Success in today’s restaurant world requires more than a great menu, a great reputation or even a great space: It requires mastery of flexibility. Restaurants have been forced to adapt the ever-changing needs of their customers. Many are doing it brilliantly. Here are just a few ways to create an agile operation.
To better serve your customers — while monetarily succeeding — you’ll need to make some menu modifications. Modify your menu to focus on key ingredients shared across multiple dishes to maximize bulk spend. You might also minimize all-day items and transition menus to specific meals that anyone on your kitchen staff can easily execute. Make your menus flexible enough to accommodate changes and allow for success in case your staffing plan is temporarily interrupted.
Flexible containers and supplies
In the past, if a customer wanted to take an unfinished meal to-go, many restaurants would re-box behind the scenes and redeliver. However, customers are more discerning now about their to-go packaging, placing higher priority on sustainable, tamper-proof and transparent materials. Restaurants should make sure to follow best practices and accommodate customer priorities with alternate, flexible packaging. In some cases, you may even be able to use transitional packaging that seamlessly travels from an outdoor dining area to a to-go bag by simply adding the appropriate lid.
If you are modifying your menu to focus on specific meals, you may need to swap out kitchen equipment between services. For example, your brunch waffle station can swap out to the lunch-time sandwich prep area. Re-work your kitchen to become modular, allowing quick and easy equipment swaps and traffic flow for your staff.
Distance tables to build trust and comfort with your customers. It’s hard to predict whether you’ll need eight tables of two or four tables of four. Simply sliding them together on-the-fly like we used to will no longer work in the current safety environment. Consider new ways to separate dining groups, such as a curtain or barrier system to separate tables and create miniature rooms. This creates distancing while also adding atmosphere. These options also allow you to combine spaces, rather than moving physical tables that then need to be re-sanitized.
As you look ahead, consider your full experience from both budgetary and customer comfort standpoints and then redesign to allow flexibility and efficiency.
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