How to make your buffet, cost effective?

This post is part of the series on 31 days to better Food Cost in your Restaurant.

In this series, we will deep dive into the steps to ensure that we save food cost in your restaurant and improve profitability.

A buffet is a great way to feed the masses. Some argue that it is the only way to make higher revenue.

However it can also lead to your food cost spiraling out of control if you do not take care of the cost.

So how do you make your buffet cost effective?

Some of the reasons your food cost can be affected when operating the buffet are:

  • Daily changing menu and lack of standard recipes.
  • Low utilization and sunk cost
  • Buffet being filled up with items that are not popular
  • Size of buffet dishes

Now that we know the issues that can affect your food cost, let us see the possible solutions to the problem.

Daily changing menu and lack of standard recipe

In order to keep the menu interesting, you will change the menu daily. That can lead to inconsistency in menu standard and recipes.

In order to tackle this issue, whenever you get time, make a cyclic menu with popular dishes and comfort food as the base of the menu.

Plan your menu with atleast 60% of the dishes where the standard recipes are known and the cost is calculated in advance.

Low utilization and sunk cost

If you have a buffet, your first priority is to sell that. Not a la carte, if you serve buffet and give a choice of a la carte as well.

This will help you with increasing utilization. Once you lay a buffet, the cost is already incurred. This is called as sunk cost. You now have to recover it. You can do that only when you actively sell the buffet.

What will help you is knowing your breakeven for the buffet.

Calculate your break even and target covers in the calculator below

Once you know your breakeven cost and target cost for the buffet, you must target to sell atleast that many covers a day.

When a guest is deciding between buffet and a la carte, have a USP for the buffet that can help sell the buffet. Largest spread, popular comfort food, low cost compared to a la carte dishes etc are some of the key selling points of a buffet.

However your buffet must have a good mix of popular dishes if you want to sell it consistently.

Also you buffet must have elements that make guest to choose going for the buffet over the a la carte dishes.

Size of buffet dishes

Investing in 2 or 3 size of chaffing dishes or buffet ware will help you to maintain portion sizes in case your buffet is not busy on certain days.

This also helps in case you want to do limited portions as well.

Cold salads should be individually portioned and kept to avoid wastage.

If possible on days you forecast lower occupancy, introduce live counter and action stations to cook a la minute and prevent wastage.

In conclusion

If you run a buffet restaurant, you have to actively manage it to ensure that food cost is well within target.

By keeping your focus on popular dishes, having standard recipes and investing in smaller buffet dishes you can make buffet cost effective

Also know your target covers that you need to sell to help you with maintaining food cost targets

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