Kitchen Nightmares has proven, time-and-again, to be, at worst, an entertaining look inside the restaurant business. Gordon Ramsay’s American adaptation of the show might be a little loudmouthed and belligerent than his British persona, but that’s what the media has told us we want in our hosts.
May 10th’s episode, focused on Amy’s Baking Company, has made waves in the restaurant and television worlds, for being a spectacular show of how not to handle criticism and issues that arise at restaurants. Gordon Ramsay, for the first time in his American production, left Amy’s Baking Company with the belief that the owners, Amy and Samy, would not be receptive to his help.
The episode is currently available on Hulu. What can restauranteurs learn from it?
Give your staff their tips
This may be one of the more obvious things when running a restaurant, but if a customer is leaving a tip, that tip is usually meant for the waitstaff that took care of them (and is usually left because they were happy with their service). It is not meant for the owner of the restaurant, unless explicitly stated. Even in that situation, the waitstaff is traditionally paid below minimum wage, and expect to make up the difference via tips. Amy’s Baking Company paid their staff an hourly wage, which breaks tradition and expectations of the modern dining-out experience.
Do not fire staff in front of guests, and without coaching
If an employee is outright stealing, being violent, or otherwise are creating a situation where they are untenable and need to be quickly removed from work, do so in the quietest way possible. Food runner Katy’s clarification if the food was going to the right table lead to an immediate dismissal in the front of the restaurant by Amy. If you believe a staff member is being disrespectful, coach them on it. It is unacceptable to fire someone in front of customers; as the scene showed, the actions quickly elevated to crying, screaming, and arguing. These are things to not let customers see, and should honestly not arise during a clean break.
Do not engage with “Haters”
Much of the episode features the owners and operators of the restaurant saying their business is failing because of “Internet Haters”, people complaining about their restaurant online. Engaging with them in any fashion only encourages more responses, and they may be in greater numbers than you’d expect.
Do not dismiss criticism as “hating”
At the same time, many of Chef Ramsay’s questions and criticism were immediately dismissed. He did not even get to the point where he could suggest ways to improve and increase taste and profitability of dishes. While there may be some people who are out to ruin your days, some complaints and comments come from a desire to help. In any situation, a customer stating that he can’t wait more than the hour he already has for a pizza should not be run out in the street and called a “pansy”.
Your staff is the restaurant’s staff, not personal attendants
Once again, you’ve hired these people to work in your restaurant. They may be flexible in their duties, such as helping change a lightbulb despite being a waiter, or pitching in and cleaning dishes despite being hire a chef. In no situation should an employee walk outside and wash your car.
Trust your staff
You may be a perfectionist when it comes to the kitchen, but someone else needs to be able to handle the register. You may know your way around the Point-Of-Sale system, but you definitely need to have others trained on it. “Dirty” and “lazy” are not words that should be descriptors of your staff, and you shouldn’t go through 100 in two years. A little trust towards them will go a long way in making a restaurant run smoother.
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