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Thursday, April 01, 2010

Understanding Menu Categories

How many of your dinner guests order a starter? Let's use 50% as a guess. Same question for dessert. We'll use 25% of guests for our dessert guess. Do all of your dinner guests order an entree? Maybe you see 90% due to substituting a starter for the entree course. Do you offer side dishes? How many guests pay extra for a side? We'll use 25% as a guess.

Our customer profile looks something like this table:
Starters 50%
Entrees 90%
Sides 25%
Desserts 25%

We would expect this profile to run a higher food cost than a restaurant with similar prices and menu choices with the following profile:
Starters 25%
Entrees 90%
Sides 25%
Desserts 50%

Restaurants with relatively higher dessert sales tend to run lower ideal food cost percentages. Think of the elaborate pastry displays when you visit a hotel for Sunday Brunch. They want you thinking about dessert before you take your first bite.

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If you specialize in huge portion sizes and high volume, you may not wish to push dessert sales. You'll run a higher food cost %, lower check average and the increase in covers will make up the difference.

If your customer base is in a rush, you can offer a full meal option with smaller portions of all 3 courses for an attractive price. This is common in entertainment areas near theaters and stadiums. You'll effectively change the profile as follows:
Starters 100%
Entrees 100%
Desserts 100%

You could manage the choices for the 3 courses and create a full meal profit which is higher than the current average per cover.

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