The pantry or storeroom is one of the most important rooms in your restaurant. This is because it houses all the items or raw materials your kitchen team needs to create all dishes on your menu.
This area in your restaurant should always have enough stock of all essential food items to enable your kitchen team to create their dishes and fulfill all customers’ orders.
When you and your staff fail to manage the storeroom inventory properly, you can expect chaos to happen regularly in your restaurant since you will frequently run out of ingredients to use for your menu items.
Having one of the best restaurant management systems in the UAE will set you up for success as you manage your kitchen inventory. This is because this type of software helps you stay on top of your supplies as new ones come in.
Additionally, a restaurant management system with topnotch inventory features allows you to count opening and closing stock during a shift change. It also helps you track supplies and stock usage and performs real-time updates of the current provisions on hand.
Organization and Inventory Management
Organizing your restaurant kitchen pantry properly can help you and your team manage your inventory better, as well. When all supplies are in the right places and stocked correctly, you will reduce the chances of your staff overlooking supplies and ordering additional ones prematurely.
If the pantry, fridge, and freezers are properly organized, you can quickly check for discrepancies that can be caused by theft or misuse.
How to Organize Your Restaurant Kitchen Pantry
If you want to have a more organized commercial kitchen, follow these tips:
1. Install plenty of shelves and racks
If storage is currently an issue in your kitchen, instead of having closed cabinets installed, opt for uncovered shelving units and racks.
Wall-mounted and standalone open shelves and racks give you and the kitchen staff quick access to all ingredients. Moreover, everyone will be able to see and identify the supplies easily. This will help minimize messes that come from rummaging through the stocks.
Having open shelves and racks installed in the kitchen and storeroom is a more affordable option, as well, since they require fewer materials.
However, it is best to have cabinets or shelves with doors that can be locked for the more expensive ingredients or items, such as your liquor, mixes, and garnishes supplies. By doing so, you ensure that only a few employees have access to them and prevent theft.
2. Organize supplies by category
Once you have enough storage space, make finding and using items easier by grouping them according to classification.
Organizing them by use or type can help your team access the necessary items faster even during the busiest time of the day. For instance, putting all baking supplies on one rack will ensure your staff can grab everything they need to create a dessert without making any mistake in getting the wrong ingredient.
Do the same for the other dry and liquid ingredients that can be stored in room temperature. Additionally, organize kitchen tools and equipment needed for preparing lunch and dinner menu items from the ones commonly used for breakfast service.
You can also follow the same organizing tips for dinnerware and other utensils.
When all ingredients are simply placed anywhere, your kitchen staff will probably make more errors that can lead to disastrous dishes that result in food waste, loss of money, and customer dissatisfaction.
3. Label all shelves, racks, and supplies properly
When arranging supplies in the pantry or storeroom, take a leaf out of the books of supermarkets and make these areas more organized by creating a standard labeling system that everyone can easily understand.
Print out labels of all ingredients. Make sure they are large enough that anyone can read them, even from afar. Put them above or below each product on the shelves.
With these labels, you help the staff find things quickly and, at the same time, act as reminders for what your kitchen needs when you are replenishing supplies.
If your team transfers ingredients to containers, make sure these are also labeled properly to ensure they identify and use them correctly.
4. Implement the “first in, first out” rule strictly
Food waste, which always means loss of money for your restaurant, is often one of the biggest challenges all dining establishments face. Proper inventory management and pantry organization can help you and your team overcome this obstacle.
Following the first in-first out or FIFO rule ensures your kitchen staff uses all ingredients before they expire. This practice simply means putting new supplies behind the existing ones, so that the older items are used first.
This rule ensures your employees retrieve and use the older, current ingredients since they are readily accessible. Because of this, all of your supplies will have a lower risk of spoiling on your shelves, thus, effectively reducing food waste in your restaurant.
Do the same for meat, such as steaks, chicken, and fish and other items that have to be refrigerated. By doing so, you ensure you won’t throw spoiled proteins or accidentally serve them to your diners.
Although the FIFO rule can be tedious and time-consuming when stocking plenty of new supplies, all the effort put into doing it will be worth your while. It will save you plenty of money in the long run, as well.
5. Train all employees thoroughly
Implementing kitchen organization practices is a good start for managing your inventory effectively. However, you have to ensure your employees follow them to get the most benefits.
Train all employees, even the ones not assigned in the kitchen, to follow all practices and rules. Make sure new hirees undergo sufficient training so they understand the importance of doing so and avoid making mistakes.
Consider training at least two of your employees to receive deliveries. By doing so, you can have someone take charge of receiving and organizing all supplies properly, even when you or your head chef are not in the restaurant.
Additionally, make sure you train all employees when you establish new practices for organizing your kitchen and storeroom.
Having a systematic pantry and kitchen system will do wonders for your business. Once you invest in a restaurant management software and follow these tips, you can expect plenty of positive changes that you and your establishment will benefit from.
Ahmad Alzaini is the co-founder and CEO of Foodics, a fast-growing food tech startup. A businessman by nature, Alzaini is an app aficionado, developing businesses in Saudi Arabia within several industries. Today, Foodics has extended to new markets across the MENA region, processing over 1 billion transactions, and offering the latest technology in POS and restaurant management.