Restaurateur shares tips for controlling F&B costs

Hoteliers and restaurateurs often have a limited amount of control when it comes to food-cost fluctuations, especially with center-of-the-plate proteins, but there are strategies they can use to reduce waste and improve margins.

During the 2013 Protein Innovation Summit in Chicago, presented by HOTELS along with sister publications Plate and Meatingplace, Stephen Goglia, president and COO of restaurant company David Burke Group, New York City, shared a number of tips to control costs creatively.

“You’re not going to fool your guests,” Goglia said. “If you rely too much on smaller portions or inferior-quality product, they’re not going to come back. It’s a very delicate balance when you weigh out the experience for the guest.”

Here are a few of the strategies Goglia said work for him and his company:

  • Don’t focus on selling menu items that don’t make a lot of money. Lower cost doesn’t necessarily mean a lower margin. Items with a high cost and a high margin are much better than those with a low cost and a low margin.
  • Know what is available seasonally and use those products, as they often have low costs and high margins.
  • Purchase product carefully. Too often chefs and kitchen managers purchase too much product and sell it at a low price, driving up cost.
  • Consider creative plating and pairing higher-cost proteins with lower-cost choices. For example, a pork chop can be plated with a house-made pork sausage to enable operators to offer a smaller chop while still satisfying the guest.
  • Fixed-price menus offer value to guests while allowing operators to limit portion sizes.
  • Build strong relationships with vendors, and communicate with them to find out when their oversupply issues might translate into good deals for their customers.