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How can restaurants optimize the kitchen for delivery?

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Over time, delivery in my restaurant has gone from occasional to as much as 30%-40% of my food sales, especially when the weather is bad or during events like football games. I am thinking of putting in a designated delivery window to get these orders out the door hot and keep the drivers out of the way. Are people doing things like that?

– Bar owner


One of RB’s 2019 trends was “delivery evolution.” More full-service operations are seeing delivery move from a few orders per night to a steady flow. While the ghost restaurant, designed exclusively for delivery, has gotten a lot of attention,  traditional operators are also implementing creative solutions to handle the increase in food going out the door.

When I was coming up in industry, the way to determine the size of the kitchen and layout needed was to calculate based on the size of the dining room, unless it was a takeout-oriented business such as a pizzeria. Now, with delivery, total sales and mix of channels is a much better guide.

James Feustel, account manager and designer with Singer Equipment says, Between mobile apps for ordering ahead and the various meal delivery services, we're seeing a significant impact on design in a few key areas.”

Feustel notes that with the benefit of being able to plan ahead, restaurants anticipating a good portion of sales from delivery should consider designating some front-of-house space for delivery. “This can be anything from an adjoining expo counter or an area for shelves/cubbies for guests and delivery services to pick up food. The other piece of this is really paying attention to traffic flow through the FOH so food pickup is easy, fast, and doesn't disrupt the queuing or operations for dine-in or point-of-sale ordering guests.” To that end, your window idea is a great one.

Feustel is seeing kitchen changes as well. “Some fast-casual concepts are adding a second assembly/turn-out station that's operated solely for mobile ordering and delivery services during peak hours—lunch and dinner rushes. Other concepts have started from scratch and have redesigned the cook/assembly/expo process to make it more efficient. … Kitchen spaces and workflows are being reoriented for an increased volume.” An equipment investment such as temperature-controlled storage lockers for staging delivery orders  or even a simple hot-holding cabinet near the pickup point may offer a solution as well.

My advice is to look holistically at your sales and flow of food to design your systems in a way that keeps your guests satisfied, both in the dining room and at home. By thinking through what an increase in delivery orders does to your labor and space needs, you are already on the right track.

More on delivery here.

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