The Saint Catherine: Process Improvement

The Saint Catherine: Process Improvement

Too much business can be just as bad as too little.
Faced with a popular brunch and a staff pushed to the brink, it was time for a system redesign.





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After two years of marketing and promoting our brunch offering, things were starting to take off. Every weekend we were serving a growing crowd of regulars and newcomers, and things had reached the point where the staff and the systems that we had in place were no longer getting the job done.

A full system redesign was in order.



The Saint Catherine was a large space and brunch was a complicated offering with a unique food & cocktail menu, a larger than normal staff, and a specific work flow. But, even with the extra staff, there was just too much to do in too little time for even the best servers and bartenders to manage. With the staff as skilled and well trained as we could make them, we had to find other areas to make improvements.

The first step was to observe a few brunch services in action. Using our years of experience and our intuitive feel for the industry, we watched a brunch service unfold and took copious notes. Afterwards we compared notes and shared our thoughts on where and why we thought things were breaking down.

The next step was to walk through the process ourselves and test out some of the solutions that we were considering.

While the bar was closed, we went through the process of running a mock brunch service first using the established process and then trying out improvements. As we did we took note of how long each step took, how far we needed to travel between steps, and where unnecessary movement could be eliminated.

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With notes from our observation session and personal walkthroughs we were able to identify key points in the service where work was being performed inefficiently and where excessive steps could be condensed our eliminated outright.

Those changes were rolled out, the new system observed, and staff feedback solicited. Over the next few weeks we continued to refine and make adjustments until we, and the staff, were happy with the results.

By shifting our thinking from a checklist of steps that needed to be performed sequentially to a linear movement of servers through space we were able to gain a better understanding of how the work was actually being done and how it could be improved.


Multiple areas of were addressed to eliminate inefficiencies including

  • Reordering the workflow

  • Reassigning tasks to different staff members

  • Changing the layout of the service area itself.

With a new system in place our brunch service continued to grow, and our staff saw reduced stress and increased tips.