An independent steakhouse chain had
introduced a new dessert item called a “Skillet Cookie”.
The product involved placing a scoop of chocolate chip
cookie dough into a small skillet, baking it in the oven
and then “dolloping” vanilla ice cream, whipped topping,
chocolate syrup and slivered almonds before serving it
warm to customers. Pre-made dough, refrigerated in
advance, was placed in the skillet by cooks and baked in
a convection oven.
The final product was inconsistent and took
too long to cook – 8 minutes before toppings. Customers
were frustrated with the wait time, which often doubled
because the cookie was burned the first time and
had to be prepared a second time. In a nutshell it was
spoiling the customer’s experience.
KECdesign visited the kitchen during
peak serving time – dinner hour – to observe the food
preparation process and to find a better solution to serve
the product quickly and efficiently.
After the visit the two key factors were uncovered:
- The dessert was being prepared by cooks. This item
could easily be prepared by the wait staff along with
other “service items” such as salads and drinks.
- Because it was cooked by cooks, the dessert was being
prepared in the same ovens as fish, potatoes, and
all other baked items.
KECdesign recommended preparing
the dessert on a mini-conveyor oven on the pick-up side
of the operation by wait staff instead of the main cook
line by the chefs. This would let wait staff gauge prep
time in relation to customer need. It also established
product consistency, as the conveyor oven was set to
cook and exit in 4 1/2 minutes – so the dessert never
Better yet, this simple solution gave the server complete
control of a “service item” and cut the cook time in half.
All of this translated into enhanced customer satisfaction
and increased dessert sales volume.
The price of the mini-conveyor oven
was nominal compared to the cost of losing a customer
over a foiled dessert. And the operational cost was less,
because it utilized existing wait staff labor, instead of hiring
additional kitchen staff to fix the problem.