The last thing restaurant owners are presently considering is spending money on items that are not necessities. However, the word, necessity is in the eye of the beholder.
Most owners would not think of investing money into new menu covers when customer counts were down and business profits diminishing. And, I know of few owners and managers who would reprint a menu without raising prices. Yet,Tony Ounpamarnchai of Sea Thai Bistro did exactly that- he added expensive new menu covers to enhance the ambiance and make the dining experience more of a memorable one. The operator is one of the best in Wine Country and his eye for exactness is targeted to the point of 20/20 vision. There are a handful of entrepreneurs who know the differences between wasting money and investing money and Ounpamornchai is one of these. there is nothing in his restauant that is not appealing to the eye. His meticulous attention to detail is a perfect example of a chef/owner who is continually on the look out for small items that are unsightly.
On Friday I referred to Lance at Park Chow and how his mantra for unsightly desserts was so impressive. I spent the weekend looking for “unsightly” in a hand full of places and came up short. While the other hand was overwhelmed with unsightly items that would rack up a slew of violations from any well tuned health inpsector.
Here is a list of ten tips on how to train your staff in the alleviation of the unsightly items and instances in your restaurant.
1). Keep the standards high and let the staff know what they are to expect from management. In a recent interview with a waitress, she claimed the rules and regulations at a prior workplace were not nearly as strict and monitored as they were at her current work environment. Both places are well known chain restaurants: The well run place explained the standards before she began her first shift, the other place never explained them or enforced them.
2). Make sure the staff uses the nightly opening and closing checklists. Add to the list as often as you need to. Bring up the checklist frequently at pre shift meetings.
3). Show examples of “unsightly” and take pictures of what unsightly means to you. Post the pictures on a bulletin board – make sure they are in a private area the customers cannot see, but the staff has them in plain sight.
4). If you notice something is unsightly, and you are in a situation that warrants it, point out the “unsightliness” to a supervisor of shift leader.
5). Come up with a solution to the problem. Often desserts stored in the box they arrive in get damaged while in the walk in cooler. Once unboxed, a carrot cake with a frosting deformed side is “unsightly”. A solution may be to store the cake, out of the box, in a plastic cake container with an air tight seal. Every problem has a solution. When developing the solution, write it down and post it next to the picture of the problem.
6). Don’t assume that explaining the existence of a problem once will alleviate it forever. It won’t. It will take as many times to train an untrained staff as it does to train an untrained (fill in the blank) .
7). Perfect your eye to see things that are “unsightly”, ugly and annoying. This will take time. However, great restaurant owners will train themselves to be able to walk into a room, pan it, and visualize how things are supposed to be and what is wrong with the way things are. That quality does not come over night. It takes practice and vision.
8). Do a walk-through regularly with one staff member each week. Start at the front door and walk through the entire restaurant, behind the bar, into the walk in coolers, through the kitchen and the basement. Along the walk talk about business, life and other things of equal interest and point out items you see that a customer should never see. Ask the person to take mental notes and check those items that you pointed out on a regular basis. Nothing is ever unsightly for more than a few days if caught quickly. Eventually, everyone on the staff will be looking and finding a variety of unsightly items they can spot and correct.
9). Side work is one of the most important tasks to alleviate the sit of unsightly. Make sure everyone does their fare share.
10). Don’t assume that everyone sees unsightly as you do. Ask for help from your servers and staff on what they consider unsightly. When you see it, change it. It will help make you and your customers see and feel better about your restaurant.