Finding improvement opportunities is easy; finding meaningful problems to solve is hard, according to Rich Vellante, executive chef at Legal Sea Foods.
“In the restaurant business or any business, there are many, many problems,” Vellante explained. “But what are the core problems that you want to solve? We realized that they should be guest-facing first.”
So when Legal, a family-owned business founded in 1950, partnered with the nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute to transform its 30 locations and the restaurant business overall, it examined the guest experience.
“For us, that usually means evening-out the velocity and the flow,” Vellante said. The Legal team will examine the flow of information in the form of orders, the flow of people in and out of the restaurant and to tables, the flow of food and beverages to tables, the availability of wait staff – anything that affects the customer experience.
To improve velocity and flow and the guest experience, Legal is focused on reducing batch sizes in key processes such as cooking food or cleaning dishes. It also is differentiating between on-line and off-line work. For example, instead of cooks replenishing food supplies, support staff does replenishment. “It really helps us keep our cooks on the line, keeps our cooks focused on creating value for our guests,” Vellante said.
Watch the video interview to learn how Legal is rethinking the restaurant business using lean principles then subscribe to the Lean Post for more continuous improvement resources.