Club chefs should price menus in such a way that quality and value are equally balanced and both help to drive member satisfaction.
Private club dining is not intended to be profitable, rather it is thought to be an amenity for members. It’s the most popular amenity and touches all members in every area and activity of a club, which means the pricing of menus is crucial for member satisfaction.
Normally, chefs rely on a specific food cost percentage as a base for all menu prices to increase their chances of profitability. Most club chefs try to keep their food cost between 30-40%. While it is important for club chefs to pay attention to their food cost, it should not be a priority.
One thing that is not an option is aggressive pricing or taking advantage of shortcuts other restaurants might use to increase profits. Members will notice if the quality of products changes, if portion sizes are drastically different, and even if drinks are weaker. They want a high-end and exclusive dining experience without feeling like they are being overcharged.
Members are conscious that they already pay substantial membership dues. They expect to get the most out of their membership and that the club’s menu prices represent exceptional value. Just because members might be able to afford items at a higher cost does not mean they are willing to pay that, especially in a private club setting.
Private clubs still have to compete with restaurants so it is worthwhile to compare prices with those of other local restaurants with a similar dining experience. It is also not uncommon for members to belong to multiple private clubs, whether in the same area or out of state. Chefs need to make sure their prices and quality are in-line with other comparable clubs or their diners will go elsewhere.
The food and beverage experience is linked to every activity and member of a club and when profitability becomes a priority then the quality suffers. It is not how a chef prices a menu that determines a successful F&B program, but rather member satisfaction and that they choose to frequently dine at the club over any other establishment.