Advice Guy

An industry expert answers questions on improving restaurant operations

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Question: 
Are there any written legal guidelines which should be required of service animals and their owners while dining in a buffet style establishment?  We are researching guidelines which would follow ADA requirements, however still protect sanitation concerns for the establishment and other guests. Recently, one guest (also a nurse) presented the question of:  "How do we protect potential guests who may have a serious allergy to animal hair and dandruff"?
Answer: 

This is a messy question with an answer that requires more sensitivity than policy. In short, ADA trumps health code. That is, while a local health code may have rules...

Question: 
Any advice on how to prevent/minimize the chef and the kitchen from eating portions intended for guests?  I understand they have to taste the food for quality control, but sometimes they go overboard resulting in obviously small portions, and sometimes result in guest complaints.
Answer: 

This is a problem with a simple solution: implement a staff meal. If staff are hungry, they will eat anything and especially delicious high-cost food. I’ve even seen...

Question: 
What costs comprise prime cost and occupancy percentage? 
Answer: 

Lack of consistent industry benchmarks is a common complaint in our industry. Operators often keep their numbers close and when you do look at others’ numbers, they may...

Question: 
I would love to start teaching cooking classes to kids, ages 5 and up, at my restaurants but have no clue how to get started. 
Answer: 

In short: don’t. Especially with kids. Teaching can be a great way to build visibility and loyalty for your brand, show off your talents, and generate additional revenue...

Question: 
What about TurboChef ovens? Are they the same as Flashbake?
Question: 
We have a self-serve coffee station. How can I tell people to stop filling up extra coffee cups with the complimentary creamers and sugars? Only the amount that goes into your coffee is free—not as much as you want. 
Answer: 

You reveal the problem in your question. While situations vary, I get this one a lot. You are trying to change behavior but what you really need to change is the...

Question: 
I buy ramps, greens, wild mushrooms and other things from a forager who I really like. One of my cooks said that we could get in trouble since she is not an “approved vendor.” Is that true?
Answer: 

Yes officially, the health code for New York City says, “Food shall be obtained from sources approved by the appropriate regulatory authority having jurisdiction over...

Question: 
Dear Advice Guy,What is the best setting for steam tables?
Answer: 

There are two immediate follow-ups to your question:

  1. What model?
  2. What food?

Steam tables vary widely in their settings. Some have words...

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