Restaurant downtimes are typically described as hours when customer and kitchen product volume outputs are low. 


Understandably, when viewed this way, it would seem that downtimes signal the decline of a restaurant business.

In reality, life has ebbs and flows, including businesses. The challenge is to maximize these downtimes to strengthen and invigorate the many facets of your business. Every restaurant has its rhythm, and restaurant owners need to understand that, to make the most of their money, time, staff and resources. 


Here are some ways you can keep your restaurant thriving even during downtimes:


Review Sales And Cash-flow 


Review your current and historical sales reports, invoices and accounting statements to monitor if you are incurring profits or losses. This analysis will be your guide to budgeting for the various costs that your business incurs. 


Conduct Staff Training


This holds a vital role because most of the factors affecting food and service quality depend on how your kitchen team is trained.

A smooth-running restaurant is a product of everyone working towards the team and personal goals. 

Make use of these hours for staff to :

  • learn new food and drink options
  • refresh the team on ingredients
  • complete taste testings
  • review service sequences
  • role play different guest and service interactions 
  • review kitchen policies and their role expectations ( including downtimes)

Sometimes, you may find during training that it is no longer productive to keep a staff member, and that’s when you can consider hiring short term staff to mitigate vacant staffing issues while you hire someone permanently. 

Short-term hire chef agencies such as Anytime Chefs can fill that void. Anytime Chefs provide restaurants with professional chefs for short term hire arrangements (temps). With their roster of skilled chefs, they help eliminate the worry that hiring temps decrease kitchen productivity due to temps acclimating and adjusting to the kitchens. 

At the end of the day, you want to nurture a skilful team that does not embody a “that’s not my job attitude, but a “what else can I do?” instead. 


Related read: When Do You Need Short Term Hire Chefs?


Review Staff Schedule


Downtimes are opportunities to review your staffing schedule related to your sales and targets.  

Reduce the number of staff on duty on hours or days when sales volume is low and there are no activities that require them. Review your daily, weekly and monthly task schedules to keep the ship sailing. 

Staff efficiently by adopting a staggered hour scheme where each team or a batch of staff start and finish work at slightly different times. 

Be mindful of your team’s energy levels too. Are they bored, gossiping or spending time using cell phones? These are time killers that reduce productivity. What you consider as underproductivity due to understaffed may be a result of underproductivity due to staff behaviour. 

Develop a working environment where everyone remains focused in the entirety of shifts so that dining guests receive the same quality regardless of quiet hours. 


Accomplish Cleaning Tasks or Preventative Maintenance


Every staff should understand how crucial it is to keep a cleaned restaurant, not just for the visual rewards. You prevent cross-contamination, fire hazards, and early disintegration of equipment in doing so. 

The adage “If you have time to lean, you have time to clean” holds firm. 

Stay on top of things now to prevent surprises during peak periods. Do a thorough walk-through of the property at least once per week to identify what needs to be fixed or replaced? What equipment should be turned off to save on energy and costs? 


Review Stock Control:


Your inventory and ordering procedures work cohesively, and in synergy, so you don’t end up with wastage or runouts. Much like your staffing, review your stock levels as they relate to your sales and targets. You don’t only lose profits when there are no customers, but also when your wastages get out of hand. You could be overstocking items that you do not have any immediate use for and therefore using potentially wasted stockroom space or eating up on your month’s budget. You could be losing money this way without you knowing it. 


Review Your Marketing Strategy


Every restaurant business can benefit from a good marketing strategy. As stated earlier, restaurants have ebbs and flows, and there will be hours or days when you are not receiving your expected/desired volume of guests. 

Use your downtime to review your budget and existing marketing programs. Do you need to advertise in print or on other social media apps? Do you need to create promos? If you have social media presence, how strong is your audience engagement? 


Do Preparations For Service


Possibly the most realistic task to do during these downtimes is to prepare for the next rush of dining guests. Activities such as food prep, stocking of beverages, refilling of condiments and napkins are ideal. Ensure that you have a checklist for such activities. Doing so will ensure that nothing is overlooked and that nobody needs to be reminded of it. 


Conduct Staff Meetings


Last but not least, use downtime to connect with your team. Hold team meetings to discuss operational performance, restaurant financials, marketing & advertising plan, guests feedback. Conduct one-on-one interviews with staff to review personal goals, address and resolve issues and boost morale. Use this time to get everyone involved and work towards a set of common goals. It takes a team effort, and it starts now!


In Summary:

Downtimes are part of the restaurant business. High volumes of guests are not always assured, and activities vary as the day progresses, depending on what you offer. It is normal to have some downtime throughout the day and between services.

Your goal is to have everyone in your team remain productive so that each moment is valued and no opportunity for sales is lost.


That’s it for this week.
As always, Professional Chefs on Call at Anytime!

Ciao for now,


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