How would a restaurant owner determine how big or small their portion sizes should be?
I have been recruiting and placing staff members in restaurants for over 12 years. I also offer restaurant management consulting on the side. One question I am often asked is, how do you determine portion sizes?
I am working with a new client that is opening a high end restaurant. From what I have experienced, fancy restaurants tend to have smaller portion sizes. Why is this?
I also want to know, what food costs should be considered before you decide on the right amount of food to serve your guests?
I suspect that there is a serious lack of experience/knowledge within the industry in this relationship.
Prime costs will always be a crucial aspect to the decision, the format of the restaurant will determine the final size.
Quality should never be a consideration. Portion size will be balanced by the other keys: service, ambiance, and service.
Portion size is related to cost. The ingredients are measured and your recipe is costed, then you determine the market price and see if it is in the price bracket that your customers are prepared to pay.
They use higher quality cuts and ingredients when a restaurant wishes for customers to have a meal of smaller portions. People who eat out can be very conscious of putting on weight, so they may want smaller portions in line with the richness of the food they are eating.
Everything from a teaspoon of salt to 50 ml of water is costed. Every cost is considered in a restaurant to operate a successful business, and the return is based on seats that eat.
I must tell you, first of all, that I'm not a food expert, except that I know what I like and I greatly appreciate fine cuisine, especially my wife's, and she's American like me. I suggest that you take a lesson from the French when it comes to portion sizes. Their custom is to serve smaller-sized portions and more courses, similar to fancy restaurants here in the US. It's supposed to leave you feeling more satisfied by the end of the meal. I'm told it's healthier that way, besides. You can obtain more detailed and expert information on this from the American wife of a Frenchman known as "Becoming Madame" online, who wrote a blog article on the subject. You can find it at https://becomingmadame.wordpress.com/2012/09/06/eating-like-the-french-no-2-portion-size. It is, literally and figuratively, "food for thought".
As for your second question, I don't know the answer, but I think that once you embark on the French approach to portion sizes, it would simplify budgeting for each meal and even each course. Everything could be measured more easily because it would be consistent in size. Large portions, such as we're more used to, could vary in size depending on the appetites of those being served.
I'd enjoy hearing about the solution you come up with. Please drop me a line if you have the time or inclination.
Gary Krupa, CPA
Santa Rosa, Ca
Factors that have a “strong influence” on portion sizes in restaurants are:
- presentation of foods (70%);
- food cost (65%)'
- customer expectations (52%);
- competition with other restaurants (35%);
- calorie content of foods (34%);
It all depends on your customer base and what kind of message you are trying to sent.
Douglas DeBoer, CEO