Keck's Food Service

Deadly restaurant sins.

Keck’s Food Service
Millerton, PA

Accounts: 1,000 in Pennsylvania and New York
2007 sales: Under $40 million

Brian H. Keck, president and ceo, Keck’s Food Service, Millerton, Pennsylvania, is the first to admit that food-cost inflation, which is hovering at 8 percent this year, is troublesome for his customers. However, he thinks it won’t kill a restaurant all by itself. But combined with other problems a restaurant has? That’s another story.

Last January, Keck started reaching out to his clients to warn them to get their houses in order so they can weather the economic storm.

Keck’s Solution Series consists of 19 operational topics that operators should regularly review in order to stay out of trouble. Among them are: active management, customer comment cards, front- and back-of-house safety tips, menu development and design, operational cost controls, sanitation tips, standard recipe worksheets, shrinkage and waste report lists and others.

Keck, who regularly writes letters of advice to his customer base, points out that as bleak as the economic indicators are nowadays, they should not lead to pessimism but rather an awareness of the necessity of tightly managing all segments of the business.

“It’s far better to make informed decisions than reactionary ones. If we can help our customers make an informed, timely decision versus merely a response, then we feel that we’re going to help them thrive in the long term,” he says.

The Solution Series also includes two lists of sins, 20 committed in the front of the house and 20 in the back of the house. These are transgressions that can sink an operation. Check the BOH list to uncover your operational sins.

Keck’s 20 back-of-the-house sins 

1. Vendor deliveries not thoroughly checked-in, ignoring correct product, quantity, condition, temperature and pricing.

2. Food order not promptly stored at the correct temperature. 

3. Storage areas being left unlocked, inviting theft.

4. Product stored on floors of walk-ins or coolers.

5. Not preventing and controlling pest infestation.

6. Not controlling shut-down and turn-on times of all kitchen equipment. Not using timers for all lighting.

7. Not using scales to monitor portion sizes.

8. Neglecting to monitor employees’ consumption of food, which will eventually drive up food cost.

9. Kitchen staff not completely scraping out all food in containers, leading to product waste.

10. Wasted food due to over-prepping. 

11. Leaving chemicals stored next to food products.

12. Leaving frozen or refrigerated product out on counters for long periods of time.

13. Product not being rotated or labeled properly.

14. Poorly trained employees, which contributes to wasted labor, inconsistent dishes and unhappy customers.

15. Reduced yields on products caused by not using standardized recipes and scales or manufacturer’s instructions.

16. Lack of perpetual inventory to accurately verify inventory levels.

17. Cross contamination due to the improper handling of raw and prepared products.

18. Dried or rotten refrigerator door seals, ice build-up or improperly working door handles, which cause fluctuating temperatures.

19. Improper defrosting techniques.

20. Employees’ neglect of proper personal hygiene guidelines.