The devil’s in the detail. It’s a cliche term we’ve all heard at some point in life but anyone working within a great restaurant knows just how true the sentence rings.
Anyone who has worked inside a great restaurant, in the kitchen or front of house, knows that it’s the small details and paying attention to them that make all the difference.
There’s no point cooking a wonderful dish if it’s plated badly and no point welcoming guest warmly if you forget them when they leave.
All these points are important when operating a restaurant and one of our favourite chef writers, Paul Sorgule, has covered some of the overlooked restaurant details that anyone working in the industry should be aware of on his Harvest America Ventures blog.
Here they are:
Does anyone walk your parking lot every day to ensure that it is free of litter, properly lit with well-appointed signage?
Are shrubs, trees, grass, flowers, and general grounds well maintained and fresh looking?
Who inspects restaurant windows to make sure that they are free of spots, dust, cobwebs, etc. (inside and out)?
How about transition lighting as people walk into your restaurant?
Are carpets and floors impeccably clean?
Take a look at your bar. Are bottles dusted and labels pointed towards the guest? Is there a smell of stale beer lines or sugars from mixed drinks that remain from a previous shift? Is woodwork polished and fresh looking? Are all lights clean and in working order?
Check your bathrooms! They should be spotless – not just at the beginning of a service, but throughout even your busiest night. Who is assigned to maintain the bathroom? If a guest finds the bathroom out of order, lacking in cleanliness, or not pleasant smelling they probably wonder how clean your kitchen is as well.
What about the quality of your music system? Whether it is background or foreground music, the quality of the sound system is either a complement or deterrent to the dining experience.
Do all cooks follow the exact procedure for cooking each dish on your menu? Does someone check all plates before and during service to ensure that there are no chips, cracks, watermarks or smudges?
Are all food items in coolers labeled, dated, and rotated to help support your commitment to freshness?
Are coffee systems thoroughly cleaned at the end of every shift?
Is there a definitive way to assemble each menu item on your plates? Do you have reference pictures for your staff?
Does the chef inspect each cook’s uniform, grooming, and mise en place every day? Your staff (front and back) represents your restaurant image.
Do you follow the mantra: taste-season-taste with every item before it is delivered to a guest?
Are all of your dining room tables level?
Are all chairs in good repair?
Does your service staff polish glassware, and flatware before setting them on a tabletop?
Do you have the correct glassware for different types of wine, beer, and mixed drinks?
Do your servers measure the placement of flatware on tabletops?
Is your table butter served at the right temperature? Not too soft, not too cold and firm.
Do you warm coffee cups and espresso drink cups?
Do your servers know the menu inside and out and can they comfortably recommend complementary drinks and appetizers?
Do all of your staff members CARE about the guest experience?
Staff shortages are hitting the hospitality sector hard, prompting some restaurants to look outside the industry to train those without restaurant experience for life in the kitchen. Andrew Friedman finds out more.