Foodservice Equipment & Supplies

OCT 2018

Foodservice Equipment & Supplies magazines is an industry resource connecting foodservice operators, equipment and supplies manufacturers and dealers, and facility design consultants.

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56 • FOODSERVICE EQUIPMENT & SUPPLIES • OCTOBER 2018 functional by design refilling a soda — also leaves customers waiting. Divide and Conquer Another important trick of the trade for service stations: maintaining focus. Building too many functions into a single station leads to inefficiency, clutter and staff frustration, says James Geier, princi- pal at 555 International, a Chicago-based design, development and fabrication firm. Geier, who owned and operated restau- rants before launching his design-build business, suggests adopting a "divide and conquer" mentality. "A lot of questions need to be ad- dressed early on during planning and programming, and a lot depends on the concept and the real estate you have to work with, but we generally design to ensure that service staff members don't interact unless they're supposed to. Bussers, runners and servers shouldn't have to intersect. They need to be able to move seamlessly throughout the space and have dedicated stations prop- erly located so that they're not causing problems with access or traffic flow. We have service stations that might purely be bussing stations designed for on-floor needs — water, place settings, tabletop items, transfer areas where dirty dishes and glasses can be held for short periods out of guests' view before going back to the kitchen." Likewise, Geier says, dedicated stations for waitstaff ensure easy access for them to quickly place orders and complete transactions without hav- ing bussers or runners reaching over or around them to reach a silverware drawer or a shelf for salt and pepper shakers. Ideally, those are front-of-the- house stations and strategically located close to clusters of tables. "You don't want servers having to run back into the kitchen all the time. You want them on the floor taking care of guests. You need to design your sta- tions in such a way to keep the waitstaff out in front and moving," Geier says. "If you put in too few terminals or have only one order-input station when the volume and size of your operation jus- tify multiple stations, you'll end up with frustrated servers standing two and three deep waiting for their turn at the POS machine. And guess who else will be frustrated and waiting? Your guests." In short, think about service station design from the perspective of the serv- ers, bussers and runners who will use them. That, Geier says, means keeping divide and conquer in mind. "Your serv- ers will thank you, and you'll be setting them up to provide better guest service by giving everyone a properly designed, easily accessible space." Shove-Brown also embraces that approach, adding that it all stems from the central premise of having every- thing in place and designed to enhance the guest experience. Forcing multiple staff functions into a single area, he says, is a "recipe for disaster." "We see it all the time where own- ers will say they plan to have a service station at the bar right by the drink pickup area. Well, OK, but that means you now have three different people colliding in the same space for three totally different functions," Shove- Brown says. "Or they'll say they want a service station right inside the kitchen, but they fail to realize that it's right in the flow of traffic. It's fine to have a service station in the kitchen, but its location needs to be appropriate, and whatever needs to happen at that sta- tion shouldn't impact other employees and other functions." Failure to fully think through exactly what each station needs is yet another common misstep, Shove- Brown notes. "It always confuses me when opera- tors or designers create stations that have shelves for plates and glasses, for instance, but no drawers for extra utensils," Shove-Brown says. "Now, the server has to go to a different location At Gemini in Chicago, a service station in one corner of the dining room is an important part of the designed environment. Resembling a residential kitchen, it is fitted with custom upper and lower cabinetry and open shelves. Photo by Eric Kleinberg for 555 International

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