What you should do is...

Pain points and how to avoid them

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How to hire a chef?

Oh boy! This is a fun one. I've seen this happen more times that you would think. Hiring a chef can be a rewarding process, you get to meet with different candidates, work with them for a day or two, and then there is the tasting! I've been involved with several chef hires. I've included the most common chef hires where the owner may need some guidance.

The Problems

  • MG has a bar; over time the neighborhood changes, now his clientele are asking for food. Not only does MG have to hire a chef, he needs to decide what kind of food program his bar will offer.
  • CP bought into the restaurant she's worked at for 10 years and is now the sole owner. The chef who has been there from the start decided to switch careers. Not only does CP need to find a chef, she needs to be ready for the change a new person brings.
  • DB invested a large sum of money into a high end cocktail bar. He, rightly, thinks they should serve food that is appealing to their clientele. DB has never worked in the hospitality industry before and relies on input from his non-hospitality friends who are full of opinions.

Questions to ask yourself

First things first: who are you trying to attract? What other restaurants are in the area? Who is your direct competition?
Secondly: What kind of food program would you like to have? Do you need a chef or a KM? How are you going to manage this new program in regards to training the existing staff and getting their buy in? If you have an established food program that you are elevating, how will you manage this change?
Third: How do you find and vet a chef to make a mark on what will become 25%-75% of your revenue? How will they respond to your corporate culture? How will you respond to a whole new department in your business?

360°restaurantsolutions Solutions

  • MG hired a talented chef then left them twisting in the wind without managing the change of the complete menu overhaul a few of his customer base requested. He didn't implement any of the steps to train the staff nor get the customers excited about the elevated quality of food coming their way. As a result it took an extra eight months for the food sales to see an increase.
  • CP hired a wonderfully creative chef. After 2 weeks training she asked this chef to follow the existing menu with no chance for change nor growth. 3 weeks from the day she started the chef departed to another kitchen that would allow her to use her considerable talents. It would have been better if CP had been honest with herself about they type of kitchen she wanted to have.
  • DB hired a sous chef who was ready to take on the role of Executive Chef. Sadly DB's market research amounted to him listening to all his buddies at the bar. As a result he gave the chef new directives everyday, often times contradicting himself in the same week. As a result food sales were terrible with tons of waste due to the high inventory the chef was forced to keep. A restaurant cannot be all concepts to all people.

You can imagine the money wasted on this ill thought out process. It is far easier to make right decisions in the beginning than it is to change course after roll out.

If the above questions make you squirm; if you don't have the answers, contact 360°restaurantsolutions to help guide you through this process.

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Where’s the hostess?

The hostess is the first human experience your guest has in your restaurant. The host staff sets the tone for the entire experience. This is a critical hire. They must be pleasant, helpful, friendly, and competent. They must have a bright smile, patience, understanding, and the ability to deploy tables with the skill of Patton. They must handle reservations, walk ins, add ons, table switchers, 3 tops who are now 5 tops, and incomplete parties. This position requires no experience but detailed training as they have to set the tempo for that shift. 
There once was a hostess named Angelica. She worked at a busy restaurant and followed the owner Albert's direction to a T.
Albert told her to seat each table as soon as they came in, no waiting! On busy nights as soon as the people show up she seats them: 2's, 4's, 15's, 25's.  There are only 50 menus. The dinning room seats 300. "Seat them as soon as they arrive!" She seats 50 people in 10 minutes. The servers must now scramble to greet 15 to 25 table simultaneously. Only a few of them have menus, nothing to look at, nothing to start their decision making process, nothing to do but look around and wonder why they have been invited in but not allowed to begin their evening. Guests hate to wait and will never be rushed.
30 minutes later and there are 100 guests sitting many with no menus, all waiting for a staff member who cannot attend to them in a timely manner. Craft cocktails take 3 minutes each to make; 90 seconds to pour a beer; about 30 seconds to pull a bottle of wine from the shelf;  x100 guests for a single barkeep working the service well. You can see how this barkeep gets in the weeds quickly.
The servers in an attempt to take as many orders as they can, ring in 6 tickets at a time. The kitchen printer is running nonstop now that 100 dinner orders, many with 3 courses, are being put through. Industry standard10 minute ticket times for the first course has been abandoned, 15 minutes after the apps the mains should arrive at the table, lololol! With 100 orders coming in at this pace, the controled chaos of the kitchen becomes a full on shit show. Line cooks working their fastest slam steaks on the grill, begin poaching the accompaniments, drop fryer baskets full of starter courses. At a certain point there is no more surface area to cook anything else; only so much food can reasonably be made at a time. The printer running constantly, the tape will spool out to the floor until the kitchen can catch up. Now first courses are taking 30 minutes, mains 40 minutes after that. All because the hostess sat the guests as soon as the folks showed up.
A restaurant need not take reservations to avoid this, it need only use some common sense in pacing the dining room. Right hiring and detailed training are the best ways to keep your table turn consistent and smooth. Once a table is seated the clock starts ticking. 
360°restaurantsolutions can help ensure your guests are delighted by every interaction with your staff through a thorough training program. visit 360restaurantsolutions.com to start a conversation