Published On: July 31st, 2010|Categories: Systems|

kitchen-prepCoalhouse Pizza is the most wonderful thing to happen to my corner of Stamford since I moved here.   This blog, however, is not a restaurant review.  It is your key to unlocking clutter.  So what does Coalhouse Pizza have to do with organizing?

On Tuesday Coalhouse Pizza featured a beer dinner, five courses of delicious pairings of gourmet food and varieties of  Stone Brewing beer.  I was in heaven.  This foodie/beer boy did not, however, leave the organizer in me at home.  I was blown away by how well organized the event was!

Of course, I’m biased, but I believe the success of the operation was down to one MVP:  clear work surfaces.   Now don’t get me wrong, the planning, the prep work, the team work and the management (Captain Gerard rocks!) were all first rate and indispensable, but in terms of reliable systems to deliver all these features, the clear work surfaces were the unsung heroes.

In past posts I’ve made no secret of the fact that I believe there is no better organizing tool than a clear work surface, but that’s not enough.  Every effective organizing system is made up of two vital components:  an appropriate structure and an easy habit.  If the clear work surface is the ultimate organizing structure, what then is the habit that must accompany it?

A clear work surface must be accompanied by the habit of clearing it between processing, NOT MOSTLY, but 100%, whether this processing concludes at the end of the work day or between courses.  The team at Coalhouse Pizza gets this.

They had the challenge of serving 5 courses with 5 different beers to 95 guests. That’s 950 servings in less than 2 hours! There were already lots of pizza-prepping surfaces in that kitchen, but their first order of business was to bring in two extra large tables into the middle of the floor for the major processing task ahead.  You can see all the surfaces in the photos above.

As you can also see, these surfaces aren’t mostly clear between courses, they’re 100% clear.  How do they know each course is 100% done? Because the surfaces are 100% clear, 100% ready for the next course.  That’s the pattern to aspire to for EVERY work surface in your home or place of business.

At Coalhouse Pizza these surfaces are treated as runways for take off, not airplane hangars for storage.  Food circulates in, gets prepped, and flies off like airplanes.  Of course, for these runways to work here, there must be similar runways in other parts of the restaurant.  In the kitchen where the food is cooked there must be clean work surfaces.  There must also be clear surfaces to process all the dirty dishes as they are emptied and circulate back from the restaurant floor.

To enjoy a well organized home or office, take a tip from a successful restaurant like Coalhouse Pizza and keep those runway surfaces clear for take-off!

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