Independent vs Corporate Restaurant Priorities

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Where menu prices are really determined

This morning I read an article regarding the rising costs of food and how restaurants will respond.  In the article former server Charles Ferruzza finds a pair of local restaurant owners who say they will refuse to raise prices to compensate for the increase in costs.  The owners discuss absorbing the costs themselves or reducing portion sizes to keep prices constant.  While I am certain no owner was eager to have an article written about their pending price hike, there is another side to this story.  The difference in priorities between an independent owner and corporate shareholders is something that explains a great deal about the restaurant industry.

Independent restaurant owners directly profit from the money spent at their restaurants.  They have the autonomy to determine what is best for their restaurants long term.  Maintaining profitability in the long term is more important than immediate profits.  They determine how much of the profit they take as income and how much is reinvested into the restaurant.  If they are convinced that foregoing short term profits is better for the long term profitability of the restaurant, they can proceed in that manner.  This in reality is the owner offering to subsidize the guest’s meal to keep them returning.   For the individual owner of a profitable restaurant, this short term hit can be seen as a long term investment in the restaurant.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

Cost vs Profit

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In a previous post about why restaurants charge for different extras, I discussed the difference between the guest’s perception of profits and reality.  It is not uncommon to hear a guest say, “I can buy this for half as much at the grocery store.”  The problem is that food in a restaurant carries far more costs than the price of the food on a plate.  I thought of a number of different ways to address this.  The easiest way to explain a complex topic is in relatable terms.  For this reason I have decided to look at the topic by addressing the most common item on restaurant menus: The Cheeseburger.

A friend in the business was able to supply me with the actual numbers from a Midwestern restaurant that is part of a far larger national chain.  These are the actual costs broken down to their individual components on a hamburger.  I won’t name the chain for obvious reasons, but it is fair to say that their volume allows them to buy these items for less than their independent counterparts.  Here is how the actual cost of a half-pound cheeseburger and fries break down.

Read the full post at The Manager’s Office

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