A consultant tracked employee footsteps and time spent at each station to maximize efficiency of the kitchen layout, while determining the optimal location for the freezer, cooler, cooking equipment, exhaust hoods and more, says David Conklin, SVP of development. Conklin is hopeful that the more efficient design will help save on labor as well.
As part of its revamp process, the chain rented a warehouse and mocked up a restaurant. One realization to come out of the exercise: Golden Corral is bucking the trend of shrinking dining areas, adding that extra space to the front of house. But that doesn’t mean it’s packing in more guests. “We all sat at the tables and decided to make them farther apart,” Conklin says; total seats are being trimmed from 400 to 350. “It was a great exercise to identify pinch points.”
Diners will now be able to see into the kitchen, too—partially. Less visually appealing equipment, like deep fryers, will be hidden from view. Also, the buffet line itself is moving from the restaurant’s center to one end of the building—closest to the kitchen—with seating at the other. The move will make the dining room quieter and the buffet line more operationally efficient, Conklin says.
The Greensboro location will serve as a test site, with the most successful design changes to be rolled out gradually chainwide.