An all-you-can-eat buffet is free-form: customers pay a fixed fee and can then help themselves to as much food as they wish to eat in a single meal. This form is found often in restaurants, especially in hotels. This type of meal is really tempting to any guest who will dine in the restaurant. With all the scrumptious dishes served in front of them, and the appetizing smell of it would really make their mouths water, literally. Restaurants use this strategy to attract locals and tourists to dine and experience the luxury of a buffet meal. Most, not all, of the restaurants who do serve buffet meals would normally have a “No Leftover” policy to ensure that no quantity of food will be wasted.
Objectives of the Study
To be able to build a proposal regarding the implementation of a “No Leftover” policy at the restaurant of the Sunset Bar and Grill’s buffet meals.
Determine which time of day has the highest rate of diners which also has the highest rate of leftover food.
Enumerate the advantages and disadvantages of implementing the policy.
This study is conducted based on the following:
That the restaurant might need to look at the rate of the leftover food during buffet meals.
The rate of leftover food during buffet meals might increase if proper policy will not be implemented and this will surely affect the restaurant operations.
To prevent the rate of leftover food from increasing and maximize consumer consumption.
Question: Does the implementation of “No Leftover” policy affect the Sunset Bar and Grill’s restaurant operations?
Alternative Hypothesis: A “No Leftover” policy affects Sunset Bar and Grill’s restaurant operations.
Null Hypothesis: A “No Leftover” policy does not affect Sunset Bar and Grill’s restaurant operations.
Statement of the Problem
Specifically, this study aims to answer the following:
What time of day has the highest rate of buffet diners?
What time of day has the highest rate of leftover food?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of implementing a “No Leftover” policy at the restaurant
Significance of the Study
The research will not only touch the internal part of the restaurant, but also the guests, such as group of friends and families, dining in at Sunset Bar and Grill’s restaurant. This will help them discipline themselves to get only the exact amount of food they can finish to avoid wasting it. This study will be able to open the minds of restaurant managers and supervisors on how costly it is to the establishment if they do not implement a “No Leftover” policy. Considering the amount of food being wasted in every meal, this research will serve as an eye opener. The researchers have developed their writing, analysis, and interpretation skills needed to make a good thesis. This will benefit other researchers who wish to have similar studies as they can get background information from the result of this study which will serve as a template to modify their research.
Scope and Delimitations
Out of 28 restaurant employees at Sunset Bar and Grill’s restaurant, 22
employees were selected to answer the employee survey form.
This study limits its coverage on those employees who handle the buffet meals during breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Its main purpose is to identify which time of day has the highest rate of left-over food and the effect of implementing a “No Leftover” policy at the restaurant.
Definition of Term
Dining Establishments and Eating
There are many factors that may change your decision on choosing a place
to dine. Some people dine out almost every night, and some people may dine out
only once every month or so. People treat eating out differently than others. It all depends on the type of the mood, or the time the individual may have. There are many types of eating establishments that cater to the different types of occasions, from the more elite, to the brief luncheon, and to the fast outing.
For some people eating out is to be done in haste. For that type of people eating out is simple, done to avoid the time of preparation, and cleaning up a meal. Fast food is a quick, easy way to eat on the run, with a no frills atmosphere. These people are “on the run” with things that they must
accomplish in a limited amount of time. Some fast food restaurants may include:
Burger King, McDonalds, Subway, or Kentucky Fried Chicken. Fast food would be an easy solution to the problem of the time factor. Fast food can easily be
recognized when you enter the parking lot. For fast food the parking lot is more accessible to people(less landscaping), more entrances and exit doors(for
more saved time). Once entering the building one can distinguish a fast food
restaurant, by the high traffic tile floors, plastic bench seating that does not move for comfort, and the poor taste of interior design with small amounts of decoration. These buildings were meant for eating quickly, and then leaving,
visual impact is not a major concern. There will be no waiters to take your
order. A line to the cash register is the only way to get your food, unless the
decision of the drive up window is made. Food is often times pre-prepared to
Casual dining has more enjoyable food, and a more refreshed environment,
with only a little more time involved. Some casual dining may include: TGIF”
Fridays”, Dennys, or Eat and Park. Parking is a little further back, and more
landscaping may be involved to have a grander appearance. When you enter
through the only main entrance and exit door, wall to wall carpeting may be an
option, and more lavish plants, and paintings. Instead of finding your own seat,
a host will lead you to the section you prefer. The seating in some cases would
be moveable for more comfort. In most, the seating is either plush cloth, or
mostly padded vinyl, for comfort. Silverware would already exist on the table
with thin paper place mats. After being seated drinks and appetizers would be
served while waiting on the waiter or waitress. The order would be taken, and
the food would be heated, prepared fresh. After the main course, desert would
be served, then after desert the check is presented while still seated. In most
cases it is proper for the guest to leave some sort of gratuity for the server.
More time is taken in the preparation of the food, the surroundings, but still
the speed and the efficiency of the experience is high enough to have lunch, and
still make appointments.
If time is not a major concern, and your eating experience is, fine
dining may be the eating experience for you. Fine dining involves a mixture of
elegance and art with a fine meal. Some examples of fine dining are: Haden Zugs, Alfreds Victorian, and the Log Cabin. The parking at times is not always close to the building; therefore sometimes a valet is sometimes appropriate. The
buildings are mostly lavish on the exterior, with a lot of attention paid to the
landscaping, the walkway, lighting, and the structure itself. Once you would
enter the hosts would ask “what party are you with?”, A reservation is always
necessary, so they can prepare for your arrival. Fine art and sculpture would
drape the walls, with much attention being paid to the wood work. There would
very few tables per room, if only one for privacy. There is very little noise if any, as compared to the casual dining. The tables would be making out of fine wood, or some sort of fine draping over top. In the room, attention would be drawn to the various patterns of wallpapers, paintings. The seats are all movable including the table, for maximum comfort. Often time the furniture would be of the finest cloths or even leather, sometime antiques could be even used. The hosts would bring the fine silver, and lay it out before you while taking your orders for drinks and appetizers, with just giving you eye contact with memorizing your order. After all is ordered, including the main course, examples of dessert are bought for you to choose. Later the check is brought with fine chocolates, or mints. And a larger gratuity is often times expected at a fine dining experience.
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There are several different kinds of eating establishments for different moods, people, style, time, and budget. Whatever time is involved, the right kind of dining is out there to fit any schedule. Eating may range from a chore, to an extravagant night out on the town. No matter what you are looking for, the right type of dining environment is out there for anyone (123HelpMe.com, 2012).
Buffet Dining and Hong Kong’s Food Waste
Whenever I enter a restaurant that offers buffet lunch or dinner, half my thoughts are devoted to asking myself which one to pick first. Whether it’s a Japanese-Korean eat-all-you-can or Western themed banquet, I am urged to head towards the most sought-after dishes along with others who share the same strategy.
However, I also make it a point to know my limits. That means I don’t have to fill my plate with my favorite menu of the day for a) fear of running out of the dish when I make a return or b) feeling too lazy to fall in line later. As I glance at other tables, I feel sorry for the unconsumed food headed to the rubbish bin. Unsold pastries and bakery products can still be consumed before expiry dates, but buffet food easily spoils so it has to be thrown away at the end of the day.
Hong Kong has thousands of restaurants for a certain reason. Tourists love to try local and international cuisines while locals love to dine outdoors, whether it’s a casual night out or a family tradition. Beyond enjoying a hearty meal with family and friends, we should start thinking of reducing food waste not only because we can save more on restaurant bills but also realize that food is a finite commodity that, in some parts of the world, has been dwindling and caused people a great deal of distress.
Friends of the Earth (FOE) estimates that about 20 percent of food served at banquets is wasted. The group sent delegates to four wedding banquets serving Chinese dishes in hotels and served more than 1,200 guests. The combined food waste weighed 400kg, about 22 percent of the total food served. FOE also noted that desserts, which usually came at the end of the meal were already being snubbed by diners already full or carefully watching their weight. Perhaps, we go to banquets not primarily to eat, but to socialize.
Some dishes such as fried rice and noodles were untouched when they headed back to the kitchen en route to the dumpster. This observation on food waste is not only at banquets; disposal of waste food, other than that fed to swine and cattle, also adds to the thousands of tons of garbage heading to landfills. Food waste coming through the sanitary sewers from garbage disposal units is treated along with other sewage and contributes to sludge.
We may marvel at how Hong Kong is a paradise for food lovers, with a handful of Michelin-awarded restaurants and a wide variety of dishes from places near and far. But somehow food waste is not exactly how we appreciate food correctly. We not only waste our money spent on unconsumed food, but we deprive other people to partake of this basic necessity. It has been known that Hong Kong society is a wasteful one. We can pin the blame on ourselves for not being responsible enough, but also on how things are enforced – or the lack thereof. Changing weather patterns reduce farm outputs in many places in the world. Widespread floods and extreme weather conditions not only disrupt holiday travelers but also destroy farmlands and affect food supplies.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization report in October 2010 revealed that 925 million people worldwide do not have enough food to eat – more than the combined population of the United States, Canada and the European Union. Ninety-eight percent of them live in developing countries. More than 70 percent of the world’s 146 million underweight children under five years of age live in just 10 countries, with more than 50 percent located in South Asia alone. Malnutrition contributes to 53 percent of the 9.7 million deaths of children under five each year in developing countries, according to UNICEF. Maybe not a lot of us see these figures before we throw away food.
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Hong Kong imports most of its food so as long as there are exporters willing to take our dollars, we’re okay. But what if in extreme cases those countries decide not to sell their commodities amid shortage in supply? I think it is a bit of a long shot for now, but not impossible in the future. It’s about time restaurants, hotels and even at home we practice resourcefulness before that unthinkable situation takes place.
The government can certainly help in reducing food waste. Certain countries implement food disposal fees to discourage food waste. While I don’t think this will be very effective here in Hong Kong, at least efforts to mitigate the problem could lead to a change in people’s behavior and lifestyles. Other practical methods to reduce food waste include sharing dishes with friends or family or incentives for asking waiters to serve smaller portions. We not only save extra dollars, but more importantly we help preserve the earth’s dwindling resources in our own little way (Cagape, 2011).
Leftovers for the needy: It’s not that hard
According to Lazarus (2010), more than 14 million Americans were out of work as of last month. The national unemployment rate is 9.3%; California’s jobless rate is a staggering 12.3%. Fedmeister Ben Bernanke said last week that high unemployment is keeping the economic outlook “unusually uncertain.”
Yet as families everywhere struggle to get by, officials and businesses are still dithering over how to get unwanted food to shelters, food pantries and other resources for the down and out.
As I reported more than a year ago, California caterers, hotels and restaurants throw out roughly 1.5 million tons of perfectly good food every year, according to the state Integrated Waste Management Board.
This isn’t the still-edible food that many stores routinely donate to community groups once expiration dates are passed. No, we’re talking whole meals – the stuff in the steam trays at banquets and other functions – that frequently end up in the dumpster because no one tried to get them to those who might want or need it.
“Feeding people who are going hungry has always been a pressing issue,” said Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar. “But now it’s not just homeless people we’re talking about. It’s families. It’s children.”
The L.A. City Council last week approved Huizar’s proposal that all city departments adopt policies facilitating donation of leftover food from public programs and events to organizations that feed the hungry.
“I’m looking at the City of Los Angeles to be an example to others,” he told me. “Donating surplus food should be as common as recycling. It should be part of our everyday lives.”
It should. And such altruism can’t be confined solely to the public sector. The real trick is getting businesses to also play ball.
Unfortunately, California’s restaurant industry has come out with guns blazing any time a lawmaker has had the temerity to suggest that maybe we should require businesses to donate leftover food to those who need it.
“There’s a big concern among some restaurants about the legal liability,” said Daniel Conway, a spokesman for the California Restaurant Assn. “There’s a real feeling that one lawsuit could wipe a restaurant out.”
The fear, of course, is that donated food could go bad and make people sick. But there’s an answer to that.
A federal law, the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, was passed in 1996. It shields individuals and organizations from civil and criminal liability when food is donated to a nonprofit group.
To run afoul of the law, a donor would have to commit an act of “gross negligence,” defined as “voluntary and conscious conduct” that is “likely to be harmful to the health or well-being of another person.”
Conway said that legal concerns aside, the bigger worry for restaurants and other food businesses is logistics.
“We just don’t know how you would get all this food to the groups that want it,” he said.
It’s a fair point. Here’s my suggestion: Let’s pass a law that requires restaurants and other food businesses to notify clients that leftover food can be donated to nonprofit organizations rather than be thrown out.
If the client approves (and who wouldn’t?) the business would then post what’s up for grabs, and the time and place it’s available, on a state-run website – a Craigslist for cuisine.
Nonprofit groups that have registered with the program would monitor the site. If they have the capability to safely pick up, transport and store the food, they’d lay claim to the goodies. First come, first served.
State Sen. Jenny Oropeza (D-Long Beach) introduced legislation in 2008 that would have imposed the modest requirement that caterers simply inform clients they have the option of donating uneaten food to charity.
That bill was shot down by the restaurant association, which argued that such a requirement would be too troublesome for its members.
Oropeza has a new bill, SB 1269, that would leave restaurants alone. It would merely require the state Department of Food and Agriculture and the Department of Public Health to post information on their respective websites reminding potential donors about the federal Good Samaritan law.
That’s not good enough. I asked Conway at the restaurant association what he thought of the idea of an online exchange for leftovers. He said he’d have to see the details of such a plan, but it’s not something he’d dismiss out of hand.
“That’s certainly something we would discuss,” Conway said.
I would imagine that if donors and recipients could routinely meet online, new nonprofits would emerge specializing in getting food from Point A to Point B.
The Rev. Andy Bales, chief executive of Union Rescue Mission in the skid row section of downtown L.A., said organizations like his would welcome any measure that would boost the amount of food available to the hungry.
As it stands, the rescue mission serves as many as 4,900 meals a day. And it’s not enough.
“We’re seeing more families, more children,” Bales said. “It would certainly help alleviate poverty if there was a better way to share leftover food.”
No Soup for You: The Fight for Leftovers
A certain Italian restaurant chain on Queen West serves a well-executed beef carpaccio. Forgivable then, that after a classic case of big eyes, tiny stomach, I wanted to take the rest home to eat while watching The Good Wife.
“Sorry, that’s not possible,” my server said firmly but apologetically.
“Pardon? Why not?” I asked.
“We can’t give you carpaccio to take home as it’s raw beef and you might get sick eating it later,” she explained.
“Ok, well I’m going to eat it in about an hour and I know the risks so why don’t you just go pack it up now?” I said, turning back to my dining companion. The server lingered uncertainly.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “I really can’t do that.”
“Look, I can’t believe I’m having this conversation,” I said, peeved. “Please wrap it up. I’ll sign a waiver if you like.”
The conversation went on for several minutes, ending in exquisite agitation on both sides. I left soon after, snackless and – bad pun alert – with a rotten taste in my mouth.
As Carrie Bradshaw says, I got to thinking. If taking home raw marinated beef is a health hazard, shouldn’t every sushi delivery place in Toronto enforce the same precautions? Surely raw leftover fish is at least as dangerous as raw beef. So what’s the beef? I’m obviously not going to try to heat up a dish that was served to me cold. I’m not a psycho.
A few weeks later, I was flipping through Toronto Life when I came across a letter from a reader, saying Little Italy eatery Acadia had refused to pack up his $23 leftover entrée. My heart leapt. There were others like me out there, suffering at the hands of carpaccio-Nazis.
Why has this disturbing trend begun? There is no legal reason that I can glean from food safety literature or from calling the manager of said Italian eatery. In fact, a government-sanctioned website named Eat Right Ontario encourages taking home leftover food as a weight management tool. “Enjoy half of your meal now and take the other half home for another meal. You won’t waste any food, and leftovers make a great lunch!” it says.
If a restaurant has a no leftovers policy, they should state it prominently on the menu. No one orders food with the explicit intention of taking it home, so unless you are an anorexic with a recently stapled stomach, you will be able to finish most meals at “nice” restaurants as they are properly proportioned. But if you don’t, what will they do with half a piece of salmon? Reuse it?
Legally, a restaurant cannot refuse you taking your leftover food home. It can only refuse to give you a container for it. So it really depends on how badly you want to commit social suicide – the chef can’t stop you from packing up your own Tupperware or a Ziploc bag. But, God willing, your sense of shame will stop you.
There are some occasions where it is inappropriate ask for leftovers, but more so you don’t look like a fool. For example, don’t ask for a doggy bag at a job interview lunch. Don’t ask for one on a date unless you plan on scoring points by giving it away to a homeless person right after, especially if you don’t know where you’ll end up at after the meal. Plus, sometimes the homeless have a lot of moxie (not to mention delusions of grandeur – I have actually had my offerings from Sassafraz unceremoniously handed back to me), so just don’t bother. Oh, and don’t do it in Paris. It horrifies them apparently. But the French are incomprehensively superior about everything anyway so don’t worry too much about that one.
Isn’t asking for a doggie bag a testament to the skill of the chef? Or is it? Something about the term doggie bag is innately unflattering and needs to be revamped immediately, especially since only Marie Antoinette would actually feed tuna tartare to a dog. Well maybe I would, but only if it really didn’t taste good. And it was someone else’s dog.
Now no one is suggesting that you do something preposterous like ask for a takeout box at a buffet or an all-you-can-eat. Although once, I saw a man on a 2-hour flight ask the flight attendant to pack up his meal to go. And she did it with no question or objection. I have even seen diners ask for their bread and butter to be packed up, and not even soft, tasty bread. It seems like servers have heard it all before, so why worry about looking tacky? It is the fundamental right of every Canadian to be tacky. It is your right to make gross choices, like eating reheated fish with nutella. Go ahead: Indulge in that cold, day-old taste straight from the styrofoam. Over the sink. You shall not be judged (Sheikh, 2012).
Restaurant Fines Diners for Leftover Food
Many of our parents told us to clean our plates when we were children – but they never charged us for the leftovers if we failed. Now a restaurant in Dammam, Saudi Arabia, has recently imposed a policy charging patrons if they cannot finish their meals.
According to GulfNews.com, many of Marmar’s customers order more food than they can eat as a way of touting their status. They then leave plates of leftovers, which owner Fahad Al Anezi finds most frustrating. So, in an effort to prevent wasted food, he has started charging the greedy patrons for the leftover food. The fines are calculated by Al Anezi based on the amount of food left on the table (Sterling, 2011).
Why Does So Much Food Waste Happen in Restaurants?
In this, my final post in the series on the topic of reducing food waste in restaurant kitchens, I want to examine why there is so much waste of food in American restaurants today, and ways that consumers can help reduce this waste.
There are a lot of reasons behind the colossal waste of food that goes on in the restaurant industry, but I would say that one of the largest causes has to do with corporate restaurant policy regarding the treatment of leftovers.
When I say leftovers, I am not talking about what comes back on diner’s plates at the end of the meal-that is a separate issue which I will discuss in a little bit. I am talking about corporate chain restaurant policy regarding the disposal of food that is left on the steam table, in the display rack or in the warming oven at the end of the night shift. The food that can be reheated one more time without bacterial contamination risk or loss of food quality is always saved, cooled properly and refrigerated to be rewarmed the next day, but what about the rest of the food that is quite often still good to eat, but will suffer in looks or taste if it is warmed over the next day. (Most corporate restaurants lack the flexibility in menu that independent restaurants have, so it is not often that you will see a leftover from one day transformed into something else as a dinner special the next day. Consistency is one of the watchwords of the corporate food world, and in the name of the “C-word,” a lot of edible food is thrown away.)
You would think that restaurants would give this food to their employees, or better yet, donate it to a local food bank, food pantry or church soup kitchen to be served to the homeless and impoverished people for whom hunger is a daily reality.
But, alas, that is most often not the case.
Most corporate chain restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries and the like have a very strict policy of dumping this perfectly good food out into the dumpster, which is often locked and behind enclosures in order to keep enterprising individuals from “harvesting” or saving this food. (If these enclosed or locked bins tampered with, even by a hungry person, they can then be arrested and charged not with just vandalism for breaking the locks, but for breaking and entering and theft. Imagine being charged with stealing garbage-the whole point of garbage is that the former owner of it no longer wants it, so why is it illegal for someone else to take it before it is heaped into a landfill?) Employees who are caught taking food of this kind home or eating it, or donating it are treated as thieves and are often fired.
Why are such draconian and ridiculously wasteful policies the norm in the corporate food industry?
There are two reasons. One has to do with the fear of food loss through employee theft. Yes, that is right-corporations are so afraid of losing money through employee theft that they waste just as much, if not more, money throwing away imperfect, but still edible food. The reasoning behind this somewhat obtuse concept is that if you have day old muffins that must go out, and fresh muffins, and if you give the employees the day old-still palatable, but not quite the best-to employees to eat or take home, then you would have no way of knowing if they were taking the day old muffins which you were going to throw away or the fresh ones.
The reason why food is not donated to hunger relief organizations has to do with the fear of being legally liable if, due to improper storage or reheating after the food is released into the hands of whatever individuals or organizations to which it is donated, someone or a group of persons fall ill from food borne disease.
That sounds like a reasonable fear, unless one knows about the federal law which protects organizations, corporations and individuals who donate food in good faith to non-profit organizations for the relief of hunger, from legal liability in the unlikely case of illness related to the food donation.
This law, called The Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act, came into effect in 1996, so there is really no excuse for corporate restaurant chains to -not- donate their food to the needy through non-profit organizations.
It is possible that many corporate policy makers do not know about the law, which is where employees and consumers can step up to the plate and attempt to make a change in the rules that allow so much edible food to be thrown away from corporate kitchens. Ask managers of individual restaurants what their policy is for donating leftovers, and if they cite liability, inform them of this law, and then call a corporate hotline, email the headquarters, or even better, write them a letter, telling them about the law and asking them to change their policies regarding food donation. Whichever course of action you take, get your friends on board, and if you work in a corporate chain restaurant, talk to your managers and see if you can get them to talk to their managers. Send letters to the board of directors or the president of the company. You may be surprised at how effective such communication can be-corporations will not change their policies if there is no complaints, but a volley of complaints, especially those in writing, tend to get the attention of those who are high enough in the hierarchy to do something about it.
You can also work with America’s Second Harvest on these issues, and try and get your local restaurants, both independent and corporate chains, to try and cut down rampant food waste by donating unused food to food pantries, soup kitchens and homeless shelters.
In contrast, most independent restaurants do not have such unreasonable policies regarding the disposal of unused, unsellable, but still edible food. Every independent restaurant where I have worked has either given such food to employees, or sold it to them at a very low cost, in the interest of both feeding their employees and not wasting food. Many of the independents where I have worked also donated food to homeless shelters and food banks quite generously, even before the Good Samaritan law was in effect. Many other independent restaurants will donate food to various groups for free-for example, at Salaam, we donated lots of uneaten dinner and lunch specials which were still great that day, but wouldn’t be good the next day to the Obama campaign workers who had come to town during the Ohio primary. These folks appreciated the hot food and salads, and we appreciated being able to offer support that wasn’t monetary, but was still necessary and meaningful.
One other reason there is so much food waste in American restaurants, especially in chain restaurants, is the gargantuan portion sizes that have become the norm. Some chain restaurants, like The Cheesecake Factory, have portion sizes so ridiculously large, they don’t serve their entrees on plates, they serve them on oval platters, or as Zak quipped the one time we ate there as his dinner was set before him, “Here comes the trough!” Apparently, frequent diners at such restaurants take their uneaten food home, but when we were there, our table only sent back what we couldn’t eat on our dirty plates, and we saw many diners do the same. Some tables sent away so much food that another three or four people could have been fed on w
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