KITCHENS VS BARS: THE STORY OF WATCHED VS WASTED May 07 2015 1 Comment

The kitchen and bar, in a modern hospitality business, operationally speaking pull in different directions, creating a paradigm rather than a clearly defined singularity of purpose and outcome!

This paradigm we refer to is a tug of war created unknowingly between the Kitchen/Bar.

The contrast boils down to:

“What’s WATCHED in the kitchen tends to be WASTED in the bar”.

The WATCH versus WASTE paradigm pivots around 2 different philosophies each altering individual operational imperatives, training and arising metrics.

Kitchens are tremendously expensive enterprises, with tight margins. Produce, protein and labour costs are finely balanced in an economic pas de deux, whereby the slightest hiccup, mis-costing, mis-portioning may very well blow any profit on a meal out of the water!

Bars seemingly operate differently: what costs so little per serve/shot is sold at very high multiples, requiring far less time and energy to produce a profitable result.

Given the economics, management is very focused on closely watching what’s valued the most… things which are undervalued are more likely to be taken for granted and wasted!

The issues between the Kitchen and Bar Operations can be broadly contained to 6 key differences:

  1. Chefs tend to be formally trained (scientifically) at culinary schools, whereas bar/beverage people tend to learn on the job. 
  2. Structure, measurement, precision are vital to operating a profitable kitchen. Consistency is the outcome sought... yet flip this to a bar and measurement is not critical, drink balance and inconsistency is rife.
  3. Bars can be notoriously lax compared to strict chef imposed process and controls. A lobster tail goes missing in the kitchen and a wild chef is on the hunt... a bottle of booze goes missing there’s a grunt or huh!
  4. Kitchens invest in tools which save, assist and control; whereas bar spending is confined to guest facing serve ware. Bar consumables are not compared, cross checked for value, quality and performance; whereas in the kitchen, kitchen consumables are.
  5. Chefs do inventory daily or multi-times a week, in well run bars this may be done weekly, mostly monthly (if at all).
  6. Accountability in the kitchen is extremely high... every scrap, drop, grain is watched and accounted for, whereas it’s more laissez faire behind the bar.

If you are an independent or multi-unit operator the news is not all bad as there are specialist inventory control companies such Barmetrics and Bevinco offering intensive on-going management control systems to help.

Compare your kitchen and bar operations... once the analysis is done, it makes sense to impose kitchen discipline in your bar. Try it... what do you have to lose, other than money, inventory and reputation!

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