Inflation makes restaurant owners, chefs, and managers even more creative to keep costs down while providing exceptional customer experiences.
NORMS Restaurants, a Southern California staple for over 72 years, was challenged to stay true to their brand and provide customers with a value proposition. Managers didn’t want to shift the burden of rising costs to customers, who were used to large portions with quality ingredients. For example, they offer a ¾ Lb. Cowboy T-Bone Steak with soup, salad, two sides and dessert for $17.99.
“In order to control distribution costs, we have partnered with our distributors and suppliers by being more flexible, consolidating delivery days and allowing later delivery times if necessary,” said the chief executive of the company, David Cox, to Modern Restaurant Management (MRM) magazine. . “This, in turn, allowed them to take advantage of delivery routes and available labor, while increasing the size of chutes to offset fuel and labor costs.”
Cox says one way to get creative is to offer limited time offers (LTOs).
“We’ve done things like using cheaper cuts of meat – like pork loins – and leaning heavily on culinary innovation, in addition to increasing the frequency of offers, all in an effort to attract our customers and to continue to offer them incredible dishes. assess.”
Ranbir Bhatia, general manager of Benares in Wyckoff, NJ, says they also bear the higher costs and try not to pass them on to customers for as long as possible.
“We have increased our prix fixe lunch price by $1 and have raised restaurant prices slightly. The price of the à la carte menu remained the same.
Bhatia says this strategy has maintained a steady flow of good customers which in the long run keeps business steady, rather than raising prices by a bigger margin and having people come in only once in a while. time. Showing empathy for their clientele has also proven to be beneficial.
“Our motto these days is ‘we’re all in this together’, struggling, paying more for groceries etc,” Bhatia said. “Even when the pandemic first hit, we offered takeout discounts because we wanted to keep business going while being sensitive to people who lost their jobs. Efforts like this have received a lot of support from the community and have actually increased certain aspects of the business.
Thomas Ciszak, Executive Chef/Owner, Brasserie Mémère. In Closter, NJ says there is no easy fix, just pain relief right now.
“We had a meeting and I mentioned to the team that I’m conflicted about raising our prices,” Cizak said. “We always try to sell our product at a fair price. We can only pass the cost on to our customers so far.
Cizak says they won’t raise prices across the board just to catch up on the extra costs, as that will cause guest numbers to drop.
“As always, customer service, quality, and building a more meaningful connection with the customer will ultimately grow the business. At a minimum, the restaurant will get through the tough times. Customer retention is key.”
Some of the practical approaches he’s taking to reduce operating costs include menu changes, cross-use of items, shorter hours of operation and renegotiating service contracts.