Traditionally, most restaurants have used a printer so that when orders are sent to the kitchen, they are printed out and hung up in a row so the chefs know what to cook and in what order. When the order is ready, the chef rings a bell or, in some cases, calls out to the order staff to let them know it’s ready to serve. And while this system is tried and tested and technically works, its days are numbered.
The kitchen can communicate with the front of house
More and more the printer is being replaced by a screen. Not only does it cut down on paper waste, it opens possibilities you just can’t do with a printer. Not only can staff send an order to the kitchen, they can also find out if it’s ready without stepping foot in the kitchen. If a guest wonders how long until their order arrives, the server can look at their phone and see the answer. Because a kitchen display system (KDS) isn’t a one-way communication. The kitchen can keep the front of house updated as easily as a server can send an order to the chef.
Fastfood vs. à la carte
A KDS is a perfect fit into a fast food restaurant environment. Guess can order and pay on one screen, sending a digital ticket to the kitchen where the order is prepared. When it’s complete, the kitchen marks it on the screen, where the information appears on another screen for front of house staff and the guests to see that tells you the order is ready to be picked up. Fast and efficient, just as guests expect (and demand) with fast food.
But what about an à la carte restaurant? While the exact use case is different—there is little or no need for the kitchen to communicate directly with the guest—it does facilitate better communication between the front of house and kitchen staff, which can lead to a better guest experience.
The case for a KDS in an à la carte restaurant
In an à la carte restaurant, you could replace printers with multiple screens—for example, one in the kitchen and one at the bar. When a table’s order is entered by the serving staff, the food order goes directly to the kitchen while the drink orders are automatically sent to the bar. There the chef and bartenders can update the status of the food or drink, which in turn can be seen by the serving staff on their front of house screen or even a mobile device they carry with them. This makes it easier for them to be present among the guests instead of having to run to the kitchen to find out how things are going with their guests’ orders.
In other words, a KDS not only improves communication between the kitchen, bar and front of house, but most importantly, for the guests. Staff who are able to be among your guests and can answer questions directly allows them to provide better service. Servers can also get a better overview of what is happening throughout the restaurant.
An extra bonus is that it allows you to get statistics on how long it takes from when the order is placed until the food and drink are on the guest’s table. This helps give insight as to what’s working (or areas you need to improve) to make service even more efficient.
How a KDS makes your restaurant five times better:
- it facilitates better communication between kitchen and serving staff
- it provides a clearer overview of the restaurant
- your serving staff can be among your guests more and therefore provide better service
- you can more easily measure the efficiency of your kitchen and bar (and find where you can make improvements)
- your restaurant will perceived as innovative and smart!