As a restaurant owner, one of the most important things you can do is find the right meat suppliers. You’ll need the perfect combination of quality, freshness, price, and availability in order to ensure your dishes taste delicious and do not put your customers at an undue safety risk. Here are some questions you should ask your restaurant meat suppliers that will help you choose the right ones.
Visiting a Warehouse
One of the best ways to find reputable meat vendors is to visit their facilities firsthand. That way, you can see for yourself how products are stored and handled. Whenever possible, choose meat suppliers that are less than an hour’s drive from your restaurant. If an online search does not provide any results, contact some other local eateries to find out which ones they use.
Ideally, a supplier will perform some slaughtering and packaging functions in-house, and will be able to tell you:
- What if any difference there is between their slaughter date and package date.
- Whether or not they butcher locally-grown beef, pork, or chicken (this is often a selling point for many independently-owned restaurants.)
- How farm animals are fed and raised.
- Whether fish or seafood is wild caught or farm raised.
Checking out the Facility
Once you have the answers to these questions, it is then time to check out the facility. Pay special attention to:
- Refrigerators and freezers to ensure that there is adequate space and that temperatures are properly controlled.
- The overall cleanliness of the building, both inside and out.
- How the facility smells. It should not have a foul odor, nor should the smell from cleaning products be too overwhelming.
- Employee dress and hygiene. Workers should have clean hands and fingernails and be wearing the appropriate protective gear such as gloves.
- Whether or not there are signs of an insect or rodent infestation.
Dealing with the Specifics
If you are satisfied with what you see, you are then ready to narrow down some specifics. Some questions you will want to have answers for include:
- Can you guarantee deliveries at a specific date and time?
- How will you keep my meat fresh while it is being transported?
- What are your procedures for a recall?
- Will you guarantee me a full refund in the event my meat is spoiled or contaminated?
- How often do your prices change? How much advance notice can I expect before a price increase?
- Are there extra charges for split cases or special orders?
- Do you have minimum order amounts?
The process of finding the right meat vendor can be tiring, but is one that is necessary in order to ensure the success of your restaurant.