When running a restaurant or bar, you have to have a plan for everything. From supplies to seasons to dinner rushes to closing duties, it’s important to have an outline. But when a power outage happens, there’s only so much planning that can happen.
Having a power outage puts a restaurant, its supplies, and its inventory of spoil-ready food at risk. When a power outage occurs during service hours, it becomes even more of an audible to your plans for the day. But besides handling guests and making sure everyone is taken care of, it’s that freezer-full of food you have to tackle right away.
By planning ahead and having a solid understanding of how to handle a power outage while it’s in motion, you can cut down on major losses. Here’s a look at how to best prepare.
Before an Outage
No one knows when a power outage is going to strike, so it’s important to lay the groundwork to best prepare for one that can happen at a moment’s notice. The first step you can take as a food service establishment is to make sure everything you have is backed up, and we don’t just mean backup generators.
Having hospitality insurance in place will help to provide peace of mind for restaurant owners looking for a financial backstop against liabilities and risks, like power outages. Having local coverage, like hospitality insurance Florida coverage for those along the coast, can help to provide you with the insurance you need when something like an outage or loss of some kind occurs.
Here are some other ways to prepare:
- Make sure to look into an electrical generator that can at least keep your freezer and food storage up and running.
- Have access to emergency phone numbers, including the health department, written out and easy to find.
- Keep emergency flashlights, water, and first aid kit supplies handy.
- Work out a plan beforehand to train and prepare staff on their role if a power outage occurs.
During a Power Outage
When a power outage strikes and you find yourself double-checking your prep list, it’s time to take action.
First, throw out any food, especially meat that can sour, that is in the process of cooking but isn’t completed. Call the utility company and get as much information as you can about the issue at hand and see if they have an estimate when the power will be back up and running.
It’s also important to always have proper ventilation in your establishment so if an exhaust system has ceased up, you can have your kitchen staff turn off all cooking equipment.
Next, you should focus on keeping as much cold air inside your walk-in as you can. This will help maintain a safe temperature for your food and could prevent having to get rid of some ingredients. Make sure all raw meat in your freezer is separated from other ingredients to avoid contamination. In this case, if meat does begin to spoil or leak, you won’t be running the risk of contaminating other food items, like produce and dairy.
By keeping these items separated, you’re doing what you can to not only contain major loss but keep from getting any staff or guests sick. Customers may end up getting sick if they eat any food that has come in contact with spoiled meat or other food items, so doing what you can to make sure this doesn’t happen is important.
Following an Outage
If a power outage lasts less than two hours, the food in your walk-in should be fine to use as long as it was already being stored at the proper temperature at the time the power ended. Make sure to use the food as quickly as possible and check for signs of spoilage, like wilting, slimy touch, and foul odors.
If food has been stored in a unit that’s been out of power between two and four hours, you can still use it if it’s still at 50 degrees or lower, just check the temperature and make sure you can confirm this.
Any frozen food that’s developed freezer burn in the process due to being defrosted and then refrozen should be tossed out for quality reasons.
About The Hilb Group
Deciding what coverage you need and what limits and deductibles make the most sense can be tricky. Founded in 2009, the Hilb Group has been helping clients to make sense of their options and make the smartest choices for their circumstances. Whether you need Warehouse Insurance or any other type of business or personal coverage, we encourage you to contact our friendly, experienced, and capable team today. Call us at (800) 776-3078 for a consultation.