5:45 am: The alarm goes off and you roll out of bed, you hit the shower turning on the coffee pot on the way to the bathroom. What will today look like? How will today be different than yesterday? Your list of responsibilities comes to the forefront of your mind.
7:30 am: Arrive at the restaurant, well ahead of any prep staff, servers, or anyone else for that matter.
As you drive into the parking lot, your eyes are already scanning the area for any debris that may have blown in. You look to the street lights and parking-lot lights to be sure they are working. You drive by the dumpster area and grease trap to be sure both are secure and there are no signs of debris or spillage that may have occurred during closing last night.
As you park your car, you stoop to pick up a few pieces of trash that are on the ground. As you reach for your keys and head to the door, you look at the doors and windows from top to bottom and make the note to have the opening sanitation crew come outside to give them a good wash. You place the key in the door, and you notice there are fingerprints on the glass—job number two to be completed before opening. You reach inside your bag and retrieve your tablet, you load the notes pages … your day has begun before your second cup of coffee.
This is nothing new, every day’s task list starts in the parking lot with the mental check of the area and what the guest may see before they enter the operation.
Why all this attention to the outside of the building? Our guest’s expectation starts the minute they drive into the lot; they often see things we forget to see. The debris in the parking lot may be just the “thing” that makes them get back into their car and drive to any other restaurant.
7:45 am: After having listed both the debris in the lot and the dirty windows on the Parking Lot Checklist, you enter the foyer, pull up your Dining Room Checklist, and begin your front-of-the-house checks: Has the trash been emptied? Check. Have the server stations been set up for the day? Check. Have the windows and the window sills been dusted? Check. Have all of the menus been wiped clean? Check, with the note that the menus left at the back servers station are not cleaned. Are all the lights bulbs working? Check, with the note that the light bulbs in the foyer are starting to flicker. Have the high chairs, trays, and stands been completely wiped down? Check, check, and check. Have the plants been watered and dusted for spider webs? Check. The floor swept or vacuumed? Check, with the note that the vacuum cleaner bag needs to be changed and you need to order more bags. POS system? Check.
8:15 am: You make your way down to the restrooms. You pull up the bathroom checklist and begin your check of these facilities: mirror, sinks, floor, trash, toilet paper, walls behind and underneath the toilets and urinals, light bulbs, air freshener, doors on the stales, any posted signage and advertising.
9:00 am: Next, you move on to the kitchen. The first item on the Kitchen Checklist is refrigeration and freezer storage temperatures – check; any signs of temperature abuse of any products in storage – check; lights – check; dish machine and chemicals filled – check; turn on the dish machine for the day – check; chemicals for sanitation buckets is labeled – check; sanitation buckets set out to be filled – check. Moving to the line: equipment checks, turning on any equipment that may need extra time to heat: plate warmers, ovens, steamers, etc.; fire system – check; first-aid kit – check, with the note to have more bandages and finger cots filled; fire blanket within reach – check; eyewash station working – check; proper signage of allergens, choking, and food safety posted where employees can reference them – check, with the note to have all of the documents laminated; floor – check; trash taken out – check; POS system – check; instant-read thermometers – check and calibrated.
10:00 am: One last area to check. Pulling up the Bar Checklist you notice that there is water all over the floor behind the bar. First order of business is to find the source. Ice bins – check; food storage containers – check; bar snacks tightly wrapped, labeled and dated- checked; light bulbs – check; POS system – check, with the note that the far printer needs paper; low boy refrigeration – check; glassware properly racked – check.
10:15 am: Other than the water on the floor behind the bar from the ice bins being left filled overnight, it has been a pretty slow morning. Next, is it time to see how many deliveries will be made today. First up: the bread delivery at 10:30 am. Around 11:00 am the wine delivery will arrive, 1:30 pm seafood for the weekend; 2:45 pm your broadline distributor delivers the week’s supplies. It will be a busy day with delivery people, temperature checks, quality checks, proper stock rotation and distribution to the different departments. Time to grab that second cup of coffee and meet the bakery truck on the dock.
4:00pm: The last of the product has been properly documented on the receiving sheet and placed into the correct storage area. Time to once again walk the grounds inside and out.
4:30 pm: You are set to leave, one quick meeting before the dinner rush with the Kitchen Manager, Dining Room Manager, Bar Manager and Restaurant Manager. You discuss the day’s checklists, all of the deliveries, any upcoming events that you need to be a part of. You hand out the “Closing Checklist” for each of the departments and thank each personally for enforcing the elements of each. You discuss how you know that the training is working and the new policies of compliance seem to be well received but that you can’t do it without their support.
5:00 pm: You head to the gym on your way home, knowing that your operation is in compliance, it is being well run, the staff and management love their job, and that tomorrow will bring its own set of new situations. First on the agenda after checklists are done: Check to be sure that all employees have their certifications up to date. What a great job!
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