A restaurant’s atmosphere helps set the experience for diners. Whether this is a cozy crêperie, a relaxed beach bar, or an upscale steakhouse, guests enter looking for an experience. However, the stream of diners can greatly affect a restaurant’s atmosphere. Especially when busy. A fast-paced restaurant atmosphere comes with challenges. These challenges can affect the flow of service, communication, and the overall guest experience.
Here are 5 hazards that come with a busy restaurant environment, and suggestions on how to keep them from reoccurring:
1. Food Spills
In a fast-paced restaurant atmosphere, BOH staff is likely to feel the pressure. These members of the team are responsible for fulfilling order after order… after order. Due to the rushed restaurant atmosphere, some BOH workers get a little sloppy. It may seem, in some BOH environments, that a grenade of food went off.
But if your customers don’t have a view into the kitchen, does it matter? It does! “If things are dirty and disorganized, it will drag the energy down,” explains Restaurant Branding Roadmap, “Make cleanliness and organization a priority in the front and the back of the house.”
As a result, you’ll see a higher energy team in the kitchen and faster completion of orders. Try providing your staff with food proof kitchen manuals and presentation guides. It will take less effort for BOH employees to keep literature clean, leaving them less frazzled when it comes to seemingly never ending orders.
2. Inconsistent Service
The faster the restaurant atmosphere, the faster the FOH service. Yet, fast service doesn’t always translate to great service.
For instance, in a rush to get guests to their table the host may neglect to inform them of any specials. Or, in a rush to enter orders, the serving staff may forget to add in custom requests to the point of sale system. Lynda Moultry Belcher of Small Business Chron suggests reinforcing staff roles and developing specific procedures. This will keep your restaurant staff focused on their individual, ongoing tasks. Not the rush of the restaurant environment.
3. Wet Menus
Like food spills, guest menus are susceptible to spilled drinks. This is especially the case for bars and restaurants featuring outdoor seating. A menu’s design is critical to the restaurant atmosphere. Restaurant Branding Roadmap summarizes the effect menus have on the guest experience:
“In addition to reinforcing your restaurant’s ambiance, research confirms good menu design and thoughtful content matter to the bottom line and to delivering a winning brand experience.”
To avoid this, place responsibility on the FOH staff to ensure guests aren’t handed wet or dirty menus.
Keep in mind that certain restaurant and hospitality environments are susceptible to higher FOH spillage. For example, menus at swim up bars, beachfront restaurants, and poolside service are all likely to get a little wet. Consider printing menus on waterproof paper to avoid a mess (and unhappy guests).
4. Crowded Tables, High Guest Turnover
Fast-paced restaurant environments tend to become crowded fast. Lobbies fill up, bar stools become occupied, and tables don’t stay vacant. For serving staff this means high turnover and the chance to make more in tips. But, for the BOH this means a higher volume of orders. Lastly, for your guests, it sometimes means crowded tables.
Communication is usually the first to slip when it comes to a full restaurant. A lack of communication is fraught with challenges. Is your FOH staff communicating with BOH staff? And vice versa? Are all your guests’ requests addressed?
Train restaurant managers to keep an eye out on both the back and the front of the house. Ensure communication lines are open for all: back of house, front of house, and diners. Additionally, more diners mean less elbow room. While checking to see if guests are comfortable have extra table settings at the ready for food and beverage spills.
5. Increased Noise Levels
A quick turnaround, crowded restaurant is usually louder. Increased noise levels are often the cause of break in the communication between diners and the wait staff. Orders may not be heard correctly or to their entirety. Encourage staff to take their time while taking orders and to repeat orders back to their guests. Verifying orders will stop the wrong orders from reaching the kitchen
Consider how to minimize noise levels in your restaurant’s floor plan and structure’s design. A well-planned dining room can lower noise levels. Further, research shows that layout is a significant determinant of repeat diners.
Hospitality Magazine recommends cutting noise through acoustic wall fabric and sound-absorbing ceiling tiles. This will create a restaurant atmosphere where people can speak without having to shout across the table.