Finding a great kitchen crew is hard enough, making sure they are happy is another feat entirely. Even with a qualified back of house staff, emotions in the kitchen can sometimes run high causing arguments, confusion, frustration, issues with technique, and delayed ticket times. Why does this happen?
Restaurant kitchens are often small and even the most spacious kitchen requires staff to dance around each other with hot pans, sharp knives, and perfectly plated dishes. An errant elbow or accidental hip check can end in certain disaster. Simply being corralled in a single room for an entire shift with the same crew can heighten tensions between staff.
Ask your chefs what they feel about the lay out. Are there problem areas where people often collide or risk getting hurt? Do your chefs feel like they are working on top of one another? Should certain chefs be scheduled for opposite shifts for a while to avoid conflict? See what you can do to improve the flow and mood of the work-space for your back of house staff.
The back of house preps before the restaurant opens, they work through service, and they clean and sometimes prep more at the end of the night. Back of house shifts are long and often chaotic. While many people who choose this career thrive in a high-energy environment, all of that elevated excitement can take a toll on the individual when performed for lengthy periods of time for days on end.
Insist your staff take breaks. Be conscientious about how you are scheduling the individual. Have they worked 5 or more consecutive days? Do they often have to work a closing shift followed by an opening shift? Do you have enough people on your staff, or is your kitchen a skeleton crew?
Yes, chefs get hangry too. Actively flitting around the kitchen in front of a hot stove for hours burns a lot of calories and many chefs never take a moment to sit, breathe, have a regular conversation, or eat. Despite watching plate after plate leave the window, the energy of the kitchen distracts them from feeding themselves and before they know it, they are stressed, feeling weak, and starting to crack.
Don’t just encourage family meal, require it. Assign one chef per day to make food for everyone. Ideally the meal should be eaten all together before the restaurant opens, this gives your staff time to communicate and bond with one another. If this simply can not fit into the daily schedule at your restaurant, insist everyone take a moment during slower times to sit down with a buddy, eat, and talk to each other like human beings.
Don’t forget about your dish crew. Their morale and work ethic can make or break a service and their position is essential to the restaurant. Include them while considering these factors and be sure to treat them with respect and care. A happy dishwasher is a happy kitchen.