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bripastryguy

Menu Pricing and description

37 posts in this topic

I'm posting this to get an opinion:

I do desserts for a small bistro in NY, I have full creative freedom with the menu items (within reason) but I have noticed a few changes to the menu.

I had 2 desserts that were served with ice cream (store bought, not home made and not very expensive)

The chef who is also the owner took it upon himself to tell the person who plates the desserts not to put ice cream on the desserts anymore and instead he put on the menu "$1.25 a la mode". What is that? Is he running a Friendly's or some real cheap establishment? The desserts on the menu run for $5.95 which is a fair market price and right in line with his menu pricing.

This is his first time as an owner of a restaurant, how do I tell him to stop being so damn cheap, you cant serve a warm apple tart or a molten chocolate cake (I know its run its course but the customers complain when its not on the menu) without ice cream?

I have been a part owner in a few places and been a pastry chef for some very successful establishments in NY and they never charged for a scoop of ice cream, whats next? Do you think he will charge for the sprinkling of powdered sugar or cocoa on the plate.

Help? I want him to take my name off the menu if he continues to cheapen "MY" desserts.


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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Brian,

Would your chef put Steak Frites on the menu, with a supplement for the Frites? I'm guessing not. Since you have creative control, would he respond positively to your assertion that the ice cream is an integral component of the dish? Greed or not, if it is a 'numbers' issue, could you compromise by adding a dollar to the prices (though I can see the marketing appeal of $5.95)?


Michael Laiskonis

Pastry Chef

New York

www.michael-laiskonis.com

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Michael,

He seems to be listening to his friends in the business and in my opinion they are giving him bad advice. He has added to the entree menu, a $5.00 plate sharing charge, what is that going to accomplish but get people pissed.

These items were not in effect when he opened 6 months ago and I have a feeling that his regular customers are going to get upset and probably stop coming. He also took the breads that we were doing in the beginning(which were my recipes) and changed them into cheap imitations. The Chef and I have gotten pretty friendly in the last few months but he is very sensitive, how do I tell him that he's taking the restaurant in the wrong direction?

All the desserts including labor and ingredients are Under $1.50 with all components. I think the point is greed and he really doesnt care about components. This is the kind of chef that would be happy putting a hunk of cake on a plate that he bought and calling it homemade. Eventually I will have to save my integrity and name and pull out ( I only do the desserts part time)


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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You have a close relationship, yet do you feel he's being up-front about what he's doing and why? I realize the first six months of a restaurant can be difficult. I just fear that because of your part time status, your skills and the quality of your work aside, you may be seen as expendable and on the periphery, thus not part of the decision making. I'm sure pastry chefs 'round the world would agree.


Michael Laiskonis

Pastry Chef

New York

www.michael-laiskonis.com

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I'm not even worried about being eliminated, It will hurt him because in the 2 reviews he received the desserts were mentioned with high regards (no negative comments, only positives)

I feel alot of the time he is receptive to my ideas, but he just did this without letting me know or asking if it was a good idea.

He has no restauranteur past , he like many of us are chefs with years of knowledge and experience in the kitchen not in the front of the house. In my eyes he is going down the wrong road. He would rather put olives,olive oil with grated parmesean and herbs with the "free" bread basket than not charge for ice cream, and my god, its a small scoop, he really needs a wake up call. His entree portions are huge, I told him if he wants to save money, cut those portions down alittle. It will have a two pronged effect-save money and cut down on the food cost of the entrees and leave the diners room for dessert (which I hear is the main reason for poor dessert sales- "I'm too full")

i bet you dont see this at Tribute....I guess he wants to be in a league with Hojo's and Shoneys instead of high degree of culinaria


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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I agree with you, Brian, that using the "+ $1.25 a la mode" technique is a chintzy way to approach this. It's the kind of notice you find on a diner menu. And I certainly don't blame you for being miffed. However, since it's apparent that the chef/owner is looking for ways to up the ante, I think the better way to go about this would be to increase the price of all the desserts to say $6.50 (or $7, if he thinks he can get away with it) and then serve all of them with their appropriate accompaniments. As a regular diner, I would have less of a problem with that than if I saw that I had to pay an extra $1.25 to get some ice cream with my molten chocolate cake. :angry:

As for the $5 plate sharing charge, should I presume that it applies only to main courses? Frankly, although my husband and I rarely share a main, we sometimes do share first courses and desserts (unless the menu is a 3-course prix-fixe). I can understand the idea of a plate charge for sharing a main -- I have seen it before. However, I would not be happy if I was charged for sharing a first or dessert course because my husband and I can easily work off the same plate. We have even been known to pass soup back and forth. :smile:

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I am going to suggest the $6.50 dessert price and see where it goes. I'm not sure as to what the $5.00 plate sharing charge applies to, i will find out.


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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I'm not even worried about being eliminated, It will hurt him because in the 2 reviews he received the desserts were mentioned with high regards (no negative comments, only positives)

save the reviews of your desserts, add them to your brag book, and get a digital picture or two, while you're at it. Might even send a note to the reviewers when you have a new item for the menu.

you'll want to have them down the road as you look for your opportunity to move


Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

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Had a discussion with him last night and he told me that my ego was getting in the way and that the desserts dont need ice cream. He's not in the business of giving things away, he cant afford it (an .18 cent scoop of ice cream). So now the desserts are all served with unsweetened whipped cream, oh joy. He said that he has no desire to be labeled as a 5 star restaurant, he wants to be the neighborhood bistro, but he's running it like a hojos. I guess I should let him make his own mistakes, after all it is his money and his restaurant (which he screamed at me numerous times).

I guess my problem is that I have worked with some very talented chefs, that have had enough faith in me as their pastry chef to do the right job, he would be better off buying cakes, cutting them and putting them with his unsweetened whipped cream. I have a different idea of how the desserts should be. He doesnt understand the components make the whole. His experience is limited (not to put him down, he is a talented cook), I have worked in 2 and 3 star restaurants and I guess he wants real simple plain ho hum desserts.

This is the menu now:

Warm Apple Galette (apple tart)

oatmeal crust, cider sabayon and vanilla ice cream (maybe not?)

Molten Chocolate Cake

raspberry merlot sauce and vanilla ice cream(?)

Vanilla Yogurt Panna Cotta

citrus and blackberry reductions, orange tuiles

Illegal Chocolate Pudding

homemade marshmallows and naked whipped cream

Cookies and Confections

Ice Cream and Sorbet

Fresh Fruit Plate

We did have an oatmeal cinnamon ice cream flying saucer on the menu, but the guy who works the salad and dessert station just cant bake the cookies right so I had to scrap it

I'm going to revamp the menu, any ideas for a small 50 seat CASUAL bistro?


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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Frankly, the menu you listed seems perfect to me. So: Take your photos of the desserts (PROPERLY plated). Clip your reviews. Start looking for another gig. :sad: And don't slam the door on your way out.

Sorry, but he IS the boss. You cannot change him. No matter how much the customers love your stuff, no matter what the reviewers said, it is his decision to make. Let him figure out for himself how much that whipped cream actually costs.

I've been there, believe me. I worked for almost 2 years at one of the most creative Asian-fusion places around. But the chef left, and the new chef was not open to trying anything different. When I was doing pastry, I wanted to replace the "Seasonal Fruit" (= raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries ALL F***ING YEAR ROUND) with a salad of tropical fruit and jicama in a chili-lime syrup. Oh, no -- too "adventurous" for our customers (who were already used to eating a sundae of coconut ice cream, mango salsa with lime leaf and cayenne, and tamarind sauce). :blink: And a tart filled with pudding made with Thai black rice? :shock::shock::shock:

Don't make yourself crazy. When you find another position, wish him well graciously and sincerely.

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Bri--follow Suzanne's really good advice, get a digital camera, plate your desserts your way--photograph them. Then give your notice. If he seeks to retain you, tell him exactly what it will take to keep you. In this whole thread you never once talked about your salary. Tell him you're not leaving because you want more money but you feel you've earned the right to expect more respect, more support and less micro-managing. That as long as your food costs are in line with mutually agreed expectations, you should be able to do whatever you want as long as you and he both think it 1) tastes good, 2) fits the savory food and 3) sells. Then tell him your goals for expected dessert sales per cover. See what he says.

If he's a jerk about it--as he might be--as you're walking out tell him you have this idea to open a small business making and selling desserts to restaurants in town and that he should feel free to reach out to you down the road. Then go out and make it happen until you find another restaurant with an at least mildly supportive chef and owner.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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As usual, good advice Steve thanks.

He is a little hot headed and tempermental, so we are having another discussion tonight. I will be proposing a new menu with only 2 desserts that have ice cream as a component. Keep the price where it is, take off the "A la Mode charge" and try and have his waitstaff up sell alittle more (all kids that have no clue how to push a dessert sale effectively).

I was planning the wholesale business anyway. Just looking into all the logistics.

The problem I have found out since my last post was that they were running items that I had taken off the menu: Oatmeal Ice cream sandwich and a brownie sundae (yes this is what he wants on his menu, but I make a mean brownie, so I guess if I am going to be forced to make it , it better be great) That was bringing it to a total of 4 desserts with ice cream, that wasnt my fault, it was his and the manager , they were told to use them as "give aways".

This guy has no idea how good he has it. He's getting a pastry chef for barely nothing (Ihave to keep busy while still looking for a good full time postion) I bring my own tools, molds, etc...

When I leave him, all he will have is a catalog to order from, carboard flavored desserts and no originality. But we shall see.

I know it's his restaurant, I told him if he wants to keep playing with the menu then I would like my name taken off. boy did that piss him off, he called me an ego maniac and why did I want my name off the menu, I said" because I dont want to be associated with the cheapness" He then proceeded to say that I wont last in the business with an attitude like this. I have been a chef in one form or another for 12 years. I have had some good experiences and some poor, but I usually let this stuff roll off, but I have bent over backwards for this guy, I think I might tell him where to go!


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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He did give me a positive note saying he thinks my desserts are awesome.

Why would I want my name off the menu? He still doesnt get it.

There is a difference between "Neighborhood Bistro" and Benigans right?

His food is not Benigan' s style so why does he want his desserts to be?


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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It seems he wants your name , without the quality.I would make a dignified exit.(actually i'm sure i'd make a very undignified exit) but you know what i mean

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Basil,

I here you. Unfortunately this restaurant is in my town (good and bad I guess)


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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I felt similarly about Danko charging and extra $6 for the crepe dessert preparation. I understand that preparing tableside does take a significant amount of the waitress's time. But $6? What's the point? That can't recoup the time cost (as if it's at all possible to meaningfully quantify the 5 minutes spent preparing the dish), so why appear so cheap? I can kind of understand an extra $20 charge for foie gras, assuming that the ingredient is far out of line with the other ingredients on the menu.

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sTONE-

Its the old proverb

"Penny wise and dollar foolish"

Save the .18c for the ice cream, make $1.07, loose 10 customers

Good math to me???


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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I felt similarly about Danko charging and extra $6 for the crepe dessert preparation.  I understand that preparing tableside does take a significant amount of the waitress's time.  But $6?  What's the point?  That can't recoup the time cost (as if it's at all possible to meaningfully quantify the 5 minutes spent preparing the dish), so why appear so cheap?

Stone -- I do not know why crepes with pears and ice cream attracted that supplement. However, maybe it's intended as a disincentive for diners during a given service to order the crepes. If a certain number of tables ordered the crepes, that might not detract too much from the dining room team member's time for assisting diners in other ways. However, if *every* table ordered the crepes, that could be a significant impediment. The concern might be that the at-table preparation would draw so much attention that, without the supplement to dissuade some parties from ordering it, too many tables would order it. Thus, the supplement might not be a time cost recoupment measure, but instead a device to control the time allocated to preparation of this dessert.

Sometimes (I am not indicating in this case), supplements could be used as a marketing device to make a dish seem more "special" and induce diner curiosity.


Edited by cabrales (log)

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Its a problem with these unsure economic times, people are looking for value for their money and owners are looking to grab as much profit as possible. I guess they really dont realize how little things can hurt a business.


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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Cab's all over this.

Stone--sometimes things are phrased, priced and structured a certain way to subtly encourage and discourage you from ordering something. If there is one thing coming through in this thread is that what's written on a menu--in this case dessert--isn't so cut and dried. There are ramifications having your name on the menu, you're more likely to get mentioned in any reviews and have to accept the blame more personally. The order, description and how things are priced communicates more than just cost--some might interpret that $6 surcharge at Danko "says" this is really special, something worth paying extra for because you can't find it anywhere else--instead of appearing cheap. Or, as Cab said, a disincentive because it would be a major major hassle to do alot of these out in the dining room.

There's ill-advised nickel and diming, which is what Bri's micromanaging owner is doing--and then there's legitimate upselling and disincentivizing.

Bri, your point about value is well-taken; as far as I'm concerned, you've made all the case re: food costs that you need to.


Steve Klc

Pastry chef-Restaurant Consultant

Oyamel : Zaytinya : Cafe Atlantico : Jaleo

chef@pastryarts.com

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I agree with many above that you may have to start planning for a graceful exit. Many have mentioned taking digital pictures, and while those are good, they aren't usually of the quality necessary for your resume/portfolio, so take some film pictures too.

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The work I do for this restaurant is farely simple in design and execution so it really isn't a good example of my capabilities but I will take photos anyway.


"Chocolate has no calories....

Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence

SWEET KARMA DESSERTS

www.sweetkarmadesserts.com

550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554

516-794-4478

Brian Fishman

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"Penny wise and dollar foolish"

Save the .18c for the ice cream, make $1.07, loose 10 customers

Good math to me???

For what it's worth, Bri, I too have erroneously tried to skimp here and shave costs there in my own business. At least the errors were in the areas I chose to cut costs initially.

Result? Lost sales which is bad. Badder result was lost customers who clearly thought I was taking the rip over such trivial matters as charging £0.99 for a side-salad that was previously free. Another example of this was an offer I had where customers buying two curries recieved free popadoms and half price naans. I decided it was so popular that I could get away with charging full price for the naan. The outcome was many lost sales with the net result of lower profitability.

I re-instated all the good stuff I idiotically removed and now make my savings elsewhere. I let my suppliers know I am constantly checking their price against competitors and that I will always do so. I don't take stupid risks by alienating my suppliers, but I do expect them to price match provided the qaulity of goods is always similar.

Now I have cheaper gas and cheaper electricity. I buy cleaning materials in bulk and save that way. I invested in better oils that last longer and so cost less in the long run and so on. I got my savings, my customers got the 'free' salads.

Penny wise dollar foolish is spot on - I saved pennies for a few weeks, but lost plenty in disappeared sales for many more weeks.

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The work I do for this restaurant is farely simple in design and execution so it really isn't a good example of my capabilities ...

I'd be interested in having you expand on this. My knee-jerk reaction is shouldn't all of your work be representative of your capabilities? But as it's obvious from what you've posted earlier that you take great pride in your work, I'm curious as to what's behind this statement. What is the constraint that makes your work not a good example of your capabilities? Food Cost? Direction from the owner/manager? Time? Self imposed? A combination?


Holly Moore

"I eat, therefore I am."

HollyEats.Com

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