Buffet Costing/Pricing

Discussion in 'Professional Catering' started by h0tb0x, Jan 31, 2018.

  1. h0tb0x

    h0tb0x

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    hi and good day to every professional chefs and home cooks in this website! I was searching the internet regarding costing a buffet and google sent me here.

    I am from the Philippines and got hired as a chef in this 6 month old restaurant where i am the one assigned to do costing for the current menu and add more recipes for the restaurant. For starters, this is a new restaurant (around 6 months) and we really dont have a lot of customers at the moment. (we only have like 5 to 15 customers, sometimes none). The owner decided to have a buffet this valentines day and maybe lunch and dinner in the future coz he thinks maybe that will attract customers for his restaurant.

    so, there are two things that i wanna ask
    How much food should we make and cook on that day in order to prevent shortage? Coz we rarely got customers so i really dont have a headcount.The owner wants to have a buffet from lunch time till dinner time (12pm to 8pm).

    And lastly, how to cost a buffet? I know how to do recipe costing but this is my first time on Buffets. The price that the owner had is 399 pesos ($8) wherein all our best sellers on our menu are in the buffet (each costs $6 to $8). Hope someone can enlighten me regarding this. thank you and much respect to all of you guys out there.
     
  2. nicko

    nicko Founder of Cheftalk.com Staff Member

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    That is a long time for a buffet 12 - 8 I would be concerned that the quality of the food will suffer when there is a lull and also there would be food safety concerns. We are in the US so how many pesos to the dollar? Typically here in the US for basic buffet the cost hovers between $8.00 - $15.00.
     
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  3. h0tb0x

    h0tb0x

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    Thank you for the time reading my post and replying ! When i got hired 2 weeks ago, the owner priced it at 399 pesos and have already an invitation and a signage outside regarding this valentines buffet . (thats around 8 us dollars)
    What i forgot to mention is the food buffet setup has all of our best items which costs 350 to 450 pesos per ala carte order ( around 6 to 7 usd ) so i think 399 pesos will really attract customers because of its cheap price.
    So either we get a lot of customers or no customers at all on that day, i dont know how much amount of food should we prep in order to have a lot of stocks to cook for that day if we get a lot of customers, and also how much food should we cook to start with while waiting for customers.
     
  4. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    Agree with Nicko re time length of buffet...in order to ensure safety you would need to remove and toss out wayyy too much food.
    Have you thought to take reservations for 3-4 seatings for this buffet ?
    Of course each seating will have fresh untouched dishes for them to choose from.
    Maybe even advertise a few killer dishes (a prime beef and a fancy chicken dish as well as an awesome pasta course and a huge dessert buffet) and word the ad to imply a quiet, romantic dining experience.
    Then dress the tables with white cloths and small tasteful centerpieces....lower the lights and light the candles.
    A gift is always a hit ...small box of chocolates or complementary glass of wine (or espresso after dessert).
    I realize all the above will be labor intensive as well as expensive but it may help change the perception of your target market and give the place another chance to be successful.
    6 months and still not filling those seats is telling me what you are doing now is not working and y'all will be closing the doors soon if you cannot come up with a new plan.

    mimi
     
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  5. h0tb0x

    h0tb0x

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    Yes it has been running for 6 months, but i just got hired coz the previous chef who started
     
  6. h0tb0x

    h0tb0x

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    Thank you for having time reading and replying to my thread.
    Yes it has been running for 6 months, but i just got hired coz the previous chef who started the restaurant just left and didnt run it properly.
    So the owner said the first 3 months was a hit, there was a lot of customers but he Was wondering why he does not profit and the food cost is much higher than its sales.
    when i started 2 weeks ago, i realize there isnt a standard recipe and portioning and even the costing. I am done with that already, figured some of the items are overpriced and underpriced, the only thing that i need to know is how to do the buffet. As we really dont have a lot of customers, i dont know how much mise en place that we are going to prepare so we dont run out of food, and also i dont know how much food should we cook to start with.
     
  7. flipflopgirl

    flipflopgirl

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    I realize you are still trying to find your way...it sux to be the person hired to clean up the mess.
    About the amount of mise needed for a buffet....would totally help to know what you are serving.

    mimi
     
  8. h0tb0x

    h0tb0x

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    hi again and thank you for the reply.. This is what we our offering in our buffet:
    soup : tom yum
    Appetizer : Fresh Spring Roll , Fried Spring Roll and Wontons
    Dessert : Mango Sticky Rice , Pineapple and Watermelon Platter
    Chicken : Chicken in Pandan Leaves, Chicken Curry in Pineapple
    Beef : Stir Fried Beef Brocolli , Beef Panang
    Pork : Pork Curry with Basil , Pork Satay
    Noodles : Pad Thai
    Seafood : Green Curry Mussels

    The restaurant offers Thai Cuisine by the way most of the food offered above has a price of around 6 to 7 usd per ala carte order. So the owners buffet price is really cheap in my opinion which is 8 usd

    our food is good and delicious but we rarely got customers coz i think our price is high for the target market, so either we get stormed on that day because of the cheap price which is why im having trouble of how much food should i prep in order or if ever we get a full house on that day..
     
  9. h0tb0x

    h0tb0x

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    Sorry about the last part, what im trying to say is either we get stormed on that day or not because of the cheap price , which is the reason why im having trouble of how much food should we prepare in order not to get out of stocks if ever we get a full house on that day.
     
  10. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    The owner needs to fill seats if he plans on having a buffet. Having between 5-15 customers a day, sometimes none, doesn't do it. The only way to predict the future is to have info from the past and present. The info you have on both isn't good. I would have a new Grand Opening introducing that there's a new Chef. If you are set on having a buffet then you may want to take reservations and have three different seatings as in 5-7 and 9PM. This way you have time to replenish the buffet line to service each seating with good fresh food.....Good Luck........ChefBillyB
     
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  11. h0tb0x

    h0tb0x

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    Hello there ChefBillyB , thank you for your time and the reply, appreciate it!
    That is what i am saying , to have a grand opening and reintroduce its food and content. Anyways, as of the moment, is there any way to do costing for a buffet, lets say if i want to open a buffet restaurant , how can i do costing for that even though i dont have a count yet for customers? Thanks
     
  12. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Appetizer : Fresh Spring Roll , Fried Spring Roll and Wontons
    Dessert : Mango Sticky Rice , Pineapple and Watermelon Platter
    Chicken : Chicken in Pandan Leaves, Chicken Curry in Pineapple
    Beef : Stir Fried Beef Brocolli , Beef Panang
    Pork : Pork Curry with Basil , Pork Satay
    Noodles : Pad Thai
    Seafood : Green Curry Mussels

    When costing out a menu in the USA for a buffet restaurant it starts out with, Salad bar, array of sides, array of main entrees and in most cases a carved item at the end and dessert items. When you set up the menu for this kind of restaurant you need to put fillers into the selection of sides. In the USA things like Mashed potatoes and gravy, Macaroni & Cheese, Rice, Pasta, Scalloped and Au Gratin potatoes and so on. What you want to accomplish is a variety of inexpensive items mixed in with some items that maybe a bit more expensive. The main entree selection is the some way. You have some leaders, some fillers like Beef Stroganoff, Chicken Pot Pie, 1/4 baked chicken, Fried chicken, fried fish, any kind of meat in sauce, Lasagna. In any buffet you want to offer lower cost items/ fillers intermingled in with the things that really brought people to your buffet in the first place. Lets say I have a buffet restaurant, I may offer a different carved meat each night. Lets say you set up your buffet to attract families. You need to take into consideration the tastes of kids, Moms and Dads. Mom might like the Salads and Fish/ Chicken entrees. Dad might like the Carved items and Mashed Potatoes and gravy. The kids are all about the fried chicken and Mac & Cheese and the Soft Serve machine at the end of the buffet. You take all these things into account when costing a buffet restaurant.

    I would cost your menu as for a banquet buffet for a private party. In most cases when offering an array of main entrees you want to offer smaller portions so people could try some of every entree. Your menu really doesn't follow these rules. Your menu is high cost and doesn't have any sides or fillers except maybe the Pad Thai Noodles. I'm not saying your menu isn't good, it's just offers to many entrees and not enough side items to make it more cost effective. You need to anticipate what people will eat.
    1/2 spring rolls, 1/2 fried spring rolls and a few Wontons with dipping sauce.
    Portion of Pad Thai, a few Mussels, 1 Pork Satay, 2 oz of Pork Curry, 1 Chicken in Pandan leaves, small portion of Chicken and pork curry. Because it's so heavy with entrees I may not try them all. The way to cost this out is to try to anticipate the items and portions people will eat.

    Because it's so Entree heavy I would drop some entrees and offer some fillers. I would offer some Rice, Noodles and vegetable that will balance out and help lower the cost of this buffet. I also think a nice touch would be when the couple or couples are seated at the table you might want to serve the Appetizer plater to them with an array of dipping sauces. This will let you control the portions and sizes of the portion for each person.

    When making your entree selections for the buffet you need to make sure there isn't any large sized entrees that people will avoid because they want to try everything. Portion each entree so this can be accomplished.

    To answer your question, Your right, this buffet is expensive because it's Entree heavy. Your appetizers may not be expensive but they are labor intense. Long story short, Costing a Buffet is anticipating the portions people will take and eat. You don't really know, until you know. Like I said in my last post, by staggering your serving time will give you enough time to make more food between seatings. All of the uncooked meats could be used if they aren't needed for the buffet that night.......I hope this helps.....ChefBillyB
     
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  13. h0tb0x

    h0tb0x

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    wow, thank you for the input and time chef/sir BillyB. i really appreciate it! This made me smile and i really thank that i found this site!

    I forgot to mention that we have pandan rice on the menu. But thats just it. Also the pad thai noodles has a high cost because the rice noodles that we are currently using is bought in the supermarket. The 100g of shrimp or chicken that we use in our Ala Carte is much cheaper in cost than the price of 150g Rice Noodles.

    right now, i just finished costing all the ala carte recipes and also done and included the food% mark up so i know for sure that the owner's price for this buffet (8usd) is cheap , even though what the owner is offering is a lot of entrees and an expensive menu (about 6 to 7 usd on the entrees that i mentioned which is included in the buffet)
    that is why i am wondering either we attract a lot of customers on that day, or maybe it will be the same day for us with 8 to 15 customers.
    Anyways, back to the above, how do i properly do its costing on a sheet? Normally on an ala carte recipe, we list all the ingredients and its quantity right, total the amount, divide with food cost % and add mark up / set the price.
    What about the buffet version of the ala carte recipes? What should i do about it? Should i multiply it by numbers? And add some percentage to it like a mark up? Thanks again ChefBillyB, your reply really helped a lot.
     
  14. chefbillyb

    chefbillyb

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    Appetizer : Fresh Spring Roll , Fried Spring Roll and Wontons
    Dessert : Mango Sticky Rice , Pineapple and Watermelon Platter
    Chicken : Chicken in Pandan Leaves, Chicken Curry in Pineapple
    Beef : Stir Fried Beef Brocolli , Beef Panang
    Pork : Pork Curry with Basil , Pork Satay
    Noodles : Pad Thai
    Seafood : Green Curry Mussels

    Its much easier to cost out the Appetizers. When your making the spring roll mix, you cost out each ingredient and skins. Then you take that amount and see how many you make. This will give you a total ingredient price for each spring roll. You do the same thing for all the other entrees. The only thing you need to do is anticipate a proper serving size that people will take on the buffet. Do they take one spoonful ???? no one knows that answer until the buffet is done. You can only guess at this time. Lets take the Pork Curry with Basil. You can take 3 lbs of pork and whatever ingredients are in the curry sauce and cost out one pan. Now figure out how many people that will feed. You can do this by portion size using a serving spoon. You can also do it by weight. It doesn't really matter how you do it as long as you feel comfortable with getting a proper usage/ serving people will eat of that item off the buffet. If you figure you have $20 in cost and that amount could serve 20 people, then your ingredient cost and portion size cost is $1....Like i said, you don't really know until you know. The more control you have over an item the better you can control the cost. One example is if I have a whole baked Salmon on my buffet, I may have someone serving a portion to my customers. You never want to have an item on your buffet line that people have to cut in quarters or in half to take a piece. I look at my buffet as a tasting of many items with me taking into account what sides would correspond best with my entrees....

    If I spend any more time on this post I'll hav etc put you down as a dependent! I hope this helped with you getting the information you need for your buffet........Good Luck........ChefBillyB

    P.S. Don't feel bad about feeling uncomfortable and understanding how to get a food cost on this kind of buffet. Trying to cost this out is one of the hardest things to do. It's nothing like costing out a menu. When we cost out menus and menu entrees we have portion sizes and amounts. This cost is constant as long as the prices don't change all that much.
     
  15. h0tb0x

    h0tb0x

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    Wow ! The reply above answers all my questions Chef! Thank you very much for the time ! Very much appreciated. Will be back posting after Valentines Day for an update. once again, thank you ChefBillyB