There’s More Behind a Restaurant's Dirty Gaskets

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There’s More Behind a Restaurant's Dirty Gaskets

A dirty gasket on your refrigeration unit can tell me a lot of things I need to know about your restaurant, including whether your restaurant is making or losing money. I’m going to explain what is behind a restaurant’s dirty gaskets why they cost you real money. 

When I’m invited into your kitchen, whether I'm visiting from out of town or in the old days I was doing a consult, I have three places that I inspect immediately.

  1. The can opener: I pull that sucker up and I see if little blade is gunked up and dirty with dried food. If it is, I know I have a problem.
  2. The shelf on your hot table: When there is a shelf, I look underneath that bottom shelf and if I see dried food particles under there from the soups and foods getting ladled, I know it means they could be falling down into my customers food and that’s a problem.
  3. Your refrigeration units: I look at your gaskets to see if they are dirty, cracked, and falling apart. I’ve seen gaskets with mold growing in them and filled with food particles. When I see dirty gaskets, I know your restaurant is not making the money it's supposed to.

How dirty and broken gaskets cost you real money:

  • Broken gaskets don’t keep the cold in, which makes your compressor run really hard and getting a chance to settle down. This costs you electricity and more in repairs because it's breaking down more often.
  • Broken gaskets and varying temperatures mean you're throwing away food that goes out of temperature or risking making people sick.
  • Dirty gaskets create cross-contamination situations, again, running the risk of making customers sick.
  • Dirty gaskets tell me there is a lack of proper supervision in your kitchen, or worse, kitchen leadership is not doing the bare minimum that's required for the job. 

You have a moral and legal obligation to keep your customers safe by serving them safe food.

More things I know when your restaurant has dirty gaskets

Dirty gaskets also tell me a lot about the operation of your restaurant. For example, I’ll bet plates go out with dirty food fingerprints on them and inconsistent portions because no one pays attention to the little details.

Dirty gaskets tell me your food cost is running higher than it should be. A typical restaurant will run seven to nine points above ideal. My members shoot for two, three, maybe four on the high side, as they Implement systems. That means you're at the top of that level because nobody's paying attention to the details.

Dirty and broken gaskets say you have no pride in your kitchen. You need a kitchen you feel proud of. When I walk through the back door, I want to be able to sit someone in the kitchen and have dinner because it is that spotless.  

I get that in the middle of a rush you’re going to have some mess, but you should be constantly cleaning. Don't wait until you're in knee-deep in food shavings. You keep a clean kitchen because you’re prideful about what you do. It's a direct reflection of your lack of leadership and what you think about that a dirty kitchen is a direct reflection of your lack of leadership.

Yes, I understand I just kicked you in the gut and maybe even insulted you. Let your defenses down and truly listen to what I'm saying. You'll agree with me 100%, and you'll start down a path to correcting the problem. See, you may have created the problem, but you have the power to fix it.

This can be done in four easy steps:

  1. Implement opening and closing side work checklists.
  2. Ensure there is a kitchen lead or manager working on every shift ensuring your cleanliness, food safety and plate standards are being executed on every shift.
  3. Explain why a clean kitchen is so important, from food safely to upholding your core values.
  4. Implement proper training systems, ensuring your team learns what their job is, how to do it, how well it should be done and more importantly by when.

The next time you walk through your kitchen, take a quick look at your gaskets and then take the appropriate actions to ensure that after you've replaced them one last time, they remain in good, clean working condition and then say to yourself if DSP walked into my kitchen, what would he say about our restaurant?

Be sure to visit my YouTube channel for more helpful restaurant management video tips.

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