As a restaurant manager or owner, your to-do list can be a bit overwhelming, but you know every little detail does count, especially in the kitchen. While unfortunately there will never be more than 24 hours in a day, there are ways to run a more efficient kitchen.
Here are 9 way to make your restaurant kitchen run more efficiently:
Listen to Your Employees’ Feedback
We all get set in our ways and believe that the way we run things is the best way, the only way, but a true leader listens to his or her staff and is willing to see the process through their eyes and listen to their recommendations.
Try observing a full service to get a real picture of the workflow in the kitchen and then talk to each member of the kitchen staff about ways to help them be more efficient. Being too controlling can back fire. Instead teach your staff to work independently and they will feel more invested in their job.
Streamline Your Menu
While you would love to impress your guests with complex, unique dishes, you might not always have the right ingredients, equipment and skilled staff to do so. Be practical and streamline your menu to what you have in the kitchen and what your staff does well. Everything on your menu needs to be something that your kitchen can handle efficiently without putting undue burden on your staff. Choose recipes that include ingredients that you know fit into your budget and concentrate on making them the best they can be. Good food is more about taste than presentation.
Create An Employee Manual
While this might just seem like busy work, it is actually very important to have well-established standard operating procedures that all staff are up to date on. It helps ensure consistent quality throughout the kitchen. Make sure your staff are constantly reviewing these procedures and always do spot checks to make sure they are following every step. And don’t be afraid to update the standard operating procedures if new laws or regulations come out or you find a better way of doing things.
Set Up an Efficient Inventory System
Nothing is worse than running out of key ingredients in the middle of the dinner rush. Avoid this embarrassment by having a good inventory system in place so you know when you need to restock. It is also important not to waste food either so regularly review your standard orders to see if there are some ingredients you aren’t really using anymore.
Don’t Discount Human Communication and Talent
Every business today is always searching for new ways technology can make them more profitable and efficient and the restaurant industry is no different. Whether it is newfangled devices to cook with or a state of the art point of sales system, technology can be a restaurant manager or owner’s friend. But remember sometimes old-fashioned human communication and skill is better. For instance, it doesn’t matter how much expensive equipment you have in the kitchen, you still need a skilled to chef to create the mouthwatering dishes your guests are expecting. And when technology lags, nothing is quicker than having the wait staff communicate changes in orders directly to the kitchen staff. You can always update the computer system later. It is more important to let the kitchen know as quickly as possible.
Create Specific Work Stations in the Kitchen
To prevent bottlenecks from happening in the kitchen, make sure there are clear work spaces carved out in the kitchen for different duties. Also have separate areas for inventory to come in the door and for finished meals to go out to the customer. With smaller kitchen staffs this might not be as feasible, but try to find what works best for you. The key is to make sure that the food stays safe and not contaminated and that staff are not all trying to use the same space and equipment at the same time. Cross-contamination of food is a serious concern for guests with food allergies.
When creating out these work stations, evaluate if the chef will have everything he or she will need close by to do their job. For instance do they have easy access to a sink and the refrigerator? Are the ingredients they need easily at hand?
Assign Daily Prep to Someone You Trust
Not having a clean, well-stocked kitchen at the start of a shift can really set back your chefs. Even simple things like knives that need to be sharpened could slow things down. Assign someone you trust to make sure all equipment is clean and in working order and that the kitchen is well-stocked with ingredients before the doors of the restaurant open.
Do What Prep You Can Ahead of Time
While freshness of meal is vital and more and more people prefer made to order dishes, there is always certain preparations that can happen ahead of time to increase efficiency. For instance if you are making tacos, you can have the meat cooked and ready to go when the orders start coming in. Or you can have the potatoes peeled and cut up to make mashed potatoes.
Invest in Your Staff
Of course, the most important ingredient for an efficient and successful kitchen is highly-skilled and hard-working staff. And for that you need to be willing to invest time and money in hiring and training the best kitchen crew possible. If you show you staff that you want to help them be the best they can be in their job then they will work hard for you and remain loyal. You also want a staff that believes in your restaurant’s mission and are excited about carrying it out.
None of this will happen overnight, but if you start making small improvements every day, you will be amazed at how much more efficient your kitchen will run and you will have happier customers and staff to prove it. Being open to change and being willing to work hard a long side your staff are the signs of a good leader.