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Reducing batch sizes and limiting work-in-progress is harder when your product is dinner.

🔗 Why You Can’t Get a Table for Six at a Restaurant - The Wall Street Journal:

Restaurateurs say the decision to offer smaller tables goes far beyond profits. Many are more conscious of the needs of their labor force since the pandemic. Seating too many large parties can put stress on the kitchen and waitstaff.

“It really throws a wrench in the gears of service,” says Josh Tilden, a partner at Maxwells Trading, a new Chicago restaurant. 

The restaurant, which is busy every night, limits seating parties larger than four for most of the evening. It tries to seat tables for five or six at either 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. The sole large table for 10 requires a deposit that becomes nonrefundable within a week of the reservation to protect against last-minute cancellations.

I will admit that I went into this article expecting to learns some factoid about why six is a particularly weird number of diners for restaurants to handle. Poor headline-writing aside, though, it turns out large batch-sizes are a problem for restaurants just as they are for technology and software development teams.

It’s interesting that the solution they mostly seem to be settling on is to place a hard constraint on the demand coming into the system. Makes sense, I suppose—diners at your standard sit-down, table-service restaurant have an expectation of how the wait staff is going interact with them and how meal is going to arrive at the table; flexibility around batch sizes and incremental delivery is probably a lot harder in this sort of environment.

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