By: Chef Natasha Reta
Have you had to pivot your offerings to include drive-thrus, walk-up windows, and delivery? Then you know this is not just as simple as putting up the sign and opening the windows. It takes serious thought and consideration when executing this plan through your whole establishment. Clarity and communication to staff on all new standard operating procedures (SOPs) will enhance your service and your team’s safety and well-being.
Third-party deliveries take charge of our efforts to maintain social distancing. Often rushed and sometimes pushy drivers will flood your vestibules, take-out counters, and drive-thrus to quickly transport meals as they are demanded. This haste leads to order mistakes, inconsistency, waste, and disappointed guests. How to help?
Consider how your BOH staff will receive and view an item to prepare. Personally, look at the screen or paper that they are required to review. Is it paper? Is the ink easy to read from all positions on the line? Is it a KDS (kitchen display screen)? How is each station on your kitchen line communicating to complete orders? A few items to address:
- Be sure that there is standard practice for calling out orders to the kitchen team and there is a lead to address issues as they arise.
- Determine estimated cook times of dishes and be sure staff is following preparation per recipe. This will ensure that the dish is prepared in the exact time it has been set in your KDS system or otherwise recorded and taught in your recipe process.
- Enhance the packaging process by setting quality control points that the final bagger must verify.
It is always important to review your kitchen line and its daily operations. It is imperative to assess cleanliness and organization and the tools required to prepare each dish. Does your staff have to walk long distances from their position to complete a dish? Do they have all the correct tools? Are the appropriate to-go boxes per dish in the corresponding station? A few every day rules behind the line:
- Cleanliness and CLEAN as you go. Open clean, stay clean, and close clean. Having a standard operation for daily organization and upholding your staff to these standards will ensure that your kitchen follows health and safety protocols. Opening and closing checklists will provide clarity to staff on what is required daily.
- Organize each station so that the team member working that station can produce dishes without leaving their station. Staff should be working in a bubble around themselves, not in a squiggly line crossing over each other. This will not only help cleanliness but is a safety measure for maintaining distancing in very tight quarters.
Has the pick-up process been a challenge for you and your staff? Do you have signs and designated stations for walk-up guests and for third-party deliveries? Sure, not all restaurant owners can afford the footprint of a drive-thru in order to designate specific windows for third-party services. With some strategically placed signs and added social awareness, you can ease the pick-up process.
- Use social media. Owners utilize these platforms to show off their tasty treats. Consider showing your guests and new guests that you follow safety protocols. Explain to them a new process of pick-up or delivery and be sure your staff follows the same standards.
- Utilize signage on the ground and arrows to direct the flow of traffic.
- Be certain that no one receives a take-out without being confirmed of order and name.
There’s no denying that these have been difficult and trying times. It is important to remember that EVERYONE is and has been affected by this. Trying to ease pressure and confusion on your guests and staff will create an atmosphere that guests enjoy, and your team appreciates. Organization and clear communication will always be the solution.