Trouble Hiring Workers? Hire a CVap Instead

labor shortage makes for long lines

After more than 15 crazy months, which felt more like 15 crazy years, consumers are back. They’re ready to throw their cash at you for the opportunity to grab some food and get back to normal. Are you ready when customers come your way?

Over the last few weeks, I have waited ten minutes or more in line at fast food drive-thru lanes,  and waited for 30 minutes in a fast-casual restaurant (with plenty of open tables in view). I want to give you my money, but it is tiring. And I am tempted to go elsewhere.

I’ve watched others look at the drive-thru line or hear the wait at a restaurant and leave, taking their money with them.

labor issues stretch drive thru lines

Look, I get it. Hiring is miserable right now. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index, which measures the total cost of employee compensation, shows the largest three-month increase in service employee compensation in over a decade! Who would have thought pay for service employees would turn into an arms race: $12, $13, $14 or more, plus hiring bonuses? It feels unsustainable. Even when you increase prices, you’re still not optimizing your cash flow or bottom line. Your business model wasn’t built for this.

Winston CVap® equipment is here to help. Full-time employees can cost you $58,000 or more per year, if you can hire and keep them. In comparison, four stacked CVap ovens can do the same work at one-fifth of the price. That’s what one of Winston’s biggest clients learned. They initially purchased two stacked oven pairs for a single location. When they realized the benefits and labor savings, they installed the same stacked oven pair in every restaurant in their system.

You have a choice: adapt or fall behind. Adapting means investing in a solution that will ease hiring difficulties, get more food to customers, and save money. And falling behind is just that – watching your competition win the race for labor, profits, and customers.

labor shortages upset customers

Part Two: You Gotta Know How to Hold ‘em

Read all parts in this series: Part One | Part Three | Part Four

In its century-long run, The Oakroom at the Seelbach Hotel has been the epitome of fine dining. While its luxurious dining room seats only 100, the technical level of the food produced by Chef Patrick Roney’s team was challenging. When he proposed several complicated dishes for a set menu planned for Kentucky Derby week—when the restaurant would be sold out. His supervisors doubted whether he could pull it off. He assured them, however, that using CVap®, he could.

Like most chefs, learning to cook with CVap is a bit of a journey. Talk about beginning with the basics and moving to more technical use.

One of the first things we mastered was planning out and starting our next day’s work by putting things into CVap overnight. Not only did it free up other ovens, we now had the opportunity to cook things in such a precise way that our food was elevated. We were using it for large format roasts, browning and holding at a desired temperature and being amazed by how moist the results were.

You learned to stage with it also. Talk about that.

That’s something any busy restaurant can do. If you know your peak rush time and know during that you’ll sell 15 lamb, 20 beef, 25 pork, whatever, you can get ahead of that rush. Load your CVap up beforehand. Then, when all the tickets come in at once, you’ll be ahead of that rush. Getting ahead and staying there using CVap is mostly about knowing how to hold things at the correct temperature. 

When did you start pushing your own boundaries and understanding of CVap?

For Kentucky Derby week one year, we were doing a kind of deconstructed burgoo. Our take on it used a smoked, braised wild boar ragout topped with a Kentucky-fried rabbit leg and venison chop. (Instead of long cooking all the meats together), the rabbit leg and the venison chop were staged and held the CVap at 130°F with browning set at 4. The wild boar ragout—which technically was really like a thick meat sauce—was bagged, in a water bath and held in the CVap. When pick-up was called, all we had to do was sear the venison chop, add the fried rabbit leg and plate it over the boar ragout. We also were holding country ham hush puppies in the same CVap, all in the same atmosphere. That alone was amazing.

When you proposed that dish to you colleagues at the restaurant, they questioned whether you could really do it, right?

That’s right. When I said I intended to hold Kentucky-fried rabbit legs perfectly crispy for Derby night service, they weren’t sure it was possible. I knew we couldn’t drop rabbit legs to order in the fryer all night and risk the quality being all over the place. So, we had to fry them before service and hold them in the CVap. On a night when we were charging $275 a person, everything we did had to be spot on. But at that point, I’d used CVap enough to know what it did when I programmed it correctly.

How did it go that night?

Everything held perfectly through that four-hour service—perfectly. We were proud of the quality, but it also gave us an opportunity to prove we could really do what others doubted we could. It took guts to take that chance because I was holding $4,000 worth of food in the CVap. But I was confident it would work.

Who doubted your call to use CVap?

My boss back then, Chef Matt Durham, and Julie De Friend, the front-of-the-house manager. Julie was over the moon with the way it came out, and our guests were over the moon with the whole meal. Matt was quietly impressed that it worked that way.

I gather that was a confidence boost for you to see CVap perform exactly the way you needed it to.

We were really beginning to see that it was a kind of magic closet. You put food into it, opened the door, and pulled out perfectly held food. It opened so many avenues for different ways of plating and different thought processes on how service was going to go for us in the future.

In our next blog, Patrick discusses learning more about CVap by networking with other CVap users, as well as its ability to address labor problems by running a kitchen with fewer cooks.

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Chris Jones Testimonial: Juggling Labor at Sunday Brunch

Chris Jones saves on labor with CVap

Chris Jones Testimonial: Saving Labor at Sunday Brunch

Chris Jones is used to juggling labor. He served as an executive chef at country clubs for many years. Sunday brunch is a standard at these clubs. Eggs are always featured. Eggs can be quite labor-intensive unless you have the right equipment.

Chris shares how CVap cabinets make serving eggs easy. He reduced his Sunday brunch labor from five cooks to two by holding eggs and other hot brunch items in CVap Holding Cabinets.