For as long as I can remember this important uniform accessory has been a manager’s nightmare, an owner’s financial downfall, and a waiter’s best friend. Seldom, however does anyone actually realize the important role something as simple as an apron contributes to the overall picture of your restaurant.
I also looked forward to the linen delivery because it meant clean aprons for everyone – especially the crew in the kitchen. Nothing bothered me more, as an owner, than to look around and see everyone in the kitchen sporting a sauce stained apron. Little did I know that the apron count for the kitchen, combined with the aprons for the dishwashers and the dining room team was costing about $500.00 dollars per month. Of course this wasn’t just for cleaning. This was for replacement of the aprons that made their way to other bars, restaurants, living rooms, bedrooms and backseats of taxi cabs and buses.
My managers – who took the brunt of my financial astonishment- also, had to face the pressure of the apron fiasco. Whenever we ran out of aprons, they had to figure a solution. That was seldom an easy task. Plus, nothing stands out against crisp white tablecloths and linen napkins than a dirty apron or worse, almost, a waiter sans apron.
And of course the waiters, no matter how professional they attempted to be, seldom realize that a clean or dirty apron is the first point of apparel that a customer views at eye level. Dirty aprons prove directly conducive to decreasing tips – it’s almost a guarantee… Yet, some waiters infrequently think about appearance and tips.
And, frankly, nobody is unscathed by the apron dilemma. Take Starbucks as an example. I stop at four to five Starbucks on a daily basis on my drive into
I was both pleased and dismayed the other day when I stopped into one of the regular Starbucks I frequent and one of the first string Baristas was walking out of the store arms filled with dirty green aprons. When I asked where she was going she told me that she was taking the aprons home to wash them. The other staff members had left them in a pile and she felt compelled to launder them. Naturally I fired off three ideas on how to get the staff to clean and launder their own aprons: Why don’t you send them home if they come in without an apron? – Why don’t you cut them out of the tip split? – Why don’t you just make it mandatory that they clean their own aprons?
Of course these ideas didn’t come to at that very moment. I had used them – to no avail or success- in the past. The key for every manager, owner, and waiter – forget about the tricks, and threats and education for those who pay no attention to their clean aprons. Find that one person, that star, that leader on your team to walk out onto
When you do that, you have solved your apron problem – for a while….