Family meals first started as a way to feed the staff of a restaurant before the first diners arrived. While the tradition waxes and wanes at each location and chain, Firehouse Restaurant in Sacramento is keeping it alive. This restaurant puts on three meals each day for the staff alone. They feed up to 60 employees at a time with these meals, and that family atmosphere is part of what makes the staff so dedicated. Instead of recreating what’s already on the menu, the kitchen whips up hearty meals designed to keep the staff working through a long shift.
Of course, Firehouse Restaurant is far from the only location serving up food for their staff members. Some of the biggest names in modern cuisine, such as Spain’s elBulli, host at least one staff meal per day. This gives everyone a chance to sit together, enjoy a good meal, and socialize before going on the clock. The family meal helps everyone feel more like a family, and most of these meals are served informally to let employees fill up. Most meals are cooked by one or two line cooks at a time, giving the executive chef a break and letting the other kitchen members test out their skills.