How to Serve 200 Customers Daily in an 8-seat Restaurant

Phil Johnson

21 May 2018    |   

Breaking down the cost of eating a fine meal there’s a lot you pay for on top of the transactional value of buying and preparing food. Being waited on in an architecturally designed restaurant in a prime location is great. But what if you want the same quality food without the premium price? As the case goes for Australia, to get a fine dining meal here, you’ll also be paying for self-inflicted operational inefficiencies. We’re largely talking: Capital and operational expenses of having a large fancy venue Staff who perform various activities that don’t directly pertain to the preparation of food Time consumed in a long seated meal that prevents the venue from turning over the table several times during service But this isn’t the case in many places of the world – I recently travelled to Japan where I discovered good food can be purely transaction. It’s usually in an alleyway and the people who greet you also cook your food. In Japan, many well-regarded restaurants have no front of house staff at all. Many don’t have a human taking your order. Here’s one example I encountered: I picked this example because it has a western counterpart – a high-end steak restaurant. The place is called Le Monde, located in Shinjuku, and it’s tiny. There’s 3 staff, there’s no time of the day that doesn’t have a line and the dining room has 8 seats. Here’s how they do it Eliminate menu choice. What do you want? We have steak, steak, and steak. There is no question as to what you’re ordering. It’s going to be steak and it will be cooked medium-rare. The only question is what cut you will be ordering. Each steak comes with an exact amount of thick cut potato chips, a small number of greens and a tiny amount of rice. The result is an ultra-low wastage restaurant with a hyper-efficient kitchen process. Efficient design. This place is evidence that if you design your restaurant with the efficiency of a Toyota plant you can serve up high-value food at a low price. Those waiting outside observe the menu, the one front of house team member takes your order at the door. You then progress to a standing line inside. The chefs watch the progress of seated customers and line up the steaks to match the inside line of customers. A perfectly timed steak hits the grill, you simply sit and a steak goes directly from the grill to a plate in front of you within 30 seconds. You then leave promptly after finishing your meal because people are looking at you waiting for your seat. Here’s a technical diagram I put together in the early hours of the morning: No time for talking. There’s dead silence in this restaurant. The feel is part fine dining restaurant with quiet jazz music and a little bit like a solemn funeral. You sit, you eat, you leave. This is in part because you’re eating to an audience of other people waiting for your seat. Never an empty seat. Empty seats are dead money. Hospitality operators pay for the seat and the square meter it sits on for one reason – to make money from it. By having a small footprint, every seat makes money. Restaurant wastage comes in many forms, and ultimately the consumer pays for it somehow. The same goes for wasted seats and square meters, if you’re eating in an empty restaurant there are only two options: you’re either paying for the empty seats in your meal price or the operator is going backward. I walked past at all hours of the day and never observed this place without a line to get a seat. Aces in their places. Unlike my fellow diners who looked down at their meal and only looked up to pay, I took a good look at how the kitchen operated. The simplicity created insane efficiency. Everything had its place and each meal was prepared like clockwork. All perfect. Always on time. Here’s the staff setup: 1x FOH staff member takes care of the dining room, takes orders and prints the bill. 1x Chef manages the grill. They observe the eating progress of seated customers and ensure everything is ready to go in order of those in line. 1x Chef manages the sides and plating, and everything else that happens in the kitchen. Insane value. This is a subjective statement but rings true if your goal though is to eat fine dining food at takeaway prices. This is achieved by eliminating all of the activities that are non-value adding to you getting a quality steak cheap and fast. The result: a restaurant quality steak for a fast food price. It’s a place where well off business people and broke backpackers eat side by side. Something you won’t see often in Australia.

Breaking down the cost of eating a fine meal there’s a lot you pay for on top of the transactional value of buying and preparing food. Being waited on in an architecturally designed restaurant in a prime location is great. But what if you want the same quality food without the premium price?

As the case goes for Australia, to get a fine dining meal here, you’ll also be paying for self-inflicted operational inefficiencies.

We’re largely talking:

  • Capital and operational expenses of having a large fancy venue
  • Staff who perform various activities that don’t directly pertain to the preparation of food
  • Time consumed in a long seated meal that prevents the venue from turning over the table several times during service

But this isn’t the case in many places of the world – I recently travelled to Japan where I discovered good food can be purely transaction. It’s usually in an alleyway and the people who greet you also cook your food.

In Japan, many well-regarded restaurants have no front of house staff at all. Many don’t have a human taking your order.

Here’s one example I encountered: I picked this example because it has a western counterpart – a high-end steak restaurant. The place is called Le Monde, located in Shinjuku, and it’s tiny. There’s 3 staff, there’s no time of the day that doesn’t have a line and the dining room has 8 seats.

Here’s how they do it

Eliminate menu choice. What do you want? We have steak, steak, and steak. There is no question as to what you’re ordering. It’s going to be steak and it will be cooked medium-rare. The only question is what cut you will be ordering.

Each steak comes with an exact amount of thick cut potato chips, a small number of greens and a tiny amount of rice.

The result is an ultra-low wastage restaurant with a hyper-efficient kitchen process.

Efficient design. This place is evidence that if you design your restaurant with the efficiency of a Toyota plant you can serve up high-value food at a low price.

Those waiting outside observe the menu, the one front of house team member takes your order at the door. You then progress to a standing line inside. The chefs watch the progress of seated customers and line up the steaks to match the inside line of customers.

A perfectly timed steak hits the grill, you simply sit and a steak goes directly from the grill to a plate in front of you within 30 seconds.

You then leave promptly after finishing your meal because people are looking at you waiting for your seat.

Here’s a technical diagram I put together in the early hours of the morning:

No time for talking. There’s dead silence in this restaurant. The feel is part fine dining restaurant with quiet jazz music and a little bit like a solemn funeral.

You sit, you eat, you leave.

This is in part because you’re eating to an audience of other people waiting for your seat.

Never an empty seat. Empty seats are dead money. Hospitality operators pay for the seat and the square meter it sits on for one reason – to make money from it. By having a small footprint, every seat makes money.

Restaurant wastage comes in many forms, and ultimately the consumer pays for it somehow. The same goes for wasted seats and square meters, if you’re eating in an empty restaurant there are only two options: you’re either paying for the empty seats in your meal price or the operator is going backward.

I walked past at all hours of the day and never observed this place without a line to get a seat.

Aces in their places. Unlike my fellow diners who looked down at their meal and only looked up to pay, I took a good look at how the kitchen operated. The simplicity created insane efficiency. Everything had its place and each meal was prepared like clockwork.

All perfect. Always on time.

Here’s the staff setup:

1x FOH staff member takes care of the dining room, takes orders and prints the bill.

1x Chef manages the grill. They observe the eating progress of seated customers and ensure everything is ready to go in order of those in line.

1x Chef manages the sides and plating, and everything else that happens in the kitchen.

Insane value. This is a subjective statement but rings true if your goal though is to eat fine dining food at takeaway prices.

This is achieved by eliminating all of the activities that are non-value adding to you getting a quality steak cheap and fast.

The result: a restaurant quality steak for a fast food price. It’s a place where well off business people and broke backpackers eat side by side. Something you won’t see often in Australia.

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Psychological “B.S.”​ Pricing Explained with a Blender

You have a choice: you’re looking at a high-end blender putting out 900 Watts of power for $119 or and identical blender putting out slightly more power (1000W) for $179. Would you be willing to pay an additional 50% for a minimal 11% gain in power? Probably not – this doesn’t sound like it stacks up value wise. That’s not the only issue though, $119 is a pretty expensive blender. There are cheaper ones in other brands. You scroll further and notice there’s a third identical blender available, only it puts out 600W for the same price as the 900W option. Now after seeing the new option, the 900 sounds like a pretty good deal, it represents a 50% increase in power compared to the 600 for no extra cost. Given that the only relationship between price and model is power output, it’s a fair call to say more power is better when it comes to home blenders. That raises the question: who buys the clearly inferior 600W model? Make no mistake, they’re in the business of selling you a 900W blender. Here are some of the tactics employed: Price Anchoring They say the best way to sell a $2000 watch is to put it next to a $15000 watch. Nothing is either expensive or cheap on its own, the price is always judged relatively. Another good example of a price anchor is Steve Jobs announcing that the price of the iPad is “not $999, but instead only $499”. With no comparison available if he just said $499 would that be expensive or not? The anchor price here is the 1000W model, which for all purposes is the same in form and function as the 900W model yet 50% more expensive. Decoy Pricing If you were going to design a line of blenders varying only by power output you could logically assume that price would be set relative to power, and you would make evenly spaced steps in power. Perhaps: Small, Medium, Large? The intentional asymmetry in price and power leaves you thinking the middle choice is 1) relatively cheap and 2) it represents good “bang for the buck” on power output: Options 600 or 900: Identical price, large power difference Options 900 or 1000: Large price difference, small power difference Without the comparison models, one inferior in each dimension, the 900 model would just be an expensive blender on a website. Why I’m explaining the psychological concepts of B.S. While I don’t sell blenders, I do sell software to businesses that employ shift-workers. These people are industrious, straight shooters (“do-ers”) who are able to smell B.S. pricing from a mile away. The same psychological pricing tactics applied in selling blenders are applied on near every subscription-based software pricing page, only software is usually harder to compare than the power of a blender. I think complex pricing pages full of decoys give explanations of why silicon valley hasn’t yet figured out this segment of the market, and why we make world-beating workforce software (with one price) out of Australia (almost all silicon valley software is made for white collar workers). …at very least, next time a friend says they bought a Nutribullet, ask them: “did you get the 900 series?” Originally posted on LinkedIn

Product Updates    |   

We want you to use our software less. Here are 5 new ways to do it.

Have you ever changed numbers on Excel, and everything else changed too? How long did that take? I’m guessing less than the time it took to read this sentence. What takes seconds now took an entire day for an accountant or bookkeeper in the ‘60s. They had paper spreadsheets back then. So a small adjustment meant recalculating, erasing, and filling out all boxes affected by that number. Manually. So if businesses wanted to know how something affects the bottom line, they need to plan ahead. And pay a day’s wage for someone to work it out. This is just for one change. Accounting tools of the 60s. Groovy. Just because something is used a lot doesn’t mean it works. We’re living in the manual spreadsheets era of workforce management Even with current solutions, workforce management is still mostly manual. Checking timesheets, calling up staff to cover, staying on top of qualifications. What should take a couple of minutes can take hours. In short, more time spent in the back office. Less time spent leading staff, tackling business issues, hitting business goals. Less admin, more ambition You buy software to do everything faster. All Tanda research and development comes down to this: we want you to use us less. Less means the job gets done faster. Less timesheet reviews, less calling around, less communication blocks. More working on the frontline, more business goals, more rest and relaxation. Here are 5 new ways to use Tanda less. 1. Less time behind the desk with Live Feed Wherever you are, see who’s at work — and who’s not. Combined with key alerts and live insights, you can make snap decisions to keep your store, warehouse, or centre well-staffed throughout the day and night. Live Feed on the mobile app Previously, you’d have to get on My Tanda to see who’s clocked-in—which takes some time. Even then, it may not be possible, especially if you’re managing a remote workforce, or travel frequently. How it Works. Live feed lets you keep an eye on staff status on the mobile app. This works across teams and locations, depending on manager permissions. Read more: How key alerts and live insights lead to better customer service. 2. Less time figuring things out with the Training Centre Everything you need to get started with Tanda—from basics to breakthroughs—we’ve put it all in one place. Whether you’re just getting started or refreshing your knowledge, our video tutorials will guide you through in record speed. Tanda Training Centre How it Works. A series of videos that teach you everything from basic set-up to advanced rostering. Learn at your own pace. And if you ever get stuck, the chat button is always there. Access it on my.tanda.co/learn. 3. Less work approving timesheets with Associated Tags No need to assign higher duties tags manually on timesheets — which can be time consuming, especially if you have a large team. Associated tags automatically assigns this when certain staff work in different teams.  The associated tags field, located in the team profile. How it Works. Assign the higher duties tag in the team profile. If an employee with that higher duties tag works in that particular team, they’ll immediately receive the higher duties allowance. For more information, visit our help page. 4. Less uncertainty with new Rosters Overview validations Identify unsustainable patterns across time more easily, including overworked or underworked staff; how many staff are going on leave; and staffing levels across multiple weeks. Seeing these inefficient patterns early means you’re likely to avoid them on your next roster (e.g. over-rostering, concurrent leave). Validations on rosters overview. See the full list. How it Works. View as much as a month’s worth of rosters on Rosters Overview‘s easy-to-use interface. Now with all validations of the old weekly roster view. 5. Less clicking around with Qualification Expiry Emails Only see which qualifications need action, when they need to be actioned. You won’t need to go to each staff profile page to review this, which means time saved. This becomes more important as your business grows. An employee qualification email alert How it works. You’ll receive email alerts when staff qualifications are 1) expiring in one month; and 2) have expired. They’ll also be alerted and asked to update their qualifications, if necessary.   Tell us what features make you use Tanda less. The only thing we love more than helping you succeed is hearing success stories. We love your feedback. We listen to it all. Send me a direct email at emerson@tanda.co. Keep up to date with our latest updates on our full changelog.

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About the author

Phil Johnson

Partner Manager: Having used Tanda in a management capacity prior to working at Tanda, Phil understands first hand the value that Tanda can bring to a business. Phil now manages Tanda's Partner Program, to assist businesses to implement innovative solutions and processes in their business.

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Industry Insights

Psychological “B.S.”​ Pricing Explained with a Blender

You have a choice: you’re looking at a high-end blender putting out 900 Watts of power for $119 or and identical blender putting out slightly more power (1000W) for $179. Would you be willing to pay an additional 50% for a minimal 11% gain in power? Probably not – this doesn’t sound like it stacks […]

Product Updates

We want you to use our software less. Here are 5 new ways to do it.

Have you ever changed numbers on Excel, and everything else changed too? How long did that take? I’m guessing less than the time it took to read this sentence. What takes seconds now took an entire day for an accountant or bookkeeper in the ‘60s. They had paper spreadsheets back then. So a small adjustment meant […]

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