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What kind of restaurant has the highest profit margins?

RealMenJulienne Feb 20, 2013 01:12 PM

Let's define a "restaurant" as any place where you can buy food that's meant to be eaten there, from a hot dog stand to a $400 per head Alinea-type place.

As a percentage of the cost of the meal to the diner, what price level of the restaurant industry has the highest profit margins?

I'm inclined to say fast food, because of their soft drink sales, but that's just a guess. Any industry pros care to weigh in?

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    baseballfan RE: RealMenJulienne Feb 20, 2013 01:16 PM

    Not an industry pro but I would hazard to guess that a breakfast place would do pretty well from a profit margin perspective since the ingredients are inexpensive as a rule and the table turnover is high. I am thinking specifically of places that specialize in breakfast and usually are closed by 2 or so in the afternoon.

    Will be interested to see what others with more knowledge say.

    4 Replies
    1. re: baseballfan
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      tastesgoodwhatisit RE: baseballfan Feb 20, 2013 11:24 PM

      This might be offset by other factors, though - they don't make any sales during the evening, people expect breakfast to be fairly cheap, and they won't make have the high profit items from the drink menu (most people don't consume soft drinks or alcohol for breakfast).

      1. re: baseballfan
        DiningDiva RE: baseballfan Feb 25, 2013 03:49 PM

        Not necessarily.

        A large portion of the menu is tied items that are considered commodity items where the price regularly fluctuates and can be radically affected by the weather. Milk, eggs, cheese, pork and flour (wheat) are all heavily traded commodities.

        Americans are conditioned to expecting food to be cheap and inexpensive (comparatively speaking). The challenge for many restaurants then becomes how to purchase food and price it to fit the neighborhood and niche they fill. Buying the raw ingredients and making from scratch isn't always the most cost effective answer since what you might save in food cost, you most surely use up in labor cost since you've got to have at least semi-skilled labor to turn those raw ingredients into a finished product.

        Pancakes at $10 aren't usually accepted to well even though they may be made from scratch in the kitchen by trained cooks or even a chef. Pancakes from a mix save time, labor and can be sold cheaply to satisfy a customer base that has learned to expect them to be inexpensive.

        There is a B/L place up the street from my house that does great business, especially on holidays and weekends. Line out the door type of business that includes a very large and very good selection of gluten-free breakfast and lunch items. They've had to add dinner 4 nights a week (with liquor license) in order to pay their bills and survive. They've also had to increase their prices, which were far too low for what you got.

        The surprisng thing the owner told me was that they also had a steady customer base of seniors and retirees that would come in and have coffee and occasionally an English muffin or pastry, but they'd take up a table for extended periods of time reading the newspaper or chatting with friends who came in. Coffee and a muffin won't pay the rent, the hired help, or provide any kind of income for the owner.

        1. re: DiningDiva
          westsidegal RE: DiningDiva Jul 13, 2014 08:37 PM

          ah yes,
          the retiree customer base of campers.

          they ruined the happy hour program at one of the restaurants that i frequent. they'd arrive at the last possible moment of the happy hour time frame, order an inadequate amount of food, and would then camp out at tables FAR too long thereby interfering with the normal dinner service.
          the entire happy hour program ended up being scotched because these selfish campers 'gamed" the restaurant.

          1. re: westsidegal
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            cleobeach RE: westsidegal Jul 14, 2014 11:22 AM

            At the opposite end of the spectrum, two casual restaurants in our area did away with wing nights because teenagers (and to be fair, some adults) were coming in and ordering 6-12 25 cent wings and water while taking up a table from 6pm to 9pm.

            I know the owner of a third restaurant that during special nights like wing night or peel and eat shrimp restricted table size to 4 people max (moving tables together was not allowed), which broke the customers' habit of large groups "camping" together all night. He said the tables turned far faster when the groups were smaller.

            This policy did run off a segment of his clientele but he said sales and profits actually increased because he was able to accommodate the type of customer that might order a few wings as an appetizer but really came in for an entree and most importantly, booze.

      2. f
        FoodPopulist RE: RealMenJulienne Feb 20, 2013 01:47 PM

        An Italian restaurant which serves a lot of pasta and caters to a clientele that typically orders soft drinks with their meals.

        1. t
          thegforceny RE: RealMenJulienne Feb 20, 2013 05:46 PM

          A list comes out every year. I couldn't find the 2012, but Tao and (now closed) Tavern on the Green have topped quite a few years. Hint: Lots of booze sales.

          http://www.theatlantic.com/business/a...

          1. ipsedixit RE: RealMenJulienne Feb 21, 2013 10:49 AM

            Based on the comments here, the owners of those Burger Kings and Sonics that sell alcohol must be rolling in dough.

            1. h
              Harters RE: RealMenJulienne Feb 21, 2013 11:02 AM

              There's a rough rule of "thirds" across the western world about restaurant pricing - one third of a menu price being food costs, one third being wages and one third being the owners gross profit (out of which has to be paid building rental costs, equipment, light, heat, etc - and then the owner's net profit). It pretty much works at all price points.

              I reckon two things swing it towards a higher margin. First, will be a small family business where the owners are the staff - they would have a "claim" on the wages third and the profit third. The other area is probably where a place can sell higher end wine - there is, generally, a high mark-up on wine so being able to sell more expensive stuff brings in the cash.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Harters
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                ferret RE: Harters Feb 21, 2013 12:04 PM

                That's pretty much self-limiting. The Subway franchise model won't produce an appreciable level of income on a single-store basis unless you're willing to work in the store but if you own several, then paying someone minimum wage is a more reasonable alternative.

                Ditto higher-end restaurants, you may want to maintain a presence as the owner but it's not like you're replacing a full-time worker.

                1. re: Harters
                  westsidegal RE: Harters Feb 25, 2013 10:30 AM

                  one element you are omitting from your calculation is that landlords will often give a "small family business" a FAR worse deal in terms of rent, what's covered by the rent, the terms of the lease (such as whether the lease is triple net, what any cancellation options are, whether there must be a personal or other financial guarantee etc. ) than they would give to a chain that has a legal department involved in negotiating the lease.

                2. raytamsgv RE: RealMenJulienne Feb 21, 2013 11:05 AM

                  I would say a place that serves a lot of cheap appetizers (purchased wholesale and reheated) and a lot of alcohol.

                  1. ttoommyy RE: RealMenJulienne Feb 21, 2013 01:12 PM

                    I would think restaurants that do a high volume of well-marked up alcohol have very high profit margins. Just a guess though.

                    1. p
                      Puffin3 RE: RealMenJulienne Feb 22, 2013 08:52 AM

                      Ever seen a Chinese restaurant going out of business? Nope. All family owned and staffed (including extended family). Rice. Virtually every ingredient locally sourced from other Chinese businesses like 'market gardens/poultry/pig farms. A family member in China to buy/ship the condiments in bulk. (They run around and pick up say 45 gallon barrels of soy sauce etc etc. Then onto a palate and plastic wrapped and delivered directly to the ship leaving for Seattle. Everything is VERY well coordinated to maximize the bottom line.
                      They need every penny so after Chan and Hui have been accepted into the Harvard business school dad can write a cheque for the full tuition and give both girls new 'BMWs' as going away presents knowing both girls will be spending every spare moment back working at the restaurant until they take it over in a couple of decades.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: Puffin3
                        raytamsgv RE: Puffin3 Feb 22, 2013 10:34 AM

                        Sorry, Puffin, but you are mistaken. In the San Gabriel Valley (east of Los Angeles), Chinese restaurants go out of business all the time. Most of the owners are not wealthy at all. My parents certainly weren't wealthy. My "full tuition" to public university consisted of financial aid packages. My 'BMW' was a mail-order bicycle that I paid for myself. My siblings and I got out of the restaurant business because it was too much hard work for little profit.

                        1. re: raytamsgv
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                          Puffin3 RE: raytamsgv Feb 22, 2013 10:42 AM

                          Fair enough. 'The exception proves the rule' though.I guess I was referring more to Chinese restaurants that have opened in small towns years ago were they were the only Chinese restaurant for twenty miles around them. I guess now too many Asians are trying to get too small a market share.

                          1. re: raytamsgv
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                            MonMauler RE: raytamsgv Feb 22, 2013 11:18 AM

                            Yeah, I was going to take exception to Puffin's assertion, as well. Two of the universities I went to had a very high percentage of Asian students, and I befriended many. Not one of them that I got to know well had family in the restaurant business. Most of them had parents that were engineers, scientists, professors, attorneys, doctors and the like.

                            The most well-off roommate I ever had was of Chinese descent. His parents came over from china shortly before his birth, and his mom did not speak a lick of English. But he would take some of us to their house on the weekends, and the food was amazing. After dinner us and his parents would play mahjong until the wee hours. Myself and my other four roommates all slept in our own rooms when there. His dad was a florist.

                            1. re: MonMauler
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                              Puffin3 RE: MonMauler Feb 23, 2013 06:35 AM

                              I guess I was thinking about the Chinese restaurant that was in every little town on the Prairies when I was a kid in the fifties. Their kids are now todays engineers/doctors and the like with their own kids. The original owners of these little 'ma and pa' restaurants wanted a better life for their kids. They worked very hard. Were very frugal and many were able to send their kids off the universities with no financial burdens on the kids. Good on them I say!

                          2. re: Puffin3
                            westsidegal RE: Puffin3 Feb 25, 2013 10:40 AM

                            puffin,
                            don't know when and where you could have avoided witnessing a chinese restaurant going out of business, but having lived a bi-coastal existence my whole life i most certainly HAVE seen chinese and virtually all types of mom 'n pop restaurants go out of business on a regular basis.

                            as a general rule, landlords are not kind to such businesses.
                            many local suppliers are not kind to such businesses.

                            the chinese students that i befriended at berkeley were certainly NOT there with BMWs. they were, for the most part, extremely industrious, self-disciplined, kids who were well aware of the sacrifices their families had made on their behalf. (far more aware and grateful than most of the other students).

                            also, the chinese students, like the hispanic students, often, since they had the best english skills in the family, had to make complicated financial and legal decisions for the family that, for most kids their age would have been considered "well above their pay grade."

                            1. re: Puffin3
                              chowser RE: Puffin3 Feb 25, 2013 11:00 AM

                              I'm assuming from what you've said that you have no personal knowledge of the situation? I know quite a few people/family who've had Chinese restaurants and none fit what you're describing and some have lost their restaurants.

                              1. re: chowser
                                ipsedixit RE: chowser Feb 25, 2013 02:07 PM

                                You're looking at the child of parents who had 3 failed Chinese restaurants.

                                So unless we were just extremely unlucky (highly likely, by the way) and the outliers of outliers, I would venture a guess that Chinese restaurants are not immune from the "GOOB disease".

                                1. re: ipsedixit
                                  chowser RE: ipsedixit Feb 25, 2013 02:29 PM

                                  Did you have sisters named Chan and Hui? I'm rereading all the facts in Puffin3's post and there isn't one thing in it that rings a bell. Well, there is the rice thing. That's one.

                                  1. re: chowser
                                    ipsedixit RE: chowser Feb 25, 2013 02:39 PM

                                    We were excommunicated from the Orange Chicken family before we opened up our restaurants.

                            2. mrbigshotno.1 RE: RealMenJulienne Feb 22, 2013 01:24 PM

                              Most likely a one man hot dog cart/food truck, probably not paying any insurance, workmans comp etc. Large FF chains make a healthy profit because of their size, they can really get rock bottom wholesale prices. Three quarters of the full service joints are just scraping by, ya gotta love the biz, either that or be a masochist.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: mrbigshotno.1
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                                MonMauler RE: mrbigshotno.1 Feb 22, 2013 09:33 PM

                                I would lean towards this. A relatively cheap offering - pizza, dogs, wings, burgers, alcohol, fries or some combination thereof - with a large enough customer base and enough outlets to be able to take advantage of economies of scale.

                                1. re: MonMauler
                                  DiningDiva RE: MonMauler Feb 25, 2013 03:29 PM

                                  Actually, wings are NOT cheap. The price of chicken wings has risen pretty steadily (as has the price of chicken tenders) over the last year. We actually discontinued chicken wings because the food cost got way beyond where we could price them for our customers. They got beyond the value/price point. White meat chicken tenders aren't far behind.

                                2. re: mrbigshotno.1
                                  chowser RE: mrbigshotno.1 Feb 25, 2013 11:04 AM

                                  I was thinking something along these lines, a place w/out a brick and mortar presence, with a lower fixed cost.

                                3. m
                                  mwhitmore RE: RealMenJulienne Feb 22, 2013 04:57 PM

                                  I would think pizza. Flour, tomato sauce, polly-o don't cost much. Equipment: a used oven and two fridges, one for bevs and one for toppings. Margin may be higher on pasta, but I never saw a resto serving just pasta.

                                  1. p
                                    PotatoPuff RE: RealMenJulienne Feb 25, 2013 02:45 PM

                                    Does a movie theater count? The markups on popcorn and soda are unreal.

                                    17 Replies
                                    1. re: PotatoPuff
                                      chowser RE: PotatoPuff Feb 25, 2013 02:47 PM

                                      Good point. Places where there is a captive audience probably have the highest. Ski resorts, for one.

                                      1. re: chowser
                                        ipsedixit RE: chowser Feb 25, 2013 03:14 PM

                                        Ballparks, stadiums, amusement parks, airports ...

                                        But then you have to factor in rent ...

                                        1. re: ipsedixit
                                          chowser RE: ipsedixit Feb 25, 2013 03:20 PM

                                          I was thinking of ski resorts where they own the space. It's a major money maker at my resort. I'd love to know Disney's profit margin for their restaurants/fast food places.

                                          1. re: chowser
                                            ipsedixit RE: chowser Feb 25, 2013 03:32 PM

                                            Room service!

                                            Now, that's a high margin business.

                                            1. re: chowser
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                                              nocharge RE: chowser Feb 25, 2013 06:07 PM

                                              If you omit the rent cost in your margin calculations because you own the space, you are artificially inflating your margins by the amount you could have received if you rented out the space to another operator.

                                              1. re: nocharge
                                                chowser RE: nocharge Feb 26, 2013 10:33 AM

                                                Whether you own or rent, there is always the potential to rent/sublet to another business, as long as the lease allows. Net profit is generally calculated, extreme simplification, as gross revenue minus actual costs. You could consider opportunity costs but they generally don't enter the balance sheet.

                                                1. re: chowser
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                                                  nocharge RE: chowser Feb 26, 2013 11:14 AM

                                                  I was considering it from a restaurant analysis standpoint rather than accounting. The free rent is essentially return on a real estate investment that may have little to do with how efficiently the restaurant's operations are run. It's certainly an issue I would consider if I were to set bonus targets for a restaurant's management team.

                                                  1. re: nocharge
                                                    chowser RE: nocharge Feb 26, 2013 02:17 PM

                                                    That would be the case for all businesses, whether they're rented or owned. If I rented a place and could sublet it for more than my profit, similar as if I owned it, it would make sense to do so.

                                                    1. re: chowser
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                                                      nocharge RE: chowser Feb 26, 2013 02:58 PM

                                                      Well, my point is that when analyzing the operational characteristics, such as profit margins, of a restaurant with free rent, it would make sense to consider the opportunity cost associated with not renting out the space to someone else. Otherwise you are mixing in real estate investment with issues such as whether the restaurant management is running a tight ship or the profitability of the particular restaurant concept in that space. When discussing margins for different restaurant concepts, I think it's fair to assume that there is a cost for rent regardless whether it's an actual expense or just an opportunity cost.

                                              2. re: chowser
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                                                divadmas RE: chowser Jun 11, 2014 10:13 PM

                                                disneyland made the mistake of not buying up the surrounding laND FOR HOTELS AND RESTAURANTS. they corrected that at disneyworld.

                                              3. re: ipsedixit
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                                                nocharge RE: ipsedixit Feb 25, 2013 06:00 PM

                                                A restaurant consultant once told me that the lowest food cost percentage he ever encountered was at a Chinese restaurant in an airport terminal. High prices and inexpensive ingredients led to a low-to-middle single digit percentage. However, factoring in rent, it's not clear that this restaurant was more profitable than any other regular restaurant.

                                                1. re: nocharge
                                                  ipsedixit RE: nocharge Feb 25, 2013 06:50 PM

                                                  Having negotiated airport leases, it is almost impossible to make alot of money in a terminal.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                    DiningDiva RE: ipsedixit Feb 26, 2013 09:13 AM

                                                    Are employees at airport food service ops generally hired by the vendor or by the company handling the overall airport contract (like Host, for instance?). And are they paid union wages & benefits or just minimum wage.

                                                    Just curious, no ulterior motive with the question. Restaurants typically don't have to deal with union labor and benes, but it's increasingly common on the non-commerical side of the business. And I am just curious as to where airport food and concessions fall in this dynamic

                                                    1. re: DiningDiva
                                                      ipsedixit RE: DiningDiva Feb 26, 2013 11:07 AM

                                                      That's a complicated question.

                                                      But, yes, the airport concessionaires hire their own employees. They are, as far as I know, not union employees, but because the concessionaires are operating under government (i.e. state or city) contracts, they are generally obligated to provide above minimum wage, benefits, etc. Moreover, because they are operating under government contracts, they many times have to be MBE (minority business enterprises) or DBE (disadvantage business enterprises).

                                                      1. re: ipsedixit
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                                                        divadmas RE: ipsedixit Jun 11, 2014 10:20 PM

                                                        the city of sea tac, next to the seattle airport between seattle and Tacoma, passed a $15/hour minimum wage effective the beginning of this year. however the court ruled it did not cover the airport, much to the dismay of many airport workers. the seattle minimum wage deal will be phased in over 6-7 years.

                                                    2. re: ipsedixit
                                                      Veggo RE: ipsedixit Apr 10, 2014 07:36 AM

                                                      One of my golf buddies, who is black and is a very good golfer, has 3 very successful leased spaces at DIA (Denver).

                                              4. re: PotatoPuff
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                                                ferret RE: PotatoPuff Feb 27, 2013 06:22 AM

                                                That's because their take of ticket sales has dropped precipitously. If they can't make money selling you pricey popcorn and soda then you won't be seeing many movie theaters.

                                              5. g
                                                GH1618 RE: RealMenJulienne Feb 25, 2013 03:42 PM

                                                I'd say that there's too much variation to generalize. As a rule, restaurants are low-margin, high-risk businesses. Those that are most successful have a good concept, a good location, and are well managed. Restaurants of all types succeed or fail based on these fundamentals.

                                                Take fast food as an example. In-n-Out has been hugely successful because it has always been a family business, and the owners found a winning formula and stuck with it. Other chains, such as Burger King, have not done so well.

                                                Take high-end restaurants as another example. They can certainly be a cash cow when they're hot, but they can disappear very quickly if they don't have a concept which holds up over time.

                                                A high-profit margin for a couple of years is one thing. A lower, but sufficient, profit margin which holds up for decades is another.

                                                1. p
                                                  Pookipichu RE: RealMenJulienne Feb 26, 2013 12:45 PM

                                                  PIZZA.

                                                  Look at Grimaldi's. $14 for a large plain pie. They use polly-o cheese and generic canned tomatoes.

                                                  3-4 cups of flour per pizza. Flour is about $3 a 5 pound bag. That's $0.60 of flour per pizza.

                                                  Crushed tomato is $0.30 a cup add in spices, etc. then $0.50 a cup, $1.00 of sauce per pizza.

                                                  Polly-o mozarella is $2.50 a pound, one pound would be generous per pizza.

                                                  None of these are wholesale prices. Approx $4.10 ingredient cost per plain. The money is in the toppings. You pay the same price regardless half or full pie.

                                                  $2 for extra garlic? You can buy 3 pounds of minced garlic for $8. That's $0.16 an ounce which is less than what you'd get on your pizza. $2 for extra sauce? Another $0.50 worth?

                                                  It's an all cash business, no credit card transaction fees, employing cheap below market labor, no decor to speak of, etc. etc.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                  1. re: Pookipichu
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                                                    ferret RE: Pookipichu Feb 27, 2013 06:26 AM

                                                    You're still describing a roughly rule-of-thirds ratio. Their energy costs, rent, insurance, labor, packaging, paper goods etc. still have to be factored into the price -- before they make any profit. If they were spending $7 to make a $14 pizza then they wouldn't be in business for long. Nobody gets wealth from a single location pizza shop.

                                                    1. re: ferret
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                                                      Pookipichu RE: ferret Feb 27, 2013 09:14 AM

                                                      My cost estimates are based on supermarket prices. Factor in wholesale discount, immigrant labor, negligible costs for packaging (pizza boxes) and napkins, the space hasn't seen a renovation in forever, it's heated by the oven in winter, the toppings have an outrageous markup. It's not a rule of thirds when they charge up to 15 times their cost for a topping.

                                                      ... and most importantly,it is an all cash business, you can get rich from pizza. Water and flour and undeclared income.

                                                      1. re: Pookipichu
                                                        chowser RE: Pookipichu Feb 27, 2013 10:34 AM

                                                        I'm not sure if the OP was talking about ways to get rich, illegally, in the restaurant business, eg. cheating on taxes. If that were the aim, then launder money through a cash business--that would be far more than you could make cheating on taxes.

                                                        1. re: chowser
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                                                          Pookipichu RE: chowser Feb 27, 2013 01:27 PM

                                                          The OP asked about profit margins. Even declaring all income, an all cash business saves on credit card transactions fees and ancillary costs (equipment rental, need for dedicated landline, etc.) I gave examples of how it is a very high margin business. You are focusing on one aspect of the post.

                                                          1. re: Pookipichu
                                                            chowser RE: Pookipichu Feb 27, 2013 01:47 PM

                                                            True--my mind just went there. Sorry!

                                                        2. re: Pookipichu
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                                                          owneroperator RE: Pookipichu Apr 10, 2014 07:06 AM

                                                          Your estimates are based on your perspective of what it costs to operate a food establishment. Based on your comments, I can tell you never have owned and operated your own business and clearly do not know what you are talking about. First off, you are guessing what their prices are on ingredients, you failed to factor in the costs of wages, taxes, payroll remittance, employer contributions, insurance, lease/rent, electricity, gas/propane, phone, pos system, internet, frieght, gas, trasportation...

                                                          The food and beverage industry has some of the worst cost of sales margins out there.

                                                          1. re: owneroperator
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                                                            Pookipichu RE: owneroperator Apr 10, 2014 08:02 AM

                                                            All I know is that the pizzeria store owners I've met, do very well for themselves.... do you own a pizzeria or are you just taking my specific example and generalizing it for your own purposes?

                                                      2. re: Pookipichu
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                                                        Tom34 RE: Pookipichu Jul 8, 2014 02:48 PM

                                                        In my area back in the day one needed permission to open a pizza shop. Failure to do so was often a fatal mistake. Very little competition & cheap ingredients made the blessed owner's millions.

                                                        Over the years O.C.'s grip on the industry was broken and a town with a 15k population can have a dozen pizza/sandwich shops.

                                                        Competition and dramatic food costs increases have whittled avg net profits down to under 6 figures. Sounds great until you lay out 20k for family healthcare & put money in a retirement account. Then divide whats left by 84 hrs a week and the hourly rate really is not that great.

                                                      3. smaki RE: RealMenJulienne Feb 26, 2013 07:32 PM

                                                        Alcohol often brings in way more than food. Lottery can also be huge.

                                                        7 Replies
                                                        1. re: smaki
                                                          ipsedixit RE: smaki Feb 26, 2013 07:45 PM

                                                          And strippers. Don't forget strippers.

                                                          1. re: ipsedixit
                                                            smaki RE: ipsedixit Feb 26, 2013 09:01 PM

                                                            +1, Was thinking strippers but did not say. TY for the friendly reminder. With over 100 strip joints Portland, Oregon is a very competitive market.

                                                            A couple decades back, a friend here when got divorced opened a strip club. With attention to detail, sold more kegs per seat than any place in Oregon for several years in a row in the '90s. He did very well on beer, lottery, and hard alcohol. Food is not where made the money. Sold good burgers, sandwiches, and sides for a very reasonable price. Says the quality food options were only to keep customers happy, around, coming back, stopping by to eat, and for a lunch draw. He raced West Coast Late Model Series cars on pavement as a hobby. Unfortunately his racing expenses passed strip joint earnings, so lost the place. The location did not make money before him or since.

                                                            1. re: ipsedixit
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                                                              MonMauler RE: ipsedixit Feb 27, 2013 02:29 AM

                                                              Who forgot about strippers?

                                                              1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                chowser RE: ipsedixit Feb 27, 2013 07:00 AM

                                                                In In other words, the best way to make money in the restaurant business is to forget about the food aspect.

                                                                1. re: chowser
                                                                  ipsedixit RE: chowser Feb 27, 2013 08:00 AM

                                                                  Bingo.

                                                                  You think Hooters stays in business based solely on their wings?

                                                                  1. re: ipsedixit
                                                                    chowser RE: ipsedixit Feb 27, 2013 08:40 AM

                                                                    My husband swears by it.;-)

                                                                    1. re: chowser
                                                                      smaki RE: chowser Feb 27, 2013 01:45 PM

                                                                      I miss Calico Jack's when visit Central & Western Florida (not sure if were or are elsewhere). CJs is like Hooters but with better food and atmosphere IMHO. Bright pink and light blue instead of orange and white. CJs was my favorite oyster bar when lived in Florida in the late 80s and early 90s. The bucket of oysters, chicken sandwiches, seafood gumbo, and CJs juice were hard to beat elsewhere. And great prices. Their slogan, "Only One Thing Tastes Better Than an Oyster... But You Do Not Eat It On A Cracker". Still have some CJs juice cups around. Does anyone know of any around or are they all closed?

                                                            2. b
                                                              bobbert RE: RealMenJulienne Feb 27, 2013 02:20 PM

                                                              Alcohol. Tap beer. Big markup. The "specialty cocktails" list, huge profit margins. Low labor cost on booze. Line cook gets paid $12 per hour, sets up and breaks down station (while no one is spending money on food) and we'll say, a 3 person line serves 150 meals during service. Food costs, labor costs, etc. Let's compare to the bar where we pay the bartender $2.75 hr. because he gets tips. He shows up to prep maybe 2 hours before opening. He pours 125 $5 pints of beer from the $100 keg. He mixes another 200 $8 drinks that cost $1.50 each and then there's the wine. At the bar - low labor cost combined with high margins and even higher volume. Now that's where the profits are. Way back when I tended bar, albeit a nightclub vs. a full service restaurant, I could put out 1000 mixed drinks per weekend shift and we worked on between 18 and 22% alcohol costs.

                                                              2 Replies
                                                              1. re: bobbert
                                                                smaki RE: bobbert Feb 28, 2013 09:22 AM

                                                                +1, good numbers bobbert. Totally agree the kind of restaurant with the highest profits is one with a popular bar.

                                                                OP may have been asking what are the highest profit non-bar restaurant(s). Any further thoughts if we exclude alcohol?

                                                                Once pay the overhead to have a place... Minimum inventory providing the most options helps (example: pizza, salad, and sandwiches can be made with common items). Probably breakfast, lunch, and dinner should all be served. Good coffee, soft drinks, and beverage options are wise (legal and addictive is great such as providing caffeine). Cigarettes. Lottery if able for more traffic and income. Also sweets, corporate catering, and take-out (maybe even delivery) would boost the bottom line of a kitchen. Many create then sell their own brand of take-home items (most through a co-packer). Being unique pays. A focus on family dining brings in more per visit - McDonald's advertising to kids has been very good to them. Those restaurants that gain regular customers who tell (and bring) others do best.

                                                                1. re: smaki
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                                                                  Puffin3 RE: smaki Apr 11, 2014 08:01 AM

                                                                  I'd go with an above average quality food truck. Owners who REALLY knew what they were doing visa vi setting up in profitable locations serving a best quality product and charging for it. The 'down-town' business crowd of 'hipsters' don't care what they pay for a hot dog as long as they can look forward to eating the next one tomorrow.
                                                                  Owners doing the driving/buying/cooking/serving/routine maintenance.
                                                                  These are all critical elements of course. The only thing missing is for the owner/s to put about 30% of the cash that comes through the window in their pocket/s.

                                                              2. l
                                                                lp1242584 RE: RealMenJulienne May 31, 2014 08:17 PM

                                                                My family has owned a business for more than 5 years. Understanding all the key factors in making a profitable income could be hard. It's majors factors are Area*community population*and Nearby competitors divided by half the population. :) there my friends could possibly be a start to your financial change in profit.

                                                                1. free sample addict aka Tracy L RE: RealMenJulienne Jun 11, 2014 09:07 PM

                                                                  I knew someone who was an owner of a really popular sushi bar who claimed it was more profitable than expected. His family owned restaurants so he pretty much knew what he was getting himself into. I think part of it was small portions of ingredients compared to other cuisines, high turnover ingredients so waste was manageable and sushi is addictive to some people and they can't stop ordering after the first round. He was located in a strip mall so his rent was affordable.

                                                                  4 Replies
                                                                  1. re: free sample addict aka Tracy L
                                                                    Kris in Beijing RE: free sample addict aka Tracy L Jun 12, 2014 09:01 AM

                                                                    I can't think of any type of restaurant other than sushi where half of the menu could be unavailable on any given day and people wouldn't consider it a failure of management.
                                                                    So maintaining a high quality of ingredients would be easier to manage, which I think would support the bottom line.

                                                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing
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                                                                      nocharge RE: Kris in Beijing Jun 12, 2014 02:56 PM

                                                                      The problem with sushi is

                                                                      1. Cost of goods. Sushi grade fish is not dirt cheap.

                                                                      2. Competition. Sushi places are a dime a dozen. You can get sushi at Safeway. That kind of limits your possible profit margins.

                                                                      Sure, there are places that charge ultra-premium prices for ultra-premium fish flown in from Japan. But what does flying in fish from Japan do to your food cost?

                                                                      I've seen my share of failed restaurants and don't believe in any magic bullets (sushi or otherwise) in terms of profitability. A friend of mine opened four high-end Japanese restaurants and two very low-end pure sushi places. Of the high-end ones, the original one is doing very well. One is just getting by. The other two have closed. And the were all based on the same name and concept. As for the two low-end pure sushi places, only one is still around.

                                                                      1. re: nocharge
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                                                                        cresyd RE: nocharge Jul 9, 2014 09:46 AM

                                                                        Agree 100% about no magic bullets - but there are definitely certain markets that support dramatically 'reduced quality' sushi while still having a high demand. Israel immediately comes to mind of a market that has a high demand for sushi, and is happy with what I consider to be an extremely low quality product (I was once in a restaurant where there was a bone in my sushi and was told by management that 'because sushi's fish - bone's are a normal risk').

                                                                        I have no idea what that means for the profit margins in an Israeli sushi restaurant, but I could understand how in some markets that could translate into lower cost of goods (i.e. if a number of popular items don't require raw fish) and a high enough demand/low enough competition.

                                                                        Totally agree that there are no magic bullets - but I could see how in the right market a sushi bar that also had high alcohol sales could be very profitable.

                                                                      2. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                                        westsidegal RE: Kris in Beijing Jul 13, 2014 08:46 PM

                                                                        also, the volatility of seafood prices. . .

                                                                    2. g
                                                                      Gail RE: RealMenJulienne Jul 8, 2014 12:39 PM

                                                                      I recently dined at a nationally known upscale steakhouse. A diner in our group ordered a filet of beef. It was a good-sized filet wrapped in a single bacon slice set in the middle of a large plate...$40.00.
                                                                      Now, there's an example of substantial profit margin.

                                                                      26 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Gail
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                                                                        acgold7 RE: Gail Jul 8, 2014 02:23 PM

                                                                        How so? Even at wholesale, the food cost (8 oz dry-aged? Top Choice? Prime?) was probably somewhere around $10-12. Labor and overhead were likely the same, each, leaving the restaurant with maybe $5 profit on the item.

                                                                        Again, in the 10% range, more or less.

                                                                        1. re: acgold7
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                                                                          Tom34 RE: acgold7 Jul 8, 2014 03:21 PM

                                                                          I think a lot of people misunderstand purveyor pricing. Some food products are certainly much cheaper at the purveyor level than retail. Meat and seafood not so much so. I think the purveyor's offer a "consistently" better quality product with the convenience of delivery & credit but not much cheaper if any.

                                                                          Don't get too many nice 8oz fillets after trimming up a whole tenderloin :-)

                                                                          1. re: Tom34
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                                                                            Chowrin RE: Tom34 Jul 10, 2014 08:30 AM

                                                                            It's less than $5 per pound for flank at Costco... if you buy 50 at once. It's about $8 a pound if you're buying 3 at once.

                                                                            So there's margin, but not super crazy amounts.

                                                                          2. re: acgold7
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                                                                            Gail RE: acgold7 Jul 8, 2014 08:18 PM

                                                                            I find that amazing. I would think this chain could buy better...I'm still wondering. Are you familiar with huge, upscale restaurants and how they buy?

                                                                            1. re: Gail
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                                                                              Tom34 RE: Gail Jul 9, 2014 05:46 AM

                                                                              A couple things you have to consider Gail is the shear size of the US beef industry. In just one day 7/08/14, close to 400,000 lbs of whole tenderloin were traded. (150K select, 220K choice & 27K prime).

                                                                              With these kind of daily numbers steakhouse chains really aren't big players compared to huge purveyors like Sysco and supermarket chains like Albertson.

                                                                              The good stuff, "high choice & prime", is in very high demand and it follows the money which often brings it to other countries. The need to discount it rarely occurs.

                                                                              1. re: Tom34
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                                                                                Gail RE: Tom34 Jul 9, 2014 09:01 AM

                                                                                Tom, et al,
                                                                                Thanks guys for all the info. I feel very enlightened.
                                                                                Yes, the $12. baked potato! This place was slammed on a weekday. Where is all the disposable income coming from...can't all be expense accounts.

                                                                              2. re: Gail
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                                                                                acgold7 RE: Gail Jul 9, 2014 09:50 AM

                                                                                Buy better than what? They're probably getting their goods at half to one-third the retail price of the same quality, if it could even be found at retail, which the really prime stuff can't. But as Tom correctly points out, there aren't too many beautiful prime filets on a tenderloin, so even if they pay $10 a pound for the same stuff that's $30 at retail, what do they do with the stuff they trim off?

                                                                                Sure, crappy thin supermarket bacon is $2.50/lb on sale, but the thick center cut stuff that actually has some meat in it is close to $10 at retail and maybe half that at wholesale. That slice could contribute .50 to the plate.

                                                                                1. re: acgold7
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                                                                                  Gail RE: acgold7 Jul 9, 2014 04:41 PM

                                                                                  >>>Buy better than what? <<<
                                                                                  My thought was a national upscale steakhouse should be able to "buy better" than Joe's local upscale, 1 place, steakhouse.

                                                                            2. re: Gail
                                                                              hotoynoodle RE: Gail Jul 9, 2014 05:52 AM

                                                                              upscale steakhouses barely break even on their steaks. that's why a baked potato costs $12 there.

                                                                              1. re: hotoynoodle
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                                                                                genoO RE: hotoynoodle Jul 9, 2014 06:05 AM

                                                                                I think many places, not just Upscale steakhouses charge so much is because they need to (1) pay off the loans on a building that will be scraped off in 10 years and (2) give the "investors" some cash to throw around until they file chapter 11.

                                                                                1. re: genoO
                                                                                  hotoynoodle RE: genoO Jul 9, 2014 07:14 AM

                                                                                  i have worked as a sommelier and manager for 2 upscale steakhouse chains in boston, one of which is in a national historic landmark building and another in a skyscraper owned by fidelity. neither of those buildings are coming down. second, these are not fly-by-night operations, since both have been in business since the 70s.

                                                                                  your scenario may fit somewhere, but not for that particular model.

                                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                    Kris in Beijing RE: hotoynoodle Jul 9, 2014 07:33 AM

                                                                                    What did you think their profit margins were? What did they serve/sell that really brought in profit?

                                                                                    1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                                                      hotoynoodle RE: Kris in Beijing Jul 9, 2014 07:41 AM

                                                                                      we made all the money on sides, desserts and booze/wine. wine mark-ups in steakhouses are stratospheric.

                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                        Kris in Beijing RE: hotoynoodle Jul 9, 2014 07:49 AM

                                                                                        As staff, was that calculus pushed at you in terns of how you were to "encourage" patrons to dine?

                                                                                        1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                                                          hotoynoodle RE: Kris in Beijing Jul 9, 2014 08:06 AM

                                                                                          servers were trained to NOT try to pump food sales because the portions were so insanely large and often would try talking people out of ordering too many sides but to split desserts. however copious drink service was always encouraged, especially with $15-$20 martinis.

                                                                                          i was paid a percentage of wine sales and found it was in my better interest to NOT always push the most expensive bottles. most tables would blithely order several $150 bottles, but put the brakes on after one $500 bottle.

                                                                                          bottom line is they are expense account extravaganzas for most of the diners. weeknights would be 85%+ corporate cards paying the checks.

                                                                                        2. re: hotoynoodle
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                                                                                          Harters RE: hotoynoodle Jul 9, 2014 08:09 AM

                                                                                          Hotoynoodle - you'll know that, in most countries, restaurant menu pricing broadly conforms to the "rule of thirds" - one third ingredient cost, one third staffing cost, one third to the owner (for other running expenses and profit). How far adrift from that is general American practice? I presume the unusual attitude towards "minimum wage" for serving staff will skew it somewhat, but are there other general differences in the basis for pricing?

                                                                                          1. re: Harters
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                                                                                            acgold7 RE: Harters Jul 9, 2014 09:32 AM

                                                                                            It's the same general rule here, roughly, but if you are very good at controlling your costs, you can express it as 30/30/30... 30% each for food, labor and overhead costs, and hopefully 10% profit. If you are lucky.

                                                                                            At least that's what all my consultants tell me.

                                                                                            1. re: acgold7
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                                                                                              nocharge RE: acgold7 Jul 9, 2014 07:06 PM

                                                                                              A common concept is that of "prime cost", which is the sum of the food and labor costs. If you can keep it to around 60 percent, you are likely in good shape.

                                                                                              Interestingly, the ratio between the two components are often different for different types of restaurants. Steakhouses are known for high food costs since good meat is expensive. However, cooking the kind of items you typically find on a steakhouse menu rarely requires a large amount of sophisticated labor.

                                                                                              On the other hand, you have restaurants that use less expensive ingredients that require extensive prep work and elaborate cooking techniques.

                                                                                              1. re: nocharge
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                                                                                                acgold7 RE: nocharge Jul 9, 2014 07:30 PM

                                                                                                Exactly.

                                                                                  2. re: hotoynoodle
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                                                                                    Tom34 RE: hotoynoodle Jul 9, 2014 04:06 PM

                                                                                    About a week ago the "case" price for 0x1 top choice CAB strip loins from a major purveyor which supplies many steakhouse chains was $6.50 lb. After trimming fat the cap and end cut region of the loins figure 20% waste.

                                                                                    Excluding labor thats close to $8.00 lb portioned. I can buy that same product at the supermarket, with "their" labor cutting it, wrapping it & their electricity chilling it for about $11.00 lb. As I said, for top shelf proteins, restaurants are not getting that much of a break.

                                                                                    As you say, sides, drinks & desert are where the profits are with quality steakhouses.

                                                                                    1. re: Tom34
                                                                                      hotoynoodle RE: Tom34 Jul 10, 2014 06:09 AM

                                                                                      for example: last place i worked, we charged $18 for a souffle for 2. food cost was 10 cents.

                                                                                      1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                        Kris in Beijing RE: hotoynoodle Jul 10, 2014 06:37 AM

                                                                                        The Little Accountant in me is having a fit right now.
                                                                                        I have visions of someone on Restaurant Impossible 3 years from now-> "eggs are cheap so we thought we could make money opening a breakfast and soufflé restaurant!!"

                                                                                        1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                                                          hotoynoodle RE: Kris in Beijing Jul 10, 2014 07:05 AM

                                                                                          "eggs are cheap" is one of the main reasons places serve brunch. however, it is also one of the reasons that only hotels do "fine dining breakfast", especially in cities where rent per square foot is sky-high.

                                                                                        2. re: hotoynoodle
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                                                                                          Tom34 RE: hotoynoodle Jul 10, 2014 06:18 PM

                                                                                          I bet that item was pushed.

                                                                                          1. re: Tom34
                                                                                            hotoynoodle RE: Tom34 Jul 11, 2014 03:09 PM

                                                                                            indeed, yes.

                                                                                    2. re: Gail
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                                                                                      Whats_For_Dinner RE: Gail Jul 9, 2014 10:32 AM

                                                                                      We sometimes get in gorgeous whole rib primals with 40 days of dry age on them. Once portioned, and believe me, we trim as little as possible, our food cost on them is approaching 50%.
                                                                                      The point is that the kind of guest that purchases a $45 steak is also the kind that buys a $300 bottle of wine.
                                                                                      Loss leaders can be useful...

                                                                                    3. Monica RE: RealMenJulienne Jul 9, 2014 09:52 AM

                                                                                      coffee shop. or any place that sells a lot of water based drinks or foods.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Monica
                                                                                        Kris in Beijing RE: Monica Jul 9, 2014 01:44 PM

                                                                                        Food income vs food costs, probably a winning ratio.
                                                                                        But it's the other stuff that everyone seems to be forgetting: labor, location, taxes, permits, advertising, internet...

                                                                                        The good coffee/ espresso/ cappuccino machines are pretty steep.
                                                                                        And these places are often in higher rent areas.

                                                                                        1. re: Kris in Beijing
                                                                                          Monica RE: Kris in Beijing Jul 10, 2014 08:02 AM

                                                                                          any place that sells food will have to deal with expensive commercial grade equipment.

                                                                                      2. e
                                                                                        EdwinNJ RE: RealMenJulienne Jul 9, 2014 07:13 PM

                                                                                        the issue is obfuscated by whether you include rent/realty taxes as a cost when calculating the margin

                                                                                        Otherwise, I'd say the most expensive fancy restaurants would have the highest margins, but if you include rent, which is huge as these places are in extremely high-value locations in major cities, I don't think the margin is as high. Think like Mr. Chow in NYC

                                                                                        So maybe, a fancy restaurant in a cheap place? like maybe the Morton's in Hackensack?

                                                                                        1. Monica RE: RealMenJulienne Jul 10, 2014 08:03 AM

                                                                                          Also, ice cream shops and bagel/deli shops...
                                                                                          bagel/deli shop probably more as it only sells food with highest profit margins. sandwiches, coffee, soda, juice...bagels and salads are all high profit and with enough customers, you will most likely do well.

                                                                                          1. c
                                                                                            Chowrin RE: RealMenJulienne Jul 10, 2014 08:21 AM

                                                                                            Anyone doing a volume business. Bonus if takeout/otherwise no waitstaff.

                                                                                            1. h
                                                                                              HungWeiLo RE: RealMenJulienne Jul 10, 2014 08:44 AM

                                                                                              Those Jap-adog carts have got to take the cake on this.

                                                                                              A cheap low-end frank with 2-3 spoonfuls of cheap toppings for $8-$10. The margins have got to be stupidly stratospheric.

                                                                                              7 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: HungWeiLo
                                                                                                hotoynoodle RE: HungWeiLo Jul 10, 2014 08:50 AM

                                                                                                holy crap. where do you live?

                                                                                                1. re: hotoynoodle
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                                                                                                  Tom34 RE: hotoynoodle Jul 10, 2014 06:21 PM

                                                                                                  That was the first thought that came to me also. 2nd thought was buying a cart :-)

                                                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                                    pamf RE: hotoynoodle Jul 11, 2014 07:51 AM

                                                                                                    I believe they originated in Vancouver, BC, Canada. Looks like they are expanding into Los Angeles.

                                                                                                    http://www.japadog.com/

                                                                                                    1. re: hotoynoodle
                                                                                                      h
                                                                                                      HungWeiLo RE: hotoynoodle Jul 11, 2014 09:33 AM

                                                                                                      There are at least one or two of these Japadog carts here in Seattle. And yes, I did first see them up in Vancouver.

                                                                                                      On a grander scale, there are lots of food carts / vans that hound workplaces which I'm sure have pretty good margins. There was one called "Gobble" (http://www.gobbleexpress.com/) that came by our work for a few weeks before deciding we were not worth their time. They listed a grand menu of turkey-based items like soups and sandwiches, etc. But when you actually go up to them, they will be "out of everything" and will essentially only sell turkey bits deep fried in flour. Good riddance.

                                                                                                      1. re: HungWeiLo
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                                                                                                        acgold7 RE: HungWeiLo Jul 14, 2014 09:28 AM

                                                                                                        You'd be shocked at how low the margins are at Gobble Express. Don't ask me how I know. There is nothing on the menu that is "turkey bits deep fried in flour."

                                                                                                        We are always happy to go anyplace we are asked to, but can't keep going if we are losing money. If you tell us your location and dates I will be happy to show you each and every daily truck spreadsheet.

                                                                                                        Please feel free to contact me personally via the email in my profile here or on the truck or restaurant websites if you'd like to discuss this. We almost never run out of anything -- quite the contrary -- so I am a little shocked to hear this. Sometimes we do run out of a few items late in the day but rarely during the lunch rush.

                                                                                                        I think we should all view with skepticism any post which contains phrases like "have got to be" or "I'm sure have," because that means the writer is guessing or making assumptions, and doesn't really know, notwithstanding any family history or prior experience in the business.

                                                                                                        Note that this is the first time I have ever mentioned the name of our place on this board, ever, and then only to correct errors of fact when soneone else mentioned it first. I am in no way trying to advertise it or push it or suggest you go there.

                                                                                                        1. re: HungWeiLo
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                                                                                                          acgold7 RE: HungWeiLo Jul 14, 2014 11:26 AM

                                                                                                          Let's just explore Food Truck economics a bit using real actual numbers from a real actual gigs, shall we? Conjecture is fine but facts are better.

                                                                                                          Most Trucks look at a $1500 lunch as pretty good. Not stellar but good. That's probably about 150 covers for most of them, more or less. Most consider it achievable. Many won't even roll for less than that and require that as a minimum from their clients just to cover their expenses.

                                                                                                          Sometimes you take on a new client -- and to clarify the post above, we only go where we are asked to; we don't "hound" anyone -- without requiring the minimum in the hope you will do well and if they don't at first, you hope they will build. But if they don't you have to move on.

                                                                                                          Here are the actual numbers from a recent corporate lunch from a place where we had to stop going because we were consistently losing money.

                                                                                                          Net sales after taxes 306.73 (35 tickets)
                                                                                                          Food Cost 107.36
                                                                                                          Labor 99.00
                                                                                                          Insurance 10.00
                                                                                                          Amort on Truck 65.00
                                                                                                          Consumables 30.00
                                                                                                          Mileage 3.36

                                                                                                          Profit (Loss) (7.99)

                                                                                                          We should have done at least $1000 in sales, but we didn't, and limped home with a truck full of food. So this probably wasn't the incident referred to above, as it's not likely we were out of anything, much less everything, but it's illustrative of the economics and why Trucks may stop going to a place after they've been there for a while.

                                                                                                          1. re: acgold7
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                                                                                                            Tom34 RE: acgold7 Jul 14, 2014 08:35 PM

                                                                                                            Good illustration. Because most people do at least some cooking at home the mindset is .30 cents for the roll, $1.00 for the protein put in the roll ........and they are charging $5.00............wow they are making a fortune.

                                                                                                            I know people who own both wholesale and retail food businesses. Some do very well & others just ok. After healthcare & retirement planning their average final "hourly" take home rate would be disturbingly low to most people. You own it, you live it and you breathe it. You will also sleep it because when there is a problem you will be waking up thinking / worrying about it long before the alarm clock goes off.

                                                                                                    2. d
                                                                                                      DukeFan RE: RealMenJulienne Jul 11, 2014 10:33 AM

                                                                                                      generally gross margin is tied to the percentage of sales coming from alcohol.

                                                                                                      Even for the high-end tasting menus, the wine pairing are generating the lions share of gross margin

                                                                                                      1. e
                                                                                                        EdwinNJ RE: RealMenJulienne Jul 11, 2014 03:01 PM

                                                                                                        I can tell you the highest profit margin on a food sale ever...

                                                                                                        The time the old woman sold jack the magic beans. A whole cow for just a few beans!

                                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                                        1. re: EdwinNJ
                                                                                                          Kris in Beijing RE: EdwinNJ Jul 11, 2014 03:58 PM

                                                                                                          Maybe "the Apple" ?

                                                                                                        2. cronker RE: RealMenJulienne Jul 13, 2014 06:51 PM

                                                                                                          Where I work and live the 30/30/30 rule is pretty close to the mark, but it's with experience that you learn the caveats.
                                                                                                          It's more profitable for me to sell you the second cheapest bottle of wine on our list, rather than the vintage Chateauneuf Du Pape that has been lovingly cellared. My margin on that is less than the margin on the cheap plonk that I can sell you for $40.
                                                                                                          Agreed that sides are profitable, but desserts even more so.
                                                                                                          A lot of wage control is in the hands of good management. An example in a restaurant setting would be one of my ideas that changed our restaurant.
                                                                                                          At the end of the night, all the waitstaff were required to polish the cutlery, glassware and reset the restaurant for the next day. At $24.09 per hour (pay per hour in Australia).
                                                                                                          I hired five 16 year olds, on a traineeship basis (16.54 p/h) to come in the following morning and do that work.
                                                                                                          Reducing the amount of floor staff as the restaurant grows quieter. A staff member who started out with five tables at the beginning of the shift, will find themselves with 9 tables once desserts have been called.
                                                                                                          My training (in large hotel chains) drilled into me the importance of labour costs, and how to squeeze them without reducing service standards.

                                                                                                          Overheads are another thing. Linen is a huge cost. Breakages too. Spoilage, wastage too.
                                                                                                          Being profitable is a lot about mitigating the $$, being smart nets you a lot more than being fancy, classy or dirt cheap.

                                                                                                          1. f
                                                                                                            flavrmeistr RE: RealMenJulienne Jul 13, 2014 10:57 PM

                                                                                                            Those with liquor licenses.

                                                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                                                            1. re: flavrmeistr
                                                                                                              GraydonCarter RE: flavrmeistr Jul 14, 2014 08:43 PM

                                                                                                              I'm always surprised by how crowded places like Applebees Outback and TGIF Friday's are. They advertise heavily to get butts in the seats just so they can upsell a couple of drinks or beers on tap.

                                                                                                            2. Monica RE: RealMenJulienne Jul 14, 2014 12:39 PM

                                                                                                              Some of those touristy restaurants in Maine that charges $40 plus for a lobster! and I got sick from it. yikes.
                                                                                                              Lobsters are pretty cheap these days.

                                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                                              1. re: Monica
                                                                                                                hotoynoodle RE: Monica Jul 14, 2014 03:07 PM

                                                                                                                if somebody goes to maine and pays $40 for lobster they deserve to be fleeced.

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