Monday, July 7, 2014

Restaurant, Hospitality & Real Estate Consulting NYC | We’re Having a Heat Wave, A Tropical Heat Wave… | 4Q Consulting, LLC

We’re Having a Heat Wave, A Tropical Heat Wave…

Just as Irving Berlin wrote: 
We're having a heat wave, A tropical heat wave, The temperature's rising, It isn't surprising, She certainly can can-can."

With a mini heat wave in the NYC forecast for this week restaurant owners should be prepared to take some proactive steps to keep both their guests and employees safe when the mercury rises.

Here are 4 areas to focus on to keep guests and employees safe in a heat wave:

Keep People Safe – 

  • Keep guests and workers cool, comfortable and hydrated – make sure everyone is drinking plenty of water.  
  • Either provide both shade and air circulation or close outside seating during the hottest part of the day – to ensure the safety of both your guests and employees.
  • Provide water and food for your staff – Hydration is vital, but so is maintaining blood sugar levels.  
  • Monitor staff and guests for signs of distress or heat stroke.
  • Lighten the uniforms of the dining room staff – think about a summer weight uniform, with light colors and short sleeves.   
  • Monitor patron’s alcohol consumption as over consumption in extreme heat can be accurately dangerous.

Maintain Your Equipment –  

  • Service all refrigeration and HVAC units prior to summer so they don’t breakdown in a heat wave.
  • Instruct your staff to keep the air conditioning at a consistent level.  Turning the AC or refrigeration units down too far will overload and freeze up your cooling system, rendering them useless. 
  • Ensure kitchens are properly ventilated and have fans. 
  • If your ice machine is air cooled and struggling to keep up, consider purchasing cubed ice for drinking; similarly, if your refrigerators and walk-ins are struggling, consider purchasing dry ice.

Monitor Food Safety –  

  • Monitor refrigerator and product temperatures closely and take corrective action immediately. Remember, all foods must be stored at or below 41°F.  If your walk-in is above 41°F, your food is not properly stored and can be a health hazard.
  • To keep cold food cold – 
    • Keep walk in and fridge doors closed as much as possible.
    • Install Air Curtains to minimize refrigeration loss when doors to walk-in refrigerators and freezers are opened
    • Do not overload refrigerators – if the fan unit in the fridge is blocked, this will cause poor air flow and will inhibit the unit’s cooling ability.
    • Do not block refrigerator’s external condensing unit with debris and storage items; which would inhibit the units cooling ability.
  • Prepare food in small batches to reduce the amount of time food is out of refrigeration and in a very hot kitchen.
  • Use proper thawing and cooling techniques: do not leave food out on counters to thaw; thaw all food under running cool water (water should be below 70°F).

Modify Menu Offerings – 

  • Offer lighter menu items for the summer – heavy sauces, stews and roasts are can be unappealing when the mercury rises.  These could include cold options such as salads, sandwiches and cold soups.
  • Add more small plate and appetizer options as people not only eat lighter food, but they tend to eat smaller portions when it is very hot outside.
  • Add frozen non-alcoholic drinks, chillers and fruit flavored waters to menus.

As Cole Porter said in song: “It’s too Darn Hot!”  A few proactive easy fixes can help you get through these periodic heat waves while keeping your guests and employees safe. Also, keep these changes in mind for next year’s planning.

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 successful 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, 2014-2015.