The restaurants of the Tao Group are consistently among the most profitable in America. For 2017, Tao Asian Bistro in Las Vegas, took first place with total sales near $48 million. Three other Toa Group restaurants ranked third, sixth and eleventh. (2017 Top 100 Independents by Restaurant Business)
Bloomberg News sat down with Toa co-founder Rich Wolf to see how they do it. Number one on the list:
Focus on Drink Sales
Alcohol makes up a little more than 50 percent of Tao’s sales, a huge number compared with percentages in the 20s at most other restaurants. Drinks have the highest markup and don’t spoil making them an ideal money maker. Set the right drink prices and keep on top of your inventory with a beverage management software to make this tip work for you.
Other tips include:
Create a Dining Destination
Make your menu creative, while of course keeping your customer’s preferences in mind. Tao Chef Ralph Scamardella regularly travels to Asia for inspiration and has dishes like fried rice with barbecued duck and lobster on his menu. He also recommends that dishes be as bite-size as possible, which encourages sharing and pushes up check averages.
Know Your Customers And When They Dine
And plan menus accordingly. Put high-ticket items on the menu for business diners picking up the tab with a corporate card and favorite family meals on the Sunday menu.
Plan Menus Based on Local Activities
Tao Downtown in NYC plans menus according to the conventions that will be in town. (Apparently, the construction and concrete conventions bring in big spenders so some high-ticket items are always placed on the menu for those days). While your restaurant may not be in an area with conventions, there are always events where people feel like treating themselves and spending a bit more so put something special on the menu for those times (and plan ahead so that you can get the best price on ingredients for those special menu items.)