Food Safety During Summer

The recent (still happening) heat wave across the US reminded me that it is well past time to do the summer check on all cooling and refrigeration equipment. Most smart franchisees and small food shops will have this booked in for that start of every summer. If you are not one of them, call your service provider and change the inspection times to coincide with the summer and winter season beginnings.

There are several reasons to ensure your refrigeration and cooling systems are at their optimum during the summer and the first and most important is the safety of your customers by ensuring that all equipment can do the job of keeping foods at the correct temperature all day and every day. In other words ensuring full food safety.

All foods are at a higher risk during hot weather. Restaurant refrigeration systems struggle to keep safe temperatures, delivery trucks are even worse and the processing factories have the same heat problems as the restaurants Summer is also the time of insects which can find their way into your restaurant and food, so pest control will have to be stepped up.

Refrigeration will be working at it’s hardest over the summer so ensure that the coolant is recharged and all condensers are clean and free of dust. You may have to move the equipment, get into crawl spaces or ceilings to do this but it is worth it as it will help the overall efficiency of the system. Ensure that your service company also does this as part of your normal service so that you only have to check it once or twice in between services.

Do the same for your air conditioning so as to ensure a comfortable environment for your customers. Good A/C also assists refrigeration as a cool area surrounding the refrigeration system assists with good airflow around motors and condensers. Also a good idea to check that there is nothing blocking air flow near any of the motors as this could cause serious overheating and may even cause a burnt out motor, which could lead to a lot more serious problems like spoiled food and even food poisoning.

The start of summer is also a good time to do a complete strip down, clean and sanitize on all fridges as well as checking door seals for cracks and tears and anything else that will affect the running of your equipment. It is also a great time to schedule a full team meeting on the importance of food safety and to stress sanitation, FIFO and all the other things that can be impacted by the hot weather.

I have found over the years that normally the only time I have had any problems with equipment in summer was when regular servicing had not been done. It ends up costing significantly more in call out fees, wasted food, and unhappy customers because  equipment always breaks down when it is at full stress and that is usually on the weekend when call out fees are higher, you have more perishables in stock and more customers to be angry at you when the A/C breaks down or the ice cream is soft.

Coffee Drinks For Summer-Recipes!!

Its summer and the schools are all out for the holidays and it is time to start thinking about how you can capitalize on the season by adding summer beverages to your menu. They are easy to make, have a high profit factor and can bring a whole new customer base into your business. You can introduce one or two to start with or look at a whole range of new cold beverages.

Coffee can be made several ways as a base for cold beverages, the two best are using shots straight from an espresso machine or cold filtered with a long brew in cold water overnight.

If you already have a blender then the variety of beverages is almost endless. If you don’t have a blender and don’t want to spend the $1500 – $2000 for a top of the range commercial model then check out some of  used equipment websites on the net or if local health and safety laws allow it, head on down to your local Walmart or appliance store and buy a good domestic model. Don’t forget to order spare blades, o-rings and have at least two blenders on hand. One for milk based products and one for juice based products. Label one “Dairy” and the other “Non Dairy” You have to be careful not to mix them up for your lactose intolerant customers.

Coffee based cold beverages are always a favorite while the Italian sodas and fruit juice based smoothies are hot items on any beverage menu.

Check your local supplier for flavored syrups including Mocha, chocolate powder both sweet ground and white chocolate and cookies and a few of the tiny candy bars that can be blended with the milk based beverages to add that WOW factor.

Some of the flavored syrups that you should think about are:

Caramel

Vanilla

Strawberry and any other berry that you think will do well in your market

Lime

Orange

Hazelnut (make sure it does not contain any actual nuts)

Anything else that will appeal to your customers 

Be creative and try combinations that you believe will work. Test them on your team and family.

Here are a couple of easy recipes that are standard throughout the world to give you a start. You will have to play around with exact measurements dependant your glass size.

Italian Soda

A shot of flavored syrup over ice and top up with soda. Garnish with lemon slice, parsley or mint

Iced coffee

Shot of espresso or double amount of cold filter coffee over ice and top up with milk

Vanilla, Caramel or Coconut iced coffee

Add a shot of the appropriate flavored syrup

Iced Mocha

Make iced coffee as above with ice to almost the top of the glass and pour into blender add a tablespoon of sweet ground chocolate powder and blend till smoot and no ice chunks left. Pour into original glass and sprinkle with chocolate powder.

Oreo Smoothie

As above but add one or two Oreo cookies and blend till smooth

Fruit Smoothies

Use only high quality pure fruit concentrate made especially for the beverage market.

In a glass quarter fill with water another third of fruit puree and heap the rest with ice. Pour into a blender and blend till smooth and no ice chunks left. Pour into the original glass and garnish with fresh fruit if necessary. Mix and match to liven things up or add fresh fruit to make a healthy option.

A couple of tips:

  • For carryout use clear plastic cups with lids that allow whipped cream to be added above the cup line.
  • Have chocolate sprinkles and chocolate powder in shakers for the customers to add themselves
  • Make whipped cream an option, free of charge if possible or build it into the price and advertise “Free Whipped Cream”
  • Daily or weekly specials on a chalkboard is always a good way to advertise and gives it that “Fresh Daily” feel.
  • Most chocolate powders are pre sweetened as are the fruit smoothie puree’s but the iced coffees and real fruit smoothies are not so think about sugar packets or simple sugar syrup as a sweetener.

Good mixing and don’t forget to be creative.

Pizza Update

A quick word on a previous blog.

There is trouble in my family: My opinion has been put in doubt!! Some of my extended family have made aspersions as to my sanity regarding the best Pizza in Georgia. Fellini’s in Atlanta has been mentioned as definitely the best pizza. Rubbish!

What fool could even think that a reheated crust with topping added later could even come near Louie’s On the Lake. I have decided to divorce them all!! I may even write them out of my will, if I had anything worth leaving to them but I will definitely have them all committed to the local asylum. Does anyone get the idea that I take pizza very seriously!!

As an aside I have returned to Louie’s On The Lake since that blog and I can tell you that it is still number one in my books. I have actually talked to Louie and I had to apologize for the remark about him building his kid’s play house in the entrance way. It is not a play house but he and his kids are going to be making candy on the premise for sale in their own little kiosk over the holidays. What a great idea!!