Ecolab has shared a case study detailing how its equipment can ensure restaurants can work more safely and sustainably around the world.
The company told the story of The Buttered Tin, an eatery located in an up-and-coming part of St. Paul’s revitalizing downtown, just a stones’ throw from Ecolab’s headquarters.
According to Ecolab, owner Alicia Hinze was one of the first to open her doors in the area when the revival began.
She had originally worked for two years in human resources for a big retail chain but decided corporate life wasn’t for her.
After an internship as a wedding cake decorator, Hinze knew she was a natural, and she later graduated from the renowned Le Cordon Bleu Cooking school and opened The Buttered Tin in 2013.
One of the first things she did when she started the restaurant, was call Ecolab.
She said: “Every place I had ever worked at had Ecolab products and Dishmachines.
“I knew that Ecolab knows what it’s doing. And now the Ecolab people are here several times a week. We’ve become real partners. They’re part of the family.”
Ecolab sales manager Max Date, who services The Buttered Tin on a regular basis, said the feeling was mutual.
He said: “To us, The Buttered Tin is part of the family, too. It’s great to work so closely with a customer, solve challenges they may face and help them make their business better. And we like to stay for lunch whenever we can, because Alicia’s pastries are so awesome.”
Ecolab says that because of consumers’ evolving preferences independent restaurants like The Buttered Tin and regional chains are steadily gaining market share, with almost 250,000 independent restaurants in the U.S. alone.
And while the large chains have dedicated supply chain, sustainability and food safety teams, independent restaurateurs often have to work things out for themselves – and that is where Ecolab comes in.
Testing Ecolab’s high-temperature under-counter dishmachine in the real world, Hinze is helping the company determine how the equipment can be optimized to use less water, energy and chemistry.
According to Ecolab, the lessons learned at small restaurants like this, will ultimately help the whole sector operate more efficiently and sustainably.
Alyssa Hantzsch, a field-testing engineer within Ecolab’s Institutional division, said that field test locations like The Buttered Tin are indispensable.
She said: “These machines do the same thing your home dishwasher does, but in 90 seconds instead of 90 minutes. At the Buttered Tin, the machine runs more than 120 times a day. We strive to work with locations like that, because you can’t replicate an actual restaurant setting in a lab. This is how we can see if our machines are maintaining the performance and durability that we expect.”
At the Buttered Tin, Hinze insists on the best food safety practices.
She hires mainly restaurant veterans for her kitchen, all managers must have National Restaurant Association ServSafe certification as well as the State of Minnesota’s own food safety certificate, and new employees are put through the restaurant’s own comprehensive training program.
She said: “It’s on my mind all the time, and Ecolab is helping us keep everything sanitized: floors, tables and prep areas. I check the dishes constantly. You always have to make sure your employees and managers are on top of it.”
With the original Buttered Tin location firmly established as a local favorite, Hinze is working on expansion plans. Just like the first time around, sustainability is at the top of her priority list.
While she’s already composting and recycling as much as possible at the existing Buttered Tin, she strives for zero waste at the new locations she’s prospecting.
For Hinze, Ecolab has become a one-stop shop for expertise on sustainability, food safety and the little things that help a restaurant run smoothly. When she eventually opens new locations, it won’t be any different, she explains.
She said: “It starts with the floor plan. Where do we put the Ecolab dishwasher and the products? Or even just the floor itself: Ecolab tells us which products to use and how to clean it. How do you minimize energy and water usage? It’s really important to get that right, because you can save products and time.”