Advice Guy

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Question: 
How do I handle a complaint of the steam table being too hot, even when it’s set on low?
Answer: 

One thing I’ve loved about writing this column over the past seven (!) years is that by using real reader-submitted questions, I am always learning new things, due to the...

Question: 
One of my [broadline] vendors offered to give me an ongoing discount if I agree to use him exclusively. I don’t know how he would be sure I didn’t use any other vendors, but it sounds like a good deal, if prices don’t go up. Are other people doing this?
Answer: 

Most foodservice operators are very comfortable dealing with multiple suppliers. Even if you get the vast majority of your products from a broadline distributor and can...

Question: 
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...

Question: 
What training can I give my team to improve their speed of service? I am new to the position and need help to improve them, as we have twenty minutes to deliver the food, and time and time again it’s over that.
Answer: 

This question comes at a great time, because I just consulted with a friend who was having this problem in a takeout-oriented casual-dining restaurant, who was working...

Question: 
Can a restaurant in Virginia legally require servers to be financially responsible for a walk-out meal? The money for that meal, in this case, comes directly from that night's tips (whether or not they are making at least minimum wage at the time is unknown). What resources are available for the management and servers to learn more about this?
Answer: 

In this column, I’ve previously addressed whether it is allowable—...

Question: 
My wife and I own a restaurant in Miami. It is a small restaurant, so generally there are one or two of us waiting tables. Some days when we are busier, we have a busser helping. Basically, we are getting the tips. I read some comments on the internet saying owners and managers can’t get tips. So, how would that work?
Answer: 

In this column, we have previously addressed whether managers...

Question: 
I am a server at a microbrew pub. The brewer did a training of new beers and I attended and drank, of course. I’m 20 and the next day I got put on probation [at work] for drinking and being under 21. The manager said I should have refused the beers we were given to try. My feeling is they know how old I am so if they are going to have us train, it should be allowed for us to taste. It’s not like I was hanging out all night at the bar.
Answer: 

There’s no question that product knowledge and tasting is key to providing great service and sales, especially in an environment like a brewpub.

Laws vary...

Question: 
We have a no cellphones at work policy, but it doesn’t seem to apply to managers, including for personal use. Is that allowed?
Answer: 

We previously discussed cellphone policies for restaurant...

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