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Old 15th August 2019, 23:15   #31
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Thoroughly enjoyed your reading sir. Most of the time I will make my complaints after paying the bill. Because I don't want the restaurant owner to think that I am complaining to get a discount in bill or want few other freebies. If only one item is not good, I will make a complaint after paying bill and I will definitely give that restaurant one more try. In case if all the foods are horrible, then I will just leave and I will not return again.

As far as the kids are concerned, I agree that it is difficult to control them. My toddler baby loves to play with the cutleries and I have to distract her by showing rhymes or videos in my phone. Me and my wife are giving the phone to her only in public places to keep her attention in one place.

Getting a cook is really difficult these days and retaining them is much more difficult. Being in US, many of the Indian restaurant owners are being at the mercy of their cook.

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I had no clue about these allergies until a few years back. When I started hearing about them more frequently I thought this was just the creation of some attention seeking hypochondriacs who had led an extremely charmed existence and had to invent something to be grumpy about.

I have heard of this peanut panic on flights elsewhere too. Not sure if it affects a person that easily or it's just another person having a bad day and wanting to make things difficult for everyone else.
With all due to respect sir, most of people have some form allergies in US especially to nuts. It was not part of any attention seeking activities. I can quote few examples from my personal experience.

My daughter who was born here is allergic to coconuts. She gets rashes all over her body if she consumes it and a dose of Benedryl will make the rashes disappear. We saw the rashes thrice after she had food with coconuts. Her Pediatrician said she will outgrow the allergy after 3 years and we need not worry about it. We used to have coconut in one form or the other in our daily menu. Nowadays we are extra careful in adding it to our food.

My friend here who is living in US for past 10 years is extremely allergic to Shrimps. He was taken to emergency as his lungs got swollen when he consumed Shrimp for the first time in US. His allergy was life threatening and needs to be extra careful with his sea food consumption. In-fact he is allergic to even the cooking smell of Shrimp.

May be it is something to do with the tolerance levels of people in this part of the world or life style made these differences.

Last edited by GTO : 22nd August 2019 at 20:20. Reason: Merging back to back posts
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Old 16th August 2019, 00:35   #32
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As many of us knew, most of the combos/dishes are more than what most of us can handle in a single meal. So many guests pack the left-overs. Now this techie wants me to take a Kid's meal order from him, as he eats only half of adult-combos and rest goes waste. I politely refused and said the 5$ kid's meal is actually meant only for kids and he can ask my staff for To-Go boxes if food is leftover or even ask staff to decrease the portion size so as not to waste food.
If you already know the combo sizes are more that what a normal person can handle, why not offer smaller size combos? Not everyone might be aware of the portion sizes and in a position to carry back the left overs. So the portion sizes you offer aren't contributing to food wastage in a way?
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This MRP issue is not a contentious one at all and I am surprised so many restaurant owners and managers are not trained to handle this. Supreme Court verdict on the matter is very clear - MRP is applicable for retail outlets only. A restaurant is not a retail outlet. A customer buying an MRP product is entitled to use the restaurant premises to consume it (whether he or she chooses to or not), or have it served at the table, both of which are added services.
What does the law state about the taxation part? If a bottle of water with an MRP of 20 is marked as 100 on the menu, is applying an additional tax on 100 considered legal?
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Old 16th August 2019, 01:25   #33
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Excellent thread, the way you have written your points down makes it very interesting to read.

I am the type of customer who is bored of eating the same things over and over again so I keep on looking for something different. I try to find a new place to check out every other week and I have reached a point where I have eaten at all joints in my city.
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Old 16th August 2019, 08:50   #34
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If you already know the combo sizes are more that what a normal person can handle, why not offer smaller size combos? Not everyone might be aware of the portion sizes and in a position to carry back the left overs. So the portion sizes you offer aren't contributing to food wastage in a way?

What does the law state about the taxation part? If a bottle of water with an MRP of 20 is marked as 100 on the menu, is applying an additional tax on 100 considered legal?
Combos are designed to serve individual guests to taste multiple varieties in smaller portions(Eg: Chicken Combo served includes a small portion of chicken biryani/rice, 3-4 small pieces chicken appetizers, small portion of butter chicken with a piece of Naan) as many would like their meal include those items.

Main course portion sizes are mostly generic(repeat customers from any other similar restaurant would know) across restaurant industry. If we change that, there will be more complaints than appreciations .

I was mentioning a very peculiar case here, else majority of our customers know the portion size and they do not hesitate to pack left-overs or order less quantity. We try our best to reduce food wastage but are a tiny spec of larger community(40% of food produced in US goes waste).
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Old 16th August 2019, 12:23   #35
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Are the ever proliferating Social Media " foodie" groups affecting the business?

I am a member of a few Kerala based ones but find they are fast loosing effectiveness because of the number of biased reviews they get flooded with.
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My sister in law used to run a cafe in Cochin till a year back, when she had to shut shop due to heavy losses. While the issues were several, one problem she frequently reported were the veiled threats/ blackmails by social media influencers who can make a very strong impact these days. Have you faced any such issues?
My restaurant is a quick service (QSR) format with no frills and caters mainly to office goers and doesn't attract the food blogger kind of crowd. In my opinion the establishments most affected (either positively or negatively) by such activities are restaurants where people visit not just for the food but also the ambience/experience and hence have a wider array of things to comment on.

Negative reviews are not peculiar to the restaurant business and are just one of the many challenges that need to be tackled. Yes, their credibility is being questioned in all industries as people are (thankfully) beginning to see some of them for what they are.

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What an entertaining reading it was. I enjoyed every bit of it and was able to identify some of the types to myself.

One question - How do you sync the food orders? Many a time I see diners coming after or ordering after me receive their food earlier. Do you club the cooking if the same dish is ordered from different tables?
Thanks @fordday !
Good question. The general rule as in any other place is first in first out. However there are occasions when one has to make exceptions to this rule. For instance a large group has placed an order, and at the same time a single customer has also placed an order. Now it doesn't feel right to make the single customer wait while the big order is being processed. So we get the smaller out of the way first.

People who come in groups want to be served together (unless they specifically mentioned that it is ok to serve whatever you can make first). Hence we start with the item that takes the maximum time. For example item A takes 10 minutes while B takes 5 mins. We start making A and when it is 5 minutes from completion we start making B, so that both finish together and can be served together.

Another exception is what we call a 'running order'. Example - a customer who has already consumed a part of the meal and wants an extra roti. That customer will get the roti first. To a customer in the middle of a meal, waiting for a refill seems like an eternity while a customer who has not received anything may be willing to a wait a minute more.

Yet another case could be where a person who has come after you has placed order for an item which is made in a different section of the kitchen and that section is free. So he/she might get the order before you. Likewise there are many small complications which can delay an order and may not be apparent to the customer.

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Does it mean they don't want to pay?
No. It just means they want some privileges which are not available to other customers. It makes them feel good and important. I don't mind as long as they keep coming back and paying.

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With all due to respect sir, most of people have some form allergies in US especially to nuts. It was not part of any attention seeking activities.
I understand and the post is not intended to belittle anyone. I was merely talking about my reactions from times when hearing about these was very new to Indians. I guess we Indians are made of tougher stuff and can repel most allergies

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What does the law state about the taxation part? If a bottle of water with an MRP of 20 is marked as 100 on the menu, is applying an additional tax on 100 considered legal?
The GST regime in its current form (for restaurants) has been simplified. The govt has removed input tax credit facility for restaurants hence all input taxes in items procured are full costs. So it's not as if restaurants are claiming set off of the tax paid on procurement of the water bottle but not passing it on to the customers. This was happening earlier so to clamp down on the practice the GST was reduced from 12% to 5% and input tax credit withdrawn.

The authorities are not concerned about the breakup of the final item (in your example Rs 20 for the water and Rs 80 for the value added service, whatever it might be). For them the selling price is a unified Rs 100. They are only concerned with whether you are applying the correct GST slab (5% for most restaurants) and are paying to the government what you are charging the customer.

It is left to the restaurant how to charge it. If your menu says GST not included then you charge Rs 100 + 5 = Rs 105 and pay Rs 5 to govt. If your menu says GST included you reverse calculate the tax (Rs 4.76) and pay that to the govt. I follow the latter model to make life simpler for the customer. Moreover, I have stopped serving packaged (MRP) items (for other reasons) so I no longer have this complication in my life. Clean, filtered water is free in my restaurant and anyone can have it !

Last edited by Malyaj : 16th August 2019 at 12:39.
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Old 16th August 2019, 12:37   #36
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I have visited a few 5 star places in the last few years and many a times I have seen customers packing additional food from the lunch-dinner buffet in containers they have brought along with them. Is it ethical to do that? Yes, you're paying for the buffet and all, but still. Most of them do it trying to be discreet, but even otherwise, I have not seen the waiters or managers confronting these customers. I think its wrong but then, happened to see a stand-up by Atul Khatri where he mentions doing the same when he visited America. Is this acceptable behaviour?

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Old 16th August 2019, 13:08   #37
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@mobydick1983,

Bringing your own containers and packing food from buffets is absolutely unethical. All said and done, buffet pricing is done assuming average consumption by an average person (adding for the fact that people will over eat at buffets). It has no provision for people wanting to make it their next meal as well.

Someone might say I have not consumed fruit during breakfast so I am justified in carrying along some apples with me. Do not agree! This logic can be extended to anything so one needs to a draw a very clear, non-negotiable line which is standard for everyone. Sadly, drawing this line is easier said than done unless one goes to the extent of making it explicit in the form of a notice. But this again may offend people.

Staff do not confront such customers, especially in more premium restaurants because they are trained to not offend the customer. They know what is happening in front of them is wrong but they also know that if the matter escalates his seniors will eventually give in to avoid creating a scene in an otherwise cordial environment.

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Old 16th August 2019, 13:15   #38
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clear, non-negotiable line which is standard for everyone.

Staff do not confront such customers, especially in more premium restaurants because .
How do you manage Zomato, Swiggy, Uber eats etc? How are the margins? Is it true that these orders have significantly smaller portion sizes typically 2 for 3? What is the percentage of food raw material costs to the total running costs of the setup, including wastage (perishables) ? Do you get a significant bulk purchase advantage over retail prices, that we pay for spices, rice, atta or whatever? Veggies especially.

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Old 16th August 2019, 14:00   #39
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How do you manage Zomato, Swiggy, Uber eats etc? How are the margins? Is it true that these orders have significantly smaller portion sizes typically 2 for 3? What is the percentage of food raw material costs to the total running costs of the setup, including wastage (perishables) ? Do you get a significant bulk purchase advantage over retail prices, that we pay for spices, rice, atta or whatever? Veggies especially.
This is a different subject altogether, but to quickly answer your questions-

1. Margins in online business are poor especially given the current discount madness. Bearing aggregator commission as well as discount leaves very very little.

2. There is no reason to serve smaller portions for online orders if you are charging the same as in your offline menu.

3. Food cost as % of total costs will vary hugely depending on the kind of establishment. For a 5 star restaurants food cost is a small % of total costs due to much higher overheads.

4. Bulk purchase savings also vary widely depending on the item. For some items, such as poultry and foodgrains the savings are higher, not so much for spices and dairy items.
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Old 16th August 2019, 14:43   #40
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Glad you enjoyed the post! I will PM the name and address of the restaurant. Do visit us The meal will be on us !
Who doesn't love a free meal? You just set yourself up to become bankrupt, since a vast majority of BHPians from Bangalore would expect you to send them your address and provide a free meal!
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3. Food cost as % of total costs will vary hugely depending on the kind of establishment. For a 5 star restaurants food cost is a small % of total costs due to much higher overheads.
Would I be correct in stating that if the food cost of a restaurant exceeds 30-35% of its income, something is not right?
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Old 16th August 2019, 15:25   #41
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Who doesn't love a free meal? You just set yourself up to become bankrupt, since a vast majority of BHPians from Bangalore would expect you to send them your address and provide a free meal!
I am already bankrupt !

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Would I be correct in stating that if the food cost of a restaurant exceeds 30-35% of its income, something is not right?
We are talking of 2 different metrics here
1) Food cost as a % of sales
2) Food cost as a % of total operating costs (this is not used much)

Both metrics will vary as per the format of the restaurant. Input cost of chicken is almost the same, whether you are an ITC Maurya or a Biryani Zone or a neighborhood standalone restaurant. In fact larger chains will have lower procurement costs due to scale and the fact that they might be doing some of the processing in house.

A 5-star restaurant selling Biryani at Rs 1000 a plate does not have a food cost of 35% or Rs 350, whereas one selling for Rs 200 a plate will likely hit that %.

My advice to people (not that I am myself very experienced in this business) is not to be obsessed with other restaurants' metrics unless you have a near identical structure as them. Instead strive to keep lowering your costs compared to what they are.

Another dynamic which has thrown the % benchmarks out of the window is online ordering. Almost all restaurants are selling online at discount. There is absolutely no way you can keep your food cost to 35% for these orders after accounting for discounts and aggregator commission
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Old 16th August 2019, 17:57   #42
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There is absolutely no way you can keep your food cost to 35% for these orders after accounting for discounts and aggregator commission
There are many places which have started to inflate the online or aggregator channel prices. I have noticed this as I have frequently visited some place from where i also order online.

In general in B2C, discounting is used as psychological hook to create repeat customer base. This has now turned full blown monster for some industries.
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Old 16th August 2019, 19:24   #43
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I am already bankrupt !


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1) Food cost as a % of sales
That's what I mean. Food cost = ingredient + labour costs.
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A 5-star restaurant selling Biryani at Rs 1000 a plate does not have a food cost of 35% or Rs 350, whereas one selling for Rs 200 a plate will likely hit that %.
Well, the 5-star restaurant has higher labour cost, because they need to pay their chefs... while the smaller place will employ a cook at lesser pay.
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Another dynamic which has thrown the % benchmarks out of the window is online ordering. Almost all restaurants are selling online at discount. There is absolutely no way you can keep your food cost to 35% for these orders after accounting for discounts and aggregator commission
Online food delivery apps also provide free advertising, which is a boon for smaller eateries, isn't it? The discount and commission are at least partly offset by the free advertising, I presume?
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Old 16th August 2019, 19:46   #44
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That's what I mean. Food cost = ingredient + labour costs.
No. When we talk about food cost, it is just the material cost. At the most some restaurants may want to include cooking gas into it. Labour is a fixed cost and is clubbed with other fixed costs such as rent and maintenance. In the restaurant industry it is a convention to flatten fixed cost into a per day basis. For example if my fixed monthly costs are Rs 1.5 lakh, it is Rs 5000 per day. Now let's assume my food+LPG cost is 50%, it means I need to do sales of Rs 10,000 per day just to break even. Any sales above that goes to profit (after deducting food cost). This is the 'back of the envelop' calculation that all owners work with.


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Online food delivery apps also provide free advertising, which is a boon for smaller eateries, isn't it? The discount and commission are at least partly offset by the free advertising, I presume?
This is true. I don't think any restaurant grudges the aggregator fee. The industry is increasingly getting frustrated with the discount wars. The usual stickiness created by discounts benefits only the aggregators. The restaurants are far too numerous, can be dumped (and are dumped) like hot potatoes if they withdraw the discounts. The apps will stay, all restaurants will not. Moreover, as existing restaurants die, new ones spring up, all forced to play the same discount game.

There are virtually no entry barriers. Entering is easy. It is surviving that is difficult.
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Old 16th August 2019, 20:22   #45
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Who doesn't love a free meal? You just set yourself up to become bankrupt, since a vast majority of BHPians from Bangalore would expect you to send them your address and provide a free meal!
Na na, this free meal comes after completing a task, the task has multiple steps; which are as follows:
1) Reach IGI airport
2) Get the flight to Bengaluru
3) Reach Bengaluru
4) Take a cab to his restaurant!
5) Search for him and show this thread
6) Prove your identity
7) Sit and talk cars, drink only water till then
8) If your talks meet Team-BHP standards, then you get the food
9) Return back and post good reviews!

So, when are we going to BLR?
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