Months before the coronavirus turned restaurants into a to-go business, the high-volume Velvet Taco chain fixed its focus on a not-so-bad problem to have. The fast-casual concept couldn’t push its made-to-order specialties through the system fast enough during peak times to avoid the waits that can drive impatient patrons elsewhere. Units were generating the annual equivalent of $4.2 million in sales, but customers were typically investing 11 minutes in getting their tacos and margaritas, to go or to eat on site.
With coronavirus providing a tailwind, the 18-unit brand plunged into a salsa-to-nachos overhaul of operations. The menu and recipes were untouched, but the typical order process was broken into 15-minute intervals to reveal where seconds could be shaved, and a hand-motion study was undertaken for the same end.
The wholesale operational changeover has boosted throughput by 20%, raised sales by 15%, and cut average ticket times to 6.5 minutes at the units where it has been implemented. Four units have been given the re-do—one built from ground up, one converted from a defunct restaurant, and one rehabbed from an old gas station. The refurbished unit in Plano, Texas, took in $103,000 during Opening Week…