5 ways to manage food cost for a buffet restaurant.

manage food cost

This post is part of the series on 31 days to better Food Cost in your Restaurant.

In this series, we will deep dive into the steps to ensure that we save food cost in your restaurant and improve profitability

Buffet is among the all time favourite way of many restaurants to serve their guest. We can see the benefits of of this format of restaurant.

These restaurants are able to cater to a large volume of guest, have a fixed food cost and can easily turn popular for offering a wide variety of dishes on their buffet.

Buffet meals typically pride in advertising the number of dishes served and some restaurants have as many as 250 dishes on offer during a typical brunch.

All this adds a strain on the food cost management if your restaurant does not get the forecasted covers or you are forecasting less covers to begin with .

In this article we will explore 5 ways to manage food cost for a buffet restaurant.

Profile your guest preference

If you have been maintaining guest database, profile your guest and understand who is coming to your restaurant. Are your guest predominantly families or office workers.

Are you getting more of local population or visiting travelers.

An understanding of this will help you plan the dishes for your menu, leading to less wastage


Plan your buffet menu.

The beauty of your buffet menu is that it changes daily. When planning your buffet menu, you have the ability to introduce dishes that are seasonal in nature.

This will help you to retain the freshness of the food and also since vegetables in season are always cheaper, keep you food cost down.

Having a standard buffet menu grid will also help you with producing some items in bulk and achieve economies of scale

Introduce live counters.

Live counters and action stations help you manage the food cost of your buffet restaurant. By finishing the dishes to order, you are only keeping your mise en place and cooking to order. This helps with avoiding wastage.

Popular live stations also tend to be cheaper and help to take the stress out of the main buffet where you may have more expensive product used

Have one signature dish as a live counter that your restaurant is know for and that can be the main feature to help you with marketing your restaurant.

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Analyse your standard serving size

You will be able to get chaffing dishes and pans in variety of sizes. Make your food and serve it as per requirement. An investment in at least 2 or 3 variety of buffet ware with different sizes will help you to lay out food as per the forecasted covers and keep wastage low.

Also do use the trends of individual portions to your advantage. Individual dishes, look great on the buffet and at the same time help to give a visual appearance of filling up the buffet area

Track your wastage

If you run a buffet restaurant, you need to do this step without fail every single day. Track your wastage and identify what is popular and what is not.

Analyse why the dish was not popular. If it is a seasonal variation like no meat Tuesday, make sure you tweak your menu and change as per preference.

Even on the buffet once you have this data, do a menu engineering to identity what dishes are your stars and what are your dogs.

If you have an issue with food cost in your restaurant, this series of articles on controlling food cost will help you get it under control.

Managing your buffet meals will help you to make considerable saving in the restaurant cost and improve your profitability.

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