Ensuring Short Ticket Times in High Season
As business increases and our locations fill to capacity, there are more tickets needing to be fulfilled. This means that ticket times grow longer. How do we keep food and drinks arriving at tables in a timely fashion? Here’re some tips for keeping your ticket times respectable during busy periods of the year.
There will be some items on your menu for which the construction is pretty elaborate. Some dishes require many stations and steps. Some items take a larger amount of time to get out to the table; on my menu this item is a soba noodle bowl. It is likely that there are only one or two of these items on your menu, but these are the items slowing your whole kitchen down. Consider removing these items from your menu (or simply 86’ing them) for high season to help speed up your ticket times.
Look at your stations and see how their workload is weighted. If one station is weighted too heavily this can also slow down your ticket times. Often, the whole kitchen can only move at the rate of the slowest station. Consider moving some items around or changing them up to relieve the pressure on that station. Alternatively, consider having two people working said station on the hysterically busy days to keep your kitchen running at optimum pace.
Most just associate ticket times with kitchens, however your bar ticket times are just as important. Drinks should be reaching the table before food, and drink ticket times should be no longer than five minutes. There are a few things you can do in order to prepare your bar and bar menu for high season. The first of these is to avoid muddling. Muddling is an excellent technique for extracting flavors and aromas but it takes a lot of time. Too many muddled items on your menu can cause ticket times to lag behind guest expectations. You can still use muddling, but apply it sparingly to your menu! If you still want those flavors but want to reduce your ticket times consider infusing syrups and liquors with fresh herbs and fruits. This tactic requires little labor and just some clever time management to ensure that you always have enough on hand.
Using fewer ingredients in your cocktails and preparing garnishes are both tactics that will improve service from behind your bar. If your bartenders are building 7 and 8 ingredient drinks it’s going to take a lot longer than simple 3-4 ingredient drinks. Garnishes are an integral part of a cocktail, but having to peel fruit and pluck leaves from stems can take up valuable time. Have these garnishes either prepared before the shift or eliminate them entirely.
Fail to prepare and prepare to fail, is a good mantra and prep is the big secret to running short ticket times. If your kitchen are properly prepped at the start of the shift then your ticket times will reflect this. Once you’ve put some of these changes in place, monitor your ticket times to see how much they’ve decreased. The difference from just a few small changes like this may surprise you!