Can't Handle the Heat: How to Run a Restaurant Kitchen Smoothly

Written by
Rebecca Smith

May 20, 2019

May 20, 2019 • by Rebecca Smith

Here’s some advice many restaurant owners and kitchen managers receive — the restaurant industry will always do well because everyone needs food. And who doesn’t love eating?

This is one of the many reasons why the restaurant industry is constantly thriving. Americans spend 12.6% of their income on food. And this goes beyond our need to eat — Americans love eating food!

But everyone who works in the restaurant industry knows that running a restaurant only looks easy.

If you’re struggling to run your restaurant kitchen, here are ways you can better organize your kitchen so it runs efficiently (even when you’re not there).

Streamline Your Menu

Your restaurant boasts itself by offering one of the highest quality menus in town. But this doesn’t mean your extensive menu should stress out your kitchen staff.

You can offer unique and delicious dishes while ensuring you always have the right amount of ingredients and equipment. In addition, you can ensure your staff possesses the skill to cook all dishes, including new ones.

You do this by streamlining your menu. In short, this consists of limiting your menu items to ingredients and equipment you’ll constantly have in your kitchen.

The menu items should also be similar, as far as preparation and cooking are concerned. This will relieve the burden of your staff.

Collect Employee Feedback

There are many qualities that make an amazing leader. If you run a restaurant, you likely have a hefty amount of experience that comes with knowledge of the field.

Because of this, many restaurant managers fail to listen to staff recommendations and ideas.

A leader exercises power but is also open-minded. They listen to those below them. You can’t have an efficient kitchen without your staff. This is why you should stay open to employee feedback.

In addition, you can always ask your staff for new ideas and suggestions. Your staff may not approach you directly but they may have something to say if you open up to them.

Set Up a Convenient Inventory System

Do you know how many supplies you need each day before your restaurant opens? If you don’t know, improve your inventory system. You can effectively log in how much you use each day and compare that to how much you started with.

Before your restaurant opens, you’ll know how you stand with inventory. This way, you don’t run out of anything in the middle of a rush.

Another option you have is inventory delivery. A delivery service can deliver ingredients directly to your restaurant. And if you’re low, just give this service a call and they will deliver inventory to you.

If you click here, there’s no need to ask your staff to run out and pick up ingredients.

Conduct Regular Tests

A restaurant has to abide by strict health codes. If a restaurant fails an inspection, they could be fined or even shut down.

In addition, inspection failures are public. This could result in loss of sales. You may do what you can to uphold health codes. But an inspection failure can be due to employee carelessness.

To ensure this never happens, conduct regular tests. Require employees to read health code manuals and documents.

Create Specific Work Stations

Do you notice your cooks are cutting onions directly on top of the stove? This is not only inefficient but extremely unsafe. Create specific work stations throughout the kitchen.

For example, there’s an area to chop ingredients, an area to mix ingredients, and so on.

Kitchen staff duties aren’t the only required work stations your kitchen should have. Create an area to hold excess inventory. All prepared and finished meals should come in and out of one area, preferably close to the sink.

This may be a challenge for smaller kitchens. But it’s essential you create basic stations to ensure safety and efficiency.

Humans Over Machines

Humans lose 40% of jobs because of AI.

While AI and automation can streamline many duties, there’s no way a robot can take over kitchen staff duties.

Implementing AI into your restaurant is fine; technology and data can help customers order products, can streamline your sales, and can help with other duties such as scheduling and inventory.

While there’s nothing wrong with adding AI to your restaurant, put your main focus on the hardworking humans who need a paycheck.

Always Prep Ahead

You want to make all meals fresh-to-order. This doesn’t mean you have to mince garlic for each meal.

For typical ingredients, such as onions, garlic, and herbs, prepare them ahead of time. This will help expedite the cooking process while you also provide fresh meals to customers.

For high-volume and fast restaurants, you can even cook perishables such as meat, potatoes, and vegetables ahead of time. As long as they’re kept in appropriate conditions, they’re fine to serve.

Back on the subject of prep…

Assign a Prep Role

Now that you know you should prep ahead of time, who should do the prepping? You’ll be shocked how vital this role is. The person prepping needs to prep a large number of ingredients and ensure they’re stored correctly.

Prepping the actual food isn’t the only role in prep. The prepper needs to stock, clean the whole kitchen, prepare tools, and other simple duties that could slow down a kitchen if they’re not done.

This is why the person assigned the prep role should be a talented staff member you trust. It’s best they come in every day before the kitchen opens to ensure the restaurant is ready before customers come rolling in.

You’re On Your Way to a More Efficient Restaurant Kitchen

There are many ways you can make your restaurant kitchen run better than it is now. Take our advice for a more efficient kitchen.

Are you more interested in learning how your restaurant can use tech? Take a lesson from McDonald’s. Here’s what they learned from using first-party data.