Babylon Turkish Restaurant, located in the heart of South Beach, Florida, at 560 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL, is a place that I frequently visit to enjoy a variety of foods from my native country, Turkey (Babylon Miami Beach, 2018). With its appealing ambiance, garden-like outside seating, entertaining shows with belly-dancers, and its exceptional food, Babylon stays on top of the list of locations I want to go to when visiting South Beach. Although it aims to be a fine-dining restaurant which can be seen through their expensive prices, professional wait staff, and the design of the restaurant, Babylon can easily be seen as a casual location to eat at. Due to their expensive prices and lack of customers, they offer a daily happy hour from 4 to 7 p.m. that allows them to establish their presence within South Beach. However, with the high number of Mediterranean/Middle Eastern restaurants within South Beach who all serve the same menu items at different prices, Babylon Turkish Restaurant faces a lot of competition. Only recently, a famous Turkish chef, Resat Aydin, who already had a Turkish restaurant, Lokum, within Miami Beach, opened yet another restaurant within close distance from Babylon Turkish Restaurant, a place called Meze, attracting many of the regulars that usually went to Babylon (Asci Resat Aydin Amerika’da, 2014). This paper will be a thorough analysis of the workflow within the Babylon Turkish Restaurant through an examination of its operations, including the time it takes the wait staff to bring out the food, and a statistical process control.
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The process selection utilized by the Babylon Turkish Restaurant is easy to distinguish because they have a window that a customer can look through to see how their food is being prepared; however, the main purpose of this window is so the cooks and waiters can easily communicate with one another in the case of a mistake with an order, or a customer asking something to be added or removed to their dish. Through this window I was able to see that although a small kitchen compared to many of the other restaurants I eat at, Babylon Turkish Restaurant had the elements of a line, with there being an executive chef, line cooks, prep cooks, and the bus boys who prepared fresh bread. It was great to see that all the meat and fish dishes were prepared as customers ordered, and there wasn’t much inventory held.
A popular menu item within the Babylon Turkish Restaurant is the appetizer sampler, which is called the Meze Sampler. Meze “is a big part of the dining experience in Eastern Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and Arab countries; the word ‘meze’ means ‘taste’ and/or ‘snack,’ and the concept is very similar to the tapas of Spain, but with different ingredients” (Hill, 2009). Therefore, mezes are significant elements of a Turkish cuisine, and it is the only part of the menu that the restaurant chooses to prepare in the morning and sell from there rather making it fresh each time. Some might be discouraged by the idea of trying out appetizers that weren’t freshly prepared right then and there, but as a customer there, I don’t hesitate to enjoy these dishes, as they taste delicious either way. Also, it’s only their cold appetizers, which is what meze is, that the Babylon Turkish Restaurant keeps inventory of. They have a large selection of hot appetizers as well such as grilled octopus and zucchini pancakes which are inevitably prepared freshly. What’s unique about meze is that as long as it is used within the same day, it can be easily made in the morning and used throughout the day. Although the Turkish consumer base of the restaurant are aware of this and will delve into the meze platter, those who aren’t familiar with Turkish food and culture might hesitate in doing so, as freshness is a dominant desire within the American society.
Besides the meze platters, Babylon sets itself apart from manufacturing firms as a service firm who aims to build a trusting relationship with its consumer through the availability of seeing their food cooked in front of them. It doesn’t hold inventory of anything besides its meze platters, which are so popular that they are freshly made every morning and there aren’t any leftovers for the following day, and thus, doesn’t pose any food atrocities. “The key to process selection is to balance the costs, efficiency, output and quality of each option to meet your production goals” (Ingram, n.d.). With its process selection, Babylon Turkish Restaurant strives to provide high-quality food, which they successfully accomplish, while providing a timely service and minimizing any costs. Their desire to minimize costs and provide a timely service is the primary reason as to why they inventory their meze platters; they acknowledge that this element of the menu can be prepared from before, that it is a popular item, and that customers most likely don’t want to wait 30 minutes for a cold appetizer. Babylon Turkish Restaurant aims to be considerate of all the factors of a process selection, so they can provide notable and memorable service to their consumers, which is why they have customers coming back every single time, such as me.
Babylon is a restaurant of considerable size with numerous sections within it; a VIP section, an outside seating section which is called the Garden of Babylon, the inside-eating section that looks out to the Garden of Babylon, and another inside-eating section that is located where the bar is. The bar helps not only servers in making drinks, but also takes cares of customers and has about 15 seats in front of its bar. Waiters enter the floor from two points of access, one being the inside section where the bar is and the other being the back of the Garden of Babylon. At the back of Garden, there is a curtain-like door that is convenient for waiters who are taking care of customers only within the Garden. There being two points of access to the floor make it easier and more convenient for waiters and waitresses to serve their food and drinks in a timely manner while avoiding any congestions or mishaps due to clashes among one another. For instance, if all the waiters had to enter the floor from the inside section where the bar is located there could have been many clashes, as it is a narrow space and the servers work at an impressive speed.
A problem I noticed, however, with the process design within Babylon is the order the servers take customers. It is understandable that the management system desires to have minimal conflict among their servers and thus rotates customers equally; however, as servers have to attend to consumers in the Garden while they have customers in the inside section where the bar is, they are less effective as there can be long times that the customer can wait, and the customer not always seeing the waiter can make it seem as if the customer is not attending them appropriately. The restaurant still can aim to be equal among its staff by rotating the sections of the restaurant. The VIP section, who requires customers to pay additional for private space for celebrations, should get undivided attention from their server, and there should be a server who strictly takes care of those tables for that day, who can always rotate to the Garden next day with another server, which is a popular location for seating and will account for any possibly missed tips from the previous day. Through an effective rotation system, the restaurant can ensure that all orders are being served in a timely manner and none of the customers are feeling as if their server isn’t attending to them.
Although I couldn’t provide a sketch of the floorplan of Babylon, I have provided various photos of its floorplan within the Appendix which are evidence to show that the tables within Babylon are positioned in such a way that clashes among waiters or customers are minimized, as each table is a reasonable distance away from one another. One concerning thing about the process design is the bar. Sometimes the cooks need beer for cooking purposes, and usually come out twice or three times a day to the bar to retrieve the beer in a pitcher; however, as narrow as the space is behind the bar, the bartender is faced with making drinks, maintaining great customer service, and trying to squeeze in with the cook who is trying to get his cooking ingredient. Not only does it look bad for the consumers, but one can feel the bartenders’ discomfort in working in such a small space even without the presence of a cook. By enlarging the bar space, the restaurant will avoid future clashes between the bartender and the cook, and will enable there to be a more positive aura within the bar area.
More than random walk-ins, Babylon Turkish Restaurant seems to thrive off of local regulars, and reservations from those who have missed authentic Middle Eastern/Mediterranean/Turkish cuisine. Their reservation system must be thoroughly organized, as whenever I go there it is usually very busy, but without the annoyance of having to wait in line. One also has to put into account the generous size of the restaurant, which helps in accommodating for a high number of customers without it seeming as if it’s too congested. Although the waiting times to be seated are fairly short and virtually nonexistent, the same can’t be said of the waiting times that one experiences when waiting for their food, the worst kind of waiting time. The small kitchen the restaurant has usually can’t efficiently keep up with the orders of the enormous restaurant, causing many orders to come out in a timely, unorganized, and haphazard manner. In these situations, one can see the two owners of the restaurant walking back and forth within the restaurant, apologizing to customers and looking so nervous as if they’re either going to break out in a fight or going to sit down and cry. It gives a horrible energy to the customers who are already enjoying their food, and worries the customers who are ecstatically waiting for their food.
It seems that the Babylon Turkish Restaurant hasn’t been able to successfully balance their demand and their production, accepting much more demand than they can effectively produce, and thereby putting unnecessary stress on the entire team working within the restaurant, including the owners themselves. This stress must sometimes be unbearable for some of the servers, as I have seen a new face every single time I have eaten there, while missing the presence of previous servers. If this problem isn’t addressed, the restaurant’s turnover rate will be sky-rocketing, and they will soon gain a reputation of being an unfavorable place to work in. Their ineffectiveness within this problem doesn’t only impact their staff, but also their consumers who are only trying to enjoy their time, which they can’t ever get back, and their hard-earned money. Rather than fretting and freaking out each time, the owners should focus on how to avoid this problem.
Although the Garden is an extremely popular seating area, on nights when it gets too busy, they could set up that area with a stage, as an entertainment section, so there can be a factor of entertainment that keeps consumers busy while waiting for their foods. Although the restaurant has belly dancers that come on Friday and Saturday nights, they are only two of them and they provide personal entertainment as they dance from table to table; the problem with it is that the belly dancers usually go to the tables that are tipping them, which doesn’t contribute to calming down hungry customers who have been extensively waiting for their foods. Instead, they can introduce some traditional Turkish music to their consumers, which is full of instruments and calming melodies and beats, that will result in not only keeping people busy while waiting for their foods, but also emphasizing the Turkish aspect of the restaurant.
Another thing that seemed to bother me within the restaurant was how the staff insisted on giving the bread to customers first. Each time, although I always give a drink order first, I’m consistently given a basket of bread prior to even ordering any food or receiving my drink. I find this pushy and unnecessary, as I see it as a way to earn the bartender time in making drinks and for a way to implicate to me that I should order. After finding out that it was the owners who insisted on it to be this way, I was even more upset, as I felt like they were shying away from compensating another bartender, so their customers can get their drinks in a timely manner. Moreover, it seems that the bus-boy who is responsible for making fresh bread sometimes makes too much of the bread and to not get in trouble, serves the bread to any tables that don’t have it.
Although it’s understandable from the bus-boy’s side who most likely didn’t receive an effective training nor was caught by the owners yet, it demonstrates that the owners aren’t closely dealing with every aspect of the restaurant, and if they are closely dealing with it, this demonstrates that they are uncaring of one of the most crucial elements of a meal, the bread. Sometimes I only go there to enjoy a drink or two and when this happens, despite having delicious bread in front of me, I am nonetheless aware of how late my drink is being served, sometimes a shocking 15-25 minutes after I have been seated. The bartender is a hard-worker, and I haven’t ever seen her not busy with something, whether it’s making a drink, cleaning the glasses, or maintaining the inventory of the bar; in fact, some might state that she has too much on her plate. Therefore, I find the management system to ultimately be accountable for the poor waiting times for drinks and food, and for the negative moods of the customers when this takes place.
With numerous Middle Eastern/Mediterranean/Turkish restaurants within South Beach, Babylon Turkish restaurant has an effective operations strategy to stay a leader within the industry. “Although Miami has quite a few Mediterranean restaurants that offer Turkish dishes, partners Orhan Duz, Sinan Kilinc, and Ahmet Demir decided to focus on traditional Turkish cuisine for the restaurant, flying in Chef Ali Cinar from Turkey to helm the kitchen. Cinar comes from Antep, a city in the southeast region of the country, only about an hour’s drive from the Syrian border” (Doss, 2014). It’s important to note how Babylon Turkish Restaurant specifically focuses on cuisines from Gaziantep, Turkey. The reason I have been meshing together Middle Eastern/Mediterranean/Turkish restaurants throughout this essay is because although they all have beautifully unique dishes pertaining to each of their cultures, all of them insist on only serving kebabs, falafels, hummus, and other popular fast foods within those regions. It’s honestly surprising for me, someone who is from Turkey, that so many people pay such soaring prices for what is considered street food and fast food within Turkey, Germany, as well as many Arabic and Mediterranean countries. Gaziantep is known in Turkey for having an exceptional selection of foods that can’t be found anywhere else in Turkey, or the world. The flavors and the spices that are so wisely used within these dishes provide such memorable experiences that people fail at finding anything to compare it with. As a person who has tasted a diverse number of cuisines, I can definitely say the Gaziantep cuisine is incomparable, and it’s wonderful that Babylon aims to deliver this type of cuisine to Miami, a society that is most likely unaware of Gaziantep’s existence.
The Gaziantep cuisine focuses on providing big portions, implementing unique spices and herbs, and using red meat as their primary theme in majority of the dishes. While their competitors have plain kebabs and gyros, Babylon focuses on serving Beyti, which is a Gaziantep special, consists of “ground beef or lamb, grilled on a skewer, and served wrapped in lavash and topped with tomato sauce and yogurt” (Schumer, 2014). This is only a single example on the Antep twist Babylon gives to regular Middle Eastern dishes. Not only does the restaurant provide consumers with that taste and experience they are initially seeking, but they also go above and beyond by introducing wonderful flavors that complement what is already sought. Moreover, the restaurant adopts a notable delivery system through various companies such as Eat24, UberEats, Postmates, and Grubhub, among others, to always be readily available to their consumers, even if they can’t come into the restaurant for that day.
However, to ensure they’re ahead of the competition, the restaurant shouldn’t only rely on obvious strategic restaurant methods, but should aim at implementing an innovative operations strategy. Although the servers do excellent jobs at taking care of their consumers, as this is how they earn their tips, they seem to be careless of the restaurant itself, and there seems to be a lack of professionalism among the servers and the owners. Of course, there are many restaurants who adopt a family-team style workmanship within their business, but if Babylon aims to be an exceptional leader restaurant within South Beach, they must emphasize the importance of professionalism among their employees, and demonstrate their role as owners and managers. The cooks and servers freely smoke cigarettes behind the curtain where servers enter the floor behind the garden, their loud laughs and shouts can be overheard by the customers who are seated in the garden, and their talking about how much food they’re going to take home that day can be easily heard. It seems that there is a lack of inventory keeping within the restaurant, as I have also noticed the bartender freely giving away shots and making drinks stronger in order to earn higher tips. In the long-run, this will be extremely harmful for the company, and they will end up deteriorating from their inner workings than the threat faced by competition.
As aforementioned, everything except the meze platters are prepared as customers make their orders. Even the meze platters are freshly made, and usually run out by the night time, and the following day are freshly made again. However, when it comes to the inventory of the ingredients to make items, it’s hard to say if the restaurant truly has someone keeping inventory of things. Although there is an organization of invoices of the purchases of ingredients, the way that cooks and servers freely take food from the kitchen and make orders without paying for it implicate that there haven’t been repercussions for such actions previously, the owners are aware of the ongoings within the restaurant, and there’s a considerable amount of money being lost. This can only be blamed on the owners/managers who didn’t ensure that there is inventory keeping within their restaurant.
Although seeming to be a good-hearted person, I’ve also noted a time when the bartender of the restaurant was bringing numerous wine bottles from the inside closet where all the liquor was held to the bar. Because she doesn’t have a bar back, the bartender is usually left with carrying large loads of ice herself, and stocking her own bottles, even in the presence of customers, since she has no other choice. In this scenario, she had held too many wine bottles to carry, and she ended up dropping one of the wine bottles, and hastily cleaned up the mess, hiding some of the glass pieces under something and throwing the other glass pieces not in the garbage inside the bar, but the garbage outside the restaurant. I’m assuming the bartender tried to hide what had happened, and it seems that the cameras all over the restaurant are placed just for show. As can be seen, there’s absolutely no inventory keeping in this place; the owners seem to just blindly purchase ingredients and alcohol to only have them used in an unorganized way, and it’s a wonder how they keep track of their earnings versus their costs.
Babylon Turkish Restaurant doesn’t seem to have any apparent statistical process controls. Their ticketing system doesn’t include any technology accepting the ticket printing machine. After a ticket that includes the order is received, it’s attached to a surface, in the order it was received, by the cooks and then prepared and served. Their POS system doesn’t notify the servers, managers, or the bartender of how long the customer has been waiting, or how long it has been since the food has been ordered. Also, there seems to be a lack of training among the staff, and therefore, inevitable conflicts and disagreements, on the delivery of the food. Because there isn’t an effective ticketing system, when food comes out, if two different people have an order for that plate, they will unprofessionally begin arguing over whose plate is that. The restaurant can avoid all these problems with the implementation of an effective statistical process control that will allow them to provide a timelier service for their consumers while preventing any possible contradictions among workers. The stress felt and experienced by workers are also reflected in their work, and how they represent the restaurant to their customers, and thus, impacts the success of the restaurant. The owners must not be ignorant of this issue.
As can be seen, Babylon Turkish Restaurant is an amazing concept that brings out unique Gaziantep cuisine to Miami and aims to stay on top of its competitors through influential marketing and promotion methods. However, the restaurant seems to be frozen in their position, neither making improvements nor going in the backward direction. Although they are incredible with the tastes they provide through their dishes, they are behind in technology that is required to make companies successful in this era. There are so many technologies that are available to ensure the smooth operating of a company, but the restaurant is choosing to benefit from none of them. They don’t have an advanced POS system, they lack a new ticketing machine, they don’t have any form of statistical process control, and their website is not appealing as their restaurant is, and is a poor representation of the restaurant. Through the learning of operations management or the hiring of someone who is an expert in the matter, Babylon Turkish Restaurant can begin to move in the right direction as they address the various issues present in their restaurant. As of right now, the operational tactics do not line up with the overall strategy of the company, because although they desperately want to be the best Turkish Restaurant in South Beach and give their customers an incomparable experience, they aren’t mindful of their inventory, of their staff and how they work, nor how the process design affects the company.
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