That Dollop Packs a Wallop


We all want to be known for our generous portions at a reasonable price. After all, the American public is value conscious. But unless the extra dollop of sour cream is figured into the retail price of the item, your waitstaff needs to refrain from the urge to pile it on. You should never have any server or line cook thinking, “The restaurant will never miss it.” Share with employees the cost of some key items that would most benefit from portion control. Once the restaurant team understands there is real money being lost, their behavior will change.

Taking a Look at Portion Control

The high cost of ‘freestyle’ can hand any restaurateur a quick knockout. An extra dollop of sour cream here and there isn’t going to kill you, but consider what happens to your bottom line if staffers over-do it on several menu items. Portion control — or lack of it — is a hidden cost of doing business. How much do you suppose an extra five French fries on a burger plate costs you in a year? One operator studied what the extra half-ounce did to his bottom line and calculated $20,000 worth of inventory a year in just extra French fries. Granted, the restaurant sold a lot of burgers and thus a lot of fries. But nobody can sell enough extra burgers to make up that loss.

Not only is your money on its way out the door, but you may also be losing guests. Say one server has a heavy hand when it comes to fries and the next server follows your instructions on portion control. People are bound to see the difference and question your operation’s consistency. This approach actually penalizes the employee who followed procedure. They’ll get yelled at by the guest for not giving them enough fries. Either figure the healthy helping into your retail price or make sure all members of your staff know your demands when it comes to portion control. Make it easy for them. Provide scales, standard cups or utensils. A cup-full might constitute a standard portion.

The Bottom Line

It’s the little things in the restaurant business that add up to real money. For example, the cost of over serving sour cream on a plate: 40 entrees x an extra 10 cents of sour cream per plate = $4.00 per day x 7 days = $28.00 per week x 52 weeks = $1,456.00 per year saved by more carefully measuring your sour cream.

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