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Thread: Food Ideas for Small Bar & Grill

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN
    Posts
    3

    Food Ideas for Small Bar & Grill

    I am in process of purchasing a small bar & grill in my neighborhood (should be mine in 3 days). This bar currently has 2 pool teams and 10 dart teams that play out of it and overall is a budding business that just needs someone to take it to the next level. I hope to bring liquor in within a year as right now, it is just a beer bar.

    I went over the books and this bar is averaging 6500.00 per month in sales but only about 8%-12% of that is food. My first goal is to increase traffic and raise sales by 10% and I'd like to have food become a higher percentage of total sales, say in the 15%-18% area.

    This is a Pool & Dart bar and caters to the teams that play there as the primary source of nightly business through the week and there is Karaoke on Friday & Saturday.

    I've estimated traffic to be 200-220 people per week from the 2 weeks that I've monitored the place. The kitchen lacks a commercial hood system meaning no steaks or other high dollar items that some bars can serve.

    So, one of the first things I want to tackle is beefing up the menu as the existing owner had not put any real effort into making the kitchen a money maker.

    I'm restricted in use to a conventional oven and stove top, George Foreman type grills, table top deep fryers, a toaster oven and micro-wave.

    The current menu has:

    Burgers
    Egg Rolls (SW Chicken and Regular)
    BBQ Pork Sandwhiches
    Grilled Cheese (popular there already)
    Nachos
    Grilled Cheese
    Chicken Fingers
    Fries
    Jalapeno Poppers

    I'm going to add:
    Wings (my own sauces)
    Quesadilas
    Onion Rings
    Chips & Salsa (my own recipe)

    Beyond some of these additions that I feel will do well to bolster the kitchen without raising my food costs through the roof do any of you have any suggestions for good finger foods or bar foods that can be added to spice up the menu a bit. In case it helps, this business is located in Chattanooga, TN. Thanks for any and all input.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    midwest
    Posts
    33
    You might find that your stove and fryers might require a hood system to use when you get inspections. The old owner may be using them against code. Be careful.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    ky
    Posts
    610
    six thousand and five hundred dollars?? for the month?? how much beer do they buy a month?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Sacramento Valley (CA)
    Posts
    498
    From the way you describe the "kitchen", I wonder how legal it is, particularly according to the health department. Here in Northern California my county health department writes us up if they find any non-commercial non-NSF approved equipment on the premises. You might want to look into this just to understand where you stand.

    (We do not have a hood system, but we do have a microwave oven, convection oven and soup cooker/warmers that are NSF commercial grade. For special events we have also used non-NSF crock pots and 18 quart Nesco roasters but we get them out of the building right after the event and store them offsite.)

    Most of the food we do now is given away.....taco nights, chili dogs or chowder during football and pool league nights, etc. We did a great St. Pat's Day meal (36 lbs of brisket, with all the sides) using nothing but the two roasters and a crock pot.

    The commercial convection oven was a recent purchase with the intent of develop a small "pub grub" menu. It can be used for wings, chicken strips, poppers, and nearly anything baked. We are also considering purchasing an "Autofry" machine.

    As for what to prepare, first determine who your local wholesaler sources are (Sysco, Cash&Carry, Jetro, Costco, Sams, etc) and go there to see what is readily available from them. Larger wholesalers may have partially cooked frozen items that require reheating rather than cooking. Read the labels. Figure out the expected profit margin. Get sample quantities to try out.

    Consider your storage space as well. Do you have a big freezer or walk-in cooler? You don't want to have to shop continuously for the stuff!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Chattanooga, TN
    Posts
    3
    I appreciate the kind advice on checking about the legality of the kitchen. I've already reviewed the health inspection reports from the last 4 quarterly inspections (scores ranging from 92-98) and checked on local law and it's within code. Thankfully, the owner has kept a very clean kitchen, just not a profitable one.

    I'd like to find interesting ideas for menu items that can expand on what I'm already going to be serving and am hoping that creative minds out there can share some of their secrets to success in this area.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Boston
    Posts
    56
    Fried pickles, panini sandwichees (you can get real creative here ie tomato and mozarella, buffalo chix), beer battered stuff ie onion rings and fries, curly fries, waffle fries, buffalo falvored mozarella sticks (these are fairly new that some dsitributors are carrying), blooming onions....avocado dip, spinach and artichoke, ....

    Check out an oven called TurboChef, they are over 10K new but pop up on eBay pretty cheap a lot. They use some cool technology to cook stuff even like steaks pretty fast. www.turbochef.com we did a lot of research on these as we were opening a bar that had no kicthen at all. I went to their test ktchen and it really did work well...def not worth the sticker price but if you can snag one from a out of business subway or on craigslist/ebay then definitely worth it. Do need a 220 V dedictaed circuit though.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Wilmington NC
    Posts
    62
    Burgers
    Egg Rolls (SW Chicken and Regular)
    BBQ Pork Sandwhiches
    Grilled Cheese (popular there already)
    Nachos, Grilled Cheese, Chicken Fingers,Fries,Jalapeno Poppers
    I'm going to add:,Wings (my own sauces),Quesadilas,Onion Rings
    Chips & Salsa (my own recipe)

    The only advice I can give you is do soomething that is totally your own creation. The menu you have is like alot of Bar menu's. Come up with your own Monster sandwich. It might be that the sandwich is so big it feeds four people. You could offer the monster sandwich and if they can eat it with in a certain time limit it is free. What ever you create just make it good. Fries-Why don't you make a whole menu of fries. Fries can be topped with anything. Be daring. Alot of people will try it a least once so don't be afraid.
    Fresh Soup is always a winner. They are easy to make and can be made ahead of time. Have a Chilli or chowder cook off and the winning receipe goes on the menu. Home made pretzels always great with beer.
    What ever you choose to do just do it well. Good Luck

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Central,NJ
    Posts
    378
    Quote Originally Posted by BostonDave View Post
    Fried pickles, panini sandwichees (you can get real creative here ie tomato and mozarella, buffalo chix), beer battered stuff ie onion rings and fries, curly fries, waffle fries, buffalo falvored mozarella sticks (these are fairly new that some dsitributors are carrying), blooming onions....avocado dip, spinach and artichoke, ....

    Check out an oven called TurboChef, they are over 10K new but pop up on eBay pretty cheap a lot. They use some cool technology to cook stuff even like steaks pretty fast. www.turbochef.com we did a lot of research on these as we were opening a bar that had no kicthen at all. I went to their test ktchen and it really did work well...def not worth the sticker price but if you can snag one from a out of business subway or on craigslist/ebay then definitely worth it. Do need a 220 V dedictaed circuit though.
    l have a "trak-air" oven that l have no need for if someone is looking for one cheap,l only used it for 1 month and it looks like brand new,pm me if anyone is interested only $750.00 plus shipping

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Location
    Daytona Beach Florida
    Posts
    84
    Chicken wings sell everywhere, onion rings are hit and miss, and fries are great.

    You might also want to consider offering something like a BLT, the smell of the toast cooking alone is going to make more of your patrons want to eat (we sometimes leave the kitchen door open in our supper club and set a fan on to blow the smell of toast through the server station door and on to the dance floor LOL).

    Our top selling items in the past 6 months have been wings, fries, burgers, hummus with pita chips and chicken alfredo.

    Regards,

    Lee

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    ar
    Posts
    109

    pizza and wings

    buy a small ventless fryer and sell wings:

    one brand is called molenex ( less than $75 ) and it is the size of a standard crock pot. next buy franks famous hotsauce. next fill the fryer with oil and drop in the wings.

    when cooked dump on a plate and add cellery/carrots. gold mine!

    pizza is the most prfitable and affordable menu item. if a 15 year old pimple faced high school drop-out can make one than so can you. nothing to it from making the dough to making the pies.

    invest in a standard pizza oven or even a residential oven will work. no high speed fire surpression system required. forget the brick oven bs. buy the dough ( make sure it is pizza dough ), make a sauce, buy mozzarela and all the other extras and your in business. make a thin crust gourmet style pizza and your in business. no muss, no fuss, lots of cash.

    specialize in your foods. commercial fryers are great and maximize your food earning potential, but also require alot more bs.

    keep it simple and sensational.

    tappas - sandwiches and for hot ones buy a simple panini grill to serve warm.

    imo the bars that will weather the current/pending finnacial doom will be the ones that are simple, yet offer a more expansive offering from not only spirits, but food as well and even coffe depending on your hours and locale.

    good luck

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Bluefield West Virginia
    Posts
    333
    I would suggest you watch Diners, Drive-ins and Dives....you can get some great food ideas on that show. My personal suggestion, awesome gourmet chili dogs.

  12. #12
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    sacramento, ca
    Posts
    359
    I'm in the same boat. My new places kitchen is 22 feet by 5 feet wide, yea 5 feet. Not vent. I have been looking into the wells ventless grill, about 10,000 though.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    NY
    Posts
    6
    Quote Originally Posted by BostonDave View Post
    Fried pickles, panini sandwichees (you can get real creative here ie tomato and mozarella, buffalo chix), beer battered stuff ie onion rings and fries, curly fries, waffle fries, buffalo falvored mozarella sticks (these are fairly new that some dsitributors are carrying), blooming onions....avocado dip, spinach and artichoke, ....

    Check out an oven called TurboChef, they are over 10K new but pop up on eBay pretty cheap a lot. They use some cool technology to cook stuff even like steaks pretty fast. www.turbochef.com we did a lot of research on these as we were opening a bar that had no kicthen at all. I went to their test ktchen and it really did work well...def not worth the sticker price but if you can snag one from a out of business subway or on craigslist/ebay then definitely worth it. Do need a 220 V dedictaed circuit though.
    I've seen those but was affraid that they worked like the ovens at Subway, that leave everything tasting "microwaved" and tough if not eaten immediately.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    13
    Hello Everyone and especially Troy,

    Let me get this straight. You have a cook top grill and deep fat fryer with no hood system with a fire supression system? And your Health Department is okay with this? Did you check with your local Fire Chief? Does your insurance carrier know this? Be careful my friend. Very risky business if you ask me.

    Okay, enough with the warnings and cautions. If you do indeed have a cook top and some pots to boil water in; how about Spaghetti with large meet balls? Chicken Alfredo? I say, stick to the comfort foods.

    In this economy, people was good, tasty, affordable food with their drink.

    Keep us posted on what you decide. If you'd like you can take a look at my working menu at www.badmonkeybistro.com.

    Cheers,
    Daniel

  15. #15
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Maine USA
    Posts
    281
    I have a quick question about bar food. We are planing on daily specials such as shepherds pie, meat loaf, home made mac n cheese, chilies and soups ect. We are going to rely on the catering service next door to provide our food. I am hoping to have a electric food warmers that hold chafing dishes. Possibility two warmers and two crock pots. Is it possible to serve all this from a 4 and a half foot stainless table or do you think it will be tight? We do not expect to do large volumes of food.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Portland OR
    Posts
    16
    Hungry Man TV Dinners Could Be A Hit?

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Scranton, Pa
    Posts
    1

    Food Ideas

    One of my more popular items are Wing Bites, and Wing Bite Wraps. 3 Chicken Tenders, cut bite size, coat with your Wing sauce. For the Wrap, lightly heat the wrap, spread with Blue Cheese, add Bites. Optional: Cheese, Lettuce

    I also do Devil Fries. After frying your Fries, coat with Wing Sauce, top with Mozzarella Cheese, place under broiler. Rotate the plate to be certain cheese melts evenly, and doesnt burn

    Good Luck!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Denver via Houston
    Posts
    13
    Quote Originally Posted by Troy Viney View Post

    The current menu has:

    Burgers
    Egg Rolls (SW Chicken and Regular)
    BBQ Pork Sandwhiches
    Grilled Cheese (popular there already)
    Nachos
    Grilled Cheese
    Chicken Fingers
    Fries
    Jalapeno Poppers

    I'm going to add:
    Wings (my own sauces)
    Quesadilas
    Onion Rings
    Chips & Salsa (my own recipe)

    Beyond some of these additions that I feel will do well to bolster the kitchen without raising my food costs through the roof do any of you have any suggestions for good finger foods or bar foods that can be added to spice up the menu a bit. In case it helps, this business is located in Chattanooga, TN. Thanks for any and all input.
    What you need to do is utilize your inventory/stock in more than one way. This is an easy way to expand your menu. Say you have chicken tenders on your menu. You have chicken tenders as an appetizer (with ranch or BBQ sauce), then you could also have a chicken tenders salad with honey mustard dressing, and also a chicken tenders sandwich served with fries / onion rings / side salad / etc.

    If you want to maximize your existing menu, you could add really large baked potatoes stuffed to the brim with your BBQ pork, or your own chili recipe and other existing toppings.

    How about deli sandwiches? You can pick up real quality deli meat from Wal-Mart / Sam's / Costco for cheap and maximize your profit by bringing in some QUALITY artisan bread and creating your own signature condiments (chipotle mayo / house honey mustard etc.)

    How about vegan / vegetarian items - pita chips & hummus, or specialty nights (tex mex / steak night (with big baked potatoes) / cajun night - jambalaya and crawfish by the pound if available etc.)

    I also agree with the above poster, Diner's Drive In's, and Dives is a GREAT inspiration and starting point for ideas! Good Luck!

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    Ithaca, NY
    Posts
    11
    What do you guys do with your used fryer oil?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    India
    Posts
    1

    Food idea

    Consider your storage space as well. Do you have a big freezer or walk-in cooler? You don't want to have to shop continuously for the stuff!
    ====================
    http://www.oldgoldforcash.info

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