A Real Talk on Food Cost Management for Restaurant GMs

January 24, 2024 | 207 Views

A Real Talk on Food Cost Management for Restaurant GMs

Curt Archambault, FMP

Education Strategist, CHART | Partner Consultant, People & Performance Strategies

Alright, let’s dive straight into the real deal of running a restaurant and keeping those food costs in check. If you’re a General Manager (GM), you know you’ve got to be everywhere – in the front, in the back, and everywhere in between. So, here’s a straight-shooting guide on what you need to do to keep that food cost sweet spot and make sure your customers are getting top-notch, safe food on their plates.

1. Inventory: Keep it Tight and Right

In the Kitchen: You’ve got to have your inventory down pat. This means checking what you’ve got, what’s flying off the shelves, and what’s just sitting around. Get yourself a good inventory management system and make it your new best friend. Notice that your stock of avocados is depleting faster than usual? That’s a red flag right there – could be over-portioning, could be theft. Time to play detective and nip it in the bud.

Out Front: Portion control is king. Make sure your team is serving up consistency. It’s not just about not running out of food; it’s about serving the same quality every single time. Train your team, get them the tools they need – like the right scoops for sides. It’s the little things that count.

2. Suppliers: Your New BFFs

In the Kitchen: You’ve got to have suppliers that have your back. Negotiate like your business depends on it (because it does), and don’t be afraid to play the field. Local is cool, and it can save you a ton on shipping costs. Regular check-ins with your suppliers keep everyone on their toes.

3. Menu: Keep it Fresh, Keep it Profitable

In the Kitchen: Your menu is your moneymaker. Figure out what’s bringing in the bucks and what’s just taking up space. Work with your chef, get creative, and maybe it’s time to say goodbye to that fancy seafood dish that’s not doing you any favors. Seasonal and local – that’s your new mantra.

Out Front: Your front-of-house team should be selling like pros. Make sure they know the menu better than they know their grandma’s birthday. Upselling should be second nature. Role play, get them comfortable, and watch the profits roll in.

4. Quality and Safety: It’s Non-Negotiable

In the Kitchen: Don’t even think about skimping on food safety and quality. This is your reputation on the line. Get the right tools, set the standards high, and train your team. Color-coded cutting boards? Yes, please.

5. Training: Never Stop Learning

In the Kitchen: Keep your team sharp with regular training. New cooking techniques, food safety – it’s all in a day’s work. Workshops, training sessions – get it on the calendar.

Out Front: Your serving staff need love too. Customer service, menu knowledge – it’s all part of the game. Mystery shopper programs? Do it. Find out where you can do better, and then do it.

Wrapping it Up

So, there you have it. Managing food costs isn’t about reinventing the wheel. It’s about doing the basics and doing them damn well. Inventory, suppliers, menu, quality, training – it’s your new mantra. Keep it consistent, keep it real, and watch your restaurant soar.


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