kitchen design and cutting payroll

Joined Jan 7, 2001
The restaurant where I work has a very long line in the kitchen and not designed very well on top of everything else. The line it self is not a problem in our busy season but now as the season slows (as well as the economy) my KM has a hard time cutting her staff because she says it's diffcult to run the line since it is so long. Also we use a system where the expeditor on the opposite side of the line from the cooks calls the tickets out and the cooks never see the tickets. I know some fine dining restaurants do this but we are not fining dining and the expeditor and their "set-up" person seems to be a waste of staff. I want them to do the setting of plates from the cook side of the also seems to me that only one order goes out at a time, which is a problem when doing big parties or during our busy season.
I've been in this business long enough to know that's it's easy for me to say while satting in my office cut payroll and so I hesitate...mean while payroll is 35% this week and next week will probably be 46%. Help! Has anyone ever used a consultant to help redesign their kitchen?
Joined Jul 22, 2000
Expediters are great, but they are only needed when you are very busy ...
I have worked with and without them .. one of the most enjoyable jobs I have had was running the grill and calling orders. You just need a cook that understands timing.

Do you change your menu for the slow season?
If the line is just to big (I will say I find that hard to believe ;)
you might try designing a menu around one or two stations of the line.

You can cut a cook by having the wait staff take on the pantry work .. i.e.: have the waiters make their own salads.

If the dish staff is not being used to it's full potential, they could be a great relief. Pull one out of dish for several hours a night to do prep or a simple line job... helps for training for the next busy season as well.

Most of the lines I have worked on call in orders as soon as they come in .. it is up to the cooks to make sure that their timing is correct and orders come out together. This can be done by the exp if he/she has her act together or by a good line cook .. i.e.: if the grill is calling orders he/she knows not to fire the pasta that comes in with a well done steak until that steak is almost cooked. But if another order comes in that is all pasta, that order should be fired to keep the pasta cook busy while the well done steak is cooking.... hope that makes sense :)

I have never been affiliated with an organization that hired a consultant to redesign the kitchen, it is usually cost prohibitive. I have been called in to redesign menus and methods to work within an existing kitchen.

Edit: I say all of this after working in 'right to work' states. I have NO idea what unions would have to say about waitstaff making salads or dish doing prep ....


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
Redesigning your kitchen will not help. I only say this because most of the time you have to build in safeguards against this kind of thing happening. If payroll goes up to 46% like you say this means your business will have fallen by 24%. You should start by finding some way to recoup at least a part of this. In an ideal world, where cost of production is directly proportional to the cost of labor, then your task will be to cut about a quarter of your workforce. That's a lot by anyone's standards.

I don't know the specifics of the operation, but that 24% is not as bad as it first seems. With proper training and some inhouse selling techniques and promotions, you can temporarily raise revenues by up to 10% for a certain length of time. More techniques are available, but it would be difficult to get it all in. Send me an email if you're interested.


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