Portions. Have you noticed how your competitors are changing concepts, altering menus and reducing portions sizes, almost overnight? Reacting to the recession in order to capture revenue and reduce cost and waste are commendable practices that should be applauded. But since the majority of any restaurant’s regulars are creatures of habit – that is why they keep coming back- noticeable change is not always welcomed by the clientele used to “the old way.”
This is never more apparent than in small communities where a popular, busy restaurant often serves as the gathering place for residents.
I received an email last week from an owner who had reduced the size of his portions overnight while not decreasing the price. Image what happened when Tony Ricci, arriving on Friday night for her standing 6:30 reservation, realized the Fish and Chips platter was served with one less piece of fish and a smaller pile of fries and Cole Slaw.
Yes, she was livid.
Sharing the fact his restaurant’s portions had “grown out of control”, he claimed he was ready to cut back on the plate portions but was concerned of the ramifications from his customers. And, he should be.
Unfortunately people have become accustomed to large portions. Everywhere we look, with the exception of Airline Flight, portions are, mammoth. Some restaurants pride themselves in this feature while other restaurant’s portions just grow exponentially because the chef or kitchen managers have taken their eye off the ball. Or, the picture of the entree has fallen off the wall, the example photo has dissappeared, or the chef wants to do it his way while ignoring policy, portion and procedure.
The picture above, right is a tremendous example of potion control and perfect presentation. Notice how the lettuce gives the feel of enormous, yet the product is completely controlled.
In order to get back to normal size, profitable portions will take some skill, some time, and some training.
There are also some techniques involved that will quickly get you back to profitability without damaging your reputation for large portions.
The first step is to analyze how far you have strayed from your original food cost analysis. Compare that analysis to the plates you served last night. Remember, it is easy to stray, especially if you have changes in your kitchen staff, have over-prepared a vegetable or entr?e and are looking as though you may have to throw some food out.
There are numerous reasons plate portions grow. Here are the five main reasons.
1). Your restaurant has become less busy and your chef never altered his portion control so instead of wasting food he loads it on the customer’s plate.
2). Your chef hates to waste food and dresses the plate without paying attention to food cost and resentation procedures.
3). The “
4). Bigger portions mean more value. In an attempt to keep customers coming back your portions grew and grew. Your customers are so overweight and depressed they no longer go out
5). The pictures that defined your style, passion, look and feel of the plate have fallen down, or the menu has changed and pictures were never taken, or Jimmy doesn’t need a picture to cook or plate…
Here’s a quick way to get the portions under control.
1). Begin cutting back on portions slowly, systematically.
2). Pull back on everything that became huge. Starch, vegetable and main entr?e meat can be delicately trimmed back a little at a time.
3). Make the perfect sized entr?e plate and photograph it for the kitchen staff to see.
4). Make sure that all the entrees are systematically redesigned. The worst thing that an owner or chef can do is to reduce the size of one entr?e and leave another entr?e in a gigantic state. The large one will over power the smaller one and while one customer is full, the other will feel cheated.
5). Value means more than portion abundance. Train your servers, work on your ambience and make sure everyone is comfortable with your space.
If you do, customers ill come back.