Do you want to deliver an outstanding experience to your guests every time they walk in the door? Of course you do! But while you may think the guest experience begins when they walk in your door, it actually starts before your guests even drive into your parking lot…in your kitchen with a proper restaurant line check process.
The best restaurants are able to deliver a consistent experience to every guest because they properly prepare their kitchens. The organization puts staff at ease and ensures a smooth ordering and meal delivery process, not to mention a delicious dish that tastes exactly as it should. Most importantly, a properly managed food prep line keeps your restaurants health inspection-ready and your guests safe from foodborne illness.
Do you have your restaurant line check on point? Here is a helpful ‘restaurant line check’ checklist that will help you be prepared to deliver a consistent and satisfying experience for every restaurant guest.
Your line cooks and chefs need easy access to all the food that will be used in that afternoon’s or evening’s menu options. Here’s what to verify:
- All food items are in place. A cook who’s continually running to the storage room or the refrigerator is a stressed cook who isn’t effectively managing time. All food items should be nearby and exactly where he or she expects them to be.
- All food items are properly portioned. Putting one ounce versus two ounces of cheese on a dish can make a huge difference, both in customer experience and in your restaurants’ food costs.
- All food items are kept at proper temperatures. Temperature is a major concern on the line. Hot items need to be kept hot without losing texture or taste. Cold items, especially those that can spoil, need to be kept cold. Having a tool that provides easy temp readings of items on the line is essential.
All cooking equipment should be clean, in working order, and ready for the meal preps for the day. Make sure that:
- Your refrigerator and freezer are at the right temperatures. Don’t just assume everything is working correctly. Regularly check and adjust your freezer and refrigerator temperatures. The food temperature danger zone is between 40-140 degrees Fahrenheit. This means that potentially hazardous foods – usually those high in protein — grow bacteria most rapidly in this temperature range. Food can only be in this temperature for a max of four hours.
- Cooking surfaces are clean and ready to use. A dirty counter not only wastes time, but it can also pose a health concern. All surfaces should be clean and sanitized before food preparation begins and kept clean throughout the cooking process.
- Thermometers are available and in working condition. Have thermometers that work properly right where the cooks need them, or have another way of determining that foods are kept at the proper temps.
- Date and time stamps are accurate. Date and time stamps ensure proper food rotation. Most prepared food can be held for 3-7 days depending on the ingredient. Having a date and time stamp system is vital for fresh food and to reduce waste.
Something as minor as a spot on a glass can be the difference between a wonderful customer experience and an average restaurant review. Make sure the following are on your restaurant line check and ready at all times:
- Clean plates, glasses, and utensils. You can’t afford to wait on a dishwasher cycle when a hungry guest is waiting for his or her meal. Since they don’t spoil, you can have extra serving items ready. You’ll have them for the next shift if not used. You should have enough serviceware ready to ensure freshly washed dishes have time to dry. Warm, wet utensils can grow bacteria and be a potential violation on your health inspection.
- Extra supplies are easily available to servers. Are servers able to access extra condiments like sauces, dips, and seasonings should the guests request them? Or do you prefer to have every condiment accounted for and have them rang in? Determine if you’re counting these as operating supplies and easily accessible or if you want to track them as non-charged modifiers and input for food cost.
An organized and prepared line leads to productive kitchen staff and energetic servers, both of which add to your guests’ dining experience. If you would like more information on how Decision Logic’s technology can help you with restaurant line checks, please email us for a demo of our restaurant management software.