Every dollar counts and every detail counts in the restaurant industry, and of course those two factors aren’t unrelated. Seemingly insignificant issues easy to ignore amid all the busyness and complexity of day-to-day operations can add up to major bites taken out of your bottom line, and conversely small tweaks and changes in procedure can ramify into significant savings.
Portion size is a clear example of this phenomenon, and the focus of our post today here at the V&E Restaurant Group blog.
The Importance of the Right Portion Size
Establishing the most cost-effective and otherwise logical portion size for each dish at your restaurant is one of those small details that can play a key role in your ability to remain profitable and successful.
Actually, it’s only one half of the portioning challenge: Once you’ve determined—by considering the culinary needs of the dish in question, the cost of ingredients, and so forth—the right portion size, you need to be consistent in serving it.
That’s much easier said than done. It’s all too common for portioning for the very same menu item to vary from shift to shift and from day to day. That can be due to the varying judgments (or relative sloppiness) of different staff, or a particular kitchen’s methods (or, in some cases, lack thereof) of measuring.
Whatever causes the inconsistency in portioning—and it may well be a combination of things—you can easily find yourself spending more than you planned on for ingredients because of it, maybe much more. You can also find yourself disappointing and maybe losing regular customers who notice less food on the plate for a dish they’ve ordered before (and yet find themselves charged the same amount for).
Working Toward Consistent Portion Sizes at Your Restaurant
Once you’ve determined the ideal portion size for each dish, you want to make sure your kitchen staff are clearly trained on achieving it each and every time they plate up an appetizer, entrée, side, or dessert. As Lorri Mealey notes in this The Balance Small Business article on the subject, using easy-to-understand charts and photographs to guide the portioning process is a great idea.
You’ve also obviously got all sorts of tools you can use to more carefully calibrate the portioning process, including such fundamental equipment as kitchen scales and measuring cups/spoons.
It takes some time and effort, without question, to iron down your portioning routines: doing the recipe testing and calculations to determine the desired portion size in the first place, then taking the steps necessary—getting into the habit of consistently using measuring equipment, training staff so everybody’s on the same page plating-wise—to ensure the mark’s hit every time that particular dish goes out into the dining room. But, like so many other covering-your-bases elements in running a restaurant, it’s an investment that most definitely is worth it when it comes to keeping your eatery solvent and your patrons satisfied!