Pre-shift line checks are a requirement for running a successful restaurant. Line checks provide management the ability to inspect their restaurant before the meal period to:
Ensure that they are stocked properly, Pars
The right food is on the line, FIFO
That everything is safe to serve, Temperature Control
The correct serving ladles and spoons are being used, Portion Control
That all food is fresh and tastes correct, Food Comp Reduction
Basic food safety and cleanliness practices are being met, Sanitation
If you are not conducting line checks every meal period, from my experience, you don’t even know what you don’t know about what is going on in your kitchen. My guess is that if you started doing line checks you would be very surprised at what you find.
Here are some tips to make your line checks faster and more effective:
Thorough is Better: Look at every item that you are going to be serving that shift. Don’t assume that because it was checked on the last shift that it is still good to serve.
Make a line check kit: It doesn’t have to be fancy but you should grab a full pan and load it up with the things you are going to need to conduct your line check and then bring the kit with you to each station in the restaurant. A good kit should contain:
Sanitizer bucket with 1 wet towel for cleaning off thermometer probes
1 dry towel
Sanitizer test strips
Dishwasher test strips if different
1 bucket with clean spoons for tasting (figure out how many spoons you will need to taste every item and bring that many)
1 bucket for dirty spoons
Fryer oil test kit if you use one
Post-its and a pen – for leaving notes for crew
Write SMART Questions: For any food item you should:
Temp the item
Taste the item when appropriate
Ensure it is labeled correctly with expiration date
Check that it is in the correct container size
Has the correct portion control in place (spoodle, ladle, measuring cup, check weight of random item, etc..)
Use Multiple Thermometers: The average probe thermometer takes 1 to 5 seconds to register a temp. If you are going to be temping your entire line you are adding unnecessary time to your line check if you only use 1 thermometer. Use at least two or four at a time. By the time you place the 4th thermometer the 1st one has probably registered the temp. This will speed up your line checks
Check for critical violations: You should take this opportunity to be looking for other critical violations in your restaurant:
Sanitizer buckets: proper concentration, towels, temperature
Dishwasher: water temperature, sanitizer concentrations, etc..
Improper food storage: look in dry storage and refrigerator units for proper shelves, cool down procedures, covers, and labels
Temperatures: record temps for all cold and hot hold units
Correct any critical violations immediately: As you are walking around conducting your line check if you stumble upon a critical violation you need to fix it immediately. Fixing might consist of you stopping what you are doing and fixing it yourself or delegating it to a member of the crew. You need to flag that item and re-check that it was fixed before service starts.
Use a Digital Checklist App like OpsAnalitica Inspector: The OpsAnalitica Inspector drives line check compliance through our accountability management functionality. When you use the OpsAnalitica Inspector for your restaurant checklists you will know who completed the checklist, when it was completed, if the line check was pencil whipped, and you will be able to see the answers from any connected device in the world. You will also be able to identify any issues and immediately follow-up with your management team to ensure that they are corrected before they can affect safety and quality. Our clients that use the OpsAnalitica Inspector for line checks see a 1/2 to 1% decrease in food costs due to reduced comps and better inventory management. Our clients are reporting increased temperature compliance and safety. The fact is that paper line checks that no one ever look at are a waste of time and are given the appropriate amount of attention but when line checks are conducted digitally and followed up on the end result is better, safer and more profitable restaurants.
We hope you find this list helpful in making your line checks more effective and quicker to complete. If you would like to learn more about the OpsAnalitica Inspector and how it can drive line check compliance please click here to watch our demo video.
Here is an additional guide that you might find useful: