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Uh…No, thanks. I’m not hungry anymore.

Not Hungry

Uh…No, thanks. I’m not hungry anymore.

A colleague came into my office and stated “I’ll never eat at ‘XXXX’ again.”

He was referring to ordering lunch at a popular fast casual concept. You know, the restaurant concept with the food prep up front behind a counter where the customer can see his order being assembled. The idea is “fresh” as well as “nothing to hide!”  

Fast Casual is the fastest growing restaurant segment in the US, and provides the customer with a bird’s eye view of their order preparation.

Here’s how it went:

Me: What happened?

Him: I ordered my food, watched it being prepped, and got ready to pay for it.  The nice lady who made my order had on gloves for food safety and hygiene.  

Me: So what’s the problem?

Him: She took my money, with the safety gloves on, then gave me change, with the same gloves on. She went behind the serving area and pulled a trash bin back against the wall with her fingers overlapping the edge into the bin, with the same gloves on.  The she grabbed a wash rag from the sink, rinsed it out, with the same gloves on, and washed down the prep area behind her, with the same gloves on. Then she went back to the cash register and rang up another order, providing change back to the person behind me, with the same gloves on.  Then she scratched beside her nose, with the same gloves on, and then went back to assemble another order.  Her gloved hands went right into the meat and then the vegetables… with the same gloves on.

Me: Oh…I guess “EEW” is appropriate. What did you do?

Him: I asked to see the Manager…discreetly. We had a brief conversation, and then I left with my order, which was delicious.

My colleague “wasn’t complaining,” he said.  He presented his observations to the Manager, who began to look crest-fallen.  It wasn’t until my friend stated some suggestions about food safety, moving between stations, and reminded the manager that customers are watching, that the guy began to look relieved, like he was then ready to “step back from the ledge.”  Yes, the Manager was familiar with the ServSafe program from the National Restaurant Association (provide link).  And maybe it was about time to reinforce the process and discipline of proper food handling for his employees, and himself.  His own ServSafe certification hung on the wall, just to the left behind the cash register.

The take-aways:

  • In the restaurant business we deal with other people’s food; we have to be cautious, even vigilant, in all aspects of service.
  • The possible cost of even benign negligence or a casual inadvertent mistake can be in the 6 figure range….even with insurance.
  • Worse yet, the hit to your restaurants reputation, to your brand’s reputation.  My colleague didn’t name the owner or the manager, just the store brand.
  • The NRA’s ServSafe program is an excellent addition to any restaurant’s employee training.  We encourage you to use it.
  • All Boelter’s Sales and Customer Service professionals are required to study for, take and pass the ServSafe certification program…and we don’t even serve food.  But we have to know your business!   Ask us how we can help!
Food Safety