expert opinions for my little place?

Joined Apr 24, 2011

I have been reading through the comments here for a few years and have been definately blown away with some of the experience on this forum. I have decided to throw in my info here and see what kind of help or ideas i can get.

I have a 38 seat restaurant. Our sales are around 750-1000 a day in slow season and 2000-3000 in the busy season (4 months).

I have 6 burners, oven, flattop, and fryer in a very small kitchen that i do the prep and dishes in as well.

I have 1 server during the day and one at night (friday and saturday i have 2 at night). in the slow season, 2 every night of busy

As far as menu goes what are your suggestions on size. Ive had huge and ive had small but big boat big waves, small boat small waves. big boat more money, small boat small money as well. should i focus on entrees? or burgers and wraps? etc.

Should i have a dumbed down menu and pay cooks less or complicated and pay more?

my bills average about $20 CAD per head. should i shoot for volume or higher average?

Anyway. Ive had chefs here that told me a bunch of promises and gimicks, Im looking for some experienced folks on here to throw some ideas around.

Joined Aug 21, 2004
I gather that you are not in the kitchen. How is your comfort and skill level in the kitchen? What kind of locale are you in, I sense it is a smaller seasonal tourist area? How is the labor market, numbers and skill wise? What about demographics and target clientele?
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Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
No.  I would keep the menu the same during the slower months but try and increase patronage during the first 10 minutes and last 10 minutes of the lunch and dinner rush.

During the busy season I would try and decrease ticket times in order to turn your restaurant 0.5 times more.

That's it.
Joined Oct 15, 2012
Hi WhiskeyTango,

I have the exact same kitchen setup as you and am located in a tourist area with a slow season (November - March) and a busy season. I keep my menu small and well-balanced between flat-top, hob and oven so as to be able to utilse all the available kitchen real estate.

During the slow season my menu becomes somewhat more conservative or less adventurous as the locals will invariably eschew dishes based on trout, lamb, offal etc. When the city tourists come, I can sell almost anything.

At my restaurant I have been able to increase turnover by actively pushing starters and desserts. I fact, I have taken desserts OFF the menu and have made my staff sell them verbally while clearing plates off the table. Works a treat.

We have also enforced a stricter reservation policy and are trying to increase table turnover, although this is difficult in a tourist area where customers will often walk in without a booking.

Furthermore, over the years I have added more high-price items to my menu, which has set my restaurant apart from the competition and raised my profits.

Not knowing your local context, your figures will be meaningless to most of us. If you are indeed in a tourist region, perhaps you should try to increase business from the locals to improve your figures during less busy times.


Joined Jun 23, 2015
If you have the time and inclination here is a book that may be helpful.    There are older editions and a Canadian version that may be helpful  and cheaper.  This method of menu evaluates each menu item for gross sales and profit.  It separates the menu items into four categories. The Stars, popular and profitable.  The Plow horses, popular but less profitable.  Puzzles, unpopular but very profitable. The Dogs,  unpopular and unprofitable.  

This is somewhat tedious but if you jump through the hoops you will have a very good handle on where your money comes from and where it goes.     
Joined Jul 28, 2001
I've worked a bit in a few places. actually have been a owner most of my adult life. Years ago it took most of my energies to further my business education while working.I got so deep into the forest I couldn't see the trees. The result, waste of time, even masters. Most all reference materials and syllabus were so dated and not relevant to my thinking.

  Early on, the common concept was to work your business, be anal about recording

events and build the business  for acquisition focusing on gross revenue.. The day you sold, was your payday.

  Well, I got bit in 2008 like most small business. I reworked my business plan to include keeping the operation alive as long as possible. We groomed younger family members to have the ability to take over when necessary. One location has been in the same location for 18 yrs.. I just signed a 15 yr. extension with a 5 opt. Keeping the business going and profitable affords those of us who are ready to retire, to leave with their salary. I backed out 3 yrs. ago, my pastry has gone to 3 days and retains his salary. Things seem to be working. Retaining our salaries have proven to be so much better than to rely on the financial state of our country with retirement accounts and such. My current interest on my retirement should I draw is really insulting.

  I only mention this to respond to the OP. When I reconfigured my business plan, It also took our normal focus on revenue to becoming margin driven without sacrificing quality.

PS keep in mind, older financial generation based you value on revenue. This generation values are based on profitability.
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