Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Fascination of the Restaurant Business

I read Bourdain's "Kitchen Confidential" and I was hooked.  Yesterday, this popped into view at the library.

"Restaurant Man" by Joe Bastianich   Viking Pres   275 pages   $27.95

His parents are Felice and Lidia (yes, the famous Lidia Bastianich) and he grew up in the restaurant trade.  In fact, they loved on the 2nd floor over their restuarant.  Bastianich describes "Buonavia" as a "70's typical red-sauce joint."  His father didn't cook - he'd hired a chef - but he did all of the front of the house things and all of the buying.  His mother tended to stay in the background, running the cashier or the bar. 

Family vacations were spent traveling in Italy and tasting everything they could get their hands on, looking for new recipes for their place.  This is where Lidia came into play.  She wanted local tastes, common to Italy but unheard of in the United States.  For instance, she introduced polenta and rissotto to the customers and they came back for more.

Okay, that's historical, that's "how it happened," but the real story is in the Restaurant Man's duties.  First and foremost of them is never get screwed in a deal.  Keep a set of scales at the delivery room door and use them.  Once you'e signed off on something, you're stuck with it. 

Bastianich's advice:  Thirty per cent of your monthly take is going to be the food and wine costs.  Another 30 per cent is going to be labor and salaries; add 20 per cent for miscellanous -- including the rent -- and 20 percent is profit.  Your rent per month should equal your gross take on your slowest day.

That's the kind of insider stuff that I love to know.  And you should know that wine by the glass is usually marked up four times the actual cost. 

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