In the foodservice industry, written reviews, social media commentary and customer feedback can mean the difference between a restaurant that thrives and one that folds after just a few months. On a five-star scale, even half a star’s worth of improvement can boost an establishment’s prime-time business by as much as 20 percent.
Getting Glowing Reviews
How can restaurants and caterers get fantastic reviews? The basics seem simple enough: serve excellent food and provide great service. The nuances, however, can be far more complicated.
Pete Wells, a restaurant critic for The New York Times, wrote in a year-end summary of new 2013 restaurants that the “best of the pack” all had owners who displayed a desire to be the best, with their passion and dedication evident in not only the taste of the food but also the atmosphere of the dining room. Without question, it takes a team effort to keep any restaurant or catering business going. Spreading excitement and company pride among team members also go a long way towards achieving success.
Temperature Is Key
One of the key factors that restaurateurs and caterers need to possess in order to succeed in their business is to have a passion for quality. High quality food is synonymous with high quality ingredients as well as tasty recipes and the skilled use of proper techniques. However, after all the careful effort in preparing food, caterers should not overlook an equally important final step—transporting and delivery. Getting good reviews will be dependent in large part on the taste and temperature of the catered menu. Customers will notice immediately if their order isn’t at the proper temperature, so getting that factor right every time is pivotal. This is especially true for caterers who often have a lag between the time food comes out of the kitchen and the time it’s ready to serve. Using high quality hot holding equipment will ensure that food is as scrumptious 3 hours later as it was when it was hot off the grill.
How to pick the right hot holding equipment?
In the foodservice industry where margins are tight, it’s understandable that many caterers are price sensitive (and even more so if you’re a start-up). However, when choosing the right equipment, caterers need to also think about the long-range ramifications rather than just looking at short-term out-of-pocket figures. When considering hot holding carriers, for example, take one of Cambro’s 4 pan carriers—the UPC400. It has long been the industry standard, but as a result, has also been subject to many imitations in the industry. To the untrained person and to the naked eye, the polyethylene exterior looks the same. The design may even look very similar. However, don’t be mistaken by looks alone. Here are some key questions to ask:
- Is the polyethylene used made of food-grade material? Why is this important? Imagine what happens when steaming hot food creates condensation in the unit. This condensation will inadvertently drip into your food pans and into your food. Could you, with 100% confidence, vouch for the safety of any food delivered in this unit? Certain foreign countries creating these imitation carriers do not use food grade material that is FDA approved. Be on the lookout.
- What kind of insulating foam is used? There are many grades of polyurethane foam used in the industry. Some cause pollution to the environment and contribute to the greenhouse effect with the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) produced. Cambro insulates all of our products with a high-quality CFC-free foam that’s safe for the environment.
- Is the insulation foamed all the way around the unit? This is not an easy point to ascertain but some companies producing Cambro look-alikes do not have the technology to make sure that the unit is properly foamed. If foam does not surround the walls of the unit, then food will lose its temperature retention quickly, leading to the unsafe holding of even your most delectable dishes.
- For any units with casters, how are the casters attached? If the casters are mounted directly onto the bottom wall of the unit, they may fall off easily as a result of hitting walls or doorways, as they get pushed over speed bumps, and especially if the unit happens to fall off a van. Once damage is done to the corners where the casters have torn off the unit, there is no repair possible. The walls will be damaged and foam exposed, creating an unsafe holding environment for food. A replacement unit will have to be purchased. At Cambro, all of our casters are mounted with metal plates that are mounted into the molding of the body, ensuring a finished product built to last for years ahead.
As you can see, there may be many units on the market similar-looking to Cambro’s insulated transporters, but asking the right questions to understand how they’re made and understanding the differences in quality is an investment in time that will be well worth your efforts. No caterer wants to end up with equipment that doesn’t perform and doesn’t last. Having a quality product like a Cambro carrier will easily pay for itself for many, many years to come in terms of reliability and replacement cost, two things caterers certainly don’t want to have to worry about.
You Can Get Those Five Stars!
Providing excellent service to all customers becomes a lot easier when temperature maintenance and kitchen tasks are taken care of with great equipment. It means chefs, servers, caterers and all other kitchen staff are less stressed and better able to focus on creating a stand-out experience that will provide sizzling customer reviews.
Cambro’s insulated transport products take care of temperature maintenance with ease so that chefs can focus on turning out stellar meals; catering staff on presentation and service. For maximum versatility, consider one of Cambro’s electric units. Plug them in for hot holding as long as you need. In transit, even when unplugged, they will continue to hold hot food safely for 4+ hours so food arrives in perfect condition every time. Use them unplugged for cold holding as well. Since the walls are well-insulated throughout, cold foods will also stay chilled.
Getting those 5-Star reviews all starts with you and the decisions you make with your equipment. Remember– 5-Star equipment helps create 5-Star reviews.