A successful restaurant relies on the kitchen running smoothly. Keeping customers happy requires not only serving delicious food but doing so safely and in a timely manner. With so many moving parts, it’s easy for things to go wrong, and even a small hiccup in any aspect of kitchen operations can potentially impact customer satisfaction and profits, not to mention cause problems with employees and unnecessary stress.
While anything from staffing to supplier issues can disrupt normal kitchen operations, perhaps nothing will bring a commercial kitchen to a screeching halt like broken or malfunctioning equipment.
One of the primary responsibilities for a restauranteur or kitchen manager, then, is to keep the equipment running as it should. That means having a plan for both maintenance and backups in place in case something goes wrong.
When you follow these tips, though, the likelihood of something actually going wrong decreases, and if by some chance it does, you won’t experience much downtime.
Read the Manuals
The best way to keep your commercial equipment running smoothly is to read the owner’s manuals and know exactly how to operate and care for it. This ensures proper use and that you know what type of maintenance is required.
Most kitchen equipment has its own specific care and handling requirements, so even if you have experienced staff, it’s important to review the specific instructions. Using equipment improperly increases the chance of injury or equipment damage, so keep user manuals on hand and require proper training for all equipment.
Invest in Maintenance
You can’t afford to wait for things to go wrong to realize that there is a problem with your kitchen equipment. With regular maintenance, you can identify potential problems before they disrupt the operation and keep them from occurring in the first place.
Don’t skimp on recommended professional maintenance but follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to have your equipment serviced on the correct schedule. Your equipment will work as it should, and you will protect any warranties and keep your staff safe. Perhaps even more importantly, you’ll save money on expensive deferred maintenance costs and replacements.
Don’t wait for scheduled maintenance appointments to take care of your kitchen equipment, though. It’s your responsibility to conduct general maintenance on stoves, fryers, refrigeration units, etc. Checking filters and keeping them clear of grease and other debris, inspecting hoses for clogs, leaks, and inspecting gaskets for cracks and tears that can cause costly leaks are just some of the preventive tasks that need to be addressed every few weeks.
Taking that time will prevent damage and keep your staff and customers safe and improve the food quality.
Replacing vital equipment in your restaurant kitchen will eat into your profits –especially when it’s unplanned. When things go wrong, it’s tempting to just make do with equipment that isn’t working perfectly, or cobble together a solution that doesn’t fully address the problem and ultimately makes things worse.
A better solution is to replace broken parts when necessary. The cost of commercial kitchen replacement parts is much less than replacing the entire unit. Calling on a professional technician to replace parts when necessary not only saves money, but it saves time and prevents breakdowns at the most inopportune moments.
Keep it Clean
Keeping a clean kitchen isn’t only a priority in terms of health and safety for your customers and compliance with regulations. Keeping equipment clean and free of grease and debris will help prevent problems. For example, range fires caused by grease buildup cost restaurants millions of dollars in damage every year and can be easily prevented with regular cleaning. Routine cleaning and sanitizing extends the life of your equipment, reducing costs and preventing downtime.
Taking care of your kitchen equipment doesn’t mean that everything will always run smoothly in your restaurant. After all, anyone working in food service knows that things can and will go wrong at any moment. However, when you put the time and effort into routine and preventive maintenance, the likelihood of equipment failure disrupting operations decreases considerably.
You’ll keep your customers happy, your kitchen in compliance with laws and regulations, and your staff productive – and ultimately, your profits healthy.