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Topic Title: Lean Appliied To Bars & Restaurants
Topic Summary: Lean Appliied To Bars & Restaurants
Created On: 12/05/2017 07:11 AM
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12/06/2017 02:23 PM
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Colin McArdle

Does anyone have case studies or can share stories/examples of applying Lean in Bars and Restaurants? I would welcome a chat with someone who has Lean experience in this sector. From my own experience (as a customer) I have lots of examples of waste but I would like to hear about how Lean has helped or otherwise to include the approach, challenges and typical outcomes. Looking forward to hearing more.
01/03/2018 03:28 PM
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Brent Wahba

Hi Colin,

If you haven't seen them yet, Starbucks has some good examples and so does Legal Seafood.

01/04/2018 11:48 AM
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Dave Winter


There are some restaurants out there that are very 'organized,' but not deliberately Lean. There are a few, however, that are lead by Lean leadership, and who actively strive to be Lean, and not appear Lean by accident. I think the most widely known Lean restaurant chain (one that is deliberately Lean, and not Lean-appearing) is Jimmy John's Sandwiches. They even boast on their workers' t-shirts and in-store signage that they are "the fastest sandwich in town," and they truly are. Moreover, in the store you can visibly see how they stock and restock their supplies using an active pull system. I haven't done a whole lot of research on them, but I worked for a Lean COO a few years ago who told me that they are indeed a true Lean organization, and not one that practices Lean concepts simply by falling into it.

I've felt in the past that Chipotle had some Lean leanings, but I don't think they're actively driven by Lean concepts. The main thing I notice that they do wrong is the location of the pico de gallo and guacamole in their layout. They should put it at the very end of the line, where they ask the customer if they would like chips and salsa to go with their order, but the way they lay things out now, those two condiments are about 2/3 of the way through the line, so when the cashier asks that question and the customer agrees, they have to step around each other, go back up into the line, and serve up the condiments into containers. If they had those two condiments at the end of the line, they wouldn't have to step around themselves to get to them.

So if you're in an area with these two restaurants, go to Chipotle with a notepad and see if you notice what I stated here. I even did a simple constraint analysis with Chipotle, multiplied the time wasted with each condiment order by the number of potential orders that contain those condiments by the minimum wage (their wages are probably a bit higher than that), and then extrapolated that across the number of restaurants they have, and they're wasting close to $85,000 per year (estimated) by stepping around themselves to fulfill the orders. Then contrast that with what you see at a Jimmy Johns, and you'll really see the differences - not just in motion and transportation waste, but compound that with a visible environment, an active pull system for ingredients, etc. etc. and it will really stand out to you. Anyway, a fun homework assignment... :-)
01/11/2018 07:59 PM
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Aaron Hunt

Some Waffle House locations use exceptional visual management for communicating their orders. No verbal/electronic/written communication needed from the counter to the cook. all info is conveyed by what is on the plate and how it's placed. One location I was there late at night with some fellow Lean Thinkers (after an evening of "preparing" for a trip to Ireland at the local pub), and we got some of the details. The cook had only been there 3 weeks - but he said it was easy, and he had visual cards to refer to if he was unsure....

We've begun the process of adoption lean philosophies in our food prep area and cafeteria. So things like streamlining ordering, minimizing wasted food, engaging staff in improvement ideas, and improving flow in the serving lines so employees and customers can get their food faster have all been successful applying the same basic principles - starting with "what's the problem you're trying to solve?"

The awesome thing about Lean is it truly applies pretty much everywhere. And yeah, I struggle to eat out at many restaurants because of the obvious waste.
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