Smarter Kitchen: Build Your Best BOH
A stream of orders rolls in via paper tickets. A stressed-out kitchen desperately works to stay on top of the backlog while trying to keep up with new orders. A hoarse kitchen worker hollers to notify staff of each item coming through on the tickets. Ticket times are delayed and food begins to wilt underneath the heat lamp. To keep up with the rush, food quality is inconsistent and meals are constantly being sent back. This creates a kitchen environment that is tense, inefficient, and negatively impacting the guest experience. This kitchen needs efficiency.
An efficient kitchen can be created through smart technology. The right kitchen technology can help restaurants of all sizes and segments automate their processes, slash ticket times, and improve the guest experience. In this article, you’ll learn about the benefits of restaurant kitchen technology and how it can work together to help build a smarter kitchen.
Kitchen Display System
A kitchen display system (KDS) is the powerhouse of your kitchen and takes place of paper tickets and printers. A KDS is the hub of all kitchen activity, improving efficiency, reducing ticket times, and increasing food quality. Some restaurants have noticed that their ticket times get slashed in half after implementing a KDS.
When shopping for a KDS, below are a few advanced features to seek.
A group of items (drinks, desserts, etc.) can be sent to the kitchen display system all at once. When the items are received, the KDS will sort when each item should be brought to the guest. You can set up rules based on timing, item ID, etc. This ensures food is always served fresh to the customer, at the right time.
A kitchen can have multiple KDS screens. When an order is rung through the POS, the items on that order will distribute to the appropriate station in your back of house. This feature also ensures that items move from one station screen to another.
Let’s say you have an order come through that includes a medium rare steak that takes 7 minutes to cook and a salmon that takes 14 minutes to cook. Delayed routing will pace the items, and notify cooks when to fire options with shorter cooking times, that way both items arrive fresh to the customer rather than sitting under a heat lamp. For example, the KDS would notify a cook to put the steak on the grill about 7 minutes after the salmon began cooking, that way they’re completed at the same time.
When you are getting started with off-premise dining, you have to consider how you’ll balance both streams of traffic (dine-in and off-premise). Capacity management accounts for in-house activity and adjusts real-time quotes to third-party delivery partners and carry-out customers. So, if your kitchen is backed up, the quotes received will be inflated based on real-time activity within your kitchen.
The kitchen will course these orders appropriately without disrupting in-store tickets, a process called order throttling. This goes into effect when your restaurant reaches max capacity. When traffic returns to a normal flow, the quote times will adjust based on your kitchen’s bandwidth.
It’s vital for operators and managers to have access to real-time data that provides a full scope of restaurant activity. A kitchen display system can provide metrics about a restaurant’s speed of service, station performance, historical benchmarks, and even front of house data such as seated parties. This information makes it easier to make decisions, and prep for peak hours.
There’s a way to ensure the quality of your food is never jeopardized – a recipe viewer. When a recipe viewer is integrated with a kitchen display system, it becomes the centralized portal to hold all your restaurant’s recipes, prep instructions, procedures, and graphical images so dishes are prepared accurately and efficiently.
Consistent Food Quality
When the same recipes, prep instructions, and procedures are available across all sites, you can expect consistent food quality.
When your dishes are consistent, guests know they can expect the same great quality food each time they visit.
Lower Training Costs
Training is made easier because all specific instructions are found on one centralized, digital hub. This makes training more efficient and eliminates the need for other employees to train new staff.
Reduces Employee Turnover
Employees feel more confident about their work performance with a recipe viewer. Guesswork is eliminated, allowing kitchen staff to easily replicate the same quality dishes every time.
Food Cost & Inventory Control
Since your recipe viewer will keep an accurate log of the ingredients and quantities you’ll need for each dish, you’ll have more control over food costs and waste.
Having reliable hardware in your restaurant is key to building a smart kitchen. These are the hardware items you need and how they work.
Kitchen Display Controller
A kitchen display controller powers the kitchen display system. When an order comes in through the POS, the order goes to the controller first. From there, it organizes, processes, and pushes to the kitchen display screen.
There are several types of controllers available. Some controllers can run full-motion video while others are simpler and only display text. Selecting a controller to support your KDS will depend on how robust you want your software to be. For example, a controller that can run full-motion video will have the ability to also display images. While likely more expensive up front, graphical or video display may help with consistency and provide a better training experience.
Kitchen Display Bump Bar
Bump bars are the brains behind order management and sequence. When an order goes from station to station, the bump bar helps move it along. Once an order’s complete, the order can be cleared from the KDS from the bump bar.
When shopping for a bump bar, you want hardware that can perform in harsh environments with high temperatures. Look for a bump bar that has a proven track record of durability and a competitive touch warranty.
FOH Software that Supports BOH
To build a smart kitchen, a restaurant needs a smart front of house. The technology below is accessible when you integrate your FOH and BOH systems.
Guest Management System
A FOH system integrated with a BOH system can provide insight on how many parties are still waiting and seated. This information will help better prepare chefs for a rush.
Host staff can view what’s going on in the BOH, too. The takeout tab feature on guest management systems enables front of house staff to view off-premise order activity in the back of house, keeping your host at the stand so they can provide better service to guests.
Point of Sale
A point of sale (POS) processes the restaurant’s transactions, which would be made through a traditional terminal, tablet, or online via an app or website.
Finding Success With Restaurant Kitchen Technology
As you can see, a smart restaurant kitchen does a lot more than just eliminating the need for paper tickets. It has the ability to transform how your whole restaurant operates. Most importantly, it allows you to get back to what you love most about running a restaurant – delighting customers with great food.
Before implementing technology in your restaurant, you need to have a transition plan in place. To make it easier, QSR’s Founder and CEO, Lee Leet, wrote an article about the vital steps in a successful technology rollout.
About the Author
Emily Elder is a Content & Social Media Specialist at QSR Automations. Emily was born and raised in Louisville but considers herself a die-hard University of Kentucky fan. For college, Emily attended Indiana University Southeast and obtained a degree in Communications with a track in Advertising. In her free time, Emily enjoys just about every water related activity but she is partial to kayaking and whitewater rafting.