A Modern Restaurant Kitchen’s Guide for Dealing with a Drought

Jun 06, 2022

There are some things restaurant owners can control and some things they can’t. While you can offer premiere manager training to get your kitchen working like a well-oiled machine, unfortunately, you can’t control the climate. One of the toughest conditions to work through is a drought. Sadly, dealing with drought conditions has become a common predicament in certain parts of the US.

What is a Drought?

According to National Geographic, a drought is characterized by below-average precipitation. This affects the amount of water in rivers, streams, and lakes, but more importantly to the restaurant industry, it affects the amount of moisture in the soil. This can impact growing conditions, yielding less food.

The Current Situation in California

Parts of California are currently in a drought, and water restrictions began on June 1, 2022. However, this is not an unusual situation for California climate-wise. The US Drought Monitor was established in 2000 to start recording droughts, and since then, the longest drought in California since then lasted 376 weeks. Furthermore, this is not a problem that is unique to California. As far as other states go, Nevada and Arizona have experienced drought conditions more than 50 percent of the time in the past 20 years. States west of the Mississippi typically have been hit harder by droughts than those in the east. These dry conditions end up impacting several industries, from hotels to restaurants. Here are a few ways restaurant owners can cope.

The Supply Chain

A drought in California affects more Americans than you’d think. Two-thirds of the country’s fruits and nuts come from California. As a result of this water shortage, fewer crops can grow, and prices are higher for everyone. These changes can significantly impact a restaurant’s profits if they don’t make some compromises.

One possibility is removing a menu item if it becomes too expensive or rebranding it as a new recipe to include an ingredient that is easier to obtain. Restaurant owners may have to consider changes to pricing and value. Customers are sensitive to price increases, but if you are forced to cut corners to get through this challenging time, research shows that slightly decreasing the quantity of a portion is the way to go.


Serving Water

In a drought, it’s a best not to serve water to patrons unless it’s requested. Currently, this restriction is being enforced and checked by the Conservation Response Unit in California.

Train your team to follow these guidelines to stay in compliance and avoid unnecessary fines.


water on request


California’s drought has the potential to cut the availability of hydropower nearly in half, driving up the costs of electricity for businesses. As a result, restaurants will want to do their part to conserve energy. Energy Star offers many tips about this, including repairing leaky refrigerator gaskets, turning off items when not in use, trying smarter or dimmer lighting, and installing programmable thermostats.

Although a drought does not provide ideal circumstances for running a restaurant, leaders in the industry are nothing if not resilient. With a few changes, you’ll be able to make your business drought-proof for years to come.