Sunday Brunch Thoughts

So it’s Sunday morning, I have a cup of coffee at the ready… nice quiet, peaceful, sunny Sunday morning (you can tell we don’t have kids).

Last Sunday, my wife and I went to a local restaurant that had been advertising their weekend brunch menu. As we were seated, we were handed the regular normal menu.

I asked, “Do you have the brunch menu?”

The waitress replied, “You know, we’ve had a lot of people asking. We quit doing the brunch last week. It just wasn’t that popular… and besides, we were throwing out too many eggs.” We politely excused ourselves and went across the parking lot to the gourmet grocery store that has a cafe that serves brunch.

Now lack of demand is one thing. If they didn’t have enough customers, I can understand. Maybe people don’t want breakfast at a pizza place (though brick oven fritatta sounded good to us. Maybe they gave up too soon… word hadn’t spread yet or maybe their marketing wasn’t effective enough. But, still, I could understand.

But throwing out too many eggs?? That’s an inventory management problem. They could have scaled back the number of eggs they kept on hand. Worst case, if they were running low, they had the gourmet grocery store right across the parking lot as a backup (albeit, maybe more expensive) supplier. The map below shows the distance from the red (pizza) to blue (grocery).

Is basic inventory management at all part of a chef’s curriculum or books about how to run a restaurant? It’s not that complicated. But, if you ever watch Chef Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares”, you see first hand how bad some of these restaurants are at inventory management (namely, ordering too much and having stuff rot).

I wonder if any restaurants ever have a simple “kanban” system in place to manage food inventory and supplies? Has anyone ever seen such a thing in use?

Maybe in a future post we can design a sample kanban system for a situation like this, going through the math and the process for how this would work. Is there any interest in that? Or, if there’s a volunteer who wants to do that in the comments space here, go right ahead!


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Mark Graban's passion is creating a better, safer, more cost effective healthcare system for patients and better workplaces for all. Mark is a consultant, author, and speaker in the "Lean healthcare" methodology. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. His most recent project is an eBook titled Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also the VP of Improvement & Innovation Services for the technology company KaiNexus.

3 Comments on "Sunday Brunch Thoughts"

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  1. Mark Graban says:

    Note to the Detroit readers… this is about half a mile from where your former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick now lives!!

  2. Andrew Azarias says:

    Hi,

    I haven’t seen any restaurant using knban system yet, but would love to learn how to set it up in my own restaurant. My idea is to use it only in tracking the movement of the product with the highest demand, as it would be very difficult to track down every product/ingredient.

    • Mark Graban
      Twitter:
      says:

      I think you’d want to consider using kanban on your highest volume items and/or the most expensive items. You might not care about throwing out a few left over green onions, but beef tenderloin is a different story. I’d also want to be careful about variation during the week, unless you’re doing a weekly kanban order system.

      I’m sure more restaurants would have complicated computer ordering systems (predictive models of what ingredients and supplies are used what days?) than simple kanban systems.

      It’s sort of interesting to think through.

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