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Dealing With a Bottleneck

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Dealing With a Bottleneck

Lockdown level 2 allows restaurants to bring in some much-needed business, However, we are far from operating at full capacity meaning when business picks up social distancing is going to affect capacity, leading to queue issues and longer waiting times.

Things To Consider

How you handle this bottleneck can make or break a restaurant. When attempting to control the flow of your lines, it is important to keep this in mind:

1) Generally, people don’t mind waiting in line if a restaurant is busy, but they don’t like another long wait for food.

2) If you have just opened your doors, you can expect long lines for the first few months.

3) If you need to make a compromise, prioritise a top experience once seated.

4) Longer waiting times means more potential exposure to the virus.

Strategies For Controlling Flow:

Directing the flow of customers during peak business starts by observing the bottleneck. You need to assess how and why it starts.

Assess the situation:

1) When does the line start to form? What days and times are the lines particularly long.

2) What is holding up the line? Look for possible reasons that could be holding up the line. It can be anything from faulty equipment, miss-communication between your Front of house and back of house. Or it could be a particular item on your menu.

3) Who is holding up the line? Observe the interactions between customers and staff, is the line due to human error?

Once you have an idea of why you have such a long line, you can better deal with the situation, and deploy one of several strategies to manage a bottleneck.


1) Food Preparation: If your long lines are the result of particular menu items holding up the process, then there are at least two actions you can take, firstly, do your food prep ahead of time for popular items. Secondly, you can eliminate items that need more prep time or is not selling enough to justify the prep time.

2) Find a host for those busy days: A host is an excellent way to bring order to a line. They are your first touch point and are vital in managing first impressions if patrons need to wait. Your host needs to make sure guests are seated strategically to maintain social distancing. A host should also keep customers informed. For example, letting customers(who have been waiting and are next to be seated) know that their table will be ready soon.

3) Train your staff to jump in: Hiring additional staff isn’t really an option. An alternative is to give staff multiple roles, so they can jump in during those busier periods, then go back to their primary duty when things quiet down.

4) Invest in the right hardware and software: GAAP has several Point of Sale solutions that can streamline your operation, from POS terminals that connect to your kitchen Printers and Kitchen Displays to eliminate miss communication. We also supply robust paging systems that allow patrons to walk around, clearing up your waiting area, once the pager goes off they know their table/order is ready.

There is no one size fits all, each restaurant has a unique set of variables that can cause a bottleneck, and finding a solution starts with identifying those factors.