Author Topic: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff  (Read 4186 times)

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Offline wvWestwv

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Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« on: October 27, 2013, 11:29:10 AM »
Hello,

Long time forum lurker, first time poster. I operate a wood fired concept and we are looking at opening another restaurant in a high volume location. We are considering changing our customer ordering process and are looking for successful examples of wood fired pizza restaurants that operate without waiters/waitresses. The type of place where the customer receives a table number and cups to get their own beverage. If anyone knows of a concept like this and even better, one that incorporates a bar please let me know - I am very interested in visiting.

Thanks in advance for any help and please feel free to ask questions if my post was too vague.
« Last Edit: October 27, 2013, 11:41:36 AM by wvWestwv »


Offline Auralnauts

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #1 on: October 27, 2013, 01:13:35 PM »
Yeah, it's called a buffet.

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #2 on: October 27, 2013, 01:52:56 PM »
If you're trying to figure out if it's feasible to offer counter service, rather than table service, in a wood-fired or coal-fired place, I'm all for it. I hate table service. It complicates things that should be simple, and it usually keeps me from getting my water refilled when I need my water refilled. I tend to avoid places that offer table service.

If I ever own a pizzeria, there will be no wait staff. To me table service is much more of a hassle than a service (both from a customer's perspective and from an owner's perspective). I see table service as merely a tool for operators to charge higher prices while paying lower labor costs (mainly by passing the unnecessary labor costs on to customers). Maybe table service is appropriate if a place is the best of the best, and if the quality of the service mirrors the quality of the product. But unless a place meets those criteria, just let me order at the counter, get my own drink, and fetch my own pizza when you call my number. (Or go ahead and bring it out to me, but without trying to make me feel like I'm obligated to choose to pay more for such a minor convenience.)
« Last Edit: October 27, 2013, 01:55:49 PM by Aimless Ryan »

Offline wvWestwv

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #3 on: October 27, 2013, 02:40:00 PM »

If you're trying to figure out if it's feasible to offer counter service, rather than table service, in a wood-fired or coal-fired place, I'm all for it. I hate table service. It complicates things that should be simple, and it usually keeps me from getting my water refilled when I need my water refilled. I tend to avoid places that offer table service.

If I ever own a pizzeria, there will be no wait staff. To me table service is much more of a hassle than a service (both from a customer's perspective and from an owner's perspective). I see table service as merely a tool for operators to charge higher prices while paying lower labor costs (mainly by passing the unnecessary labor costs on to customers). Maybe table service is appropriate if a place is the best of the best, and if the quality of the service mirrors the quality of the product. But unless a place meets those criteria, just let me order at the counter, get my own drink, and fetch my own pizza when you call my number. (Or go ahead and bring it out to me, but without trying to make me feel like I'm obligated to choose to pay more for such a minor convenience.)

Agreed. We are looking at this for those very reasons; I'd love to pay my kitchen staff better as well as eliminate a big source of customer dis-satisfaction. It's a standard setup at your local "pizza place" and I suppose there is a lot to be gleaned from that type of operation but what I really would like to see is little more upscale place that pulls it off well.

To be clear(clearer I guess): I'm not looking at running a buffet. Thanks


Offline waltertore

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #4 on: October 27, 2013, 02:59:22 PM »
Many of the best Texas BBQ places have no wait staff.  The same I have seen in small pizzerias with only a few tables. You order and when it is ready, pick it up, take it home or eat at a table.  People clean up after themselves to a point.   I think that might be your only hurdle to overcome without staff on the floor.  You say this new place will be high volume.    I imagine you will need someone(s) to go around wiping down tables and straighten up things to stay good with the BOH?  Good luck!  Walter
« Last Edit: October 27, 2013, 03:06:30 PM by waltertore »
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http://www.newarkadvocate.com/article/20140124/NEWS01/301240031/Bakery-run-by-students-disabilities-earns-pizza-profile

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Offline dzpiez

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #5 on: October 27, 2013, 03:13:54 PM »
Pitfire Pizza here in Cali, it's a order at the counter, take a number, and someone will bring it to ya.  Pizza Today gave them 2nd place as far as Top 100 Independent Pizzerias of 2013.

Offline Aimless Ryan

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #6 on: October 27, 2013, 03:32:13 PM »
Many of the best Texas BBQ places have no wait staff.

I'm glad you said that, Walter. It instantly reminded me of this place in Cambria, California, not far from Hearst Castle, called Main Street Grill (I think). Cambria is mostly a tourist town, right by the ocean, without much action or large crowds. But step into Main Street Grill and witness a packed restaurant with a lot of energy, which helps keep it packed all day every day while the rest of the town sleeps. When you enter Main Street Grill, you get in one of a couple lines of several people (counter service), and you order a couple minutes later. The place has a capacity of probably around 100 people (or maybe more), and it's usually packed. When your food is ready, they call your number over a PA system and you pick up your order at the counter. No BS. Just smooth operations. Basically like In-N-Out. I love this place (even though there's nothing particularly special about their food).

I also have some awsome stories about how I ended up there.

Offline wvWestwv

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #7 on: October 27, 2013, 05:11:49 PM »

Many of the best Texas BBQ places have no wait staff.  The same I have seen in small pizzerias with only a few tables. You order and when it is ready, pick it up, take it home or eat at a table.  People clean up after themselves to a point.   I think that might be your only hurdle to overcome without staff on the floor.  You say this new place will be high volume.    I imagine you will need someone(s) to go around wiping down tables and straighten up things to stay good with the BOH?  Good luck!  Walter
This is literally the business that inspired the thought process. An associate and I were in Dallas this past week and we ate at Hard 8(pit bbq), really an awesome experience(stopped in for lunch and wound up there back for dinner). The majority of staff was in the kitchen, but we did take notice of the bussers on the floor. They had 3 bussers(on a Friday) who pretty much just sanitized the tables and made sure the facilities stayed clean. While we couldn't exactly copy the layout there is a lot about the bbq restaurant we would like to apply.

Offline wvWestwv

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2013, 05:13:24 PM »

Pitfire Pizza here in Cali, it's a order at the counter, take a number, and someone will bring it to ya.  Pizza Today gave them 2nd place as far as Top 100 Independent Pizzerias of 2013.

Awesome, I will check it out. Unfortunately, I am on the the east coast so it will take so doing to get over there but I will put them on the list. Thanks

Offline Mmmph

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #9 on: October 27, 2013, 09:16:48 PM »
Antico in Atlanta.
Sono venuto, ho visto, ho mangiato


Offline BrickStoneOven

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2013, 02:17:44 PM »
If I'm not mistaken I think Pupatella is like that.

Offline wvWestwv

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #11 on: October 28, 2013, 09:22:12 PM »

If I'm not mistaken I think Pupatella is like that.
Where is that located?

Offline Serpentelli

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #12 on: October 28, 2013, 09:45:37 PM »
Antico in Atlanta.

Bet me to it!

John K

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #13 on: October 28, 2013, 10:50:50 PM »
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline TXCraig1

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #14 on: October 28, 2013, 10:52:29 PM »
Doesn't Punch in Minnesota have some locations that are counter service? I think Franco Manca in London may as well.
I love pigs. They convert vegetables into bacon.

Offline gabaghool

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #15 on: October 29, 2013, 01:31:57 PM »
Simply put.....if you are planning to open ONE location....it is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS better to offer waiter service with a 100+ seating.  If you are offering self serve, you MUST be planning to open SEVERAL locations.  Now, there are ALWAYS exceptions, but the rule remains the same.

Self serve will ONLY profit you more......IF you have an expansion plan in the making.  People, in general LIKE to be served and are willing to pay the service charge for it.  ANd pizza, not counting SLICE SERVICE, is a HORRIBLE lunch item.......and lunch item is the section of restaurant service that is the most open for self serve.

Offline wvWestwv

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Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #16 on: October 29, 2013, 08:05:50 PM »
Simply put.....if you are planning to open ONE location....it is ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS better to offer waiter service with a 100+ seating.  If you are offering self serve, you MUST be planning to open SEVERAL locations.  Now, there are ALWAYS exceptions, but the rule remains the same.

Self serve will ONLY profit you more......IF you have an expansion plan in the making.  People, in general LIKE to be served and are willing to pay the service charge for it.  ANd pizza, not counting SLICE SERVICE, is a HORRIBLE lunch item.......and lunch item is the section of restaurant service that is the most open for self serve.

Let me add some info.

We currently operate 2 wood fired pizza/brewpub restaurants. Both locations seat over 400 and have periods of extremely high volume. We are in the planning and design stages of putting together a 3rd restaurant; however this location will be in a market with consistently high volume.  Because of our size we carry a very large service staff which results in a large portion of payroll, management challenges, and dare I say it, a modicum of drama.

My mind is not made up on elimination of service staff but I am in a position of investigation and would really like to see a successful, high volume wood-fire concept that operates without servers. Going into this I am aware that we would need to do food runners and bussers. Ideally, looking for a location east of the Mississippi.

Many thanks to those who have made constructive suggestions so far!

ps - I don't understand why people feel the need to randomly write words in all caps. I, like most folks am capable of sensing what words should have emphasis without the blocks of text.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2013, 10:02:40 PM by wvWestwv »

Offline gabaghool

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #17 on: October 30, 2013, 09:23:41 AM »
Am i off base by stating that BECAUSE OF THE DRAMA ASSOCIATED WITH SERVERS, you are HOPING (sorry, but I use caps to emphisize.....dont mean to hurt anyones feelings)that servers are NOT neccesary??  I truly wish this is true.....but I find that it is just my pipedreams.   Youve got two successful concepts going, so I am sure you have got your %$# together.........i just notice that serverLESS places consistantly gross less than server employeed places.

Again, sorry for the caps.....its how it write....

Offline JD

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #18 on: October 30, 2013, 10:02:15 AM »
I'm surprised nobody has mentioned yet that many, if not the majority of NY pizza places are without service. Of course these are generally not considered upscale, but who cares. For a high volume operation, wouldn't you want people to come and go quickly? I'd think a server-less operation would be better turn-around for high volume sales.

I'll add Pieous in Austin Tx is this way too, but I'd say they are more informal than you may be suggesting for your operation.

Is "up-scale server-less dining" an oxymoron?
Josh

Offline wvWestwv

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Re: Wood or Coal - fired restaurant w/ no service staff
« Reply #19 on: October 30, 2013, 10:11:51 AM »

Again, sorry for the caps.....its how it write....

I won't comment on your writing style further other than to say that it's not as much of an aid to information delivery as intended. Anyway, there is actually a list of pros to not having FOH(only threw in the drama thing for levity). The shear quantity of server staff required to operate is a much larger issue(especially with health-care reform looming); by eliminating them it would free up a lot of room on payroll to pay my more skilled staff a better wage and add to our profit margin. It is a controversial decision but one if done correctly could be highly beneficial. Don't get me wrong, I'm not going to change things if it's not feasible. I'm merely investigating the possibility by searching out a concept that pulls it off successfully.


 

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