When your restaurant or food-service business relies on walk-in fridges and freezers, a power outage or other disruption in refrigeration is a nightmare of epic proportions. Set yourself up for the least amount of ingredient casualties by following these three restaurant hacks.
1. Identify the Potential Enemies
It's hard to identify the enemies of cold fridges and sub-zero freezers in real life. The troublemakers don't have glaring red tags hovering over their heads. Sometimes, you can be your own worst enemy.
Improper maintenance of your refrigerators and freezers may seem convenient and cost-effective in the short term, but it's really self-sabotage. When you do not inspect or service an appliance until it breaks down, the massive fail in this strategy becomes apparent.
Other enemies of your refrigeration systems include:
- Power system outages
- Local power loss from construction or accident
- Power surges in building
- Wiring conflicts in building
- Rodent wire-chewing
Tainted water can enter your ice-making supply lines if you don't have adequate site drainage and backflow preventers installed on your restaurant's plumbing inlet. When tainted water enters ice machines and ice- makers in refrigerators, the grossness must be cleaned out at your expense. You may have to close operations.
When you know potential enemies, you can take steps to minimize risks. For example, if you learn that a bad storm or local demolition project could knock out power to your business in the coming week, you can warn staff to be ready for outages. You can order less inventory.
2. Determine Food Priorities
If your restaurant refrigeration goes belly up, you may not be able to save all the cheese.
Identify the most expensive perishables in your inventory and make lists of them for staff. Laminate the lists and post them on the appropriate appliances. Should an outage occur, your staff will know which ingredients to save first.
How do you save ingredients? If the outage is only a few hours long, the interior of your deep freezes or walk-in freezer is a solution. It may remain below 40 degrees Fahrenheit for many hours even without power.
Use freezer space to store high-cost dairy, proteins, and veggies that can be frozen (since the freezer may register below freezing when you first pop the veggies inside.) Let your staff know that it's okay to toss out a $30 box of frozen hamburger buns to save $1,000 worth of a Parmigiano Reggiano wheel.
3. Develop a Solid Emergency Plan
Identifying risks and posting lists of favored food are two steps in a solid emergency plan. Install thermometers inside all appliances - and ensure that staff checks them religiously several times a - to add key plan steps.
When staff vigilantly check temps throughout the day, they'll catch a freezer's temps gradually rising. You can possibly have the appliance repaired before damage is done.
To avoid chaos during a refrigeration emergency, train your staff on procedures to follow. Otherwise, staff can wander around aimlessly waiting for the go-ahead to act.
Your plan should include:
- Troubleshooting of appliances
- Conditions when operations must cease
- Food-safe operations to follow when open
- Communication with the public and staff
- Methods to wrap and move perishables
- Food to toss or donate immediately
- Cleaning of affected appliances for shut-down
- Contacts for chain-of-command reports
Hold training sessions with new staff, so they have a heads up on how to respond if a fridge or freezer quits on their shift. Contacts for your appliance repair company should be included with training materials and posted in conspicuous spots throughout your back-of-house or production areas.
Develop a relationship with a trusted commercial refrigeration specialist, so you know the best people to call when your refrigeration gives you trouble. Hire the pros to do regular preventive maintenance on your refrigeration units.
This part of your plan helps keep the monsters at bay. You also become a well-known, priority customer with the service company that does your maintenance.
Contact A & A Service Company today to schedule refrigeration services and repair for your foodservice appliances. We also offer 24/7 emergency response to resolve your commercial refrigerator and freezer nightmares.