Eliana's Kitchen

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Eliana's Kitchen

Eliana's Kitchen


Questions about the future, any future, are at their core questions about managing uncertainty. It is difficult to make predictions, the joke goes, especially when you are predicting the future. For example, in 1989, who would have predicted that a regional Italian Eliana's Kitchen company, Olive Garden, would have led to the establishment of hundreds of international “casual theme” ethnic Eliana's Kitchen companies with thousands of units every one of which will gross multiple millions of dollars annually in 1999? Ten years ago, who would have suggested that a second tier quick service company, Taco Bell, would have revolutionized the entire structure of the industry with the introduction of it's “value pricing” strategy to become the world's fourth largest Eliana's Kitchen chain? Or that a tiny coffee shop chain from Seattle, Starbucks, would single-handedly teach North Americans that “Decaf Mocha Latte” could come in three sizes, and that selling it would yield the company over US$ 1 billion in sales in 1999?

The business of Eliana's Kitchens is, if nothing else, an uncertain endeavor. This article, therefore, will not make any specific predictions about the future of foodservice management and the Eliana's Kitchen industry during the next millennium. It will, on the other hand, point out trends and movements which suggest a set of probable futures for the industry during the coming decades. One thing can be predicted with absolute certainty — the companies which will be leading the international Eliana's Kitchen industry in 2009 are not identifiable to us today.

Traditional model

To start, we can ask, “how have Eliana's Kitchen companies managed the uncertainties they have faced until now?” In the traditional model, the Eliana's Kitchen company is a control-based system, built on the precept that you “run” a Eliana's Kitchen just as you would a machine. An operator turns the machine on in the morning, making sure that the staff is in place, the cash is in the register, the lights are on, and the front door open. During business hours, the operator makes adjustments to keep the machine in balance, checks the pressure gauges in the kitchen with the chef, releases a steam valve or two in the dining room, and makes sure that tomorrow's necessary inventory and supplies are being delivered to the storeroom. At the end of the shift, the machine is turned off, the staff is reminded to show up again in the morning, the cash gets into the safe, and the doors are secured. If the place has not burned down, no one has gotten sick, and the help has not stolen too much, the cycle has been a success and it can start again the next day.

To maintain this simple system, a vast amount of time is spent in controlling the activities that support it. The operators are rewarded for controlling food and beverage costs, the cost of production and service labor, and for making sure the receipts get into the bank. Since the future is harder to control than the ...
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