How To Operate A Restaurant
Many people who have been in business for a while believe they know how to operate a restaurant. Business savvy doesn’t always translate to restaurant success, however, as not all business are run the same way. Here are some tips to help you know how to operate a restaurant.
- Make someone else the head chef. This is vital. As a new restaurant owner/manager, one of your first temptations will be to jump into the fray by trying your hand at whipping up the menu you’ve created. Unless you graduated from a culinary training institute or college of some kind, your talents are best left to schmoozing the customers and tweaking the nuts and bolts of the system. There’s no way you can do this effectively if you’re needed in the kitchen.
- Chef experience. To operate a restaurant at peak performance, you must hire chefs who have quality experience. Manning the fry line at McDonald’s won’t cut it. No fast food joints. When interviewing, look for college or culinary school education coupled with time put in at real restaurants. Depending on the nature of your restaurant, you may want to hire someone with at least ten to fifteen years experience. This is especially true in four- or five-star restaurants. If you’re opening a neighborhood pizza and pasta joint, on the other hand, formal education and an extensive resume aren’t as necessary. Regardless of your restaurant, however, you want your head chef to know what he’s doing and be able to communicate with the chefs and waitstaff.
- References. Ask for at least two to three references for each chef. Require the applicants to provide the nature of their relationship with the references and how long they have known one another. Then call them. Many employers skip over this step because they like the looks of their applicants’ resumes or because they lack time to make the calls. Doing this runs the risk of sabotaging your efforts later. You’ve never hired staff before, so working the references is one of your best weapons to better your odds of hiring quality employees.
- Pay. Don’t be stingy. Pay your cooks well or you’ll attract inferior chefs who make inferior food. It’s as simple as that.
- Assign assistant managers for each section. The cooks/chefs should have a head chef just as the waitstaff should have a floor manager and the busboys have an assigned leader to whom they must report. Assigning these roles prevents you from having to deal with every employee’s problem on an individual basis, streamlining the process to a trusted few who report to you. You can also disseminate information more easily by giving it to them to pass along to those in their section.
- Clean religiously. One of the quickest ways to ensure you lose customers is by keeping a dirty restaurant. It doesn’t matter how busy it gets, you should be cleaning the restaurant at least every two hours. A rotating schedule is a great way to assign cleaning duties for each section, and by assigning a different person every two hours, you spread the responsibility around and make it a team effort.
- Simple menu. This applies more to four- and five-star restaurants, but it is good advice no matter what type of eatery you’re managing. Keep the menu simple, in the neighborhood of four appetizers, eight to ten main courses and two or three desserts. It’s better to cook a few things very well than to be mediocre in a lot of things. Don’t try to accommodate every taste. Work with your head chef to come up with an easy menu that can easily incorporate fresh ingredients.
- Fight in the back. If you have to discipline an employee or you sense that an employee is getting frustrated to the point of acting out, tell them to meet you in the back of the restaurant, preferably in an office if possible. Never, ever allow the customers to see you arguing with your employees or to see two employees arguing with each other. It not only ruins the customer’s eating atmosphere, but it also looks very bad for you and your restaurant.