Restaurant Ethics – Building Internal Relationships

28Aug08

Are you restaurant-friendly?

If you’ve worked in a commercial kitchen before, you’d probably know that there are actually many disputes between the service and kitchen staff. Service staff will always be rambling their way about the quality of food, the time taken to cook and kitchen staff will be swinging their mighty ladle or fillet knife around saying, “Get the hell out and come back when we RING THE BELL.” This is just an example of disputes between the kitchen and service staff.

Among FAMOUS events that cause arguments are:

  1. Wrong order/food served.

    Customers decide to change their order the very last minute or, the service staff punched in wrong orders.

  2. ‘Priority’ customers get time-served

    Customers who are time-fussy gets a piece of the busy kitchen. Kitchen replies would probably be “Get McDonald’s” or “You picked the wrong kitchen staff to cook, aye!”

  3. The infamous Item 86 gone wrong

    Item 86 refers to a menu item not available to serve that particular moment/day. A bad restaurant system/briefing could see that (orders on Item 86) happening, or bad-ass kitchen staff might say, “Get yourself 86’ed.” Sometimes, it could also be the fault of the person handling the Item 86 – An unupdated list brings trouble.

  4. Kitchen staff not performing as well

    The kitchen barker plays a very important role in handling food flow. This position is stressed to perfect organisational skills and systematical approach to the flow of outgoing foods from the kitchen. Some cooks will put extra stress on the barker when something bad happens: Incorrect meat doneness, inappropriate garnish, inadequate seasoning, etc. This position is usually filled by the Sous Chef or Chef de Partie.

  5. Fussy Customer & Confused Service Staff vs Temperamental & Busy Kitchen Staff

    When this happens, it’s usually bad news. In a busy kitchen, fussy customers are often around – And nobody wants to annoy them. On the other hand, nobody also wants to annoy the kitchen/service staff. Somebody needs to provide a win-win situation. To make matters worse – Miscommunication.

There are many other things that could happen in a kitchen that we might not be aware of. That’s why in this section, Food Central tries to bring out most possibilities, gather enough information and strike a blow with a systematic plan in order to combat situations like these; or at least reduce possibilities of them happening.

Building Restaurant Relationships

Good kitchen relationships aren’t hard to build – But consider dampening factors like psychological, culture, lifestyle, experience and historical differences. Not everyone can be whipped and smacked to perform – Some would just need the right mix of both, and some would need a more subtle approach. And this is definitely everyone’s job. However, the Restaurant Manager is ultimately responsible for it.

  1. Do your research & be strategic

    Analyze in your kitchen or service floor for problematic ones, and look into their situation. Give opinions, ideas and advise. Death threat or sentences wouldn’t help in certain conditions: A lot of them need attention. Think of the best way to solve their problems and come up with a win-win solution.

  2. Give proper briefing before service hours

    The supervisor or floor manager or even the captain issuing direct orders and (systematically and strategically) optimizing staff placement and control on the restaurant floor can go a long way. Many restaurants fail to do this, thus creating an environment where people would not compliment much. Remember Item 86, position service staff in appropriate areas, manage your workflow and line-of-walks appropriately, entrust your captain and get your gear ready (always leave some for backup).

  3. Attend personally to problematic customers

    Attending personally to problematic customers will give you a bigger ‘go’ as compared to those who don’t. Those with authority should always be around the floor, ensuring nothing goes wrong and point out to service staff should there be any misunderstandings/problems.

  4. Recognize your loyals/regulars

    Recognizing your loyal/regular customers gives the restaurant another big boost. This helps with ‘personalization’ of taste – And in the order sheet, you can always complicate less by stating needs, desires and wants so that the kitchen staff can attend to them correctly. Give them a smile and remember their names. Carry a book around if you can’t. Ask them to leave a business card. It’s all about keeping your loyals and attracting brand new ones to ‘convert’ them into loyals.

  5. Reward your staff after a hard day’s work

    A busy restaurant isn’t just about being money-making (ultimately). You should also care for your staff. After a hard day’s work, when appropriate, give them a piece of your appreciation. Handling a cost of $500 to give out free beer or free juice to your staff will mean appreciation (under certain conditions). Think of this cost as a marketing cost. As project management methodologies teaches us how to do ‘Internal Marketing’, this way is one of the best way to do.

  6. Keep your morale high, and everyone will be

    Nobody will daunt your morale if you do it appropriately. Just like during Roman wars and also in a football team. Put on (not a fake) a smile and take the heat – Do your job well even if conditions are not right, make the right decisions, and always think positive. A positive leader will always keep their downlines positive – In the long run, generate more creative ideas, happier working environment, increase in food quality, better staff appraisal and so forth.

  7. Provide bonuses, and freebies

    Looking at the Web 2.0 today (and also part of Google’s trend), many things are given out free. Even valuable things to reap greater returns. Such investment could champion you in many ways, either it is going to be happy staff, better morale, more free time for them to communicate, etc. Give you staff something they can feel (like two days off every fortnight or sending them for appropriate theoretical and practical training) and you’ll notice the level of appreciation hikes. Of course, ultimately, it really depends on how you manage the restaurant overall.

There are many more unthinkable ways to do internal marketing, and these are the 7 tips you can use to start off with. Be the player, be the manager, be the boss – Invest extra time in playing those roles. Eventually, with your gift of gap, you can make your whole restaurant staff-friendly or should the others call you restaurant-friendly.

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2 Responses to “Restaurant Ethics – Building Internal Relationships”

  1. I discovered your homepage by coincidence.
    Very interesting posts and well written.
    I will put your site on my blogroll.
    🙂

  2. very nice post.


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