With the holiday season over and the winter season lingering on, you may find that your patronage has tapered off a bit. It is certainly understandable, with the temperatures below freezing many people won’t venture outside their homes willingly. If you have delivery services, however, your business may be staying consistent. People still want your delicious fare in the comfort and warmth of their own home. Furthermore, businesses are throwing a variety of holiday or other parties, which can help those establishments that offer catering.
Delivery and catering are both profitable enterprises that extend your restaurant’s reach and are great for introducing new people to your offerings. Make sure your patronage is presented with the same quality and cleanliness that you employ in your brick and mortar establishment. Here are some tips via the ServSafe Essentials guide for sanitary delivery and catering procedures.
I don’t need to stress how awesome delivery is. Getting top quality food at your doorstep is a thing of beauty. That is, of course, if it lives up to the expectations you have. It doesn’t matter if you’re a frequent customer or are trying a place out for the first time: getting cold, soggy or misshapen food will discourage you from ordering delivery from that establishment in the future. When delivering food, there are a few things to keep in mind. The first step in keeping delivery food fresh is placing it in a durable, insulated food container such as a hot bag. If the food is meant to be delivered warm, the bag should keep the food at 135ºF or higher, and if cold, 41ºF or lower. Your delivery bags or containers should be sectioned off so that food items do not mix, leak, or spill on one another. Regularly clean the inside of the food bag or container as well.
Speaking of cleanliness, what is the condition of your deliverer’s vehicle? Make sure their car is cleaned regularly, especially the passenger’s side of the car where the food tends to be kept during delivery. It should go without saying, but your deliverer should maintain good hygiene, too. If at all possible, do regular temperature checks of food on delivery to ensure they’re staying warm. A good idea would be to place a thermometer in the bag and have your driver check it upon arrival to the customer’s home or business. If your employee finds that the container is not holding proper temperature, examine it for holes or leaks and repair or replace when they are discovered. You may want to evaluate your delivery zones as well to ensure your driver is not travelling too far. Many establishments implement a 5 mile radius delivery zone.
There are multiple facets of catering, but all of them provide one purpose: bringing delicious food to a large group of people away from your establishment. Those who cater often bring already prepared food to a business, church or banquet’s site or they cook the food there in a mobile or temporary unit or in the kitchen at the site. Regardless of how your business does catering, there are some guidelines you should adhere by. Always have safe, clean drinking water available for cooking, dishwashing, hand washing and to clean dining or serving tables. Your catering crew must always make sure that adequate power is available for cooking and holding equipment. Faulty power could shut off your equipment and thus render your catering useless when the food spoils. Make sure to use insulated, sealed containers to hold potentially hazardous foods such as raw meat and dairy. Beef, pork and poultry should be wrapped thoroughly and placed on ice. Milk and dairy products should be transported in a clean and refrigerated vehicle.
If you’re going to serve cold food at your catering event, do so in containers on ice or in cold, gel filled containers. Failing to do so could put your cold food in the “danger zone” contamination temperature. When storing food, make sure raw food and already prepared items are stored separately in sealed, leak-free containers. For serving purposes, always provide your customers with single-use items such as disposable flatware, plates and cups. Every time your customer returns to the serving line, they should receive new, disposable items. Put garbage and disposal containers far from the food prep and serving areas. If leftovers are given to the customer, you should provide proper instructions on how to handle and re-prepare the food, as well as a “throw out” date. Make sure all of this information is properly labeled on the food container.
Delivery and catering can be immensely profitable for foodservice operations of all sorts. Follow these practices and your customers will receive the same quality food as they would dining within the confines of your establishment.