The horrific recent disaster in Japan has reminded all of us here in the Seattle area about a relatively minor, but destructive, earthquake here a decade ago. Since that time, I have made it a priority to ask my clients about their disaster preparedness plans. I usually get a shrug or a blank stare. Sure, they all have the required fire extinguishers and first aid kit, but frequently that is it.


   There are many things that could disrupt ‘business as usual’ in a restaurant – kitchen fires, power outages, natural disaster, and medical emergencies. Making sure everyone, from manager to dishwasher understands safety procedures can ensure your staff and customers remain safe and calm.

  Here are some steps you can take to get everyone up to speed:
1. Include random disaster drills in your staff meetings. Turn out the lights and have everyone locate the flashlights, fire extinguisher, first aid kit.
2. Assign an emergency role to various stations. For example, in case of fire, the bartender is in charge of leading her patrons out the door, the waiter in section A is in charge of organizing the meeting point, etc.
3. Make emergency protocol part of the training process.
4. Keep a ‘script’ and checklist of questions regarding food poisoning alerts. Everyone who answers the phone should know how to get valuable information from a caller and how to take seriously the concerns of the customer.
5. Invest in CPR classes for all your employees. This shows your staff that you are serious about the well being of your restaurant community.
6. Communicate clearly to your staff that safety of customers is far more important than collecting payment. If your employees safely and calmly take care of them in an emergency, you can bet that your customers will not only make a point to pay at a later date, they will provide invaluable word of mouth advertising for your business!

7. Have emergency phone numbers up to date and posted where anyone can find them.

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Comment by Paul Paz on March 19, 2011 at 12:28pm

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