Stretch Your F & B Dollars – Part II

Posted by on Apr 10, 2012 in Insider Tips | 0 comments

Stretch Your F & B Dollars – Part II

Last time we looked at ways to stretch our budget during the cocktail portion of our event… Now we are going to look at the dinner. Remember we still DO need to define our goal to best determine the question of “how many courses do I need?”

We all understand that each course in a dinner program has a dollar amount associated with it, (as well as affecting the overall “service fee”), so by knowing our group, client, their guest’s preferences… or their “senior management” preferences, we could decide the course to take. Is the dinner a quick evening event to satisfy the attendees (“dine & dash”)? Is the program an awards or presentation dinner? Or is the dinner a more of a “mix-and-mingle” (“face time”) get to know you event? Or anything else in between. These questions and a few more will best help us understand where the course count and time frame will be.
If your program is a quick meal, then 2 or 3 courses will be appropriate and acceptable. Usually it could consist of an appetizer or salad course, entrée, and dessert. In some cases I have seen where the dessert is on the guest table as well (not my preferred style at all), but definitely speeds things along.

I recommend speaking with your caterer/catering manager, or sales manager to see what “specialty” menu items they are know for. For example, I knew a client with a limited budget that wanted to go to a restaurant for their dinner. The restaurant was known for their steaks and lobster. But with a limited budget, how could we go there? Well, it was a matter of seeing which items could be incorporated to give the “bang” for the $$’s. What ended up to be was having the “famous” lobster and corn chowder for the 1st course, then instead of tenderloin or sirloin steak (which we are all aware of the costs), having a “London Broil” (know by many names — flank steak) which truly ladies and gentlemen is a very flavorful and tasty cut of beef! Those two things, although off set a bit in costs. This was also coupled with the fact that we were able to use local, farm fresh seasonal veggies. Not only is this a key component to our taste as a society, but it also saves… nichols and dimes and quarters! We went with a seasonal simple dessert and ended up bringing that menu cost down by, 12-18% or $ 7.00 to $9.00 per person.

Here is another approach to stretching that budget; you need to do an appetizer, salad, entrée and dessert, how about eliminating a course and achieving the same result… remember each course had dollars associated to it. My recommendation was to have the appetizer and salad together. This was accomplished by having the 1st course be a smoked salmon “rose” accompanied with some wonderful local greens and delicate vinaigrette. The presentation is very nice and you were able to save… you guessed it… a few more dimes and quarters!

Ok, let’s talk about dessert. If you are trying to make sure that there is more “mix-n-mingle”, let’s get those guests up after dinner for a dessert station. This could be a simple assortment of pastries cookies etc. or an action station (more about stations next time). Again speak with your facility, caterer, and sales manager to see what their specialty is. Usually this approach will save anywhere between 15 to 20 % of what a plated dessert would cost. It gets the guest interacting again. Have the coffee as a separate station and order it for 75 % of your count. Most of the time the full guest count will not have coffee, and although this is not a big ticket item… you could save a few nichols on that. Again this is not for every dinner event and will depend on your/ client GOALS!

So to recap determine what style/type of dinner the number of courses and GOAL. Buy local and fresh and work with your caterer/ facility and managers.
Next time we will look at entrée selections and stations… and stretch those F & B Dollars!

Thank you and enjoy!

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