The kitchen is your restaurant’s greatest source of income, but it’s also your greatest source of costs. If you fail to manage the back of your house properly, your restaurant will leak money faster than water through a colander.
Here are five of the most dangerous kitchen mistakes that you need to watch out for:
Mistake: A poorly designed kitchen harms you even before the first customer steps in the door. Improperly placed equipment makes it difficult (even dangerous) for your staff to work. Staff that struggle to work with unsuitable or old equipment slow down and make mistakes, which leads to a poor dining experience for customers.
Solution: Take the time to properly arrange your kitchen layout from the ground up, such that food can transfer seamlessly from station to station. Carefully choose cooking equipment that is appropriate for your menu, your staff’s skill level, and your facility’s size.
Mistake: Restaurant owners don’t know how much money is literally being thrown out with the trash. Food spoilage and unused stock burn up your cash reserves. So do cooks who overuse ingredients, or staff that prep too much product that gets tossed at the end of a shift.
Solution: Audit your food waste to determine much is being thrown out. Then train your staff on proper food waste procedures. When possible, use ingredients in multiple dishes to use them up faster and make stocking them more cost-efficient.
Mistake: Haphazard food storage complicates food preparation as staff hunts for what they need. Mismanaged inventory increases the risk of mistakenly using spoiled or old ingredients, which may cause a foodborne illness incident.
Solution: Establish an orderly system for storing and tracking inventory on your shelves and in the freezer/refrigerator. Always label containers with the date and time they were first prepared/stored and order them on the shelves in such a way that the oldest stock always gets used up first. If possible, get an inventory management software that can assist with other areas of back of house operations.
Costly menu selection
Mistake: Restaurants that spend on expensive, slow-moving items are tying up spare cash on stock that could be spent in other areas. The same is true for ingredients that are only used in one or two dishes.
Solution: Rework your menu so that each ingredient is used in multiple dishes. Minimize the use of slow-moving inventory. Practice low-stock inventory management by purchasing just enough stock to last you until the next restocking date.
Lack of systems
Mistake: Your staff has no proper process or procedures in place, working away with no regard for safety or liability. Nobody knows what to do in an emergency, and their reactions are just as likely to make things worse as make it better.
Solution: Establish clear policies, procedures, and systems for everything that goes on in your restaurant: food safety, waste management, kitchen cleanup and everything else in between. Make sure your team sticks to these policies and invite them to offer suggestions for improvement.
The mistakes mentioned above are serious but still recoverable. If your kitchen is suffering from any of these problems, take immediate action to get your back of house back in order. Otherwise, their issues are going to turn into everybody’s problem.