Restaurant Development & Design

July-August 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 4 • 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 • J U L Y / A U G U S T 2 0 1 5 Form + Function well-run production line will guarantee that the line or lines will move quickly. Having well-trained cashiers who invite the next person in line to move forward reduces confusion. In fact, well-trained staff members are essential to all ele- ments of queue management. In fast casual, staff prepare each order near or at the counter, which leads to a different wait expectation. Guests will trade time for quality. Kowalski gives the example of Chipotle, where "it's a fun, hip place. You are people watching. The line moves quickly. It's part of the experience." Keep Customers in Line Restaurants can use a number of methods to guide cus- tomers through the queuing process without making them feel that they are being boxed in or corralled. The tra- ditional way is to have a solid divider separating those in line from those who are dining. Simpson says it's not necessary to have a solid wall. You can use planters or merchandising shelves just as effectively. Shelving or interesting containers can facilitate merchandising, whether for sale or promotional purposes. The queuing area represents a marketing opportunity. Ingredients can provide interest and subtly send brand mes- sages of freshly prepared menu items. Kowalski notes the use of bags of potatoes by Five Guys Burgers & Fries. "It gives guests something to interact with and pass the time," he explains. Restaurants can promote limited-time offers or specials in the queuing area as well, as long as the materials don't clutter up the space. A padded, "hip-height" queue rail for people to lean against as they move through the line provides a modicum of comfort, Kowalski adds, while creating separation from diners. Simpson says a large table with stationary stools ar- ranged so that diners have their backs to the line also works well. With dividers or fooring, Welty notes it is imperative to use extremely durable materials. "This area gets infnitely more wear and tear," he says. "This goes for the side walls as well as the foor and dividers." Line Busters Cut Wait Times Line busting — when staff with mobile devices take orders from people wait- ing in the queue and transmit them to the prep line — is an effcient way to reduce wait times. Orders are ready when these guests arrive at the counter, so they can quickly pay and be on their way. Digital ordering, through kiosks or notepads, can also speed the process. Kowalski notes that McDonald's suc- cessfully employs this tactic in Europe. It is essential, he cautions, that the technology is user-friendly. Low-tech strategies can work as well. At Austin, Texas-based fast-casual Hopdoddy Burger Bar, for instance, guests receive a laminated menu as soon as they enter the door. Each party is also given a table number. "You already know that you have a table for the right amount of people in your party," Kowalski says. You place your order and then sit, and they bring it to your table. Providing menus during queuing addresses the problem of diner indeci- sion. It helps if they can decide what they want to eat before they get to the order counter, otherwise they slow the process down. Kowalski points out that a hand menu should be "written with some personality and have a cool factor. It should be easy to read, the items can have funky names — so you're entertained, but by the time you get to the front of the line, you know what you want." Digital menu boards along the way will also aid decision making. Smart queue management also re- quires considering functional areas that are often sources of blockage once cus- Restaurants can use a number of methods to guide customers through the queuing process without making them feel that they are being boxed in or corralled.

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