Bar profits have long been concentrated on drinks served at the bar, with liquor, beer and wine all having high profit margins on their own. But if you’re looking to increase profits further, it might be time to consider adding food to the bar menu. A bar food menu can not only increase profits but will also create a more complete experience for guests. With food as an option, patrons are more likely to drink more and stay longer, raising that tab two-fold. Moreover, you can now attract patrons who aren't looking to drink, adding an entirely new set of patrons to your establishment.
Of course there are some factors to consider before implementing a food service strategy and promoting your bar food menu. You’ll need to work out a menu concept which is correlated to the type of equipment you’ll have in your kitchen. Today we'll look at all the factors that go into adding food to your revenue stream and discuss the benefits versus the costs.
One of the first things you will have to determine is what you want to serve. For some locations it makes more sense to strictly serve appetizers while other locations are more compatible to serving a full dinner menu. To determine the food bar menu you need to consider your budget, customer demographics, kitchen layout and staffing.
Budget - Don’t just think cost of food, consider every cost that you will incur as a result of adding food to your line up. Start with the bigger items and work your way down to the minor costs. Consider cost of equipment, cost of additional food prep labor, cost of waste removal. All these things add up and while the additional profit of adding food should work to offset those costs, you want to make sure your bar food menu will be strong enough to produce those sales. If you are working with a limited budget, think about ways you can reduce start up costs: leasing or buying used equipment, cross training current staff on food service rather than hiring new staff, etc.
Demographic Research - Do your research and do it well. This is KEY before making the leap into food service. If you didn’t do demographic research when opening your bar, you had better do it before starting a food program. Get to know your customers. You have regulars; ask them if they would want food from you. Ask them what kind of food they would want. Ask them how much they would be willing to pay for your food.
Kitchen Layout & Staffing - You already have the bar, and it’s unlikely you’ll want to move in an effort to add food to your offerings, so consider your kitchen space. If it’s limited you can still serve food but you’ll need to be strategic about the menu and being able to prep food with restricted space. You also already have a staff, are they equipped with the skills to serve and prepare food? If you have limited time for training, consider easy to operate equipment or hiring additional staff.
Download our FREE white paper to continue reading about the costs and benefits of adding food to your bar menu. This paper will take you through bar food types, start up costs to consider and how to promote your new food menu after it's launched.