Why eating and drinking in your own establishment is a good idea
Should I eat or drink inside my pizzeria? The answer is yes … and no. When it comes to eating and drinking your product, served from your staff, there are particular ways to accomplish this, without compromising your integrity and food cost. For starters, pay for everything. Don’t have a discount code for owners or a comp list that says owners or XYZ person eats for free. The reason is you’ll find that that comp ends up getting used for a lot of people who aren’t owners. The solution of, “Well, I’d fire anyone who does that” isn’t that solid because you might fire people who are good workers that fell into temptation. If your restaurant is littered with theft temptations because more likely than not, no one will see it, you’re setting your staff up for failure as well as destroying your food cost. An unkept array of comps that no one reviews are a massive cause of fraud in this industry.
- Pay for your food. If you’re ordering a pizza to go or dining in, use a credit card. Make sure all orders get a ticket, NO TICKET NO TACO! That’s the phrase we use at Andolini’s; nothing is called out to the line and then blindly made without a ticket. All orders must go through the point of sale system to get made, no exceptions. That card could be a debit card linked to your bank account that pays you back, but use a card. Show the transaction occurring so the staff sees that no one is special.
- Eat Like a Customer. Additionally, when you have a friend come in from out of town, and they want to eat at your pizzeria, and you want to comp them, pay for it on your card. If you’re going to enjoy the meal with them, then sit down as a civilian, preferably in non-work attire, and be an everyday customer. Again, when finished, pay like a customer, pay full price, not with an employee discount. You will incur the credit card fees of using your card, which is a small price to pay (and that’s well worth it to maintain your integrity and set a leadership example for your staff).
- Don’t get sauced in your own pot. When it comes to drinking alcohol on-site, the best practice is to never drink in your restaurant. If you do feel the need just to see how your bar is doing as a customer from time-to-time, then again, wear civilian attire, do it outside of routine work and never before you’re about to go back on the line or do any more in-store work. Even if you just killed a significant order or had an insanely great night, it’s preferable to just go like a regular person, that doesn’t own this restaurant, to another restaurant or bar with or without staff at that point, and just enjoy yourself rather than potentially setting up the cynical viewpoint that you’re wasting food cost and that you’re another drunk owner abusing their power. If that sounds absurd, bear in mind perception is 9/10ths reality and your staff’s perception of you, their leader, must always be protected. Also, it puts your bartenders and service staff in an awkward position to serve you because they’re not sure if they should charge you or not. Or worst-case scenario, if they should ever cut you off.
- Use Third Party Delivery to order in. If you do love your pizza, and I love mine, I find it best practice to order it from a third party and have it delivered to my house. This way, I get to see how the third party is doing and also get a truly unbiased view of my end product, without my staff knowing that they’re making something for the owner. It’s a really clean way to spot-check your crew. These proactive measures allow you to be in control of your restaurant. They also let your staff believe in the mission of excellent service and low food cost by holding your integrity in high regard.
Mike Bausch is the owner of Andolini’s Pizzeria in Tulsa, Oklahoma.