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The Brunch Dichotomy: Reclaiming brunch for both your guests and your staff.

Have you ever wondered what brunch looks like to people who don’t work in restaurants? I’ll tell you: it is a thing of beauty. How nice it must be to sleep late, go out, and have someone else cook comfort food for you. I imagine that brunch is the perfect antidote to wild Saturday nights and the ultimate balm for weekend regrets. It’s the perfect time to relax, catch up with friends, delete all of the unfortunate pictures your friends tagged of you on facebook, and it’s the one of the few times it is socially acceptable to order cocktails before noon…heaven.

The only catch is that no one who works in restaurants actually likes brunch. Brunch means an early start for the kitchen and can turn into a nightmare of a shift for the wait staff. There are usually large parties and children and regulars and grouchy folks who are too hung over to remember how they like their eggs. It can be a total mess.

Nevertheless, brunch is one of the best ways for restaurants to maximize profits while minimizing waste. The ingredients required for a great brunch are simple, inexpensive, and carry a surprising amount of creative potential. With a little imaginative advertising and a killer menu, your brunch could become the most profitable day of your workweek. Here is a short list of ways to make it as painless as possible for your staff.

Advertise: If brunch is a new venture for you, then you’ve got to let folks know about it. Put the word out! Once you have advertised and built a base of regular base of brunch guests, you will probably experience a significant bump in Sunday morning covers. It may seem counterintuitive, but the busier you are, the happier your wait staff will be. There is nothing more frustrating to a server than waking up extra early on a Sunday morning only to stand around doing side-work. (Side-work doesn’t tip!)

Menu: Brunch menus may seem straightforward, but they actually require a great deal of strategic planning. Some chefs make the mistake of planning a menu that inadvertently overloads one station. (Your sauté guy cannot make omelettes for every guest that sits down.) Spread your menu as evenly as you can across all stations, and remember that you don’t have to create an egg-centric menu just because it’s brunch. Your guests will appreciate the variety and your line cooks won’t feel like throwing themselves off a cliff by the end of service. Win!

Like a Band-Aid: In general, brunch begins at eleven and ends at two or three in the afternoon. That’s four or five hours, tops. Sure, your employees have to come in early to set up, but they can be in and out really quite quickly. Make it your mission to see that this happens. There’s no need for your staff to stay late after brunch. Have them clean up, do their side-work, and then get them out of there as soon as possible. When your staff sees an end in sight, they will remain focused, motivated, and happy to be there.

Rewards: Let your staff know how much you appreciate their time and their work with small rewards. Tokens of appreciation take many forms: a box of donuts to share, words of affirmation, goofy trinkets from the dollar store, you name it. A happy staff is one that feels valued.

Summer is here, the weather is fine, and weekends like these were practically made for brunch. Get your staff on board and start maximizing your profits. As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas. Please feel free to leave a comment below.