Category Archives: Food Safety

The World Of Mocktails

Some people like the taste of alcoholic drinks without chancing drinking and driving, or otherwise abstain completely from alcoholic beverages. “Mocktails” are the safe-to-drink variations of cocktails, and with one of the most iconic mocktails, Shirley Temple, having its namesake pass away this week, it’s a great time to look at a drink (and a range of drinks it is included in) that she made iconic.

Common Mocktails

Arnold Palmer, Shirley Temple, Freddie Bartholomew, Roy Rogers, and even Virgin Mary: these people may have nothing in common, outside of the fact they’re inspiration for mocktails. What does it take to make each of these?

  • Arnold Palmer: 50% lemonade, 50% iced tea. When you can’t decide what cold drink to have for refreshment, go for this one.
  • Freddie Bartholomew: ginger ale and lime juice.
  • Shirley Temple: ginger ale (or lemon-lime soda), splash of grenadine, garnished with a maraschino cherry. Commonly, this can be made alcoholic and named “Shirley Temple Black”, her adult, married name, by the addition of vodka.
  • Roy Rogers: cola and grenadine, garnished with a maraschino cherry.
  • Virgin Mary: a non-alcoholic version of a Bloody Mary, containing tomato juice, Tabasco sauce, and garnished with a celery stalk.

Beyond these named for famous people, there are other mocktails that stand on their own.

  • Virgin Colada: a non-alcoholic version of the Piña Colada, combining cream of coconut and pineapple juice, garnished with a pineapple wedge and maraschino cherry.
  • Gunner: ginger beer or lemonade combined with ginger ale and a dash of lemon juice or lime cordial, and a dash of Angostura bitters (while considered non-alcoholic, bitters are 44.7% alcohol).
  • Lemon, Lime and Bitters: lemonade, lime cordial, and Angostura bitters.
  • Tortuga: Much like American Sweet Tea, a Tortuga is iced tea with brown sugar, garnished with cinnamon and a lime wedge.

Why might you want to look into serving mocktails?

Cost Efficiency and Safety

Many people might like these drinks when they’re in a situation where they can’t drink. Offering mocktails allows them to have a unique drink, but also allows you to not tap in to your expensive alcohol offerings. Some people may even want to look like they’re drinking (to act as if they’re keeping up with friends), so mocktails might allow them to continue a night without pressures from friends.

One way to even encourage patronage with non-alcoholic drinks is to offer free drinks to designated drivers. The designated driver concept is an honorable one for many bars and restaurants; in a good night of drinks and debauchery, one pal might opt to be the designated driver. While everyone else can enjoy their drinks with alcohol, he or she can have free drinks at the cost of not being alcoholic. One way to institute this program is to offer the designated driver a wristband; this wristband will indicate to staff, bartenders, and waitstaff that they’re not to have alcoholic drinks, but can have free drinks.

Mocktails can keep the world safe, and increase your profitability. Don’t make the mistake of skipping them on your menu.

Should You Open During Inclement Weather?

There’s a legend in the worlds of both restaurants and crisis management: The Waffle House Index. It’s an informal metric for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and bases the severity of a disaster and the response needed on how local Waffle Houses handle it.

There are three levels of status to The Waffle House Index:

  • “Green” indicates that Waffle Houses are open and serving a regular menu. This indicates that all staff can get to work, machinery can run correctly (gas and electricity are running), and there’s no major inventory problems.
  • “Yellow” indicates that there’s not a full menu. This could be from limited inventory (unable to replenish), limited or even no power, and that they may even just be using generators.
  • “Red” indicates one thing: the restaurant is closed. At this point, it is a severe disaster, and FEMA knows what it needs to do.

Your restaurant may experience inclement weather from time to time, especially if you operate in certain areas. Much of America has been dancing with the “polar vortex” and “snowpocalypses” this year, so restaurants have had to handle the decision: should you open for business?

Staff Capabilities

First and foremost, the safety of your staff is paramount. Never ask your staff to do something you wouldn’t if you don’t think you could get out to the restaurant and open it, it’s not worth it. If you can make it and your staff can , you may want to consider opening, if only for limited hours. If only one of your chefs can get there (but you normally have two over the course of the day), you may want to run for a half-day. If you can’t have any waitstaff show up, you might find yourself filling in for that position. During disasters, your staff may be forced to be flexible, taking upon tasks they’re not used to. Once the disaster is done, you may want to reward their flexibility with paid vacation time (especially if they need to take care of damage at home) or other treats. They took risks getting to work, you need to reward.

Inventory Capabilities

If anything, you can’t run a restaurant without food: that’s common knowledge. If you’ve had a delivery truck not arrive, you may be limited in your food supplies, and might need to go down your menu and see what you can and can’t make. Can’t exactly make chicken noodle soup without carrots and chicken. When you have customers show up, just be honest with them. In most cases, they’ll understand the limited menu.

Customer Safety

Even if your staff can get to the restaurant and you have full inventory, you may not want to open for the simple fact that nobody would show up. Given how bad disasters are, people may be stuck at home, leaving the area for the safety that family and friends offer, or just in a mindset to save money for repairs that’ll need to be made. If nearby restaurants are closed, you can take a gamble and open up to be the one place that makes money, or play it safe and give everyone a day off.

In all situations, safety comes first. Don’t go in if it’s too dangerous. If you can, take all factors into account; you might just find yourself in a very profitable situation.

Is Salt Bringing Out The Flavor In Your Menu?

Salt is an integral part of any restaurant and many meals; in some dishes, it’s an integral part of the baking process, works in many seasonings and sauces, and is leading cause for health troubles in America. It’s a balancing act between flavor and personal diets.

Americans are more health-conscious than ever, especially near the beginning of the year, so they’re looking for heart-healthy meals and diets.

The Centers for Disease Control reports that most Americans eat out four to five times a week, and one of those meals alone could contain more sodium than the recommended daily allowance for most people. 2,300 milligrams a day. Excess intake of sodium can lead to stroke and heart disease via high blood pressure.

A report, From Menu to Mouth: Opportunities for Sodium Reduction in Restaurants, published in CDC’s journal, Preventing Chronic Disease, said it is a challenge for consumers to control the sodium content in restaurant food since sodium is already added to meals before it reaches the table. However, but restaurants can work with public health officials to provide consumers with lower levels of sodium.

The report suggests a multitude of ways that lower-sodium meals can be made attractive to customers. One suggestion is for health department dietitians to help restaurants figure out how much sodium is actual in their dishes, and point out choices they can make to swap in for lower sodium. Additionally, lower sodium dishes could be offered at a slightly lower price to entice customers to eat healthier. Information can help all parties, with restaurants both explaining to food service staff why lower-sodiudm dishes are better for them (and how to prepare them), with signage and menus indicating sodium content to customers.

It’s not to say salt is an entirely a bad concept, especially when it comes to taste in the menu. The Guardian points out all the miracles it can do for food. Salt can reduce bitterness (which is why coffee fans add a pinch to their brews), bring out sweetness, and even increase the smell of food. The article points out that salt added at the table can dominate, which works fine for chips and fries, but added at the appropriate time during the cooking or baking process, can improve flavors, textures, and even smells.

As a responsible restaurant, you’ll need to figure out the perfect balance with salt. To one extent, it’ll enhance flavors, tastes, and smells, but it’ll also enhance the chances for stroke and heart disease. You may want to look into a lower-sodium menu, or even take a brave step and only allow customers to add salt to their dishes, not the kitchen.

If you want your customers for a number of years, you might want to keep them in great shape.