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COVID-19 Tag

Serving Coffee and Breakfast During COVID-19

Serving coffee and breakfast during COVID-19Great coffee and a satisfying breakfast are among the most cherished amenities hotels offer. Serving coffee and breakfast during COVID-19 may look different now that many hotel operators have been forced to rethink the way they serve guests?

But, there is one thing that hoteliers agree on: Coffee and breakfast must stay. We just have to find a way to serve them differently now. In the article below originally published by our factory partners, Hamilton Beach Commercial, we’ll take a closer look at how hotels are adapting to this new reality.

Low-Touch In-Room Coffee Solutions 

In this new era for hospitality, the guestroom is a sanitized sanctuary. Hotel chains are instituting new ways to reassure guests that every frequently touched surface has been cleaned and is safe to touch. But what about making coffee?

There’s no way to make in-room coffee without touching something. But Hamilton Beach Commercial have designed the pod coffeemakers for guestrooms to minimize touch and maximize flavor. The secret is the recyclable brew basket that holds soft pods, both of which come individually wrapped. A guest would only need to touch the coffeemaker twice – once to add fresh water, and once to press the brew button.

Best of all, our pod coffeemakers brew outstanding in-room coffee. We designed the brew basket/pod holder to maximize coffee extraction, resulting in a stronger brew, even when using less coffee. (Here’s the science.) It’s also reusable and recyclable, pleasing green-minded guests.

 

Low-Touch Hotel Breakfast Strategies 

Some guest are accustomed to enjoying a hearty morning meal, so we can’t take that away from them. “They still want their breakfast, and you’ve got to be able to provide the breakfast,” Anthony Melchiorri, a hospitality consultant and host of “Hotel Impossible” on the Travel Channel, told The Washington Post.

But take heart: You don’t have to figure it out all at once. Many hotel chains are offering grab-and-go options temporarily while they devise safer ways to serve full breakfasts. Possibilities include extending breakfast hours, staggering seatings and requiring reservations. Some brands are offering loyalty members extra points in lieu of breakfast, or credits to use at an on-site restaurant.

Hotels that have kept a buffet setup seem to be limiting the selection to packaged items and fruit: oranges, bananas, instant oatmeal, baked goods, etc., observes One Mile at a Time. Self-serve coffee and juice remain.

What of iconic offerings like the make-your-own waffles at Hampton Inn? The brand is “exploring ways to gradually bring back the made-to-order breakfast, although it may be with an attendant versus DIY, to make sure we can maintain consistent standards of cleanliness,” said Phil Cordell, parent company Hilton’s global head of new brand development.

What to do now?

Now is the time for you to take stock of your foodservice equipment and determine, how you can use it in a safe an effective manner to serve breakfast. Key pieces include:

  • No-touch coffee urns: All of Hamilton Beach Commercial’s coffee urns feature touchless dispensing. A guest or server only has to press a cup against the dispenser. These urns are easy to sanitize, inside and out, and both the stainless steel and aluminum finishes present a polished appearance.
  • Commercial rice cookers: Available in three sizes, our commercial rice cookers cook staples like oatmeal, grits and porridge to perfection. Food can be held at the correct temperature for up to four hours.
  • Chamber vacuum sealers and immersion circulators: Sous vide cooking isn’t just for catering and fine dining. It’s the perfect way to prepare French toast, scrambled eggs, poached eggs, cured salmon and even bacon (really!). This style of preparation is well suited to room service and long serving windows, because food can be held at a safe, serving-ready temperature for several hours. Learn more about the PrimaVacTM line of vacuum sealers and the AcuVideTM 1000 Immersion Circulator.

 

Take heart: Hoteliers worldwide are facing the same challenges right now. We’re all in this together! Equipment Solutions and Hamilton Beach Commercial will continue supporting you with tips and strategies for surviving and thriving.

How to Make the Most of a Ghost Kitchen

With the help of Hamilton Beach Commerical, today we are finding out how to make the most of a ghost kitchen.

Is a restaurant still a restaurant without tables, servers or diners? Well, it definitely is now!

More than half of U.S. operators have turned to ghost kitchens for some or all of their delivery orders, research by Technomic and the National Restaurant Association reveals. Before the pandemic, just 15% used a ghost kitchen — that is, a commercial kitchen that only makes food for delivery and/or takeout.Ghost-kitchen-prep

A ghost kitchen (or dark kitchen, or virtual kitchen) can boost a burgeoning delivery business, increase profit margins, cut staffing costs and help see restaurants through a slump in in-person dining. But the prospect of paying a lot for a brand-new facility may give restaurateurs pause.

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to start from scratch! Here are five ways to use the ghost-kitchen model that require minimal investment up front.

 

1. Using an existing restaurant kitchen as a ghost kitchen for a new brand 

Italian fast-casual chain Fazoli’s tested a delivery-only wing concept, Wingville, in early 2020. It used its own kitchens to launch the new online brand while keeping it separate from Fazoli’s core menu. While wings may seem a far cry from baked ziti and meatballs, they proved popular — and profitable. The pilot program boosted sales by nearly 11%, Restaurant Business reports. Seeing this success, Fazoli’s decided to bring the wings in-house at all locations, for dine-in, takeout and delivery.

The appeal of wings is that they’re simple to make and require little upfront investment. Fazoli’s had to add fryers to all of its kitchens, but saw its ROI realized in about four months. Not only that, but the new fryers are allowing the company to add new menu items.

Thinking about doing something similar? Consider how a new piece of equipment can help you launch a new line or boost take-out tickets. Examples:

 

2. Joining forces with other brands in a single ghost kitchen 

Here’s a fresh approach: One kitchen, many menus. BBQ Holdings, which owns four brands, was concerned about underworked staff and falling revenue. So the kitchens of its Granite City locations, in addition to making their sliders and flatbreads, started preparing Famous Dave’s barbecue for delivery only. Then, nine Famous Dave’s locations began serving as ghost kitchens for Hayward’s Hen House, a delivery-only chicken concept.

Cross-training staff and purchasing equipment required an initial investment of $50,000 per location, Jeff Crivello, BBQ Holdings’ chief executive, told The Washington Post“Without having to pay for additional rent, utilities or staff…he expects each ghost kitchen to produce $6,000 to $12,000 in additional sales per week.” Margins are much higher too, compared to traditional sit-down dining.

It’s not only multi-brand companies that are trying this approach. Franklin Junction is a new digital platform that “uses a data-driven demand-matching process that allows restaurants to produce and sell popular menu items from a carefully curated roster of established restaurant brands which are generally not yet available in the market area of the host facilities,” according to the company. With this model, a restaurant could sell Wow Bao Asian Buns and Fuzzy’s Tacos (two participating brands) in addition to its own menu items, increasing revenue without cutting into market share.

 

3. Making the move to a co-working or mobile kitchen 

The concept of a shared commercial kitchen isn’t new, but the popularity of these places has gotten a rocket-fuel boost from the increased demand for delivery. One prominent example is PREP in Atlanta, a massive culinary campus with facilities for bakers, caterers, food truck operators, franchises and entrepreneurs. PREP provides shared and private kitchen spaces as well as services like procurement, marketing, licensing and mentoring.

 

4. Letting another ghost kitchen capitalize on your concept 

Reef Technology turns the ghost-kitchen model on its head. The company installs mobile kitchens, “transforming these pieces of underutilized urban real estate, aka parking lots, into last-block neighborhood hubs providing essential services,” says Alan Philips, the company’s chief creative officer. Reef then enters into a partnership with restaurant brands whereby Reef’s kitchen and staff make branded menu items for delivery. Each kitchen may turn out food from multiple brands. Reef keeps the revenue and pays the restaurants a royalty percentage every month.

 

5. Running micro-branded concepts from a restaurant kitchen 

In Richmond, Virginia, where Hamilton Beach Commercial is based, one fine-dining superstar is Longoven. (Its chef, Andrew Manning, helped us perfect the PrimaVac line of vacuum chamber sealers; get his best tips here.) This much-lauded restaurant got its start as a pop-up, and during the pandemic has proved its versatility by expanding into the lunchtime daypart. It opened Fitzroy & Herrera Bakery, a window-service bakery serving seasonal pastries, baked goods and lunch. (Check out the delectable Instagram feed!)

Five Ways Restaurants Can Stretch Food Budgets

Five Ways Restaurants Can Stretch Food BudgetsA few weeks ago, our factory partners Hamilton Beach Commercial shared five ways for restaurants to stretch food budgets further. The post really highlights some great tips, especially in this time, when everything is so unpredictable. We decided to share the information with you as well, so read on for more information!

1. START PROCESSING FOOD THE SECOND IT’S DELIVERED. 

In the best of times, it’s tough for kitchen staff to drop everything to deal with incoming deliveries. When the restaurant is understaffed and overwhelmed, it’s even tougher. But Sandra D. Ratcliff, CEC, a longtime chef and director of healthcare sales for The Hansen Group, says the best thing to do, is to “take care of your produce. when it first comes in.”

Ratcliff’s recommendation is to designate a team member to immediately deal with deliveries, even if you’re short-staffed, . The cost savings will easily pay for that extra person. When a case of iceberg lettuce arrives, don’t leave it in the dirty cardboard box that’s been sitting in a farm field. Wash it and vacuum-seal it: “You’ve automatically gotten an extra three weeks out of a product.” The same goes for other ingredients: fresh fish, meat, cheese, etc.

Another benefit of vacuum-sealing is visibility. When stored in cardboard or other opaque packaging, it is easy to forget the food, which then can lead to rot! Once vacuum-sealed, it’s easier to see and use. Just remember that it’s essential to follow food safety guidelines for vacuum-packed foods, and train kitchen staff in safe handling practices.

2. INCREASE ORDER SIZES. 

In the face of so much uncertainty, it seems counter intuitive to order larger quantities of food. That’s exactly what Ratcliff recommends, however. Especially because many restaurant supply companies have cut back their deliveries to just one or two per week. Operators can save a significant amount of money on food, if they order large quantities of ingredients, then process and portion them. Get the 10-pound block of cheese, then cut 1-pound portions and vacuum-seal each one for long-lasting freshness. Order 50 pounds of flour and 30 pounds of dried beans, then measure out the increments needed for specific dishes and vacuum-seal.

3. ORDER INGREDIENTS THAT HAVE THE WIDEST RANGE OF USES. 

Get the most out of your food inventory by selecting super-versatile ingredients. Two recommendations from Gordon Food Service Corporate Consulting Chef Gerry Ludwig, CEC: bone-in chicken thighs and tilapia. With chicken, he says, “you could make cassoulet, de-bone them for grilled sandwiches, or roast them and pull the meat for salads and flatbread applications. Restaurant can use tilapia for entrées, sandwiches, fish and chips, tacos, wraps. You can also serve them simply steamed with herbs and spices. ”It is easy to portion proteins precisely, season or marinate them.” Additionally, you can store any protein for optimum quality using a vacuum chamber sealer, such as the PrimaVac.

4. VACUUM-SEAL TO PREVENT PREPARED FOOD FROM GOING TO WASTE. 

Calibrating food production is tricky when demand is unpredictable. But now’s the time to be conscious of even the smallest amount of food waste, Ratcliff says, because it adds up. She once oversaw food service for a healthcare system with 65 locations. One of those was notorious for going over its food budget by up to $2,700 every month. Upon investigation, she discovered that the kitchen prepared an extra 11 meals per mealtime, just in case they were needed. With PPPD food costs around $7, the system would have lost nearly $1.8 million per year if every location did the same, Ratcliff calculated.

The solution? The staff was educated on batch cooking and vacuum-sealing extra portions, which can be cooked quickly to meet resident requests. This strategy is also easily applicable to restaurants, where the number of take-out orders can vary greatly! You can perfectly cook meals sous-vide, ensuring food safety and preventing overcooking, and served as needed.

5. REVIVE WILTING GREENS.

Herbs and baby greens are among the most fragile of ingredients — and unless you grow them on-site, they can be in short supply. Chef Andrew Manning, of acclaimed fine-dining restaurant Longoven in Richmond, Virginia, suggests using a chamber vacuum sealer to hydroshock sensitive greens and bring them back to life.

Place greens in a wide, shallow container. Cover them with paper towels, then add ice and cold water. Run the vacuum cycle twice, which removes air from the greens and forces in cold water. The result: rejuvenated herbs that stay crisp for days.

To read more about ways that restaurants can stretch food budgets further, click here.

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