Becoming Balanced: Foodservice Management Systems is now Balanced Read More

Restauranting During a Pandemic – The “Essential” Fight Against COVID-19

Restauranting During a Pandemic – The “Essential” Fight Against COVID-19

Restauranting During a Pandemic – The “Essential” Fight Against COVID-19

It’s August 2020 and restaurants are in the fight of their life with either limited occupancy or no dine-in business at all, and the kicker — tables that must be 6 feet apart. Not to mention, bars are forbidden to operate. It is no secret that our industry is hurting.

Empty Restaurant

Our nation is at war with an invisible enemy; an enemy that has traveled the globe taking innocent lives. COVID-19 has emptied a million plus restaurants throughout our country, but true to the entrepreneurial spirit that is restauranting, this industry is facing adversity head on and fighting the essential fight.

Seventy percent of the restaurants in the US are classified as small businesses.

These businesses range from multigenerational restaurants like Matt’s El Rancho to franchisees of beloved brands like Mr. Gatti’s Pizza. The restaurant industry is deemed essential along with grocery stores because they provide food, yet grocery stores are busting at the seams with people. Most have lines wrapped around the building and employees exhausted from restocking toilet paper. Restaurants on the other hand are more than struggling.

Line around grocery store building

Restaurants are finding a new normal though – one that keeps people out of dining rooms but still puts food on the table. For a lot of restaurants, the new normal is not about profitability, but an underlying commitment and unspoken code to serve. We want to serve the millions of restaurant industry employees that are unable to work. We want to serve those on the frontline a meal of gratitude and encouragement. Most of all, we want to serve our neighbors and friends in the industry with compassion, understanding and togetherness.

Providing meals to frontline workers

This moment in history is not the time to share decades of experience or best practices – no one alive has experience in turning a profit during a global pandemic. In this moment, we are here to say the struggle is real, and we feel your pain – we are living it with you.

Remember, seven out of every ten restaurants are classified as small businesses. This means more than likely, the restaurants next door and down the street are trying to survive just like you. Community is key – reach out to them and see if you can work together. Maybe it’s a “ticket swap” promotion: show your receipt from the hamburger place down the street to get 25% off an ice cream purchase, or maybe it’s a special coupon: partner together one coupon that has a special for each restaurant.

Now more than ever is the time to come together in our industry. At this point it’s about finding a way to stay in business and continue to serve the communities we love.

Austin, TX restaurant

The Balanced team looks forward to brighter days ahead and returning to business as usual. We can’t wait to talk about “Ways to Improve Labor Cost” and “Finding the Best POS for Your Restaurant”. In the interim, know that we are here. Need information on unemployment or pay reductions? Our Cindy has all the knowledge. Need help with a landlord that thinks money grows on trees? You need Bill Boone. Even during a pandemic, perhaps especially so, we’re here to help get you Balanced.

About Balanced

Put simply, we are your partner. We help find balance in the crazy and exciting world of restaurant. Our clients are some of Austin’s favorite eateries. We help hospitality/restaurant clients with bookkeeping & financial serviceshuman resourcesmarketingoperations and all the fun in between.

Ready to get started? Us too. Contact us today

How to Lower Food Costs: A Guide for Restaurant Owners

How to Lower Food Costs: A Guide for Restaurant Owners

We’re not going to sugarcoat it – controlling food cost is one of the toughest tasks for restaurant owners and operators. It’s not rocket science but it’s tricky because there’s no universal target food cost. Food cost varies based on the menu, season and restaurant concept. The fun part? Food cost will never be the same. It should be within a range but never the same because sales and product costs change by the day, week and month. Cool, right! *SARCASM* It’s not cool but the Balanced restaurant operations team has some insights that can help make food cost more manageable.

Introducing the Balanced Four Ps of Food Cost. If you come to us with food cost woes, we’ll start with the following:


Menu price is very important when it comes to food cost. High food cost can be a direct result of low menu pricing. It’s important to consider the cost of each ingredient on a dish as well as the materials that are being used to serve or deliver the dish (more on this on #4). Do you discount? Discounting will also directly impact food cost. If you usually charge $15 for a large specialty pizza but send coupons out for a $10 large specialty pizza, the food cost for a large specialty pizza will go up. We’re not saying not to coupon/discount (that’s a different post); couponing needs to be accounted for when calculating food cost. In short, know how much it costs to make each product on your menu and the percentage that cost is to the menu price or coupon price.

Portion Control

No matter who makes the dish or on what day, it should always be the same. Same ingredients and same portions. Make charts and plate builds are key to ensuring consistency. These handy guides will have the name of the dish, a breakdown of each ingredient, cooking instructions, plating/garnish instructions and step by step photos. Make charts are beefed-up recipe manuals. These how to guides are the lifeline of successful kitchens. Inconsistent portions are a fast track to high food costs.


Finding the perfect mix of prep, waste and sales is key to manageable food cost. You’re going to have waste, but it can and should be minimized. This is where projections and prep charts come in – how much are you targeting to do in sales and how much prep do you need to do to support those sales? Tracking/monitoring waste is very important. When it comes to a new restaurant, projections can be daunting – are we going to have as many guests as we did yesterday or last week? Did we prep enough or too much? Honestly, all restaurants ask these questions but we’re in this for the thrills, right?


Believe it or not, packaging is a piece of food cost. Pizza boxes, to-go cups, the plastic utensils – all of it goes into food cost. All those fancy biodegradable bowls and plates and compostable pizza boxes influence food cost. Eco Friendly is not pocket friendly for restaurants. Most of the eco friendly packaging will run two if not three times more than the dreaded Styrofoam. For this reason, packaging plays a very important role in food cost, especially for restaurants looking to increase delivery or takeout business. Make those prices with third party vendors (delivery providers) count, they should not be the same price as dine in.

The Four Ps of Food Cost is where we start and usually lead to at least one issue to address. Sometimes it’s one P, like projections – we’re missing our sales projections by 10% so we’re taking on more waste. Sometimes it’s a Code Blue and all the Ps are impacted. Whatever the case the Balanced team is standing by to help!

About Balanced

Put simply, we are your partner. We help find balance in the crazy and exciting world of restaurant. Our clients are some of Austin’s favorite eateries. We help with bookkeeping & financial services, human resources, marketing, operations and all the fun in between.

Ready to get started? Us too. Contact us today–