Back of House Perspective

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A Back-Of-House Perspective for COVID-19

We all know it by now, COVID-19 has totally disrupted the restaurant industry. With major changes to operations, most resources on how to best adapt have been focused on front-of-house operations. While front-of-house operations are key, a focus on back-of-house operations can help provide even more comfort to customers dining at your location. To provide a back-of-house perspective, our Chef, Derek Bugge, shared insights on how he would adapt to support his team through COVID-19.

How you can support your back-of-house operations?

Emphasize the extra steps the back-of-house is taking. Almost every restaurant is emphasizing the extra steps the front-of-house is taking, which is imperative. Chefs can work with restaurant managers to ensure the steps the back-of-house is taking are highlighted as well. Guests will like to see that even in the areas they cannot see, the extra mile is being taken in all aspects of the business to ensure their safety.

Expand, or constrict services. If you have the potential to generate new revenue streams, do so. Some options include opening for breakfast or lunch. Look for opportunities in your area such as corporate lunch deliveries or catering. If you’re open all day, asses the risk vs reward of closing a few hours early during the slower times to minimize labor costs. Similar to how grocery stores are reserving different hours for the more at-risk, consider doing the same at your restaurant. Speak with others within your establishment and see if having something like this would be beneficial for your demographic.

Reassess your menu. The supply chain is so volatile right now, outages are plaguing the foodservice industry daily. Consider working with your vendors to find more sustainable products. Fresh is always best, but there are so many quality IQF products that are comparable.

Add meal kits to your menu. Well-crafted meal kits not only save time, they also make dishes more exciting. Have your kitchen send meal elements so the customer can make the dishes themselves at home. Give them the whole meal or components so they can recreate it on their own. An easy example of this would be sending salad ingredients separately like croutons, the greens, and dressing, so the customer can construct it. You can also take this a step further and include instructions, so they know how to create a restaurant quality meal at home.

Keep morale high. Find ways to make team members feel more invested in the restaurant. Hold weekly or biweekly meetings to create a type of brain trust. Consider allowing team members into areas of the business they wouldn’t normally be a part of to make them feel more involved. The end goal is to make team members feel like they have a personal interest in helping navigate your restaurant’s success. During tough times such as these, your employees will be the ones to dictate either the success or failure of your restaurant.

Create an emergency fund. Put a percentage, maybe a ½ percent aside to assist team members with any future dilemmas. Consider the personal needs of the staff. Many restaurant workers are living near or below the poverty line. Find creative ways to help your staff and their families. For example;

  • Send them home with a weekly box of pantry staples.
  • If someone needs diapers, help them out by getting them some diapers or grocery store gift cards.

Money is tight for everyone, but there are inexpensive ways to demonstrate that you care for your team members on a personal level.

Among these options, what can you easily implement today? Derek suggests keeping morale high and emphasizing what the back of house does daily. Your team members must believe in your culture and feel like they have a purpose when they come to work every day. Anything that makes your team members feel like you have gratitude for them when times are tough will go a long way. Take the extra step to make your team feel like they’re part of a family.

If you have questions about implementing any of these ideas, or are looking for additional ideas for your location, the Harbor Restaurant Solutions Team is here to help. You can reach out to Derek Bugge via email at derek.bugge@harborfoods.com or via phone at 206-697-3301.