What if your restaurant sold cupcakes made of gold? or how about platinum? Sounds totally ridiculous I know but please hang with me for just a second. Gold costs $1,700 an ounce and the platinum icing for your cupcake would run almost $1,800 an ounce depending on how much shortening you could use. So lets start making cupcakes without a recipe and presume that we would use an ounce of gold in each cupcake and an ounce of platinum icing, If we were only off one tenth of an ounce on each cupcake that would change our unit cost by about $360 a cupcake!
So what’s the point? Everyday in independent restaurants we are putting menu options on plates without accurate recipes that are based on actual costs. So often recipes are taught to new staffers like legends of lore, passed on from one generation to another. Does anybody remember the game “telephone”? That was a game that we played where a line of people would whisper a detailed message to one person who passed it to another and another, until the message was repeated at the other end of the line. For those that remember, the message at the end of the line was usually nothing like the beginning of the line. Well folks in a lot of restaurants that is what is going on in your kitchen, quite often what owners, chefs, and restaurateurs think is happening is not exactly what should be happening.
So lets do what I often refer to as “stupid math”, what happens if every portion is just 10% over and your food purchases are $350,000 a year? How about $35,000 a year more than what you had forecasted or intended? But don’t worry thats only $700 a week, or better yet $100 a day, or even better thats only $10 an hour. Sure am glad its only shrimp, chicken, french fries, and wings and not something really expensive like gold or platinum.
Here’s the point…I recently read an article in FSR “Increasing the Accuracy of Recipe Costing”, by Mark Kelnhofer, and I found that article pretty interesting. FSR magazine serves the full-service restaurant industry, from fine dining to casual cafes, national chains to locally owned landmark restaurants. FSR was started in September of last year and I have found it to be an incredible resource for independent restaurateurs. I really encourage you to read that article, it’s a little bit MBA and alotta bit good relevant reading for restaurateurs. For those among you that are MBA’s please don’t bother looking up alotta bit in the glossary, you won’t find it.
Subsequent to reading Mark’s article I had a great conversation with him regarding the article and most importantly the absolute need for restaurants to adequately and precisely build their offerings. I discovered that Mark is an absolute expert on the subject of recipe costing and also offers a software program designed to enable restaurateurs to accurately build recipe costing files for every item on their menu. I have had a sneak peek at the program and I really like what I see. Return On Ingredients® also factors labor costs as well as ingredient costs which seems a lot more comprehensive that most programs that I have seen. I am going to stop short of endorsement until I test drive it. Stay posted!