• Mike Hughes

Get with the System!

Get with the System!

If you have been following along with my Blog OR you have experience in corporate restaurants, you have, or are, currently immersed in a plethora of Restaurant Operating Systems.

You most likely have been in a restaurant where clip boards hang from every square inch of the kitchen and office walls. These clip boards are most likely, if they are being consistently and properly used, the key to running a successful operation.

While I suppose I am not a huge fan of paper work that consumes hours of your day, I will admit that without standard operating procedures, your restaurant is missing the boat.

So what are these systems and why should you be using them yesterday? Let’s have a brief look…

Manager Opening Checklist – So what’s in it? You should walk the perimeter of your restaurant looking for trash, blown light bulbs and facility issues. Walking your coolers can uncover if they are operating correctly, are clean and organized and how great or poorly you closing MOD followed THEIR checklist. You should check your reservations and any special daily functions that will impact the day. Read and react to Manager Log notes…Sometimes that log gets pretty busy. Are your POS systems functioning correctly? Is your safe locked from the night before AND does it balance? Is the overall condition of the dining room TIGHT, and did the PM staff successfully perform all their closing side work duties? How are staffing levels for the day? Are you short or heavy and are there any other staffing issues you need to look at? What does you’re ordering and receiving work load look like today? (There is more too)…

Manager Mid shift Checklist – Check your PM staffing levels…Run a labor report so you can evaluate how poorly or perfectly the lunch shift was run. Make sure you have a system in place so your day host is checking things like; restroom readiness and general garbage build up from the day shift. Follow up on any day shift opening duties that weren’t done. Review reservations and make sure your PM floor chart is done. Prepare for pre shift and server line up insuring everyone is accounted for and properly dressed.

Closing Manager Checklist – Have you EVER forgotten to lock the safe? Or lock the doors? This checklist will insure you never forget. Have you made you server and kitchen cuts yet? Have you done your safe audit and any restaurant reporting that needs to be completed? Have you captured the spirit of the shift in the Manager log? You will also be responsible for making sure everyone else did their check lists…Closing side work, kitchen closing list, bar closing list, freezer pull list, is all the food stored and labeled correctly, and are the coolers all operating correctly? When you leave for the night, would you be happy if you were also the opening manager? Are you the opening manager?

The Line Check – One of my favorites!!! Here you will start at one end of the kitchen with a pitcher of clean spoons, an empty pitcher to discard them, a thermometer and a sharp pencil. Follow the list that should be set up in order of your kitchen stations and go item by item. How is the quality? Are the items prepared to spec and recipe? Do they all taste the way they should? How much is there? Is there enough for the shift or enough for 14 shifts? How is the shelf life on each item and how much time is left? You WILL be discarding food that is out of date, or ill prepared. It goes in the waste bin, as if the product ends up on the plates of guests, you may regret it. As you discover issues, make sure you swiftly delegate stuff out to get things fixed. Don’t settle.

Production Lists – Bar and kitchen…Most likely you have a prep list with par levels for each day that are filled out by the opening prep cook…How are they doing? A poorly planned production list may be the biggest food cost contributor in your restaurant. Unless you have an ace, rock star type employee, you need to review it. Even if you DO have that employee, you need to review it.

Waste logs – When you have a team of production cooks banging out huge days in your restaurant, it would behoove you to have a waste log AND waste bins (clear please), that the MOD can review. What goes in there? Prep scraps for one…You can really review knife procedures by how well or poorly your cooks are doing n regards to vegetable prep and other prep. Also in the waste log, goes shelf life expirations and food quality waste. If you identify a gallon of Guac on the line that is bad, you can see it and account for it on your waste log. Why is that important? When your food cost goes awry you can trace issues back to the log. It will help you not chase your tail trying to get your actual food cost close to your ideal food cost.

Steps of service check list – If you are not observing service, you really don’t know how it is. When was the last time you pulled out a stop watch? How long does it take from the time a guest walks in, until they get a greeting? How long does it take from the time a guest is seated until they get a greeting from their server? How long does it take for the server to deliver drinks? Once the food is rung in, how long does it take for the table to receive their appetizer, entrees and desserts? Don’t know? Time it…You may be SHOCKED it takes longer than it should…How long is too long? Have timing standards please and thank you. FYI, if a table is sat, and they don’t get a greeting in 5 minutes, it feels like 15. If a server is so weeded that they can’t get to a table in 10 minutes, it’s a ½ hour to the guest. If you have standards, Lets say host greeting 20 seconds, initial server greeting 2 minutes, drink delivery in 5, appetizers in 10, entrees in 15 etc…You will have something to hold your staff accountable to.

Temperature Logs – Have you ever lost a cooler? Lose a cooler you say? Yes, that is when you arrive in the morning and the opening cook yells across the restaurant that “EVERYTHING IS HOT” in one of your coolers. When a compressor dies, the cooler turns into a warming oven, and begins to cook your cold food. It could be a small reach in on the line all the way to your walk in cooler. NOT a good thing and thousands of dollars could be lost. If you identify at 10:00 pm that a cooler just doesn’t feel or smell right…Yes coolers that are going down have a smell, you have an opportunity to get someone there right then to fix it. If it goes down 3 minutes after you lock the door and isn’t caught until 8:00 am, you need a different plan…Ok, back to Temp logs…This is a very useful tool that is typically hanging on the end of the line strategically placed so your health department can see it. They LOVE these things. 3 times a day, you walk the line and temp each hot and cold section of your coolers and steam tables to insure everything is where it should be and nothing is in the “danger zone”. Look at your local newspaper in the health scores section and seek out temp violations. You don’t have to look far as this is the number one critical on a health report. It is bad! Sometimes on your line check, there is a section for temperatures on each station, and that is acceptable, HOWEVER if you are not checking your coolers, and logging the results before you lock the doors and go home, you are setting up the restaurant for a huge fail.

Are you always going to have time to do every checklist that is required to successfully operate your restaurant? Have been managing your unit for 40 years and are convinced you don’t need these stupid checklists? Regardless of tenure, experience or blatantly being stubborn, you really need to get with these SOP’s.

There are dozens of things that could derail checking boxes on 10 lists during your day. It happens…Just avoid the “pencil whip”…You know predictable, rhythmic pattern of checks flowing down the page, missing boxes by ¼ inch each time? If you don’t do it, admit it and move on, or delegate it…Yes, I said delegate it…Can one of your trusted employees that have been TRAINED to do this help you sometimes? Yes, that’s called developing others…There will be a Blog on developing others coming soon.

Do you have any Restaurant Management topics you would like my views on? Drop me an email!!!


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