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!

What do you think? Please scroll down (or click) to post a comment. Or please share the post with your thoughts on LinkedIn – and follow me or connect with me there.

Did you like this post? Make sure you don't miss a post or podcast — Subscribe to get notified about posts via email daily or weekly.

Check out my latest book, The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation:

Get New Posts Sent To You

Select list(s):
Previous articleLame Survey about Lean in Healthcare?
Next articleFollowing up on the Peanut Corporation… Snap, Crackle, Salmonella?
Mark Graban
Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker, and podcaster with experience in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. Mark's new book is The Mistakes That Make Us: Cultivating a Culture of Learning and Innovation. He is also the author of Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More, the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, and the anthology Practicing Lean. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.


  1. 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.

    • 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.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.