Read on for tips on how to run the back of the house efficiently, because it does affect the entire flow of the restaurant.
The kitchen. As a little kid, naïve to how food makes it to your plate when it is not conveniently wrapped in a cardboard to-go box with a toy gifted inside, you would look at those revolving double doors as a magical place. A place where the person with the notepad who was just at your table disappears behind only to return with plates of goodies that were exactly what you wanted. Mountains of French fries would hang over the side of the plate and you could barely keep the juiciness from your cheeseburger from falling onto your clothes, reminding you why your mother told you to put a napkin on your lap. You would get excited the times your parents would take you to dinner, and always mesmerized at what’s going on behind those double doors. Was it a playroom for the workers when they needed a break? Could you take naps back there and indulge on an endless stack of cookies whenever there was a lull in the day? If only the restaurant world was more like what your childhood mind imagined.
But really, what does go on behind the scenes to make everything else operate with ease? And for restaurant owners, how do you run it so smoothly where customers take notice? Read on for tips on how to run the back of the house efficiently, because it does affect the entire flow of the restaurant.
Listen to Employees Feedback
You may have in your head that you concocted the perfect system for your kitchen staff to seamlessly follow with no problem. You think that there is no need for improvement because you found a process that works for you. However, while you may often lend a hand in the kitchen, what works for you may not be what works for the rest of your kitchen staff. Or all the hours they’ve spent in the kitchen has helped them develop some new ideas of their own to bring to the table. According to MBB Hospitality, a true leader listens to his or her staff and is willing to see the process through their eyes and listen to their recommendations. Leaving room for open communication with your staff could enlighten you with some great ideas and give you a different perspective. They will also be happy to have a boss who listens to their ideas, prompting them to be more open with you in the future.
Streamline Your Menu
Did you craft your menu to include pretty much everything you tried on your backpacking trip throughout Europe? While a wide range of menu options is ideal for some customers who like to experience a different dish each time they visit your restaurant, even the most experienced chefs may not list every type of food as their specialty. Make sure that everything on the menu is something that your kitchen can handle. It is better to have a smaller, more specific menu that your cooks can deliver flawlessly than a large amount of options made at a poorer quality. Also, choose recipes that include ingredients that you know fit into your budget.
Maintain an Inventory System
Which brings me to my next tip: putting a good inventory system in place to avoid unexpectedly running out of food. When you have a crowd, all craving shrimp tacos and you conveniently ran out of shrimp last night, the worst thing is having to tell those guests that it is unavailable. Routinely check your inventory and keep note of what you need more of to prevent this from happening again. But please don’t waste food. Next time, you can also review your orders to see if there are some ingredients you are not using anymore to save you from purchasing those products next time.
Prep Ahead of Time
While it is best to have the customer’s meal prepared as fresh as possible, there are certain preparations that can happen ahead of time. Things that can be done in advance that will save you a tremendous amount of time when cooking is peeling potatoes or cutting limes. Don’t feel like you are cheating the customer out of a fresh meal and it’s suddenly going to taste like a TGI Friday’s microwavable dinner when you prepare ahead of time. Getting some ingredients ready in the morning to be used in the afternoon will increase efficiency, making it one less thing you must do in the moment. The customer will receive their food quicker and it will still taste fresher than ever.
So, to the childhood you that always wondered what goes on behind the double doors in a restaurant kitchen, it may not be snack or nap time, but it is pretty magical. The back of the house is where the restaurant experience is cultivated and when run efficiently, your guests will notice.
About the Author: Courtney Ciandella has been the sole Marketing liason for Bielat Santore & Company since 2013. She is also the conductor behind the Who’s Who in the Restaurant Industry and Restaurant Tip of the Month series.