Losing power in your restaurant during meal service can cause chaos, but it doesn't have to if you know what to do. Use this handy guide to prepare your restaurant for a potential loss of power so you can keep your food inventory safe and keep your customers happy.
Put A Plan In Place
Having an action plan ahead of time will make everything easier on your staff during a power loss. Create a list of emergency phone numbers for your manager to call to handle the situation. The list should include your local utility company, your ice vendor and any management staff you might need to call in to help handle the situation. Keep a container filled with LED candles and flashlights in your hostess stand so these emergency lights can be deployed quickly, and place flashlights strategically throughout the kitchen for your cooking staff to use. If you have a digital POS system, be sure to have a supply of paper receipts and a manual credit card machine to complete transactions for diners in the restaurant.
Preserve Your Perishables
You won't know how long the power will be out for, so you should take immediate steps to preserve your perishable foods. Your manager should call your local ice vendor for a shipment of emergency ice. Dry ice and block ice can be used to keep fresh meats and seafood from spoiling, and you can purchase the ice for an emergency delivery. Put the emergency ice in your freezer and group like items together next to or on top of the ice blocks. Keep meats away from frozen fruits and vegetables to prevent cross-contamination, and pack your frozen foods tightly together. Keeping frozen foods packed in this way can prevent them from thawing. Once your food is secure in your walk-in freezers, close the doors and avoid opening them until power has been restored. This will help to maintain the cold temperature. You can place your catch of the day in coolers with dry ice to keep them fresh until power is restored and your cooks can begin food prep once again.
Keep Customers Safe And Happy
Your wait staff and host or hostess should deploy LED candles at every table to increase visibility for customers. If at all possible, offer to escort guests out of the building when they are ready to leave by using flashlights to illuminate their path to the exits. Be sure to check the restrooms to make sure no customers are inside, as the dark conditions will make it difficult for them to see their way out. If you do not plan to evacuate the building until power is restored, offer complimentary beverages or offer to cover the tab for meals that have already been served. For guests still waiting on their meals, consider offering a gift card or certificate toward a free meal at a later date.
Planning for a power outage will help you to keep everyone safe and secure your inventory. Work with your restaurant staff and consider running a practice drill when the restaurant is closed so your cooks and servers are prepared if the real thing does happen.