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Dear Adam -

Thank you for all the good work you do on this website. I'm sure all the readers really appreciate all the wealth of information they can learn through this wonderful website.

I'd like to introduce myself before I post my question(s). I'm an aspiring writer/director who's working on a film script which is based in a mid-upscale Mexican restaurant. It's going to be a very low budget full length indie movie which I most probably produce/shoot myself. The two main characters work in a Mexican restaurant and I'll need several scenes set in the restaurant to make the script as realistic as possible. I already have a first draft of the script based on my limited understanding of how a restaurant may operate. The problem is due to my lack of understanding of the operations, my scenes do tend to sound a little boring or repetitive.  Ideally, I'd like the scenes set during certain unique activities/routines which happen in a restaurant. I actually have a list of questions which I need help with. The restaurant in my script is a med-upscale Mexican restaurant which has about 30 tables. They serve authentic family style upscale( may be just non-standard fare) Mexican dishes.  So here are my questions:

1.   If a restaurant opens at 11 AM, How early does the staff come to work? Who comes to the restaurant first? Head chef? Sous-chef?




2.   What are the types of activities which are done in the morning before opening the restaurant for customers?



3.   How many people work at a typical grill/restaurant with 30 tables? realistic Staffing needs.



4.   Once you open the restaurant for the day and customers start coming in, how does the ordering process work?



5.   How does the chef get the information?


6.   How do you manage rush hour? Increased staffing with temporary chefs?waiters? any specific methods if increasing in staff is a constraint?


7.   What is the strategy for cleaning the restaurant? What equipment/kitchen spaces are cleaned daily? What is cleaned weekly/monthly?





8.   What are some of the toughest tasks in the kitchen, what is most difficult to clean? grill? pots used to make sauces?




9.   What is the strategy for buying the ingredients, perishables /food ingredients/meat? How often? Who goes to shop for these? Main chef or Sous-chef? Who does the planning for tha? How often?





10.   How do you manage/track costs? Where do you maintain costs/bookkeep? Who does this? Executive Chef?



11.   Is costing done every day? By looking at inventory? Do you ‘run numbers’ every day? Or once a week?




12.   What are some of the biggest or most common problems faced by the restaurants/chefs?




13.   What are some of the things which you need to be very careful about in the restaurant business?





14.   When the head chef is sick, does the Sous chef take over? What are some of the common problems faced during such a situation?





15.   What is the strategy for storing ingredients? Dry/wet/meat?






16.   What is the most expensive piece of equipment in the kitchen?





17.   How big is the freezer for a restaurant/grill type place which has about 30 tables?


18.   Once you close the restaurant for the day, what are the activities which you do before leaving for the day? What all is cleaned? What all is prepped for the next day?





19.   If a chef has to teach a student/assistant/intern how to cook, what do they start with? Do they start with easy dishes? what's the approach? what would you teach first? Understand ingredients?





20.   What are fundamentals/basics of Mexican cuisine/cooking techniques/methods?





21.   What are some of the things in Mexican food which inspire you? talk to you!






22.   What do you think are the qualities of a good chef?




23.   What are the most important ingredients in Mexican cuisine?





24.   What are the most unique ingredients in Mexican cuisine?



I know these are lot of questions! If I do end up making the film,I'd certainly give you credit as a consultant for your time and contribution! Hope to hear from you soon!

Answer
1.   If a restaurant opens at 11 AM, How early does the staff come to work? Who comes to the restaurant first? Head chef? Sous-chef? Depends how much prep is done in the morning. if everything is made from scratch, probably around 8:30am, if it's just heat and serve, around 10am. First person into the restaurant is the lunch cook if you only open for lunch or the prep cook who will get the prep ready for the day. Head Chef is probably in before the sous chef. They mostly get the ordering done, make sure everything is ready to go, stay for lunch and dinner rush, then leave. Sous closes up the line and fills out prep list for next day as well as finishing cleaning.




2.   What are the types of activities which are done in the morning before opening the restaurant for customers? Setting the dining room, warming food, prepping garnishes, getting last minute prep done before service, talking with staff on 86'd (out of) items or specials.



3.   How many people work at a typical grill/restaurant with 30 tables? realistic Staffing needs. Depends what kind of service. Fine dining would be 4-5, casual would maybe only be one or 2 per shift. Might only be the chef plus two people total.



4.   Once you open the restaurant for the day and customers start coming in, how does the ordering process work? Customer orders from waiter, then it is rung in or hand written on a ticket, then turned into the kitchen. The kitchen or the waiter will then time the food. If there is an appetizer, they will wait to cook the entree until about half way through unless it is a long cook time.



5.   How does the chef get the information? With a ticket which is rang in through a computer and printed up on a small printer in the kitchen, or hand written on a ticket from the
server.

6.   How do you manage rush hour? Increased staffing with temporary chefs?waiters? any specific methods if increasing in staff is a constraint? Nope. You just work through it. Sometimes it's busy, sometimes it's slow, you can't really staff for only the busy times, they are to short. For the front of the house (servers) they work only a four-five hour shift really to cover the busy times (lunch 1030-330) dinner (4-9) kitchen is always there. Sometimes the prep person is the relief when it gets busy. So maybe there is only one cook on line cooking, then when it's busy the prep person comes to the line to cook appetizers, salads, or something a little easier.


7.   What is the strategy for cleaning the restaurant? What equipment/kitchen spaces are cleaned daily? What is cleaned weekly/monthly? Try to clean all major surfaces the restaurant
daily as well as changing out pans which food is stored, scrubbing floors, walls, fryers, grills, reach ins, walk in (refrigeration). Weekly, monthly would be hoods, ceilings, deep clean walk in, under counters, tables, outside, garbage cans, windows.




8.   What are some of the toughest tasks in the kitchen, what is most difficult to clean? grill? pots used to make sauces? Biggest pain is the hoods, you have to crawl on hot equipment and doing the fryers everyday or twice a day is not fun. Definitely burned on food on pots is not a great task, but usually for the dishwasher to take care of.




9.   What is the strategy for buying the ingredients, perishables /food ingredients/meat? How often? Who goes to shop for these? Main chef or Sous-chef? Who does the planning for tha? How often? Usually a large supplier brings in most of your things three times per week, then a different person for meat and fish, sometimes produce will come in twice per week. Usually just keep enough inventory on the shelves for 2 weeks worth of business. Needs to be rotated everyday, first in, first out is what it is commonly called. I like to get produce, meat from local farmers, but not all restaurants are like that. Only once a week for those deliveries. Almost always the main chef who is doing the ordering and planning.





10.   How do you manage/track costs? Where do you maintain costs/bookkeep? Who does this? Executive Chef?  Cost are managed monthly. Food Inventory costs minus food bought equals food sold. Food sold cost divided by food sales gives you food cost. You are shooting for a food cost of 24-35% of sales. The General Manager usually tallies all cost including labor, overhead, and food cost. Here's the generic breakdown. Food Cost 30%, Labor Cost 30%, Overhead 30% Profit 10% (is usually more like 2%)



11.   Is costing done every day? By looking at inventory? Do you ‘run numbers’ every day? Or once a week? Costing is done once per month after sales and costs have been tallied. Number are run everyday to see approx. where you're at for labor costs.




12.   What are some of the biggest or most common problems faced by the restaurants/chefs?
Keeping costs in line. Theft, Cleanliness, Turnover, Not Improving or Changing with the times.



13.   What are some of the things which you need to be very careful about in the restaurant business? Everyone steals if given the opportunity, keep honest people honest by setting up internal programs to keep everything in line and balanced.





14.   When the head chef is sick, does the Sous chef take over? What are some of the common problems faced during such a situation? Yes, sous chef takes over. Sous chef likes to spread his wings so to speak and do things the chef normally would not. Or sometimes just likes to take a break and slack off.





15.   What is the strategy for storing ingredients? Dry/wet/meat?  Dry goods, keep dry. Raw meat kept on the bottom shelf, cooked items above that, veges on top.






16.   What is the most expensive piece of equipment in the kitchen? dishwasher





17.   How big is the freezer for a restaurant/grill type place which has about 30 tables? 5x6


18.   Once you close the restaurant for the day, what are the activities which you do before leaving for the day? What all is cleaned? What all is prepped for the next day? Mostly things are totally cleaned, wrapped and a list is filled out for the next day's prep activities.





19.   If a chef has to teach a student/assistant/intern how to cook, what do they start with? Do they start with easy dishes? what's the approach? what would you teach first? Understand ingredients? Everyone starts as a dishwasher. Then you start in prep, then cold station (salads), then hot station, appetizers or saute, then grill cook, then lead cook which basically orchestrates. New cooks don't need to know or understand ingredients, they are just told what to do and how to do it. You start by prepping and learning how to makes sauces and chop veggies.





20.   What are fundamentals/basics of Mexican cuisine/cooking techniques/methods?  Things that differentiate a good cook is how well you make/wrap tamales, homemade mole, handmade tortillas, then every family really has their own specialties usually originating from the region they are from.





21.   What are some of the things in Mexican food which inspire you? talk to you! American Mexican food is a lot different then authentic Mexican food. In Mexico there is regions, like there is in the US. For example we have southern food, which is blackened fish, corn bread etc. In Mexico it is the same and each region is known for certain foods. I really enjoy it when I can taste someones soul coming out through the food they are cooking. This is what makes great food in any cuisine.






22.   What do you think are the qualities of a good chef? Consistency, good background, ambitious, driven




23.   What are the most important ingredients in Mexican cuisine? Chilies, Onions, Tomatoes





24.   What are the most unique ingredients in Mexican cuisine? There are regional mole sauces and preparations that are significantly different in each one. It is almost their badge of where they are from.

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Adam Hegsted

Expertise

I can answer most questions front and back of the house. I have been mostly back of the house experienced, but have owned my own restaurant and helped run and develop the other restaurants I have worked (from the boh). I am versed in many cuisines but no more about Mexican, Italian, and French. I have also studied a lot and done molecular cuisine or new haute cooking. I study the science of cuisine and cooking techniques as well and have practiced many. Also am certified proctor for Serv Safe. I have won a lot of culinary competitions ACF and national. I work with small farms and farmers and know quite a bit about laws and different things regarding that as well. I know all about setting up and building restaurants and everything do to with costing front and back of house.

Experience

Executive Chef Coeur d' Alene Casino, Resort and Hotel (current 3 years) (all types of restaurants, built and developed all, fine dining steakhouse, deli, grill, cafe, pub, buffet, room service, and catering) Owner/Chef The Wandering Table (current 1 year)(catering/fine dining) Owner/Chef Le Piastre (1 year) (fine dining/bistro) Executive Chef Brix Restaurant (5 years) (fine dining, multi course) and The Beacon, a pub (casual, pub fare) (all aspects of the kitchen and developed wine program) Executive Chef Cedars Restaurant (3 years) Fine dining steakhouse

Publications
Featured in R & I Magazine

Education/Credentials
Art Institute of Seattle- Associates of Arts in Culinary Arts Northwest Culinary Academy (Spokane,WA)- Associates of Sciences in Culinary Arts

Awards and Honors
2009 Wine, Stein, and Dine Cookoff “Best of Show” Best Entrée” “Best Dessert” 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 Marti Gras Cookoff “Best of Show” “Best Entrée” The Inlander Magazine “Top 30, under 30” Won 2007 Battle of the Chefs (Iron Chef for Spokane Top Chefs) 2008 First Place National Peanut Advisory Recipe Competition 2007 Taste of Spain, Tapas Recipe Contest, Spanish Trade Commission 2008 First Place International BC Canadian Albacore Tuna Competition 2007 First Place Idaho Potato Commission Recipe Contest 2008 State Recipe Competition United States of Potato 2009 Rio Texas Grapefruit Recipe Competition 2008 “Best New Restaurant” Cuisine Magazine 2010 Haagen Dazs Foodservice Challenge with Marcus Samuelson 1st Place 2011 3rd Place California Grape Commission Competition I've competed and won numerous regional black box competitions. I've won 3 silver medals in mystery box competitions from the American Culinary Federation.

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