Preventative Maintenance: The Importance of a Regular Restaurant Equipment Check

Preventative maintenance involves functional checks, servicing, repairing, or replacing of necessary parts and equipment in a restaurant kitchen. These cost-effective practices keep kitchen equipment operational and restaurant operations running smoothly, reducing down time and increasing profitability.

Preventative Maintenance

What are the Common Preventative Maintenance Tasks?

Usually, there are routine tasks performed by trained technicians to ensure that all the pieces of equipment in the kitchen are working well. Depending on the size of your kitchen and the number of pieces of equipment you have, a regular preventative maintenance takes at least a few hours to several days. This involves a thorough inspection, testing, repairing and replacing wear items inside your equipment.

Here are the common tasks that your field technician may perform:

  • Checking door hinges, gaskets, and handles.

Whether its an oven, a freezer, or a grill, these pieces of equipment usually have doors or handles that are used frequently. Any damage, trapped dirt or grease can cause doors to close unevenly, overworking your equipment in the long run.

  • Cleaning or replacing filters, blowing out condensers

Any equipment that involves refrigeration in the kitchen should be thoroughly inspected and filtering/condensing systems cleaned at least every three months. Cleaning the filters can prevent grease and dirt build-up that may cause extra stress on condensers.

  • Fryer maintenance

Regular checking of high limit sensors, ignition sensors and gaskets as well as quarterly deep cleaning of the fry pot improves food quality, reduces stress on heating elements due to carbon build up and improves recovery time for oil

  • Running diagnostic tests

To prevent unwanted and unnecessary damages that may affect you during business hours, a professional technician will run a few diagnostic tests to guarantee that your equipment is running smoothly and identify any potential issues that you may wish to repair to prevent equipment failure during operating hours.

Preventative Maintenance

Types of Restaurant Kitchen Maintenance

We do regular maintenance on our home heating and cooling systems as well as on our vehicles, the same should be done with your kitchen equipment. A strategy and plan for regularly maintenance is an investment in lowering your cost of ownership and extending the useful life of your equipment.

  • Preventative Maintenance (PM Program)

A planned preventative maintenance program (PM) is a scheduled maintenance visit that can occur quarterly, semi yearly or yearly depending on the specific piece of equipment. The goal of a PM is to reduce the likelihood of breakdown which may limit the ability to serve parts of your menu for a day or days. These routine check-ups are aimed at detecting and correcting any possible signs of equipment failure before it occurs.

  • Reactive Maintenance

Reactive Maintenance is the costliest type of service on your equipment. Not only do you have the expense of the technician’s time, travel and parts, often you are losing sales while the unit is in need of repair and parts.

Why is it Important?

Regularly having your kitchen equipment checked by a professional significantly reduces the likelihood of breakdowns and downtime. When a piece of equipment stops working, part of your menu may be affected and sales will be lost. This is much more detrimental when a critical piece of equipment from the kitchen breaks as equipment repairs are much more costly and may take hours or even days to complete.

Having regularly scheduled preventative maintenance ensures that all kitchen equipment will be in excellent condition, ready to fry the next batch of fried chicken, grilled burger or produce the crowd-favorite ice cream for the next few months.

Looking for field experts for your restaurant’s regular preventative maintenance? At DSL Northwest, our primary goal is to keep our client’s businesses running and their customers happy. If you want to make restaurant equipment planning easy and hassle-free, send our team a message here, and we’ll be more than happy to discuss what kind of program makes sense.

The Ultimate Restaurant Equipment Guide

Opening a new restaurant requires a lot of planning on what restaurant equipment is needed for your business. This can easily add up to your start-up cost together with other expenses such as lease, licenses, labor, and marketing promotions.

Getting the right equipment is essential to have a fully functioning kitchen that efficiently serves your customers daily.

In comes the question: What restaurant equipment do you need in your kitchen? Here’s a list of the essential restaurant equipment that you’ll want to consider for a fully operational restaurant:

Big Equipment

  1. Ovens
  2. Grills
  3. Fryers
  4. Rotisseries
  5. Breading systems
  6. Display area
  7. Food warmers
    1. Counter warmer
    2. Holding cabinet
  8. Dump tables
  9. Beverage machines
  10. Carbonated beverages
  11. Juices, shakes, and smoothies
  12. Coffee maker
  13. Ice cream machines
  14. Freezers and refrigerators
  15. Prep counters
  16. Washing equipment
  17. Ranges
  18. Point of sale system

Medium-sized Equipment

  1. Storage rack and containers
  2. Food processors
  3. Mixers
  4. Microwave

Small Equipment

  1. Cutlery
  2. Cooking equipment
  3. Cleaning supplies
  4. Safety equipment

Things to Consider When Sourcing Restaurant Equipment

Industry Specific

The type of equipment you will need greatly depends on the type of restaurant you are opening. Are you running a bakery? If so, then your list will be different from a quick service concept or casual dining.

Also consider what your operational challenges will be and evaluate equipment that can reduce the number of staff on the line and improve ticket times.

Size of Restaurant

Another thing to take note of is the size of your restaurant’s kitchen. Study the blueprint and layout of your space. A well-thought kitchen will have enough room for people to move without bumping into each other. Workflow from one piece of equipment to another will maximize the efficiency and limit energy spent.

Equipment Quality

Quality is everything when choosing your restaurant equipment. When doing a quality check, consider the following: Which equipment will you be using the most? What is the expected wear life of the equipment you are purchasing? What is the cost of ownership for service and repairs?

Choosing the Right Supplier

How much can your supplier help you through your buying process? Do they cater easily to your specific requests? Don’t hesitate to ask a lot of questions regarding your restaurant equipment. Making sure you are in the right hands will put your mind at ease with all the planning.

Post-purchase Servicing

When the inevitable happens to your equipment, will your supplier provide you with post-purchase servicing? It is important to keep in touch with your supplier to make sure your equipment is always in top shape.


Pricing is perhaps one of the most crucial things when it comes to buying your restaurant equipment. Make sure and understand that the equipment you are purchasing is capable of handling your projected volume. An equipment expert can match your estimated volume with the proper size of grill, oven, fryer, etc.

Another financial alternative is leasing your equipment. Instead of paying cash, leasing provides you with the equipment you need with a manageable monthly payment.

The Right Restaurant Equipment for Your Business

Getting the right restaurant equipment for your business is no easy task. It involves a lot of planning, researching, and budgeting. Make sure to evaluate your restaurant’s menu and your kitchen layout to find out which restaurant equipment works best for your business.

It will take time to cross-off items in your restaurant equipment list but having a well-planned kitchen with all the restaurant equipment that you need ensures the long-term success of your restaurant and keeps your customers coming back for more!

Remember, when in doubt, ask for advice from experts in the field of restaurant equipment. At DSL Northwest, our primary goal is to keep our client’s businesses running and their customers happy. If you want to make restaurant equipment planning easy and hassle-free, send our team a message here, and we’ll be more than happy to help you with your restaurant.

Three Questions You Should Be Asking This Fall

Question 1: Is my current equipment able to deliver a profitable Fall menu?

As we move into the next season, you will more than likely be adapting your menu to reflect favorite items that your customers demand.   This could include different smoothie flavors, a move from cold to hot beverages, more hot dishes and cooked items as opposed to lighter summer offerings.

Many of these menu items require grills, ovens and dispensers that are able to handle larger volumes of cooked foods and multiple beverage options.  In addition, Fall and Winter menus often require additional labor to process these menu items.

New advanced kitchen equipment is designed to handle year-round menus, reduce the pressure on labor and adapt products accordingly at the touch of a button such as the Lainox Naboo, Taylor Grills and Taylor Frozen Beverage Freezers.   The new technologies support your aim of consistently creating dishes that deliver on quality every time – often a major headache for foodservice operators.


Question Two: Am I able to absorb higher wages while delivering customer satisfaction?

The minimum wage is the #1 topic of debate across the USA and particularly in the Pacific Northwest where the food service sector has been the most affected.  This is a time for operators to consider new ways of delivering a menu in order to reduce costs and any negative knock-on pricing effect to customers.   New food service equipment is designed to be more efficient and effective in helping to reduce the amount of manpower required; thereby reducing overall wage costs.  In addition, the equipment is able to improve the throughput and ticket times while addressing the reality of rising labor rates we are rapidly seeing in the kitchen.  For example, it is possible to cook a whole recipe at the touch of a button e.g. Lainox Naboo or Taylor Grill.  Cook-and-hold technologies allow for overnight cooking of items that have historically required a cook on premise and overseeing the cooking of roasts, entrees, etc.  Sophisticated smoothie and milkshake machines are able to dispense quality, tasty products with a traditional flavor profile at the touch of a button rather than requiring intensive manpower.  New blenders such as the MagnaBlend incorporate a rinse station for speedier service where signature recipes can be uploaded from a laptop to create consistent quality smoothies avoiding the need to mix complex blends by hand.


Question 3: Is my Fall and Winter menu plan delivering on what the customer wants?

The millennial generation is focused on sourcing locally, healthful and natural ingredients as well as seasonal ingredients.  This is filtering to the street fast as specials boards on sidewalks boast smoothies and desserts that feature regional ingredients and menu items that include locally sourced meats, fish and produce.  Factor these into your menu to stand-out and drive footfall.  Fall offers a range of tempting on-trend produce and ingredients and in the Pacific Northwest there is a plentiful choice such as blackberries, blueberries, beets, cauliflower, eggplant, beef, seafood – the list goes on.   Whether you are a fine dining restaurant, café, food service or quick service operation, locally sourced and seasonal product can be integrated into your menu – whether as tempting specials or as permanent menu fixtures.


DSL Northwest has significant experience of working with leading foodservice operators across the Pacific Northwest to increase efficiencies and optimize menus in order to appeal to a new generation of restaurant goers.  To optimize your own operation, call the team at DLS Northwest for a free consultation and let’s focus on improving your bottom line together.


Who is DSL Northwest?

1.Who is DSL Northwest?

DSL Northwest is one of the Pacific Northwest’s premiere foodservice equipment providers and consultants.  We are proud to be the exclusive distributors for Taylor, Flavor Burst, Fusion Frozen Beverages and Lainox Combi Ovens as well as offering several other specialty products. Our factory-trained service technicians also support after the sale, as well as part, supplies, and consumable product offerings – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

In addition to our foodservice equipment business, our value added consultancy helps our customers to design and achieve their business goals cost-effectively.  It is our knowledge in foodservice equipment, and our passion for food, that has led to many trusted partnerships with our customers across the region; the majority of which are major global and USA brand-names.  We help them to increase efficiencies within their current menu, find new items to serve or simply help them to keep their equipment running properly to minimize costly downtime.

2. How do you see the future of the foodservice sector?

The future of foodservice is very bright and we are bullish on the ability of the industry to continue to grow as we service the changing demographics of the foodservice consumer. More and more dollars are being spent by the younger generations but competition and external influences such as labor availability and wage rights will make success even more challenging. Make no mistake, this isn’t your parents’ foodservice industry…. and partnering with a company that knows and understands how to navigate this landscape is crucial.

3. What FIVE issues will dominate the foodservice sector?

ONE: Availability of labor is tight and will continue.  Executing your menu needs to be achieved using less labor hours and through higher volume sales.  (Talk to us about how to achieve this balance as we are experts in this area).

TWO: Wage rates will continue to rise.  As a mandatory $15.00 per hour wage rate lurks on the horizon, what are you doing to address this issue?  If it hasn’t hit you already, it will, and now is the time to review how to execute your menu and processes in the most efficient manner possible.

THREE: Natural and Organic food requests are here to stay. Consumers are making their dining decisions around these issues and demanding that their restaurants have the appropriate and sustainable sourcing methods for the ingredients that they purchase.

FOUR:  As families spend more of their disposable income on dining out, what are you doing to attract the “whole” family? Recent studies have shown that when a family decides to dine out, 75% of the decisions are made by family members 13 and under.  How are you doing to grab the hearts and minds of the youngest family members and influence their decisions?

FIVE:  Social media will continue to influence and be part of the decision making process for consumers 40 and younger. As this group of consumers continues to increase in numbers you will need to have a strategy in place for meeting and exceeding their expectations. A partnership and pro-active strategy on reaching this consumer base will drive loyalty and volume.

4. What is your history?

DSL Northwest was co-founded by Mike Ross and Mark Taylor in 2006.  Due to customer demand, DSL Northwest expanded its offices to include six locations; Spokane, Portland, Kent WA and with service agents located in Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau. For over 10 years, DSL Northwest has been servicing customers in the Northwest including WA, AK, OR, MT, WY and ID.  Our fantastic DSL Northwest team is one of the most highly skilled in the region, and is able to provide our customers with the service support that they need and when they need it; 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

5. Who is your leadership team?

The DSL Northwest team is led by Mike Ross, Co-Founder and President, Mark Taylor, Co-Founder  and Vice President and Jim Neil, Principal and VP of Sales & Marketing who all have extensive experience in the foodservice business in the Pacific Northwest:

Jim Neil: President

Jim Neil is the president of DSL Northwest and oversees all business operations and sales. Jim is a 24-year veteran to the foodservice industry, having spent the majority of his career as the President and co-owner of JG Neil and Company, a leading foodservice agency in the Pacific Northwest. Jim has been helping independent restaurant operators and chain accounts in the Pacific Northwest develop and deliver creative menu options as well as source the finest ingredients for their operations. When not working with customers, Jim can be found fly fishing, golfing or with his wife and 3 kids.

 Mark Taylor: Co-Founder and Vice President

Mark is a co-Founder and Vice President of DSL NW with 39 years of experience working in the food service equipment industry. Mark’s years of industry experience has helped hundreds of independent restaurant operators expand their menu offerings and improve their operational efficiencies and product quality. Whether a single restaurant operator or a 100+ location national account, Mark can and will utilize his experience and expertise to help you grow your business.

6. Why are you located in Kent, WA?

When DSL Northwest originally relocated to Washington State, Kent was the obvious choice with its excellent transportation links to other parts of WA, and also into OR via I5.   After DSL Northwest gained early momentum in 2006, it made sense to expand the offices and service centers deeper into the Northwest territory.  That is why we now have centers in six locations including Spokane, Portland, Kent WA, Fairbanks, Anchorage and Juneau.

7. Who are Taylor and Flavor Burst?

 Taylor Company – DSL Northwest is proud to be the exclusive distributor of Taylor freezers in the Northwest and Alaska. Taylor Company has a 70-year heritage as a pioneer in their specialized field, and as a leader in new technologies, creating some of the world’s finest foodservice equipment including softserve machines, The Taylor® grill line, Frozen Carbonated Beverage Freezers, Taylor® batch freezers, Magnablend blended ice machines and Shake Freezers.

Henny Penny – DSL Northwest is proud to be the exclusive distributor for Henny Penny branded products in the Northwest. The results – in quality, flavor and cooking speed – are revolutionary. AS well as the unique Henny Penny equipment, the Henny Penny branded program includes access to Henny Penny’s unique and flavorful chicken products, proprietary coatings and marinades, plus a wide selection of other ready-to-cook favorites such as shrimp, mozzarella sticks and potato wedges.

Flavor Burst – this revolutionary add-on allows you to add a variety of flavors to your soft-serve or yogurt freezer by injecting concentrated flavorings throughout your finished product such as a soft serve, shake, frozen carbonated beverage, or slush program.

Fusion Frozen Beverage – Fusion Frozen beverage includes a freshly brewed, naturally caffeinated ice tea slush beverage that brings a new twist to the booming ice tea market and Cold Brew Frozen Coffee. Brew your own cold Brew Coffee or tea and simply add our base to create your base flavour, then let your customer decide what flavor they want to add.

8. There are lots of foodservice equipment providers. Why should we choose DSL Northwest?

DSL Northwest is much more than a foodservice equipment operator.   Our mission is to optimize our customers’ menus which is why we work with, and consult to, some of the leading, best-loved brands across the Pacific Northwest and the USA; from McDonald’s and Wendy’s to MOD Pizza and Salt&Straw.

Our customers come to us because we provide extraordinary value through menu optimization and implementation. This might involve re-thinking current menus, evaluating customer demographics, interrogating profit margins and re-working kitchens and front-of-house operations to successfully drive profits throughout the year.

Because of this added value, our customers come back to us again and again for help with expansion and growth plans, on-going service contracts or to meet the demands of changing consumer tastes with relevant equipment technologies that also drive operational efficiencies.

9. What experience do you have in optimizing menus?

  • We have extensive experience in optimizing menus across the Pacific Northwest for some of the best-loved brands. For example, we recently helped:
  • MOD Pizza – How great are the milkshakes you enjoy at MOD? We helped with the implementation and selection of the shake freezers that produce those delicious Milkshakes for you and your kids!
  • Hopjacks – We worked with Hopjacks on a clamshell grill cooking system that improved their food quality and consistency, speed of service and improved their labour efficiency.
  • Dutch Brothers Coffee- In the rapid pace environment of specialty coffee, we worked with Dutch Brothers to improve the speed of service on all of those delicious frozen beverages you have come to love. Using our beverage freezers we have helped delight Dutch Brothers customers through quality and speed of service.
  • Burgerville- Dining at Burgerville is not only delicious – it’s also extremely efficient. We have helped with their Soft Serve, shake and burger production using Taylor Grills and Combo Shake/Soft serve machines.


10. What is your focus?

AT DSL Northwest our focus is helping customers through a process we call “Menu Optimization”.

Menu Optimization is about you and your business. Through our discovery process we ask questions of you and your business to determine if we can help you Optimize your menu one of two ways:

1) Identify opportunities to improve efficiencies in your operations that will lead to more profit to your bottom line or

2) identify potential new menu offerings that will add new revenue streams and profit to your business.

Our process is risk-free to you and comes at no cost. Simply put, if we cannot find a solution in one of the two ways listed above, we will put you in contact with one of the 1000’s of industry resources we know who can assist you. If we do have a solution for you, we will sit down and provide a validated ROI to show how our recommendations can help you improve your profitability.

11. Are you involved with the local community?

DSL is active in our local communities and supports our customers and their charities. For additional information on what and how we work in the community please feel free to reach out to us directly.

12. What ambitions does DSL Northwest have?

We already work with an enviable list of customers including a blend of cafes, convenience store chains, food service operators, grocery chains, quick service, fast casual and fine dining restaurant operators such as Costco, McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burgerville, Dutch Bros, Burgermaster, Tulalip Casino, QFC, Microsoft, Muckleshoot Casino, Salt&Straw, Great State Burgers, Whidbey Coffee and many, many more.

Our strong reputation ensures that we are able to acquire new clients through word-of-mouth, and our aim is to continue to build on our existing client list and work alongside additional successful brands across the Northwest.

If you need help with a challenge or issue, or simply want to conduct an audit on your operation, call the DSL Northwest team on 877-665-1125 for a free initial consultation.

Cool Ideas for Summer: A Beverage Focus

Looking for new ideas to boost profits, drive footfall and keep customers cool, refreshed and coming back this summer?

Then it could be time to introduce new styles of beverages that will appeal to a wide range of customers including millennials, Gen Y and families. From frozen margaritas and frozen tea to milkshakes and smoothies, there are plenty of options available. State-of-the-art machines can deliver superior quality beverages that can be quickly and easily installed to deliver a fast pay-pack for your restaurant, bar, café, convenience or grocery store.


Beyond Iced Tea & Coffee: The Frozen Opportunity
Of the 80 billion+ servings of tea consumed by Americans every year, approximately 85% is iced tea, and according to the Tea Association of the USA, sales are expected to double in the next five years.

The millennial generation and Generation Y are seeking out healthful beverage solutions that factor in customization, natural flavors and freshness. There are profits to be made, but balancing these consumer demands with your own beverage program and labor requirements can be complex. How do you provide additional choice and contemporary beverages while reducing your overheads?

Consider introducing a beverage program such as Fusion Frozen Beverage that delivers both Frozen Tea and Frozen Cold Brew Coffee through a Taylor model Slush Machine. For Fusion Frozen Tea, simply add freshly brewed tea, with the provided tea base mix, into the Taylor model Slush Machine. For Frozen Cold Brew Coffee, simply add Cold Brew Coffee with milk and provided coffee base mix into the Taylor model Slush Machine.

We have an additional option of flavoring the Fusion Tea and Cold Brew with our Flavorburst system using all natural syrups in Peach, Mango, Lemon and Raspberry flavors for tea and French Vanilla, Mocha, Caramel and Hazelnut for Cold Brew.

DSL Northwest Fusion Frozen Tea

A Milkshake Revolution
A national favorite, milkshakes are the wholesome, heat-busting accoutrement to a sweltering summer day loved by kids and adults alike. With the evolution in eating habits, the rise of all-day snacking and the gradual disappearance of the lunch occasion, consumers are seeking out alternative appetite-satisfiers throughout the day. Milkshakes also make the perfect ‘morning commute’ companion (according to Harvard Business School) because they’re not messy or greasy and provide the ingredients normally associated with breakfast or brunch.
For operators, the opportunity exists to make milkshakes available throughout the day and avoid pigeon-holing them to a certain demographic or eating occasion. However, operators often avoid featuring ingredient-heavy milkshakes on a menu because of the amount of manpower required to create them. New technologies and innovations are making the life of the server easier by delivering quality, tasty milkshakes with a traditional flavor profile at the touch of a button.

Taylor produces a wide variety of shake machines based on one flavor, vanilla, and then transformed into limitless flavors through the addition of syrups or sauces. By adding a milkshake spinner, texture and flavor can be recreated perfectly. The electronic viscosity control continuously measures product viscosity and regulates operation of the refrigeration system within the Taylor machine.

DSL Northwest Taylor Milkshakes Model 441


With the added benefit of wrap-around branding, a Taylor machine offers operators customization, labor efficiencies, quality products and a fast pay-back on an initial investment.

For operators looking for a more compact but equally technologically advanced solution, then the MagnaBlend Revolutionary Blender integrates an ice dispenser, blender and rinse station for faster service in nine seconds or less! You can upload signature recipes straight from your laptop, and a pre-programmable menu supports servers in high volume scenarios where the touch of a button can deliver a perfect milkshake.


DSL Northwest Taylor Blended Ice MagnaBlend Revolutinary Blender


Smoothies Go From Strength to Strength
Smoothies are a $5B/yr profit center. Their rise over the past decade is unrepresented and is evident in the dedicated smoothie chains, bars and stalls that have popped up across the country. The smoothie revolution continues unabated and it’s hard to find a menu that doesn’t feature some smoothie option in restaurants, cafes, chains, colleges, universities and bakeries.

Drive additional profit opportunities this summer with superior smoothie options – think outside the box and offer Millennials customization choices and adventurous flavors. Also consider conducting a cost-benefit analysis on your smoothie production; in light of pressures on operators such as the rise in the minimum wage and the difficulty in recruiting staff, what is the most efficient way of generating margins from smoothies?

DSL Northwest Taylor Carbonated Beverages Model 428 (2)


Operators are increasingly looking to technology to solve the problem such as a Taylor Frozen Beverage Freezer that features a specially designed viscosity control to automatically maintain superior smoothie product quality. Adjustable controls allows the operator to serve a wide variety of frozen beverages at the desired thickness, so the machine can also be used for shakes or frozen cocktails, fruit juices, coffees, cappuccino and tea slush beverages. An optimized refrigeration system offers efficient operation in an extremely quiet, compact, self-contained freezer. The Taylor Frozen Beverage Freezer offers operators the chance to reduce manpower, and drive preparation and server efficiencies, for smoothie production that can often be time-consuming and result in variations in product quality depending on the server.

Again, the MagnaBlend Revolutionary Blender is the perfect solution for space-limited serving areas and smaller operations.


Frozen Cocktails: with or without alcohol
Frozen cocktails are becoming the norm in restaurants and bars with new innovations such as Frosé (rosé wine slush) and signature drinks take on a cooler personality with the addition of ice such as frozen margaritas. In addition, the millennial generation (18-35 years old) is increasingly swapping alcoholic drinks for non-alcoholic, but they still demand all the taste of a sophisticated cocktail according to recent research.

Operators may tend to avoid cocktails on menus because they eat into server time and require an extensive supply of ingredients that can generate waste and require additional clean-up time. But cocktails offer great margins. Investing in new technologies can generate frozen cocktails, both with or without alcohol, while delivering taste consistency and efficiencies – such as the Taylor Frozen Beverage Freezer and MagnaBlend PRO-Revolutionary Blender.

When it comes to cocktails, the MagnaBlend is in a class of its own with automated mixing from up to 8 refrigerated flavor mixes, integrated touchscreen, ice dispenser, storage & rinse station for quick service. A favorite with high footfall restaurants and bars, the MagnaBlend is taking the hard work out of cocktails and delivering back profits and fast pay-back timelines.


Kids’ Favorites
The joy of a slush drink as a child is an enduring memory; after swimming, baseball practice or a weekend treat, a slush created joyful memories. Slush drinks and carbonated beverages continue to cut across the generations and prove to be one of the most profitable offerings for operators; especially where the customer profile is skewed towards families.

Talk to us about the wide choice that Taylor offers such as the Taylor Frozen Carbonated Beverage freezer that dispenses a choice of slush textures. For example, select to dispense a light, fluffy, high overrun slush product (via a pressurized system) or opt for the nonpressurized system that produces a wetter, lower overrun slush.

Easy-to-use controls and superior cleaning and operating technologies make the Taylor Frozen Carbonated Beverage Freezer an essential for high volume operations looking for reliable, quality equipment.

DSL Northwest Taylor Carbonated Beverages Model C303

Add additional and healthful options such as fruit drinks, frozen lemonade and non-alcoholic drinks by installing the Taylor Frozen Uncarbonated Beverage (FUB) Dispenser; the convenient way to generate additional drink options that are automatically dispensed using your existing Taylor machine. The mix is stored in a remote location or walk-in cooler and delivered to the Taylor dispenser automatically. Customized mix delivery systems are available based on volume needs for Bag-in-Box, other post-mix or pre-mix products.


What’s Next?
The aim for any operator is to serve consistently high quality products that keep your customers coming back, but that also present labor savings and efficiency opportunities. However, it can be hard to navigate what is right for your operation from the choice in the sector; and whether to lease or buy new equipment. Talk to the DSL Northwest team about how new technologies and innovations in foodservice equipment, such as the Taylor series of machines, that can help to drive profit margins, but more importantly, equipment that works for your operation and your budget.

Addressing Menu Voids for Survival

Restaurants need to ensure that their menus match the needs of their customers.  Understanding who the customer is now, and in the next few years, is essential in order to engender long term loyalty and remain profitable.  However, menus can languish for years as habits become ingrained. When did you last perform a thorough, honest audit on your menu in relation to your customer profile and the long-term future of your operation?  DSL Northwest is an expert in helping clients to optimize their menus, and the following recommendations are based on years of experience in advising some of the best-known names in the Pacific Northwest and the USA:

Appealing to Changing Tastes

A new generation of customers including both Millennials and Generation Y are looking for menu items that appeal to them. They have different needs to previous generations that need to be considered including:

1. Healthier options – not necessarily weight-loss but organic and ‘free-from’

2. Snacking – the all-day occasion that is rapidly replacing the traditional lunch occasion

3. Seasonal – dishes that reflect food without the miles and with more taste

4. Weather – serving the right dishes at the right time of year such as pasta sales up in winter

5. Locally sourced ingredients – a radius of known, local suppliers

6. Innovative dishes such as dessert alternatives e.g. sippables from the bar

Operators should review their menus at least every year or more in addition to fresh sheets. It is vital to understand the changing demographic in your region and offer menu items that will appeal to them. It is no longer possible to assume that your restaurant will survive if it is ageing alongside its core customer base.  To help get a feel for any changes in the local demographic, scope out nearby stores, facilities and other restaurants to identify who you are targeting in order to remain viable and profitable. For example, if younger families are now the target, then you need to be doing something to attract the children; 75% of restaurant visits are decided by family members under the age of 18.   Add a separate kid-friendly menu, include dishes that appeal to a younger demographic or include ‘free’ items such as sodas, desserts or treats.

Your Menu is Your Voice

Menus need to go further than a list of dishes.  Today, they need to communicate brand values and likeminded thinking with their customers.  Are you going the extra distance that your customers will want to know about such as:

* Community support – how do you give back to the local community?

* Environmentally friendly – do you incorporate activities such as composting and recycling?

* Ethical – do you source ingredients from reputable suppliers/treat employees fairly/fair-trade?

Often restaurants are fulfilling almost all of the above, but they fail to communicate this with the customer and thereby create valuable connections.  Your menu needs to work in tandem with marketing and branding activities and convey the essence of the restaurant; talk about your activities – they matter to people.

For example, on a previous blog we have addressed the issue of sourcing locally from within a 300 mile radius.   If this is something you have adopted, how are you making the most of this?  Highlight specific partnerships or certain local suppliers more prominently on the menu and through marketing routes.  And be honest; are they genuinely new and different to appeal to the customers you want to attract?   If everyone is partnering with this group, can you improve on this?  Perhaps you have a partnership with a seafood supplier who prides themselves on sustainable fishing methods.  Your menu and your brand should also communicate this pride.

Affiliations to the community are now expected.  But the reason why you have chosen to work with them and what you are doing often gets forgotten.   Your menu provides an opportunity to creatively communicate any community partnerships through design and/or narrative techniques.

Flexibility, Flexibility, Flexibility

Customization: Think differently about how your menu works in response to the meteoric rise in the demand for customization of dishes.  Customers want to be able to select a mixture of proteins, starch and vegetable combinations and create their own dishes such as Kigo Kitchen. Balancing the needs of the customer without adversely affecting the cooking time or process is important, so offering enough options to provide choice is key but not at the expense of the efficiency of the kitchen.

Interestingly this hasn’t yet been seen with burgers to the same degree as with other foods such as MOD Pizza and its incredibly successful customization model that also enhances the customer experience.  Salad bar concepts have been highly effective in adopting the customization model early to appeal to customers and especially in cities where a hungry workforce can experience maybe a dozen standardized recipes where they interchange the protein and other ingredients.

We believe that the opportunity exists in the burger sector to create e.g. a standard burger with different cheese options, additional vegetable and protein options. For example, a standard 6oz burger costing approx. $8.95 could increase to $12.45 with the addition of extra items.

Available Ingredients: Utilizing ingredients that are readily available and more cost effective is another way to provide variety and choice.  The chefs menu, in addition to the set menu, is a model already tried and tested by a number of white cloth and smaller community restaurants.  However, it doesn’t mean it should remain as the preserve of these groups.   The chef’s menu typically services ingredients that are available that week.

Seven Key Questions

Finally, these are the main seven questions DSL Northwest recommends you should be asking yourself now in order to create a profitable menu:

1. Is my menu sustainable? Can I keep ingredients as fresh as possible? Do I have multiple dishes that utilize ingredients or do I have legacy menu items that feature a limited amount of ingredients?  Is this an ineffective use of ingredients and therefore creates cook-time inefficiencies?  This is a priority to interrogate on your menu!

2. When was the last time I introduced a new seasonal item to the menu?

3. Is my menu designed for the new eating occasions such as more frequent snacking throughout the day?

4. Do I understand my local area’s customer profile and can I attract more customers with a revised menu? For example, if I want to attract families, have I incorporated items for the children (3-12 years old)? Or do I have an offer that will make the experience memorable such as free ice cream cone?

5. Does my menu include items that can help to drive additional revenue such as creative bar choices that can replace desserts? Boozy Shakes, Signature craft desserts, shareable offerings?

6. Am I incorporating best practices into my menu that will appeal to a new generation of customers such as local sourcing, organic and transparency of ingredients, flavors and food preparation?

7. What am I doing to create menu items that customers can be ordered on the go as take-out or delivery? Am I looking to work with third parties such as UberEATS?  If not, you could be missing out on valuable business as an increasingly tech-savvy generation prefers to order online.


To understand how you can conduct a thorough audit and optimization of your menu, call us at DSL NorthWest on 877-665-1125 for a free consultation.

Photograph courtesy of Melissa Hartfiel 

Millennials & Customization: The Future

The increasing demands from younger diners make the build-your-own-meal platform a must today.  Our next blog explores this in more detail and how to change to thrive.  In the meantime, courtesy of QSR Magazine, see the transcript of the article below or click here for the original:

How Millennials’ Love for Customization is Changing Quick Service
Allowing diners to customize menu items has been part of the quick-service firmament for years, but increasing demands from younger diners make the build-your-own-meal platform a must today.

In fact, while speed has been key to the quick-service experience, it might now be playing second fiddle to choice when these young guests decide where to eat.

“The reason is Gen Y, the millennials,” says Bill Guilfoyle, associate professor of business management at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. “Every restaurant, especially in quick service, is moving to attract this group.”

Millennials “love customization,” he says. “They don’t want the same old thing, but would rather do their own thing.”

This ability to create a meal takes a number of forms. Some brands provide a broad range of ingredients and let the customer build their entire dish; some offer chef-crafted options that can be tweaked. Some concepts package meals into combinations of two or more menu items, while others take a more a-la-carte approach.

Setting limits on the number of ingredients guests can select for a dish saves time and labor, Guilfoyle says. Additionally, too many choices may be confusing for diners, something students in his “Intrapreneurship” program discovered at a fast-casual concept they tested in the Hyde Park campus’s student union.

“The items we put on the menu as custom ideas, like a banh mi meatball sandwich, were received better than a build-your-own version,” he says. “In terms of efficiency, it was the way to go.”

Too many ingredients in a build-your-own dish also could create taste issues.

“I think anything over seven [ingredients], where the protein and the sauce are two of them, begins to be an issue,” says Matt Harding, director of culinary at Columbus, Ohio–based Piada Italian Street Food. “Otherwise you potentially add a lot of noise.”

Some ingredients for Piada’s bowls, salads, and namesake piadas—similar to burritos—already use several spices. Also, some choices may clash with others if they are combined into a dish. Restaurant associates are trained to guide guests to the best combinations, but not to balk on requests. “We really push our staff to say, ‘Certainly,’” Harding says.

Every chef or operator has a sweet spot for the number of ingredients in a dish, and guests, particularly newcomers to a concept, often need direction, says Diana Kelter, foodservice analyst with market research firm Mintel.

Take poké, for example. The native Hawaiian chopped seafood salad has made its way to the mainland in recent years, and a number of limited-service restaurants featuring the raw fish dish have popped up in California and are working their way east.

“Guests are saying, ‘I don’t know what kind of sauce works best with this or what combinations are good,’” Kelter says. “It can be a learning process to find the number of ingredients that fit your taste.”

When Sweetfin Poké’s chef and co-owner, Dakota Weiss, was designing the Santa Monica, California–based company’s first restaurant, customer comfortability was a top consideration. “We were always thinking of having build your own, but that can be really intimidating for people not familiar with poké,” she says. “And there are lots of ingredients on the menuboard.”

As a result, she developed a series of signature bowls for the majority of guests “who don’t want to do too much thinking” about the choices.

At Pokeworks, which has units in a half-dozen large markets, its Signature Works are meant to guide diners. “It gives customers the opportunity to explore more options for their palates and then come back and try other ones,” says cofounder Kevin Hsu.

Poké, which includes chunks of seafood traditionally served with salt, sesame oil, and other garnishes in a bowl, is akin to deconstructed sushi. That helps many guests adapt to the concept and create their own dishes, Hsu adds.

The growth in all types of bowls continues unabated. During 2016’s third quarter, menued bowls jumped 9 percent from a year earlier, according to Mintel Menu Insights. At the same time, the number of ingredients in bowls increased 6 percent.

“While bowls are not always served in a build-your-own format, that is a common trend,” Kelter says. “This data demonstrates that bowls continue to get more layered with ingredients.”

Bowls are a popular serving method at Teriyaki Madness. Guests can choose among seven proteins prepared mostly teriyaki-style, along with steamed or stir-fried vegetables atop a base that could be one of three types of rice or yakisoba noodles.

“We’re sort of Seattle-style bowls—big bowls of Japanese-style vegetables, protein, and rice or noodles,” says Michael Haith, chief executive of the Denver-based company. “It’s simple Japanese comfort food with a twist.”

The most popular combination is white rice, chicken teriyaki, and a mix of vegetables. The food is cooked and assembled in the kitchen when ordered.

The staff at Teriyaki Madness is trained to understand the flavor profiles of the ingredients and to deal with dietary needs of guests with special requirements. “Then it’s easy to help customers put together the best combinations,” Haith says.

Most operators say training is essential in the build-your-own movement, especially as guests progress along a Chipotle-like assembly line.

“When guests create their own and it’s not fantastic, it’s our fault because we allowed them to do that,” Piada’s Harding says. “But if you have someone up front who knows the flavors and can guide consumers, you have more control.”

Piada had mostly build-your-own dishes when it launched in 2010. But it developed chef-inspired versions to give diners more direction and to keep service from bogging down.

If guests require guidance in well-known styles like Italian, imagine the issues that could arise in poké.

“Some people would literally put every ingredient on their poké, and then tell us it wasn’t great,” Sweetfin’s Weiss says. “We don’t say to a guest, ‘You can’t do that,’ but we can steer them in the right direction.”

With nearly 30 potential add-ons, choosing can be difficult, so staffers may recommend a few for flavor and texture. The nine signature dishes at Sweetfin consist of three or four basic ingredients, plus poké basics like scallions, white and black sesame seeds, and salt.

Pokeworks not only has bowls, but also poké burritos, which are large sushi rolls. The construction of the rolls, like the bowls, is done along an assembly line.

“You can choose your protein, like tuna or salmon, then mix-ins, sauces, toppings, and then crunch,” Hsu says, noting that the crunch can be something like roasted macadamia nuts or wonton crisps.

The whole idea of customization is to provide options for guests’ tastes and dietary needs, and offering these alternatives has become increasingly popular, says Andrew Pudalov, founder and chief executive of Rush Bowls. The Boulder, Colorado–based chain has 15 nutritious bowls—good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner—as well as limited-time offers.

“For most people, these are something to start with, then a percentage want them fine-tuned for their own liking,” Pudalov says. “Say they want extra whey protein because they’re working out, or soy or almond milk because of a lactose issue.”

Popular Rush bowls include Peanut Butter & Jelly, with house-ground peanut butter, bananas, and strawberries. The Jungle bowl features strawberries, pineapple, bananas, shaved coconut, two juices, and more. Fat-free frozen yogurt is optional.

The Create Your Own salad is a favorite at Saladworks. Guests can choose among five lettuce or pasta bases, any five of 60 toppings—including proteins, vegetables, cheeses, and other ingredients—and then one of 17 dressings. Anything more is extra.

“If you think about the salads you have at home, you’re probably not having more than five ingredients,” says Patrick Sugrue, chief executive of the Conshohocken, Pennsylvania–based company. “You want to have a consistent flavor throughout the salad.” That’s difficult to achieve as more ingredients are added in, he says.

For most customers, five toppings are plenty, he adds, and some guests seek even less variety, doubling up on some toppings. Also, more ingredients mean that the salad creation will take longer, and “speed is crucial at lunch.”

In an effort to give consumers more control, Saladworks is testing kiosks that help guests choose ingredients and provide nutritional and dietary data directing them to ingredients reflecting their lifestyles. “This will add a lot of value to customers,” Sugrue says.

Older concepts, such as burger and pizza joints, still can develop new build-you-own ideas. Mooyah Burgers, Fries & Shakes, for example, has made burger customization one of its staples, with guests choosing among five protein options, four buns, and 27 toppings and sauces. The only items that bring an extra charge are bacon and cheese.

Over the past few years, however, Plano, Texas–based Mooyah created a “Taste to Try” burger of the month. This introduces new combinations of existing ingredients to guide guests. Combinations have included the Hamburgdog, which is a beef burger topped with a hot dog, cheddar cheese, bacon, jalapeños, fried onion strings, and ketchup on a white bun.

Offering many ingredients “brings a little bit of choice anxiety” for diners, says Natalie Anderson Liu, vice president of marketing at Mooyah. “You may not be building your best-tasting burger because you can’t imagine it. So some people just have them stripped down with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and ketchup.”

“Taste to Try” offerings are not limited-time offers, because the toppings are always available. Liu says many guests continue to choose these special burgers, maybe with some tweaks. And the guest check for them is 40 percent higher, partly because they include at least one extra-charge ingredient.

Pizza has always been a create-your-own dish, but Fresno, California–based Blast & Brew is adding a new twist: creating meals that allow guests to pair their pizza with a choice of more than 30 taps of self-pour, by-the-ounce craft beer. That gives diners the opportunity to try small amounts of different beer with their pizza.

Staff behind the counter is trained to recommend beer that works best with certain pizzas, says Mike Reynolds, chief development officer. There’s also an expert “beer genius” working near the taps that can provide guidance.

“You can not only customize your pizza experience, but you can customize your entire dining experience,” he says.

Blast & Brew is mostly a fast-casual operation, although the beer genius can take orders for food and deliver them to the tables, which Reynolds says occurs more in the evening, when alcohol sales are higher.

The concept of building your own meal is also being combined with creating your own menu. Dallas-based Corner Bakery Cafe’s Choose Any Two option allows guests to construct a set-price lunch or dinner with two items. They choose from among a half sandwich, half panini, grilled flatbread, pasta, salad, and cup of soup.

A number of the menu items “lend themselves to customization, and we see a significant amount of modification,” says chief executive Frank Paci. While few guests build their own sandwiches or salads, many make changes, adding and subtracting ingredients.

“Ultimately, what you want to do is make the customer happy,” he says. “You previously could do a half sandwich and cup of soup, but now you can get a chopped salad or one of our pastas in combination. It gives you great choice and flexibility.”

That’s an advantage of fast-casual dining, he says, because “if something is made to order, it is easy to change. The term I like is ‘personalizing your meal.’”

This story originally appeared in QSR’s March 2017 issue with the title “Creative Construction.”
QSR Magazine #foodserviceequipment #restaurant

Effective Restaurant Managers

Restaurant News offers advice to restaurant managers on how to be effective both back and front of house. Transcript taken from Restaurant News’ article

Restaurant managers have a lot of responsibility…and of course, this can be a good thing or a bad thing! If you’d like to avoid making some of the biggest management mistakes, read on to find out what you should never do.

1. Mistreat employees.

If you’re unfair or unkind, it will come back to haunt you in the form of employees who don’t feel any loyalty towards their job. A restaurant can’t be successful without dedicated employees.

2. Don’t give customers any opportunity for feedback.

Whether it involves checking in with them at their tables or leaving comment cards, give your customers the opportunity to let you know about any problems. If you don’t, you have no way of knowing what mistakes you’re making.

3. Ignore customer complaints.

If a customer takes the time to complain, it’s important to take them seriously and do everything you can to make it better, whether that involves apologizing, comping the meal, or giving out coupons for future meals.

4. Tell customers they’re wrong.

Even if you know a customer’s complaint is ridiculous, there’s still no excuse for telling them they’re wrong. It’s important to take every customer complaint seriously, even the ones that don’t make sense.

5. Ignore social media.

Check Facebook, Twitter, and review sites (like Yelp) often to see what customers are saying about your restaurant. It’s important to know what impression customers are getting of your business.

6. Argue with customers online.

Social media gives you a great opportunity to respond to customers in public, but this opportunity can turn into a pitfall if you just argue and insult customers. Remember that everyone can see your online comments!

7. Don’t give employees clear instructions.

Your employees aren’t mind readers! If you want dishes prepared a certain way or tables arranged just so, you have to tell them. Clear instructions will save time and hassle.

8. Keep employees who are dead weight.

Is an employee lazy, constantly late, or just a bad worker? It’s your job as a manager to keep the restaurant running smoothly, and you can’t do that if you keep employees who don’t do their jobs.

9. Be a stickler about the rules.

Yes, it’s good to have rules, but realize that you can’t be strict all the time. Occasionally, it’s in your best interest to bend the rules for a customer if it will make them happy (and if it isn’t too much of an inconvenience).

10. Ignore problems.

A leaky faucet? An underselling menu item? Employees who just don’t get along? Broken equipment? These problems shouldn’t just be swept under the rug. If you ignore them, they’ll just hurt you more in the long run.

11. Discipline employees in front of customers.

If an employee screws up, of course you have to talk to them about it (and possibly take disciplinary action). But never do it in front of customers! It’s awkward for everyone in your dining room to watch, and it won’t make customers want to come back.

12. Fail to communicate with employees.

If there’s an important change to the schedule or menu, your employees need to know. If you fail to keep them in the loop, your entire restaurant will look bad.

13. Act above the rules.

The restaurant rules are there for everyone to follow…and this includes managers! When you act like you’re above the rules, this sets a bad example for employees.

14. Let a customer leave unhappy.

You should do whatever it takes (within reason) to make sure everyone leaves your restaurant happy. It may seem like an expense to offer a free meal or coupon to a disgruntled customer, but it will pay off in the long run.

15. Not know what’s going on in every part of the restaurant.

Could you describe everything your kitchen staff does in a day? What about your bussers or your servers? As a manager, it’s your job to be aware of these things at all times.

16. Avoid giving positive feedback.

It’s important to let your employees know what they’re doing wrong, but it’s just as important to let them know what they’re doing right! This leads to happier, more satisfied employees, which in turn leads to a more successful restaurant.

17. Forget about customers.

Remember, customers are the reason why the restaurant exists in the first place! Always put their needs first.

Managing a restaurant may be a lot of responsibility, but by avoiding these 17 pitfalls you can be a better manager and help your restaurant succeed.

Article provided by Buzztime.

#foodserviceequipment #foodservice #restaurantmanager

NRA: Restaurant sales to hit $799B in 2017

The restaurant industry is expecting sales of about $799 billion in 2017 – much of the growth is coming from limited-service options as consumers continue shifting their spending toward quicker, more convenience-oriented fare.
#foodservice #foodserviceequipment #restaurants

Industry expected to grow by 1.7 percent, driven by new options and locations
Jonathan Maze | Feb 28, 2017

The restaurant industry is expecting sales of about $799 billion in 2017 as consumers continue to allocate more money towards eating out, the National Restaurant Association said in its annual industry outlook this week.

The $799 billion increased 4.3 percent over last year’s estimated sales of $766 billion, and 1.7 percent when adjusted for inflation. That rate of growth is slightly better than the 1.5 percent increase estimated in 2016.

And much of the growth is coming from limited-service options as consumers continue shifting their spending toward quicker, more convenience-oriented fare. Sales at quick-service restaurants are expected to increase 2.5 percent, when adjusted for inflation, to $234 billion.

Full-service restaurants, meanwhile, are expected to see 1.1 percent growth to $263 billion.

“The real growth rates for quick service is more than double than that of full service,” said Hudson Riehle, senior vice president for the research
and knowledge group at the association. “That’s been the case for quite a few years now.”

Projected growth is not evenly spread across the country. More growth is coming from states in the Southeast and Western states — which, not surprisingly, is also where the population is growing. Sales will be slowest in the Midwest.

The industry has grown at a steady pace since emerging from the brutal financial crisis that led to a rare absolute decline in restaurant sales in 2009. Yet the rate of growth has slowed, as the industry has become saturated with dining options and consumers keep a tighter control on spending.

Between 1970 and 2017, Riehle said, the compound annual growth rate for the industry has been 6.4 percent. Since 2007, however, that rate of growth has slowed to 4.3 percent.

“The fact remains that growth rates are definitely more moderate than the pre-recessionary period,” Riehle said. “That’s the environment we see in the years ahead.”

Restaurant chain executives have spent the past 18 months fretting about declining traffic and weak same-store sales, and many have suggested consumers have been skittish. And Riehle said that is a clear factor in slowing, post-recessionary sales.

While the economy has grown and unemployment has fallen, incomes have grown only modestly. The restaurant industry is competing with other consumer expenditures like cars and cell phones.

“With income growth positive yet still moderate, consumers are more diligent about their spending,” Riehle said. He noted that 13 percent of consumer spending is on food, and about half of that is at restaurants.

The NRA’s numbers feature a wide variety of places where people eat food, including restaurants but also grocery store prepared foods, hospital cafeterias and concession stands at baseball stadiums.

The traditional restaurant piece of that business is expected to grow 1.7 percent, adjusted for inflation, to $571.5 billion from $547.0 billion.

That, plus restaurant unit growth from new and existing concepts, have made for a competitive industry: There are more than 1 million places where consumers can get a prepared meal.

“This is a competitive environment, not only among other operators, but also in terms of options and necessary spending the consumer now has — cell phones, for example,” Riehle said.

The competitiveness of the industry is driving a wave of technological innovation that hasn’t been seen in years, and perhaps ever. The industry has been focused on adding technology, such as mobile ordering and payment technology as well as delivery and options such as kiosk ordering.

“It’s actually more important to think about it as points of access than bricks and mortar,” Riehle said.

Indeed, more industry access is coming from take-out, to go and delivery formats, rather than traditional dine-in options. Even traditional casual dining and other dine-in concepts see the future in to-go business.

“It’s important to note that restaurants are in a better situation than they were a few years ago,” Riehle said. “But the fact is, a lot of growth in the industry has not really come from more people going through the doors.

“The market is much more off-premise oriented.”

The technology focus could help address the industry’s biggest challenge: Labor costs.

Hourly wages last year increased 4.2 percent in the industry. Restaurants offset those higher costs with price increases and by taking advantage of lower food costs.

But higher minimum wages and a tight labor market are driving up wages. Operators say in surveys that their biggest current concern is the recruitment and retention of labor, Riehle said.

Much of the technology integration could help offset that by increasing labor productivity — a rarity in an industry that depends heavily on people power.

“Productivity growth in the restaurant industry has really been quite minimal over the past decade,” Riehle said. “Sales per employee in the industry is still low not only compared to other retailers, but it’s low compared with other industries.”

The good news for restaurants is that consumers still like eating out. Two of five adults say they don’t eat out as often as they’d like, Riehe said. So, despite heavy competition and slowing growth, that means there’s still plenty of growth potential.

“If you look at it on a 21-meal [per week] basis, consumers eat five or six of those away from home,” Riehle said. “You’re still talking 13 to 14 traditional, at-home occasions. There is still considerable upside to be had.”

Contact Jonathan Maze at [email protected]

Follow him on Twitter at @jonathanmaze

The Microsoft Dining Experience

Echoing our recent blog about the millennial generation’s need for transparency, Microsoft’s senior manager of services talks about how he ensures the Redmond Campus dining experience is an employee success with FoodService Director magazine (copy courtesy of FoodService Director):

With the resources of one of the nation’s most prominent tech companies behind him, how does Mark Freeman, senior manager of employee services for Microsoft, harness all that power? Two words: “ingredient revolution,” or providing diners more transparency about where their food comes from and how it’s taken care of. The ingredient revolution has “been an interesting journey because it’s taken us into a lot of different places,” Freeman says.

1. Misfit produce program
Freeman’s team talked to farmers, and realized 40% of crops were being towed under because they were unattractive. Microsoft’s use of “ugly” produce gives customers a good feeling, he says, because “the farmer has taken time and energy to grow it.”

2. Soldier flies
Freeman says his team recently learned about these insects, which eat up to 30 times their own weight in garbage—or, in this case, plant-based waste. “As we start to understand the 360-degree economics of somebody’s waste becoming somebody else’s fuel, we look at the soldier fly, and that becomes food for fish; fish through aquaponics become food for plants; plants become food for flies,” he says.

3. Hydroponic towers
The misfit program got the dining team thinking about how far its produce had traveled to reach Microsoft’s campus—which led to growing 14,000-plus pounds of lettuce and microgreens annually in 55 cafe installations. “We’ve cut our carbon footprint from 600 miles to 6 feet,” Freeman says.

4. Efficient growth
Because Microsoft dining’s customers are, in fact, techies, they wanted to see how data could be applied to hydroponic towers. Software developers wrote programs to monitor water, pH, nutrients, humidity and more to predict when the hydroponic tower’s plants will need nutrients “instead of them asking for it, if you will,” Freeman says.

5. Managing big data
Not only does monitoring the towers allow Freeman’s team not to overproduce, the process “opened up some ideas around food waste, and how we’re dealing with it.” Data from cash register sales, employee badge swipes, daily traffic reports, weather forecasts and moon phases is being matched up as part of a waste reduction initiative. “What we’re finding is that all the data streams that are out there are starting to tell us a story,” Freeman says.

Microsoft dining—by the numbers
3.6M Cups of tea consumed annually
1.8M Bottles of lemon-lime flavored Talking Rain water consumed annually, making it the most popular free beverage
917,000 Pizza slices sold annually
90+ Dining destinations in the Puget Sound region, including 12 food trucks and three full-service restaurants
2,064 Average daily transactions at Cafe 16, the most popular eatery on campus

Source: Compass Group supporting Microsoft Real Estate & Facilities

#foodservice #foodserviceequipment #Microsoft