Restaurant Operations Engineering

Introducing Throughput Capacity Management

A process refined over 29 years engineering restaurant operations


A proven process refined over 29 years engineering restaurant operations, providing both strategic and tactical solutions to improve restaurant efficiency and grow the business. Strategic outcomes include repositioning the brand based on new service delivery systems and food production platforms. This is best demonstrated by our repositioning of twelve ailing pub restaurant brands comprising 3,000+ units in the UK into reenergized casual dine entities (see article). Tactical outcomes include the creation of Labor Recipe ® standards and the roll out of our Deterministics Labor System across all Applebee’s company stores. To view an article on the successful implementation of our labor system in T.G.I. Friday's UK, click here.

Our philosophy is that every work position, process, equipment piece and facility in a restaurant has a capacity that can be measured, and therefore, managed. We say that if you can't measure it, you can't manage it! If you measure your restaurant operations in capacity terms, then you truly understand the throughput potential of your brand. At the same time, you learn your physical limitations, so you do not over promise and underdeliver. Marketing can get customers to your door, but how you manage your throughput determines how many you serve and how many will return. This is why we call our approach Throughput Capacity Management (TCM).


A TCM Assessment is a comprehensive time study analysis of a brand’s service-and-production-delivery chain. We measure "everything that moves" in the operation to get both an outside-in look from the customer perspective and an inside-out look from the frontline worker perspective. Not only are these industrial engineering measurements used in subsequent labor scheduling systems, equipment layout and design improvements and future menu engineering considerations, but they also give rise to a multitude of performance improvements – some of a “quick fix” nature and others giving rise to more strategic considerations. In fact much of our value comes from our 25 year experience cross pollinating innovative restaurant ideas and best practices across a 100+ client base from chains around the world.


Working side by side with service staff in the dining room and cooks in the kitchen, Deterministics develops Labor Recipes ® for each work position. We measure "everything that moves" in the operation to get both an outside-in look from the customer perspective and an inside-out look from the frontline worker perspective. This gives us five determinates of operations excellence:

  1. variability in work processes that jeoprodize brand standards,
  2. capacity, or output, of work positions,
  3. identification of workflow bottlenecks to create the most efficient facility design,
  4. throughput modeling of menus and recipes and
  5. Labor Recipe ® - based labor standards for credible and accurate labor management.


Kitchen & Facility Design


TCM measurement methods combined with our Deterministics Labor Intelligence System (LIS) software enable restaurant operators to:


  • establish correct brand standards
  • streamline systems and improve productivity
  • decrease facility and equipment costs
  • improve service delivery and food execution
  • increase sales and their bottom line


TCM has been taught in restaurant schools around the world from the Hotel School in Lausanne Switzerland to Cornell University in the United States. Deterministics can train your internal staff on these tools and techniques for future concept growth and refinement.



Service & Production Delivery Analysis


A Throughput Assessment of the service-and-production-delivery chain is derived from both the guest and frontline worker perspectives. Timing measurements for each service and production function are analyzed for efficiency and capacity optimization including order processing and guest queuing, service delivery methods, production delivery methods, throughput speed, table turn speed, worker constraints, facility and equipment constraints, and any policies or procedures that limit the ability to maximize the return on investment.


Strengths and weaknesses are discussed in the form of opportunities and tradeoffs for improving production and service delivery, employee work practices and methods while assuring consistent execution of quality food and service. Constraints or inefficiencies in facility layouts are addressed and include revised equipment adjacencies, changes in work method or process, and improvements in worker ergonomics. Schematic diagrams detailing redesigned production and guest service areas are provided for retrofit or future prototype development.

Service Delivery Standards


Time and motion studies of your brands steps of service are combined with the Deterministics Labor Modeling software to determine the best delivery design as well as calculate the best deployment of servers, server assistants, hosts, runners and counter/cashier staff at various ranges of business volume.


Analysis of tradeoffs in service quality and service cost can be performed based on different service delivery configurations and brand standard goals covering:

  • Seat to eat goals
  • Throughput goals
  • Table turn goals
  • Menu coursing and menu mix
  • Degree of guest participation
10 Golden Rules of Service Delivery
RELATED ARTICLE: 10 Golden Rules of Service Delivery


Prep Production Standards


Time and motion studies of prep recipes produced-to-stock are combined with our Deterministics Labor Modeling software to calculate work time requirements for prep work. Clients have used these staffing requirements by prep recipe with daily food production forecasting systems to manage prep cook deployment in real time.


The results of this analysis calculate the labor intensity of prep items for menu engineering decisions. Storage of product and work utensils can be evaluated in relation to facility and equipment layouts. Production training can be evaluated in terms of work effectiveness (e.g. standard recipe integrity) and work efficiency (e.g. frequency of ingredient/equipment gathers).


Cookline Production Standards


Time and motion studies of menu items produced to demand are combined with our Deterministics Labor Modeling software to calculate the best deployment of cooks at various ranges of business volumes. This powerful analysis serves many areas of the restaurant organization including the ability to perform speedy "what if" analysis of the throughput impact from alternative menus, marketing promotions, equipment layouts and staffing deployment scenarios. For example:



  • Training Department - identify best practiced staffing deployment
  • Menu Development and Facilities Design - isolate bottlenecks by menu item and cook/equipment
  • Operations - establish peak sales capacity and deployment rules
  • Marketing - measure operations impact of special promotions
  • Information Services - provides staffing rules in support of automated labor scheduling systems
  • Throughput time standards achievable from order to delivery for each daypart


Bar Service & Production Delivery Standards


Time and motion studies of beverage item production combined with our Deterministics Labor Modeling software will calculate the best deployment of bartenders at various ranges of business volume.




Facility and Kitchen Design


Facilities and equipment are "right-sized" based on time and motion studies of work positions. "What-if" modeling using our Deterministics Labor System software identify the best equipment adjacencies and maximum throughput volumes of alternative restaurant layouts. Cockpit workstations are designed for cooklines, bartender and service work areas. View facility design client list.

Ponderosa Steakhouses speak to our success with Nations Restaurant News and Chain Leader magazine


Deterministics Digital Visual Design Studios

1/4 Scale(3"=1') Mock-up of Full Kitchen Prototype Redesign for QSR Client Workstation mock ups are used to identify workflow improvements within ergonomic constraints and presented to Operations to achieve faster buy-in to design changes.
Full QSR Frontline deployment