How Is Your Restaurant Dealing With Rising Food Costs?
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Sure, the world has its fair share of problems. But for much of it and right now, inflation is the biggest: more specifically, rising food prices.
Over the past few months, prices of agricultural staples like corn, soybeans, and wheat have jumped considerably. The drought here in the United States is being blamed for much of it, but dry weather all over the globe isn't helping.
How are Valley chefs and restaurateurs dealing with rising food costs at their establishments and what sacrifices have (or haven't) they made? I asked a few and this is what they had to say:
Know your guest profile. Cater to the foodies but price your food for the core group of guests. Some portion adjustments (smaller) are made where it makes sense. Seasonal specials with lower food costs, increase average sale (soda, teas, coffee, appetizer, extra salad, dessert, etc.), server training stressing value, quality and creativity. We have not adjusted prices since 2007.
The first rule of the kitchen: never compromise the quality of products we are buying because of rising prices. To protect the guest and keep things balanced, we will shift from using an expensive ingredient by replacing it with one of equal quality and similar value. This also keeps our menu increasingly seasonal and fresh.
If an item is not popular on our menu, we consider replacing it. We also look for an alternate product that is more cost effective but does not lower quality. This is sometimes achieved through looking at different brands and/or pack sizes. Sometimes we consider raising the price. We do not switch to cheaper products that will save us money but sacrifice quality.
We're dealing with the rise of food costs by looking for other items that we can get deals on and working with vendors to receive case count discounts - we'll order a certain amount and receive a price break.
While we are able to raise prices on some items due to increased costs, others stay the same. Guests are only willing to pay so much for certain items. We sacrifice a high food cost on some items and on others we are able to make a greater margin. The one element we are unwilling to sacrifice is quality. It's not worth it to bring in an inferior product just to make our margin look better.