It’s almost like we are feeding horses. Value oriented customers are analyzing ounces and piles of potatoes while making a decision on where to spent their dining dollars.
Tightening budgets have prompted diners to loosen their belts in a trek for more food for fewer bucks. The large fast food chains are now offering buck-burgers to entice lines at drive-through windows. This is a major obstacle for owners who have focused on quality in profile and presentation rather than mounds of mashed and piles of polenta.
What’s more depressing is to analyze the food bin next to the dishwashing station and see the exorbitant amount of food being wasted. Although waiters and dishers only see buckets of food not eaten, in reality the scrape bin is filled with profits.
While bounding obesity problems-prompting governmental agencies to focus on restaurants and caloric menu disclosures- are affecting a majority of Americans, now is an opportune time to redesign plate presentations.
I am not professing to bring back the orange slice and chicory leaf garnish – made popular at TGI Friday’s during their infancy, or the whole apple garnish perfected at Claim Jumper’s. On the other hand, it may be time to add a reasonably priced garnish to occupy plate real estate for those looking to dine at full plate emporiums.
The use of smaller rimmed plates also gives a better perception for those analyzing portions. Large rims on plate make the amount of food appear to be smaller than it actually is due to the open white space of the rim.
One of the most effective techniques is saucing the perimeter of the entree, making the boundaries of the meal appear larger. This is an effective component, but make sure the sauce contrasts with the plate as this visual is important. We eat with our eyes first.
If you happen to offer a salad bar or a buffet, my heart goes out to you. Buffet concepts are experiencing a dramatic increase in consumption and what once was a profitable venue has now experienced an economic down tick.
I was previously a fan of the brunch buffet – which works if you continually change your menu to fit the contents of your walk-in box every Saturday night. I became excited with the line of people both at the buffet and at the bar and decided to run a
Foolishly, my decision included King Crab legs. The price of the buffet was $19.99 and it was to offered every Friday night from Black Friday until the weekend before Christmas. The all-you-can-eat meal was a huge hit on
Smaller plates in buffet lines substantially reduce food loss. The smaller plate offers less real estate and fills to capacity faster. Also, customers become more conscious regarding the amount of trips through the line and have a tendency to eat what’s on their plate before returning for more hash-browns and ham.
Small buffet plates also make it the dishwasher more efficient. Loading more plates per cycle, which is an important factor if you are heavy on customers and light on dinner ware, is a cost trimming maneuver saving on dishwasher additives, electric and time.
Now it is understood that you cannot suddenly change your plate size, your portion size and cut back on your value over a weekend, especially with the over eating holidays upon us. Yet, after the New Year, when everyone is going to feel guilty about their waste line and the abundance of girth they have added to their frame, it may be a good time to reduce portions slightly while offering the perception of a more value oriented meal.
Although that seems like a distant future, it is only three weeks away. Begin thinking today of techniques to conserve product with tighter portions. Analyze your scrape bucket and get a feel for what you are serving that people are not eating. The portions on that item are probably too hefty.
Remember, If you could take all the product in that bucket and return it for cash, your restaurant would be profitable. It may be time to rethink your garnish, sauce the perimeter of your entrees and appetizers and tighten up your portions and stop feeding the horses.
It will be better for your bottom line and their bottoms.
Enjoy the weekend.