As any chef and restaurant operator will attest to, food is typically considered the shining star in any restaurant business. After all, it’s the dazzling array of creative dishes that attracts consumer interest — especially in our social media-obsessed world. But, for food to be perfectly executed, prepared and presented, equipment and technology are needed to take it to the next level. With that in mind, this year we’re pleased to debut our first-ever equipment-focused issue, highlighting the growing importance of the tools of the trade.
As labour shortages continue to create uncertainty, equipment now demands more attention from operators and chefs. In the process, operators are learning to leverage technology, using it as an enabler to make their businesses more efficient and productive — all the while helping to solve some of the urgent issues around recruiting and retention. Whether we’re talking about POS systems, software programs that facilitate order taking and reservations or ovens that help chefs prepare a range of menu items, equipment is essential.
In recent years, technology has become a tool for disruption, adding an important, extra layer to the production and delivery of food. And as technology continues to gain traction with, for example, a growing focus on AI, expectations continue to evolve, resulting in a discernible need for greater speed, convenience and future-forward thinking.
Ultimately, for restaurants to be efficient and profitable, operators and chefs need to truly understand the pervasive trends shaping the landscape. They also need to spend time driving important results. Currently, according to research by the Access Group in the U.S., 30 per cent of operators spend four hours a week on office-based tasks. That means many operators are experiencing a lack of freedom to focus on delivering excellent customer experiences. Similarly, just imagine how much time chefs could gain back by having efficient equipment and technology solutions in the kitchen.
At the end of the day, operators need to get rid of the mentality that cheap and cheerful is best. Granted, saving money is always a goal of any business, especially given recent research by Access Group, which shows hospitality costs in the U.S. hit a 12-year high in 2018. That said, it’s time operators look at equipment as an investment with the potential to help differentiate their restaurants and ensure their future success and sustainability, rather than just being another line item in their budget.