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Systems that keep restaurants dishing food

March 13, 2011
By ANITA HANABURGH, For The Leader-Herald

Don't you just love restaurants? It always looks so easy and so much fun to run a restaurant or food service establishment. Talk to customers, serve food, serve drinks, it can't be that difficult. Wrong! Somewhat different than most other businesses, restaurants are very complex with many different aspects that each require attention and care.

Food service establishments must attend to the all these areas. Whereas, one food service establishment might appear very different than another, they all share some common elements. When you look at the prestigious Sagamore Hotel in Lake George and compare it to a school lunch program, the two establishments look poles apart but they share working elements.

In other words, food operations "deal" with the same stuff. I will call this stuff food service "systems" as system ties together procedures with working parts. Each system is part of the action needed to run the restaurant. There are 10 systems in all food service establishments.

The main system

1.) Management. Each and every restaurant or hot dog stand needs management. Management is the style in which everything is run. Management is the core system that moves or directs all the others. It is the axle that moves the wheel. Some restaurants have a loose management style and some have a more disciplined style but they all have management.

The steering mechanisms

2.) Marketing is the system that determines the product to be sold then lets the public or clientele know about those products. Using market research, marketing looks for items that satisfy the customers' wants. Using advertising, promotions, merchandising and direct selling, the marketing system lets the customer know what the restaurant has to offer.

3.) Control is the system that holds the reins of the restaurant. It involves keeping track of the money, the food and the operation. It pays attention to the income and the expenses. It safeguards the profits.

4.) The business system refers to everything that has to do with the operation's organization and procedures. In other words, what is needed to keep the paperwork in order - items like the bookkeeping, the office, the filing, the faxing or the payroll. This business system could be called the paper "action "or computer action of management.

The operating systems

5.) Menu Planning. When a restaurant sets up a menu, it is basically setting up the blueprint from which all other action stems. The menu drives what is to be sold at this operation. It sets all the ideas into motion.

6.) Purchasing the menu determines what food is purchased. It determines the type of food - eggs, cereal, cake, chops etc. It determines the style of food - dried or fresh eggs, cooker or instant cereal, cake mix, scratch cake or frozen, prime or standard grade of beef. The system buys the needed food or other products such as equipment or paper. It's the staff's responsibility to get the best item for the best price.

7.) Supply system. After the items are purchased, they must be supplied to the needed areas. The supply system safely transports the food and products within the operation. It involves food distribution and storage - refrigerators, store rooms and warehousing.

8.) Production means "getting the item ready." Once the food and other items are determined by the menu, ordered and supplied to the kitchen or dining room, they are then prepared or produced for service to the customer. Production in a shoe factory would be the actual manufacturing of the shoe -tanning, cutting, and sewing. It's the same idea in a kitchen. It could be only unwrapping the food and putting it on a plate. Usually it involves some form of washing, mixing, peeling, slicing, baking, cooking, chopping, poaching, stirring, kneading, frying or portioning - you get the idea.

9.) The service system is the method used to deliver the product to the customer, or client. After the food is produced, it is served to the customer. It can be as simple as pulling a knob on a vending machine (it delivers the product), or as elaborate as a waiter in a black tie expertly transferring food to a china plate.

10.) Work is that system that encompasses it all and does it all. Work is the energy that moves the action from one system to another and gets the job done. Without work, each system would involve only itself.

Oh busboy, now you have learned it all. You understand the overall lingo and action of the working wheel of restaurant systems. In the future, I may use some of these terms to further your interest in that area where you eat one half to one third of your meals.

Restaurant Watch: Pay attention to the systems at work the next time you visit a food operation.




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