Linear designs and martial arts principles keep Leon’s kitchens in overdrive

Jubilee Place, Canary Wharf 1

Healthy restaurant chain Leon has revealed that kitchens in some of its busiest sites are equipped to deal with up to 500 orders an hour to meet consumer expectations on wait-times. And the firm even employs a Wing Tsun martial arts expert to promote techniques that improve performance and staff wellbeing.

Leon has invested heavily in creating a template that allows it prepare food on-site as quickly as possible and deliver high levels of output at peak times. It is a major user of Rational ovens, while kitchen design is based around a very linear, ‘as-few-steps-as-possible’ approach.

Managing director John Upton expained: “We have an engine that is able to serve 500 transactions an hour in our busiest sites, so we know we are able to deal with high volumes and high peaks. And we also know that while we talk about a ‘lunch hour’ the average customer has more like 20 minutes. Every minute you eat into that 20 minutes makes a difference!”

He continued: “We are a fast food business and customers are increasingly impatient. I know that when I was a kid and wanted to watch a video I had to go to Blockbuster and hope the video was in. Now my children get fed up after a few seconds if Netflix doesn’t download quickly enough! That is very much an analogy for our business — people are used to having things on demand more than ever, so our speed is critical.”

“When I was a kid and wanted to watch a video I had to go to Blockbuster and hope the video was in. Now my children get fed up after a few seconds if Netflix doesn’t download quickly enough. That is very much an analogy for our business!”

Upton said that latest oven innovations were allowing it to drive its food offering, while it continues to refine the ergonomics of the kitchen to make it easier for staff to do their jobs.

“It can be tough working in a kitchen so the more that we can do to make it easier for our people the better. We have to find new ways that allow for a more ergonomic environment and in turn reduce the number of steps that they have to take. We work with our director of wellbeing, Julian Hitch, who is a Wing Tsun eastern martial arts expert, and he very much brings some of the principles of martial arts around going in a straight line, ease of movement and fluidity of movement. There is a range of things that we are doing to make it easier for our people —how we design layout and how we use bits of kit makes a big difference to us.”

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