Sponsored by Ventura Foods
Every day brings new challenges for restaurant operators navigating the uncharted landscape of COVID-19 recovery. Often they must rethink procedures and replace products that have served them well for years but are no longer practical in a changed operating environment.
Operators can realize a smoother reopening and more successful recovery by heeding the following restaurant management fundamentals.
Training and Tools
It is important to reenergize and reengage employees who are tackling expanded job descriptions and unique working conditions. In many cases, improved staff training results in higher morale, improved performance and longer retention.
Helpful resources include videos and fact sheets on fryer oil management by ReRestaurant with Ventura Foods. They are ideal for training new hires as well as refreshing the knowledge of experienced workers. For example, some of the keys for superior oil life, performance and cost control are maintaining proper oil temperature while frying, reducing the temperature when the fryer is not in use and regularly skimming out food particles.
Operators were walloped financially by the pandemic. Now as they restart their businesses with lighter wallets and fewer hands to do the work, it is imperative to boost efficiency, productivity and cost control.
It's a good idea to analyze the ingredients currently in use on the menu and substitute products that perform just as well but cost less. ReRestaurant with Ventura Foods suggests searching for savings in high-performance fryer oil as well as such pantry essentials as mayonnaise, liquid butter alternatives and butter blends and spreads.
Takeout and Delivery
Off-premise foodservice was already a hot trend before the pandemic. Today it is a lasting consumer preference and a profit center that is helping some restaurant brands not only survive but grow as well. Providing condiments and dressings in convenient, single-use, portion-controlled packaging is a must for off-premise service these days because you can never have too much convenience. Products such as Hidden Valley Ranch dressing in portion cups make it quick and easy to complete to-go orders with minimal handling in the kitchen.
When pandemic-driven dining restrictions struck the industry, some operators trimmed their menus to save labor and boost operational efficiency. McDonald’s, for one, reported faster transaction times at the drive-thru when it paused its all-day breakfast and eliminated several sandwiches, desserts and beverages. Other operators may take a lesson from the chain’s limited menu experience.
Meal kits and bundled family meals to-go have given operators a lifeline during the pandemic too. True Food Kitchen recently offered the Labor Day Takeout Box, a pickup or delivery meal for five persons, priced at $70. The deal included Heirloom Tomato & Watermelon Starter, a choice of Grilled Chicken Avocado Wraps or Jackfruit Lettuce Wraps, and five Dark Chocolate Quinoa Brownies.
The Blue Duck Tavern at Park Hyatt Washington, D.C., launched an online ordering program with new family-feeding options for curbside pickup. Included are signature dishes from the breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. Family Meals, priced at $75 to $145 and feeding two to four people, include items such as Whole Roasted Pasture-Raised Chicken with arugula and kale salad.
Some operators are reaping revenues by providing bulk provisions to convenience-seeking customers. Frothy Monkey, a specialty coffee and restaurant chain in Nashville, Tenn., offers online ordering of staples such as bread, milk, eggs, flour and fresh produce for curbside pickup at its locations.
Other operators are going all-in on delivery with “virtual” or “ghost” kitchens dedicated to feeding off-premise consumers. A case in point is The Absolute Brands, a collection of restaurant concepts delivered from three virtual kitchen locations. Its brands include Dog Haus, the craft-casual hot dog and sausage chain, plus branded chicken, burger, burrito, breakfast and plant-based food offerings. By sharing space, staff and equipment, the virtual kitchen platform enables the delivery of multiple food concepts without the high overhead of a conventional restaurant.
Many operators put the brakes on new product development when the pandemic disrupted business. Now, new products are surfacing as the industry invites customers back during recovery. However, satisfying the consumer’s craving for new flavors with the scant budget most operators have for R&D and menu overhauls represents a challenge. But menumakers can get the job done by simplifying recipes, cross-utilizing ingredients and reaching for versatile flavoring products.
Prepared flavoring sauces with cleaner labels and made-from-scratch taste are particularly useful for designing new menu items in a cost-efficient way. ReRestaurant with Ventura Foods suggests creating on-trend flavor combos with products such as Craft Buffalo Sauce, Garlic Parmesan Sauce and Gochujang Korean Pepper Sauce.
For more details about ReRestaurant with Ventura Foods, visit https://venturahereforyou.com/. The resources include product info, technology tips, training videos, cost sheets and industry research.