How to Succeed as a Restaurant Manager and Still Have a Life

How to Succeed as a Restaurant Manager and Still Have a Life

From restaurant owners who are trying to kick a great new restaurant off the ground to chefs who are trying to make a name for themselves, everyone needs work/life balance. For restaurant managers, who are required to be at the restaurant during peak hours, including holidays and weekends, it can be even more challenging! If you’re struggling to find the critical balance between succeeding at work and still enjoying the rest of your life, these tips will help!

1. Give Work Your Best

When you come into work every day, give it the best you’ve got. Work hard. When you’re on the clock, be on the clock: not hanging out in the office with your favorite employees or texting, not giving your least favorite tasks to the employees you enjoy working with the least, but genuinely giving the best you’ve got to your restaurant while you’re there.

You know that’s great for your work life, but have you considered the benefits it offers to you in the rest of your life? When you work hard while you’re at work, your employers are willing to go the extra mile for you. This might include things like extra paid time off, being able to take off the hours you really need, and even scheduling flexibility when big life choices come your way. When you fail to give your best to your employer, on the other hand, you’ll find that they’re much less willing to give you those extra advantages.

2. Don’t Always Eat At Work

You get a great discount on work food, and it’s faster to just grab something off the menu than it is to, for example, pack a lunch for yourself. Unfortunately, restaurants are rarely geared toward the healthiest offerings–not to mention the fact that they often use very large portions that aren’t in keeping with what you should actually be eating. Instead, take the time to pack a lunch for yourself. If you must eat at work, know the healthier options on the menu or how to reduce the calorie count of your order. It will help keep you healthier, increase your energy, and make it easier for you to take on the challenges of balancing both your work responsibilities and your life.

3. Prioritize You

When was the last time you got in a great workout or went to a concert? Are you overdue for a haircut? When you prioritize self-care, you’ll discover that you’re in a much better position to give your all both to work and to your personal life. Take the time to get in a workout–every day, if you can. This will increase your overall energy and make you feel better equipped for everything else you have to do in the day. Make sure you have time to shower, to decompress, and to do the other things involved taking care of you. If you don’t take care of yourself, how are you going to be able to take care of everything else?

4. Set Boundaries

Boundaries are an important element of maintaining that critical work/life balance. Just like your kids or your spouse know not to call you at work unless it’s an emergency, work shouldn’t call you out of your home life for anything less. Be clear about the hours you’re able to work, including what you’re able to offer in the event of an emergency situation. If you need specific hours off–for example, you don’t have childcare on a certain day or you’re attending classes–don’t feel as though you need to compromise those activities in order to make the restaurant owner happy. It’s okay to say no and to stick by those boundaries!

5. Get Adequate Sleep

Working at a restaurant, your hours are often long. This is particularly true if you close late. You may struggle to find a schedule that allows you to sleep adequately–but it’s critical to your health that you do! Work with the owner and your coworkers to create a schedule that allows you time to sleep before you have to return for your next shift so you’re not sacrificing your health and alertness for the sake of your job.

Creating that balance between work and life can feel challenging at first. Over time, however, you’ll discover that you can have it all! By creating boundaries and prioritizing healthy self-care, you’ll quickly find that you can succeed as a restaurant manager while still having a life outside of work.

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Making Restaurants Sustainable: Some People You Should Know

Making Restaurants Sustainable: Some People You Should Know

Nutrition experts predict that sustainability and plant-based protein will be the most important restaurant trends in 2017. Plant-based protein, primarily pulses, continues its popularity from 2016, which the United Nations declared the Year of the Pulse. Organics continues to trend as well. Both organics and plant-based protein are closely tied to sustainability.

Sustainability is a critical issue in our world as we anticipate almost 10 billion on the planet by 2050. How will we feed all those people without depleting our resources? We’re all concerned about it! Yet anyone who has ever owned or worked in a restaurant knows how difficult it is to maintain a “sustainable consciousness” in the current environment.

Consider, for example, disposables, a significant budget item in any place that includes carry-out or catering as part of their business model. If well-meaning operators try to move away from styrofoam to something more environmentally friendly, they can anticipate sticker-shock. On the other hand, washing real dishes isn’t automatically more sustainable. Restaurants use 5,800 gallons of water per day on average.

Or consider health department rules that require leaving the water running while a worker dries hands with a single-use towel so the towel can act as a barrier between clean hands and shutting off the faucet. Then there’s recycling that requires washing recyclables before adding them to the recycling bin. Regulations that prevent people from bringing in their own dishes to fill. Air-conditioning and heating that runs as people enter and leave.

We haven’t even gotten to the food yet! Food that has already been wasted in its path to the restaurant, culled in the fields, in grocery stores and by other handlers. Food that is rarely from local farmers. Food that travels a long way, using precious resources. City regulations that don’t allow composting vegetable waste within city limits — and who can come and pick it up to take out-of-town? Frying oil and other grease.

Most restaurants, to keep their prices down, build on a scaffold of unfairly priced food, food that relies on a farm work force that in the U.S. is 70% low-paid undocumented migrant workers, food that with current practices adds to environmental degradation without paying for restoration. Food that uses (and wastes) increasingly precious water resources.

A few leaders in the U.S. and other countries are setting off boldly in new directions. Meet some of them:

Laura Abshire, Director of Sustainability Policy and Government Affairs, National Restaurant Association. According to Laura, consumers are driving the trend toward more sustainability in restaurants. “People like local sourcing, and like knowing where their food comes from,” said Abshire. “They like knowing that they’re helping their community and that their food didn’t travel very far and hasn’t been packaged as long.” The National Restaurant Association proactively established its own environmental education program called Conserve. Information on this initiative is online at conserve.restaurant.org. The program is free and open to anyone looking for information on running a sustainable restaurant. As Laura says, “You can save a little bit on your bottom line, and you can show your customers that you really care about them and their values while also doing something good for the environment as well.”

Jack Cheney, graduate student at the University of Washington’s School of Marine and Affairs, studies Washington’s raw oyster industry, the largest in the U.S. and home to Taylor Fish Farms in operation for five generations supplying fish bars, shipping worldwide and always sustainable. Of oyster farming, Jack says, “What’s more farm to table than a raw oyster? There’s nothing that’s done to an oyster from the time it’s taken out of the water to the time it’s put on your plate at the restaurant.” Cheney talks about the positive environmental impact of oyster farming in addition to a minimal carbon footprint: “Oysters are sustainable. They’re clean for water. One oyster filters 50 gallons of water per day. It provides a wide berth of environmental benefits to the ecosystem.”

Arthur Potts Dawson, owner of acclaimed London restaurants Acorn House and Water House, opened in 2006. Potts Dawson hit the international scene in 2010 with his Ted Talk, A vision for sustainable restaurants. He “wants us to take responsibility not just for the food we eat, but how we shop for and even dispose of it.” His restaurants feature rooftop gardens, low-energy refrigerators and wormeries that turn food waste into compost, proving a sustainable approach is profitable and serving as training grounds for the next generation of green chefs.

Betsy Fink, co-founder of Millstone Farm, an incubator for community-based food systems. Betsy works with local markets and restaurants to expand local food networks. Through the Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation, she combats food waste.

Fedele Bauccio & Ernie Collins are the founders and owners of Bon Appétit Management in California. Frank and Ernie believed the restaurant industry, colleges and corporate cafeterias wanted and needed something other than what they were getting in the 1980s. What they needed was real food, freshly prepared. Their made-from-scratch food goes out to a contract market and 650 restaurants with which they work. They have been committed to health since their beginning and pioneered environmentally and socially responsible practices designed to create a more sustainable food system. In 1999, they launched Farm to Fork, widening their focus to the communities in which they operate. They have been front-runners in all the issues related to sustainability including antibiotic use in farm animals (2003), switching to rBGH-free milk (2003) and cage-free shell eggs (2005), food’s role in climate change (2007), farmworker rights(2009) and animal welfare (2012). Many nonprofit and industry groups honor Fedele’s work.

Douglas McMaster, owner and operator of The Silo in Brighton, UK, is the first zero-waste restaurant in the UK. Features he introduced in this minimalist environment include a special compost machine displayed near the entrance that will process all the restaurant’s food scraps, supplies delivered in reusable containers, ingredients mostly from local farmers and producers, flour milled on site and booze brewed in the basement. Meals come on plates made from recycled plastic and drinks in recycled jam jars. A chef and activist, McMaster says, “Choice is something which is wrong with the food industry. The places with more choice create more waste and have lower standards, that’s an absolute fact.” He offers just six daily main courses at Silo.

Ted Turner & George W. McKerrow, founders and owners of Ted’s Montana Grill, are passionately committed to Planet, Plate and People. Their motto is, “Eat Great. Do Good.” Their Sustainability Metrics are impressive. Further, they work hard to engage other restaurants in the idea of “going green.” In 2008, McKerrow and Turner visited five cities as part of a national tour, “The Green Restaurant Revolution.” Created to heighten awareness about the restaurant and hospitality industry’s environmental impact on the planet, the tour brought together industry leaders and future influencers to talk about the opportunities and challenges of going green and to stimulate conversation and ideas on solutions. More than 800 restaurateurs, hospitality leaders and culinary professionals attended five industry events. A front page USA Today article featured the company’s environmental commitment: Can restaurants go green, earn green?

What Can You Do? Every restaurant can contribute to sustainability by raising consciousness throughout its operation and paying attention to four areas:

  • Waste reduction
  • Water conservation
  • Energy efficiency
  • Renewable energy

Experiment with locally sourced and seasonal foods. Engage your customers in your effort to create a more sustainable experience. Take advantage of free resources like Conserve from the National Restaurant Association. Find out what is available in your community to assist you in your efforts. And while you’re doing all that, remember that appreciating beautiful, delicious, fresh food is the first step toward a conservation program in your restaurant.

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Do These 4 Things to Ensure Your Employees Won’t Be Worried About Health Care

Do These 4 Things to Ensure Your Employees Won’t Be Worried About Health Care

With the increase of the service industry becoming a destination career, employees are going to be increasingly concerned with providing healthcare for their family, so they’ll be paying close attention to events in our nation’s capitol.

Business owners, especially in the service industry, tend to develop close relationships with their employees. For this reason, it’s hard to watch them struggle or worry about their home life. And as we all know, if an employee is having problems outside of work, chances are their problems come to work with them.

Here are 4 major ways you can help keep your employee’s minds on service and worry free.

1. Be the shoulder they can lean on. Be their rock.

You’re now the big brother, big sister, mom, and dad. Take the time to reassure your staff that, despite what’s going on, you still feel providing health care is important and you’ll be there to take care of them.

Without diving into the politics, let your employees know you’ll be following the situation as closely as possible and will provide them with as much information as you can as things progress. Remember, things are very up in the air right now. Let them know the lines of communication are, and always will be, open on this subject.

Let them know the lines of communication are, and always will be, open on this subject.

2. Don’t bullsh** with them.

Don’t make things sound better than they may be. Healthcare is a scary, confusing, adult thing most people simply have no desire to think about unless they have to. Working for an employer who provides that sense of security is a big deal. Losing that sense of security can be a major cause for concern.

Take the time to answer any questions truthfully and to the best of your knowledge. Remind them of the fact that no matter what, things are going to change but you’ll be constantly monitoring the situation and working with your insurance providers to provide the best coverage you can.

Working for an employer who provides that sense of security is a big deal.

3. Be a mentor and educator.

As we touched on earlier, healthcare is confusing and intimidating. The worst part is, the media exacerbates the situation, causing hysteria and Washington seems to be at an impasse which does nothing to relieve the tension.

One of the best things you can do is help to educate your employees on their health benefits, how to enact them, how to use them, what they can and can’t do, where their benefits can be used, and any other details you feel necessary. Knowing exactly how their coverage works will go a long way towards alleviating the fear of not knowing.

One of the best things you can do is help to educate your employees on their health benefits.

4. Use this as an opportunity.

Obviously, this is important to everyone. Take this time to make sure you’re communicating closely with your plan provider, your HR team, and your company leaders. This is the perfect reason to reassess your benefits package and to make sure you have a solid strategy in place for any situation.

The last thing you want is to lose employees to another business with a better plan.

Remember, it’s inevitable that healthcare is going to change. The best operators understand this and are ready to adapt. Make sure you’re one of those able to keep your business running smoothly no matter what Washington decides to do.

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Lessons from Las Vegas

Lessons from Las Vegas

In the aftermath of the horrific mass shooting in Las Vegas, it’s important to refresh yourself and your staff on the best practices that have been in place for many years.

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The Best Line Cooks Have These ‘Set Shifting’ Traits

The Best Line Cooks Have These ‘Set Shifting’ Traits

Multitasking… there are a few people in the world who seem to thrive on it, but those people probably mastered the art of rapid set shifting, something a little different from multitasking. Set shifting “… means consciously and completely shifting…attention from one task to the next, focusing on the task at hand.” Giving full attention to a task in the moment improves productivity and creativity and causes fewer mistakes. “Set shifting is a sign of brain fitness and agility…”

If there is any life that requires this ability for rapid set shifting, it’s the life of a line cook. The best line cooks work quickly and with absolute focus. Receiving instructions and requests from multiple directions at once and with several different mini-events happening on different schedules under their watch, a line cook requires this rare ability for rapid set shifting.

If line cooks didn’t have this ability but instead multitasked in the way most of us think about it, order fulfillment would suffer; orders would slow and be filled with mistakes. Unanticipated problems occur in any commercial dining scenario, and line cooks, without this rapid set shifting ability, cannot create solutions.

Beyond set shifting, line cooks require a few other specific skills and lifestyle preferences. Let’s take a look.

“Set shifting is a sign of brain fitness and agility…”

Sharp and sharply focused

“Set shifting is a sign of brain fitness and agility…” A line cook is the person in the room who catches subtle cues quickly and whose responses are quick, intelligent and on target. Issues don’t sit on their mind while they weigh alternatives — they don’t have time for that. A line cook resolves issues instinctively and immediately and moves on to the next mini-event with complete focus.

Nimble

Sometimes the most intelligent people in the world move slowly or clumsily. The best line order cooks move quickly and gracefully, positioning their bodies and hands effortlessly and instinctively exactly where they need to be. The objective is to preserve every ounce of mental and physical capacity for the food prep task at hand without distraction.

Health-oriented

Seriously. Sounds crazy, but if a line order cook is conventionally multitasking instead of rapidly set shifting, they accumulate stress, contributing to a poor health profile. Add to this proximity to sweets and processed foods with little time to stop and focus on eating, and you are on the way to poor health. Poor health chips away at mental capacity, reduces focus and invites sluggishness. In contrast, someone who eats the right foods, drinks plenty of water and is active is more alert, focused and energetic.

A line cook who loves the taste and appearance of food knows instinctively when something isn’t quite right.

Love food and food preparation

If you don’t love good food and have some artistic sensibility about it, you cannot prepare a tasty, visually appealing dish. A line cook who loves the taste and appearance of food knows instinctively when something isn’t quite right and makes adjustments. Someone with no feeling for it or passion about it? Not so much. And there’s no time to check a recipe. While it’s true that line cooks don’t make the menu choices or have final responsibility for dishes that go out, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, and in establishments with fixed menus, a line cook is often the only person preparing food.

Strive for excellence

Of course, we should all strive for excellence in whatever we do, no matter how great or small the task. The story is in the details, and a good line cook takes pride in every item they prepare, in its taste, aroma and appearance. Serving good food with flair and attention to detail ensures customers return.

A natural and trained awareness of food sanitation best practices

Of course you want your line cook to have sanitation training and certification, but hopefully that line cook reaches a level of ease and naturalness with best practices. Interrupting focused rapid set shifting to remember whether you should turn off hand-washing water before drying your hands or after adds unnecessary distraction to the work.

A line order cook is someone with a natural gift honed by training and experience. A good one is a rare find, and restauranteurs who find great line cooks are smart to show their appreciation to these employees.

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How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle While Working in Restaurants

How to Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle While Working in Restaurants

Late night shifts. Changing shifts and irregular hours. Constantly on your feet. No time to sit down and eat. Slips, trips, falls. Chemical exposure. Stress. Parties… restaurants aren’t exactly health clubs. Perhaps that’s why researchers found the rate of heart disease and stroke was highest among people in two industries, one of them “Accommodation and Food Service,” which includes people who work in traveler accommodations, restaurants and bars.

So what can restaurant workers do to beat the statistics and maintain a healthy lifestyle in the restaurant industry? Here are 10 steps to take toward protecting yourself:

1. Meet with your employer

It’s a good idea to talk with a potential employer before accepting a job to find out about things like shift management, the physical environment, smoking policies, breaks and personal food prep policies. If you didn’t do this before starting work, and you experience particular things that interfere with best practices for health, bringing them tactfully to your employer’s attention might help.

Sometimes modifications work to everyone’s advantage. These days more employers understand the cost-benefit equation surrounding health and employee sickness, injury and absenteeism.

2. Keep “regular” sleep hours

Yes, restaurant shifts are a potential cause of health problems. To the extent you can, aim for regularity, approximately the same time frame each day that you work. Then adjust your sleep schedule accordingly so that you can get in most of your sleep at the same time every night (or day). If you can’t get in 7-8 hours of sleep in one block, schedule a regular short nap time each day. Keep to your schedule even on days you don’t work. Your goal is to let your body adjust to a rhythm, whatever it is.

A hearty breakfast will provide extended energy, which restaurant employees most definitely need!

3. Eat a great breakfast

What if you work a breakfast shift? Schedule time before you go in to sit down and eat a healthy, hearty breakfast. Eat your breakfast at the same time each day whether you’re working that day or not. A healthy, hearty breakfast doesn’t mean commercial cereals, sweet rolls or bagels. Better are walnuts and almonds, chia, flax and hemp seeds, fresh and frozen fruits, topped with milk, unsweetened yogurt or unsweetened soy milk. This will provide extended energy, which restaurant employees most definitely need!

4. Focus on these foods

Maybe your workplace serves up healthy food and soups and lets its employees enjoy them. If not, you need to prepare. Drfuhrman.com offers a guide to healthy eating based on four principles: nutrient density, comprehensive nutrient adequacy, favorable hormone levels and avoiding toxins. This plant-rich diet aims for maximum nutrient density in minimum calories. Salad is your main dish each day.

“For at least one meal a day, have a big salad that includes plenty of leafy greens, plus beans, onions, tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, mushrooms, bell peppers and more, topped by a nut/seed-based dressing.” Limit animal products. Eliminate all sweeteners and refined grains. Since most of your diet consists of plant foods, and only 1 in 10 Americans eats enough of them, it’s easy to see where you need to focus: on those fruits and veggies! Keep it simple, and prepare ahead.

5. Find a space and a time to eat

Oddly enough, most eateries offer limited space for restaurant workers to eat. If your shift is long enough that you need a meal, find a corner where you can sit quietly and enjoy your fruits and veggies or made-ahead salad.

The food service world don’t always go quite the way you expect…so be sure you plan ahead.

6. Prepare an emergency food kit

Things in the food service world don’t always go quite the way you expect…so be sure you plan ahead for those times when you’re starving and don’t want to grab the first thing that pops into your line of vision. Chances are good that thing will be sweet and refined. Good things for an emergency food kit are carrot sticks, nuts, pumpkin seeds, canned sardines and apples.

7. Move

In a way, you’re lucky. As a restaurant worker, you’re probably on your feet all the time. Why? Because sitting for extended periods of time increases your chance of heart attack. In fact, Women who sit more than 6 hours a day are 96% more likely to die of a heart attack than women who sit for less than 3 hours a day — and men who sit more than 6 hours a day are 48% more likely than their standing counterparts to die of a heart attack.

But too much of a good thing also causes problems. Take advantage of moments to sit — and while you’re on your feet, watch your posture, and keep moving. Many chefs shift side to side as they work in position on their feet.

8. Focus

Restaurant work seems to demand multi-tasking, but many recent studies show that multi-tasking is not only ineffective but has a negative health impact. Instead, work on mastering the art of rapid set shifting, “…consciously and completely shifting…attention from one task to the next, focusing on the task at hand.”

9. Don’t smoke

You know the statistics. Hopefully, you work in a smoke-free environment, but if not, you have to deal with second-hand smoke, and this is not good for your health. Don’t add to the problem by smoking yourself.

10. Drink water

One of the major causes of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other chronic diseases is high sugar drinks. This includes not only soda but unsweetened fruit juices. When you’re thirsty, drink water — and eat the whole fruit.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can be difficult when working in a restaurant. So, remember, that even if you do just a few of these or work up to checking off the entire list, it’s still a win. Here’s to your health, restaurant professionals!

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