Wild Wing Café is a 33-location southern wing chain based in South Carolina. For almost two decades the company used the same oil-management process that has been around since Buffalo sauce first met the chicken wing.
The old oil-management process, which is common in many kitchens, was messy and cumbersome. Employees poured jugs of cooking oil into fryers by hand and manually siphoned hot, used cooking oil into pots and placed them onto carts for disposal. Employees pushed the carts through the kitchen to the outdoor grease dumpster – oil splashing on its way. Spills, slips and burns occurred often, and the frequent need for cleanups was a drain on employee efficiency.
Despite the knowledge that oil quality could alter the texture, color and taste of fried food, Wild Wing Café’s management wasn’tsure how to maintain consistent oil quality. A way was needed to improve safety in the kitchens, as well as food quality and consistency. With increasing poultry costs – plus drought conditions driving up commodity prices (e.g., corn and soybeans) – optimizing oil management became urgent as Wild Wing Cafe looked to optimize costs in each location.
Improved quality and ROI
Seldom can food quality be improved while simultaneously increasing profitability, but Wild Wing Café managed to do just that with the help of an automated oil management system from Restaurant Technologies Inc. (RTI). The heart of the technology is a closed-loop system that includes two tanks installed near the fryer. One contains fresh oil to refresh or replace the oil when needed. The other tank holds the used cooking oil. Both tanks are connected by separate lines that extend to a secure fill-box mounted on the restaurant’s exterior. The chain reduced annual oil use by almost 14,000 pounds and $150,000 across 13 company-owned stores, offsetting some of the cost of rising food prices.
Operators don’t have to worry about the volume of oil on-hand because RTI remotely monitors oil levels and routes trucks when needed to fill the fresh oil tank, while simultaneously pumping out the old oil and hauling it away. All employees have to do is hold the filling wand and press a button.
The days of storing jugs of oil, manually hauling hot oil-filled vats to the dumpster and scrubbing to remove greasy oil residue are over for our employees. There’s no question that Wild Wing Café employees love the new system. It makes their jobs a lot easier, cleaner and, more importantly, safer.
Instant insight for managers
The Wild Wing Cafe management team wanted to optimize oil filtration to ensure that the oil we use stays at the highest quality during use. Proper oil filtration extends the life of the oil, so fried food tastes better and less oil is bought over time. To manage consistent filtration practices, the RTI Total Oil Management online software portal is used to access oil-monitoring data collected from sensors located on our fryers. The online dashboard shows actual filtration start and stop times for each store. This data ensures managers are equipped with real-time insight into the oil-management practices.
Managers can view metrics and statistics such as filtration time and frequency, oil usage, etc. – data we need to change employee behavior. Local restaurant and regional managers can view the data via the Web to see whether employees are following proper restaurant and filtration procedures. If any standard operating procedures are not followed, the system flags it and we can use it as an opportunity to find out why, and retrain employees if necessary.
Training provided by RTI has also contributed to the successful conversion to modern oil management. Wild Wing Cafe went through a robust educational process where RTI sent a service team member and installer to each restaurant for installation and training of managers and staff. Employees learned more than how to operate and manage the system. They learned why it was installed and how it would ultimately make their jobs easier.