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Establishing a Standard for Rushes?

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

Mediterranean restaurant seats 60.

 

During the week we open at 11am, with a lunch rush that lasts up to three hours. Throughout this time, the restaurant is at about 75% capacity. 3 cooks.

 

One cook mans the grill, griddle, fryer, and the two shawermas (upright rotating rotisseries, one with chicken stack, the other with gyro stack). 2 cooks man the app/plating station.

 

When a ticket comes in the person in charge-usually my chef, who is manning the grill/griddle-pulls the ticket, calls out what came in, then instructs the other two on what to get ready. ONe person cuts and portions the meat and hands the container to chef, who then begins the cooking, while the other two get apps and plating ready. The two cooks who aren't the chef generally dance around each other, picking up where the other guy left off if one has to move. Works well. Hectic as Hades usually, but smooth, until servers begin making mistakes and priorities get interrupted. I'm sure y'all know how that goes.

 

Let me tell you about today.

 

At 1058am, the manager on duty (who's in for Chef during lunch today) opens the door and twenty people pour into the restaurant...TOGETHER, as in, they were 1 party. The three of us in the kitchen gear up for those twenty and before you know it, every table in the house is occupied. Sensing the turmoil that's about to come, the manager phones two other managers, who had worked until 4am the night previous. The manager that was already there starts us off as best we can when the app tix start coming in. We're behind already, then the two servers start making mistakes in deliveries. The manager is making calls as best he can when the other two managers show up.

 

Allow me to interject here that all three of the managers are co-owners.

 

One of the owner/managers takes charge, as he usually does-which is not a problem in and of itself-and the manager who opened with us goes FOH to help the servers. This owner/manager has his own system of ticket management, which differs from that of my Chef, which differs from that of the manager that opened with us. Habitually, when he comes into the frenzied kitchen, he asks, "Where are we at?", and one of us peons tells him where we are as far as ticket order is concerned, but NOT where we stand regarding which tix have been re-prioritized, or put into the system incorrectly, or which have been delivered to the wrong tables, as that is not our concern; we're turning and burning according to our instructions.

 

Needless to say, everything began to crumble. It got so bad that we literally reached a stand-still, while tix were printing, trying to figure out what the hell. This happens whenever the house is full and we get a fourth or fifth body in the kitchen. Each body in there is necessary, but I feel that without a strict protocol for emergencies, we will always fall apart.

 

My question is, is there a way to set up a standard for emergency situations, when there are more than three bodies needed and, more importantly, how would I approach my chef and the owners about implementing one? I certainly wouldn't want to offend anyone by implying that what each of them does individually leads to problems, but I feel that we HAVE to do something, in the interest of the restaurant's success and customer service.

 

Anyone?

 

Thx

 

RedBeerd

post #2 of 8

I'll take a stab at this one. 

You need to get rid of two egos.  The restaurant needs one system all the time. There is no such thing as one system for normal business and one for rushes. 60 seats is more than manageable. 

    If the FOH staff are making predictable mistakes, then there is an obviously identifiable problem. 

You base the system you use all the time on what happens when it is busy. That's why you have a system.

Then you make sure everyone follows the system even when it's slow. Not the other way around. 

Wrong table delivery is inexcusable. Every table is numbered. Either you actually fix a permanent number to the table or you have a printed map in the BOH and FOH that Everyone memorizes and uses. Those table numbers match the table numbers printed on the ticket. 

   

 ( " One of the owner/managers takes charge, as he usually does-which is not a problem in and of itself-and the manager who opened with us goes FOH to help the servers. This owner/manager has his own system of ticket management, which differs from that of my Chef, which differs from that of the manager that opened with us. Habitually, when he comes into the frenzied kitchen, he asks, "Where are we at?", and one of us peons tells him where we are as far as ticket order is concerned, but NOT where we stand regarding which tix have been re-prioritized, or put into the system incorrectly, or which have been delivered to the wrong tables, as that is not our concern; we're turning and burning according to our instructions.") 

     This is BS. EVeryone needs to be able to communicate with EVeryone else. When asked "where we at", a full description should be provided of the status of Every Single Ticket that has been handled, is in process or is in need of correction. 

By all means, one person and only one person should expedite the tickets. But that person needs to know exactly what is happening with Every ticket under production, Especially the mistakes. 

     The FOH and BOH should be working in sync-all the time. IF the computer ordering system needs some sort of adjustment to help the waitstaff input orders correctly, then that should be taken care of right away. If the waitstaff use six different methods for plate delivery, that needs to stop. The system should be clear enough so that ANyone can deliver the hot food when it is ready. No waiting for the FOH personnel who took the order. Example-The food for Table 6 is ready. ANyone who is nearby or available can read the ticket, pick up the plates and get the food to Table 6. Very Obvious, Very Clear. 

 

    A busy meal period is when flaws in a system become more obvious and notable. But they are still there during slow times. They should never be tolerated at ANY time. When a flaw is observed, it should get corrected, immediately. Everyone should be made aware of the new or adjusted procedure. This develops a highly structured system that Everyone follows. When it gets busy, everyone knows how things work. When a problem arises, it can be taken care of in minutes and everyone knows it as an interruption in an otherwise rigid system. 

It sounds to me like the current method is being tolerated so an argument or discussion can be avoided by someone. That is no way to run a restaurant. When an issue directly affects the food and service, it must be corrected, no matter whose ego gets dinged. 

If I were any closer, I'd be happy to tell the owners personally. 

post #3 of 8
Quote:

Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post

 

 The restaurant needs one system all the time.

This. This. This.

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RedBeerd Cantu View Post
 

This owner/manager has his own system of ticket management, which differs from that of my Chef, which differs from that of the manager that opened with us.

Not this. Not this. Not this.

 

 

When I was learning to ride a bicycle, I tried the same way every time until it finally sunk in and became second nature. If instead, I tried a multitude of different methods in my attempts at learning to ride, I probably would have sold the bike.

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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #4 of 8

I forgot to mention. 

    You did not post this as part of the problem but I'll bring it up anyway. 

     When the FOH are taking orders, they should be taking a table's order, putting it in the computer and then taking the next tables' order. 

This is called staggering the tickets. 

They Should NOT be taking orders from more than one table at a time and then putting both tickets in at the same time. NEVER. 

This is called Stacking the tickets. 

Even if more than one waiter/waitress is inputting tickets, no single staff member should ever put in more than one order at a time. The few moments in between tickets should provide a well prepared kitchen just enough time to set up the first ticket before the second one arrives. 

     In the event of multiple table arrivals simultaneously, the staff member responsible for those tables makes the decision as to which tables' order will be input first. The staggering rule is inviolate. Making sure the arbitrarily chosen second table has drinks, silverware, menus and perhaps a nibble will help make sure there are no perceived slights. Handled with grace and done well, this is nothing more than a face saving slight of hand and the customers are unlikely to notice it was done.

     Stacking the tickets, while seeming to be a time saver for the FOH staff and customers, inevitably ends up burying the kitchen, backing up the tickets and causing much greater delays, staff confusion and customer aggravation than sticking to the staggering rule. 

post #5 of 8

Well I can't add anything to what was already said. I can only remember 100 yrs. ago I was in the same senario. 100 seats. 3 managers/quasi owners. I think lunch customers are not concerned with anything but, I want my food now. Or, I was here before that table and their eating. It's a great time to lose customers. We did your routine for a while, I say quasi owner because one of them was me. I finally decided that there needed to be two managers available for 3 hours during lunch. As your case, one manager was usually chefing. Doing the same thing. Directing his supporting so called cooks/helpers. I realized that he could not split direction. Focused on the tickets the front crumbled and the other way around. Anyway, instead of me going on the floor I would expedite from the service side of the pass through. Problems gone. Some days we do 3 turns when there was a convention in town. The old night waiters were clamoring for the lunch shift.

I also agree there should be no mistaken deliveries to tables in that small avenue.

FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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FOR YEARS I LIVED TO WORK! NOW I WORK TO LIVE!
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post #6 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post
 

They Should NOT be taking orders from more than one table at a time and then putting both tickets in at the same time. NEVER. 

This is called Stacking the tickets. 

 

Back in the days when I was a waiter, I called this the firing frenzy and you could see it coming from a million miles away.

 

A good waiter can quickly assess his guests and figure out what kind of pacing will work for them. Some will want to be fast. Some slow. Etc. When you see the firing frenzy coming, you use this assessment to plan your order taking (drink order, food order, apps, no apps, etc), your placing of orders, your of delivery of items, etc etc etc. You can work some before the frenzy, some after the frenzy.

 

A good waiter realizes that the dining experience is not a set in stone sequence where one timing schedule fits all guests. A good waiter realizes the long term big picture. The big picture is teamwork. The firing frenzy does nothing positive to help develop the team aspect. The less teamwork an establishment has, the less are it's odds of being a raging success, which (being a raging success) will in the long run benefit all members of the team.

 

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by RedBeerd Cantu View Post 

 

 This owner/manager has his own system of ticket management, which differs from that of my Chef, which differs from that of the manager that opened with us.

 

Big picture time, I can't reiterate this enough,...all the owners need to be on the same page.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by chefwriter View Post
 

I forgot to mention. 

    You did not post this as part of the problem but I'll bring it up anyway. 

     When the FOH are taking orders, they should be taking a table's order, putting it in the computer and then taking the next tables' order. 

This is called staggering the tickets. 

They Should NOT be taking orders from more than one table at a time and then putting both tickets in at the same time. NEVER. 

This is called Stacking the tickets. 

Even if more than one waiter/waitress is inputting tickets, no single staff member should ever put in more than one order at a time. The few moments in between tickets should provide a well prepared kitchen just enough time to set up the first ticket before the second one arrives. 

     In the event of multiple table arrivals simultaneously, the staff member responsible for those tables makes the decision as to which tables' order will be input first. The staggering rule is inviolate. Making sure the arbitrarily chosen second table has drinks, silverware, menus and perhaps a nibble will help make sure there are no perceived slights. Handled with grace and done well, this is nothing more than a face saving slight of hand and the customers are unlikely to notice it was done.

     Stacking the tickets, while seeming to be a time saver for the FOH staff and customers, inevitably ends up burying the kitchen, backing up the tickets and causing much greater delays, staff confusion and customer aggravation than sticking to the staggering rule. 


This. Very this.

post #8 of 8

Ok yall are in the weeds.

IMO when the cavalry arrives he/she should go to the line and the strongest cook (who has been there since prep and has a firm grasp of the situation) will step up and take command of the kitchen.

Catch up on mistakes, expo new tix beat the FOH with a silicone spat and generally smooth things over.

Trying to catch someone up just takes a set of hands away from the work flow.

 

This would be the functional solution.

 

mimi

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