Do you currently subscribe to line checks in your operations? Chances are that most of you reply “No” and an even better chance that many of you want to use one, but don’t know where to start. I have visited many properties where this was the case, and I have helped them design what should be mandatory for all restaurants….a Line Check.
I’ll briefly explain for those of you not familiar, that a line check is a practice, and I can’t stress this point enough; it’s a practice and not just a piece of paper. It’s a practice by which a lead line associate, or managers check the quality of everything. What you don’t check will be the place where you have some issues, guaranteed. If you cook your nachos in-house, for example; and don’t check the rotation of them, then anywhere from 1-10 tables may get stale chips before someone notices enough to say something. How much were those 1-10 tables worth to you tonight, and on the return visit that they may delay or cancel as a result of poor food quality.
Depending on what you read, the days of very qualified chefs or KM’s in every unit are either gone or going. As a former chef myself, I must clarify that I am not saying that there aren’t very talented and capable chefs and KM’s. I’m simply suggesting that due to the volume of casual operations out there; and the expansion of their duties, that attention to detail is a daily challenge for most operators. So if not the chef or KM checking food quality, then who? Whatever your answer, we would suggest that they hold a checklist in their hand to make sure nothing is overlooked, and that your expectations aren’t just a function of memory.
What one should find on the actual line check form should include the product name, the visual characteristics that you expect (shiny, charred, etc.) and the temperature expectations (are they changing the ice enough?) and the most overlooked identifier…flavor. A batch of soup can be both hot and creamy, but if you don’t taste it, then you won’t find out that it was heated incorrectly until the letters start arriving. All of that hassle can be prevented by creating a thorough checklist, and enforcing it without exception among your staff and managers. Please keep in mind the whole time that a tool is only as good as the hand that’s holding it.