Getting It Right the First Time

Getting It Right the First Time


We all know that successful restaurant chains have systems in place that all employees can follow. Good chains prepare the same great food every time and at each location. There are two key components that every multi-unit foodservice location must have in place. 

When a stand-alone or limited unit foodservice operation becomes a restaurant system, an owner, chef or single operations leadership will no longer be able to manage the kitchen and guest experience of the operation. The “secret sauce” of the successful culinary enterprise needs to become ingrained in required procedures that are followed with minimal and remote oversight by the restaurant’s  - now restaurant chain’s - leadership team. Foodservice chains must make sure that two pillars of expansion excellence are in place before growing out if sight:

  1. Replicable Recipes: 

Remember, you or those you have personally trained over the years won’t be “over-the-shoulder” of the cooks in each kitchen. The “oral traditions” and nuances of interpretation in a recipe can’t be reviewed, considered and corrected each shift and by each new foodservice worker at every location. Even highly trained regional or area managers will not be dining on site and inspecting kitchens on a daily basis. Corporate oversight will be in-person on an infrequent basis with data-sets and reports substituting for daily taste-tests and introductions to guests in the dining room. Basically, everyone and anyone needs to be able to see, read, comprehend and replicate your amazing recipes.

How do restaurant chains replicate their “wow-factors” and consistency across geographic and cultural distances? A replicable recipe is more than just procuring selecting the correct foods from an identified vendor. It's a way of learning and understanding. This is why great recipe systems that everyone can use are built on a scaffolded learning system. Scaffolding is a psycho-education term - that is an applied tenant of psychology related directly to how people learn. Most of the complicated things we learn in life are scaffolded - we don’t run before we walk and line cooks shouldn’t  flambe before they are able to light a range.

Making sure to work with a foodservice consultant that can help a great operation create replicable recipes is an often overlooked but completely necessary requirement of successful chain growth.

  1. EXACT Specifications

The exact right ingredients in the hands-of a well trained line cook is a good start, but a lot of what makes your food great is what you make it with.  The equipment required to reasonably replicate your flagship restaurant’s menu items needs to be clearly spelled-out, required, and provided at reasonable costs at each location and without exception. A bad - or simply different -  burger at one location can turn a patron off to all locations.

Specifying the right holding, cooking, serving and equipment can be a very difficult task for chains.  When a restaurateur is building a new concept that’s one-of-a-kind, he or she just has to have good food that matches the specifications of the one location. Restaurant chains need to recreate food from the original location throughout their system.

Specification of restaurant equipment can become very difficult for new foodservice chains because:

  • The equipment originally used at the flagship location is obsolete.
  • It’s too cost prohibitive to buy all of the needed appliances at one time at each location. If your restaurant has slowly purchased new equipment over time, or inherited existing, a cohesive solution for new units must be devised.
  • Managers and cooks at new locations, well, just won’t be as skilled as your original restaurant. You might need to make cooking easier and require less “cooks-in-the-kitchen” to make the same food
  • Not all chain units will be exactly the same. Some variance in floorplan, layout, utility requirements and code requirements are inevitable as new replica restaurants pop up. Being exact also means planning for multiple, probable construction and equipment scenarios.

Every decision made when specifying equipment for a restaurant chain has massive impacts and weight on the future of the entire system. Making the wrong choice doesn’t just mean buying one extra prep table and, certainly, a chain’s procedures and recipes can’t be changed to meet “the reality on the ground” at each location. 

Recipe development, prototype design, and equipment specification are where the seeds of success or eventual failure are sown. Having a Restaurant Chain Consultant and Foodservice Designer participate in making these important selections before expanding is a necessity. 

Horizon can help with all of this, and more. Contact us today.