“We buy it, we fix it, we sell it for a profit. That’s the restaurant business.” So says Joe Bastianich in his newest book, Restaurant Man. But if the concept is simple, making it work isn’t—on the opening page, Bastianich lays it out for us (and especially those of us who’ve ever dreamed of owning a restaurant):
Your margins are three times your cost on everything. Some things you make more, some things you make less. You have loss leaders on the menu—veal chops and steak might cost you 50 percent of the ticket price on the menu. Pasta and salad you can run closer to 15, just as long as everything works out to 30 percent.
Bells and whistles like appetizers and desserts bring down the cost. Desserts are almost pure profit. Wine by the glass is usually marked up four times, although we don’t always do that. At Babbo we get about three times cost for a quartino, or sometimes even two times, so our wine cost is 30 to 50 percent.
Thirty percent of your monthly take is going to be your food and wine cost. Thirty percent is going to be labor, 20 percent is miscellaneous, including the rent, and 20 percent is your profit. Your rent per month should be your gross take on your slowest day.
It’s so much easier being a customer.
And if you just ate up those three paragraphs, you should probably order the book, which has received good reviews, including from Moira Hodgson at the Wall Street Journal. (Go ahead, order it—just type in the book title on the Amazon search engine to the right on this page. See it? It’s that easy!)