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Tips for Managing a Restaurant Kitchen

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The life of a restaurant kitchen manager is never boring! From preparing meal ingredients to ensuring the food is served promptly, there are always plenty of challenges to overcome.

As the kitchen manager, you will need to effectively manage a range of moving parts including your employees as well as all the complex equipment that the kitchen needs to function. Here are some proven strategies that can help you effectively manage your kitchen and produce top quality meals.

Preventive maintenance is key

Keeping your kitchen equipment running well is important for ensuring productivity and minimizing downtime. However, this is easier said than done with a large number of items to keep track of and a wide range of components that need to be maintained regularly. Technology can come in handy in this instance. By using fixed asset inventory software, you can have a clear overview of all of your equipment. Instead of waiting for problems to happen, you can schedule preventive maintenance during non-disruptive hours such as early mornings or on rest days to avoid disruption to your meal service. Asset inventory software will also help you to keep track of the progress of any repairs and gauge the performance of individual units.

Inventory should be easy

Each dish that is created in a restaurant kitchen contains a range of ingredients from salt and sugar to steak and spirits, all of which are necessary. It can cost the restaurant hundreds of dollars in lost income if a dish cannot be prepared due to is a shortage of just one ingredient. That said, inventory management is a time-consuming and complicated process. With an accurate and transparent inventory system in place, you can identify any upcoming shortages immediately and take appropriate action. You can also review your standard orders to ensure that you are not overstocking on less-used items. Digital inventory management software can be very helpful here—so long as your kitchen staff are trained to use it correctly.

Invest in staff communication

Technology should facilitate communication and not impede it. While digital solutions can help with many of the complex tasks associated with restaurant management, it is important to maintain a strong relationship and good communication with your employees to ensure that they have the support they need to perform their duties effectively. For instance, make sure that your kitchen staff are properly onboarded when installing any digital software systems. It is also helpful to hold meetings with your team to introduce changes in procedures and discuss ways to improve efficiency. Likewise, front-of-house employees should be introduced to kitchen processes so that they can better understand how their actions may affect the flow of food.

Workstations work well

Separate working areas in a restaurant kitchen will prevent bottlenecks and provide greater efficiency and productivity. You should ensure that the workstations are organized and ergonomic. Each workstation should have its own set of supplies and the tools that are needed for its associated tasks so that kitchen workers can perform their duties without having to fight for space or equipment with their coworkers. It should also be a reasonable distance from central facilities such as fridges and sinks. Having clearly defined workstations will also prevent cross-contamination of food for diners with food allergies. Conduct a workstation check before and after every service ensure that each workstation is clean, fully stocked, and ready for use.

Effective prep is essential

Ingredient preparation is a major step in any kitchen workflow. Effective prep procedures can keep your kitchen running smoothly and reduce the amount of time it takes for your kitchen to deliver a meal. First, establish a well-organized kitchen prep area and give your prep team the tools and equipment they need to perform their duties. Then, make a simple checklist of tasks that must be performed each shift such as sharpening knives or weighing ingredients. Prep procedures should be clear and easy to follow so that kitchen staff can perform them even when they are under pressure during a busy service. Sanitation should remains high on your priority list during prep. You should monitor how often the prep workstation is cleaned and how prepared ingredients are stored.

Staff scheduling plays a huge role

There is nothing worse than not having enough hands in the kitchen to cope with incoming orders. While it can be tempting to run with a smaller crew to save on labor costs, poor scheduling can result in delays in service and a lower customer satisfaction rate. Instead, have an accurate system in place that allows you to know the expected output of your team. This will help you better prepare for busy days and ensure that you have enough people on hand to meet demand. Pay attention to the flow of diner traffic and try your best to match your staffing schedules to service needs. Keep the schedule of your staff clearly defined and ensure that each member of the team is punctual and on board with their responsibilities.

Managing a restaurant kitchen is equal parts logistics and people management. A successful kitchen manager must be able to achieve a harmonious balance between these two aspects to achieve optimal efficiency. By using technology to your advantage and maintaining a cohesive work environment, you can reduce your kitchen’s operating costs and improve the quality of your food in the process.

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