Originally Posted by alaminute
I was fortunate enough to take my first chef position back in September and I like to think I've done a pretty damn good job of turning the operation from something that needed some serious love into a place that I can be proud to put my name begind. When I came in it was the classic sob story of a poorly abused red headed step kitchen with a lowly staff eager to rob you of what have you. All ordering was through Sysco and a separate seafood supplier (who actually is pretty awesome). I took @foodpump
's advice and since we are a very boutique business I decided to fully cut them out (they had been screwing us for awhile) and go through 6-7 smaller local vendors instead who where a.) happier to have my business, and b.) whose product I'm super proud to sell and can advertise with my food. While still using better products (Duroc belly, Redbird chx, fennel pollen, foie, etc.) I also have a whole new staff (my sous walked out three weeks in on a Sunday before brunch so I came in and got a health inspection. On a Sunday.) and have rolled out new brunch and dinner menus. I think -and have been told- that I'm doing really well. This all being said, I am super exhausted and putting in 80+ hours a week. I have a newborn who doesn't know me and am taking on way to much responsibility. I have to figure out how to delegate this workload or my home life will soon disintegrate. It's a very small place, here are the numbers:
Food- 28%, labor- 15-30%, 1 dish 2-3 line and me, menu is low $ avg ticket is about $30 pp, 40 seats mostly patio, I think we do around 750k to million a year (based on daily sales). My question is how do I best hire and maneuver labor so I can finally get a day off and cut my days back to 10-12 hours a day. I will hire/fire as necessary. Thanks chefs.
I've been in a similar situation albeit as the sous under the chef/owner who wanted to be more or less non-existent.
How many days a week are you open? Types of service (lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch)? How many stations? Dishwasher working everyday or is he/she supplemented by the kitchen? Will your labor budget increase if/when food sales increase?
As you can probably tell by now small operations have unique challenges and unfortunately a small staff means little wiggle room so to speak. To ease up the burden on yourself it starts with your staff, mostly your sous. Cross training staff on different stations, getting yourself and your sous to work 2 stations on slower shifts, training your sous to do everything that you can do (ordering, talking with vendors, making a schedule, inventory etc.) will help a lot. Nobody knows their kitchen better than themselves, you know everyone's limits and abilities and expectations from the owners. A lot of your questions you'll be able to answer yourself in time.
Little tricks that I'd use were:
Getting staff to CONSTANTLY be working, take full advantage during slow times. If they can get the station's prep for tomorrow done the night before take advantage of it and come in before dinner service instead of before lunch. If the dishwasher has time have him peel potatoes and store in water the night before. Every little bit counts.
Ordering: If you need to be there for every order (how well does your sous order?) try to get the list done the night before. You can make many orders from home or leave the note for your sous to simply read off (make it idiot proof btw).
Working 2 stations on a slower night might allow your to save some labor on another night for you to take off. Try to get yourself and your sous to work multiple stations as often as possible assuming quality doesn't slip.
All in all thinking ahead and planning are essential when there's not a brigade of cooks. Taking advantage of every opportunity now allows you rest for later. Hope this helps.