Restaurants range from top quality haute cuisine, through to local eateries/cafes. A large array of styles and cuisines from all over the world can be found in Australia, to match any budget or taste. Restaurants can be part of a large chain or franchise including operations owned by large multinational companies (e.g. TGIF, Pancake Parlour, Taco Bell, Sushi Train, Hard Rock Cafe etc), or privately or family owned and operated as small to medium size businesses. They may be fully-licensed, BYO or unlicensed.
Restaurants often specialise in specific types of foods or present a certain unifying, and often entertaining, theme. In Australia there are many types of specialised restaurants, such as seafood, vegetarian or ethnic type restaurants, such as Italian, Chinese, Indian, Thai and Mexican etc. Restaurants that sell alcoholic beverages are closely regulated by State Alcoholic Beverage Control Authorities. Takeaway Food Services may be offered as an incidental part of a restaurant (for example an Indian or Chinese restaurant may also serve takeaways).
In order to operate a restaurant, a licence is usually required from the local council. There are also various other government regulations involved in the setting up and running of a restaurant. Capital requirements vary with the market focus and scale of the restaurant but are not usually unduly high for a single outlet. However, most are still labour intensive operations. Most restaurants operate long hours (food preparation staff may start work quite early for those operations serving breakfast menus and some are open until late evening), but this will vary depending on the location and the customer base of the insured.
Restaurants can be located in CBDs, urban, semi-urban and regional areas. Since population levels of each area has a direct influence on the number of restaurant consumers, most restaurants are strategically placed in populated locations/states. Some restaurants are located in seasonal tourist destinations.
Machinery, equipment and stock present in the premises vary depending on the size and the nature of the operation but generally will include but are not limited to:
- Alcoholic beverages, tobacco, soft drinks and foodstuffs;
- Building plant and machinery including air-conditioning and heating equipment, boilers etc;
- Boiling water units;
- Beverage processing machinery;
- Cash registers;
- Cleaning materials;
- CCTV system;
- Convection ovens;
- Coffee machines;
- Cold food bars;
- Combi steamers;
- Commercial ranges (commercial hot plates, heavy duty ranges, induction range, pot ranges, stock pot ranges, work ranges);
- Counters and display units;
- Cutlery and crockery;
- Display cases and racks;
- Display pie warmers;
- Dough rollers;
- EFTPOS machines;
- Electric fryers;
- Espresso machines;
- Furniture and fittings (tables, chairs etc);
- Food processors/food warmers;
- Gas fryers;
- Glassware and dishes;
- Grill plates/grills hotplates;
- Hot food bars/hot food display bench top;
- Hot dog warmers;
- Ice cream makers/ice makers;
- Lighting and sound equipment;
- Lift and escalators;
- Meat slicer;
- Milkshake mixers;
- Oven ranges;
- Office equipment (e.g. computers and communication equipment) – this may be more extensive for a chain or franchise operation;
- Pasta cookers;
- Pizza conveyor oven;
- Refrigerators and freezers;
- Storage pie warmers;
- Sound and video system;
- Target top;
- Tables and chairs;
- Table clothes;
- Various mixers;
- Vacuum sealers;
- Vans and trucks for pick-ups and deliveries;
- Walk-in coolers and freezers; and
- Warehouse equipment and machinery (forklifts, materials handling devices, conveyor systems etc for larger operations with a central warehouse and multiple restaurant outlets,
- Wok tables.
Obviously not all of these items are found in every restaurant. Food preparation equipment is often specific to the cuisine being prepared, though there will be many common items regardless of food style and type.
Full-service restaurants offer more menu categories, including appetizers, entrees, salads, side dishes, desserts, and beverages, and varied choices within each category. Chefs and cooks prepare items to order. Cooking may involve a variety of methods including dry heat cooking (roasting, baking, grilling, broiling, etc), wet heat cooking (blanching, poaching, boiling/simmering, steaming, deep fat frying, etc), microwaving and combinations of these, whilst a wide variety of pre-cooking food preparation (chopping, slicing, blending, marinating, freezing, mixing, kneading, frothing, reducing etc) are possible.
Managers in this industry hire, train, supervise, and discharge workers. They also deal with vendors, keep records, and help whenever an extra hand is needed.
Chefs may perform the following tasks:
- Planning menus and working out food and labour costs;
- Planning staff rosters and supervise the activities of cooks and assistants;
- Discussing food preparation issues with managers, dietitians and other staff members;
- Ordering food, kitchen supplies and equipment;
- Demonstrating techniques to cooks and advising on cooking procedures;
- Preparing and cooking food;
- Dividing food into portions, presenting it and add gravies, sauces and garnishes (“plating the dish”);
- Explaining and enforcing hygiene regulations;
- Selecting and training staff; and
- Freezing and preserving foods.
Different types of chefs are to be found in higher end restaurants. Some of the position descriptions, with a brief explanation, are:
- Chef de Cuisine – The head or first chef;
- Sous Chef – The second in charge in the kitchen;
- Chef de Partie – A specialised cook e.g. pastry cook, sauce cook, roast cook, relief cook, side-dish cook, breakfast cook, canteen cook or fish cook;
- Demi Chef de Partie – Second in charge of a particular kitchen section; and
- Commis Chef – One that has just completed an apprenticeship.
In larger establishments, the chef de cuisine or head chef generally does more supervision than cooking. Senior chefs have to attend staff meetings, where they discuss problems related to their areas, and receive or issue instructions to other managerial staff. In small restaurants, the head chef may prepare food, assisted by other cooks or apprentices. Kitchen hands assist cooks and chefs in preparing and storing food, washing dishes and kitchen utensils, and cleaning work areas. They may be employed on a full-time, part-time, casual or seasonal basis and usually work in shifts. Jobs include:
- Washing and cleaning utensils and dishes and make sure they are stored appropriately;
- Handling, sorting, storing and distributing food items;
- Washing, peeling, chopping, cutting and cooking foodstuffs and helping to prepare salads and desserts;
- Sorting and disposing of rubbish and recycling;
- Organising laundering of kitchen linen; and
- Cleaning food preparation equipment, floors and other kitchen tools or areas.
Waiters and waitresses will serve the food and drinks to customers. They may perform the following tasks:
- Take restaurant reservations/bookings;
- Set tables with clean linen or place mats, cutlery, crockery and glasses;
- Welcome and seat customers and hand menus to them;
- Talk to guests about the menu and drinks and recommend combinations;
- Promote local produce and attractions to visitors from interstate and overseas;
- Take customers’ orders and pass them to kitchen staff or bar attendants;
- Serve food and drinks;
- Carve meat;
- Calculate and prepare bills and present them to customers;
- Handle money or credit cards; and
- Clear tables and return dishes and cutlery to kitchens.
Again, the front of house staff have specialised roles in higher end restaurants. Some of the position descriptions, with a brief explanation, are:
- Maitre d’ – An experienced waiter that supervises and administers the restaurant;
- Sommelier – Drinks/wine waiter;
- Silver service waiter – Specialises in serving food using a fork and spoon, from platters directly to the guests’ plates at the table
- Commis waiter – Assists more experienced waiters.
Some cafés and restaurants may use computerised point of sales (“POS”) systems that link to the kitchen, to reduce ordering errors. Most franchisors have proprietary POS systems that link to corporate headquarters so management can monitor sales, large companies may have integrated inventory management systems that communicate with suppliers via the internet, allowing for automated replenishment.
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