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Confessions Of A Restauranteur: How To Save Money

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Every day this week, we’re letting you in on a secret, a piece of information from different industry insiders that will help you save money.

This week, a chef and restaurant owner confess. And Bistro 11 Chef Andrew Suthers isn’t just mincing words.

“Standard mark up is probably 30 percent food cost, but there’s some places that don’t have any problem charging 50 to 60 percent mark-up because they’re this name brand,” said Suthers.

Owner Kristin Rotter says while house wine looks like a deal, it’s not.

“When you order a glass of house wine most of the time one glass pays for entire box or bottle of that wine,” said Rotter.

She says go a tier up. The highest-priced wine usually has the least amount of mark-up.

And that’s not the only place owners drink up the profits. Call your well drinks.

“There’s a huge difference between the bottom and a Smirnoff, and you’re only paying a dollar or two more a drink,” said Rotter.

Suthers says to look for tricks on the menu.

“$8.95 is less scary than $9. That’s the oldest trick in the book,” said Suthers, “Something that may be worth $6 or $7, let’s throw that extra 95 cents on. That way you’re not scaring anyone away, but you’re making 95 cents per plate.”

Watch what you order, too. Suthers says anything frozen is marked up, and so is anything fried.

And then there’s steak.

“There’s a bigger mark up on steak, in general. If you go and look at cuts, if you look at a filet mignon versus rib eye there’s a bigger mark up on filet, even though rib eye is the better steak,” said Rotter.

Service can also play a role in how big your bill becomes.

“Be careful of servers looking to take your entire order at once, appetizer, dinner and desert,” said Rotter. “They’re not looking out for your best interest; they’re looking out for their ticket.”

The thinking is they’ll get everything onto your bill, before you become full.

Another tip is to always take advantage of restaurant specials. They’re usually losing money on whatever the deal is to either entice you back, or they’re hoping you spend more money on other items.

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