Restaurant Development & Design

March-April 2015

restaurant development + design is a user-driven resource for restaurant professionals charged with building new locations and remodeling existing units.

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6 2 • R E S T A U R A N T D E V E L O P M E N T + D E S I G N • M A R C H / A P R I L 2 0 1 5 Fast-Casual Service Lines BY DONNA BOSS, Contributing Editor W hen customers enter a fast-casual restaurant, they head straight for the service line. That's where they view the menu, place their orders, select from ingredients on display and watch staff assemble their customized meals before paying at the other end of the line. It's also where, in the midst of the action, customers begin to determine whether the restaurant's brand meets their expectations. The service line is also where the restaurant's systems for production, effciency and thru-put from the time customers place their orders until they receive their food play a crucial role in determining the restaurant's success. Decisions made early on about a service line's length, layout and fow must include the menu mix and staffng necessary to produce the menu and fll orders. "In ideal circumstances, it's im- portant to nail down the entire process frst and not try to ft the process into a work station that is already designed," says David Gemmel, associate director of productivity services at consultancy WD Partners in Dublin, Ohio. "We must consider the number of ingredients needed and where they will be prepared and displayed, space needed for small- wares and packaging, and the number of people needed on the line." "Often, tough decisions must be made about the mixture of operational effciencies and the customer experi- ence," adds Bob Welty, vice president of brand, strategy and design at WD Partners. While Gemmel focuses on the back side of the service line and its effciencies, Welty focuses on impulse sales and brand perceptions. Effciency, Transparency Rule Back-Line Designs Upon determining the menu, operators and designers must conduct thru-put studies to determine the time it takes for customers to enter the line and receive their food. Part of the deci- sion process includes how much of the preparation will be visible to customers, how staff will transport food from the points of preparation to the service line and how much interaction staff will have with customers. "In a perfect world, servers face guests all the time and never leave their stations," says Gary Jacobs, principal of New York-based foodservice design frm Jacobs Doland Beer. "It's important to integrate front and back counter ele- ments in a way that requires minimal staff movement so pivots replace steps. Also, there must be discreet ways to store and remove soiled items. We like to develop branded, enclosed, under- counter transport carts in order to keep these items away from public view." Organization of ingredients plays a key role in determining the line's eff- ciency. Gemmel likes dual-rail refriger- ated make tables. "These give employ- ees more access to ingredients right where they need them rather than going into a drawer or a door underneath the refrigeration unit," he says. Giving ingredients specifc, des- ignated locations and displaying them in order of assembly help staff stay organized and move quickly. Leaving enough space between ingredients also supports effciency. "If ingredients are in small pans touching each other, it is very diffcult to keep items from running into each other," Jacobs says. "With liquids that drip, you want to have a fat surface in between the containers so staff can easily wipe up the areas. This can be accomplished with a millwork reveal or an extra-wide spacer. The loss of density is offset by the ease of maintenance and preservation of ingredient integrity." At sandwich concept Which Wich, a horseshoe-shaped line at some units helps improve effciency. The chain expects staff members to assemble sandwiches that fall into 10 menu categories with 60 toppings within 4 minutes — which includes 2 minutes for warming in a conveyor oven. "For effciency, we want staff to move as little as possible, so we positioned a conveyor oven a little behind and in between the refrigerated rails. Staff just turn around from the line, use the oven and come back to the line," says TJ Schier, president of Smart Restaurant Group and a Which Wich franchisee. Selecting equipment that accom- modates a changing menu constitutes another critical component of the design process. A menu may feature hot and cold items and change seasonally, so it's important that staff can switch the bains-marie as needed to showcase different menu items. "When develop- ing this type of fexibility, we generally assume that there will be a fxed number of hot offerings and a fxed number of cold offerings at all times, though the overall focus may change seasonally. If we have six bains-marie, we may specify two as hot, two as cold and two as con- vertible in order to address shifting seasonal demand," Jacobs says. Separating production of high- velocity core items and lower-velocity specialty items represents another way FORM + FUNCTION

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