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High-volume production

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 
So, I have been the kitchen manager of a grocery store/ buffet restaurant for about 8 months. We do high-volume production for both, and I have 1 full time and around 30 part-time employees to prepare it all. The issues that I inhereted when I took the job are simple, but deep-rooted. Some of these ladies have been doing this job since I was in grade school (which was quite a while ago), and will still pick up a paring knife to dice a dozen tomatoes for a salad... one slice at a time. This is the culture of the kitchen: slow, inefficient and completely oblivious. The previous kitchen manager carried everything on her shoulders; she would take on any new task that these women couldn't handle and eventually burnt herself out. I need to pick up the pace by 1000%, teach knife skills and completely change the attitude of at least half of my staff, and upper-management doesn't want me upsetting them too much. Personally, I am not afraid to loose any one of them, except that I may not be given new staff to replace them. I also have to train any new people from the ground up- most new employees have never worked in food service, much less picked up a knife. Does anyone have suggestions/advice/etc?
post #2 of 10

Put in your notice and find something better. Frankly I can't imagine changing the culture of the place without getting rid of at least 1/3 of them, maybe more.  It doesn't sound like the owners/upper management is down with that.  Accept the place as it is, burn it down and rebuild it, or move on to a better situation.

"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
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post #3 of 10

Agreed, been there and done that. Those ladies will never change and you will only make your self more upset as time goes on.

You may not want to hear this but the facts are there.

post #4 of 10

When I started my business my wife would help out in the kitchen she used a paring knife for everything. I had other prep people doing the sometime. My cooks knew how to get things done. During a busy time I knew who to give the job to to get it done. I bet you would see this same thing in all Hospital kitchens, All fast-food  restaurants, casual dining and so on including every school system in America. I agree with the other two Chefs your not going to change it. It's up to you to manage it......I would take an unskilled crew that shows up over a skilled crew that calls in drunk or just not show up........P.S. I look at my good/fast knife skills as a way of getting through the bullshit. That way I can get to cooking. What do the prep people have to look forward to, More prep?????


Edited by ChefBillyB - 12/6/15 at 7:35am
post #5 of 10

When I took over a private school cafeteria, I was in a similar boat.  The difference was that I had the backing of the School Board, and was able to make the changes I needed to in the kitchen.  They had to buy into my vision of the kitchen, food prep, and service, and when changes came, they were clear cut and consistent.

 

I had some leave, but the ones who stayed welcomed the change of pace and enjoyed "cooking" again (as we see it).  What you'll lose in manpower you will over shoot in productivity and quality, so it could be a good thing.  

 

Target goals and incentives like grocery/gas gift cards worked well for me, as well as building an "all in this together" attitude.  Sharing my budget and expenses also worked for me to give them a sense of responsibility to the bottom line (but that's a judgement call).  I also offered extra training for the ones who wanted it (some didn't), in the form of "cooking dinner at home", to teach them the correct ways to do it (as opposed to "you've been doing it wrong for 30 years, let the young whipper-snapper correct you).  

 

Many won't change much, but the ones who do will really step up and give you the assist you need to move the needle.

 

In your situation, I would try not to bring in any green staff.  I would maybe lean on exterships/internships from local culinary classes if possible.  See if the Food Bank in your area has classes/graduates you can hire from.  Your hiring from here forward will determine the culture change you want.  Hire poorly and you only hinder yourself and your crew, but hire well and you can really change the face of your kitchen.

 

Good luck to you.

post #6 of 10
Thread Starter 
Hmm I was hoping not to hear that! Unfortunately, with this job I am off every Sunday, every other Saturday and holidays (owners are very religious). Plus, I do not work more than 40 hours- great for a mom of a toddler. So, I'd like to make it work. I think I'm gonna just put my efforts into training any new kids as best I can, and raising the standard with them. My full time girl is new, but turning into my right-hand already. The 'dinosaurs' (as I think of them) are mostly over 60, so hopefully I can outlast them. Thanks guys for being honest and realistic
post #7 of 10

Until the owner feels the pressure of labor cost your not going to get much help from them. I wonder if the $15 min wage will change their minds. I know it's frustrating but try to live with it. These people have been with the owner through thick and thin. The owner seems to have a lot of loyalty to them. I would focus on the areas I could change rather than worry about the ones I can't........

post #8 of 10

30 p/t dinosaurs......

 

I've got a feeling the owner wanted "to take care of them" and brought them in to ensure they got some kind of a paycheck.  Nothing wrong with this attitude, especially if it's your money, but still, talk about giving the Chef a headache.  I would politely and discreetly ask the owner why he chose 30 p/t instead of 5 or 6 decent f/t with maybe a few p/t as back up.

 

I can see where the owner would balk at hiring any new staff with 30 still on the payroll.  I would propose writing up the necessary job descriptions based on a 30-40 hr week, show these to the owner, and ask the owner if it would be all right to "interview" the p/t ers for these new f/t positions--or see who would want such positions.  If you can swing this, it becomes practical to train the new f/t guy (or dinosaur) decent knife skills.

 

Of course, you can remind the owner that some bonuses for going f/t are:

 

Easier payroll calculations

Lower labour costs

Less supervision, which means more time for you to make money for the employer

Much lower food costs, assuming the p/t are having one meal per shift

Providing the employees with skills that every other employer would take for granted--

based on their work experience and salary levels

 

I'm curious to see how things work out.  It doesn't sound like such a bad gig, and the owner doesn't sound like the kind of guy to kick you out as soon as you've lowered food costs and have someone half way trained up to take your position.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #9 of 10

I'm with Foodpump, either the owner feels like they have to be taken care of because they have been there so long. The decision might have been made

as to not pay or offer benefits.  I would certainly go to production lists for all. Evaluate the best skills everyone has and have them do those things when they come in.

Try to work it out where one of their friends gets stuck with the items on the production list from the person before them.

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 #10 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by foodpump View Post
 

30 p/t dinosaurs......

 

I've got a feeling the owner wanted "to take care of them" and brought them in to ensure they got some kind of a paycheck.  Nothing wrong with this attitude, especially if it's your money, but still, talk about giving the Chef a headache.  I would politely and discreetly ask the owner why he chose 30 p/t instead of 5 or 6 decent f/t with maybe a few p/t as back up.

 

 

 

In the US p/t worker have no legal rights to benefits- no insurance, no vacation or sick time, etc.  Lots of places in the US will run as many part-timers as possible for this reason.  All they get a check and/or tips and the mgmnt has no obligations (legally) to do any more for them.

"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
"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
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