Tips for Commercial Kitchen Maintenance

The commercial kitchen is one of the busiest places, and it’s also one of the most neglected areas of your whole building. Most people neglect maintenance, which is one of the worst things that you could do. Of course, maintenance is necessary, but you may not know what to do or how to do it, especially if you’re worried about keeping costs low and ensuring that your equipment works for many years to come.

In a sense, maintaining your equipment is like getting an oil change for your vehicle. You do it as often as recommended by the manufacturer and have no issues. You forget to do it once or twice, and you find a variety of problems that could have been prevented.

It is important to maintain your kitchen equipment to save money and time because you can usually catch issues before they become significant problems. However, before you focus on how to keep up with maintenance, it’s essential to know why maintenance is important first.

Saves You Money

A quick example: You have a burner in your oven, which has become dangerously clogged. It has almost reached the point where the oven will go out entirely, or you’ll start a fire (which can damage the property, kitchen, and kill the oven).

You wait for it to go out completely, which means you have to call to get a replacement product. The company you always use doesn’t have the part in stock, so you have to wait longer for the company to get it in. The oven has to be down and out of commission for as long as it takes to order the new part, have it arrive, and get it installed.

Even if the company does have the part in stock, it is still going to take time for someone to bring it down to your location and get it installed. Your oven isn’t working for all that time (which could be weeks or months), which means you’re missing out on productivity and you’re going to get an excessively large bill for repairs.

Now, on the other hand, you may call in a technician to repair a fryer or may just call the technician to come onsite and routinely check your appliances and equipment. When the technician gets to the oven and turns it on, he will immediately see that it is clogged. He will tell you before it gets to imminent failure. He might not be able to fix it for you right away, but he can schedule an appointment to come back out when it is convenient for you both, usually between lunch and dinner rush or in the morning, depending on your type of restaurant. Even if that burner can’t be recovered, it’s going to cost much less to replace that one burner rather than the whole oven.

Maintenance on your equipment can save you time and help you stay productive.

Maintain Employee Morale by Maintaining Equipment

Routine maintenance can actually help your employees. If you have an oven down for the count or have something else that’s essential for your job that you can’t use because of repair needs, your employees are likely to feel the brunt of it.

What if one of your ovens is out and you can’t use it? You take more time to prepare the food using less-than-adequate appliances or spend more time cooking the same amount of food because you’ve got one less oven to utilise. Therefore, wait times for the customers are likely to be longer. While most employees are likely to explain the situation, and the chefs are likely to work harder to try to get everything out on time, customers are still likely to complain. Who are they going to complain to? Who is going to get the brunt of the anger? The employee is most likely to hear the complaints and have to deal with an unruly customer.

Employees are going to feel like it is their fault and may get nervous, upset, or anxious because of the complaints. It could lead to customers leaving, which means employees aren’t going to get the best tips if they get a tip at all. In a sense, your failed equipment is going to cost the wait staff their tips, which means they’re going to be mad, the customers won’t be happy, and you could lose your reputation because of it.

While wait staff is likely to be directly affected, so will the rest of the house. The bar may be overly full with patrons who can’t get tables right away. The hostesses are likely to be stressed because they’re going to have multiple people waiting for seats. They can’t seat new guests until the current guests have gotten their food and eaten it. Along with such, bussers are going to be stressed, as well. They will have to rush to clean off the tables between guests to try to get through the rush that much sooner.

Employee morale is directly intertwined with how smoothly the kitchen runs. Even minor failures can cause significant problems at the front of the house.

Reputation

Whether you’ve been a pillar in the community for many decades or you’ve just opened a new restaurant, you know how essential online testimonials and reviews are. It’s an easy and free way to promote your food, but only if it tastes delicious, it arrives piping hot, and the guests don’t have to wait for long periods to enjoy it.

A significant failure in the kitchen (such as a fire) is understood by most people who are reasonable. They are going to be inconvenienced and may not get to eat their delicious food because of the problem, but they’re going to be satisfied that you alerted them and ushered them out of the building safely to prevent injury or death.

However, if you have a variety of minor issues in the kitchen, such as an oven that’s down, improperly cooled/cooked foods because of a broken cooler or oven, or have other problems, it’s more likely that your customers are going to notice. If you have a variety of loyal customers, they’re going to notice that you always seem to have issues and can affect hard won reputation.

Routine maintenance on your equipment ensures that things don’t break down as often or you’re alerted that something has gone wrong before it becomes a significant issue. Many times, you can work around a minor issue, but if you don’t get it checked out soon, you may find that it turns into a significant one.

Check All Equipment

Things are going to break down; it’s a matter of fact, and there isn’t all that much you can do about it. However, when you do have a piece of equipment that needs to be repaired, it might be a good idea to have the service technician perform maintenance on the rest of the equipment. They’re already there working on your issues, so you can ask them to help you prevent more problems from arising.

When routine maintenance is performed on your equipment, it helps the technician determine if there are any problems or if a problem is likely to arise later. That way, you can prepare for it and save up the money to get it replaced or fixed when it does go out. It can also help you fix the problem while it is small and containable rather than waiting until the problem is so significant that not much can be done.

You could end up spending much more to fix the issue if you let it sit and continue to get worse; sometimes, the cost of the repair is almost as much as it would be to get new equipment. Sometimes, a repair isn’t even possible because too much internal damage has been done.

The domino effect is real; many times, when one thing goes wrong, everything goes wrong because you likely purchased all the equipment at roughly the same time.

Early prevention can help you save money, time, and more

Scheduling the Maintenance

If you just recently came into the kitchen as the head chef (where someone else was there before you), it’s a good idea to consider having a routine inspection on the equipment. You don’t know what the chef before you did or didn’t do. You can find out what’s wrong with the equipment you have and ensure that it is adequately maintained.

You can then start keeping track of the maintenance you need and when so that you can set up maintenance on a schedule with the technician.

If you have been the chef at the same location for a while, you probably know your equipment inside and out. However, you should consider routine maintenance before the peak season or time when you’re going to use it the most.

Benefits of Routine Maintenance

Routine maintenance on your commercial kitchen equipment can include a variety of things, such as de-scaling, calibrating your cooking equipment correctly, and cleaning. Many of these things can be done by yourself or your kitchen staff. If it is possible to do it yourself and you feel confident that you’ll do it correctly, you can save a lot of money.

However, it isn’t a good idea to try to save money by doing the work yourself if you don’t believe it is safe to do so.

You’ve already realised that equipment failures can disrupt daily work schedules and pose an operational challenge for yourself and the entire business. For example, with a refrigerator, routine maintenance ensures that the refrigerator is running correctly, and there might be less of a chance for it to break down. It also means that the refrigerator is going to operate at its optimum level. You won’t have to worry that the refrigerator isn’t keeping the food at the optimal temperature, which means you don’t have to worry about food poisoning and other issues.

Refrigerators have a variety of components and parts. The coils and condensers must be kept clean to ensure that they cool the entire space efficiently and quickly. You must also ensure that the thermostats are calibrated correctly and maintain them so that the pressure is regulated and helps cool equally and effectively, as well. Maintenance can also reduce food spoilage, which can also help you save money. Many times, refrigerators die during the off hours when no one is present. With routine maintenance, you’re less likely to come into work to a fridge full of spoiling food.

Running a company, especially a restaurant, is stressful and daunting at times. However, you can prevent small problems from becoming large messes that affect your profits by scheduling routine maintenance for all of your kitchen equipment.

You can always read the manual that came with the equipment to ensure that you know what to do and when. If you’re still not sure, you can always call on a professional to do the work for you.

A Few Helpful Tips

While it’s important to know that you need to perform routine maintenance on your kitchen appliances and equipment, it’s also necessary to have a few tips in your arsenal to make it easier. These can include:

  • Look it up. If you don’t understand how to do something or aren’t sure when/how to do it, you can refer to your owner’s manual. If you have lost the manual or the equipment was there when you arrived, you can search online for helpful information. Don’t just assume that you can use a cleaning product; make sure it is safe so that you don’t void the warranty (if one is included) or damage the equipment.
  • Train employees. If you’re not going to be the one who cleans or maintains the equipment (or someone else is likely to do so at some point), you need to train the kitchen staff to know how to clean each appliance. You may also want to print out the best methods of cleaning, safety protocols, and the like and keep them posted near the equipment so that there is no confusion later.
  • Clean daily. While ‘maintenance’ usually means scheduled cleaning of the components and inside of the equipment, you should also clean the outside and wipe everything down daily. Of course, that is necessary for health and safety purposes, but it can also help to maintain the equipment longer, as well.
  • Hire help. Large appliances can usually be cleaned on the outside and inside, such as freezers, ovens, and refrigerators. However, some of the parts, such as condenser coils, may be tricky to reach or you may not know what to do or how to clean them. It might be best to bring a professional into the kitchen who can do a deep clean of your appliances periodically.
  • Create a schedule. If you have a variety of appliances and equipment pieces (and you likely do in a commercial kitchen), it is essential that you have a calendar or app on your smartphone/tablet that tells you when to perform routine maintenance, such as cleaning and changing of filters. You can find free downloadable calendars or can print one out and use it solely to keep track of maintenance. If the owner’s manual recommends something be done every six months, you can mark it on the calendar to make sure you don’t forget. If you hire a technician to perform all of your maintenance, they are going to keep track of scheduling.

Now that you understand why you need to maintain your equipment and have a few tips to keep you on track, you’re sure to find that your appliances last a lot longer. You’re less likely to have to buy new equipment so soon, and you’ll still get a lot of life out of your current items.

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Further Information...

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