The wait staff at Brackett’s Crossing Country Club in Lakeville, Minn., is avoiding kitchen chaos with the help of a magnetic numbering system that keeps substitutions, special requests and seating orders straight.
Mr. and Mrs. Smith have invited a few close friends to Brackett’s Crossing Country Club, Lakeville, Minn., to celebrate their anniversary with them. Mrs. Smith wants the salmon, medium-rare, hold the asparagus and substitute broccolini. Her husband wants the steak, rare, with mashed potatoes. Mrs. Jones wants the cobb salad but hold the egg, bacon and blue cheese. Mr. Jones wants the black & bleu salad with a side of fries and ranch dressing.
The waitress tries to get everyone’s exact requests so she can enter them correctly into the POS system. With a number of other large parties also awaiting orders with similar special requests, the kitchen at Brackett’s Crossing is a flurry of activity, with plated dish after plated dish landing in the window, ready to be served.
After a short time, the dishes for everyone in the Smith party make their way to the expeditor. But which dish goes to which diner? And how many dishes must the expeditor still wait on before a food runner can start serving? Without a solid system in place, chaos—and cold food—ensues.
THE GOAL: Brackett’s Crossing CC wanted to become more organized and confident in how its food runners deliver food to larger tables.
“Like most clubs, we have many large groups that come to the restaurant to dine,” says Michael Bohnert, Assistant General Manager at Brackett’s Crossing. “We use plate covers and food runners to help expedite, but the staff was always confused as they delivered the food to tables, not knowing which dish went to which diner.
“After countless scrubbings of dry-erase marker on the plate covers, to try and identify what went to whom, we came up with the idea of placing magnetic numbers on the covers that coincide with the [diners’] seat numbers,” Bohnert reports.
Now, waiters ring in the order associated with a specific seat and fire it to the kitchen, where there is a separate stack of 20 lids with stick-on magnets on the outside. A strip magnet on the line holds the magnets, which are numbered accordingly, so the expeditor can clearly see which dishes are ready—and, more importantly, which aren’t.
“Once food starts to come up in the window, the lids are placed on the plates with the corresponding seat numbers,” explains Bohnert. “As more orders come up, the expeditor can look at the numbers and know instantly what seat numbers are left to come up, as well as when to start running the food.”
As a result of the new numbering system, Bohnert reports, Brackett’s Crossing is much more efficient when serving larger parties, and members are impressed that the food runners are able to set plates down quickly and properly.
“We have an 11-page menu where members can get anything, anywhere, anytime,” says Bohnert. “If someone wants breakfast at night, we accommodate them. General modifiers are normal, too, plus we offer just about all plates in large and small [portions]. It’s critical that we get the right dish to the right person, and this system has helped us do that.
“The system is so simple and straightforward,” he adds. “But that’s the beauty of it. It’s just a magnet with a washer and a round sticker, but it’s made such a positive impact on our front-of-house service standards.” So much so, in fact, that the club is thinking of adding another set of numbers for the restaurant service line to use in the near future.