How Smart Kitchens Reduce Labor Challenges

In about 15 months, the restaurant industry went from laying off nearly 5.5 million people to, in some cases, not being able to find enough staff to maintain operations. Despite federal labor statistics showing foodservice unemployment around double the national average as late as March of this year, operators are resorting to extreme measures to find, hire, and maintain reliable staff.

Some restauranteurs are walking around neighborhoods passing out flyers. Restaurant chains are setting up hiring fairs or offering signing bonuses. Many operators are turning to employment agencies. No matter what the tactic, though, it seems the labor shortage is impacting everyone, and it’s being felt across all types of foodservice, from fine dining to fast-casual.

So what can be done about the current labor challenges?

It’s a complex issue with multiple facets, but one concept can help restaurateurs and operators make the most out of the labor they do have. Smart kitchens and connected restaurants can help make operations more efficient.

What is a connected restaurant? In back-of-the-house situations, staff perform many operations and functions. Here’s just a partial list of their responsibilities: cook food, clean stations, maintain equipment, order ingredients, report on safety, the list goes on. Of course, there are so many more things restaurant staff members do, and while not all of the functions apply, a majority of them can be enhanced and made easier with Internet of Things software platforms that connect those processes and equipment solutions to the cloud.


In many traditional kitchens, Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) reporting can be time-consuming at best. Operators need to monitor walk-in refrigeration temperatures, for example, at regular intervals, often pulling tape that displays those readings. It gets even more convoluted when those data points need to be delivered to the proper authorities. This can consume hours from just a single individual.

With a smart kitchen, these temperature levels can be tracked with equipment connected directly to the cloud. At any given time or moment, a staff member can pull the appropriate HACCP reports and deliver them directly to the person who needs to read them. And this is just one example.


Similar to safety reporting, the same platforms can help operators realize a more efficient maintenance schedule for foodservice equipment and supplies. There’s nothing more challenging than an interruption to service in the middle of a rush, and when a particular unit’s key performance indicators are measured 24/7 and in real-time, it makes maintaining that unit a lot easier.

This also has a positive impact when a service call is needed. This will save valuable staff time in terms of letting a service technician know the exact issue. And when that technician arrives, he or she will be able to quickly work to fix the problem because it was diagnosed even before arrival.

Open Kitchen® is the IoT solution for foodservice.

Middleby and Powerhouse Dynamics have developed an award-winning IoT platform for connecting commercial kitchens and restaurants, ultimately leading to a more efficient commercial kitchen. Open Kitchen was named one of the top 10 IoT solutions for 2021 by Industry Era Review Magazine, not just in foodservice, but in all industries.

Learn more about how Open Kitchen can revolutionize your foodservice or retail operations.

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Topics: Automation, Featured Innovation, Foodservice Industry Trends, IoT, Labor Savings