To round out its core menu of sandwiches and salads, fast casual Schlotzsky’s added pastas a few years ago. The traditional dishes, including spaghetti with tomato-basil sauce and carbonara, required several steps; but little could be prepped in advance, and the dishes were holding up the line, says Corporate Executive Chef Maira Morales. So the kitchen swapped the labor-intensive pastas for four variations of ever-popular mac and cheese, all sharing one signature sauce. Everything is prepped in advance and preportioned. To order, ingredients are combined and heated in a quick-cooking conveyor oven—equipment already installed in every unit for the chain’s oven-baked sandwiches. Introducing macs in place of pasta has cut prep time in half and sped throughput, says Morales. Plus, consumer preference for mac and cheese is driving sales. “People are ordering several variations for the table to share,” she says.
Smokey Brisketeer Mac
To build this most popular version, a line cook combines parboiled macaroni with the master cheese sauce, then tops it with smoked brisket—an ingredient recently added to the sandwich menu. Next, the dish is drizzled with chipotle pesto and topped with shredded cheddar, sliced jalapenos, roasted red peppers and barbecue sauce. Schlotzsky’s heats and serves the macs in the same reusable silver tins used to bake its buns, says Morales. Once the dish is heated in the conveyor oven, it gets finished off in a pizza oven to create a crusty top. Takeout orders are transferred to disposable containers.
|Instead of...||Try this...|
|Several sauce variations||One master cheese sauce|
|Traditional plating||Heat-and-serve tin|