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The Importance Of Staff Meals

November 08, 2021

Restaurant industry workers are likely familiar with the concept of staff “family meal.” The whole team enjoys a communal meal together during family meal before opening the doors and hustling through the upcoming dining service. On the surface, feeding employees seems standard and inconsequential. However, carving out time to share a meal and connect with the entire staff has many benefits for both owners and team members.

The Benefits of Staff Meals at Restaurants

Every restaurant approaches staff meals differently. Some offer multiple meals throughout the day, others just before the beginning of an evening shift, and still others have one per week. No matter how you choose to feed your restaurant family, there are numerous advantages that go beyond pure sustenance.

1. Helps Reduce Food Waste

An estimated 40 percent of food waste comes from foodservice industries. From a practical standpoint, food waste means money out the door. With food costs rising, the last thing a restaurant owner wants is to see is food gone to waste. On the plus side, using additional ingredients for staff meals that would otherwise be scrapped means you aren’t tossing food or spending extra dollars on ingredients to feed your crew. Plus, it allows your chefs to play around with some intriguing flavor combinations and get creative with meals. 

Beyond using up leftovers, reducing food waste has positive long-term benefits on the planet. Minimizing food waste conserves energy and lessens methane emissions stemming from landfills. Not only is helping to preserve our planet important, but today’s restaurant consumers are more driven to support eco-conscious establishments that support sustainability efforts. So, reducing carbon footprint not only helps protect the planet for future generations, but might also increase your client base.

2. Creates a Strong Work Culture

Restaurants are high-paced work environments. Chefs, servers, bussers, managers, bartenders, and hosts all work in tandem to ensure excellent meals and service. However, there is little downtime for team members to socialize during their shifts. As a result, it can feel like a sense of work culture is lacking. However, bringing everyone together to break bread--literally--and relish a relaxed meal does wonders for team dynamics. Some of the most noticeable ways family meal promotes work culture is:

  • Allows members across teams the opportunity to connect and foster teamwork. 
  • Gives space to “talk shop” and decompress before or after a trying day.
  • Makes managers more accessible, which can open up lines of communication.

3. Helps Develop Skills

Fostering skills and offering career advancement within an establishment benefits both employee and owner. Do you have a young chef eager to show off her talents, a busser that’s looking to delve into the back-of-the-house, or a server wanting to increase his knowledge of culinary concepts? Staff meals are a perfect opportunity for front-of-house and back-of-house personnel to gain knowledge and experiment. As restaurant owners know, the industry has a high turnover rate, which means more time spent on training new staff. Offering internal educational and growth opportunities can improve employee retention. Furthermore, giving the staff daily opportunities to taste food and engage with culinary professionals cultivates excitement and opens up chances for the whole team to become more knowledgeable.

4. Encourages Creativity

Along with developing skills, staff meals offer teams the opportunity to be creative while cooking for each other. At Dubai Opera, executive chef Carl Maunder says, “Each chef is responsible for preparing the staff meal at some point, which gives them the opportunity to display creativity as well as pride in their work.”  This rotating schedule get everyone involved and encourages all to showcase their favorite dishes they may not get the chance to cook every day in the restaurant. It allows teams to learn more about each other and gain a wide array of viewpoints from both kitchen and front of house staff. The time can also be a great opportunity for menu development allowing all staff members to try upcoming menu items.

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