Restaurant Design and Development, and Concept Development

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No Excuses for Bad Food

grilled tuna No Excuses for Bad Food french green lentil salad No Excuses for Bad Food spinach salad No Excuses for Bad Food
In todays world, with the knowledge, capabilities, equipment and food suppliers we have, there is no excuse for bad food. This said, it is still difficult to get a good meal at a restaurant. It seems the focus in most restaurant is on quantity (length of menu and portion size) versus quality (a menu that only has items that can be produced well). How this is accomplished changes according to the type of restaurant, as follows:

Fine Dining: Very reliant on the quality of the chef, on the design of the kitchen, the availability of good meats and produce. In fine dining the menu isn’t extensive, but it is in constant change, If the menu doesn’t change, it means that the chef has lost his push to give his customers the best he can do.

Customer excitement, availability of local products, seasons will all drive the fine dining menu.

Two other factors are critical to good food execution. A good sous-chef and team, as each step in the preparation is critical. And finally, is well developed cooking processes and methods that are reproducible, and can produce the best food in a timely manner, even in the middle of a busy service.

Casual Dining: Similar to fine dining, but more process driven, and less reliant on the skills of the kitchen team. Menu has to be designed thinking of how to deskill the labor required, and how to make it fool proof. Selection of equipment is critical, as well as how the recipes are written and executed, with ticket times that are kept to a minimum.

This process of producing the best one can get out of the available ingredients, cooking in equipment that is accurate and repeatable. For example roasting chickens in a convection oven that has a temperature differential of +/- 20 degrees will not give the desired results, and will require a skilled chef/cook to make it work. A good combi oven will roast chickens consistently time after time, and in a shorter period.

Separating the cooking from the finishing is also essenital to reduce times and skills. Finishing can be done quickly and does not require high skilled cooks, versus cooking hamburgers, steaks, chicken on a grill from scratch, which requires a skilled grill cook.

Menu changes will be weekly special and seasonal changes. Menu should be kept short.

Fast Casual: More process driven. menu changes very little. Service times are critical (hence the name FAST Casual). Service times should be constant, even when the restaurant is in the middle of lunch/dinner rush. A fast casual restaurant should have service times of less than 6 minutes. The best ones target under 2 minutes.

The design of the service model is critical. Depending on the menu, this varies from a serveline with payment at the end after customer has his order,or order pay and get a number or give ones name and wait for the order to be fulfilled. The danger of this second model is that once a customer is given a number, he loses control fo his time.

Some concepts use a hybrid model, where some items are fast and customer orders and pays , while other items they order, pay and wait for order (Starbucks model).

Quick Serve (QSR): Typical setup is to have a line of POS/Cashiers, customer orders and waits for order to be fulfilled. In many cases their is also the Drive-Thru element, which can be over 70% of a units business. In these restaurants the bottle neck is typically in the order fulfillment, a the kitchen can make the orders quicker than they can be fulfilled.

Order accuracy is paramount, as mistakes, especially in the drive thru are very disruptive to throughput. Most QSR run an order accuracy of about 90%.

In very busy restaurants, self order kiosks with separate pick-up windows will increase throughput. In France in busy restaurants McDonald and KFC have seen sales increases of over 20% with selforder kiosks, which in the QSR world is enormous.

On the menu, cooking processe, kitchen layout, it is all about efficiency and keeping the labor skills required to a minimum.


Team skills have to be in organization and service, not on cooking.

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