November 2005 Edition
Cooking Up Profits from the Centre of the Plate

Cooking Up Profits

from the Centre of the Plate


There is no question that Beef is one of the key attractions of  any menu – in fact customers often evaluate restaurants solely on the quality of their beef offerings. The fact that beef can also be one of the most profitable items on a restaurant’s menu makes this protein a hands down winner.  So whether you are a fine dining restaurant, casual style or a down-home family operation you need to ensure you are maximizing the beef offerings on your menu.   

Beef has a high perceived value, which makes merchandising the attributes of quality, aging, grades and taste of beef entrees on your menu a sure way

to increase the overall profitability of your operation.  Not only will quality based beef positioning contribute to your gross profit margin, a well-executed beef program that ensures your guests enjoy a great beef experience every time will help to drive traffic to your restaurant, and generate increased sales.

What does “perceived value” mean and how does it affect the menu price? “Perceived value” pricing means setting the price of menu items at a level that offers good return while allowing you to sell the item in reasonable quantities. “The lowest prices in town” is never a good long-term success strategy. You need to understand how much the customer is willing to pay for the quality and service you provide.  The exact selling price you charge will depend on a number of factors including your concept, your customer demographics, your competition, and the day-part in which the meal is being served. This varies for everyone but there are some specific opportunities that operators have in common to maximize the “Perceived Value” pricing of beef on the menu.

Buy Quality – Understand the quality attributes that affect beef (grade, aging, cut etc.) and incorporate these into your specifications.

Execute on Quality – Proper receiving, handling, storing and cooking procedures greatly influence the finished product, so make sure you have these in place.

Communicate Quality – On your menu, in your restaurant and through your staff - you need to communicate quality to maximize beef’s perceived value proposition.

Train yourself – Your customers and your staff look to you for the answers – use all available resources to become the expert.

Train your staff – Your front line salespeople represent the biggest opportunity to get the quality message out and collect very important feedback from your guests.

With the holiday season upon us, this is the very best opportunity to offer and showcase your topshelf premium beef items such as prime rib, tenderloin, or strip loin for two and capture those incremental sales that “special occasion” dining offers.   Don’t be afraid to upsell your customers to a higher cut or a more upscale beef item – it may be just what they are looking for during the indulgent holiday period.

And foodservice operators who limit their beef service to dinner features are missing out on a wonderful opportunity to expand their business by offering beef at non-traditional day-parts.

For instance, the breakfast daypart is one of the fastest-growing segments in foodservice.  Until recently, beef hasn’t been considered a “must-have” item on this menu, but there are many opportunities to create beef items that will have a big impact on your bottom line.  The classic Steak and Eggs option remains a strong breakfast option, popular with customers and also allows you to use smaller portions (for instance cut a 10-ounce strip loin in half for two 5-ounce portions for steak and eggs) or use cost effective cuts like cap steaks.

With its universal appeal, the burger is a staple on most Canadian lunch menus along with steak sandwiches and beef dips. These are very popular with customers, but think beyond the traditional preparation method and look at incorporating artisan breads, interesting garnishes and bold condiments to spice up these longtime favourites.

Salads are another surprising way that you can get creative with beef on your lunch menu.  Look for ways to incorporate trim from other offerings into new menu items like hearty soups, stirfries (both very popular with health conscious diners) and pizza.   And don’t forget about beef as an appetizer – ginger beef, beef rolls, mini-fajitas

and other finger-foods can give your happy hour special appeal.  For a tasty and popular bar item, try dusted, fried beef strips, personalized with special flavours tailored to your customer base – barbecue, spicy, Asian are just some options.  

Beef can play a role in every aspect of your menu and with a little originality, you can add the sizzle of beef to every day-part.


Sysco has a Butcher’s Block Beef boxed beef program to meet your operational needs and satisfy your customer’s uncompromising expectations.


   Butcher’s Block Reserve, Top 2/3          Butcher’s Block AAA

   Butcher’s Block Angus AAA                  Butcher’s Block AA


Butcher’s Block Beef was designed so operators could offer

their customers the best tasting, most tender and highest quality

the Canadian beef industry can offer, as well as the flexibility

to custom cut on site to meet all their menu needs.

Each of our premium and quality beef programs is exclusive and guarantees beef that is hand selected, aged to perfection and trimmed to exacting specifications, ensuring quality and consistency time after time.


Contributed by the Beef Information Centre