anyone from exiting the door blindly.

6.   Scale up lighting and visibility.

Increase visibility both inside and outside the restaurant. Keep front doors and windows clear of signs or window writing that could impede employees from seeing suspicious persons outside. Landscaping should be well-maintained to allow for maximum visibility. Any foliage within four feet of walkways or doors should be no more than three feet high. Trees should hang no lower than six feet over the ground. Keep both the inside and the outside of your business well-lit at night for the safety of both employees and law enforcement. Exterior motion-detector lights are great impediments for those looking to engage in criminal activity during the nighttime hours. Recommendation: Install speed bumps in various places in your parking lot to discourage high speed getaways.

The key to robbery prevention is to continually assess current security procedures, as well as current environments within each restaurant location, then immediately make any needed adjustments.

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Advice and tips


19 AUGUST 2019


A restaurant’s employees are integral to its success. Even more important, though, is how management trains its employees. This is because as employees are the face of your business, they’re interaction with customers can make or break your restaurant. Properly trained employees will create an experience for the customer that entices them to come back. Poorly trained employees will create an experience that repels customers from patronizing your restaurant. As a result of this, training, teaching, reinforcing best practices, and spending time observing your employees are critical in the success of a restaurant.

Part 1
Teaching Your Employees

1.   Hold an orientation. Perhaps the first step you’ll need to take in training restaurant staff is to hold an orientation. In an orientation, you or your trainers will present basic information about your business, your practices, and everything relevant to your staff’s basic performance of their job. More specifically the orientation will include:
Human resource related information, payroll information, and any formalities staff will have to complete before they actually begin working.
Your restaurant’s history and philosophy. This should include your philosophy on customer service.
A brief tour of your restaurant’s facility.
An introduction to your management and other key staff such as trainers.
An overview of the menu (and other services offered) and perhaps a tasting.
An outline of the training process.[1]

2.   Instruct and educate your staff. After orientation, restaurant staff should begin the training process. In the training process, you or your trainers will instruct and educate new staff about important elements of their day-to-day work. Ultimately, instruction and education is the foundation of your employee’s training and will provide them with the tools they need to go forward and succeed. This is your opportunity to focus on the particularities of different roles in your restaurant, including:
Food prep work.
Chef and cook work.
Dishwashing and busing.
Hosting and greeting.

3.   Make your staff observe and assist experienced employees. One of the best ways to teach your staff is to have them observe and assist the most experienced staff in your restaurant. This way, not only will your experienced staff be able to train and teach your new staff, but the new staff will be able to see common practices and less-used practices that your trainers might not typically teach them.
Pair your new staff with seasoned staff and have the new staff follow, observe, and assist the seasoned staff for a period of time.
The observe and assist period can last anywhere from a few days to a week or more.
Instruct your seasoned staff to go about their work as they typically do.
Instruct your new staff and the seasoned staff to engage in dialogue throughout the shift and at the end of the shift. New staff should ask as many questions as possible and seasoned staff should answer without hesitation.
If time permits, have them shadow employees in other important positions to give them a better understanding of how the whole restaurant team works.[2]

4.   Communicate with your staff. No one will be better able to understand what’s most important for a new restaurant employee to know than your veteran staff members. Take advantage of their experience and talk to them about different and innovative ways of training new hires. Ideas can include:
Problems staff sees with current training programs.
Suggestions staff have for new training approaches.
Any other suggestions the staff has to improve organizational effectiveness.[3]
Image titled Train Restaurant Employees Step 5

5.   Teach new employees about all positions. Give new restaurant employees training in all the positions in the restaurant. Have them spend time on the food line, behind the bar if legally permissible, with the dishwashers and working with the host or hostess to greet and seat diners. This will help them become more flexible in their duties and give them a better understanding of what it takes to run the restaurant successfully.

6.   Prioritize safety. While there will be a lot of important information to cover with your new hires, food and occupational safety should always take top priority. Emphasize these areas as they pertain to the new hires’ positions and the restaurant as a whole. Review safety procedures and rules throughout the training process to ensure they’re understood. Make sure to cover:
How to handle food.
How to store food and clean preparation items.
Safety precautions when using machinery or food preparation equipment.
The way to properly move around the restaurant (i.e. don’t run).[4]

Part 2
Reinforcing Best Practices

1.   Set a good example. Train restaurant employees by setting a good example for them with your own behavior. As the boss, you’re always being observed by employees, and new hires will especially look to you for the right way to conduct themselves. Keep this in mind when you work with other members of the wait staff, vendors and diners and conduct yourself courteously and professionally.

2.   Hold regular training refreshers. Training should not stop soon after an employee joins your staff. In order to reinforce best practices, you should hold training sessions regularly. This will not only help your staff recall everything you’ve covered before, but will act as an opportunity to train seasoned staff in new techniques and approaches.
Use regular training events as an opportunity to train staff on new techniques and changes to your restaurant. This will be especially important if you have a menu change.
Use regular training events as an opportunity to bring in outside trainers who utilize different techniques than you have used in the past.
Use regular training events as an opportunity to retrain and refresh seasoned staff who are becoming set in their ways or even careless.[5]

3.   Hold meetings with your employees. Holding meetings with your employees – whether it be a group meeting or individual meetings – is one of the best ways to reinforce best practices. Meetings don’t necessarily have to address staff weaknesses or bad things. Use meetings as an opportunity to lead by example and to highlight what you want your staff to do to improve your business and the customer experience.
Focus on your staff’s strengths, and encourage them to live up to these strengths and emulate each other’s positive qualities.
Hold semi-regular group meetings every 2-3 months, at a minimum.
Hold one-on-one meetings with employees you think are falling behind. Use this as an opportunity to discuss performance evaluations and to encourage them to live up to their abilities.
Hold one-on-one meetings with employees you think are doing a great job. Talk about their good qualities and let them know that their work has been noticed.

4.   Recognize your best employees. Reinforcing best practices is not just about training and teaching, it is also about recognizing your employees who do outstanding jobs. By recognizing these employees, you’ll send the message that you are paying attention and that their efforts are being noticed. Consider:
Recognizing your top employees at regular meetings.
Recognizing top employees in a private meeting.
Recognizing top employees through social media.
Giving top employees awards or cash bonuses.[6]

Part 3
Observing Your Employees

1.   Watch your employees. While you had your new staff shadow seasoned employees earlier in the training process, now it is time to watch your employees to see how they’ve internalized all of the training they’ve gone through. Spend some time every day watching or overseeing different members of your staff. When doing this:
Inform staff in advance that this might be done as part of a schedule or even randomly.
Don’t spend too much time. Fifteen minutes or less might suffice.
Consider positioning yourself at a central location to watch or shadow your employees.
To be less obvious, simply slow down your normal rounds of the restaurant. Walk slowly, greeting customers who are dining, and observing how your staff is interacting with each other and the customers.[7]

2.   Use mystery diners. Mystery shoppers, diners, or customers are frequently used in the restaurant and retail industry as a way of collecting information about customer service and employee efficiency. In the restaurant industry, mystery diners are people who are employed to eat at a restaurant and evaluate the restaurants service, food quality, and overall experience without employees knowing that they are being evaluated. Mystery diners will give you important information about the efficacy of your training program and your restaurant’s overall customer service.
Hire a third party business that specializes in evaluating businesses like your own. They will send mystery diners and then provide you with detailed feedback.
Have a friend or family member patronize your restaurant and evaluate it without your employees’ knowledge.
Use mystery diners on a regular but random basis so you can continually gather feedback about your training success and customer service.

3.   Conduct performance reviews. Performance reviews are an extremely important way of tracking an employee’s progress toward becoming a valued member of your restaurant staff. When conducted by a manager or senior trainer or staff member, performance reviews can be used to evaluate everything from efficiency, attitude, customer service, and other strengths and weaknesses.
Consider conducting performance reviews or evaluations every 6 months to a year on seasoned employees.
Conduct performance reviews or evaluations on new staff members 1 to 3 months after they’ve completed training.
Rotate the senior staff and managers who conduct performance reviews on any one individual.[8]

4.   Keep records based on your observations. While observations are extremely important, keeping records of your observations will help you when it comes time to implement staff changes and new training approaches. As a result, always keep well-organized records of everything having to do with your employee observations. Consider:
Logging tardiness and missed work.
Creating a file for each staff member and filing all relevant information there.
Take brief notes periodically about your employees’ weaknesses and strengths. This might help when training comes around or when it’s time to discuss performance reviews.[9]

Advice and Tips


12 AUGUST 2019


Food safety refers to the proper practice of preparing and storing food in order to avoid foodborne illness. Food safety guidelines are imperative to ensure the health of customers, maximize the longevity of your food products, and develop proper hazard management protocols. Follow these restaurant food safety tips to keep your customers safe and coming back for more of your offerings.

Shop All Food Safety Supplies
Server rubbing hands together with soap under running water

1. Wash Hands Often

For optimal food safety, it is fundamental that all employees wash hands before preparing and handling food and when shifting between tasks. Wash thoroughly with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.

2. Sanitize Surfaces

Sanitizing and cleaning all surfaces, including prep areas, cutting boards, equipment, storage areas, trash cans, and floor drains, should be an important part of your food safety regimen. This process removes food residue, dirt, and invisible germs from surfaces that may come in contact with food. You must clean and sanitize surfaces regularly to prevent pests from inhabiting them. Pests can spread harmful diseases, such as Salmonella and Listeria, to the food in your kitchen.

Create and implement sanitation procedures for employees to follow on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. The following is one example of a simple procedure to use in your establishment that can help keep your work surfaces sanitary:

First, scrape and clear the area of debris or leftover food.
Next, clean the surface with hot soapy water.
To avoid chemical contamination, rinse the surface with water and a clean cloth.
Clean the area with a sanitizing wipe or other professional sanitizer.
Allow the area to air dry.

Aside from sanitizing products, heat can be used on things like flatware to effectively sanitize. For this, however, it’s recommended you soak the items you are sanitizing in water that’s at least 171 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of 30 seconds. Or, you can run items through a high-temperature dishwasher, as long as they are dishwasher safe. Additionally, other common chemical sanitizers include chlorine, iodine, and quaternary ammonium compounds.

Check out our complete restaurant cleaning checklist.

3. Wash Fruits and Vegetables

All fruit and vegetables must be thoroughly washed to rid of any bacteria and dirt that may be on your produce. The only exception is produce that is pre-packaged and labeled as pre-washed. Use clean, cold water, and opt for a vegetable brush when necessary. For more tips, see our guide to correctly wash your produce.

4. Avoid Cross Contamination

Knife cutting through cucumber on green cutting board with color coded cutting boards behind it

Cross-contamination occurs when harmful bacteria, allergens, or other microorganisms transfer from one object to another unintentionally. Though often invisible to the human eye, the results of this process can be extremely dangerous or deadly to unsuspecting consumers.

Aside from hand-washing, it’s also necessary to use separate products when dealing with different types of food products. Use different cutting boards and separate receptacles for raw meats, vegetables, and produce, and cooked foods. You can opt for a color-coded system to help your staff keep track. Using the proper procedures to avoid cross contamination will also help you avoid allergic reactions.

5. Prepare and Store Foods at Safe Temperatures

Make sure to prepare raw meat, ground meat, poultry, eggs, and seafood at the correct temperature to avoid food poisoning. See our comprehensive guide for in-depth information on food safety temperatures for every type of food product.