Restaurants, like all businesses, deal with periods of intense activity and stretches of relative quiet. And like all businesses, how a restaurant handles its off-peak time is equally important as how it manages the strenuous peaks.
This site typically deals with white-collar productivity, but business efficiency extends beyond the walls of cubicles and office spaces. In this article, let’s focus on restaurant owners: In particular, how restaurant owners can capitalize on their kitchen downtime to better their overall business.
If you aren’t a restaurateur, don’t worry; there are lessons in here that apply to all types of business about the merits of education, the value of strategic partnership, and the benefits of organization.
Let’s get cooking.
Hosting Virtual Restaurant Concepts
Understandably, the boom in virtual restaurants was met with mixed reactions in the restaurant industry – at least in the first few years of its surging popularity. But you know the old saying: “If you can’t beat them, join them.” What more brick-and-mortar restaurateurs should know is that virtual restaurants can be mutually beneficial.
So, what is a virtual restaurant, exactly? Virtual restaurants are delivery-only restaurant concepts that operate out of existing commercial kitchens. The virtual restaurant provides the menu and brand license, and the commercial kitchen (that would be your brick-and-mortar restaurant) provides the staff, space and food preparation. For your part, you receive a cut of the delivery profits.
Hosting a virtual restaurant can be a fantastic way of capitalizing on kitchen downtime, fulfilling orders during off-peak hours. It’s a rare instance of how a restaurant can use its off-peak hours to generate more tangible, quantifiable income. And it’s a lesson in how strategic partnerships can help fill productivity gaps in a business’ schedule.
Organization and Cleaning
A less easily quantifiable – but no less important – way to capitalize on kitchen downtime is to use the lull in productivity toward organizational tasks.
This rips a page from the conventional, white-collar productivity handbook – when your staff isn’t active, they should be proactive. In a restaurant context, that means organizing prep stations for future services; cleaning, inventorying and organizing products in the walk-in; sharpening and honing knives; and deep cleaning equipment.
Training and Education
Let’s say you still have downtime. You aren’t fulfilling any orders for virtual restaurants, and your kitchen is fully cleaned and prepared for the next service. What’s left?
Again, let’s take a page from traditional guides on productivity. When all your short-term needs are met, you can forecast your long-term needs. And the best way to do that is through training and education.
How well does your kitchen staff know the front-of-house layout and strategy? Are your cooks caught up on food safety best practices? Do your prep cooks know how to work the line (and vice versa)? Could your line cooks comfortably take over from the grill cook if the need should arise? Capitalize on kitchen downtime by filling in educational gaps among your staff. Although the value is tough to quantify, consider it a minor time investment in a more cohesive, broadly knowledgeable kitchen staff.
Downtime doesn’t have to be lost time. You can host a virtual restaurant to pick up an additional revenue stream, organize your kitchen for future services, and forecast long-term needs by expanding your staff’s skill set.