The Sushi Wasn’t as Good, but the Process Was Better
Last year, I wrote about my conveyor belt sushi misadventures in Japan:
I've only been to a few of these “revolving sushi” restaurants (as they are sometimes called) in the United States.
(Check out the “Measures of Success” workshop that she's bringing me to San Francisco for in March… it's open for public registration if you can join us).
In Japan last year, I got confused by the one sushi place's “special order” process, where the special orders were on the normal revolving conveyor. I had previously been to other conveyor belt sushi places where special orders were brought directly to your table.
I wrote that I thought it would be a better process to have a separate flow for special orders. And that's exactly what they do at Kura.
There's the revolving sushi — you're free to grab anything there that you like. But up above is a linear conveyor belt that sends special orders from the kitchen to you without revolving, as I've annotated below:
Not only are the special orders on a special conveyor, it's programmed so that the sushi comes as far as your seat… and then it stops. There's no confusion over what's yours. The tablet makes some noise to alert you, as you see in this video I shot:
“It's the leader's responsibility to create a system in which people can succeed.”Darril Wilburn
Compared to the place in Japan, I think Kura Sushi set us up for success, as customers. I couldn't take the wrong plate by mistake!
Well, except for the moment when the guy to my left was having trouble with his ordering tablet. So, he reached over and ordered a special order ramen noodle bowl using my tablet.
Um, that's not how it works.
The server said (to him), “You should have said something to me.”
The customer to my left “didn't pull the andon cord,” as we say in Lean. He didn't speak up about the problem. This created additional work for the server, as he had to manually make adjustments to his bill and to mine.
Otherwise, the billing is pretty automatic. The special orders are tied to your station and the tablet. Also, when you are done eating anything you took off the conveyor, you put the plate in this special chute:
It's a pretty slick automated process. When you're done and you press “Check Out” on the tablet, they still have to bring you a paper credit card slip to sign. It's too bad it's not like Uber where you just scan a credit card when you sit down and then you just walk away when you're done with the bill being taken care of automatically. Maybe that's a “kaizen” improvement opportunity?
Process aside, the sushi wasn't as good as Japan or finer non-conveyor places in Texas. I'll eventually find a place with great process and great sushi. Well, this place in Japan had both:
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