White cotton napkins scream success. They are crisp and cool in the summer, warm and sexy in the winter. A thick starched and ironed cotton napkin makes all the difference in the world. And, that difference isn’t always a good thing. Especially when they are shoved in a bag on the back of the linen truck.
It made me sick. It was difficult to swallow. It was at the bottom of a box of receipts. A linen bill for a month. The number is too astronomical to even publish here. No laughing. No chuckling. I was working 18 to 20 hours a day, seven days each week for the linen company. And, also so my chefs could have clean coats, my dishwashers could have clean towels and the staff could use napkins as though they were paper.
I am sure there are a few of those white terry cloth towels floating around in the trunk of an ex employees car. My linen bill from times past certainly suggests that.
In cost cutting times the first place to scrutinize with a sharp pencil is your linen bill. Although is may not seem bad, I am sure it is. The bleach bucket, where you are supposed to keep those terry cloth towels probably doesn’t exist in your kitchen. Therefore, the stack of towels disappears faster than the peanuts on the bar.
I looked at the amount of towels and aprons, and napkins and chef coats I was purchasing each week and it appeared as though I were running two restaurants. I certainly needed to be in order to pay the bill on the bottom of the box.
I developed a little exercise that will help you develop realistic pars for your linen. Divide your weekly linen bill for napkins by the exact amount of customers you had for the same week. How many napkins are your customers using?
Now, divide the entire weekly linen bill by the amount of customer for the same period to find out how much linen costs per customer.
Once you have done this, have a staff meeting and let them know that they need to pay more attention to the amount of linen they are using each night.
The following week, after the meeting complete the same exercise and divides the linen by the customer count.
You’ll be surprised – suddenly not every customer needs four napkins. I have moved on to other boxes.