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10 BEST and Most Profitable Brewery Foods and Menu Items

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Justin GuinnAuthor

Most Profitable Brewery Foods and Menu Items

Brewpubs can be a great place to meet a group of friends, grab a drink and a bite, and hang out for a while. 

While beer is obviously central, brewery owners and operators can focus on the most profitable brewery foods to help boost their bottom line.

Cost-effective ingredients, creative recipes, strategic pricing, and customer preferences play a crucial role in maximizing the profitability of brewery menu items. Whether it's sandwiches and burgers, bar food staples, or more intricate items, the most profitable brewery foods can help menus strike a balance between popularity and profitability.

In this article, we'll explore the key ingredients of sustained brewery profitability, delve into individual brewery menu item profitability, and explain how to analyze menu items to calculate plate costs, menu prices, and overall profitability.

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Key ingredients of sustained brewery profitability

Brewing profitability in a brewery requires more than great beer. Here are the key factors to consider when developing your menu of profitable brewery foods:

  1. Cost-effective ingredients: Like any kitchen space, breweries must utilize cost-effective ingredients. Staples like bread, produce, meat, and dairy provide a solid foundation for profitability.

  2. Quality and presentation: The appearance and taste of brewery items play a pivotal role. Using fresh and high-quality ingredients coupled with appealing presentation justifies premium pricing and enhances profitability.

  3. Unique creations: Differentiate your brewery by offering unique, signature creations. Integrating your beer into the recipes can help connect both sides of the operation.

  4. Seasonal specials: Adapt brewery foods to seasonal ingredients, whether it's holiday-themed drinks or seasonal produce for salads and sandwiches. Seasonal specials can create anticipation and boost sales.

  5. Pairings and complements: Encourage customers to pair their food items with beer flights or other combos. Upselling opportunities can help improve the overall dining experience and increase profitability.

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Analyzing the most profitable brewery foods on your menu

High-margin menus typically combine popular, profitable, and high-cost dishes. 

Brewery menus typically stick to a relatively brief product mix (pmix). Regardless of your menu makeup, analyzing your current offerings can help you improve your menu and ensure it’s a moneymaker.

Achieving consistent profitability can depend on balancing your prime costs — the combination of your labor costs and your cost of goods sold (COGS)

Understanding these costs and calculating them on a regular basis — because they change — is the first step to a profitable menu.

Once you’re able to consistently measure profitability (plate cost vs avg price of menu item) and popularity (total sales) of each of your menu items, you can conduct menu engineering. The process of menu engineering takes these costs into consideration along with other key menu factors, such as guest psychology, menu design, and more.

The end result should be an understanding of which menu items contribute the most profits, based on their sales frequency and average profit margin.

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Most profitable brewery foods

Here are some of the most profitable brewery foods that can elevate your brewery's success and boost your bottom line:

  1. Artisanal sandwiches: The variety of freshly made sandwiches offers a wide range of flavors and potential roles for your brewery. Use unique ingredients to complement different beers on draft throughout the year.

  2. Burgers: Burgers can be a safe haven for guests that aren’t looking to press their culinary boundaries. And at the same time, depending on the toppings, burgers can press culinary boundaries.

  3. Salads: Offer a wide array of unique and healthy fresh salad options full of vegetables, fruits and seafood or other proteins.

  4. Pastries: A variety of delightful meat-filled pastries can enhance sales and be an interesting option that sets your menu apart from other kitchens.

  5. Specially crafted non-alcoholic drinks: Balancing beers with coffee, lattes, seltzers, and other in-house drinks can be a great way to pad margins while offering something for all guests.

By focusing on the most profitable brewery foods and implementing strategic pricing, brewery operators can tap into a prosperous market and ensure sustained profitability. 

With the right mix of cost-effective ingredients, quality, creativity, pricing, and the selection of profitable brewery foods, your brewery can thrive and meet customer demands in the long term.

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Brewery Menu Templates

Use these brewery menu templates as a starting point for your menu design or to give your menu a refresh.

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Achieving success with strategic menu item pricing

Proper pricing is essential to ensure profitability in your brewery. Here are some tactics to consider when setting or revamping your brewery prices.

  1. Cost analysis: Understand the cost of ingredients, labor, and overhead to establish a baseline price. Pricing should not only cover costs but also allow for a healthy profit margin.

  2. Competitive analysis: Research local competitors to determine what they charge for similar brewery foods. Price competitively while showcasing the quality and uniqueness of your offerings.

  3. Multiple price tiers: Offer a range of prices to cater to different customer segments. Include premium, mid-range, and budget-friendly options, allowing customers to choose based on their level of hunger, time on-site, and budgets.

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Menu Engineering Course

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Optimizing brewery operations with the right blend of tech and service models

Offering the right restaurant foods can make a significant impact on the overall profitability of your business. Folding some or all of these most profitable restaurant foods into your menu may help boost profit margins on your sales.

Here are a few other ways to help encourage greater restaurant profitability, including restaurant cost breakdowns, restaurant technology, and optimized service models.

Adjust what goes on your plate 

Just like with your beers, calculating plate costs can show you exactly the costs and profit margins for individual menu items. It’s the combination of recipe cost, portion costs, and individual ingredient costs. It can help brewery owners see exactly how each component is contributing to the overall profitability — making it easier to achieve an ideal balance between portions, prices, and profits.

Remove popular items that’ve lost profitability

If plate costs become too high, brewery kitchen operators should be careful not to fall into a trap of sentimentality. Underbelly Hospitality Group realized that the cost of chicken had risen dramatically, fluctuating between 30 and 40 percent higher than usual. Rather than sacrifice the quality or portion size of their famed, crowd-pleaser wings, they pulled them entirely.

Get more efficient with scheduling

More staff doesn’t equal better service. Too many team members and not enough work leads to complacency. Then everyone loses — staff members and their tips and engagement, customers missing out on great experiences, and your ballooned labor costs

Restaurant scheduling software that’s integrated with payroll software can help you take control of your weekly staff schedule and associated costs. 

Implement the New Steps of Service

What if a single adjustment could improve guest and employee experiences while saving on labor costs? Sounds too good to be true until you dive into the New Steps of Service — with streamlined service that can empower guests to order and pay at the table whenever they like. It also enables your front-of-house staff to pick up a handheld POS and help bust the line on your busiest days.

Leverage granular reporting within your restaurant software

Invoice processing automation is an automated tool that digitizes critical invoice line-item data. 

Having this ingredient pricing data readily available can simplify your ability to calculate COGS, monitor price fluctuations, and take action on the COGS side of your ongoing restaurant cost breakdowns.

Just like with invoice automation for food costs, scheduling and payroll and team management tools can help automate and simplify labor cost calculations. 

You likely don’t have time to manually calculate individual payrolls — and you definitely don’t have time to add all that up to get your cumulative labor costs. An easy-to-use payroll and team management software gives you transparency and visibility into fluctuations in your weekly labor costs, tip pooling breakdowns, payroll taxes, and deductions. 

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Restaurant Invoice Automation Guide

Use this guide to learn more about your restaurant invoices, the value within, and how to consistently and accurately tap into it to make smarter decisions.

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Where to go from here

Combining Toast and xtraCHEF can help all types of restaurants access reports on daily sales, costs, and how they’re impacting profitability.

Toast Payroll and Team Management, as well as Scheduling, powered by Sling, work together to uncover valuable labor trends so you can make better decisions.

xtraCHEF by Toast empowers you to drill into line-item level detail for every ingredient on each of your supplier invoices.

Together, these tools can automate and simplify the process of creating restaurant cost breakdowns.

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