How Do Restaurants Decide On A Price For A Buffet?

July 9, 2019

The price you pay at a buffet style restaurant can vary dramatically depending on the restaurant in question, the style of cuisine they have on offer, the amount of choices they have prepared and the quality of the cuisine.

What are the general guidelines for working out the cost per customer at a particular buffet?

Most restaurant that operate using a la carte menus can easily calculate the cost of a particular dish. The cost of all the ingredients in any given dish are simply added up to indicate the total cost of that dish to the restaurant. From there the restaurant can work out a menu price by adding in overheads and adjusting the price according to portion sizes, quality specifications etc.

With a buffet, however, things can become a little more complicated. After all, guests aren’t eating a prepared plate of food, instead, filling their own plates with a number of dishes that are available. With some amounts of food being thrown away at the end of the day, a buffet restaurant can prepare and cook food that isn’t being eaten.

The amount people eat at a buffet varies wildly. Some guests may eat just one plate of food whilst another may be able to put away three or four plates full of food. That means that some of your guests will eat more food than they have technically paid for, whilst others won’t.

An important thing to remember when pricing food for a buffet is that if it is served (displayed on the buffet) then it is incurring a cost to the restaurant, whether it is eaten or not.

So to calculate the cost of food you should know the empty weight of each serving platters, so over the course of a service you can see how much the weight of food decreases by weighing each item as it leaves the kitchen and again at the end of service.

Once the total cost of your buffet has been calculated, it is divided by the number of covers for that day yielding the average cost per guest and an average price for how much to charge each person.

There are great software programmes that can calculate actual food costs of each and every item leaving the kitchen, a tedious job at first but one which yields great long-term results when it comes to accurate pricing.

Here at Royal Nawaab’ restaurant in London, we produce the finest quality dishes whilst keeping our buffet affordable for the whole family to enjoy.