Foodservice by Design

Team members from PROFITALITY discuss how industrial engineering can be applied to the foodservice industry.

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Coronavirus does not discriminate. It will infect anyone and the steps to curb the spread of the infection continues to impact all businesses. The restaurant industry remains among the business segments hardest hit by this pandemic yet not all restaurants appear to feel the impact as badly as others.

A new term continues to dominate the restaurant industry: Artificial Intelligence (AI). It was all the buzz during the National Restaurant Association’s show in Chicago and it continues to come up in countless conversations.

For such a mature business segment, the restaurant industry continues to go through some dramatic developments. For example, in the not so distant past, consumers who wanted food prepared outside of the home had to visit any one of variety of restaurant locations: freestanding, in-line, universities, food courts, etc. And for those who wanted restaurant-quality cuisine delivered to their home or office, they usually had two choices: pizza or Chinese food.

One Industrial Engineering in Foodservice technique that we use to optimize design is process mapping.  Another name that you may have heard for this same analytical process is Spaghetti Diagrams. The latter comes from the fact that many processes that are not designed optimally, often look like spaghetti in a bowl, as in the before picture seen here.

The Foodservice industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, as it has been for the last 5 to 10 years. From companies trying robotics and other forms of automation, to well-established chains trying to branch out into new areas (e.g. delivery, adding alcohol, etc.), these forms of rapid restaurant evolution sometimes drive the need to develop ground-breaking solutions to complex problems that may arise.

Earlier this year as part of my company’s 10th anniversary, I took some time to reflect on how the foodservice industry and its technology has evolved over the past decade. That served as the perfect backdrop for my visit to the 2019 National Restaurant Association Show in Chicago.

While wrapping the year in my home office, I came across an article that offered a few restaurant design predictions for 2020. While the piece showed some very interesting visual designs, most meant more for upscale applications and perhaps one-off locations, this article made me begin to wonder about how Industrial Engineering in Foodservice will impact restaurant design in 2020.

Today’s consumers are more time-starved than ever. And they also crave restaurant-quality food when and where they want it – even from the comfort of their living room couch at times! This phenomenon has restaurant operators developing apps, partnering with third-party delivery firms, and more, all to remain not only relevant, but convenient in the eyes of the customer.

It’s no secret, labor represents a major issue facing the restaurant industry. Not only is it a significant issue all foodservice operators must address that is impacting "unit economics," it is getting more complex to deal with every day.

FCSI member Juan Martinez of Profitality recaps FE&S’ Tour the Trends event, which featured stops in Wrigley Field, Hotel Zachary, Maddon’s Post, Big Star and Mordecai.

AI is coming! AI is coming!

Or is artificial intelligence already here and has been for a while?