Author : Tommy Yionoulis

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Sexy Thermometer Calibration

Thermometer

 

Shame on you if you clicked on this because you saw the word sexy; you need to get some.  We found this great article on Kitchen Thermometer Calibration from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.  Here are some of the points that I found most interesting and the full article is at the bottom of the blog post.

  • Use distilled water, the minerals in tap water could significantly affect the freezing & boiling point.
  • Determine the calibration method by what the thermometer is used to primarily temp.
  • You should calibrate thermometers: at least once a month, when dropped, or if  health department regulations call for it.
  • Thermometers must be calibrated within +/- 2 F (1.1 C), discard thermometers that don’t calibrate.
  • Altitude affects boiling points, see chart at bottom of post to determine what your true boiling point is.

Calibration in Ice Water

  1. Add crushed ice and distilled water to a clean container to form a watery slush.
  2. Place thermometer probe into slush for at least one minute taking care to not let the probe contact the container.
  3. If the thermometer does not read between 30° and 34° F adjust to 32° F. Non-adjustable thermometers should be removed from use until they have been professionally serviced.

Calibration in Boiling Water

  1. Bring a clean container of distilled water to a rolling boil.
  2. Place thermometer probe into boiling water for at least one minute taking care not to let the probe contact the container.
  3. If the thermometer does not read between 210° and 214° F adjust to 212° F. Non-adjustable thermometers should be removed from use until they have been professionally serviced.

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Thermometer Calibration

HACCP based food safety programs require accurate record keeping to be successful. Temperature is often the parameter of interest when monitoring a critical control point (CCP). To assure that a temperature dependant process is under control a calibrated thermometer must be used to record temperatures. The majority of thermometers can be calibrated following a few basic procedures.

To be considered accurate, a thermometer must be calibrated to measure within +/- 2° F (1.1° C) of the actual temperature. Actual temperature can be determined in a variety of ways including measurement with an NIST (National Institute of Standards and Technology) certified reference thermometer or simply through using an ice water solution or boiling water. Another option is the use of sophisticated, and often high cost, calibration equipment that is increasingly becoming available commercially.

The simplest and cheapest way to calibrate a thermometer is through either the use of ice water or boiling water. Distilled water should always be used as dissolved solutes in tap water can significantly affect both freezing and melting points. Another important consideration is the altitude (Table 1) at which calibration is being performed. At sea level, pure water boils at 212° F but at 10,000 feet above sea level it boils at only 194° F. Barometric pressure also has an effect on boiling point but the effect is much less than that of altitude.

You may visit WorldAtlas.com to determine the altitude of your city.

Thermometers intended for measuring higher temperature items, such as cooked product, should be calibrated in boiling water while those used for taking lower temperatures should be calibrated in ice water. When calibrating in ice water both the water and ice should be composed of distilled water. In either case care should be taken to prevent the thermometer from contacting the container being used as this could result in erroneous temperature readings.

Calibration in Ice Water

    1. Add crushed ice and distilled water to a clean container to form a watery slush.
    2. Place thermometer probe into slush for at least one minute taking care to not let the probe contact the container.
    3. If the thermometer does not read between 30° and 34° F adjust to 32° F. Non-adjustable thermometers should be removed from use until they have been professionally serviced.

Calibration in Boiling Water

    1. Bring a clean container of distilled water to a rolling boil.
    2. Place thermometer probe into boiling water for at least one minute taking care not to let the probe contact the container.
    3. If the thermometer does not read between 210° and 214° F adjust to 212° F. Non-adjustable thermometers should be removed from use until they have been professionally serviced.

Thermometers that are found to be inaccurate (i.e. do not measure within +/- 2°F of the actual temperature) should either be manually adjusted or serviced by a professional. Thermometers that have a history of deviating from actual temperature measurements should be discarded and replaced. To assure accuracy, NIST certified thermometers must be re-certified annually.

Thermometers that cannot be easily calibrated through direct immersion in boiling or ice water can be calibrated by comparing readings with another calibrated thermometer. Thermometers that may be calibrated in this way include smokehouse probes and room temperature thermometers. When doing this it is important that the thermometer used for the comparison has been calibrated recently. All thermometers should be calibrated regularly with those used for monitoring CCP’s being calibrated either daily or weekly, depending on the volume of your operations. Any thermometer that has been subjected to abuse, such as being dropped on the floor, should be immediately recalibrated to assure accuracy. Hard to calibrate thermometers could be compared directly with NIST reference thermometers but this may be undesirable as many of these reference thermometers are glass and mercury and could present chemical and physical hazards in food production areas.

Table 1 – Relationship of Altitude to Boiling Point of Pure Water

Feet Above Sea Level

Boiling Point

Feet Above Sea Level

Boiling Point

0

212° F

4,500

203° F

500

211° F

5,000

203° F

1,000

210° F

6,000

201° F

1,500

209° F

7,000

199° F

2,000

208° F

8,000

197° F

2,500

207° F

10,000

194° F

3,000

206° F

12,000

190° F

3,500

205° F

14,000

187° F

4,000

204° F

 

 

 

 

New guidelines require calorie count for food and drinks

An article from WIVB 4 in Buffalo highlights the upcoming federal requirements to post calorie counts on drink and food menus. The federal requirements only target restaurants and bars with more than 20 locations.

The restaurant/bar owners quoted in the article don’t feel that it will affect their business negatively. They feel that most people realize that they will be consuming more calories when they go out to eat and look at it as more of a treat. I think there can be a negative affect in that average check per person will go down and that deserts will be the first to get ignored more often than they already do now. Depending on the type of restaurant that can significantly hurt profitability.

The hope from the government is that this will help with the obesity problem in the US. I don’t see it having much of an impact. There’s a lot more education that needs to go into eating healthy than just looking at calorie counts. Plus all this info is usually available now online and people that care about it look it up prior to going out to eat. But most of us just go out to eat and order what we want then deal with the consequences.

What are your thoughts? Do you see this having a negative affect on your business? Do you think it will make a positive impact on obesity in the US?

I have posted the full article below:

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UFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — New federal guidelines will soon require many restaurants nationwide to post calorie counts for food and drinks on their menus. The menu labeling rule is part of the Affordable Care Act.

The FDA wants to make you more aware of the calories that you are not only eating, but drinking.

At Gramma Mora’s- a Mexican restaurant on Hertel Avenue, the message is: “It’s fun to go out to eat- and it’s even more fun to have a margarita with your meal,” says Owner, Liz Giovino.

Come December, many restaurants nationwide will be required to post calorie counts on their drink lists. It’s something some restaurant go-ers say they plan to ignore.

Irinia Arias from Buffalo says, “I think they put it there for a reason, but i don’t think anybody is really going to pay attention to it.”

The regulations will apply to all chain restaurants and bars with at least 20 locations. But Giovino doesn’t believe it will impact Buffalo’s restaurant industry.

“There are going to be people who are watching calories, but when most people go out to eat they are going to realize there are going to be calories they are going to have. You just have to be smart to decide what choices you’re going to have,” she said.

Health experts say these new requirements will help combat the country’s obesity epidemic by showing just how many calories lurk in your favorite food and drinks.

Owner Charlie Giovino says the impact should be minor, since people who eat out already know they’re indulging.

“If people are going to go out to dinner and they are going to come to our restaurant, I don’t know if they’re really going to be interested in that,” he says.

New York City began requiring chain restaurants to post calorie counts on menus in 2006, and now the rest of the country will soon follow suit.

Whether menu labeling has any effect on health is still an open question; some studies have shown it has no impact. But a 2008 study at Starbucks showed a drop in average calories purchased after calorie content was posted.

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Busy Work the Profit Killer

close up of stack paper

Everyday restaurant managers transcribe data from one system into another manually. This manual busy work is a massive waste of time, it keeps manager’s off the floor where they belong, it is soul-crushing and incredibly expensive.

Here are some common examples:

1. Take labor numbers from the register system and enter them into a labor or expense tracking spreadsheet.
2. Conduct inventory on printed inventory forms and data enter them into a program or spreadsheet.
3. Data entering restaurant inspections or temp logs into a spreadsheet for scoring and record keeping.

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A lot of people think that because managers are salary employees “who cares” if they do a little busy work, it doesn’t cost any extra. That is a short-sighted way of looking at things.

You need to look at manager’s time from an ROI perspective. Every minute I’m paying this manager I should be getting a return on that investment. If there are two things, and there are always ten things in a restaurant, that need attention, then you should have manager’s focused on the activities that drive the most ROI in sales and guest satisfaction.

Use our Busy Work Calculator to determine what an activity is costing you and then determine if there is a solution that costs less than what you are paying for your manager’s time over an acceptable time period. If there is than you have found a positive ROI.

All of these individual 5 and 10-minute tasks add up over time. A restaurant that has 20 minutes a day of busy work built into their processes is wasting 121 hours or 3 weeks of manager work time over the year.

Here is another quick example, three waiters that stay on-the-clock 10 minutes longer than needed three shifts per week cost the company 78 hours of pay a year. Do you see how small things add up fast in restaurants?

We have a client, an area manager; that inspects his restaurant’s every month. He was spending an hour per inspection transcribing notes and scoring the inspection; we have found this to be a pretty common measure in transcribing inspections.

Because he conducts 16 inspections a month, that hour is actually two days a month of busy work or 24 days a year, at a cost to his company of $5,352 per year. With our system, he was able to save that hour. Imagine what you could do with an extra 24 days a year to focus on important stuff that drives sales and increases guest satisfaction.

Calculate how much your company is spending on you to do busy work by clicking here and using our Busy Work Calculator.

Not Going Paperless Costs Money Too

It was 4:30pm on a typical weekday around our house and we had no idea what we were going to have for dinner. So my wife decided to go online and order Garbanzo. Garbanzo is a Colorado chain; they are like the Chipotle of Middle Eastern food. They make their pita bread fresh to order and their falafels are delicious. She placed the order and I went to pick it up.

When I arrived they had our digital order printed out, like most restaurants they only have a desktop in the back office, so they have to print out the online orders. Websites are hard to print from in general, and their printer was low in ink, the order page was very hard to read.

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The order being hard to read caused them to make one of our plates wrong and when they realized it they tossed it in the trash. The manager was viewing the order on his smartphone telling the cook what to make on the second go around.

The entree’s price is $7.49 assume a 25% food cost and that is $1.87 of food that was wasted. I think it is fair to say the paper bowl and labor cost of the manager and the cook cost .13 cents, and we are looking at a $2.00 loss. Assume that happens once a day at their 25 locations, and that is an annual cost of $18,200.

I get that purchasing tablets and cloud apps cost money, money that restaurants aren’t necessarily used to paying. Don’t believe for a second that restaurants aren’t incurring other costs today by not going paperless or investing in technology.

Moneyball for Restaurants. It ’s Here. On Your Tablets and iPads. Part III

Here’s part three, the final installment, of the Moneyball article. Part one was posted on Monday, click here to read. Part two was posted on Wednesday, click here to read.

Make no mistake, daily line checks and temp logs are important. But they are not the only thing that a restaurant manager should be looking at. In fact, a great deal of that data is collected on a CYA basis, and it doesn’t really affect the bottom line of the operation.

However, every day, every restaurant generates data points that can be recorded and measured. So, our SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocol covers all of the basics of an operations review and captures key data points that can provide deep insight into operations…all in an expedited fashion that provides ample opportunities to look for operations issues before they become issues.

Here’s a sample of just one of the protocols from our SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocol, but you have to imagine this running as an app on a tablet or iPad. The app itself walks the worker through the paces of a “pre-flight ” inspection.

Sanitation

  • Sanitizer buckets
    • Number of
    • Location
    • Rags present
      • How many
  • Signs of cross contamination
  • Chef and prep staff drinks put away
  • Hand sinks free and clear
    • Soap present
    • Paper towels present
  • Chemicals stored safely away from food prep areas
  • Dishwasher
    • Sanitizer ppm
    • Rinse water >= 180 degrees
  • Sign of pests
    • Yes/no

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Just that list will prepare you to pass more than half of the most common health inspection issues, where a “fail” – which is a matter of the public record – can doom your sales for weeks, or maybe tank the restaurant entirely.

Want another example? Here ’s another pre-flight protocol, for management:

Management

  • Pre-shift staff meeting
    • 86 ’d Items/Substitutions
    • Wait Staff ready to go
  • Drawers

Accountability

  • FIFO
    • Day Dots – Ensure that food online is stocked to par
    • Ensure that food items that have a longer remaining shelf life are not being used first.

Now imagine this level of thoroughness – checked multiple times a day; as often as you desire – were also applied to your kitchen readiness, readiness for guests, building, server stations, kitchen, dining room, host stand, and temperatures. The list of sub protocols is only limited by your imagination, because custom protocols for SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocol are easy to create and “app-ify” on your staff’s tablets or iPads.

As data is collected, it is time-date-location stamped. And that ’s where the real force and power of big data can be brought to bear. The data can be reviewed in correlation to such data points as labor cost, food cost, Yelp reviews, TripAdvisor comments, or even the weather and road work or the frequencies of area traffic jams. By gaining perspective, using data that can be sliced and diced and compared, restaurants can optimize their operations…and their profits.

Why not bring the same rigors to a pre-shift inspection that airlines bring to flight safety? The same type of approach that surgeons bring to pre-op review, that NASA and SpaceX run with their flight crews? Given the complexity of restaurant operations (which just might be so complicated as to baffle the best NASA engineers!) we are really well situated to make data, big and small, work for making our locations cleaner, smarter, and more profitable.

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Moneyball for Restaurants. It ’s Here. On Your Tablets and iPads. Part II

Here’s part two of the Moneyball blog. Part one was posted on Monday, click here to read part one if you haven’t already.

SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocol™ is a checklist system, not unlike the pre-flight checklists that pilots run through to ensure safe operations. Except that the restaurant data that’s captured is not viewed in isolation, nor just logged and stored and never looked at again.

With the SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocol, you can leverage your workforce to collect data, which will let you draw correlations between operations, sales, and costs. That will help you determine your shortest path to optimized profits.

The SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocol is performed by your workers at any skill level, using a tablet or iPad to log in the restaurateur’s most valuable assets: “in-game data.”

Since this approach is a protocol (a programmatic workflow, based on a pre-established critical path), the SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocol is not dependent on the skill levels of your workers. The intelligence is embedded in the protocol itself. Literally anyone can run the protocol.

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Baselines are covered first. The SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocol captures data that is essential to operations and inspections (fridge temps, food temps, locations of sanitizing buckets… everything you need for CYA moments and health inspections).

But the SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocol also collects the seemingly extraneous data that could be far more telling than the fact that the cooler maintained a <41F temperature, as required, or that cleaning chemicals were safely separated from potential contact with food.

“Seemingly extraneous data.” What’ s that?

Well, we all know that restaurants succeed and fail as much on human interactions / human discretion as on the wholesale price of a salmon steak or a plate of wings. Much depends on the intangibles, which are really not intangibles at all, if they are recorded and examined.

Imagine if you have a protocol checklist for how well dressed the wait staff is. (Crisp shirt? Check. Spotless tie? Check. Clean apron? Check. Finger nails clean? Check. Tattoos covered? Check.)

Or if the protocol checklist checked that the side work has been done.
Or if you had a check-off system to ensure that your workers didn ’t take all the parking spaces nearest the entrance, when that act alone could attract (or deter) enough customers to get a solid second turn at brunch.

Or that you were aware that the ice machine is undersized for the required volume of glasses, which delayed the refills, which caused half of your patrons to skip dessert, which triggered spoilage, which made your dumpsters full one day too soon, which turned away another 30 diners who thought the establishment just looked filthy when they circled around back to park.

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Click here for part III.

Dozens sickened at banquet

So probably not the best banquet to have a foodborne illness outbreak at considering the attendees. With 100 of the 250 attendees being lawyers and law students this is not going to go away anytime soon.

This article from Philly.com will be forever and will pop up decades from now if you Google search “foodborne illness Philly” (I just searched and a version of this article shows up as number 5). There are social media and Yelp! reviews that are out there as well, but there are ways to get those “expunged” if you will, but news articles don’t go away.

Although it appears from the article (copied below) that the restaurant providing the food has a track record of violations with the health department. The health department legally can’t publically talk much about the restaurant other than posting the publicly available information, but the lawyers and law students aren’t holding any punches.

It doesn’t appear that this restaurant is practicing a due care approach to their health and sanitation standards and it could wind up costing them their business this time. More and more data and apps are available to consumers to check on restaurant scores etc. Now more than ever, restaurateurs need to make sure that they are running safe operations. There is so much competition that most can’t afford to bear the cost of the brand damage that results from this type of press.

There are tools available that are simple to implement that can help drive accountability and prove to health inspectors that you are taking a due care approach to health and sanitation. It’s worth investing some time investigating what’s available. It could wind up saving your brand.

I have copied the full article below:

In one of the largest outbreaks of suspected foodborne illness in Philadelphia, nearly 100 lawyers and law students were sickened last month after attending a banquet celebrating the Lunar New Year in Chinatown.

But even though the restaurant has a history of food-safety problems stretching back several years, the city Health Department says it cannot publicly discuss details of its investigation, citing a 1955 state law.

That law hasn’t silenced the outbreak’s victims.

About 250 people attended the feast Feb. 27 at Joy Tsin Lau, the venerable dim sum restaurant at 10th and Race Streets. Dozens of the diners reported that they felt the first symptoms two mornings later.

Chi Mabel Chan, who has owned Joy Tsin Lau for more than 30 years, denied that the diners had suffered food poisoning from the banquet.

“It was not a problem with my restaurant,” she said, theorizing that chilly weather or festivities at a karaoke bar after the dinner might be to blame.

“Maybe they got cold or drank too much,” she said of the victims.

The eight-course dinner – well-documented on social media – was a fund-raiser for a group of Temple University law students, the Asian Pacific American Law Student Association.

“This was the worst case of food poisoning I’ve ever witnessed,” Antima Chakraborty, a Philadelphia assistant district attorney, wrote on Yelp, a restaurant review site. “Many individuals had to go to the ER.”

City inspection reports show that Joy Tsin Lau has long had a problem maintaining food-safety standards.

Just 17 days before the banquet, a Health Department sanitarian was at Joy Tsin Lau to check back on an earlier problem. In a report dated Feb. 10, Kyria Weng wrote “that current management practices have allowed unacceptable public health or food-safety conditions.”

An Inquirer analysis of city inspection reports found that the average eat-in restaurant in Philadelphia last year had 2.3 risk factors for foodborne illness, the more serious of the two main categories defined by the Food and Drug Administration.

Weng cited Joy Tsin Lau for five such risk factors. Several of those – dumplings held at a bacteria-friendly 57 degrees, and a lack of soap and paper towels in the employee restroom – were noted as repeat violations. Weng also found nine lesser violations, called “lack of good retail practices.”

But that was an improvement over Weng’s Dec. 22 visit, when she cited the restaurant for seven risk factors for foodborne illness (including a chicken held at unsafe temperatures) and 13 lesser violations.

Back in 2010, the city Health Department filed suit against Joy Tsin Lau after deeming it a “public nuisance” and issued a cease-and-desist order for “failure to ensure that public-health standards for a safe and sanitary operation . . . are being maintained.”

City legal officials did not respond to questions asking if the city ever acted on the order or if the restaurant ever was forced to close.

David S. Haase, a Center City lawyer, said he began to feel nauseated about 30 hours after the banquet. Contrary to Chan’s theory, he said he was warmly dressed and did not go to the karaoke bar.

A combination of nonstop puking and explosive diarrhea kept him bedridden for four days.

“It was freaking terrible,” Haase said. “I’d crawl back into bed and curl up into a ball, moaning like a child with the cramps.”

Organizers, in a post-banquet e-mail to attendees, said multiple guests had sought medical attention.

Thursday, nearly four weeks after the banquet, Health Department spokesman Jeff Moran would say only that a “food source” had been identified for the outbreak.

“We are not permitted, by law, to publicly release the findings of outbreak investigations,” Moran said.

He cited the Pennsylvania Disease Prevention and Control Law of 1955, which prohibits health authorities from disclosing reports or records of diseases. Though the law primarily addresses patients with venereal diseases and tuberculosis, its confidentiality clause keeps secret the details of all health investigations.

Most states have similar laws, according to Scott Burris, the codirector at Temple University’s Center for Health Law, Policy, and Practice.

“It’s pretty typical,” Burris said. “Pennsylvania is not an outlier.”

Investigators need some secrecy to collect sensitive information, he said, but the laws may go too far when it comes to alerting the public of potential threats.

“That’s a price we pay,” Burris said of secrecy laws. “It’s probably worth working on our privacy laws to see if we can find an approach that lowers that price.”

But there is no law silencing the sickened.

“If you enjoy being on your back for the 48 hours post-dinner writhing in pain, burning up, and exploding out of all orifices, then this is the restaurant for you,” wrote Jack Jiang, a University of Pennsylvania researcher who attended the banquet with his girlfriend.

In an e-mail to a reporter, Jiang said he had been bedridden for three days and suffered lingering effects through the end of the week.

Haase, who missed his daughter’s championship track meet due to the illness, said he had contacted a Health Department coordinator, who told him the outbreak was likely brought on by norovirus.

Norovirus, the most common cause of foodborne illness, sickens about 20 million people a year in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The pathogen is often spread by contact with an infected person or by ingesting food or water contaminated by fecal matter. Acute gastroenteritis strikes usually between 24 and 48 hours after exposure to norovirus.

Caroline Johnson, director of the city’s division of disease control, said she couldn’t talk specifics, but in general said the goal of investigations “is to find out what happened, correct that problem, and move on.”

As for the secrecy, she said, “We don’t want to drive underground the facts we want to uncover.”

Her agency told Haase about the norovirus because “we feel that by telling them, they won’t need to have the wrong antibiotic prescribed to them or have unnecessary testing. It’s the right medical thing to do. I wouldn’t withhold information from them because it might have medical significance to their situation.”

Foodborne illness outbreaks in Philadelphia are relatively uncommon – about 10 a year – and when they do occur, they usually strike fewer than 20 people, Johnson said.

“They’re not always as impressive as this one,” she said.

“These foodborne outbreaks can happen to the finest of restaurants and it doesn’t necessarily mean that the restaurant did anything wrong,” Johnson said.

None of the lawyers or the Temple group said they were planning to sue Joy Tsin Lau. They have two years before the statute of limitations runs out.

Haase, whose law firm sponsors a table at the banquet each year, said he would continue attending under one condition.

“It will have to be at a different place,” he said.

In the meantime, Haase said he won’t collect the two raffle prizes he won at this year’s banquet: two dim sum dinners at Joy Tsin Lau.

Banquet Menu

Full menu for Temple APALSA’s 8th Annual Lunar Banquet, Feb. 27, at Joy Tsin Lau:

Chicken sweet corn soup

Walnut shrimp

Stir-fry beef celery

Peking duck

Spare ribs

Deep-fried fish Hunan

Veg fried rice

Veg spring rolls

Sautéed string beans

Black bean eggplant

Braised bean curd

5-spice bean curd bean sprouts

Kung pao vegetables

Lo mein

Chinese vegetable with hearts of greens in light gravy

Fresh oranges

Fortune cookies

Tea

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Moneyball for Restaurants. It ’s Here. On Your Tablets and iPads. – Part I

Ever wish there were a Moneyball approach  to managing multi-location restaurants?

It would be a business model where we would field dozens of scouts ” who could fan out across multiple locations, logging in data, observing and recording in-game activity, ” and making note of even the smallest thing … like the fact that the day the dumpster was overflowing, the location sold 23 fewer desserts.

Or that when the men s room was dirty, the bar take was down 29%.

Or that at Saturday lunch (when the young wait staff looked as though theyd come directly from an afterhours party) you got only two table turns and not three.

Just like in Moneyball, an overlord ” manager would sit at a computer and view a dashboard of data, some of it raw, and some of it synthesized, based on algorithms. Hed make decisions based not on guesses. Not on theories. But on facts, gathered in real time in the field.  It would be a Big Data solution for multi-location restaurants.

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 Impossible to put in place, right?  Too expensive!

Heck, you ’d need to field a team of scouts out there walking the floors of your locations.

(Wait, don ’t we have that now? Aren t our managers walking the floors and building grounds already?)

And they ’d all have to be carrying tablets or iPads.

(Wait, everyone ’s got tablets or iPads now. If not, the costs are minimal.)

And the data would have to feed a system that analyzed it.

(That exists today as well, and plus, these days, customizing analysis of data streams is not cost prohibitive, especially given the amazing ROI thats achievable.)

So, with the workforce in place 

And the technology in place 

The only thing missing is a protocol, a process, a workflow that would prompt the workforce to start collecting data.

The question is: Which data? What things should our Moneyball scouts  be looking at?

That ’s where SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocols come into play.

With the SMART Pre-Shift Inspection Protocol, you can leverage your workforce to collect data, which will let you draw correlations between operations, sales, and costs. That will help you determine your shortest path to optimized profits.

Old Pilots Don’t Crash. Old Restaurants Managers Do. Ever see an old pilot skip a pre-flight checklist? Nope. That ’s why so few planes crash. Ever see an old restaurant manager (over confident that he knows it all) crash a restaurant? Yup. Happens all the time. That’s why we have to bring the rigor of the preflight inspection to the management of restaurants.

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How are you mitigating rising beef costs?

I read this article from NRN, Restaurants find ways to mitigate beef costs (see article below), and here the bullets that I thought were most interesting:

  • Overall foodservice sales of beef in the U.S. in terms of volume fell slightly in 2014, to 7.9 billion pounds, compared with 8.7 billion pounds in 2013 – (800 million lbs is a slight decrease?)
  • Americans ordered 3 percent more hamburgers in restaurants in 2014 than in 2013, according to The NPD Group
  • Cheaper Cuts:
    • The chuck eye roast — a less expensive substitute for prime rib — is the fastest growing cut, rising by 6 million pounds in 2014 compared with 2013
    • Followed by Delmonico steak, or chuck eye steak, a less expensive substitute for a rib eye, whose sales rose by 5 million pounds in 2014
  • To help mitigate those costs, Dove suggests changing portion sizes and offering different types of protein.  “Instead of an 8-ounce sirloin, run a 6-ounce sirloin combined with a shrimp or lobster deal.
  • Kevin Good, senior analyst at CattleFax, said ranchers are working to rebuild herds that were reduced in the aftermath of multiple years of drought that drove up feed prices. Although more cattle should mean lower beef prices, it takes up to three years from gestation for cattle to reach market weight. That means prices of many cuts aren’t likely to fall significantly until 2016 or 2017.

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Fri, 2015-03-06 10:38

Beef is expensive and expected to remain so for the next year, but Americans still love it. They’re eating more hamburgers than ever and buying more premium steak. At the same time, restaurants and purchasing cooperatives are using an array of strategies to mitigate costs and get the most out of their beef.

The Centennial, Colo.-based National Cattlemen’s Beef Association reported in January that overall foodservice sales of beef in the U.S. in terms of volume fell slightly in 2014, to 7.9 billion pounds, compared with 8.7 billion pounds in 2013.

Hamburger sales remained robust: Americans ordered 3 percent more hamburgers in restaurants in 2014 than in 2013, according to The NPD Group.

Kevin Good, senior analyst at CattleFax, said ranchers are working to rebuild herds that were reduced in the aftermath of multiple years of drought that drove up feed prices. Although more cattle should mean lower beef prices, it takes up to three years from gestation for cattle to reach market weight. That means prices of many cuts aren’t likely to fall significantly until 2016 or 2017.

“You can potentially expect a little bit of relief in the second half [of 2015], but it won’t be much,” Good said.

Retail operations might see customers trading to less expensive proteins, such as pork or chicken, or from premium cuts of beef to less expensive ones, which Good said might help lower premium steak prices a little bit. However, he said he expected demand of high-end cuts in foodservice to remain robust. “That’s tied more to the stock market and corporate expense accounts,” he said.

At the high end, steakhouses are committing to even higher-end cuts of beef, as well as local steaks.

Steakhouses such as RPM Steak in Chicago and Charlie Palmer Steak’s New York City and Las Vegas locations are offering A5-grade Wagyu beef from Japan — the highest grade available.

“It’s surprising how much it actually gets ordered,” said Matt Zappoli, executive chef of Charlie Palmer Steak New York, where an 8-ounce strip costs $162.

Zappoli and other steakhouse chefs are also sourcing local steak. Houston steakhouse 60 Degrees Mastercrafted focuses on steaks from a Texas herd of Akaushi cattle, while Zappoli is sourcing naturally raised 30-day, dry-aged rib eye from a supplier that procures it mostly from New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

“It’s part of what they call a local harvest program,” Zappoli said.

He also offers two different varieties of American Wagyu and a USDA Prime rib eye and New York strip.

Outside of premium, expense-account-driven venues, less expensive cuts are experiencing robust growth. The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, citing its 2015 Technomic Usage and Volumetric Assessment of Beef in Foodservice, reports that America’s beef roast, also called the chuck eye roast — a less expensive substitute for prime rib — is the fastest growing cut, rising by 6 million pounds in 2014 compared with 2013. That was followed by Delmonico steak, or chuck eye steak, a less expensive substitute for a rib eye, whose sales rose by 5 million pounds in 2014. Although premium porterhouse is the third fastest-growing cut, rising by around 4 million pounds, it is followed by two other less premium cuts — flank or skirt steak and the ranch cut, which is a lean cut from the shoulder clod.

The popularity of such cuts might not just be due to rising prices, but to demographic shifts, said Andy D’Amico, partner and founding chef of the three-unit 5 Napkin Burger chain, based in New York City, and of 5 Napkin Grill in Miami. The latter has an expanded entrée section, including more steaks, and the skirt steak is a big seller.

“In Miami, where there’s more of a Cuban clientele, they really love skirt steak, and we sell a lot of it. “

By contrast, “New York understands hanger steak,” another flavorful, less expensive cut, and D’Amico just added it to the 5 Napkin Burger locations in New York, in a pepper sauce.

Mitigate costs during purchasing process

(Continued from page 1)

Dave Woolley, chef of restaurant consulting firm Food & Drink Resources, said he sees large and small chains continuing to push steak items.

“I think a lot of them are going into different parts of the sirloin,” he said, noting that the subprimal sirloin cut is a large piece of meat that can weigh a couple hundred pounds.

“You can call different things ‘sirloin’ on the menu that aren’t traditional sirloin,” he said, such as the tri-tip, a cut at the very bottom of the subprimal that’s popular in the western U.S. and growing in popularity elsewhere, Woolley said, “especially in the last year and change, it’s as mainstream as possible.

“Americans’ hankering for beef, the drive for it, is not going away,” he added, so restaurants are figuring out how to provide it and still turn a profit.

DeWayne Dove, vice president of risk management for the purchasing cooperative SpenDifference, said he sees both restaurants and retailers trading down to less expensive cuts, which is driving up prices of those less premium parts of the cattle.

“We have seen retailers moving from rib eyes or strips to top sirloin,” he said, which means top sirloin is now trading at record levels. He indicated top sirloin rose by 15 percent this year compared with record highs of 2014.

To help mitigate those costs, Dove suggests changing portion sizes and offering different types of protein.

“Instead of an 8-ounce sirloin, run a 6-ounce sirloin combined with a shrimp or lobster deal. … Those strategies are going to have to be in place not just this year, but pretty much through all of 2016,” he said.

Dove is figuring out ways to bring prices down at every part of the purchasing process.

“We’ll line up every component [raw materials, yield, labor, overhead, packaging and freight]. We’ll put five, six, seven suppliers side by side and figure out why one’s higher than the other,” he said.

“It’s important to understand how to dive into those opportunities, because the raw material market is working against you,” he said. “You’ve got to pull every penny out of every part of it that you can.”

Although some independent restaurants buy entire carcasses and process them in-house in an attempt to cut costs, Dove says that the journeymen meat cutters at a supplier are likely to be more skilled and get higher yields than cooks in a restaurant. However, he said, restaurants might consider purchasing whole primals and subprimals and having the supplier cut them for them.

“We work a lot on utilizing the entire subprimal,” he said, using the best parts for steak and the trim for kebabs or hamburgers.

He said suppliers are open to those solutions.

“To clean up that whole carcass and find other homes for it is very labor-intensive, so it’s definitely a door that’s always wide open” as far as suppliers are concerned, Dove said.

He also suggested buying flash-frozen meat when prices are at their lowest and having your supplier thaw them in advance of the high-cost season at the end of the year.

He pointed out that the faster meat is thawed, the more volume is lost, but good meat suppliers will have the meat undergo a thawing process that lasts between three weeks and four weeks.

Contact Bret Thorn at bret.thorn@penton.com.
Follow him on Twitter: @foodwriterdiary

Where have all the restaurant floor managers gone?

This blog isn’t based on a scientific study it is just an observation but where have all the restaurant floor managers gone? I very rarely see restaurant managers in the dining room managing the meal period anymore.

I try to look for managers every time I go out to eat from a curiosity perspective. I, as all restaurant people do, judge every restaurant that I eat in and will for the rest of my life. I see managers, but they are almost always in the window expediting.

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When I was a manager at a high volume full-service restaurant, we would staff at least 2 FOH managers for every weekday meal period and three on weekends. One of us would work in the window expediting meals, and the others would manage the FOH.

Expediting is very important job, ensuring that the food going to the table is cooked correctly, and the right meals are getting to the guests in a timely manner, matters. Let’s also be honest with ourselves, expediting is easier than managing the floor and is more fun because you’re not having to be on and in front of guests. You can shoot the shit and make jokes with the kitchen guys while you’re putting orders together.

In my opinion there needs to be at least one restaurant manager on the floor managing guest service. Even in a lower volume restaurant there are things that the manager can be doing to positively affect the guests experience, help servers/buss staff, and speed up table turns.

Am I wrong? Please comment and tell me the deal. I would hate to think that in my early 40’s that I’m completely over the hill on this matter.

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