“Tiny, they are so tiny. How do they really even count as food cost”
I can’t tell you how many times I get asked this question, “Do I really need to add the cost of my garnish into my food cost? It’s such a small amount”. Or “Do I need to add the cost of the bread and oil I put on the table into my food cost?”
Tiny adds up! Over the course of a year all that garnish, bread, oil, butter, adds up. And it adds up to a lot.
Every little garnish you use on a plate or on a tray adds to your expense. At the moment it looks like a small amount, say 2 strawberries and 6 blueberries on the corner of a plate, or a few leaves of parsley. But add up each iteration of that and you are wasting money big time.
An excellent example of costing garnishes using parsley leaves is in The Book of Yields: Accuracy in Food Costing and Purchasing by Francis T. Lynch.
Using food costing software will allow you to add the cost of the garnish every time it is used, thereby allowing you truly accurate costing.
The same goes for the bread you put on the table and the olive oil in a little bowl. Add it up for just one night of service, you’ll be amazed (and possibly horrified).
Which is why we may be noticing less and less free bread. What I now see is specialized bread served with say, “cultured” butter listed as an appetizer.
If you’d like to offer bread one way to finesse this is to do what they do at a local Italian restaurant, which is to serve the ends of focaccia and any errant pieces of dough (sometimes dressed as garlic knots). Rather than throw ends in the garbage it becomes part of the meal.
Condiments and pickles are another addition to menus.
I remember that bowl of pickles they used to put on the table at delis. That’s not happening so often any more.
We ate at a wonderful new hip joint in NYC the other day. The wall was lined with large jars of pickled everything. No free pickles here! At this restaurant a plate of pickles cost $7. And I noticed that most tables had ordered some and they were beautifully presented. The house was full, and there was no expectation on the part of the patrons that pickles would be free.
If you are running a restaurant and using software (and we do hope you are using CostGuard Food Costing Restaurant Software) make sure you enter EVERY ingredient item you are using as part of your meal to track your real costs.