For me, these “times” have expanded the creative side of P&L management like never before. In the past, my thinking was somewhat linear when it came to food cost control- Portioning, Purchasing, Menu Pricing, & Waste Control. Now that we have entered into the Great Reset, I have had to change the way I go about thinking and doing things in my restaurant.

It was December of 07’ when I started to feel a little pain. Sales were trending down and I did not quite know why. At this time portioning was under control, purchasing contracts were in place, menu pricing was comparable with competitors, and we were doing a decent job of controlling waste. I did not want to watch the bottom line follow the sales trends, so I had to do something. This is when the thinking cap went on.

I am in an airport environment, so incremental price increases were not an option. I needed to get my costs of goods down without reducing the quality of the foods I served or raising prices. When I started dissecting my menu the Christmas lights went on all at once. I could improve the quality of several of my menu items and decrease my costs without affecting labor.

Here are a couple of examples of what we did:

We serve home fries for breakfast. We were using a 6/6 pound case of diced potatoes at a price of about $28. We converted to a 50 lb bag of fresh red potatoes at a cost of $12 a bag. As far as labor, we used our automatic slicer and vegetable shoot. We use 25 pounds of potatoes per day so our savings was $13.25 per day or $4,836/year.

We use pesto for a cold pasta salad and hot dish. We were using 6/30 oz containers of pre packaged pesto per day at a cost of around $52. I developed a user friendly recipe that involved little measurement (full pours/etc.). By using the wand blender we could make a batch in ten minutes for a cost of $38. This gave us a savings of over $5,000 a year!

From there the ball kept on rolling. I found comparable products at lower prices, adjusted our time management, and stayed closer than ever to my distributors. No, we did not turn into a “from scratch” restaurant. However, we tipped the scales closer to that direction. Time management and creativity was the key.

I would love to hear some creative ways you have used your ax this year. I am truly appreciative of the networking capacity FohBoh presents to our industry and know that Together We Are Stronger!

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Tags: costs, food, labor, management, operations, profit, recipes

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Comment by Dan Parsons on June 9, 2009 at 1:47pm
Rich,

Thank you for your comments. I could not agree more! A great example would be pre-chopped romaine. The yield is exactly half of a 24 count case and it typically costs about the same- $20cs. We go through about 4 cases of 24 count a day. It takes about 30 minutes to cust, wash, & dry one case. If I am adding correctly- only 2 hours in labor for all four! How could I ever make up the $80 cost difference???? Let's say I pay someone $10 an hour to cut the lettuce- I am saving $60 a day or $22,000 a year!!

Not to mention I do not like the taste of pre-packaged-

Non-Operator
Comment by Rich Tandler on June 8, 2009 at 5:46pm
Pre-prepped produce is a cost killer. In the corporate world I've seen food costs rise by 1-2 points when they introduced chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes, sliced onions, and the like. Supposedly the savings cut labor but, of course, the savings never showed up.

If the salesman shows up and wants to sell it to you, ask for samples, use the samples that night (assuming that the quality is up to snuff, not always the case) and the next day tell the salesman thanks but no thanks. That's the only time that pre-cut produce will ever make you any money.

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