7 Common Misses When Cleaning Restaurant Kitchens

The easiest way to keep all of your equipment working in tip-top form is to clean, and clean often. There are the obvious hot spots to wipe down, but there are many more that are missed. Keep food poisoning, equipment breakdowns and unsightly work areas out of your business with this comprehensive checklist of seven spots commonly missed while cleaning restaurant kitchens.

1. The Ice Machine

There is a reason this is number one on the list. A lot of food service workers, managers included, forget that ice is food, and consumption can lead to food poisoning if the product is contaminated. Regularly cleaning the ice machine and ice storage bin will assure a healthy, contaminant-free product.

2. Underneath and Behind Equipment

It is easy to forget about kitchen areas that are not visible, but the whole out-of-sight-out-of-mind principle does not hold in commercial kitchens. Bacteria and vermin will be attracted to food scraps no matter where they hide. It’s also important to note that health inspectors will check underneath every piece of equipment to see if the area is clean. Keep it neat and tidy everywhere, every day and keep violations and vermin out of your kitchen.

3. The Dumpster Area

Everybody knows that rodents and disease love garbage. In fact, a messy dumpster area acts as an attractive buffet for bacteria, flies and vermin. Combat this issue with a clean garbage area. Start by making sure all of the dumpster lids close fully and stay closed. Next, instruct your staff to keep the area around the dumpster clean. This includes hosing down the dumpster’s exterior and making sure that all trash is deposited into the container. No waste should be left in open containers or on the ground.  A clean dumpster area will also cut back on foul odors that could potentially hurt business.

4. Refrigeration Coils

When a refrigerator’s coils are dirty it has to work harder to keep the unit cool, which can result in uneven internal temperatures. If the temperature fluctuates too much, the food can spoil. Have your employees wheel out the refrigerator once a month to dust the coils and keep the back of the unit clean and in good working order.

5. The Meat Slicer

The top slicer blade is likely getting all the cleaning love. But it’s important to keep the bottom side of the blade just as clean. This area comes in contact with food and can harbor bacteria. Therefore, it is important to remind employees to clean both sides of the meat slicer blade every day and in between different cuts of meat.

6. Beverage Dispenser Heads

Mold, bacteria and fruit flies love sugar almost as much as they love warmth and moisture. The nozzles and dispenser heads of a beverage dispenser will have residual sugar on them at the end of the day. Make it a daily habit to remove and hand wash the nozzles during closing clean-up duties. This will prevent bacteria from taking up residence over night.

7. Splashes on the Walls

Got a little fryer oil or tomato sauce splatter on the wall? Wipe it off as soon as possible! Bacteria can grow on these splatters and splashes, and, depending on the area, fruit flies or other pests may be attracted to the stuck-on residue. For the easiest remedy, instruct employees to wipe down walls as soon as the splash occurs. This way the food does not become dried on and harder to clean at the end of the night.

Burkett Named Industry Excellence Awards Winner

We Are BurkettFoodservice Equipment Reports magazine has recognized Burkett Restaurant Equipment & Supplies as one of seven national recipients of the prestigious Management Excellence Award in its 2019 Industry Excellence Awards.

Burkett Senior Leaders

Burkett Senior Leadership Team.

Management Excellence Awards are among the most prestigious in the foodservice industry. The award recognizes excellence in the management of unit and facilities development, design, Equipment & Supplies purchasing and maintenance functions in commercial and noncommercial foodservice operations; in the delivery and performance of E&S functions and services by E&S dealers and distributors; and in the delivery of services by foodservice consulting firms and service agencies.

“These last few years have not always been easy as we built our infrastructure to grow Burkett,” President Jameel Burkett said. “But our future is bright, and this industrywide recognition further validates that we are doing the right things.”

This is the first time the company has ever won the award. Recipients will be honored at FER’s Industry Awards Gala on May 19, 2019 during the National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago.

“What makes a company or organization exceptional?,” the FER article asks. “Hiring the right people, providing a culture in which they can thrive and letting them not just do their jobs, but excel at them. And without exception, well-run companies and departments have strong leaders who understand that their team members’ “job” is taking care of customers— whoever those customers may be. These are the common threads we found in the seven honorees for the FER 2019 Management Excellence Awards.”

Click here to read the full article in this month’s FER Magazine.

How to Design a Perfect Restaurant Dining Room

Every restaurant’s dining room should be unique. It may not seem obvious, but the layout and organization of your dining room supports your branding and subtly influences your customers spending. So be sure that your dining room and seating layouts are strategically designed.

Dining Room Layout

Before designing the layout of your tables and seating, you first need to consider your space limitations and decide how many separate dining spaces you will to create.

If you have not yet decided on the architecture of your dining area or plan to renovate the existing architecture, you can divide your space up in the following ways:

  • Multiple main dining areas. You can create multiple dining rooms that flow into each other. Dividing up your dining areas with walls will make it easier to anchor tables. To add an individual charm to each space, you can design each room differently.
  • Open main dining area. You can use a single, large open dining space. Visually and acoustically, this will tend to add an edge of excitement to your dining room, since customers will be able to hear and see all other parties. This kind of space is ideal for floating tables, tables that are not near walls or other fixtures, but you can also add columns to create anchored seating, as well. The columns will have the added effect of enhancing the acoustics in the room.
  • Private dining rooms. You can close off a section or two with double doors, and designate that space as a private dining area. You can use one of the rooms as a smoking area, if local laws allow it. You can also rent out private dining rooms to large groups that want to hold private parties or meetings at your restaurant. If the rooms are not reserved, you can open the double doors and free up the space for walk-in customers.

Make sure each “area” you create will fit the number of tables and other furniture that you want in that space. If your dining room walls are already built and you will not be renovating them, you have to work with what you have. If you are set on having multiple dining areas but cannot afford to renovate your walls, you can use curtains, screens or partitions to create separate dining “rooms.”

Seating Layout

Once the architecture of your dining area is set in stone, follow these steps to create a seating layout:

  1. Draw a map of the dining area. Measure the area and draw up a blueprint of the space. Include walls, columns, partitions and any other obstructions in your blueprint. You will use the blueprint to lay out your seating, tables and any other furniture in your dining room.
  2. Determine the space between tables. For quick service, there can be less space, since waiters will not be moving much around the dining area. For a casual service restaurant, balance seating capacity with customer and server comfort. Consider the “feel” you hope to create. An “exciting,” casual atmosphere can be a little crowded. With a fine dining restaurant, tables should be spaced further apart to give the diners extra comfort and privacy.
  3. Think about party size. Depending on your restaurant type, you may be serving large parties. If you will be expecting large parties, you will need a couple of large tables. If you are not sure what size of parties you will serve, it is a good idea to create a flexible seating layout with extra two-person tables that can be put together or pulled apart to accommodate different party sizes.
  4. “Anchor” some of your seating. The large majority of people prefer to sit at a table that is “anchored” to a wall or a partition, rather than one that is floating in the middle of the room. Furthermore, people spend more money when they occupy anchored seating, although this is partly compensated for by the fact that they also linger longer after finishing their meals. Create seating anchored to the following:
    • Walls
    • Nooks
    • Partitions or screens
    • Columns
    • Curtains

    Booths encourage the highest spending per minute, while tables near a wall or corner also have a high spending-per-minute value. The worst kind of anchored seating to encourage spending is banquette-style seating, where a long bench is set against a wall to be used as the seat back.

  5. Strategically place floating tables. You can encourage high turnover with strategically placed floating tables. Guests spend less time lingering at tables near busy areas, like the kitchen or the exit, but they spend about the same average on their checks. Thus, the tables that are exposed to high traffic, the “bad” tables, are often the most profitable, earning more dollars-per-minute per customer. However, keep in mind that this will affect the customers’ memories of their dining experiences. While exposed, “floating” tables are often more profitable, they are less likely to encourage customers to come back again.

Studies of spending-per-minute at different table locations suggests that it is not necessary to go out of your way to get rid of all the “floating” tables. On the other hand, anchored tables are a key element in making diners feel comfortable and emotionally attached to your restaurant. In the end, the most profitable way to arrange tables is a mix of anchored tables and free-standing tables near high-traffic areas that can be mixed and matched to accommodate different party sizes.

How to Make Perfect Caramel Candy Apples

Apple cookers are perfect for caterers, dessert shops, schools and concession stands serving up caramel apples on a daily or weekly basis. Also referred to as apple stoves and apple kettles, these handy machines are easy to use, but do require the operator’s attention when in use.

Gold Medal 4016 Electric Candy Apple Cooker

Begin by taking stock of your inventory. You will need the following: Apples, mixture, dipping and setting tools and last, an apple cooker.

Apples

Firm, fresh picked and un-waxed apples work best. Waxed apples will not allow the mixture to stick. Any variety of un-waxed apples will do, however the most popular varieties include Granny Smith and Red Delicious as they provide a firm skin with a crisp and sweet bite. Be sure to keep all of the apples at room temperature prior to dipping in the mixture. Room temperature apples work best because condensation will form if cold apples are dipped into a hot mixture. The condensation will then prevent the mixture from sticking to the apple and will result in a gooey apple coating.

Mixture

Most apple cooker manufacturers recommend a specific type of pre-made mix, such as Gold Medal Reddy Apple Mix. These mixes come in a pre-measured package and only require mixing in a measured amount of water. Packaged mixes are a great option for busy operators as they cut down on prep time and keep costs down. Other mixture options include melting caramel candies with water or making caramel from scratch. These tactics work great for home chefs or small batches for specialty menus as they are costly and time-consuming for large batch production. To make your candied apples unique from your competitor, consider setting aside a mix of crushed candies, nuts, coconut, sprinkles or chocolate for extra coating. Once your apple is covered in the hot mixture, dip the sticky apple into a dry selection for extra texture and flavor.

Dipping and Setting Tools

Candy apple sticks are specifically designed to spear the top of the apple. This process can be a little tricky and hazards include receiving splinters from the stick. To avoid this, the apple setter sticker proves an easy ally. Simply place the apple stick into the apple setter, put the apple on top of the setter, press down and the setter guides the stick safely into place.

Sheet pans or candy apple pans lined with waxed paper provide a perfectly flat surface for freshly dipped apples to rest.  Be sure to have enough sheet pans for your batch to rest without any of the apples touching each other.

Oven mitts are essential for handling the hot apple cooker during the cleanup process. Do not attempt to pick up or handle the apple cooker with bare hands immediately after operation. It will be very hot!

Now, let’s get cooking! To use the apple cooker, an operator must first read the instruction manual that came with the equipment. This is to ensure that all cooking temperatures are accurate and safe.

Although cooking temperatures and batch loads may vary, apple cookers, stoves and kettles operate much in the same way.

  1. Plug in the unit and add the measured amount of water indicated in the owner’s manual along with the corresponding amount of packaged mix.
  2. Stir the two ingredients together until the mix is thoroughly drenched.
  3. Turn the temperature up to high and insert a candy thermometer into the mixture.
  4. Continue stirring the mix until it reaches a rapid boil.
  5. Once the mixture has reached the boiling point, stop stirring and monitor the temperature until it reaches the desired temperature as indicated in the owner’s manual or on the package of mix. This temperature is commonly 290º Fahrenheit.
  6. Turn the apple cooker off once the candy thermometer displays the desired temperature.
  7. Pick up an apple that has been speared by the candy apple stick. Do not attempt to coat the apple with your bare hands. The mixture is extremely hot and can cause severe burns.
  8. Dip the apple into the mixture and twist it all the way around until the entire apple is covered.
  9. Place the finished product onto the sheet pan.
  10. Continue until the entire batch of mixture is complete.
  11. Place the finished apples into a refrigerated storage space for at least one hour before serving.
  12. Follow the instructions in your manual for cleaning your apple cooker. This is often as easy as pouring in water, placing a lid on the cooker and steaming the cooker clean. Be sure to use oven mitts if you need to pick up or maneuver the hot apple cooker at any time.

And it’s as easy as that! The apple cooker is designed to allow operators to make candied apples quickly and without too much mess.

For more tips and tricks, check out the video below from our friends at Gold Medal Products!

How To Clean Stainless Steel Appliances or Equipment

Stainless Steel Work TableThere is a reason stainless steel is the preferred material for restaurant equipment. Stainless steel is durable and easy to clean, which are two key ingredients for an efficient commercial kitchen. Plus, some grades of stainless steel (like the kind used in commercial work tables and stands) resist bacteria and can be used as a food contact surface. However, if stainless steel restaurant equipment is not properly cleaned and maintained, it can corrode just like any other metal.

What Makes Stainless Steel Stainless?  

All stainless steel surfaces have a thin layer of chromium on the outside. The chromium layer chemically reacts with air to create a slick, hard surface that resists stains and corrosion. Anything that damages or interferes with that chromium/air interaction (like dirt, oil or scratches) will cause stainless steel to stain, corrode or rust. That’s why, especially in restaurants, frequent cleaning is necessary.

How to Clean Stainless Steel Restaurant Equipment  

Unlike other stain-resistant coatings that can wear away after repeated cleaning, the chromium layer will never wear away on stainless steel, so you can never clean stainless steel too much. Follow these cleaning tips to properly clean your stainless steel restaurant equipment:

  • Use a wet cloth and mild detergent. Oftentimes, the best cleaning solutions for stainless steel restaurant equipment is a damp bar towel, but, if you need to use a cleaning agent, add a mild detergent to the wash water.
  • Wipe in the direction of the finish. Some stainless steel surfaces have a brushed finish or grain. When cleaning, go with the grain, because scrubbing across the grain can damage the finish.
  • Use baking soda for baked-on grease. When water and detergent are not enough, add water to baking soda to make a paste to clean more difficult stains. You can also use a commercial cream cleanser, as long as it is non-abrasive.
  • Wipe up spills immediately. Spilled food, especially acidic food, can damage the protective chromium layer if left too long, so wipe spills with a damp cloth as soon as possible. Doing this will also make it easier to clean later, because the food will not be dried or baked on.
  • Glass DetergentUse glass cleaner to remove fingerprints. Oil from fingerprints can etch or tarnish stainless steel, especially mirror-polished finishes. Wherever the stainless steel is visible, use a glass cleaner to remove fingerprints at the end of the day, before the finish is permanently damaged.
  • Rinse the surface after cleaning. Any residual soap or detergent can be harmful if left for a long period of time, so rinse your stainless steel restaurant equipment with clean water and a damp cloth after cleaning it.
  • Dry immediately. Water spots from hard water can also damage a stainless steel finish. Simply dry the surface after cleaning to prevent water spots from forming.
Things to Avoid When Cleaning Stainless Steel Restaurant Equipment  

When cleaning your stainless steel restaurant equipment, there are a few precautions to keep in mind.

  • Chlorine does more harm than good. Chlorine, or cleaners containing chlorine, will definitely kill any bacteria on the stainless steel surface, but it will also break down the protective chromium layer. Instead, use an ammonia-based solution if you need more bacteria-killing power.
  • Never use rough abrasive sponges and steel wool. Abrasive cleaning tools, like Brillo pads and steel wool, will scratch the stainless steel and cause it to rust. Only use brushes and pads made from nylon, soft plastic or any other soft flexible material when more scrubbing power is needed.
  • Only use stainless steel cleaners as a last resort. Stainless steel cleaners or polishes should only be used if the surface does become scratched or stained, because it is an actual coating meant to repair damage. If the steel is undamaged, polish is unnecessary. The polish can help remove the stain and protect the scratched areas from corrosion.

Veggies A Perfect Low Carb, High Margin Pasta Alternative

Starting in Italy and spreading across every continent, pasta has been a staple at dinner tables for hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of years. But in the 21st century, there is a growing trend that shows no sign of slowing down. Some think it’s a bit fusilli. Some would call it the impasta pasta. But for establishments looking to cater to the growing demand for low-carb and gluten-free pasta alternatives, vegetable noodles are where it’s at.

When it comes to making pasta out of vegetables, the Nemco Vegetable Noodler is in a class by itself. It can help you capitalize on the low-carb craze as the one and only zucchini-noodle machine that can deliver the commercial-grade speed and performance durability you need! Quickly turn zucchini and other firm veggies into a low-carb, high-margin pasta replacement.

The 55050AN-P is the only NSF-approved (What is NSF, anyway?) commercial grade device of its kind on the market. The Easy Vegetable Noodler lives up to its name in numerous ways—maximizing your profit potential on every low-carb,  gluten-free, spaghetti-noodle order. Most zucchini noodle makers are only available at the consumer retail level but Nemco’s Easy Vegetable Noodler is specifically built for commercial kitchens.

The Nemco Easy Vegetable Noodler is:
Easy to load: Cut the ends off of a zucchini, summer squash, sweet potato  or other similar firm veggie, mount one end on the drive plate and slide the face plate up flush against the other end.
  • Easy to use: The Noodler is securely mounted to the counter, perfectly  balanced, and specially equipped with an extremely smooth drive mechanism. So, cranking out mounds of noodles, even at high speed, takes little to no effort.
  • Easy to clean: Spin a few wing nuts and remove from the base mount.  Just like that, the Noodler is prepped for a thorough wash down in the sink.
  • Sound, simple mechanical design-operation minimizes potential for maintenance issues and makes troubleshooting a virtual no-brainer.
  • Sand-cast aluminum construction withstands anything the commercial kitchen, yes, even yours, can dish out.

Watch the Nemco Easy Vegetable Noodler in action above, and for all your pasta cooking and serving needs, make us your one stop shop and discover why, at Burkett, the pastabilities are endless!

Food Processors, Taco Baskets Make Mexican Food Prep Grate

For customers dining in restaurants, it’s all about time. How quickly can the drinks come out? What about appetizers? In Mexican restaurants particularly, how quickly before the chips and salsa arrives so customers can start snacking. And how quickly can you refill those bowls?

You might be saying to yourself I only have so much manpower. How quickly can I dice tomatoes and onions for my salsa or cheese for my queso? The answer to that question is continuous feed food processors that save time, money, and ingredients all at once!

Food processors are designed to slice, shred, chop, Julienne or do any other slicing task you can think of very quickly. When selecting the unit to suit your needs, you will want to consider the capacity, horsepower and the plates that are included. There are different container capacities for different needs, so if you plan to slice an entire bag of potatoes non-stop, you will want to get one with the largest capacity you can find. Another option to look for is a diversion chute. Rather than just slicing into the attached container, some models have a side chute that allows you to place a bowl or pan next to the unit and shred away. Horsepower is another specification to consider when looking for a food processor. This value tells you how “strong” the unit is, and the higher the number the more powerful it is. Establishments that will only be using the unit a couple of hours a day should only need something with 1 horsepower or less. Larger establishments that will be processing food all day long should look for something with a higher horsepower rating. A final consideration is the number and type of slicing discs that are included. Assess your specific slicing needs and check the product description for which discs come with the unit. If you cannot find the discs you need, additional discs can be acquired.

With brands you can trust like Berkel, Hobart, Robot Coupe (like the one in the video below), and Waring, these continuous feed processors make food preparation a cinch.

Enough About Appetizers, Let’s Talk Tacos

Now that we’ve addressed appetizers, what about those crispy, crunchy hard shell tacos and tostadas? Whether tostada shells, taco salad bowls, or classic hard shell tacos, taco baskets are a simple and easy way to fry tortilla shells into taco shapes for added freshness and crunchiness to your customers’ orders. And when you’re ready to serve them, taco serving racks, or taco taxis, are the perfect way to add a little flair to the presentation on the plate as well as making it easier for customers to manage the messy meal.

Tacos on a plate

Taco taxi on a plate for more manageable consumption.

Tacos are a crowd favorite and for good reason. Hard or soft, chicken, veggie, pork or beef, at home, in restaurants, at food trucks, and everywhere in between, we Americans consumed more than 4.5 billion tacos last year!

If you think that’s a lot of tacos, well, it is. If you think that there should be a celebration, well, there is.

Between Mexican Mondays and Taco Tuesdays, this centuries-old staple is always celebrated but on Oct. 4 it gets its own special day.

#NationalTacoDay celebrates the sandwich — that’s not up for debate, by the way, the word taco is the Spanish equivalent of the English word for sandwich – that is an essential part of the $40 billion Mexican restaurant industry.

Burkett account executives and representatives have plenty of experience working with some of the best Mexican restaurants across the country. They know what works, what doesn’t, what’s trending up and what’s trending down. Whether a startup or long-established business, call 800-828-8564 or log on to our Mexican Restaurant Business Type page and let us help you get to the next level.

Cloudy to Clear: Filtered Water Makes The Best Ice

Ice cubes in a glassWe’ve all been there. You’re at a restaurant and the server brings you your favorite beverage in a glass with ice. But as soon as it arrives, you can tell. Each ice cube in the glass seems a little cloudy, a little foggy, it may even have a taste or smell. It is not the usual clarity you are used to seeing.

What causes this cloudiness? Buildup. Anytime you see a cloudy ice cube, you should inform the restaurant manager that it might be a sign for either a new commercial ice machine or a new water filter. Think of ice as food. As with every other food, safe and proper preparation are the only ways to guarantee a healthy, tasty product. Installing an inline filtration system on your commercial ice machine’s water supply assures that residual bacteria, accumulated minerals and other contaminants are removed from the water.

Which Filtration System Should You Buy?

Commercial water filtration systems use one to three filters to totally clean your incoming water. The number you need depends on the size of your commercial ice machine. Ice filters need to be changed every 6 months. Failure to change the filter will cause your machine to work harder and wear it out faster. Ice-O-Matic, for example, offers a free extended warranty if you agree to change the water filter every six months.

The Dirt on Ice Contaminants

Ice is subject to a variety of contaminants. The most common occur when a machine is poorly maintained or the water supply has dissolved minerals or residual chlorine.

  • Mineral Deposits: Municipal water companies only remove contaminants that are harmful to human health. Many dissolved minerals are not harmful, therefore are not removed. Mineral laden water results in ice that appears cloudy and can make a drink smell and taste unappealing.
  • Slime Build-Up: Slime build-up can result from a poorly maintained ice machine. Ice made from a slimy machine will appear cloudy with a slight yellow, green or red tint and can cause illness, especially in those with weakened immune systems.
  • Chlorination: Chlorination is the process of adding chlorine to water in order to treat it and kill harmful germs. Residual chlorine remains in the water supply giving the water an unappealing taste.

Water is clear and ice cubes should be, too. With the right attention and care of your commercial ice machine, you can guarantee crystal clear cubes in your drinks every time.

Brush Up on Food Safety Skills for Food Safety Month

September is National Food Safety Education month. With cold and flu season approaching, the beginning of a new school year and general changes around the kitchen, it’s a perfect time for restaurants, bars, cafeterias and other food service establishments to refresh safety skills and brush up on the local health code requirements.

Clean the Right Way

This may seem like a no-brainer, but cleaning is one of the most important things to do to prevent the spread of germs and illness-causing bacteria. Cleaning involves cleaning your hands, your utensils and food surfaces, and also your fruits and vegetables.

  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm, soapy water. Wash after touching any part of your body, after sneezing or coughing, before and after handing food, and after handling money.
  • Wash food preparation surfaces and utensils right away after using. The best way to fully sanitize is to use a diluted bleach solution, which kills 99% of bacteria on contact.
  • Washing PepppersWash all produce, including fruits and veggies (but not meats, poultry, or eggs). Use a clean scrub brush and wash with clean running water, even if you plan to slice or peel the produce. Pat dry and enjoy!

Prevent Cross Contamination

Prevent contamination by potential allergens, bacteria and other harmful substances by keeping foods properly separated during every stage of storage, preparation and service. Be sure that raw foods are stored separately from cooked foods. If possible, use separate cutting boards to prepare different types of foods.

Cook Foods to Safe Temperatures

When you cook foods, the only way to ensure that any residual bacteria in the food is eradicated is by heating the food to 140°F or higher. This effectively raises the temperature out of the food “Danger Zone” (between 40°F and 140°F). Once cooked, keep the food hot using a chafing dish or food warmer. Foods become more susceptible to bacterial growth once the temperatures dip back down into the Danger Zone.

Chill Perishable Foods

Chilling perishables in a properly functioning refrigerator or freezer ensures that food is, once again, kept out of the Danger Zone. Be sure frozen food is stored at or below 0°F, and refrigerated foods are kept below 40°F. Never thaw frozen foods or marinate them on the counter. When serving food, be sure to refrigerate any leftovers within two hours. When in doubt, throw out any questionable refrigerated foods.

RestaurantCommunicate with Your Employees

Your staff members are your allies when it comes to safety and sanitation, and their compliance and understanding is crucial to your restaurant or food service operation’s success. Communicate the importance of food safety and sanitation with your team, including the reasons why it is important. Once your staff understands how doing things the wrong way can actually prove harmful to your customers, your business and your reputation, making safety a team effort is less of a struggle.

Whether you run a restaurant, a school cafeteria or your own catering business, educate yourself and follow proper food safety procedures this month and all throughout the year.

Top 10 Tips for Opening Your Own Pizza Shop

A slice of pizza with gooey cheesePizza! Who doesn’t love pizza?! It’s the perfect food for nearly any occasion and that’s why it’s a beloved choice of so many diners eating in, carrying out or ordering delivery. With right recipe, for pizza and profits, you can open up your own pizza place and grab your own slice of this popular, and still-growing in popularity, food choice.

Top ten tips for pizza shop success

  1. Make good pizza. Seems fairly obvious, right? No matter how good everything else is, if the product doesn’t stack up your customers won’t last long. The first and most important thing you need when starting a pizza business is good pizza. A lot of people who go into the restaurant business have already tinkered around in their home kitchens or have an old family recipe that has been passed down for generations. For those who do not have such a solid foundation, there are several basic pizza types that you can choose to offer.
  2. Decide between franchising and going independent. More than half of all pizzerias in the United States are independently owned or small chains. Staying independent means that you have complete control over your business and your brand, which some people prefer. However, franchises already have brand awareness and have already solved some of the problems that new restaurant owners run into.
  3. Overestimate your startup costs. A lot of new restaurant owners underestimate how much it costs to open a restaurant. In order to plan for unforeseen expenses, adding an additional 15% to 25% to your budget will help you get through the crucial first year.
  4. Offer delivery and/or carryout. The fact of the matter is, a lot of people enjoy the convenience of being able to place a phone call and have a hot pizza delivered to their door in under an hour. With over 1 billion pizzas being delivered each year in the United States, having some sort of pizza delivery or carryout option will assure that you are not turning away customers that want to eat at home but do not want to cook anything themselves.
  5. Offer more than just pizza. Very few restaurants survive by offering a limited menu. Many pizza shops offer calzones, pasta or other Italian favorites to cater to individuals who are in the mood for tomato sauce and comfort food, but not necessarily pizza.
  6. Lock in commodity prices. Cheese and flour are the most heavily used ingredients in the pizza industry. Unfortunately, the prices for these basic ingredients can fluctuate greatly on a daily basis, which can affect your bottom line. To better control your costs, you can contract with a food supplier to lock in a price for cheese, flour or other commodities so your prices are not subject to the whims of the stock market.
  7. Control your portions. Portion control is crucial to controlling overall ingredient costs, reducing waste and providing a uniform product. Use food scales to measure dough ingredients, flat bottom ladles for saucing a pizza and measuring cups for your other toppings to ensure that you are not losing money by putting too many mushrooms on a pizza.
  8. Cater to the masses. If you provide delivery at your pizzeria, then catering should be easy to implement. Schools, offices or any event that needs to feed a lot of people can easily be catered by a pizza shop. For most parties, you can expect to serve two or three slices of pizza per person. You will also want to include some of your other menu items on the catering menu, at a discounted price.
  9. Insure your delivery driver. Restaurants are required to carry insurance against loss of their business, worker’s compensation and basic liability insurance. Establishments that provide delivery services will need to carry additional liability insurance to cover their drivers when they are on the clock.
  10. Be wary of discounting. Pizzeria customers are accustomed to the coupons that come on their pizza box. Coupons and discounts are a good way to bring customers in the door, especially during difficult economic times, but those discounts will eat into your bottom line. Also, if you discount too much for too long, it can erode your brand value. If you feel the need to discount, only do it for a limited time to protect your brand and your bottom line.

Starting any new business can be a daunting task. New restaurants in particular face a steep uphill battle, because the majority of the concepts fail within the first three years. Luckily, you have chosen to provide food that 94% of the U.S. population enjoys eating, so as long as you educate yourself on starting a restaurant, you stand a fair chance of succeeding where man others have failed.

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