Are You In Control? Bar Food Cost Controls

Oct 21, 2016

By George Barton, Sr. Beverage Consultant.

There is a lot more to controlling food cost in the bar area that one would assume. Are you placing the same focus on food products that are consumed in the bar as those that are consumed in the dining room? Let me explain why you should.

Controlling food cost must be an all-out team effort. All managers as well as team members play a key role to ensure your guests receive only the best produced products that are prepared the right way. Here are 5 key deliverables and procedures to ensure bar food cost controls are top of mind while enhancing quality at the same time.

1. Order It Well

  • You must place accountability on who is responsible for costs and who orders your inventory
  • Pars should be set to align with sales mix (adjust with sales fluctuation)
  • Fresh cut produce is critical so ensure high level of comfort with vendor
  • When possible, teach this process to new managers and key team members

2. Receive It Well

  • Request to receive product early AM or off times and not during lunch or dinner rush
  • Review against P.O. (purchase order) to ensure you’re not out of stock
  • Make changes on “out of stock” and adjustment prices on the spot. Do not wait.
  • Management orders product so management should receive and have staff store product quickly (use scales when appropriate)

3. Make it Well (To the recipe)

  • Whether slicing oranges and limes or making the soup of the day, recipes must be followed (don’t assume)
  • When prepping, follow production levels set by management. Levels should be monitored continuously
  • Ensure team members are working in a safe and clean environment (no bare hands contact)
  • Education on use of equipment, especially sharp knives, will save you $$
    Build shelf life and sensitivity guide for all products and code containers
    Juices / Ice Cream / Puree’s / Syrups / Sour Mix / All Fresh Produce

4. Don’t Let It Die on the Bar Top

  • Line check bar food consumables is as important as line check in your kitchen
  • Management should have proper timetable to support tasting and line checks
  • Rotation of products is critical. First in, first out and include this in line check
  • Ensure staff does not eat bar garnishes (blue cheese stuffed olives are not free)
  • Use par system (Place fresh product out for the shift only, then restock)

5. Sell It Well (First Time Every Time)

  • Cover your products cost in the price you charge the customer
  • Guests “eat with their eyes” so make your garnishes look impressive
  • Ensure finished product is delivered to guest the way you invented it

So in review, food cost makes up the largest portion of your gross profit. With strong team accountability, follow up and the practice of bar food cost controls, you can insure that costs are in line and positively impacting margins in your business.