Archive for the ‘Restaurant Tips’ Category
Why is my collection bin missing… and where is my used cooking oil? This is the puzzling question that commercial kitchen operators have been pondering more and more over the past year, and will continue to think about as 2012 will be a year in which cooking oil theft is projected to increase. Last year, hundreds of thousands of gallons of used cooking oil was stolen as a result of rising oil prices and a discrepancy on how the perpetrators should be charged. This is leaving owners and law enforcement authorities baffled by what to do.
You can place looking mechanisms on the bins or move the problem inside, but the easiest way to prevent oil theft is simply not to store any on site. Sounds simple enough, but the oil must still be removed and recycled responsibly. Many kitchens are now turning to Filta for a bin-free solution. Many of our locations have outfitted their FiltaFry service vans with waste oil tanks and are able to remove the oil directly from the fryers at the time of cleaning. The response to FiltaBio has been overwhelming, and more and more commercial kitchens select the eco-friendly service that removes the bins and barrels from the service location. By removing the problem, pests and perpetrators find themselves looking elsewhere to satisfy their desires. From there, the oil is safely transported to be made into biodiesel, the environmentally friendly alternative to petrochemical-based diesel. So say “bye-bye” to your bins and barrels. Right from your fryer to the Filta van…no bin required. For information on the FiltaBio service, contact your local FiltaMan.
The Filta Environmental Kitchen Solutions Franchise and Navion Insurance Associates have teamed up to offer restaurants and food service operations a discount of at least 5% on their insurance costs, when the facility uses Filta’s FiltaFry service.
According to Eric Magee, Navion’s President, “Restaurants that use the FiltaFry service dramatically lower their exposure to workers compensation and general liability loss. Filta effectively reduces employee exposure to hot oil and the hazards of cleaning fryers. It is simple – Since there is reduced risk, the restaurant deserves a better rate.” Eric says he has firsthand knowledge of the dangers of working with hot cooking oil and has a few scars from his youth to prove it.
Current Filta Customers can ask their local Franchise Owner for information on the program or contact Navion directly. For food service establishments not yet familiar with the FiltaFry service but are interested in reducing their risk and cooking oil consumption, should contact Filta directly. Filta offers a free on site demonstration of the FiltaFry service and will show you how the service can benefit your kitchen and your bottom line.
Work-related burns are one of the leading causes of occupational injuries in the restaurant industry.
One of the most common injuries are scald burns, which is when the skin comes in contact with hot liquid or steam. Scalds from water are very frequent in the restaurant industry and can cause third degree burns. However, scalds from hot oil are generally more severe than those from water. This is because oil heats to higher temperatures, and oil is thicker so it may remain on the skin for a longer period of time. With the constant growing of the food service industry, keeping employees safe in the kitchen has become one of the highest priorities for restaurants owners.
Another serious work-related injury in restaurants is slip and falls. Many serious burns occur when employees slip and reach to steady themselves. This action often can knock hot liquids off of counters and stove tops on to the worker. Another instance could occur if an employee is carrying full containers of hot liquids.
Among the most dangerous job duties of a restaurant employee is the removal of oil and cleaning or “boiling out” of deep fryers. This task is very time-consuming, unpleasant, and unsafe. However, the Filta Group’s FiltaFry service greatly reduces, and almost completely eliminates, the dangers behind managing commercial deep fryers. With its unique machine and safety equipment, FiltaFry’s mobile onsite cooking oil filtration and fryer management service system completely takes the responsibility of dealing with the deep fryers away from the employees. The service includes filtering the cooking oil, discarding of the waste oil, cleaning the deep fryer, and calibrating the thermostats, while making sure the surrounding area is clean and hazard free. Thus, by relieving the employees of the duties of cleaning the deep fryers, FiltaFry gets rid of majority of restaurant related injuries. Employees will no longer have to deal with hot deep fryer oil, which cuts down on scalds and burns, as well as possible slip and falls.
Every employer’s nightmare is a workman’s compensation or unemployment claim. You do not have to have a degree in human resources or employment law to successfully protect your business and it’s assets from claims.
The nature of restaurants is it’s own evil. Accidents happen from slick kitchen floors, customers are at risk of being burned by hot liquid (just think about the McDonald’s coffee fiasco), emplyee claims (mainly around burns from fryers) and turnover in employees is higher than in almost any other industry. This is a recipe for disaster in the way of claims against your business, but there are several things you can do to protect yourself and your restaurant.
Policies and procedures are generally well outlined if you own a franchise and the training required by the franchisor will likely cover these in detail for your new employee. If you own a non-franchise restaurant you need to think carefully about your own policies and procedures and make sure they are clearly laid out in a manual you personally review with each new hire during the training process. If you aren’t experienced in writing, it may be worth your investment to hire an outside agency to review your manual and make necessary adjustments. Handing a manual to a new hire is not enough, especially if they have worked in restaurants before coming on board with yours. They are likely to think it’s the same across the board, and may gloss over important pieces of information that could prevent an accident. If you do own a franchise, this review is equally important. In either situation, yearly reviews of the manuals in the form of a group meeting is well worth the effort. By doing so, there is no room for confusion or forgetfulness that can result in cut corners and inevitably accidents in the workplace.
Paperwork is something no one enjoys, but it can be your lifeline in the event a claim comes against you. Document everything that happens, regardless of how small. For insurance issues, detailed documentation of what occurred, how the situation was responded to, witness statements that are signed and dated, and follow up processes implemented can make all of the difference in liability. If the injured employee broke any of your policies and procedures be sure to detail that information along with any disciplinary actions taken.
For unemployment claims, your paper trail is the only thing that can protect you. In each of your employee’s files you should have signed copies of their acknowledgment of the handbooks rules, details of each time they were late or called out of work, and very detailed reports on any disciplinary problems that arise. Even if your employee is given a “verbal warning” you need to have it documented that the warning was given and have the documentation signed by the employee acknowledging the issue. Most states are at will states, meaning either party can terminate their employment without any real reason, but when it comes to an unemployment claim it is you versus the employee on who was in the right. Even if there was only one violation to your policies, documentation of it can protect you if it comes to review by the Department of Labor.
Many people are considering Bio Diesel as an alternative fuel, and for good reason- biodiesel is typically cleaner burning, smells better and also better on the environment. While some savvy restaurant owners have come to the conclusion that it is better to recycle and reuse the oil- either by way of filtering better to eliminate loss through waste, or by giving their waste oil to local bio diesel users to convert- the problem remains the same. You cannot simply dump waste vegetable oil, so disposal is often a concern of restaurant owners.
When not disposed of properly, waste vegetable oil is not good for the environment, ironically. It can cause serious damage to local water supply and also, can be problematic for wildlife. Dumping waste vegetable oil in your own parking lot can also cause damage to your sewer and septic systems, and cause a great deal of repair to have to be made- costly repair.
Dumped vegetable oil actually causes a large number of issues with sewer and septic systems because as vegetable oil cools and settles it congeals, which can clog up pipes and cause corrosion of certain materials.
There are a number of kits available on the market now for do it yourself bio diesel afficianados- and the popularity of alternative fuel is taking the world by storm, particularly in the US. So, now, restaurant owners find themselves with a new alternative to paying fees for disposal or having to deal with local ordinances. However, there is also an issue of some bio diesel users not being careful when removing the waste oil- so how do you bring these two things together to benefit both? Some intelligent business owners have simply started to place ads in the paper for the removal of their waste oil, coming together and giving the grease using populace an easy way to obtain their fuel, but also, a great and cost effective way to dispose of the grease.
The FiltaBio service, offered by Filta Franchisees, takes the old oil away and ensures that all the oil goes to biodiesel. Others still yet simply take the waste vegetable oil to rendering companies. Usually, in these cases it doesn’t even matter how nasty the oil has gotten, not only do the rendering plants need that extra grime in the vegetable oil- they usually will pay to take it. These plants typically make alternatives to fire starters or animal foods from the vegetable oils, and restaurant owners never have to deal with it again. As you can see, there are many other alternatives to simply dumping waste vegetable oil out there- and all have better outcomes than simply tossing it. So, there are a variety of really great ways to take the waste oil issues you may have, and turn them around- not only either benefiting your bottom line, but benefiting the environment as well. Waste vegetable oil does not have to be a headache- as a matter of fact, with a little bit of negotiation, your “trash” can become someone else’s “treasure”.
The kitchen is the most important place in any restaurant. This is where food is prepped, delivered, made, and plated in a presentation that will be most appealing to the customers. Being able to maintain a neat, orderly and above all safe kitchen is paramount to any restaurant manager. Most restaurant kitchens are made up of several stations. From Prep, saute, pizza, salad and more, depending on the size of the restaurant there may be only a couple, or there may be many. When you’re thinking about your kitchen, consider the menu that you offer. If you have many salads on the menu, having an adequately stocked salad station is key, grilled food requires a larger grill to make sure that food gets prepped, prepared and delivered faster. Being able to maintain good space requirements, and understanding the space limits you have will help, also.
How you stock your kitchen will be very important, too. You have to make sure that all of the equipment you have is appropriate and efficient. However, it is usually beneficial to get much of the equipment used- this is a cost effective way to stock your kitchen and serving utensils, dishes, and other small items can really be obtained much more cheaply this way. For larger pieces, such as grills and ovens, you need to be a bit more careful to ensure that they have more life left in them. You may also want to think about leasing your equipment, particularly in respect to things like ice makers, which typically have a very short span of use.
Safety should be in your mind at all times. Always ensure that there is plenty of space for movement around things like the grill, ovens, and fryers. There needs to be enough room for your staff to be able to do their jobs and in such a way that does not compromise safety. Being sure that all areas where hot things are served, prepared or otherwise handled have appropriate safety measures is key, and making sure that your staff is well trained in how to handle certain situations will also be beneficial. As a routine part of your maintenance routine- make sure you have lists available on the way that you want each and every process done. This may be anything from how to clean the grills and ovens, to how to clean, filter and maintain the fryer- but make sure that everyone is very clear on what it is that needs to be done and in what fashion.
Keeping your kitchen safe is a major part of running a good restaurant. Your staff deserve and have the right to a safe and well organized work space that is as free of risk factors for injury as possible. Being aware of the space requirements from the outset and planning accordingly can help you to create a safe workplace before staff even enter the door. These are a few small ways to make sure that you’re not only running an efficient, but safe kitchen.
On the whole, if you asked the staff of ten restaurants what they hated the most about their line of work, the kitchen staffs from each of these restaurants would tell you- the commercial deep fryer is a dreaded machine, lurking there, waiting to be cleaned. From filtering the oil, to actually changing the oil and dealing with the vents- what a mess! Most staff do not relish the idea of waiting for the temperature to drop, dealing with the downtime, the potential burns, grease splatters and often slipper floors after. Training new employees to clean the fryer can be problematic- some employees are too young to even be allowed to touch it, let alone clean it. However, there are some things you can do to train employees to deal with the dreaded deep fryer in a better way.
First you have to get the fryer ready to be cleaned, and this involves letting the oil cool. Beginning with this, you have to realize that the fryer is kept at a constant heat- usually right around 350F, and that takes a long time to cool properly. Turning the fryer off, unplugging it, and allowing the oil to get down to a workable temperature is important. The highest the temperature should be when cleaning is roughly 150F. Once it has reached this temperature or lower, you can then begin the cleaning process.
Once the fryer oil has cooled, then comes draining it of the oil. As you allow the oil to drain from the vat, you will want to take any baskets or utensils used and wash them separately. After all of the oil is removed from the fryer, then you have to scrape it clean. Particle build up is a big problem for fryers- and if the scraping is not done properly, not only will the new oil be compromised and make it so the food does not taste the best that it could, but, it can also cause mechanical problems and safety issues with the fryer itself. Using a metal spatula, scraping down the sides and being sure to get into the corners is usually best.
For every type of fryer, there may be a different way of cleaning- and this is the actual deep cleaning that is so vital to the continued maintenance of the machine. Fill the fryer with water and a soap solution made for cleaning deep fryers, and plug the fryer back in- turn it on and allow the water to come to a boil. Once it has reached a good, rolling boil, then unplug the fryer again, and allow the water to cool, draining the soap solution just as you did with the oil. Rinse with a rinsing agent, and then, rinse it again with water.
Generally, a decent solvent will take care of the outside of the fryer. Sometimes you may find that you have to allow the solvent to sit to make sure that you have removed any caked on grease. Wiping the fryer down, making sure to give it a good once over with dry towels or cloth can help your fryer to not only look better, but smell better also. Once this is all done, you have to make sure that the area around the fryer itself isn’t still greasy. Often, throughout the normal course of a day, the area in front of a fryer gets a thin layer of grease which can cause slip and fall accidents. As this is the last step, the fryer, and the area around it should be ready to run again with the next shift.
The alternative… get a Filta technician in to manage your fryers.
Kitchen workers, especially fry cooks may have a greater risk for injuries like burns and carbon monoxide poisoning. Though commercial fryers are relatively easy to use, injuries can and often do occur in the routine course of using them and especially in maintenance. Consider that frying oil is generally kept at a temperature of about 350 degrees, anyone who works around them is at risk for injuries due to splashing oil. As to carbon monoxide poisoning, most commercial fryers come with a specialized vent for diverting the gas into a vent hood. However, when that vent hood is compromised or the exhaust is not properly maintained, the entire kitchen can very quickly fill with the gas.
Protective measures are best. Restaurant managers need to be absolutely on top of their employees safety at all times. While it is true that it is the responsibility of the manager to provide a safe work environment, there are a number of things that employees themselves can be doing to ensure that they are safely handling the fryer systems. Management has to take care to make sure that there are nonslip pads on the floor near the fryer, that all employees handling the fryer are well trained and always cautious, that the vent hoods are regularly inspected and in working order, and that there is a class K fire extinguisher nearby in the event of an emergency. Inadequate or training that has not been taken seriously when using fryers is a big cause of injury amongst food service workers. Always take roughhousing and other hazardous behaviors very seriously and discipline accordingly to not only prevent injury, but insurance premium costs that can come of even minor injuries as a result.
Here are a few tips for employees so that they can protect themselves from injury when working around the fryer.
- Always be sure to wear slip resistant shoes and the proper safety equipment. Pot holders and oven mitts should be used when lifting baskets and always wear steam gloves when changing or filtering the oil.
- Only add the oil to the fill line. An overfull fryer vat is an accident waiting to happen, as the oil can boil over very easily if it is too full.
- If you experience symptoms like dizziness, weakness or nausea, check with coworkers to find out if they are also experiencing them. If so, report this to the management immediately and be sure that the vent hood is in full working order.
- Never have drinks around the fryer- this can cause ice or liquid to go into the hot oil, which can cause splattering and splash overs that can cause injury.
- Always allow the oil plenty of time to cool before removal of vent filters and cleaning.
- Keep the floor around the fryer clean and dry at all times. An oily or slippery floor can lead to slips which will cause a burn.
- Never drop baskets abruptly into the oil. Always lower slowly, with care not to splash or move too quickly.