Advice Guy

An industry expert answers questions on improving restaurant operations

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Q.

I run a full-service sports bar and grille in a relatively small town. We have become the premier location for all sporting events in the area and we also have the added luxury of an open floor plan and large outdoor eating area to accommodate groups up to 300 people. Unfortunately, unless one of these groups reserves the floor on a weekday our restaurant floor resembles a ghost town during lunchtime. Because we make everything fresh we have prep cooks on site during the day to cycle the evening's food portions but I have no sales to help account for the labor. We are family friendly and could easily provide for business or client meetings but we are not exactly close to any of those types of businesses. Lunch periods are definitely weighing the restaurant down and I know we could be very successful if we could fill a niche in this category. How do I get those types of people in the door?

A.

First, congratulations on your success. You can’t be pumping at high volume all the time, so it’s good you have that down as a critical part of your business.

Q.

I received a B or Grade Pending [on my health inspection] after a seriously unfair review. I will fight this in tribunal but want to know whether in the meantime I can get away with not posting the sign. I’m sure there are possible fines, but I’m wondering if the loss of business would outweigh them.

A.

Often my advice in this column helps operators to navigate a gray area or difficult decision. In this case, my advice is clear: post the sign!

Q.

Previously you wrote about tests for chefs. What about line cooks? I stopped even looking at resumes because they are so full of [creative writing].

A.

Cooking tests for cooks are a bit easier than test

Q.

What are some strategies/tactics/tips to improve speed of service in restaurants?

A.

Everyone wants operations to be faster, cheaper and better. One common problem is that managers ask for speed without carefully assessing where holdups are.

Q.

I received a comment card from a guest that it was rude to drop the check before he asked for it. I suspect it was from a couple from Europe. Is the burden on him to adapt to how we do things (our SOP is to ask if there will be anything else and drop the check right after we see the guests finished dessert or immediately if they don’t want dessert or coffee and it has never been a problem) or on us in this case?

A.

As usual with these kinds of questions (tipping is another one), the answer lies somewhere in the middle.

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