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Balancing Act: How to Juggle Delivery, Take-out, and Dining Room Service

The last two years have taught us a lot. From developing new revenue streams to implementing contactless, we’ve come a long way in a short time. One of the greatest lessons we’ve learned is that it’s possible to manage a successful dining room, while also running an online operation.

To successfully accommodate all customers, both on and off-premise, a brand new skill has been added to the restauranteur’s repertoire – the art of juggling.

To keep your restaurant’s ordering operations running smoothly, we’ve put together a few key components to help keep everything in balance.

  1. Create two passes in the kitchen

  2. Add a kitchen expeditor

  3. Incorporate tech

  4. Create a streamlined online menu

Create two passes in the kitchen

The kitchen is the engine of your restaurant, the core of the operation, responsible for keeping the wheels turning. Without a smooth-running kitchen, all kinds of breakdowns can occur, from incorrect orders to a hostile work environment. With a multi-operational restaurant , catering to both dine-in and delivery services, it’s become more critical than ever to keep your kitchen operating like a well-oiled machine.

Recently, we asked Mehmet Erkaya, owner of two Mr. Mandolin locations offer counter service, take-out, and delivery, to share his secret to keeping his operations running smoothly. “The secret is in the timing,” Mehment explained. “When we first opened up for dine-in service again, we set up two passes in the kitchen, one for take-out and delivery orders, and one for our counter customers.”

Mehmet explained that food should never be kept waiting around, and keeping two dedicated passes keeps the food flowing. Another suggestion he offered was adding a kitchen expeditor.

Add a kitchen expeditor

One of the most important – and hardest – jobs in the kitchen is one that most people probably never heard of. To keep your delivery, take-out, and dine-in services orders flowing, consider adding a designated expeditor in the kitchen. Like an air traffic controller, the expediter sets the kitchen’s rhythm, manages the workflow of the kitchen staff, and ensures that food never waits around.

A behind the scenes, back-of-house role, expediters are vital to a restaurant’s smooth operation, especially in today’s kitchens where delivery, take-out, and dining room service is all happening simultaneously. They fire dishes, signal cooks when to push ahead and finish a dish, and continuously plan the next move.

The heartbeat of a balanced operation, the food expeditor acts as a liaison between the kitchen staff, waitstaff and delivery staff, ensuring a steady workflow throughout the various departments of a restaurant.

Food Expeditor responsibilities include:

Ensuring the efficient flow of orders from the wait staff to and from the kitchen

Ensuring the efficient flow of orders from online ordering systems, including

phone-in ordering, delivery platforms and the kitchen.

Ensuring orders are being prepared with the correct priority

Assisting in the final preparation of dishes

Making sure food is never waiting around

Incorporate tech

If your staff doesn't have what they need to get the job done, it'll cause mistakes and frustration in the kitchen. As a restaurant owner, your task is to make sure your workers are confident that they’ll always have everything they need to do their job right.

Whether it's quality pots and pans, sharp knives, or plenty of support staff, all the tools of the trade are vital to keeping the engine running.

One of the most common problems in a restaurant kitchen is poor ticket management. If tickets are out-of-order, confusing, or inaccurate, orders can go missing, incorrectly prepared, or sent back.

To help streamline kitchen service, adding a digital kitchen display system that links directly to your restaurant’s point of sale (POS), displaying the order on the screen can be a life changer.

Orders are displayed according to priority, tracking meal delivery times. The system also monitors inventory to indicate when a product is out of stock. This technological advancement helps provide better communication between front and back of house staff, improves accuracy, and optimizes workflow.

Implementing the newest restaurant tech is a key component to a smooth running multi-level operation. More tech tools that help keep operations running smoothly include:

QR codes

Contactless payments

Online reservation systems

Automated Inventory Management

Create a streamlined online menu

One key ingredient to keeping operations running smoothly is to create a separate online menu that only contains your top offerings that are, at the same time, profitable, popular, easy to package, and transportable.

Creating a streamlined online menu is one of your restaurant’s most valuable juggling tools because it not only strategically advertises your menu’s best offerings, but it keeps the kitchen less bogged down with orders that take too much time to prepare.

When customers dine in your restaurant, food has a short trip from the kitchen to the table. But when they order delivery, that hot, fresh meal needs to stay hot and fresh from the kitchen all the way to a diner’s home.

When creating an online delivery menu, it’s important to be sure offerings are easy to package to-go and travel well because you need to get it right the first time to avoid a negative delivery experience for your customers. No matter how popular or profitable an item may be, if it shows up soggy, mushy or cold, it’ll leave a bad taste in your customers’ mouths, which might cause them to go elsewhere next time.

That’s why keeping your online menu simple makes it easier for your kitchen to keep the food coming, both in-house and out, and for delivery staff to avoid hitting literal bumps in the road.

It’s not always easy running a multi-operational establishment –it’s almost like running two restaurants out of one kitchen. But, you’ve made it through some of the darkest days, sailed through some of the heaviest storms, and accomplished some of the most incredible feats over the last couple of years.

To keep all your balls in the air, remaining adaptable, resilient, and open to change will be the greatest assets you can have as you juggle your way through the always evolving restaurant game.

By Eileen Strauss



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