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Economy and your response

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
We have all been subject to rising costs of ingredients. How are you dealing? Passing straight away to the customers? Cutting corners, a bit? Portions decreased?
I just made a visit to a local aqua farm and the owner told me the cost of food for his trout was almost double from 18 months ago and he would be out of business by this time next year without some change. So, where do you stand?

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #2 of 11
drowning!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
So what does that mean? What is your short term/long term 'fix', if any?

Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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Invention, my dear friends, is ninety-three percent perspiration, six percent electricity, four percent evaporation, and two percent butterscotch ripple

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post #4 of 11
Cut portion maybe an ounce or two just like the manufacturers are doing. Have some of employees work a split, no reason haveing them around in non productive time, and the drop in volume merits this. Better to work a split then no job at all. I know this is not food cost, but still determines bottom line results.
Do not cut quality, as this is fastest way to lose patrons. Take more note of competitive price quotes, discount for cash etc. Dont be afraid to tell one purveyor you can get it for less. Try to increase volume by various promo's.
In other words do whatever it takes . And I dont think it is shorterm!!!!Although I hope it is.
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #5 of 11
The pig farmer I buy from has increased his prices.....15%, I've passed that cost along. Rolls are ALL made in house. I've started increasing my time setting up and cutting back staff time......for packaged staffing....ie: total cost of party is $2000 including labor.

We're selling a count now ie....extra large shrimp (3pp) $X.....it's not been an issue before, but now it's more important than ever.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #6 of 11
ride it out.....fortunately I didn't have to change much....have always run a pretty lean operation.....but, its becoming clear that business is drying up....I think next year will be pretty hard on all of us.....layoffs, terminations, closings......this time of year is particulary difficult......you cut to the quick.....but then have to handle the few weeks here and there that bring increased business levels during the holiday season. Many vendors have been cooperative in regard to dropping prices though.....I've found consolidating your purchases seems to help.....recently pushed chemicals to my paper goods company.....40% break......other services have been pretty cooperative as well.....how many of you have suffered through fuel surcharges this past year......?.....would love to hear how everyone else is doing around the country....I am in a resort setting and have seen huge changes in regard to room nights.....
post #7 of 11
Luckily my part of the business has actually seen an increase in business. I am in the manufacturing side and we have seen a 30% increase in sales over last year. We actually just hired another scientist because our work load is thru the roof. As long as ppl continue to eat at home I should be ok.
Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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Taste: The sensation derived from food, as interpreted thru the tongue to brain sensory system.
Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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post #8 of 11
Jim,
We must be the odd man out, our guest counts, bottom and top line are up over last yr.

Raising prices in a slow methodical fashion with menu changes on a quarterly basis. Also allows us to take advantage of seasonal items.
Creating the perception of value through menu mix.
Offering comfort food items with a little twist.

Heavy marketing to my established guests to keep their attention and keep them from straying. My top 500- We are in their inbox at least two to three times and their mailbox once a month.
We run interesting promotions and limited time offerings (LTO's) to keep our guests interested and wanting to know what we will come up with next.

Monthly print newsletters and email newsletters to anyone who's email I can get my hands on. (have missed only two emails in the last 8yrs)
Systemized- Rewards club, Birthday and anniversary postcards as well as lost customer mailings. (rewards members with email get two automatic emails monthly)

Not cutting a single corner when it comes to quality.
Not cutting back on portion sizes.
We just moved our steaks, burgers and chicken to growth hormone, steroid and antibiotic free. We also moved to the new line of diposable "green" ware and we are promoting heavily. We promoted our natural burgers with table tents that added five more burgers in addition to our menu (three week LTO). We also tied in by offering a discount to those who brought in bags of candy for us to pass out at a local church's Halloween event. We did an email blast to announce this.

Increased training with staff (front and back) especially when it comes to making our guest feel welcome and that we are thankful they eat with us. We share our costs with them so that they understand what it takes for us to be there everyday. We continually seek to improve on what we are doing and seek input from them.

Even with all this there are still many more things I want to and could do.
Life is like Plastic Wrap!
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Life is like Plastic Wrap!
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post #9 of 11
I am in a very conserative area of the midwest where we can't charge high prices. This limits me for all the fresh and local trends because even with an organic farm that supplies nationally within ten miles of me, their prices are prohibitive. The place I run is historically interesting in that it is more than 150 years old and still operating in the original building, something the owner and previous manager never capitalized on. I'm scared spitless as everything is a crap shoot and the batteries in my crystal ball died and I just took control in August. The previous manager tried the lower price high volume thing a year and a half ago and it backfired. We specialize in seafood, but I am trying to promote steaks as there is a gap in our area for a good steak place. Beef isn't what it used to be, so what is now choice is not my idea of choice and I need to put out a good steak for around $20. Not easy. I am taking the high road as our quality had slipped, and it has been paying off. What happens now will be economy driven. What puzzles me is I have a friend who drags me at every chance to Red Lobster. Last time I ordered some kind of assorted seafood thing. It had flattened out tasteless shrimp, bay scallops (which I happen to prefer) and some kind of flat, non-descript fish. I paid $16 or $18 for it. At my place, it's two pieces of Atlantic cod, four shrimp and four sea scallops for $20. I should be packed all the time with a line out the door. I think people don't taste anything anymore. Last week a bunch of us went to Olive Garden. The soup was good and the calmari I had O.K., but I noticed the people around me had gloppy pasta and food that looked basically bad. I wanted to know why we even went there. The person who picked said because they liked the appetizers (no taste buds). Later that week I went to Perkins with another friend. Ordered a hamburger and it tasted like crap. Not cooked bad or anything, just crap burger. What is happening to our food supply? I am not a fussy eater, but lately I leave half of what I order on the plate. Yet the public loves these places. I guess I don't understand the public. The same people who ask if my fish is flown in fresh eat the crap at Red Lobster and love it. They love the cheese biscuits and don't care about anything else apparently. I know this got long, but I'm very interested to hear the views of others on this whole subject. The only bright thing right now is shrimp has dropped in price so I'm capitalizing on that.
post #10 of 11
Price points are changing around here......newer places are opening with "international comfort food" apps from 5-9, entrees in the teens even low teens, sides $4......bread costs the diner....."entree desserts" $6-7, snacky treats $2.

My buddy just openned an English pub and breaksdown whole critters....pigs, lambs, chickens all local.....pheasants, rabbits, whole not local, beef not prevalent on the menu.
Cryovacs almost everything so that the new cooks don't have to do technical shtuff. It's almost all setup for them when they walk on line.
Saves staff, keeps quality, they should NEVER run out of anything, they pay alot less for whole animals around here....utelize it all.
Now he'll have to deal with being in a theatre district where parking is $8....STL folks are not used to paying for parking (other than $3 for valet) when they eat out. Ballgames sure, theatre sure, dinner....NOWAY, too many other places to eat that have parking available free.
cooking with all your senses.....
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cooking with all your senses.....
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post #11 of 11

City Livin'

So I just moved to the DC metro area a little more than a month ago from 40 minutes south of Philly... Big change. The economy of metropolitan areas is certainly different from suburbs. No brainer. That being said, I live in a suburb surrounded by Red Lobsters, Hooters, Olive Gardens. The guys I talk to at those places say they are struggling to maintain business. Most spots around DC are still hopping busy. Right now, I'm a line cook with a sous back-ground. < No friends in DC when we moved down here> So I see the obnoxious amount of waste that the average line cook is responsible for. As professional chefs, in management positions, it is a total responsibility to maintain a menu, a portioning regiment, and most important an inventory management that does not allow for waste. I recently read Jauques Pepin's auto-bio that he stated every scrap was to be used meticulously in stocks, charcuterie, sauces or family meals. A careful eye applied to line cooks and prep cooks that have been in the kitchen long enough to feel a bit lax will save big money. The same goes for the crew at the end of the night or when shifts change, right? Do they flip the containers religiously? Do they keep inventory wrapped, rotated, stored and labeled correctly? There is nothing worse for food cost than pitching fill in the blank that has gone sour because a hack worker has failed to follow FIFO. Gas prices can dent business, but only the kitchen crew has the power to rise above or cripple the bottom line of the food cost calculator. You can scrape meat from fishbelly for croquettes, but a lazy line or prep cook will cost you more money than only serving the cheeks.
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