Since the COVID-19 pandemic, restaurants have been on a rollercoaster of trying to adapt to ever-changing circumstances. As of December 2021, over 80,000 of those restaurants have had to temporarily or permanently close due to the pandemic.
Whether temporary or permanent, these closures have had a dramatic impact on the lives of everyone involved, from the owners and the staff to the neighborhoods and customers they serve.
As a result of this ever-changing atmosphere, the restaurants that were able to survive through the years had to be ready to make big changes. One such shift has been blurring the lines between front and back-of-house job roles.
For most restaurants, there has traditionally been a clear distinction between the roles of the front of the house (servers, cashiers, bussers, expediters) and those in the kitchen (chefs, cooks, dishwashers). Because restaurants had to close indoor dining service, the front-of-house staff suddenly had no role to play, while kitchens could carry on making food for delivery and takeout.
Here is a look at the ways in which restaurants have pivoted during the pandemic and how these shifts have blurred the role distinctions between the two branches of staff.
Moving Focus to Takeout and Delivery
It probably comes as no surprise that restaurants already designed to include takeout and delivery options fared much better during the pandemic.
For those sick or just exhausted by the pandemic's stress and those who were simply not accustomed to cooking, takeout and delivery became a mainstay.
Another innovation that popped up during the pandemic is the prevalence of Ghost Kitchens. Ghost kitchens are like a regular restaurant, with takeout and/or delivery services and an online menu, except for the big difference that there is no front of the house at all.
Ghost kitchens are unique in that they can run out of any space that can support all of their equipment and production needs. This means there could be a ghost kitchen in a loft, a trailer, a warehouse, or occupying an empty storefront.
Ghost kitchens have no front staff, except for possibly one person to answer the phone and put orders together. This means that all gratuities collected by ghost kitchens are split entirely amongst kitchen staff.
For some restaurants that have not chosen to chuck out their dining rooms entirely, kitchen staff are still moving into the front-of-house duties. Chefs have taken curation tips to accompany their takeout and delivery creations which have included playlists and poetry.
Tip Pooling and a more Democratic Distribution System
Traditionally, the kitchen staff has been paid higher wages, while front-of-house staff gets to keep the lion’s share of tips that come in. But while tipping expectations have steadily increased, restaurants writ large have not been able to keep up an equilibrium with kitchen wages, which has created an imbalance.
Since the pandemic, the two factions have recognized their interdependence and the need for a more democratic system. Many restaurants have switched to tip pooling, and this has been a change largely for the better.
In a time of massive job exodus, restaurant employees are quitting more often than employees of any other industry. A large part of this is the feeling of foodservice employees that they are underpaid and unappreciated.
Along with addressing all of the other toxic aspects of working in the restaurant industry that has festered over the years, addressing unfair tip distribution has helped restaurant staff learn to appreciate one another on an even footing.
Technological Innovations Changing the Staffing Dynamics
Another massive transition for restaurants has been the shift toward assistive technology systems. From robotic servers to advanced delivery apps, many restaurants have gone from being very low-tech to more like something out of a sci-fi movie.
Albeit invisible, one of the most significant advances has been a shift toward technologies that allow for more financial transparency amongst staff, facilitating tip pooling.
TipHaus provides a software solution that can adapt to restaurants’ current POS systems and offers all the services needed for more transparent tip sharing and tip pooling.
If your restaurant is interested in learning more about tip pooling and how our software solutions can help, please reach out to us anytime.