50 Great Ideas
In today’s hypercompetitive restaurant industry, the slightest edge can make a difference. The ideas collected here range from small tweaks such as dedicated gum-disposal slips to transformational changes such as solar-powered restaurants. But each one has the potential to make a positive impact for operators.
When CaliBurger introduced robotics into its back of house, it repositioned both staffer tasks and training. Tasks that staff don’t love doing—scrapping on the grill, working the fryer, etc.—are being automated, and jobs are being repositioned to “chef tech” roles, with training programs in place for how to run automated equipment.
Diners at Del’s Hideout in San Diego receive call buttons upon ordering at the counter. The push-button technology features a GPS device that quickly notifies servers via a smartwatch if a guest requires attention. Del’s three-button system allows guests to easily order another round of food and beverages, request the bill and more without the hassle of waiting in line or having to flag down a server.
In a clever way to market to parents who come in with fussy kids, hotel restaurant Fager’s Island Restaurant & Bar in Ocean City, Md., calls its kids menu “Kid Friendlies,” with items named for kids’ moods. The “I don’t care” is a grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich, the “I don’t want that” is code for french fries, and the “What?” is a cheese quesadilla, among other offerings. As an added perk, when a child tells a parent they aren’t hungry, the adult can say there’s something on the menu for that.
At University of Wisconsin-Superior, Sous Chef Sandy Thompson makes use of excess food with dog treats. She puts leftovers such as sweet potatoes, oatmeal, turkey bacon and peas in the freezer and whips up a batch of treats when she has 16 quarts’ worth, adding just egg and flour. The operation donates most of the treats to the humane society.