Advice Guy

An industry expert answers questions on improving restaurant operations

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Question: 
Dear Advice Guy,I got a bad review from our local food critic (the only game in town). Business has been OK since but is this the end? Or does it not matter?
Answer: 

Restaurant reviewing is in a very interesting state.  With the rise of consumer review sites, in some ways everyone is a critic. Big critics certainly dominate the food...

Question: 
Dear Advice Guy,We offer 40% off staff meals but how do I record that for accounting purposes?
Answer: 

It is important to properly account for employee meals for a few reasons: to accurately calculate food-cost percentages, to paint a more accurate picture of revenues, and...

Question: 
Dear Advice Guy,I hired a bus person a couple of years ago. He wanted to do more, but his English skills are weak. I told him if he learns English he can move up quickly, but until then, he’s busing and running food. He is a great busser but refused to learn English and is now leaving for a server job at another restaurant. Am I wrong to expect him to learn the language? 
Answer: 

I don’t think you are wrong to expect employees—especially front-of-house employees in the US, and in a very international city like Washington DC—to have a good command...

Question: 
I was intrigued with your article, “Balancing service areas and sanitation.” I run the Food and Beverage for a private country club. Therefore we are not a “privately owned business” and we do not serve “the public.” So does this exempt us from the ADA requirements in allowing service animals in our establishment?
Answer: 

If you really had a goal or good business case to be exempt from the ADA, it is possible as a private club when all conditions are met. Specifically, your organization...

Question: 
Are there any successful restaurants that are only open for lunch service?
Answer: 

You are in one of the few environments where being open for one meal service is potentially feasible. In general, since restaurants pay rent for 24-hours a day, it is...

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...

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