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Menu Survival Lesson: Managing the supply chain

Oct 11, 2021

RTS Partner and chef Becky Foulk offers ways to survive supply chain shortages, especially as the holidays approach.

It’s a weekly occurrence these days for many restaurant operators when placing food orders: Anxiously awaiting that email informing you of out-of-stocks or substitutions.

Pre-pandemic, you forecast your needs for the upcoming holidays with your local food distributor, who then brought you the product (or least explained availability) and advised that you check with them weekly. Today, there are no guarantees you will even get the product.

So gone are the days of everything-for-everyone approach to menu planning. Today, my advice is to follow a less-is-more mantra. Here’s how:

  • Evaluate your menu as to what truly sells. But keep those two to four items that customers draw customers to your place — that is, your signatures.
  • Trim ingredients throughout your menu. Eliminate items with single-use ingredients. Instead, keep on hand ingredients used throughout the menu in different ways. Example: Gourmet Sandwich Menu cucumbers used freshly sliced; in raita or tzatziki sauce; and turned into homemade pickles.
  • Decrease production.  In light of labor shortages, consider trimming the prep work and easing the difficulty needed for menu items.
  • Boost utilization. Depending on your operation, also consider which menu items can be used in other meal periods or in your catering department and grab-and-go case.
  • Use substitutes. Work with your supplier to set up acceptable substitutions for core ingredients.
  • Have backups. Create backup recipes to have on hand for core, pre-made ingredients like sauces or bakery items.
  • Keep core ingredients on hand. I hate saying this, because I truly believe in product rotating and low inventories, but keep the core ingredients that make your menu special always on hand.



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