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Taking load off of the kitchen

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone,
Just wondering if anyone has dish ideas that would help me tackle a problem in our restaurant: too small of a kitchen for the size of the restaurant. We have several trade shows in the area and during these times of year our restaurant is absolutely slammed. I thought of creating a special menu that is geared toward the people that attend the shows, more limuted so the kitchen can keep up. The owner thinks that limits the options too much and says people come back for certain dishes. Our menu is too large to begin with, but any ideas for dishes that can take a load off the kitchen. Obviously salads and quick items but just looking for other ideas as well, our kitchen has two standard convection ovens, a flat top (small), 6 fryers, and a 6 burner range. Very limited oven space and we are serving a 150 seat dining room, filled to the brim with a 45 minute wait for seating.
post #2 of 9
No alto sham, no steam table, 6 fryers? No grill?
6 fryers?

Stews and braised dishes can be held hot. Pre roasted veg (like potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips) can be sauteed back up or brought up in the oven. Fish can be a really quick pick up off saute.
6 fryers says fried food- boneless chicken thighs, bacon wrapped prawns, fried vegetable things, wings...
post #3 of 9
6 fryers? That's insane. I would start looking into seafood and thin cut meats off the sautee station. What's your current menu look like?
post #4 of 9
Thread Starter 
Our menu is large and our restaurant is surf and turf centric. We have a large variety of broiled and fried seafood. I have just started here and changing the menu is something i am working on as a long term goal. Also i didnt mean to type six fryers, we have four fryers I apologize. The saute station is absolutely swamped on the busy days, as we have many pasta dishes. The chef, who works saute, wants to rework menu items as well. We do have a steamtable and 1 alto shaam, but our kitchen is extrememly small. We have FOH issues like ticket staggering but I just feel awful when the tickets are printing at each station, they are down to the floor from the printer (5 feet off the floor), and patrons are waiting 45 minutes for entrees. I love the idea of hot dishes ready to go in holding like pot roast, beef stew, etc. We already have those items menued though.
post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Floydian1989 View Post

Our menu is large and our restaurant is surf and turf centric. We have a large variety of broiled and fried seafood. I have just started here and changing the menu is something i am working on as a long term goal. Also i didnt mean to type six fryers, we have four fryers I apologize. The saute station is absolutely swamped on the busy days, as we have many pasta dishes. The chef, who works saute, wants to rework menu items as well. We do have a steamtable and 1 alto shaam, but our kitchen is extrememly small. We have FOH issues like ticket staggering but I just feel awful when the tickets are printing at each station, they are down to the floor from the printer (5 feet off the floor), and patrons are waiting 45 minutes for entrees. I love the idea of hot dishes ready to go in holding like pot roast, beef stew, etc. We already have those items menued though.

Pasta dishes don't take that long. The place im in now has pasta as half the menu and we'll do 400 on a busy night with just 8 burners. Give us a list of pastas and procedures and im sure we can help speed things up.

post #6 of 9
You didn't mention the broiler, or is it a grill?
post #7 of 9

That's tough!  Owners always see space from the point of view that used for more tables it makes money but when used for the kitchen it costs money.  It's obviously very difficult to crank out a high volume of food from a small kitchen.  Obviously anyone you can hold hot is a plus.  Maybe crepes made ahead with a filling that you can hold hot?  Maybe hold sides hot (eg baked potatoes, mash, roasted veggies or even rice for short periods) along with poached fish.  You could keep a pan of court bouillon hot on the flat top and poach quite a bit of fish at once.  I know you said oven space is at a premium but having fish en papillote is another way of cranking out a pretty good volume with minimal space.  Various stews and Bouillabaisse-type items could also be held hot.

 

Deep friend entrees might also help if you have four decent sized fryers.  Again, not really sure what your check average is or what types of things will sell but battered and friend fish and shrimp items might work for you.  Using the flat top for fish might be viable if you don't do too many sandwiches at a time.

"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
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"Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit." - Aristotle
Reply
post #8 of 9
Maybe we're looking at this wrong. I yhink maybe you'rre right & you need to limit or adjust your menu instead of adding more dishes
post #9 of 9

      There is a saying is that the definition of insanity is to continue doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. 

Yes, you need to cut the menu down. Right away. Congratulations on recognizing the obvious. I mean that sincerely. I am always amazed when restaurants don't see a problem 

that seems obvious to me. 

Here's why. 

The trade show arrives. Again. 

You can do several things in response. 

1. The same thing you've been doing and hope it gets better. 

2. Enlarge the kitchen with better equipment. Very expensive requiring restaurant shut down. That's not realistic.

3. Make the dining room smaller to serve fewer people. Obviously not a smart or realistic response. 

4. Reduce the already too large menu.

     I can't imagine you are doing this without a point of sale (POS) system. That system records every sale of every item and can generate sales reports for any length of time

you choose. A day, week, month or year. By the hour even.

If the owner does not know how to do this, the POS representative should be asked to come by and show her how. ASAP. 

Print a report of all items sold in the previous six weeks. Or six months. 

Review sales report for regular business times and then for sales during the trade shows. Are high selling menu items the same? 

Review the report to discover which items actually sell in large amounts. 

Review how many extra ingredients you invest in for those dishes that don't sell as well. How much money is going into having those ingredients on hand for the limited sales. That money includes the ingredients themselves, storage area, labor time, maintenance of quality and time and energy spent worrying about all of it. 

Keep the top selling items. Get rid of everything else. Then you can develop any additional, suitable menu items based on the ingredients used for the top selling menu items. 

     The POS provides actual sales reports, not sales based on human perception. "We sell a ton of those". No, you don't. (more on that later.)

 

     Step two Communication.  Review your customer base before and during a trade show rush. If the owner is familiar with the regulars by name this will be easier.

If not, a survey can be created and given to them during regular business. To wit "As a valued customer, we would like to know if you ever patronize this restaurant during trade show insanity?" 

"If Yes, what would you like to see? If not, what are you avoiding?" You create the survey asking whatever you want and the regulars will be thrilled to know they are being included in the decision making process and that their opinion matters. 

     I suspect the regulars know to avoid the place during those trade show rushes. So retaining menu items for the sake of the regulars during a time when they are not really there doesn't make sense. And if the regulars do patronize the place they will understand why there is a limited menu, knowing that they can come back after the rush knowing they will get their favorite items. 

     All patrons, trade show or not, wish to have a pleasant dining experience. All employees wish to have a busy but orderly service. Jamming a size twelve menu into a size eight restaurant does  nothing for either. 

     More on sales perception. Neither you nor the owner nor anyone else really knows what actually sells well. To illustrate, consider two menu items. 

Item one is easy to prepare and serve. Order comes in and with very little effort is prepared and served. The dish is well plated but not visually notable. 

Item two is a bit more challenging. Order comes in and a fair amount of attention and detail is required to prepare and serve. Dish is visually notable when plated.

 If asked, the cook will say that item two sells a lot. Item one sells well but not like item two. This perception arises out of the greater attention to detail and focus required to get the dish out in a timely manner. The first dish flies under the radar, so to speak. 

In the FOH, the staff will remark that item two sells well. This perception arises because of the visual impact or the challenges in serving it. 

     Neither is accurate. A POS sales report will prove beyond doubt what actually sells. 

     I have experienced this first hand and removed several "popular" dishes from the menu when the POS sales report showed that it wasn't just not popular, it was the sixteenth on the list of sales items. Challenging to prepare and visually notable but not popular. 

    The POS is a powerful tool at your disposal to help make many decisions about the overall restaurant. Successful management requires understanding what is actually happening by accurate measurement, exactly like thermometers telling you the actual temperature, not just that it is warm or cold.

     Technology today offers a restaurant owner the ability to have a clear picture of the financials involved. Record keeping for inventory, recipes, sales and maintenance can now be kept track of by use of computer software when it is used correctly and to full advantage, offering an instant and accurate portrait of restaurant expense and profits. I used Quickbooks and MaitreD POS but there are others.

    Your initial post tells me the owner is not doing this but instead relying on perception. That is a big mistake. 

I'll go so far as to offer that you can print this out and show it to her. 

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