How Many Employees

I’m in the process of opening a 100 seat causal eat-in/carryout operation. I was wondering if anyone could help me with how many employees do you think I should start off with? I know I should hire over at first to weed out the good ones but how many should I use per shift? I won’t need a dishwasher or busser. I will be working full time open to close at first. We will have pizzas,wings and fried appetizers.

Table service, or do they order at the counter?

Give us some more info:
What type of prep work will the crew be doing?
Is your menu made from scratch?
Are you making dough?
Will you have take out?
How many days are you open?
How many hours?
What does your business plan project for customers and sales?

It will be table service. We will have carry-out. We will make our dough in-house. We will shred our own cheese. We will cut the vegetables in-house. We will be open from 11to 11 6 days a week.

Not that you are alone in these type of questions, but I think you would get more helpful responses when you can present a schedule of what “you” think you would need.

Prep/Cook 1: hour before open to hour after open?
Prep/Cook 2: same time?
Cashier 1: open to hour after open?
Cashier 2: hour later?
Driver 1: 30 minutes after open to hour after close?
Driver 2: 1 hour later?

For me when starting out, I think its easier to schedule by position first. Then divide the time by a number of employees to fill.

If you have an idea of your sales numbers that would help. Have you done alot of marketing? Looks like you will need around ten employees .
5 or 6 Kitchen and prep staff.
5 or 6 Wait staff, cleaning, order takers.
If you hire full time (I do not recommend starting out that way) you could use a few less.

Not sure if it helps, we’re a full table service, seat 90+ place. We have a large carry-out business, doing pizza, but also a full menu from burgers, subs to pastas and steaks.

We prep from 9-11AM with 3 folks. Two are solidly prepping everything from the salad table to the burgers for the day etc. The 3rd guy is prepping, but also jumping in and keeping the dishwasher moving so it’s not all stacking up. We cook 98% fresh so there are a bunch of pots, pans and who knows what they ares.

We have 25 on the payroll, plus my wife and I. On a normal M-T-W we’ll have 2 cooks, one pizza/dishwasher in back. Up front will see 1 running the drawer & tending bar, with 2 servers on the floor. At night we’ll move over to a pizza guy and add in a separate dishwasher.

Come Thursday,Friday and Saturday we add a 3 server at night who will also do some hostessing duties as needed. On Friday and Saturday night we’ll have 3 or 4 on the floor, a stand alone bartender, plus one on the drawer. ( A family member, we cash all tickets and return the change to the server for taking back to the table) On a Friday or Saturday night service we have the dishwasher, myself or my son running as a whip cracker, and have 2 pizza guys, one fryer/app guy, and 2 line cooks.

During the week, after about 1:30 it’s dead till 4:30 so we staff accordingly. Right now (2:46PM) it’s me and my son. He’s on the clock, I’m only dreaming about it. We’ll bring in the 2 cooks about 4PM and they finish the dinner service prep.

Our hours are 11-9 M-Thrs, 11-10 Fri/Sat, closed Sunday.

You are making the investment to open a 100 seat operation and do not already have the experience to write the schedule? Wow. I hope you are hiring a manager that has that experience.

Actually I do have experience in scheduling. For businesses that were already up and running with business and customers already established. This question was about how many employees to start up with so as not to over burden payroll right off the start.

Forget about payroll at first. Hang on, hear me out. Make sure you have good staffing levels, yes, overstaffed at first. Be sure not to overstaff in such as way that you have more bodies than room, but having more workers than work is fine (and desired at this point). When the rush subsides, you start sending people home. But during the rush, if you have 6 people in the kitchen but really only “need” 4, put the other 2 to work doing something… making dough for tomorrow, washing dishes, bussing tables, counting ceiling tiles – SOMETHING. The first “worker” to stop working when you are overstaffed is YOU. You become eyes and ears, handle quality control, customer experience, etc. Let the workers do the actual work. You now have your most motivated employee (YOU) attending to quality and customer experience, and you have workers getting valuable experience (valuable to you). If you get slammed, then you’re there as a floater.

If you’re really overstaffed, then send someone to the dining room to check on customers needing refills, etc. They are not tipped, and are paid full normal wages, but it can offload some burden on your servers until they get “up to speed”.

When you open, you should EXPECT to lose money for a while. Certainly control the bleeding, but don’t try to turn a profit “at all costs” because those “costs” will be quality and customer satisfaction. Once you have the quality and customer satisfaction, then you can trim labor.

Forecast your sales based on capacity and your marketing budget. Since you know how to schedule, staff for that amount plus maybe another 10-20%.

Snowman is right; there is no undoing a bad experience for first time customers. Hire good people, put in enough training time before you open to ensure quality product and service. It is simply part of the investment.

Pay attention to the business and cut back if you need to once you are open.

(or hire that manager)