How does a restaurant fulfill your food order?

Posted by fshsfhsfh on Saturday, August 6, 2011

Have you ever wondered how your order gets processed in a restaurant, especially when it is crowded?

Let's take a restaurant which uses pen and paper, the old school method - no fancy gadgets or systems yet. The waiter notes down your order on a small note-pad. If you watch closely, you will notice that the note-pad has 1 or 2 carbon sheets for making automatic copies as the waiter writes down your order. This note-pad is called a KOT (Kitchen Order Ticket) book. The waiter then tears the 3 KOT copies, gives one to the cashier for billing purposes, gives one copy to the kitchen coordinator - referred to as the "Barker" and keeps one for his reference.

The "Barker" then divides the food order in the KOT to the respective individuals/teams in the kitchen - the main cook(s) for entrees, a junior cook for starters, a junior cook for breads (Rotis), the pantry for salads, drinks, desserts etc. The "Barker" literally shouts out the order to the respective individuals, tracks the order with . Once the food is prepared, the barker assembles the order for a table, calls the waiter and hands over the food items to him as one whole order or in parts depending on the load and what he thinks is best. The waiter then gets the order to the table.

The cashier's job is to ensure that all the orders are billed and gives the final bill to the waiter when asked for.

As you can see, having a really good "Barker" (Co-ordinator) is critical at most restaurants and generally a tenured waiter is assigned this task.

There are some modern gadgets available now ranging from:

1) Wireless order taking machines, with screens in the kithcen, that send out the orders to the respective teams as soon as the waiter presses "Submit" and the info to the billing system directly - you will see this in a large number of restaurants in the developed world (US, Canada etc.) and a few high end restaurants in India.

2) A simpler variant of this is where the waiter submits the order to the cashier, who enters the information in a system that sends a message to the kitchen and stores the information for billing purposes.

3) Another variant is where the "KOT" book has just one page. The waiter submits the order to the cashier, the cashier enters the order in a system, prints 2 copies - one for the kitchen and the other for the waiter.

On a crowded day, you can imagine the confusion and the activity levels in an ala-carte restaurant. This is one of the reasons why buffets are very popular - takes the pain out of the order taking, fulfilling and billing processes.

For a new restaurant, should you invest in a KOT system? If you are a newbie, my recommendation would be to stick to the "Paper and Pen" approach initially, invest in a simple billing machine till you learn enough about your processes and invest in something that will suit your requirements, if required.

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