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Menus, Marketing, & Management tips to grow your restaurant business.


French Restarant Prices

Setting menu prices in a French restaurant

A number of expectations and associations go along with French restaurants. When people think of French dining, they think of haute-cuisine, attentive but formal service, elegance, and style. And with these notions comes an expectation of higher prices. That can work to your restaurant's advantage in a few ways. On one hand, your restaurant is more likely to be forgiven a slightly over-priced menu than other types of establishments. On the other hand, pricing slightly low can make your restaurant seem like a great value. Determining optimal menu prices in a French restaurant can be tricky, but a few considerations help decide the best way to go.

Consider the Time Investment

Obviously the approximate cost of each food item's ingredients is a key factor when setting its menu price. It's standard in the industry for the cost of the ingredients to represent about one-third of the menu price. So, a dish made with $12 of ingredients would typically be priced around $36. But don't overlook prep time spent on the dish. If one or two cooks on your payroll put a significant amount of prep time into it, that adds to its true cost, and should raise the menu price accordingly. Similarly, if the meal is labor-intensive during service, as many French dishes are, the restaurant is entitled to add a bit onto the price.

Consider the Competition

The menu prices at other local restaurants, French or otherwise, of similar caliber must be taken into account when pricing your menu. In particular, note how the most successful of them price their food. Whether it's better to be cheaper or the same or more expensive is not an easy question to answer. While everyone loves a good deal, many patrons of French and other fine dining establishments associate high prices with quality. Making the determination depends on how you market your brand. Whichever way you go, you need to know what the competition is doing.

Consider Your Target Market

So, to best use the competition's menu prices when setting your own, decide how you want to present your restaurant. Is it great French food at a great price? If you're in a predominantly lower or middle class area, this may be the best tactic. Price your restaurant's menu items a few dollars lower than averages at the competition. Does your restaurant serve the most authentic, masterful haute-cuisine in the city? In an area well-stocked with upper class and wealthy clientele, having higher prices than the competition reinforces this image. Simply matching standard menu prices in the area can certainly work, but it does nothing to differentiate your restaurant or reinforce branding efforts.

Consider What You Give

The dining-savvy customers a French restaurant attracts recognize good value, they appreciate fair prices, and they know when they're getting ripped off. When setting your menu prices, reflect on the freshness and quality of your food and the expertise and care with which it is prepared. Be honest about your restaurant's standards. To what level do you elevate your service? How elegant is your atmosphere? In other words, do you meet and exceed the expectations your patrons have about French restaurants? Always offer prices that agree with what you provide the customer. You can only charge a lot if you give a lot.

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