Restaurant margins are notoriously slim, making it essential for restaurants to constantly devise new ways to keep their costs under control. In summertime, particularly, restaurants face several seasonal challenges that are culprits for driving up their food and operational costs. Here are six of them along with easy strategies you can put into action in order to keep your costs under control throughout the summer.
1. Mind Your Energy Consumption:
As the summer heat rises, so do energy bills. In fact, during the summer energy costs can spike by as much as 30 percent. Here are some helpful energy conservation strategies that you can put into practice: make sure that thermostat readings are accurate, cool your restaurant only when you need to, set optimal cooling points and leverage use of ceiling fans when possible.
2. Create Summer Menus Featuring In-Season Fruits and Vegetables:
Summertime brings with it a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables. To keep your food costs down, use them in your dishes rather than other out-of-season ingredients which are less available and therefore more expensive. Produce which is plentiful during summer includes berries, melon, bell and chile peppers, corn, fennel, green beans and cucumbers, to name a few.
3. Get Creative With Cheaper Meat Cuts:
During the summer, beef prices notoriously go up to accommodate demand for the grilling season. To avoid menu price increases, consider getting creative with cheaper cuts, such as tri-tip, chuck and flank steak. Experiment with different rubs and slow cooking methods to enhance the flavor, juiciness and softness of these less expensive cuts.
4. Waste Not, Want Not:
When summer temperatures rise, restaurants are more likely to suffer from food spoilage and waste due to the heat. During summer, it’s more important than ever to make sure that your freezer and refrigerator temperatures are cool enough to keep your food fresh and safe for consumption. You can also minimize food waste in summer by keeping close track of your supply and demand. Order only the quantities that you need, when you need them and maintain open communication with your food suppliers about your needs.
5. Serve Fair But Smaller Portions:
Another effective way to keep your summer food costs under control is to offer smaller portions. People tend to be less hungry in the summer heat. Serve creative small plates, tapas, sandwiches and shareable plates that your guests will enjoy to avoid having to increase your menu prices.
6. Replace Hot Foods with Cold Food Preparations:
Keep your oven and burner usage to a minimum to help keep energy costs down during the summer. Replace hot soups on the menu with gazpacho and other chilled soup preparations or offer cold sandwiches and crisp salads instead of heartier fall and winter dishes.
With a little bit of ingenuity, creativity and planning, you can take simple measures to reduce your restaurant’s costs during summer without your customers even noticing the difference in their food quality or dining experience.