Running a successful kitchen isn’t easy, it takes year of experience before a chef can operate a restaurant that runs smoothy.
One of our favourite online writers is chef Paul Sorgule and in one of his most recent posts he sets about analysing the pitfalls that make restaurants fail.
There are eight different points to consider, with each stressing important factors required for running a successful restaurant and the areas where restaurants regularly fail.
Take a look.
INADEQUATE MISE EN PLACE
There is no excuse for this. It does happen and the finger should be pointed at both the individual line cook and the chef. Well-designed prep sheets based on sound projections, a sense of urgency on the part of the line cook, and chef oversight throughout the prep window will all help to rectify this problem. Keeping accurate records allows the cook and the chef to predict, with reasonable accuracy, what the sales patterns will be for items on the menu.
LACK OF TRAINING
The chef certainly has a full plate of responsibilities, but everything pales in comparison to hiring solid cooks with great potential and investing the time to train them.
Cooks depend on their tools working well. Ovens must be calibrated, burners must work well, fryer temperatures must be true, pans must be seasoned to prevent sauté items from sticking, char–broiler ceramics must be in good shape, and coolers must be at the right temperature. Chefs need to pay attention to this! No cook should have to work through a busy service with equipment that is not functioning at peak efficiency.
POOR DOOR MANAGEMENT
Even the best prep and mental preparedness will fail if the front of the house fails to manage and pace the door and door reservations for smooth service. The dining room that fills up immediately at a certain hour will always result in slow service and disgruntled customers. More importantly, this lack of door management will put undue pressure on the kitchen to look for shortcuts. Shortcuts are the consummate fail in restaurants.
LACK OF MENTAL PREPAREDNESS
Cooks need to be in the right mental state to function at peak efficiency. Chefs need to help to manage this. If there are inside or outside pressures that keep a cook from functioning as he or she should then the chef needs to be empathetic, listen, support, and sometimes even push the cook through this mental dilemma.
AN INDEPENDENT APPROACH VS. A TEAM PREPARATION
It is never sufficient to be satisfied that you are ready for the rush if the rest of the team is not. Every cook’s readiness is every cook’s responsibility. Observation and communication will help teams survive and thrive.
OVERALL WEAK COMMUNICATION
Constant communication between cooks, between the chef and cooks, between the dining room manager and the chef, and effective dialogue between service staff and cooks will keep everyone on track and will help to minimise the surprises that bring a restaurant down.
AN ILL-CONCEIVED MENU WITHOUT STATION BALANCE
The menu is the key control device in a kitchen. Planning a menu is certainly an art, but it is also a science. It is true that the menu should reflect the philosophy of the owners and the chef, but that aside, the menu must be designed with function and service in mind. Balancing plates between stations, thinking through cook times, understanding how menu prep might be adjusted to accommodate those nights when the line is slammed, and ensuring that every line cook is comfortable with every preparation on the menu will circumvent most problems that might crop up.