Take a moment to think about your favorite restaurant. Is their food consistent? More than likely it is. People who go to the same restaurant and eat the same item every time, choose to do so because it is consistent – in the way it is prepared, the ingredients used, and how it is seasoned.
Imagine going out to dinner and expecting your usual dish only to be met with something completely different – maybe it’s over-salted, or the asparagus was swapped for spinach. Whatever the change, and no matter how seemingly small it may be, it doesn’t meet your expectations, and you probably are less-than-satisfied. To a restaurant owner, this is a big deal. Every guest that leaves your establishment should leave satisfied and wanting to come back again and again.
Farm to Table
Consistency starts with your vendors – ensuring what they offer consistently meets your requirements – and ends with the final product presented to your guests. From the time they are picked, butchered, or boxed, to the time you receive them, the products you use in your kitchen can affect the quality and consistency of your menu items. Does your produce supplier consistently deliver ripe tomatoes? Does your butcher consistently deliver quality meats?
Now take a look at your own kitchen. The expediter, or expo, can help maintain consistency by inspecting every item that leaves the kitchen – from making sure the soup has not reduced, to ensuring the vegetables are not over salted, and that the meat is cooked to the right temperature on every plate.
Thou Shalt Not Pass
Think of this person as the gatekeeper. If the grill cook puts a plate in the window that is not exactly to the restaurant's standards, the expo should kick it back, regardless of a long ticket time, a slammed kitchen, or an upset grill cook. If it is not perfect, it does not see the dining room.
Whether it’s the Sous Chef or the Front-of-House Manager, the person running expo should understand the impact of sending out inconsistent product to diners. This is the one point in the restaurant that cannot be flexible. It’s either right or it’s wrong.
Conditions in the kitchen can change in an instant – fryer temperatures can fluctuate; the flat top can fill with carbon; the oven temperature can plummet from 550 to 250 degrees within seconds. These are all variables that can derail consistency and are a few reasons why the expo must have the highest standard of quality in the kitchen to be sure that these changes do not negatively affect the final product.
Benefits of a Kitchen Display (KDS) and POS System
Combining a KDS with your POS system can help the expo improve consistency in the timing of delivering food to the table. Paper slips can be lost or difficult to read, which can cause a disruption in service in the front and back of the house. When your restaurant uses a KDS, communication improves among staff. A KDS system allows menu items to be sent to the kitchen and prep stations based on prep time. Items that take longer to prep appear first and items that have a shorter prep time appear later. The expo and managers can quickly monitor the status of each table and drill down to identify any delays.