How to Build a Better Restaurant Back-of-House
As more and more people around the world are vaccinated, the restaurant industry has started to return to some sense of normalcy. So far, around 6% of the world’s population and around 42% of all U.S. citizens are fully vaccinated. As the restaurant industry recovers, restaurateurs are scrambling to restaff their businesses, and have turned to technology as a solution, even more so than ever before. A recent survey shows that 91% of U.S. restaurateurs are interested in investing in kitchen automation. Restaurateurs are invested in finding the most effective ways to enhance their restaurant back-of-house from increased operational efficiencies to finding affordable ways to function under a labor shortage.
There are no two ways about it: your kitchen is the heart of your restaurant. Your restaurant back-of-house is both literally and figuratively where the proverbial sausage is made. Your kitchen sees orders come into the staff, get prepared, and go back out to hungry guests. With so much going on, there is much potential for confusion. Let’s look at a few ways that technology can enhance and automate your kitchen.
Kitchen Display System
Imagine a pre-technology restaurant operation on a busy shift. Paper tickets come into the restaurant back-of-house from waitstaff anxiously trying to stay ahead of a hectic workload, notes jotted down on grease-stained paper. Will the line cooks be able to read the paper? What happens if a ticket falls off the line? Will all the orders come out fresh and on time? Fortunately, there are practical solutions for that.
With the right kitchen display system (KDS), you can eliminate bottlenecks and enhance your quality and speed of service. A KDS replaces paper ticket systems digitally, thus streamlining your ordering process. Because the tickets are digital, you can avoid any potential loss and guarantee the legibility of the order. A good KDS allows you to pace individual orders within a ticket, to ensure that each item comes out at the same time. As part of a robust restaurant technology platform, a KDS provides invaluable enhancements to your restaurant back-of-house that can exponentially improve your operations.
An appendage of a great KDS, a recipe viewer is an automated tool that, as advertised, informs your restaurant back-of-house staff on the proper way to prepare menu items. A programmable tool, a great recipe viewer can be used to both strengthen your quality control efforts as a consistency measure, and as a training tool for incoming staff. The employee turnover rate has remained consistently high in the restaurant industry at around 75% in the last few years, and even higher at 130.7% during the pandemic. With a recipe viewer, you can account for that potential change to staffing, while also programming in reminders or instructions for non-cooking items like proper administrative or sanitation protocols.
Managing your inventory is no small feat and one that can cost you if not done properly. If you don’t keep a careful accounting of your inventory, you run the risk of either suffering a shortage when you need something or having overstock that can potentially be wasted. Studies have found that the industry loses around $25 billion per year in food waste; inventory lost to spoilage or scraps account for a substantial portion of those losses.
Fortunately, there are tools to help mitigate these costs through automation. Bin management is a function of a restaurant technology platform that helps to automate your kitchen. With bin management, restaurateurs can determine what ingredients they need and when they need them the most. That information is programmable based on historical data, which uses data analytics to help better understand your kitchen’s needs. In doing so, you can better ensure that you have all the components of your meal on hand and ready to go through rush hours and beyond.
Taking a global view of your operation, there are automatable inventory management systems that are designed to not only keep track of all of your stock but to help remind you when to procure new ingredients. These systems help inform you of what you have when you have it, and when it needs to move, all of which are designed to tighten your operation and reduce unnecessary food waste.
Cleaning Your Restaurant Back-of-House
Sanitation is a critical component in running a better restaurant back-of-house. Whether that’s cleaning your restaurant hardware or sanitizing surfaces, the pandemic has re-emphasized the importance of cleanliness. Let’s take a look at a few opportunities to enhance your sanitation efforts.
Restaurant Roomba Rhumba
Cleaning is a time-consuming and labor-intensive process in any operation. Proper sanitation requires service hours to sweep, mop, and disinfect areas that could otherwise contaminate your food. Grease is an especially daunting challenge to clean and can cause slick areas in your kitchen unsafe during busy shifts. As such, mopping and drying are ideal during slower hours of operation, which can, in turn, prevent staffing challenges.
An alternative to automating your restaurant back-of-house and minimizing your shift hours is to invest in a cleaning robot. These devices are autonomous and often programmable, set to clean without the aid of staff during set time frames. Bear in mind that with any investment, the payoff is in the long term. Likewise, check with the manufacturer about any potential maintenance plans, to ensure that you can afford to keep your restaurant robot running efficiently.
Similar to autonomous robots, self-cleaning equipment can in turn lower your staffing needs. Look for restaurant back-of-house equipment that has self-cleaning functionality, which can save you the precious seconds that add up over time. For example, dishwashers are an effective way to remain environmentally sound, while hand washing not only wastes water but adds time to your staffing needs. Self-cleaning tools help to mitigate some of the responsibilities in the kitchen, by minimizing their footprint.
Restaurant Back-of-House Conclusion
There are a host of ways to enhance your restaurant back-of-house that can drastically benefit your operation. Finding cost-effective ways to lower your overhead is essential as the industry recovers, and automated restaurant technologies are designed to solve tomorrow’s problems today. Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below.
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About the Author
Syd is a content marketing specialist, which are fancy words for writing pretty to tell a good story. He likes writing things about food, drinks, and music. He’s a musician himself, a father of two, and loves his wife a whole lot.