Restaurateurs: Make Safety Your First Menu Item!

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restaurant and bar safety

Many restaurateurs start with a dream. Maybe they grow up enjoying certain restaurants’ menus. They recall the delight of special meals with their families in traditional restaurants. Perhaps they even found their first job in a local restaurant or one of the many restaurant chains that hire high-school students. They may have worked their way through college as a bus person on the way to becoming a line cook. And before you know it, that B.A. in history seals the deal to become a head chef after receiving an advanced degree from a culinary college. And then comes the dream…they want to open their own restaurant. While there are many moving parts to manage on this journey, our John Bailey Company always offers the following caution: “Make safety your first menu item!”

“A great restaurant doesn’t distinguish itself by how few mistakes it makes but by how well they handle those mistakes.” – Danny Meyer

Restaurants by the numbers…

Before we dive into restaurant safety, let’s consider just a few statistics regarding the restaurant industry in the United States. According to the National Restaurant Association:

• Projected 2019 sales for the restaurant industry is $863 billion
• The United States has in excess of 1 million restaurants
• The restaurant industry has 15.3 million employees
• Restaurant workers represent 10% of the total U. S. workforce
• Seven out of every 10 restaurants are a single-unit business

You can review and print the association’s 2019 Restaurant Industry FACTBOOK.

Of course, every state has pertinent statistics. For example, here are a few facts about our own state of Tennessee.

• As of 2018, there were 11,693 eating and drinking business locations in Tennessee
• $14.2 billion in sales in Tennessee during 2018
• 11% of those employed in Tennessee in 2018 worked in restaurant and foodservice positions which represents 330,000 people

Safety…plus other Items to consider as you plan your restaurant adventure

If you regularly read our John Bailey Company blog, then you know we frequently discuss risk management for businesses, such as fly-fishing guides, campgrounds, resort owners, building contractors, and fitness centers. Additionally, we have covered business interruption insurance and employee crime. Today we want to turn our lens on restaurants and/or bars.

There are many online sources to learn about how to start a new restaurant. Interestingly, many articles will discuss in great detail the importance of choosing a concept and brand, creating a menu, writing a business plan, obtaining funding, selecting a location, leasing a commercial space, obtaining permits and licenses, finding a supplier for equipment and food, designing the restaurant’s layout, hiring staff, advertising the restaurant, and hosting an opening.

Notice what’s missing? Insurance, risk management and safety!

Let’s talk restaurant safety…

It is important to remember that restaurateurs can easily overspend on many items when they are planning their new business venture or even revamping a current restaurant/bar business. However, prioritizing safety can save money in the long run and planning for safety preparedness can start with your insurance agent.

Our team has access to free resources. Consider handouts that address items like: kitchen exhaust hoods, slip-resistant footwear, meat slicer safety tips, knife safety, preventing foodservice burns, preventing food allergies, foodborne illness prevention, safe handling of fabric rags and linens, or slips, trips and fall prevention. In addition to handouts, videos are also useful. For example here you can easily learn about ways to prevent and handle slips, trips and falls.


If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

It is critical to be prepared for customer or employee events. Having a customer incident report form readily available allows management to gather the facts as soon as physically possible. Additionally, the employer should have a claim reporting checklist to expedite an injured employee’s claim.

In closing, safety should always be your first step

If you regularly peruse your local newspaper, then you are aware how often restaurant incidents will appear in the headlines, including the results of local restaurant and bar health inspections. From frozen pipes to broken teeth and E. coli outbreaks, restaurant interruptions put your income and livelihood at risk. Specializing in custom insurance packages tailored to your restaurant’s operational needs, John Bailey Company handles risk management, so you can focus on your patrons.

We look forward to hearing from you. We are here to help you insure a great life.

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Author: Brandon

Farragut High Grad, Ole Miss Rebel, Certified Insurance Counselor – CIC, Specialty Insurance Lover, Past Outdoor Insurance Underwriter, Co-Founder successes – Young Professionals of Knoxville, Knoxify.com, 2011 Dogwood Arts Festival Co-Chair. Lucky husband and dad to 3 sweet girls.

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