Keep it fresh

What do your limes say about your business?

Ever receive a drink with a dried out lime, spots of brown or, how about a pineapple slice that is mushy? Yeah, not so great. It actually says a lot about the establishment. I know when I visit a new spot the first thing I analyze is the fruit, I can always tell what kind of standards they have.

"A few of the tools below are things I used in my professional life to ensure fruit freshness. The links are Amazon affiliate which mean no additional cost to you but the commission helps us keep the site. We appreciate your support"

Not only can fruits and garnishes tell me about an establishments quality and standards but it also can be indicative of how busy they are. That always gets my mind going, maybe their drinks are not appealing to patrons, staff may be rude, poor quality/selection of juices/mixers, or just that the staff just doesn't care and management does not follow up. As a manager it is incredibly important to follow up with staff and make sure everything is up to standards. If you've ever worked for corporate restaurants you know they always have pre shift checks to make sure everything is up to par. This is what makes these concepts so successful!

One thing I noticed at the many places I tended was how quickly fruit rots once cut. Make sure your bartenders are cutting fruit per shift, not cutting fruit to match demand can lead to waste of time, revenue, loss of product and possible contamination. The FDA recommends that fruit be discarded per shift, so in 6-8hr increments. As an owner/operator I highly recommend this practice. Not only are you adhering to FDA guidelines but you are keeping your guests safe and setting a standard for your bartenders that creates a great impression on your guests.

I always love squeezing that lime wedge into my margarita, if it's dried out it's incredibly disappointing. It may even cause me to switch up my drink of choice to something that doesn't require a garnish, like a bottled beer. Remember your greatest revenue creator will always be spirits. Make sure it's fresh and looks good. Most of your patrons will choose a great cocktail over something they can buy on their own at the local grocery store.

When considering how much fruit you need per shift, it will take some time to gauge how many guests/turn over you will have especially if the establishment is new. This may take a week or two of observation so be patient. Most likely your busiest days will be the weekends, Thursday nights through Saturday night. Depending on establishment and sports seasons Sundays can be factored in as well. Try cutting only what's needed for the shift, especially the morning. For some units that means only 1 lime, or 2 oranges and possibly only a 4th of a pineapple. Others it could be a whole ½ pan. When I was tending at BWW I was cutting a lot of fruit, I mean like 2 to 3, ½ pans of limes in the afternoon before the night shift came in. The next day I'd come in and all the fruit was gone!! We were busy at that unit. If your morning shift bartender preps for the entire day, assign cutting fruit as a task to be completed before the end of the shift, that way your fruit lasts throughout the night shift. Ask them to prep for the day shift first thing and then again before ending their shift.

From my experience the best way to store your cut garnishes is using a ⅙ pan with a lid.

The 1/6 Pan is a polycarbonate food safe tray. Amazon does not sell them as a kit so make sure to purchase the drain pan insert that fits in the bottom as well.

Fruit sitting in its own juices tends to spoil faster and can get a slimy film on it. Always keep your fruit stored in the cooler and labeled with date & time cut. Remember the cooler temp needs to be at 40° or below as required by the FDA.

When storing your fruit in a fruit tray on the bar top, make sure to label when the fruit was placed in the container. Use a fruit tray with a lid that is enclosed so you can put ice into the bottom. Change the ice frequently throughout the shift to keep it at the 40°. Always wash the fruit container each night to avoid any contamination. Set your standards high, make sure your staff understands that it is imperative to the restaurant image to maintain this one standard to make a good impression.

You never know what your patrons are thinking, even about a little dried out lime.

So keep it fresh!!

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