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Pricing and Costs of Restaurant Salad Bars

Kim Finn

Identify the pricing and costs of restaurant salad bars and accessories you'll need

When adding a commercial salad bar to your business, your final decision will take into account pricing and costs of restaurant salad bars.

Your budget must include not only the cost of the salad bar itself, but also any salad bar equipment/supplies and the cost of the food itself, so you can set a reasonable price and still make a fair profit.

Restaurants profit from food service salad bars, because they offer patrons value for their money, controllable portion sizes and ingredient selection. To ensure your salad bar achieves the profitability you plan for, remember the following:

1. Keep your salad bar clean, freshly stocked and properly cooled/heated to keep customers and decrease inventory waste.

2. Roughly plan for the number of ingredients you'll stock on your salad bar, so you can find the right size salad bar for your restaurant. Decide if you’ll have a more extensive salad bar on the weekends, and charge a premium.

3. Carefully consider plate/bowl sizes for customers at restaurant grade salad bars – larger plates encourage larger portions, and eat into your profit.

Establish a price to charge customers for dining at your restaurant salad bar

Your budget, your restaurant's size/motif, salad bar location, number of patrons who visit the salad bar and the amount they consume help determine the type of salad bar you need. If opting for a side-salad type of bar with very basic ingredients, look at tabletop salad bars ranging in price from $150 to nearly $1,000. Prices for a portable salad bar on casters vary greatly depending on construction materials, cooling method, size and accessories included and run anywhere from $800 to more than $5,000. Stationary commercial salad bars may not fit your budget, so consider starting with a portable model. To save money and even get a better salad bar than you could otherwise afford, consider going with a used salad bar.

Determine commercial salad bar equipment and accessory costs

If you buy a salad bar base unit, you'll need to install items like sneeze guards and tray slides. Sneeze guard features affecting price include size, construction materials and single- versus double-sided guards; prices run anywhere from $50 to $350 each and even more if you order custom-made guards. Expect to pay $200 to $500 for each tray slide you need.

Comparison shop for salad bar supplies to get the best deal

When outfitting your salad bar, you can breathe a small sigh of relief looking for reasonably priced salad bar supplies. You'll need serving utensils like tongs and ladles that start around $1.50 depending on whether they're plastic or stainless steel, serving crocks/bowls for roughly $5 each on the low end, and salad plates/bowls that price out around $2.50 to $6.50 each. The best thing about stocking up on most supplies is that you need lots of them, so you can buy in bulk and get reduced prices.

  • Purchase salad bar equipment and accessories certified by the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF), an independent, not-for-profit organization devoted to consumer safety through product testing, material analyses and unannounced plant inspections.
Image Credit: Jacob Lund/Shutterstock
Kim Finn