For restaurant owners, there is always so much to do that the tasks seem never-ending. And you may wish for a few more hours in the day to get it all done. While we know that won’t happen, one thing you can do to make your job easier, is to make your kitchen run efficiently.
Below are 5 restaurant kitchen efficiency tips that can help your kitchen run better.
1. Examine Your Menu
Two things can help make your menu more efficient: what is on it and how it looks.
Restaurant kitchen efficiency flows from a menu that goes for excellence with limits. No restaurant can be everything to all diners. Don’t get too fancy with your menu choices. You don’t have to have ten pages of items. Restaurants that offer a limited number of well-prepared dishes run more efficiently. The prep is easier, the cooking is easier, and the ordering is easier.
Take a look at the design of your menu. Does it have the right look and feel? Is it easy to read? Does it offer the right amount of information to your customers? Reading the menu should not confuse your customers. If you find that diners in your restaurant are repeatedly asking questions about the dishes on your menu, it is time to rework either the dishes or the information. Ideally, you want your guests to quickly find what they are looking for.
2. Prep Stations in Your Kitchen
Make sure your kitchen has enough prep stations and ones for various types of prep if needed. It is vital that your prep cooks and chefs have specific areas to do their work and are not trying to use workspaces and equipment at the same time. This means a salad prep station, sauces, fry, and so on. Make sure each station has what it needs for the work to be done and that the freezer or walk-in, oven, or cooking area are accessible.
A sometimes-overlooked efficiency is cross-training the staff. You never know when your kitchen will be down an employee or two due to illness or an unexpected emergency. Everyone on your staff should be willing and able to pitch in. Make sure the majority of your employees know how to slice, peel, and properly store ingredients. Institute a handoff procedure for shift change, where employees communicate about the status of the dishes being prepared, prepped ingredients for the next shift, and any that need to be stocked. Making shift changes smooth will significantly improve your kitchen’s efficiency.
3. Inventory and Organization
There’s nothing more annoying to a chef than reaching for something and not finding it where you expected it to be. Cooks should be able to find what they need when they need it, so not only is the organization of your kitchen workstations important, so is making sure everything is where it is supposed to be.
Ideally, you would never have to tell a diner you are out of the special. In reality, it is impossible to predict the night when the dish will sell out faster than predicted or that the dish you planned to make will not be available due to ingredients you can no longer get. Even though unpredictable events can affect your supplies, managing inventory is a priority. Restaurant kitchens are generally run more efficiently by using “just in time” operations. This means they maintain just enough inventory, ensuring the freshness of ingredients and efficient operations.
4. Get the Right Equipment
Make sure you have the right equipment to make all the dishes you’ve planned for your menu. Equipment such as food processors, mixers, and blenders will make your prep work faster and easier. In addition, be sure to get the right size equipment for the volume you expect. If you don’t have the right equipment, it can slow down your serving times and affect customer satisfaction. Specialized ovens, deep fryers, grills, salamander or broiler, and refrigeration units are all equipment to consider to improve restaurant kitchen efficiency.
5. Layout and Workflow
Some kitchens are tiny, but with the right planning, the traffic pattern doesn’t have to lead to collisions between cooks. Even in spacious kitchens, workers often collide during peak hours. Observe the traffic patterns in your kitchen and identify bottlenecks and areas where kitchen staff get in one another’s way. Often, merely moving a work prep table or adding one can clear out bottlenecks and improve the flow of the kitchen.
Try these restaurant kitchen efficiency tips to see how much more efficient your kitchen runs. You’ll have more happier customers to prove it.