Efficient Automation of Restaurant, Kitchen and Billing: Challenges, myth and facts.


In a typical mom and pop restaurant, the waiter takes order on a handwritten KOT (kitchen order ticket) pad. Typically the traditional KOT pad contains 3 copies i.e. Red, Yellow and White paper and waiter takes order using carbon paper. The order process is like….
  • The Red goes to kitchen to process the food. Kitchen keeps this copy and ideally should send all the KOTs to the audit team after the day end.
  • The Yellow remains with the waiter until the food is served. Once the food is served, this copy is sent to the billing counter. The cashier enters the KOT in the system. Finally all such KOTs are sent to audit department to create their jobs. Kidding?. But somehow this is boring task and often ignored and delayed for this very reason. Most of time the entire audit process is stopped.  Moreover if the audit function exists then the report comes after 15 days. The action is delayed. You cannot go to that customer and ask that you have forgotten to bill 2-3 item which was consumed by them.
  • The White remains in the KOT pad. Loads of such pads are created and stored. Finally all those pads are sent to recycle bin. 

Whenever someone moves forward to automate the process, the entire old system resist to changes. The automation is simple 3 steps process. A) Install KOT printers in the kitchen and bar. B) Make sure that Kitchen prepare and supplies food based on printed KOT. C) Install POS system at the food service desk. I have personally interviewed many such restaurant teams in the process of moving them from the manual system to more efficient automated system. I have found some interesting facts (read myth) common to these teams.  I am listing those facts here as it might be interesting to restaurateurs.

Myth 1# Our wait staff is not tech savvy. It is impossible for them to use the computers.

Fact: If you use specially designed touch screen based POS, it is quite easy to train the employees. It is just like using the mobile phones. The training can be done on the fly which enables you to deal with labour turnover. 


Myth 2# The food service will be slower as we have to take order and then punch in the system.

Fact: The food service will be much faster as the order is punched right at the floor and the KOT is printed in the kitchen in real time. Otherwise a someone has to keep running to kitchen all the time to handover the manual KOT. 


Myth 3# The manual process is more efficient as multitasking is possible.

Fact:  In the manual system the wait staff always check-recheck the KOT. For example when a guest asks for the check then wait staff check with the cashier if the item is punched or not. This is time consuming. The wait staff takes order of table 1 and gives the yellow KOT to the runner to send it to kitchen. In the mean while the wait staff can take order of table 2. The same process can be easily automated. Just think of a KOT which contains some item to be served by kitchen and some of them from bar.


Myth 4# We need a copy of KOT at the service desk for reference.

Fact: You can always keep the manual KOT at the service desk. You have the computer where you can see the status of the table online. In one touch.  Moreover a local copy of KOT can also be printed at the service desk.

Myth 5# We do not have space/ budget to install computers and printers. 

Fact: There are specially designed, robust, cost effective and space saving POS computers available. You can mount those computers on the wall at service desk. Some of the POS systems are even are water proof, fan free and noise-free.

Summary: The order and billing process automation is the basis of your food cost control.

It helps you control the ordering process, voids, and kitchen irregularities in food portion, unauthorized discounts and wastage. Cheers!