Long ticket times are a common problem in restaurants, and nothing will scare a potential regular customer away like having to wait 45+ minutes to get their food.
There are many factors that can increase ticket times. In this post, I would like to cover one of those issues, overloading a kitchen station.
Part of designing a menu that works is making sure you are not overloading one station in the kitchen, or one piece of equipment. Your menu needs to be designed with constraints in mind to prevent you from doing this. Here’s some tips.
- create a graph showing which kitchen station(s) each menu item is prepared in
- within that graph, list which piece of equipment is necessary to the production of each item
- balance your menu items between each kitchen station and each piece of equipment within stations
- eliminate or change menu items that require production from more than two stations
It really can be as simple as that. Without the graph as a visual tool, it’s easy to overlook the fact that you have overloaded a particular station. You’ll likely have a propencity to do just that, based on your own tastes and experiences in cooking particular dishes.
When you sit down to write a menu, I think it’s a good idea to have a rough “sketched to scale” diagram of your kitchen in front of you. You need to constantly be thinking about how many burners you have, how many ovens, how much flat top space, and what your fryer capacity and recovery ability is. With a sketch in front of you, you’ll consider all these factors during the origination process of your menu, instead of after your first 45 minute ticket time.
Remember, you only have one chance to make a good first impression. Work out details like this before you open your doors, or you’ll be closing them a lot sooner than you want to.
A good way to make your food stand out, and to communicate what your food is all about is by creating a signature item in each of your menu categories. These items should be your highest gross profit earners, and the centerpieces of your direct marketing efforts. They help define you and your restaurant. You don’t need “a bunch” of signature items either. The more items you have that claim to be “special” or “signature”, the less special each of them are. Save your other great, creative ideas for your daily or weekly features.
Check out the discussion going on in my FOHBOH.com blog about creating manageable menus, based on the same name post from this blog:
Lot’s of valuable opinions flying around, with a few experts in the food service industry discussing this topic.