With interactive tables and fingertip ordering, Inamo’s three London restaurants are renowned for their outstanding pan-Asian cuisine and pioneering use of technology. Now Inamo has gone a stage further by applying the latest cloud-based food safety management technology from Checkit (Checkit.net) to its kitchens.
This provides an additional assurance of high quality standards and complete compliance with food safety regulations.
By adopting the Checkit food safety management system at all three venues, the managers of Inamo have abandoned paper food safety records for the dozens of critical daily checks that need to be carried out and replaced these with innovative mobile handsets that prompt, record and report food safety tasks.
Lee Skinner, chief executive of Inamo, said: “Bringing Checkit’s cloud-based technology into the business was all about making food safety easier and giving the management teams more visibility and control over the routine activities that are happening on a daily basis. This improves confidence at all levels and ensures that we can maintain the reputation we’ve worked hard to build as a restaurant group.”
Inamo opened its first restaurant in Soho in 2008 and within two years it was named Time Out Restaurant of the Year. The founders, Noel Hunwick and Danny Potter, had been frustrated by slow service and lack of attention at restaurants and set about designing an interactive method of ordering. In doing so, they created the world’s first interactive dining table, using a unique projector system. This has since evolved and, as well as offering access to menus and the ability to order food and drinks instantly, diners can choose from a selection of virtual tablecloths, display their own photos, play games and even view a kitchen webcam.
Such was the acclaim for Inamo, from diners and food critics, that two more restaurants have since been launched: one in Covent Garden and the most recent addition being the Camden restaurant. In total, the three restaurants can seat up to 250 diners at any one time and frequently serve over 1000 covers each day.
The need to ensure consistently high standards across all three restaurants was one reason why Inamo chose the Checkit food safety management technology.
“Having come from a role where I was responsible for 200 sites across the country, compliance and consistency are in my DNA,” said Lee. “However, with Asian cuisine that involves sushi, there’s a particular need to ensure best practice in food hygiene and safety. Of course, our food safety procedures have always been fully documented but that was time-consuming, and there was the constant danger that paperwork could be lost or spoiled. What’s more, we had to use an external storage company to archive all of this paperwork, which was not only costly but inconvenient when we needed to retrieve information.”
A key advantage of the Checkit system is that data is recorded digitally via the handset and automatically uploaded to the Cloud, where it is stored securely. The data is converted into reports that are available to managers via an intuitive dashboard screen that’s accessible on PCs or mobile devices.
“At Inamo, we can now see whether each of our restaurants has carried out the required number of checks,” said Lee. “We also receive real-time notifications when a task has been missed, which enables us to respond immediately and find out why it was not carried out.”
Each Inamo restaurant has two Checkit handsets, one for the kitchen and one for front-of-house, which includes customised tasks such as cleaning and maintenance of the bar and toilets. Checkit automated monitoring sensors were also recently installed in the kitchen to provide continuous temperature monitoring of fridges and freezers and increased efficiency.
Lee explained that employees have enthusiastically embraced the new technology as an aid to their daily work. “People tend to be a little apprehensive about any new system but we managed to create some fun and excitement around the introduction of Checkit, to the point where members of staff were taking turns to try it out. A huge positive is that anyone on the team can be trained in minutes to use this device. For example, the kitchen porter now uses the temperature probe to check incoming deliveries, rather than the chefs having to do it. As a result, chefs no longer have to be on the premises at 9am. The return on investment is apparent very quickly.”
The team’s ability to immediately access and display reports during inspections is also a major advantage. “Since introducing Checkit we have had three inspections,” said Lee. “The response has been very favourable from the environmental health professionals who visit us. It’s quick and easy to show them the key information they need.”
The introduction of Checkit has had a hugely positive impact on daily operations at Inamo, making staff more efficient and giving managers the visibility they need whether they are on site or not. “It’s something that will save restaurants a lot of time and effort. I recommend it highly,” said Lee.
David Davies, managing director of Checkit, said: “Inamo clearly applies the highest standards to every aspect of its business, but its managers simply cannot be everywhere at once. They have embraced Checkit technology in the best possible way and recognise that consistently delivering best-in-class performance in hygiene and safety is also an important competitive advantage.
“Food safety is critical to the success of every food business. In this day and age, it is no longer viable to entrust something as important as food safety to paper-based checklists, which leave restaurants vulnerable to inaccuracies, lack of oversight and inefficiency. With digital food safety technology that is now available in the form of Checkit, it will become increasingly difficult for restaurants to justify managing food safety with paper records.”