How to improve your dining experience using lean principles?

June 2, 2019


This article is based on a case study conducted on three lean restaurants to find out how lean practices could be applied to a restaurant.

You may feel that managing a restaurant is a tough business, but we will provide you with the basic information telling you how to improve your dining experience using lean principles in order to manage your restaurant perfectly.

You can apply lean principles on all your restaurant operations; managing the kitchen, inventory, customer service, waste reduction, saving budget, buying equipment, training your staff, and the most important maximizing profits and sales. Here are some points you should consider when operating your business.


  • Table setting preparations:

  1. Your staff should make sure to clean and polish silverware and glasses to be ready to set on the table.
  2. These silverware and glasses should be grouped so that the workers could easily transport them to the specific table.
  3. Your staff should prepare the plates in the correct form for table setup.
  4. They should place a clean tablecloth on each table.
  5. These preparations must be done before the first guest arrives.
  6. These preparations must be done in a prioritized order.
  7. There should be a list of all tasks identifying every single task along with the name of the responsible server.
  8. To calculate the right number of workers to serve a specific number of guests on a table, you should calculate the time needed to prepare the table for one guest then multiply it with the total number of your guests.


  • Staff training:

  1. You should provide your new hires, new and temporary workers with a training manual.
  2. The training manual composed of all tasks that need to be done in every single operation relevant to their job description.
  3. This manual will allow new and temporary workers to educate themselves about the standardized setup process.
  4. It will give time to your regular servers to do other required table setting preparations tasks.
  5. Every member of the staff should be able to do all the jobs that his station requires to fill the gap in busy times.


  • Better traffic flow:

  1. No server should come into the cooking area while meals aren’t ready to be served.
  2. No server should come into the bar while drinks aren’t ready to be served.
  3. There should be a specific storage place for inventory.
  4. Inventory should be classified so that it would be easy for the staff to get what they need.


  • Have regular meetings with your staff:

  1. These meetings allow you to discuss:
  2. Any arisen problems with your staff.
  3. Business operations.
  4. Suggestions about improving your work.
  5. New plans.
  6. It will also help the new employees to understand work better and to perform efficiently.


  • Just-in-time ordering system:

Using a computerized food ordering tracking system will help you to follow the periodicity of orders so that you would be able to order precisely what you need when you need in the quantities you need.


  • JIT production model:

It stands for just-in-time, where the kitchen staff starts to prepare any menu item, only, when the customer shows up and orders it. Implementing this model in your restaurant will result in:

  • Reducing Inventory cost
  • Enhancing supply chain management
  • Improving customer service
  • Eliminating waste.


  • The front of house management:

  1. You should hire the right person to manage and supervise the front of house area in your restaurant.
  2. This worker shall be responsible for:
  3. Accelerating food.
  4. Dealing with employees’ issues and challenges.
  5. Providing customer service if needed.


  • Communicate with your staff:

You need to communicate with your staff directly to make sure that they got your idea, and to hear from them if they have any amazing ideas about enhancing the business.


  • Safety:

  1. Make sure that your staff doesn’t take stairs at fast speed.
  2. Make sure that your staff wears non-slip shoes.
  3. You should install security cameras.
  4. You should teach your staff how to handle sharp equipment, hot materials and every other dangerous item in and out of the kitchen.


  • Stocking:

  1. Inventory must be replenished at the end of each shift.
  2. You should have a checklist to know what items need to be gotten from the storage at once so that you don’t have to visit the storage repeatedly.
  3. To know when to order for a specific item you might consider placing cards on items telling you the remained amount of this item so that you order the item immediately to avoid late ordering and out-of-stock items.


  • Kitchen:

  1. Implement a pull-style production system that is the kitchen staff shall start to prepare the dish when the order is received.
  2. The quality of the dishes shall be kept consistent.
  3. Every station in the kitchen should be clean, safe and well organized throughout all working hours, this will allow the staff to save their time efficiently, and help with producing high-quality meals.


  • Visual management board:

  1. This is a board to communicate with your staff.
  2. When you need to deliver them a message just write it down on the board.
  3. The board consists of many categories that contribute to your success, such as quality, inventory, waste, safety, and profits.


  • Maintenance planning and history database:

  1. Maintenance standardized techniques are about creating a maintenance plan that guides you what prudential procedures are needed to be done in a specific given time using the right resources.
  2. You should also have a maintenance history database to keep data about any resources you previously used to maintain anything in your restaurant, resulting in avoiding any time-consuming process in searching for or obtaining materials and recourses.


After all, lean principles are about identifying the value, mapping the value stream, creating flow, establishing pull, and seeking perfection for both; you as a restaurant manager and your customers.