Keeping Tabs on Your Laundry Bill


From aprons and towels in the kitchen to tablecloths and napkins in the dining room, linen needs in a restaurant can be a huge expense— especially with the high costs of laundry services. If you have the room for a washer and dryer, consider doing your own laundry. Even with the expense of the washer and dryer and their maintenance, the extra labor costs and the water bill, you may still come out ahead.

For most operators, however, on-site laundering isn’t an option. That’s why you need to keep close tabs on what gets thrown into the laundry basket. Even if you can get a really good per-item price on laundering towels, aprons, etc., it won’t have a huge impact on your bottom line if your volume is too high. Take the time to audit what’s going out for laundry service. You might discover cooks are tossing aprons into the laundry basket after one minor spill or bussers are tossing dishcloths into the hamper after just one run out into the dining room.

Once you know your baseline, set up linen pars and hand out exactly what is reasonable to use each shift and within each area of the restaurant. If there are six cooks on duty, give each of them one apron to use. Establish set numbers for bar towels, dish towels for bus staff, and aprons for servers. With linen pars in place, you’ll have a better handle on what to expect to spend each month in the linen and laundry department.

Look at floor mat maintenance as well. Depending on the use of your rubber non-skid mats in areas of the restaurant, examine the cost of renting versus buying. In some cases, it may make sense to buy the mats and clean them internally while in other cases it makes more sense to let the linen company switch the mats out. Either way it is an expense, but far less costly than a slip and fall accident by a guest or employee. Safety first!

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