We’ve talked about how you might want or require your customers to dress when they enter your establishment. Depending on the situation, you may require anything from simple sandals and a shirt to a suit and tie. What may matter more than how your clientele dresses is how your staff dresses; if nobody is in your establishment, they’ll be the point-man that defines the style and feel of your restaurant. There’s many factors to consider when working out your company’s dress code; have you thought of them all?
Safety First, Comfort Second
- In all situations, you will want your employees to wear closed-toe shoes. This minimizes the possible injuries that can come from dropped knives, grease, and more. A good rubber sole is suggested as well for grip, and you want comfort for those that are standing all day. Less wear and tear on your staff mean less time calling out, injuries, and accidents.
- Heels may be something of debate with your female staff; waitresses and hostesses may want to wear heeled shoes for appearance-sake, but heels cause more damage to the body (and are more prone to accident). Prohibiting them would not be out of the question, and is a decision best left to yourself.
Front Of The House, Face Of The Business
- As manager or owner, you’ll want to dress at least on the level of the front of the house staff, if not slightly more professional. While you’re one of the crew and can put in the time when needed, you’re also their boss and the representative of the business, professionally.
- If your business is relaxed, you may allow your staff to have a relaxed dress code, but with a few caveats. You may want to limit the amount of skin showing, request a few safety-related hair care minimums (“no beards”, for example, to minimize the chance of hair falling into food) and the like (fake fingernails may come detached).
- Remember personal religious or cultural beliefs may factor into a staff member’s appearance. Do not trample on someone’s personal code of dress, which will allow them to express themselves while falling safely within your guidelines.
- If your location is casual enough, you may want to look in getting custom t-shirts made for your staff, advertising special deals or just simply keeping the brand alive and in everyone’s face. This concept allows your staff to be relaxed in the everyday t-shirt, while keeping a uniform look amidst.
- If your location is more formal, you may request your staff to wear slacks, button-up dress shirts, or even polos. There’s a spectrum of options that may work for your needs.
- One way to unify your staff while allowing them a unique identity and convenience is using aprons. These can help you protect your clothing while also adding pockets for order books, napkins, and more.
Cleanliness Is Key
- We’ve all had that moment where the laundry wasn’t fully done and we had to run to work; yesterday’s jeans just might suffice in that situation. If you can tell your employee’s clothes are not up to snuff, though, you may request that they make sure to wear fresh ones next time.
- Accidents happen, and invariably someone’s pants, shorts, or shirt will get messy; ketchup, soft drinks, guacamole and more will all get on your staff at some point. Treat the situation with care; if you have promotional or back-up shirts that can do in a pinch, let the staff change instead of walking around in a stained or soaked shirt. If not, you may want to let them leave for an extended break to go home and change, or leave early for the day.
Cracker Barrel has faced criticism that their menu is considered “heavy” or “rich”, primarily being hearty breakfast fare served at all hours of the day, ranging from butter-drenched biscuits to gravy-coated chicken fried steak. It’s a heavy indulgence every once in a while, but the company has decided to float the opposite way to get some customers they might have lost. Their “Wholesome Fixin’s” menu introduced this week is conceptually about keeping meals under 600 calories while keeping their menu fresh and relevant.
Any restaurants worth their weight in salt (low-sodium, of course) need to revise their menu on a regular basis; trim the fat of products that don’t sell, and introduce new ones that might have a chance at the spotlight. Could introducing, or at least highlighting, your lower-calorie menus be a saving grace for your restaurant?
Looking at Cracker Barrel’s changes, there’s a few simple swap-outs that happen that can dramatically make a meal healthier:
- The “Good Morning Breakfast” features turkey bacon, scrambled Egg Beaters, sliced tomatoes, cheese grits, and a seasonal fruit selection. Turkey bacon is less sodium than it’s pork counterpart (and would actually appeal to consumers who don’t partake of pork). Scrambled Egg Beaters theoretically offer lower cholesterol.
- Their new multigrain french toast dish is baked, coming with honey citrus yogurt and seasonal fruit. Multigrain bread is replacing their low-carb bread.
- Spice-rubbed pork chops, pepper-grilled sirloin, buttermilk oven-fried chicken, and pecan-crusted catfish are all either cooked healthier or include steamed sides to reduce the caloric count.
New Menu Items
Sometimes, something new has to be tried.
- “Fresh Fruit and Yogurt Parfait” is yogurt, strawberries, and raspberries with granola.
- Egg and Cheese Sliders feature mayo, tomato, egg, and Colby cheese on flatbread.
- New sides include a cucumber-tomato-onion salad, mixed green side salad with country pepper vinaigrette, sweet whole baby carrots, country green beans, whole kernel corns, baked sweet potato, and brown rice pilaf.
And You Already Have…
A few highlighted items on their menu are things you likely have in your kitchen already.
- “Good Morning Breakfast” features sliced tomatoes and seasonal fruits, two sets of things in any traditional restaurant with such a variety of menu items.
What can be learned from these new menu items at Cracker Barrel? Offering lighter fare does not have to incur many, if any, new costs. Simple highlighting and pairing of items, too, can greatly increase the healthy of your meals, such as using fresh fruit or offering steamed veggies. Steaming veggies can be highly healthy and come at very little cost with the right steamer. In many cases, looking at your kitchen may offer new alternatives; sliced tomatoes may do fine as a side on their own, keeping them with your produce but before putting them on sandwiches, for example.
Selling lean foods may find you a new audience while keeping your costs lean.
One of the traditions of some laid-back restaurants is the sign “No shirts, no shoes, no service”. High-class establishments have required jackets of some of their patrons, while Giulio’s Pizzeria just requests that your pants aren’t falling down. Depending on your restaurant, the level of clothing you request and require of your clientele can say a lot about who you are and what you sell. Have you given any thought to clothing requirements?
The origins of “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Service” actually make a fair amount of sense; at beach areas, shop owners didn’t want people walking in barefoot, tracking in water and sand. Swim trunks were okay, which is why the concept isn’t “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Pants, No Service.”
Location, Location, Location
- An open-air restaurant on a boardwalk at the beach might find it hard to keep all their consumers in shirts; men may be shirtless, and women might be in a bikini top. If you’re primary demographic is beach-goers taking a second away from the surf and turf for, well, surf and turf, as long as they’re wearing some sort of footwear, they’re not being worse than anyone right outside the doors.
- A cafe or small-town restaurant may serve quality food, but not exorbitantly priced. Given the theoretically relaxed nature of the establishment, everything going from shorts and a t-shirt up are most likely okay. As long as people are covered, they’re set.
- Deep in the heart of a big city in the higher-income areas? This is where you might want to start looking at keeping things classy, encouraging (if not demanding) traditional business or formalwear. If anything, you may wish to inform people placing reservations that there is a “dress code”, and keeping jackets around for those who forgot might be beneficial to keeping customers while keeping your code intact.
- The issue of safety is paramount in a restaurant, for the health of your customers and for the bottom line for your restaurant. Customers without shoes prove to be hazardous without traction, given the nature of restaurants; spills, dropped items, and more become extra-hazardous without shoe soles providing grip and defense.
- In the aforementioned “sagging pants” case, these pants can be tripped over, fall down, and cause public ridicule alongside mobility impairment.
- Ripped jeans, cutoff shorts, and other clothing with extra “bits” hanging off may cause problems or catch on unintended things, like chairs or the bar. This may prove to be a safety hazard.