Restaurant Menu Layout and Prices

Two women looking through the menu at café

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An integral part of any restaurant is the kitchen and its influence on your menu. How you manage your restaurant kitchen will also affect the bottom line of your profits. Planning your restaurant kitchen requires the right equipment and layout. Making sure that you have the correct food cost, menu prices, labor costs and reducing waste will all go a long way toward a successful restaurant.

How to Plan Your Restaurant Kitchen

One of the biggest investments of opening a new restaurant is the kitchen. A commercial kitchen needs industrial grade equipment that will withstand a busy restaurant schedule. The design and layout of a restaurant kitchen should allow food to flow seamlessly from the prep area to the line. Sometimes a new restaurant has a fabulous location, but a small kitchen space, and you have to adapt your plans accordingly.

Keep Your Restaurant Kitchen Prep Costs Low

Prep costs are the costs associated with preparing food in the kitchen for the front of the house. Every restaurant has prep duties, from chopping vegetables and cooking pasta to pounding chicken and plating desserts. Your labor costs—especially in the kitchen—will be higher with menus that require a lot of prep work. One way to keep labor costs (and your payroll) down is to buy food that requires less kitchen prep time. But keep in mind that most premade items usually cost significantly more than those made from scratch (the same principle as cooking at home versus dining out). In order to maintain profit margins, restaurants need to find a balance between prep time and labor costs and that will still produce a good food cost.

How to Price Your Restaurant Menu

It’s important to have correct prices on your restaurant menu. Charge too little and you won’t cover the cost of the food. Charge too much and you risk sending customers to dine at your competitors. So how do you know what to charge in order to make a profit? Food cost and portion control are two ways to help price your menu correctly, so you make a profit but be careful not to price yourself out of the local market. Another way to ensure a profit is to create a balance of expensive and inexpensive items.

When to Use Market Price on Your Menu

One of the biggest areas of concern in the restaurant business is food cost. It is ever changing. One week lettuce may be $10 a case and then the next week a drought in California causes it to jump to $50 a case. So how do you keep your food cost in line on your restaurant menu if the price of food jumps up and down? One way is through Market Price, where you routinely change the price of menu items according to the current market, which goes by supply and demand.

Restaurant Portion Control

One of the reasons that franchise chain restaurants are so successful is because they have menu portions under control. Whether you go into an Applebee’s in New York or in Montana, you’ll be served the same food in the same portion sizes. Customers like that predictability. And by keeping portion sizes consistent, no matter where the location, ​chain restaurants ensure healthy profit margins. Even if you own a small, independent restaurant, you should still keep a close eye on your portion control.