Monday, March 11, 2013

Restaurant Consulting NYC | Fresh Flowers In your Restaurant – Yes You Can Afford Flowers! | 4Q Consulting, LLC

Fresh Flowers In your Restaurant – Yes You Can Afford Flowers!

Our clients often ask us if they should have fresh flowers in their restaurants and cited their budget as a reason to forgo them.  Fresh flowers that complement your restaurant’s décor and color scheme will instill a warm, welcoming, and hospitable environment. Placing a small, artistically-made arrangement of fresh flowers on each table can raise your diners’ spirits and make them feel welcome, which in turn can help drive repeat business, especially for your local clientele.

The expense of fresh flowers can be mitigated if they are if managed and handled correctly to extend their use.  Here are some tips to manage the cost of your floral arrangements:

Choose Wisely – Choosing hearty flowers that last relatively long will be most cost effective. For example when watered regularly, flowers such as hydrangeas and chrysanthemums can last five to seven days. While other flowers might look pretty, replacing them every two or three days can get costly. Work with your florist to select bunches that will bloom, as these can live for up to two weeks if cared for.

Keep Arrangements Simple and in Line with your Overall Décor – Choosing a suitable vase and flower arrangement will depend on your restaurant’s design and theme. If your budget is limited keep it simple:  a single stem can go a long way.  For instance Cymbidium Orchids come in a variety of colors and can compliment your color palette.

Maintenance – Simple maintenance will help to extend usability. Remove any wilting or discolored flowers as the buds start to blossom.  Add water to the vases every day to ensure a fresh supply of nutrients. When not in use, store the flower arrangements in the fridge.  Work with your florist on how to make your flowers last even longer.  Some florists suggest using a flower preservative or placing two drops of bleach into the water to preserve the petals and to prevent bacteria growth; check with your florist as methods depend on flower type.

Build a Relationship with your Local Florist – Build a rapport with your florist.  When you have a strong working relationship with a vendor they are more likely to work with you on price, advise you of new stock or product and perhaps offer services not normally available (i.e. on-site servicing of arrangements, changing out vases, etc.).  When you have a friendly rapport with your florist, you will receive a higher level of service.  Once this relationship is established, the local florist is much more likely to work with you on payment terms, recommend your restaurant to their clients, and be open to cross marketing and promotions.

Fresh Flowers in your restaurant need not be expensive if done properly and can even help drive business.  Cut fresh flowers can set you apart from your competition, drive repeat business and give you opportunity establish a beneficial vendor partner.

We work with some of the top florists in New York.  Starbright Floral has a business model conducive to our restaurant clients' needs for weekly flowers in NYC.

Don’t know where to begin?  Ask yourself, do you have the proper written procedures and operational guidelines in place so your manager can help you be as profitable as possible?  4Q Consulting can develop customized operational guidelines and training programs to meet your needs.  Email us today for a free business consultation!

All original content copyright Noelle E. Ifshin, 2012-2013.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Restaurant Consulting NYC | Chillin' Out - Safe Food Storage and Handling | 4Q Consulting, LLC

Chillin’ Out -
Safe Food Storage and Handling

Food safety is a top concern for every commercial kitchen. As we head into the warmer months, ensuring all foods are properly refrigerated and stored below 40°F becomes more of a challenge.  Operators must learn about safe and unsafe temperature ranges, especially in how food is stored and handled.

Time and temperature play a vital role in whether food is safe to eat or needs to be thrown out.  We have all heard the adage “keep cold food cold and hot food hot”, which refers to keeping food out of the Danger Zone. The Danger Zone is the temperature range between 40°F and 140°F in which harmful bacteria multiply the fastest. If perishable foods stay in the Danger Zone too long, the food will spoil, meaning there will be no way to kill off the bacteria present. 

Here are some of our key recommendations on food safety and keeping food out of the Danger Zone:

Food Storage -

Monitor Refrigerator and Product Temperatures - Most, if not all, commercial refrigerators come with a built in thermometer. We recommend having a second thermometer in all refrigerators in case one is out of calibration.  Large walk-ins should have several thermometers in different areas to identify temperature differences and possible hot spots.  If your fridge, or areas of it, is warmer than 40°F, your food will never be below 40°F.  Raw and cooked food items should also be randomly sampled for proper temperature with instant read thermometers.  We advise our clients to keep a refrigerator log and take the equipment temperatures twice daily – as part of opening and closing duties.  By getting in the habit of doing this daily, you can identify problems sooner so as not to lose food due to spoilage.

Do Not Overload Fridges - If there are too many items stacked in a refrigerator the unit will have to work too hard to maintain the proper temperature. This could create hot spots where areas of the cabinet are not cold enough and refrigerated food will spoil. Blocking the internal and external air vents of the unit will disrupt proper cooling operation of the fridge, causing temperatures to rise. The refrigeration unit may even stop working altogether.

Proper Refrigeration Maintenance – Make sure that you have a certified refrigerator repair service.  All commercial units need to have their compressors professionally cleaned and serviced at least twice per year to keep them in working order.  The cost outlay of this service often outweighs the cost of lost food due to spoilage, damage to your units from not servicing them, and possible health department fines.  If you are not sure where to find a reputable company, check with your state’s Restaurant Association for a list of suppliers.

Food Handling -

Work in Batches – On hot days, when the ambient kitchen temperatures can be over   100°F, it is a good idea to handle perishable items in batches.  For example, when butchering steaks, it is best to take only one or two whole sides of beef out of the walk-in at a time;  once the batch is done, place the fabricated batch back into the walk-in before starting on the next.  Remember, according to the 2009 FDA Food Code, food cannot be left out in the Danger Zone for more than two hours and it is easy to forget about prep time.

Use Proper Cooling Techniques – Cooked food must to be cooled as fast as possible, so as not to spend too much time in the Danger Zone.  All food that has been cooked to the proper temperature must be cooled to 70°F within two hours and then down to 40°F within another 4 hours.  Train your staff in all the proper cooling techniques.  An example of improper cooling that is all too common: a 5 gallon bucket of hot rice stored in the walk-in straight from the stove; it would still be hot in the center the next morning and have the potential for making your customers very sick.

Use Proper Thawing Techniques - Never defrost food at room temperature. Food must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing. There are only three safe ways to defrost food: in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave. Food thawed in cold water or in the microwave should be cooked immediately after thawing because of the time already spent in the Danger Zone.

Having to constantly check temperatures and observe safe food handling practices may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but as with all things, after repeating the correct procedures over and over, it will become second nature. Making food safety concerns part of the daily routine can only help your business by providing tasty, bacteria-free meals to customers.

Don’t know where to begin?  Ask yourself, do you have the proper written procedures and operational guidelines in place to help you be as profitable as possible?
4Q Consulting can develop customized operational guidelines and training programs to meet your needs.  Email us today for a free business consultation at

All original content copyright Noelle E. Ifshin, 2012-2013.