Advice Guy

An industry expert answers questions on improving restaurant operations

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Q.

We are a 17-year-old successful business that does three meals a day: breakfast, lunch, and dinner. We are tired! We really don't want to sell, but my partner and I want a life! We have tried all different phases of management, chefs, etc., but we are very hands on! We are at the point of just doing breakfast and lunch for the rest of our career! Although we are a seasonal restaurant, we are still busy year round. How would this affect our business?

A.

Congratulations! For an independent restaurant, being open daily for three services for seventeen years is impressive—and exhausting.

Q.

When training new employees, how do you manage the time used by the trainer while they are training? What happens if the trainer keeps getting pulled away from training? Is it worth it if that means training will take even longer?

A.

Training is expensive; that’s why so many operations are focused on lowering employee turnover.

Q.

I have a question about tipping out a bartender. Here is the scenario. Our bartender is making eight dollars per hour plus tips and out service staff is making $2.17 per hour plus tips. Currently our service staff is tipping out the bartender 7 percent of the total bar sales per server. Is this appropriate/fair?

A.

As with many issues in the restaurant industry, there is no standard practic

Q.

I’m curious about outside cakes for celebrations—can I charge a plate fee? We have an upscale but casual restaurant and charge a $1 per guest fee, which gets nice plates, serving utensils, server cutting it, etc.

A.

This question has come up a few times over the years.

Q.

When doing a business plan for a restaurant, how do you estimate gross revenue of the competition if they won’t tell you? 

A.

A good financial consultant or restaurant accountant can look at a restaurant and give you a ballpark of annual sales, but this is by no means an exact science.

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