Use of Capacity = Profitability

For some time the issues associated with the optimal use of capacity and storage demand have been a source of analysis among various researchers from major universities and centers around the world. In this magazine, several articles have addressed the topic, in such depth that it is a bit complex to write one that matches them. However, I consider that there is always something to be said, and from this mix between what one says and the other, many ideas can always be generated that enrich the theories already addressed or allow the creation of new ones, or simply reaffirm them.

In this sense, going from the general to the particular, or from the foundations Even the structures, I intend to channel the present, in order to understand those issues that I will address later, but not before clarifying that, regardless of whether each country adopts different rules, there is always a common factor for them, being the first:

The basic considerations to keep in mind for restaurant design

El design a restaurant It is vital to be able to provide a quality service, failure to pay attention to this aspect will result in losses due to remodeling, losses in the operation, both in time and in raw materials, as well as difficulty in controlling and monitoring the human and material element. A reference for this type of construction is the book "The Art of Projecting in Architecture" by Ernst Neufert. It sets out all those questions of a constructive nature that must be taken into account in order to restaurants of different types and for different purposes: airports, trains, hospitals, etc.
In a quick review of these standards that are established in the different countries, whose objectives are aimed at guaranteeing the best conditions to offer services, all agree that the most important points to consider when designing a restaurant are the following:
  • Circulation: consider the routes to be followed by clients and service personnel, positions and other requirements of corridor spaces, corridors, entrances and exits.
  • Decoration: decide on the basic interior scheme, as well as all the constructive aspects to create the character and style of the restaurant.
  • Organization of tables and seats: tTaking into account the access, service, windows and other aspects of the dining room, prepare the interior scheme showing the organization of tables and seats.
  • Pavement: consider the construction of the pavement and select suitable floor coverings, taking into account the decoration of the room and other conditions such as: intensity of use, degree of comfort, noise-insulating materials, ease of cleaning, etc.
  • Walls: Examine the selection of wallcoverings and coverings with the possibility of varying the surface finish in the event of stains, scratches and wear.
  • The ceiling: decide on the appropriate construction and finish for the ceiling, taking into account its height, decoration, fire risk, regulation of heating, ventilation, lighting, and the need to incorporate new services.
  • Accessories and equipment: select and expressly design the appropriate accesses and equipment for the room, including built-in furniture and other units and decorative details.
  • Furniture: specify details of the furniture: type, style, quality, quantity and requirements regarding manufacturing and design.
  • Noise: consider the need to reduce noise from outside and from the kitchen.
  • Ventilation: examine provisions for heating and ventilation appropriate to varying conditions.
  • Lighting: decide the appropriate levels for functional lighting, the degree of variation of lighting and means of regulation.
  • Protection and safety: review the risk of fire, accidents and other dangers, considering the escape forecasts in case these occur.
  • Control: determine the design and service situation of the cashier furniture, service stations and other units required for the operation and control of the restaurant.
Now the heart of a restaurant It is in the areas where food is made and where it is consumed. In particular, in addition to the previous general rules, the following criteria must be considered independently:

The design of the area Kitchen

A preparation or cooking area is understood as the place where dishes and culinary compositions are prepared, prepared and preserved. In it, the necessary equipment is installed, both mechanical and operating with different types of energy, fire, refrigeration and air conditioning, furniture, protection means, tools, utensils and accessories and its design must respond to:
  • Supply policies: consider purchasing policy, food preparation and menu selection in relation to kitchen size, staff, equipment and costs investment.
  • Food storage: analyze the method of food procurement, availability of local supplies, storage areas required for vegetables, dry, freeze storage and refrigeration.
  • Control: inventory control methods, counting and weighing of products, warehouses and secondary kitchen refrigerators.
  • Preparation space: determine the space needs for the preparation of the dishes.
  • Distribution: distribution of food circulation routes, convenient access to warehouses, kitchen and service, work areas, etc.
  • Cooking zones: decide the type of equipment required based on the supply policy, menu selection and demand.
  • Equipment distribution: plan corridors and team workspaces related to food preparation and service.
  • Engineering services: deciding on ventilation, special heating, lighting, hot and cold water supplies, gas and electric services, waste and drainage tanks.
  • Maintenance: consider maintenance needs: access, workspace, cleaning and spare parts, as well as storage of cleaning materials.
  • Construction: deciding on materials for floors, walls and ceilings, as well as needs for drainage, hygiene, cleanliness, durability, noise reduction, light reflection, access to services.
  • Administrators: provision of spaces for supervision and administrative activities.
  • Food hygiene standards: analyze legal inspection requirements and sanitary standards.
  • Waste disposal: have spaces for the storage of waste and access of garbage trucks, as well as adequately channel liquid waste to the public sewer.
Particularly in this type of installation, structural conditions must be ensured that allow the “Forward running principle”That is, that there are no setbacks or crossings with unprocessed food or with garbage, waste and supplies used by customers, from the moment the goods are received on the platform, their transfer to the warehouse and the different areas preparation, cooking and finishing of food and beverages, until it is sent to the salons or areas of the gastronomic service to be consumed by the client.

The design of the Services area (Living room - Dining room)

The rooms or areas for the provision of gastronomic services will be designed and projected in correspondence with the aforementioned general criteria, taking special care in the distribution of furniture, spaces between clients and for service between tables, lighting, chromaticism, insulation of noises and the intersections, from the kitchen, of smells of the preparations. Being a very important element to consider associated with restaurant capacity measurement.
An appropriate measure of restaurant capacity would be similar to the capacity measurements of other businesses - being the same unit of production for a given unit of time. The aspects to deal with are the specific production and the amount of time to measure. In this way, the number of processed clients fully served during a given dinner period must be counted.
This term denotes the culmination of a service cycle, which can be defined as the complete sequence of service steps that add value from greeting to customer sitting, through account collection and ending at the time that the table is set and ready to receive another guest. Hence the first step in calculating capacity is to measure the service cycle time.

Tools associated with capacity and optimal use

An essential fact in the planning or programming models of services it is the ideal capacity required in each period included in the programming horizon2. When there are no instruments to match demand and productive capacity, the average value of the latter in each period must be higher than the average demand expected for it, but said value is not directly observable or predictable, but depends on the expected demand and the level of service to be achieved. The procedures for calculating it have received relatively little attention in the literature.
The first peculiarity of the restaurant sector is that if it is not calculated correctly or the design principles established for the service are complied with, it will be affected. Another issue is that once the premises have been built, or adapted for operations, it will be difficult to respond to a growing demand. That is why the determination of the installed capacity and the good use that is made of it represent the first aspect to take into account in order to achieve the economic and social objectives that are set. An administrator cannot set goals above what he is really capable of assuming.
Erroneously, many restaurateurs think that the more diners they take on, the greater the benefit that the restaurant will receive. They do not value the cost of the satisfaction that this implies and the delay that cooking and the dependent itself represents at the time of service.

Calculation of seating capacity knowing the space to be occupied

When the dimensions of the space that the lounge area will occupy are known, the method of calculating the area can be applied and the number of diners that can be assumed at a moment of maximum load can be determined.
According to international standards3 It is known that the average customer occupies approximately one square meter of space including tables and chairs and if 20 cm are added to this due to the space occupied by corridors, sideboards, etc., in general 1.20m2 will be necessary per person.
To do the calculation operation and determine the amount of customers that can be assumed in a room, the length and width must be taken as data and multiplied, the result of the operation is divided by the sum of the space for the client, depending on the type of establishment, plus 0,20 m2 and the quotient will be the approximate number of people that the room can assume at a time of maximum load.
Mathematically it is represented as follows:
C = Installed capacity
l = length of the restaurant (meters)
A = Restaurant width (meters)
e = Space occupied by the client according to the type of establishment
0,20 m2 = Constant space for service and furniture
Standard ranges that each client occupies in the different types of establishments is as follows:
Cafeteria with food - 85cm2 - 100cm2
Soda Fountain - 65cm2 - 100cm2
Luxury Restaurant - 100cm2 - 200cm2
Banquet Service - 150cm2 - 250 cm2
This type of calculation is only applicable to premises where the available space is already known and it is necessary to determine what capacity it is possible to assume at a time of maximum load and therefore distribute the furniture.
Calculation of seating capacity knowing the area where the restaurant will be built
When only the dimensions of an area to be converted into a restaurant are known, the above procedure cannot be applied. In this case it will be necessary to determine the dimensions that the living room and kitchen will occupy by applying another calculation system.
For this it is important to know that the dimensions must be adequate to the services they must render. An old rule states that the optimal size of a kitchen is three quarters (3/4) of the room or less, but never less than half of its surface. Whether this rule is true or not, the important thing is to know that when space is insufficient, limitations are imposed, whether from the point of view of personnel, equipment, storage, etc.
In this case, proceed as follows:
First: The spaces for the living room and kitchen are determined by applying the percentage rule: 60% for the living room and 40% for the kitchen that will occupy the ¾ parts in size of the total room:
Second: Already knowing the dimensions of the area that the room will occupy, the number of diners that can be assumed at a time of full load is determined by applying the procedure already reviewed and proceeding to define the locations of the tables and chairs, according to the established standards for this type of activity, taking care that options are available for the following group of tables according to their dimensions.
In the literature consulted there is no own methodology to determine how many tables by type and capacity can be located within the room. However, knowing the restaurant area, the standard ranges that each client occupies in correspondence with the category and type of service to be offered, the dimensions of the tables according to their capacity, it will be possible to determine how many of them can be located in the lounge, taking into account the following aspects:
  • The tables for couples should preferably be located in the spaces occupied by the windows.
  • The tables with the highest capacity should be located in the center of the room.
  • The other group of tables is located in the rest of the spaces respecting the aesthetics (alignment of chairs and tables).

Service capacity

A starting point in measuring the serviceability of a establishment is to verify the ways to measure the production capacity of a production plant. Production capacity is often expressed as a certain volume of production over a certain period of time. Probably the number of pieces manufactured per shift is the greatest measure.
To bring attention closer, managers sometimes count the number of parts per hour, by department, or even by production machinery. To calculate the extent to which plant capacity is used, factory managers measure how many parts have been produced in a complete plant at the end of a given period of time, comparing these figures to an optimum rated capacity for machinery that made those pieces. The comparison provides a measure of factory production efficiency.
However, the calculation of similar percentages for service operations is complex, mainly due to the fact that there are normally no tangible production units. To solve that problem, many service businesses instead calculate some kind of occupancy percentage and also count total sales volume (i.e. productivity or income).
For restaurantsComparable time periods are smaller and noticeably more varied. Typically, the measure is a part of the day (such as breakfast, lunch, or lunch), but each restaurant defines those parts of the day in different ways. This variability in time measurements has made it difficult to compare and calculate the restaurant's efficiency.
As a result, administrators restaurants they use only open volume measures, such as daily cutlery accounts and productivity percentages per seat.

Measurement of the duration of the Service and Calculation of the maximum seating capacity

The duration of the service cycle is no more than the time that occurs from when the customer arrives at the facility and is placed at a table until he is fired. Its measurement is important to establish actions with a double effect on demand, adjusting it according to your needs. In a restaurant, this measurement can be supported by the process followed for customer service. In this case, in order to better interpret the times, it is suggested to record them in minutes.capacity
Issues to consider:
  • Service cycle time includes idle time to seat the customer and re-prepare the table.
  • Hours of service include only those when customers can be seated (this does not include kitchen or dining room operating times).
  • The time frame should be an hourly meal period, but can also be added in parts of the day, total day, week, month, or year.
  • Duty cycle times and hours of operation can be calculated in fractions of an hour, but minutes are generally an easier measure to apply. Thus the restaurant's four-hour plan equals 240 minutes.
By factoring the duty cycle time into the total number of seats available, you can calculate the maximum occupancy of a restaurant for any day or part of the day.


Optimal table capacity calculation

This calculation can be used in those establishments that wish to determine the number of tables instead of the accounts per seat.
Few restaurants they can operate at one hundred (100) percent of their capacity for long periods, and none work at full capacity at all times. In particular, restaurants cannot achieve that level of efficiency due to customers' temporary habits and their choice of eating when they feel like dining out. The ability of restaurant managers is to use this capability in the most efficient way, regardless of how loaded the restaurant is. The restaurant's success comes largely from effective control of the capacity of an operation.
Identify capacity use
Although it is relatively easy to calculate the potential capacity of a restaurant, it must be seen beyond the simple calculation to establish realistic objectives for the use of the operation's facilities.
Objectives of this type should be established for each individual unit, but by setting these, reference may be made to specific benchmarks or industry-established standards for restaurant types.
A simple calculation is the actual covered account per day or part of the day divided by the optimal seating (or table) capacity for the same dinner period.capacity

Actions that help increase performance

Knowing the percentage of capacity can provide managers with information to analyze efficiency, operating results, and profitability. This type of information will allow the administrator to apply the following tactics in order to increase the performance of the installation:
  • Reduce peak load: encourage customers to dine out of the peak by offering incentives such as customer rewards (a discount, a plate around the house, etc.) up to one hour, of course that time will be set before or after the peak hour of the restaurant.
  • Increase production rates: It consists of reducing the service cycle, which in addition to allowing more customers to be served, will increase the idea of ​​the value of the restaurant experience, based on the decrease in customer perception of waiting time.
  • Reduce the eventuality: designing a reservation system, which will allow you control the arrival of customers and begin to reduce the service cycle.
  • Gain refinement: from the application of all those tools that allow the control of operations such as the calculation of capacity, queuing theories, modeling services, defining processes and improving them, simulation, linear programming and forecasting.

And to conclude, as always, my message to restaurant managers:

There are thousands of formulas to take advantage of each space in our premises, without running over the service. So don't try to get rich believing that the more customers you serve or the more money you can get. Respect the vital space of each one, allow them to be owners of that corner they occupy while they use it and they will know how to reward you with their fidelity and repetition.
I am a dreamer and in my dreams I believe that a better world is possible, that no one knows more than anyone, we all learn from everyone. I love gastronomy, numbers, teaching and sharing all the little I know, because by sharing I also learn. "Let's all go together from foundation to success"
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