For commercial kitchens and restaurants, the festive season is an increasingly busy time of year. The number of people eating out on Christmas day itself has increased by 240% in the last five years alone. And Christmas Day restaurant bookings are showing no signs of slowing down, with approximately 19% of people saying that they’re intending to eat out over Christmas in the future.
But the festive bump in business is not just restricted to Christmas day, with data from OpenTable revealing that more and more diners want to hand over the stress of cooking for the whole festive period in order to spend more time with friends and family. We’re not even beginning to consider the inevitable increase in work parties and functions over this period.
Overall, this period is an invaluable opportunity to boost your profitability and attract new customers who will hopefully then return once the festive season ends. However, if you’re serious about keeping up with demand this year, then you need to start thinking ahead.
Think About Your Storage Space
Whether you’re aiming to attract larger parties or are creating a new festive menu with items you wouldn’t normally stock, Christmas can put a strain on any business. It’s important to consider whether you have enough room to store and refrigerate any additional stock safely.
You need to be careful not to overstock your refrigerators and freezers—if they’re too full, cold air cannot circulate effectively. Without an open airflow, your equipment will be unable to chill food effectively, reducing its efficiency and turning it into an ideal incubator for bacteria.
It’s also important to consider cross-contamination. Raw produce—including vegetables—must be stored separately from cooked and ready-to-eat foods. It can become all too easy to let food hygiene standards slip when demand is high. Therefore, businesses need to pay close attention to food safety over the festive period.
Mistakes could not only ruin someone’s Christmas, but it could also damage the reputation of your business. Research shows that 75% of consumers wouldn’t risk dining at a restaurant that has been implicated in a food hygiene incident, even if it had been recommended to them by a friend.
If you don’t anticipate having enough storage, consider investing in some new equipment before the Christmas rush hits. There’s a growing trend towards smaller refrigeration cabinets such as under-counter storage fridges and refrigerated drawers. They’re very space-efficient and allow kitchens to increase their storage capacity without undergoing a complete re-design.
If you’re looking to get ahead in the festive period, investing in your storage can be a lot more cost-effective than choosing to struggle on with your current set-up and having to either turn away customers or suffering increased food wastage due to over packed units.
Pre-Christmas Refrigerator Checks
When you’re busy preparing new menus and taking bookings for the busiest time of year, the last thing you need is equipment breaking down. That’s why before Christmas you should think about getting all your equipment serviced and inspected, making sure that there are no issues or faults that could slow you down. Because what you might not realise is that even if you think your systems are working well, they could be over-consuming energy leading to ever-escalating energy bills over time.
The good news is that the latest generations of commercial storage fridges are not only more effective at chilling, but are also much more energy efficient. So, while putting off that replacement might help this year's returns, your old refrigeration equipment will cost more to run than a new, energy-efficient unit. We stock equipment currently on the government’s ECA Energy Technology List (ETL), which means that you can claim 100% of the cost back against tax in the first year of owning it and might even qualify for an interest-free loan to cover the initial cost.
Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) regulations also require you to regularly check and record your equipment’s temperature. Make sure to use a professional-quality probe thermometer to check your refrigerators are operating below 5°C. If you’re noticing temperature fluctuations it could be due to faulty seals allowing cold air to escape.
We recommend getting all these checks done as early as possible, so there’s time before Christmas for new equipment to be installed or repaired and to guarantee that your kitchen is ready for the festive season.
Source: checkit.net; opentable.co.uk; verdictfoodservice.com