The success or failure of a restaurant is tied to the quality of the product, service and atmosphere. Customers expect fresh food that is tastefully prepared. They want impeccable service from knowledgeable staff, and they want an environment that is clean and comfortable. By reviewing a checklist of vital points daily, you can consistently provide a quality product that will keep customers coming back for more.
Customers want to know they will be served a quality product every time they visit your establishment. It is critical that food be fresh, prepared properly and served at the right temperature. The presentation of the food is as important as the taste. Consistency is key, so be sure all kitchen staff and chefs follow the same preparation and cooking guidelines for each dish. Menus should offer enough variety to satisfy tastes as well as special dietary needs such as lactose-intolerance, gluten allergy or vegetarian.
Back of House
Though customers may never see the kitchen, cleanliness, order and high standards in this area are keys to quality control. Be sure food is rotated with each delivery to maintain freshness. Storage temperatures should be checked every day. Prevent cross-contamination by identifying cutting surfaces and utensils for specific items such as raw meats and vegetables. Be sure dry storage areas are kept clean and rodent free. A commercial dishwasher is imperative, with water temperature and chemical levels properly maintained. Clean uniforms should be worn by kitchen staff along with hair restraints and proper footwear. All cooking and cleaning equipment should be serviced on a regular basis.
Front of House
The dining environment should be warm and inviting, but most of all clean and fresh. Carpeted areas should be vacuumed daily, but not while customers are present. Tables should be wiped after each use and linens changed as needed. Hand-polishing glasses and silverware after each washing will keep them spot-free. All plates and utensils should be spot-checked for cleanliness before serving. Menus should be clean and wrinkle free. Check new menus for spelling and typographical errors before final printing. Windows should be kept streak-free. Regularly check tables and chairs for cleanliness and to ensure they are not wobbly or cracked. Also be sure that restrooms are clean and stocked before each shift.
Training and Management
Friendly, knowledgeable staff who make your customers feel special are an integral part of quality control in a restaurant. It is important that ongoing training is provided for all staff so that consistency in customer service is maintained. Managers should know how to schedule shifts so that staff levels are high enough to provide quality service but are within budget. They need skills in conflict resolution to handle staff issues as well as customer complaints. Waitstaff members need to be familiar with all menu items and be skilled in the art of up-selling (steering the customer to higher-price items). Cross-training is an excellent way to insure quality standards in all areas of the restaurant.
Cindy Phillips began writing feature articles in 2007 with her work appearing in several regional newspapers. With more than 30 years experience in the corporate arena, her business expertise includes all aspects of marketing and management. Phillips earned a Bachelor of Arts in English education from SUNY New Paltz.