Restaurant Annoyance

We went to Souper Salad last night for dinner; it’s a great buffet-style salad and soup restaurant. However, the restaurants seem to be operated very inefficiently in my opinion.

The way to explain my opinion is to walk you through the dining experience.

  1. After entering the restaurant, you’re greeted by a cashier where you purchase your meal.
  2. After paying, you proceed to the buffet line. The salad and “fixings” are first.
  3. The next line contains the hot items: soups, potatoes, breads, etc.
  4. The third and final line contains the dessert and fruit items.
  5. Once you have your food, you proceed to to find a booth or table.
  6. A “server” will eventually come to your table to check your receipt for what drinks were ordered. He/she will then bring you your drinks.
  7. Throughout your meal, your server might come by to ask if refills are needed — if you’re lucky. They will come by and impolitely reach through the middle of your table to get dirty plates and trays.
  8. At the end of your meal, you feel compelled to leave a tip since technically you had someone waiting on you.

The inefficiency lies with two facets: staffing and drinks.

Here’s a summary of how many employees are working at a given time during a mealtime “rush”: 1 cashier, 1-2 “prep” folks keeping the buffet line stocked, 4-5 servers, 1-2 dishwashers/cleaners (I would assume), 1 manager. Total of 11.

Caveat: I’ve not worked at Souper Salad, so the above counts are based solely on my patronage experience and observations.

With Souper Salad being a buffet-style restaurant, there’s absolutely no reason to have servers. Install the fountain drink dispenser on the buffet line and there’s immediate cost savings. Yes, I feel bad saying that given the current economy as that means folks would be without jobs. But from a pure business standpoint, it’s wasted money.

That would leave 6 staff members on a given shift and should be plenty to handle a shift.

</rant>