Phone: (413) 727-8897 email:

Friday, March 27, 2015

Restaurant Management - A Best Practices Approach

In 1991, my wife Jackie and I spent two weeks in the Finger Lakes area of New York State. We decided to stay at a hotel in Ithaca. Near Cornell University, we found a terrific bookstore with a big red dot on the door. Once inside, I went hunting for books on food purchasing and restaurant cost control.

After a half hour of browsing through the available books, I purchased two excellent selections - SPECS by Lewis Reed and Controlling and Analyzing Costs in Foodservice Operations by James Keiser and Frederick J. DeMicco. My goal in working with these two books was to develop a set of spreadsheets to help clients improve their food cost performance.

During the next 3 years, I learned how to build recipe models using four different software systems. The number crunching needed to calculate ideal food costs was out of reach for many restaurant owners and managers. The software made this possible.

At the same time, I used WinFax Pro to deliver a newsletter - POSitive ROI - to New York City restaurants. I had time to chat with my early New York clients, as the slow computers worked for hours to get the ideal use report. These restaurant owners would ask me about my background and for any tips to improve profitability. Many times, I recommended the two books I had purchased from the book store in Ithaca, NY.

A few years ago, I received a phone call from Dr. Fred DeMicco, the co-author of the book on controlling and analyzing costs. He invited me to join a team he was organizing to create an e-book for restaurant management. I accepted the invitation with great enthusiasm and we began the project.

After many months, the book has been published by Kendall Hunt. The team at KH has done a wonderful job of editing the book and giving it the right look. This book is designed to help current and future restaurant owners and managers improve their knowledge of essential restaurant management skills and techniques.

The final two chapters in the book focus on budgeting and break even analysis. Most restaurant professionals can benefit from the advice in these two chapters. In today's volatile environment, restaurants need to deal with wage inflation, increased health care costs, big swings in food costs and tremendous competition.

Year to year comparisons can be difficult due to weather events, business interruptions, natural disasters, droughts, diseases and many other factors which we see on the news. A well prepared budget can be quickly modified to reflect actual operating conditions when you face an unanticipated change in your business environment.

Your break even point can change in a hurry with a minimum wage boost or a new group health care plan for your employees. Should you open a second location? What will be the impact? Break even analysis can help provide answers to these questions.

The book may be purchased directly from Kendall Hunt's website in paperback or e-book format.


zee said...

great job. i would like you to recommend me some good source for designing a menu in a restaurant.

Joe Dunbar said...

Thanks for the question, Zee.

Our book has a chapter devoted to menu pricing and analysis. We do not offer a comprehensive guide to menu development. There are many excellent examples of menu analysis and engineering techniques.

Menu development is a comprehensive subject which is as much art as science.

You need to consider everything in your environment including competition, local cuisine preferences, equipment, location, space constraints, d├ęcor, name and theme of the restaurant, etc.

We can certainly help you out with menu pricing, recipe development, and other preliminary tasks.

Many operators hire a chef consultant to assist in menu development.

Nancy said...

Good article. I am an Alumni of Cornell. Intend to purchase this book immediately. Can you also recommend software* for Costing out a restaurant Menu? As a Nutritionist in healthcare not certain what is currently used in this industry. But know these programs exist. Thank you in advance. Nancy

Joe Dunbar said...

Thank you, Nancy!

The food label requirements have changed the software options. Traditionally, all of my nutrition clients have used a solution from ESHA designed to meet their needs.


Restaurant Data Pros

web counter