Your dining business needs a kitchen that is easy to work in if you're going to offer consistent fare. Because the consistent fare is what brings repeat customers back, you need to be able to support your staff without making radical changes to their workspaces. Training and communication are vital.
1. Improve Visibility
Restaurant kitchens can easily be packed to the ceiling with storage and, where needed, vent hoods. If you have a point-of-sale display screen to let chefs, sous chefs, and prep folks know the next order, it is critical that you make that screen as visible as possible.
This may be easier to do if you build out the wall behind the display screen. Building a box on the wall where you can mount the display screen will not only make it easier to read from several different angles but it can be constructed to reduce heat build-up behind the display. Such a mounting box may also make it easier to clean the screen; kitchens are sticky and your display monitors will need taken down and cleaned regularly.
2. Improve Workstations
Everyone needs easy access to the tools of their trade. Whether a kitchen employee is plating up dessert or grilling a steak, they need to quickly be able to grab the chocolate drizzle or the proper seasoning to bring out the flavor.
To that end, invite your long-time kitchen employees to show you what aspects of their workstation function well and what could be improved. If you plan a change to the menu, such as a reduction in the salad offerings, talk to your sous chef about how to customize that section of the kitchen prep area. One of the most critical ways to watch your bottom line is to set up a logical inventory system. The right workstation layout will make that much simpler and ensure your business is thriving despite supply chain issues.
3. Cross-Train Effectively
New equipment does nobody any good if everyone can't use it correctly. In fact, you may end up paying a great deal to repair a new piece of equipment that was inappropriately handled by an employee who was not trained on it.
To that end, try to put your slow times to good training use. If Tuesday nights are slow, pull bus boys and appropriate waitstaff off the floor to train them on a new layout or a new tool. This doesn't mean that your waitstaff needs to know how to use the new dishwasher, but if your busboy doesn't, they may not do a great job of delivering dirty dishes to your clean-up crew.
Understanding workflow from station to station can do a great deal to increase camaraderie and cohesion among your employees.
4. Plan Effectively For Busy Times
On another slow Tuesday night, it's important to get in front of the next rush. If your Thursday lunch special is meatloaf, you can put folks to work on Tuesday night running the screw conveyor and prepping the meatloaf trays for chilling or freezing.
As people access this new tool, they may come up with better ways to use all the features. For example, if you make your own hamburger patties or grind up your own sausage for pizzas, you will be aware that your conveyor has multiple access ports. Rather than trying to mix spices into the meat after grinding, you may find a simpler process of inserting spices along the grinding pathway is more effective. Once proofed, this can be posted for general use.
5. Check The Regulations
A bad inspection report can be incredibly hard on your business; you may lose customers that will never return. If you notice a regulation change in your industry, it may be time to upgrade your equipment or change the steps in your process.
For example, there may be a regulatory change in the water temperature in the dishwasher. If you don't already have a tankless water heater dedicated to the dishwasher, it's probably time to bring in the person who maintains the dishwasher and have a conversation about the best way to meet the new requirements. Getting in front of these changes can save you a lot of embarrassment.
It's been a tough couple of years for restaurant owners. It may be cost-prohibitive to upgrade equipment at this time. However, getting in front of such changes will lower your risk of a bad inspection or unhappy employees.