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MENU PRICING


convey a high value perception – such as specialty pasta dishes – “raise those prices minimally also to help improve your weighted menu cost average.” Menu pricing deserves to be a


systemized process, says Rudy Miick FCSI, founder of The Miick Companies in Boulder, Colorado. “Not paying attention, then getting caught in a ‘must-raise’ as a last resort is a sad, bad habit, and an unnecessary place to perform.” Price alterations can be systemized


quarterly, and at least semi-annually. Doing it annually, he feels, is “too slow and too noticeable.” “You can start by moving .05’s


to .09’s,” suggests Dennis Byrd, the President of Island Famous Inc., a multi-concept operator in Galveston Island, Texas. “Over the course of a year that .04% increase adds up.” If costs are increasing more rapidly “you might need to consider percentage-based increases on the items that are moving upward in cost. Our average increase on July 1 was 4%.”


While food, utilities, rent and labor costs have risen, many consumers’ incomes have not. “This creates a schism: high consumer sensitivity to menu price-value ratios and a need to grow margins for operators.” Raising prices “is both art and


science,” Malody suggests. Thus, it is important to:


Study the menu mix first to understand what is selling and in what volume. Go back to every recipe, repost according to current food prices, and determine food cost per menu item. Go back to the menu mix and discover if the top-selling items are also the highest food cost items. “If so, adjust the selling prices accordingly based on your concept type and knowledge of your loyal client demographic.” Adjust key item prices as much as your clientele will bear. For those items that are within a good price range but also


For more go to fcsi.org


Shifting offerings Post-pandemic shifts in menu offerings have taken many forms, including launching quick-serve concepts based on a ghost-kitchen model to optimize output and revenue. Some establishments reworked offerings – for example, moving from tasting menu only to à la carte, or making menus more accessible by adding more affordable dishes and leaving options for smaller meals or plates. “A hallmark of a fantastic leader is to


stay on top of trends and identify those that will spill into long-term behaviors,” says Joseph Szala, managing director of Vigor, a restaurant branding firm based in Atlanta, Georgia. “The biggest question to answer is, how does one maximize check average, repeat visitations, and loyalty growth simultaneously?” “I’m assuming cutting portions


for an average restaurant would be the first option,” suggests Alexandra


“A hallmark of a fantastic leader is to stay on top of trends and identify those that will spill into long-term behaviors. But, how does one maximize check average, repeat visitations, and loyalty growth simultaneously?”


Emtsova, the owner/operator of Burnt Offerings, which serves “new Yiddish cuisine” in Las Vegas, Nevada. “High- end restaurants with tasting menus will always have their following, and price increases in those might go unnoticed.”


Smaller portions with


lower prices are “absolutely common, as well as smaller menus in general,” Malody adds.


Like labor, higher food costs are always associated with larger menus, “so reducing the number of items on a menu is key to profitability.” During the pandemic, restaurants


removed items that were driving complexity, primarily to simplify operations while labor was lacking. Martinez predicts this practice will continue but wonders what will happen long term. “Will they go back to adding menu items to stay relevant?” Another way operators have altered their menus is by offering more smaller plates and sharing plate options. Guests today, Spiegel says, are not limited to the traditional breakfast, lunch, dinner timeframes since many are now working from home. “By offering a variety of options throughout the day, they can customize the meal experience that works for them.” Many operations are opting for more plant-based items, legumes, grains and pasta. Malody points out that some have gone to the extreme of offering “veggie- forward” center-of-the-plate formats, with proteins in varying sizes that can be ordered as sides.


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THE AMERICAS


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