To show me how a Cheesecake Factory works, he took me into the kitchen of his busiest restaurant, at Prudential Center, a shopping and convention hub. The kitchen design is the same in every restaurant, he explained. It’s laid out like a manufacturing facility, in which raw materials in the back of the plant come together as a finished product that rolls out the front. Along the back wall are the walk-in refrigerators and prep stations, where half a dozen people stood chopping and stirring and mixing. The next zone is where the cooking gets done—two parallel lines of countertop, forty-some feet long and just three shoe-lengths apart, with fifteen people pivoting in place between the stovetops and grills on the hot side and the neatly laid-out bins of fixings (sauces, garnishes, seasonings, and the like) on the cold side. The prep staff stock the pullout drawers beneath the counters with slabs of marinated meat and fish, serving-size baggies of pasta and crabmeat, steaming bowls of brown rice and mashed potatoes. Basically, the prep crew handles the parts, and the cooks do the assembly.

Atul Gawande, in an article exploring franchising the health care system. As with all of his books and articles, it is brilliantly written and presents viable arguments and examples. Well worth a read and hopefully conversation or blog comment after.

One more offshoot thought: The franchised food chains mentioned in the article aren’t exactly the most healthful. Connection to hospitals in the current state: not the healthiest food, but more franchised procurement-wise than the health care itself. With active franchising of health care, would we be able to follow in suit with spreading healthful food in hospitals, too?

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