Lyle's Blog

Oh Toaster, where are thou

Friday, January 16, 2009

A few years ago, I came up with this great idea with the help of the bread company manager. We would change the bread to a thicker slice which would greatly enhance the look of the plate and increase sales. Besides, we were a truck stop and were known for our large portions and it just seemed to fit.

My first problem was the toasters. We used pop down toasters and the bread did not fit. So, we purchased large opening toasters made for bagels and such. That worked OK but the size of the slice was larger and we had to turn the bread and re toast. This seemed to work for a while but the new toaster elements seemed to go out quicker and we had problems with toast toasted on one side.

I found a toaster that used a conveyor and figured that this would be the answer to all of our problems. It worked great for a while or at least until shortly before the warranty was out. We had to replace a couple of elements which seemed to irk the manufacture of the toaster who claimed that I was obviously misusing the machine. Our repairman quickly saw the problem, however. The large sliced bread was letting off some sort of vapor when heated. The vapor was covering the element and after a while the coating on the element caused the element to begin to overheat.

So, in 2007, I found the answer. A conveyor toaster that has metal elements. To me it seemed that it would solve all of our problems. Now all of these toasters were progressively more in price and this one came in at $850. I gulped as i paid the bill but if this solved the problems, then it would pay for itself in the end.

But, just as the first, the elements began burning out shortly before the end of the warranty. Like the first manufacture, this one put the obvious blame on us. Element after element was replaced at a huge cost. All this just to toast a slice of bread?!

Recently, our repairman told me that it was time to buy another toaster. I have talked to many manufacturers and all of them told me that their toasters were the best and hardly ever needed to have the elements replaced. And to top it off, the price on most of them are over $1000.

As I stared at the old toaster laboring on the line this morning, it hit me. The problem is in the bread. But, the customers love the large slices for the most part. Right now, it is a frustration to me as to what to do and I hate having to put so much energy into a machine that just toasts bread but unfortunately, it is a part of every breakfast order and must be addressed.

I called the bread manager up today. We will be sitting down on Tuesday to discuss what we can do about it. The funny thing looking back on all of this is, however, if I had not changed the bread all those years back, all of this would never have happened. But, because I did change the bread and now our customers are used to it, how will changing back affect us.

It is just one of those things that all restaurateurs must deal with. The problem might seem minor but the decision might make a major effect on the business.

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