By Elizabeth GodsmarkAtlantic Publishing
Part 4 of 4: Trim Liquor Costs
Liquor prices don't vary a great deal from one wholesaler to another. Packaging and size also tend to be fairly consistent. So, what can you do about reducing liquor costs in your operation? The answer is quite a lot! It's a misconception in the liquor trade that your options are limited when it comes to selling liquor. Consider the following opportunities:
- Bulk buys. Purchase staple liquors, such as whiskey, gin, vodka, brandy, rum and other popular spirits (e.g., fruit brandies) in bulk. They have a long shelf life and you know you can sell them within a reasonable period of time.
- Trends. Stay ahead of consumption trends. Respond quickly. For example, the current trend in the United States is toward "light" spirits such as 80-and 86-proof whiskies, instead of 100-proof (50 percent alcohol) bonded whiskies. Wholesalers, too, are keen to promote these alternatives.
- Distilled spirits. Their shelf life is exceptionally long. Buy distilled whenever possible, and minimize wastage.
- Well liquors. Which well liquors you choose can really make a difference in reducing costs. But don't buy at any price and compromise on quality.Your reputation is at stake. Customers often judge an establishment by the quality of its well liquor.
- Call liquors. Increase margins on call liquors (brand names). Guests who ask for Gordon's gin or Jack Daniel's whiskey, for example, are loyal to the brand and will probably not question the price.
This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Controlling Liquor Wine & Beverage Costs, authored by Elizabeth Godsmark, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:
Atlantic Publishing Company
Liquor Inventory savings,
By Douglas R. BrownAtlantic Publishing
Part 3: Purchasing Ideas
There are many ways to curb cost. Here are a few ideas:
- Inexpensive fish. Turn your customers on to seafood alternatives and lower your food cost. Consider using some alternatives such as Tilapia, farm-raised salmon, fresh-water perch, Alaskan halibut, mahi-mahi, shark or skate. Skate, for example, can be purchased wholesale right now online for $1.62 per pound. The secret, of course, is to make certain it is fresh.
- Shelled eggs. Consider buying shelled eggs if your restaurant uses more than three cases of eggs per week. This will reduce the amount of cardboard and other packaging that must be disposed or recycled. Shelled eggs are often packaged in 5-gallon buckets that can later be reused for cleaning or maintenance.
- Condiments. Use refillable condiment dispensers instead of individual condiment packets for dine-in customers.
- Cost-Watch Web site. This site, www.cost-watch.com, helps restaurant management control labor, utility and food and beverage costs. It also offers regional reports to compare expenses and food costs in similar restaurants as well as price trend forecasts. It is a great resource for purchasing managers.
- Join a barter club. Bartering allows you to buy what you need and pay for it with otherwise unsold products, such as food and beverages or even catering services. Almost anything and everything can be purchased with barter services. Nationally, over 250,000 businesses are involved in barter. Check out these Web pages:
- Similar ingredients. Include menu items that are essentially made with similar ingredients as others on the menu. For example, a shrimp cocktail and shrimp pasta are two very different meals, but the ingredients are similar. These ingredients are simple, inexpensive and don't take up a lot of storage space. Having five or six other pasta sauces to offer also loads up your menu with choices without excessively increasing your inventory. This will not only allow you to buy in bulk and keep costs down, but will also lighten the load on your kitchen staff.
- Bread baskets. The potential for waste in bread baskets is large. Most of these come back from the table partially eaten at best. You may want to consider giving bread baskets only if requested or you may want to cut down on the amount served. You should also consider including packaged items since these can be reused. Some operators are now serving bread only by request or they are serving one roll or breadstick at a time from a breadbasket with tongs.
- Substitute premade items. Substitute premade items for some items you have been making from scratch. You don't have to sacrifice quality to do this; many premade items are good. You can also start with a premade item and add ingredients. For instance, you can buy a premade salad dressing and add blue cheese or fresh herbs. Using these items will lower your food and labor costs, and you can still put out a quality item.
By Douglas R. BrownAtlantic Publishing
Part 4: Purchasing Basics
The goal of purchasing is to obtain wholesome, safe foods to meet your menu requirements. The operation must have food to serve customers when needed. The food needs to be the right quality consistent with the operation's standards and purchased at the lowest possible cost.
- Vendors and food safety. Food safety at this step is primarily the responsibility of your vendors. It's your job to choose your vendors wisely.
- Suppliers must meet federal and state health standards. They should use the HACCP system in their operations and train their employees in sanitation.
- Delivery trucks. Delivery trucks should have adequate refrigeration and freezer units, and foods should be packaged in protective, leak-proof, durable packaging. Let vendors know upfront what you expect from them. Put food-safety standards in your purchase specification agreements. Ask to see their most recent board of health sanitation reports, and tell them you will be inspecting trucks on a quarterly basis.
- Delivery schedules. Good vendors will cooperate with your inspections and should adjust their delivery schedules to avoid your busy periods so that incoming foods can be received and inspected properly.
- Your inventory system is the critical component of purchasing. Before placing an order with a supplier, you need to know what you have on hand and how much will be used. Allow for a cushion of inventory so you won't run out between deliveries. Once purchasing has been standardized, the manager simply orders from your suppliers. Records show supplier, prices, unit of purchase, product specifications, etc. This information needs to be kept on paper and preferably computerized. Purchase food items according to usage. For example, if you plan to use tomatoes by blending and mixing them with other ingredients to make a sauce, purchase broken tomatoes as opposed to whole tomatoes. However, if you intend to use tomatoes to decorate a dinner plate or as a topping, opt for high-quality produce, such as baby plum vine-grown tomatoes.
This article is an excerpt from the Food Service Professional Guide to Controlling Restaurant & Food Service Food Costs, authored by Douglas R. Brown, published by Atlantic Publishing Company. This excerpt has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. To purchase this book go to:
Atlantic Publishing Company