Restaurant Productivity Case Studies

We use a data driven approach to identify and implement business process improvements to guest experience and restaurant productivity. Our proprietary tools use methodologies that quickly identify root causes and solutions from the outset. The results of our process are the facts you need to make sound business decisions and achieve measurable results.

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Menu Expansion

4C Consulting Menu Expansion Case Study Problem: Global food manufacturer identified an opportunity to help their customer expand sales by introducing a new menu item, but the customer did not have resources to quantify operational impact and facilitate implementation.
Process Followed: Analyzed peak hour demand and gathered key baseline operating data for the various layout configurations. Mapped process flows, calculated capacities, brainstormed concepts and quantified costs. 4C Consulting Menu Expansion
Solution: Developed cost-effective modular solution that addressed all configurations and provided implementation plan allowing customer to move forward with test for 1% additional sales.

New Daypart Layer

4C New Product Layer Problem:Global restaurant chain needed to increase sales. Their dinner business was limited due to security concerns in the city for guests out at night. They concluded that adding a breakfast layer was the best option. The solution had to fit into the existing asset base with minimal cost and operational impact.
Process Followed: Worked with culinary teams to create a new menu, selected and tested equipment, developed sales forecast and calculated capacities. Then developed station concepts to work in existing layouts and tested each using a live mock-up simulation to refine and optimize procedures. 4C New Product Layer Plan
Solution:Modular solution enabled breakfast to be introduced in all locations resulting in a 12% increase in sales. Productivity in lunch and dinner also improved with the payback on investment less than a year.

Speed of Service

4C Speed of Service Case Problem: Start-up regional chain was at the critical juncture of expansion through franchising but the business model ROI was constrained by complicated operations, unacceptable speed of service and kitchen size that prevented expansion into an urban market
Process Followed: Analyzed peak hour demand and gathered key baseline operating data for current and future menu. Mapped process flows, calculated capacities, brainstormed concepts and quantified costs. Worked with culinary team to brainstorm and develop new processes targeted at reducing labor and prep time. Process Diagram
Solution: Developed cost-effective modular solution that re-engineered processes to utilize new cooking and holding technologies that improved service times considerably along with product quality.

Process Improvement

4C Process Improvement Problem: Everyone attempts to have sustainable, repeatable processes. But over time, these processes grow and change until they become very ineffective. 4C Process Improvement Map
Process Followed: Listened, witnessed and discussed with all team members each step that was taken to provide a proof of concept design. Documented all findings using Value Stream Mapping and categorized steps as value added versus non-value added.
Solution: Through the elimination of 80% of the non-value added process steps, a 60% reduction in speed to market was achieved.

Energy Reduction

4C LED Energy Saving Before Problem: Utility rates keep increasing and sustainability is a key message you need to tell your customer. But where do you even begin?
Process Followed: By analyzing the building structure, mechanical systems and kitchen equipment, 4C-CG was able to calculate energy savings on various products and provide estimated ROI savings for each. 4C LED Energy Saving After
Solution: The client choose to begin with an LED lighting conversion in their parking lot. Switching out 1000 watt product for the right LED replacement, saving over $7,500 annually on their electric bill and provide a better lit parking lot. 

Drive-Thru Marketing

4C Drive Thru Marketing Problem: During off-peak hours, sales are slow. How do you change your customer’s mind in product purchase to a more profitable menu item?
Process Followed: Selected 4 comparable restaurants with similar drive-thru pattern and sales. Laid out the menu board differently in each and measured product mix sales during off peak hours. 4C Drive Thru Marketing Layout
Solution: By positioning products in the RIGHT location on the menu board, drive-thru sales increased by 6%.

Prep Line Redesign

4C Prep Line Redesign Problem: A global restaurant chain needed to prepare food as fast as possible without the image of “holding” cooked food.
Process Followed: Optional layouts were created, some which required new equipment. At a lab facility, these different layouts were tested and the same product mix was used, measuring prep time. Once the solution was chosen, a small pilot market was used to validate. 4C Prep Line Redesign
Solution: After the validation, the entire restaurant chain migrated to a new prep line and procedures. This allowed for menu growth and variety and improved food quality scores by 11%.

Menu Refresh

4C Menu Refresh Problem: Two Chicago restaurants wanted to upgrade their new front bar and eating area, and it was time to take their ‘bar food’ to a whole new level.
Process Followed: After first listening closely to their goals and objectives for their rejuvenated space and new menu, and then asking a series of strategic questions, we had plenty of ideas. Returning to CBCI kitchen, we created a full range of delicious options that eventually met and exceeded our client’s expectations. 4C Menu Refresh Menu
Solution: Owner was so pleased with the increased in customer loyalty, CBCI was asked to do the same at other locations!

Ingredient Reduction

4C Consulting Group Ingredient Reduction ProblemRestaurant with many variations in ingredients is challenging for staff and supply chain and not cost effective.
Process FollowedAnalyzed the menu mix and sales rates and collaborated with Chefs to identify menu options. Tested variations on the menu recipe.
Solution: The client reduced SKU variations by 23% resulting in a 4.5% cost savings, but more importantly, allowed the kitchen to function more efficiently, delivering orders 3% faster to the customer.

 Kitchen Flow

 Kitchen Flow Before Problem:Lack of available restaurant staff and increasing labor costs forces restaurant to review processes and procedures. Kitchen Flow After
Process Followed: Using Restaur-A-tion™ process and video ethnography, fact-based, root cause correlations were identified.
Solution: Re-designed the kitchen flow and recommended equipment for more effective use of space and reduced labor component. Also reduced the number of non-value-added steps which equaled over 25 minutes per peak hour, saving the client over $3,600 per year in labor, at EVERY location.

New Design Validation

 Mock-up Validation Problem:Understanding the real impact of a new kitchen layout can be costly if you have to build it into a new restaurant to test. Plus if it is not optimal, changes and made and another is built extending the time to validate.
Process Followed: Constructed desired layout and kitchen equipment from plywood in a warehouse. Simulated operations with actual crew using an iterative process to refine and optimize before building a real restaurant.Solution: Validated that the redesign reduced labor by 1 headcount during peak and 2 less during non peak in addition to reducing speed of service to the customer by 58%! Time savings of this process was 1 week compared to 1 year of traditional method to get to the same results.


 Ergonomics Problem:Staff moves from their station during peak because items needed for orders are not located within arms reach. This additional movement is non-value add and slows customer service.
Process Followed: Analyzed the actual operational processes and training materials, identified required ingredients for each menu item to a develop a “demand list”.
Solution: Created new “cell designs” for each station based on location and amount of ingredients required for peak. This increased labor utilization and resulted in greater throughput and shorter customer service times.

Bottleneck Identification

 Expo Congestion Problem: Even well run, profitable restaurants can benefit from a 2nd set of eyes to make sure that over time their processes creep and become inefficient.
Process Followed: Key data capture, analysis at a “typical” restaurant and discussions with crew and customers identified areas of focus for improvement.
Solution: Three critical bottlenecks were found causing an “out of balance” situation. Identified solutions which rebalanced the line and the flow. This provided throughput of 8 more products per peak hour, with an average check of $8, increasing sales almost $70,000 per location.


Equipment/Process Optimization

  Equipment Optimization Before Problem:High volume Fast Casual chain using traditional oven with doors caused cook variability on breads and limited capacity during peak. Equipment Optimization After
Process Followed: Analyzed baked goods thru-put and equipment capacities required. Identified alternate equipment technologies for evaluation.
Solution: With assistance of the QA department, best alternate was chosen. This alternate was then designed into existing space to provide a more consistent product quality and increase the capacity by 23%!

Labor Reduction - Preparation 

  Problem:An investor purchased an existing Casual Dining restaurant chain and as part of their strategic plan, wanted to improve profitability and update their branding. There were many existing processes from its 20 year history.
Process Followed: Used Video Ethnography to record existing operations then analyzed the video to determine actual time spent on manual prep activities. Manual prep activities included cutting vegetables and meat, along with individual weighing and portioning. Actual times were classified into either value added or non-value added.
Solution: Recommendation of process and supply chain changes saved over 500 man hours per month.