How to Organize Your Restaurant Storeroom
The storeroom is one of your restaurant's most important spaces. As a result, having a disorganized and unsanitary storage space can cause trouble when it comes time to prepare for an inspection or take inventory of your supplies. Additionally, an untidy storeroom can compromise ingredients, waste your employees' time, and cost your restaurant money. Keep reading to learn how to best organize your stock and control environmental factors, so your staff can use this space efficiently and effectively.
Apply the Rule of First In, First Out
Using ingredients before they expire can be one of the biggest challenges for your kitchen, depending on how your storeroom is organized. To ensure that your food doesn’t go bad before you can use it, try arranging your storeroom by the first in, first out rule. This rule, also known as “FIFO,” means that every time you get new supplies in, you place the new products behind your existing stock to make sure that older items are used first.
When your employees go to the storeroom to pick up ingredients, they will retrieve the older stock because it is readily accessible. As a result, all of your food will have a decreased risk of spoiling on your shelves and you can reduce food waste in your restaurant. This method of organization may be tedious when you are stocking a new delivery, but it can save you the money and time involved when your chef reaches for an ingredient and all that’s left is expired stock.
Label All of Your Ingredients and Supplies
When arranging ingredients in your storage space, treat your storeroom like a supermarket. Create a standardized labeling system for all of your stock, so your employees can find what they are looking for, even if they are in a rush. To avoid confusion, put all of your labels either above or below each product on the shelves. Not only do these labels help your staff members to find things, but they also act as reminders for what your kitchen needs when you are re-ordering supplies.
Use Restaurant Shelving
To make the most of your restaurant storage space, it is best to find shelving made from durable materials that can stay sanitary in your storeroom. These units get your food supplies off of the floor, which is a necessity for following health code, and they also make your ingredients easier to find. Like your kitchen’s appliances, these shelves should also be able to withstand frequent use.
While it is easy to overlook them as an important feature in your establishment, shelves can greatly help or hinder the functionality of your storeroom. For example, shelves can make it possible for you to effectively organize ingredients for ease of access. On the other hand, they can damage your stock and violate codes if selected improperly. Before you outfit your storeroom, be sure to learn about all the different types of restaurant shelving that are available to you.
Organize Your Supplies by Category
Once you have selected the proper shelving for your storeroom, it is important to think about how you will position your supplies. Arrange your ingredients by their use or type to help your employees easily locate them during busy meal services. For instance, put all of your spices in one place, and organize all of your baking ingredients in another. Separate tools only used for dinner entrees from equipment you need during your breakfast service. Additionally, keep cleaning and sanitizing supplies away from ingredients that they could contaminate.
Also consider putting valuable equipment and ingredients in a locked cabinet or separate storeroom that is only accessible to certain employees. This is particularly helpful with bar supplies. You can help prevent theft by storing your liquor, mixes, and garnish supplies behind a locked door or security shelf instead of under your open bar space.
Find the Best Layout for Your Storeroom
While grouping your supplies by category is a great way to get organized, it is also important to consider the overall layout of your space in order to optimize flow and ease of access. For example, making your shelves accessible from both front and back can help when it is time to load new stock in the FIFO system. In the same way, heavy equipment and ingredients that are frequently used should not be stored at the back of your space. Before you set up your storeroom, think about what your kitchen staff will be retrieving the most often, and prioritize those items’ positions in your layout.
Consider putting the supplies that you use the most at the front of your storeroom. If your restaurant offers carry-out meals, put your take-out containers near the door, so you can always be prepared to package your customers’ food.
As previously mentioned, it can be helpful to group ingredients together that are often used in the same dishes. This being said, don’t let this arrangement cause confusion. Be careful not to store lookalike ingredients, like salt and sugar, too close to one another. Even with a labeling system in place, mistakes can happen during mealtime rushes.
Make a Map of Your Storeroom
Once you’ve found the best layout for your storeroom, draw up a map and put it somewhere where everyone can access it, like the door. This can be particularly helpful if you have a large storage space. When an employee wants to get in and out quickly, he or she can consult the map before searching the shelves. New employees will also appreciate this guide, because it could save them the hassle of asking another staff member where an item is when they are having trouble finding it.
Train Your Employees
Because your storeroom is a space that many, if not all, of your employees will use, it is imperative to walk all new hires through the area. Additionally, consider training some of your employees to receive deliveries. Ensuring that all of your staff knows where to put new stock can save you trouble if a delivery comes when you are unable to be at the restaurant.
Control Temperature, Light, and Moisture in Your Storeroom
Temperature, light, and moisture are three of the biggest factors in keeping food from spoiling in your storeroom. Below, we explain how these conditions can impact your supplies and how you can control them in your storage space.
The ideal temperature for a storeroom containing dry goods is between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The hotter your space is, the faster your foods can spoil, especially canned goods. It is beneficial to keep a thermometer in your storeroom, so you can always monitor the temperature and prevent spoiling.
Light not only impacts temperature, but it also can oxidize foods. Oxidization largely impacts fats and pigments. When fat is oxidized, the food's nutritional value degrades and the food eventually becomes rancid. When pigment is oxidized, foods can lose their natural color and look faded or tinted gray. This can ruin the appearance of your food, and may cause customers to be displeased with their meal. As a result, it is best to keep your storeroom dark. Ideally, food storage rooms should be free of windows and have artificial lights that are only on when an employee is present in the room.
Moisture can create environments where mold and bacteria flourish. Since both of these can be harmful to your ingredients and supplies, it is best to keep the moisture levels of your storeroom under control. In some cases, moisture can even cause your shelves to rust and damage the food they hold. Use a dehumidifying system if your storeroom has excess moisture, and be sure to empty and clean your dehumidifier regularly.
There are many things to consider when organizing your restaurant's storeroom, and having a functional and sanitary storage space is integral to your kitchen's operation. Remember to clearly label all of your supplies, prioritize the locations of frequently used items, control environmental conditions, and use older stock first. When you find the best layout for your storeroom, staying clean and organized can help your restaurant save both time and money.