When you operate a bar or nightclub, one of the easiest ways to get your customers to stay longer and buy more drinks is to offer a food menu. After about an hour of drinking, many patrons will become hungry and leave to go to another establishment that serves food if there aren’t any options at your venue. For this reason, it is essential that you put together a food program, even if it is very small, so that your customers can stay and continue buying high margin cocktails.

However, the one thing you don’t want to do is fall victim to the high costs that can come along with poor food management. If you don’t properly control your food costs, you can actually lose money by offering food and make the entire endeavor counter-productive. Here is a basic guide to controlling your food costs so you can implement a food menu and reap the benefits without any of the pitfalls.


First, you need to make sure you put your orders from the customer in correctly. Nothing eats up food profits like throwing away food because it wasn’t made correctly and needs to be redone. Additionally, when you’re ordering bulk product for your kitchen, you also want to follow responsible ordering practices. Make sure you have enough of everything, but don’t go overboard to the point where you’re throwing out expired food.


When receiving new food and product, make sure you are physically counting everything as it arrives to ensure there aren’t any shortages. Also, you should inspect each item to make sure there isn’t anything that’s rotten or defective because that can come out of your bottom line later on.


Storing your food product is very important to keeping costs controlled. First, you want to make sure that it can’t be accessed by thieves or pests. Second, you want to make sure it’s in a location that is appropriate for storing food. If there is too much moisture, the food can rot prematurely. If the shelving is weak or flimsy, it could break and damage all of the food its holding. If your food needs to be refrigerated or frozen, your coolers need to be at the proper temperature to avoid problems. By properly storing food, you can ensure that each bit of it turns into profits.


Issuing food items is realistically the only way to keep good tabs on your inventory. You want to allow access to the food storage locations for only people who need that access, and you’ll want to have a clear set of rules regarding when it’s okay to access that food.


Preparation is the key to saving on food costs because you can properly portion everything out ahead of time. This means that each burger patty should be exactly 4 ounces; each steak should weigh exactly 10 ounces, and so on. You should portion out everything that you possibly can so that you know exactly how much each food dish costs to make.


There are a lot of ways to waste food while cooking, and that directly eats away at food costs. First off, over or under cooking food is a great way to literally throw money in the trash, so make sure your cooks know what they’re doing. Second, keeping sanitary conditions will ensure that nothing can contaminate your food and lead to it needing to be thrown out.


Serving the food is once again all about portions. Things like mashed potatoes, vegetables, and other food items that are served from a food container using a spoon can be difficult to measure precisely, so all you can do is get it as close as possible. The best way to do this is to have proper sized spoons, good plate layouts, and proper training. By serving the food and learning to plate it properly, you can save money and give your customers a great value.