I was able to have dinner at the famous Pizzeria Uno in Chicago on Friday. It had been too long since I've had really good Chicago stuffed pizza — REAL Chicago pizza, not the fake bready stuff that too many places try to pass off as “Chicago” pizza. Nothing “lean” (skinny) about these cheese and sausage stuffed pies (picture isn't Unos, but representative of the style).
These pizzas normally take 45 minutes to cook (or really, it's 45 minutes from order to table, including the different waiting times between order and eating). It's the same delay, same cooking time, if it's Uno's or the wonderful Oregano's chain in the Phoenix area, where I used to live.
There was a wait for a table at Uno's. That wasn't surprising. What WAS surprising was that they took our pizza order at the hostess stand when we put our name down for the table list.
Normally, the flow time would be: TOTAL TIME = WAITING FOR TABLE + PIZZA WAITING TO BE MADE QUEUE + PIZZA COOKING TIME + TABLE DELIVERY QUEUE + WAITSTAFF DELIVERY TIME + REST OF MEAL
The idea of taking your order allows two of these times to overlap, the “waiting for table” and the “pizza fulfillment” times to overlap. We waited 30 minutes for our table, got seated, and the pizza arrived about 20 minutes later, after we ate salad. Perfect timing. This seems like a “lean solutions” type concept, to remove time from the process.
This was good for us, the customer (reducing total time) and good for the restaurant, I suppose, increasing table turns, which means more money in the restaurant biz.
This is good for the restaurant, unless they make more money on the drinks they sell while the wait. I've always suspected that the famous Pizzeria Bianco, also in Phoenix (but not deep dish), makes more money on customers buying wine at the bar they own next door than they do making pizza. Pizza creates the queue of customers that drink, easily spending $20 per person while waiting for food that costs about $10 per person. I don't think that's why Bianco's is in business, to make money off of drinks (it's the passion for pizza). Unintended consequence, I suppose. If Bianco's had you order ahead, like Uno's, they'd probably reduce profits.