So You Want To Be A Restaurateur? – Part 3

Small Business

Feb 01,2017

So far I have talked about the importance of market research and having a passion for the food industry prior to establishing your restaurant. Now let’s move onto our next topic:

Part 3: Simplification

Have you ever been to a restaurant and couldn’t decide what to order because there were so many options to choose from? As you may have hinted from the topic title, usually that’s not a good thing. Offering a wide array of food options may have been a selling point at restaurants ten years ago, but having less options can actually prove to be more productive for your business for several reasons:

1. It’s Cost Effective

Offering a large variety in food choices on your menu means you have to stock food for all of those meals. That means more storage space, which is costly, and greater potential for food to spoil, which is money wasted. Let’s say one week, there’s a middle school choir competition in your town and the majority of your customers order chicken fingers. The good news is that you’ve used almost all of your inventory for frozen chicken for that week. The bad news is that all of the ingredients for your various other items that were not ordered need to be thrown out. Wasted money.

Now you could say that a good restaurateur would be able to analyze and manage their stock that best fits their customer base and I agree. But, that is still not as efficient as a simplified menu. A simplified menu allows for a restaurateur to stock up with less variety of ingredients. With less ingredients, your stock can be bought in larger bulk, reducing the cost of food tremendously (i.e. buying the 1lb of cream cheese at ShopRite vs buying 10lbs at Costco. As bulk goes up, the unit price goes down.).

2. People Don’t Do Well With Choices

In general, people tend to either choose poorly or become stuck in indecision the more choices they are presented with. When consumers are searching for dinner, they are bombarded with a multitude of options. Because of this, consumers are likely to buy something they already know they like or they are in the mood for. Having a theme to your restaurant’s cuisine can help reduce your menu size and increase the participation of new customers in search for a particular type of food.

3. Honing Your Craft

A major goal of a restaurateur should be to have the best food (remember Part 2 on Passion?). With a simplified menu, you can concentrate more on the food that you serve to make it the best in your food style. If you own a taco hut, you want people to instantly think of your business when they are craving tacos because you have the best tacos in town.

A great example of success with menu simplification is the hit chain, Chipotle. Chipotle offers a limited menu with only few options of variation. In light of this, they still serve high quality ingredients and put out high quality food. When a lot of people think of grabbing mexican style cuisine for lunch, they think Chipotle. A bad example is a restaurant I used to wait tables at, I’ll just refer to it as Poppy’s. Poppy’s was supposed to be a pizza restaurant, but instead of sticking to pizza and pastas, they also had a variety of sandwiches, high priced fish and a multitude of other dishes that had no business being on the menu of this establishment. Because of this, the quality of many of their dishes declined over time, which lead to said dishes being ordered less and a lot of ingredients were thrown out each week. Unfortunately, Poppy’s went out of business, and I stress the unfortunately because they had the best pizza I’ve ever had with the potential to be a successful restaurant.

Stay tuned for next week’s article as I touch on my fourth and final piece of restaurant business advice: happy staff, happy customers.

Disclaimer: I am not a professional business man in the restaurant market or the like, I am simply a man with experience in working with restaurants as well as a passion for food and this industry. Formal education isn’t everything, though. My background in the restaurant market comes from first hand experience, intense observation and self education.

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