A battle of epic proportions, rising food costs have put a dent in the wallets of nearly everyone in America. Record-breaking temperatures and trace amounts of rain have wreaked havoc on crops, resulting in substantial price increases on everything from corn to soy beans. In fact, prices are expected to rise an additional 3% by the end of the year, on top of an 8% increase last year. Although some restaurateurs will choose to deal with the increases by simply raising menu prices, there are several simple things that you can do to cut costs and keep prices low for your customers.
Plant a Restaurant Garden
Controlling food costs can be as easy as placing a planter box on your restaurant’s roof or reserving an area for growing food on the terrace. In addition to saving you money, restaurant gardens have several other benefits. Attractive groupings of vegetables, fruits, and herbs add an appealing ambiance to outdoor dining areas. Colorful vegetables and fruits add a splash of color to the space, while the fragrant scent of herbs such as basil, rosemary, and thyme can trigger hunger, making guests more receptive to the entrees on your menu. Restaurant gardens also appeal to the sensibilities of guests concerned about where their food is grown. Farm to table proponents will marvel when they learn that the food on their plates was harvested only a few feet away.
Rethink Your Equipment
In the wake of rising food costs, it may seem counterintuitive to spend even more money replacing equipment. However, investing in units equipped with energy-saving features could result in huge savings for your restaurant. For example, oil conserving commercial fryers use 40% less oil and 10% less energy than traditional fryers, decreasing both raw ingredient and operational costs. Additionally, manufacturers such as Manitowoc are now offering 0% financing on units, allowing restaurant owners to affordably replace units without a lot of upfront costs.
Now is the time to scrutinize your menu. Do you have items that customers rarely order? If so, you may be losing money from ingredients that go to waste. Removing those entrees can help make your restaurant more efficient and improve your bottom line. Flexibility is also crucial when it comes to cutting menu costs. Plan to have a few substitute items that you can use when the cost of ingredients for other items spikes. Restaurants such as Sweet Tomatoes and Souplantation feature eight soups each day, but offer a total of 100 different soups, enabling the chains to effortlessly weather rising prices on countless ingredients.