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Running a Restaurant/Ratio of food to liquor sales


Dear Victor,

First off thank you for taking the time to read this.

I am opening a small restaurant in NJ. I will be serving "contemporary comfort food" with a seasonal rotation.

I have a license to sell alcohol.

As I'm creating my budget & forecast, what, in your opinion, would be a good number to use to calculate liquor sales as a percentage of total food revenue?

Hope I'm being clear enough for you to understand.

Thanks for your help.

Yours in Hospitality,


Dear Mattia,

Thank you for your question... I am happy to be of assistance. I am from NJ and would love to hear more about your place. As a chef myself, I always love hearing about new restaurants!

Yours is a valid but challenging question to answer in this medium with no knowledge of your operation. There are several factors that would skew a % approach so I would be doing you a disservice by simply saying X% for food and Y% for liquor. Allow me to explain...

Say you are opening a fine dining restaurant and based on your menu mix, you have a per person food average of $40, you also have an extensive wine list, and your average price per glass is say $8. That would put you at a ratio of 84% for food and 16% liquor sales. Now let's say you are opening a pub/tavern/craft beer house type restaurant serving burgers and wings with your per person average food bill is $15 and your average beer is $6. That would put you at 72% food and 28% liquor. This is of course just the tip of the iceberg in the various combinations that could be listed. Say you are running a 5 course menu with coursed wine parings... The combinations of percentages could really be infinite!

My best suggestion for you would be that you use the above mentioned estimate scheme as it relates to your specific establishment i.e. estimated average food sale (1 soup and 1 burger per person) and and estimated average liquor sale  (1-2 beers per person), combine them and there will lie your percentage.

I'm sorry I can't give you a more cut and dry response but as I'm sure you know, there are a million and one ways to run a successful restaurant so without having more detail about your operation, I can only provide methodology instead of hard and fast numbers.

I wish you much success in your endeavor and please feel free to visit our website to contact me directly if I can be of further assistance.

Best regards,

Running a Restaurant

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Victor Cardamone


I am thoroughly proficient in all aspects of restaurant and commercial kitchen design, development and operational issues. I am also well versed in all aspects of health department permit submissions.


I am a classically trained executive chef with over 15 years of restaurant/hotel kitchen operating experience. I am also president of Mise Design Group, LLC a commercial kitchen/restaurant development firm. My firm focuses on and specializes in commercial kitchen design & development, supply and project management as well as operations consulting.

The American Institute of Architects The American Culinary Federation The National Restaurant Association

Club Solutions Magazine

Alumni of The Culinary Institute of America

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Hilton Hotels Worldwide ~ Kampala, Uganda Presbyterian Senior Living (4 properties) ~ PA Siberian Ice Restaurant & Catering ~ Queens, NY Bourbon Coffee, North America (2 properties) ~ NY, MA St Bernards Health & Wellness Center Cafe ~ Jonesboro, AK Sassafras Lounge & Restaurant ~ Bowie, MD Netty Jane’s Bakery & Cafe ~ North Wales, PA MoC MoC Japanese Restaurant ~ Princeton, NJ Newtown Athletic Club Café ~ Newtown, PA LaScala’s Italian Restaurant ~ Moorestown, NJ Birmingham Friends Meeting House ~ West Chester, PA Savory Bakery & Cafe ~ Lansdowne, PA Juice-n-Beans Cafe ~ Hamilton, Bermuda Holy Ghost Orthodox Church Community Center ~ Phoenixville, PA Pirate Pete’s Family Entertainment ~ Marion, IL Calvert Hotel ~ Lewistown, MT Evolution Bistro ~ Chicago, IL Big Vanilla Café ~ Pasadena, MD Fuel Café & Restaurant ~ West Des Moines, IA Fitness Fusions Café ~ Westborough, MA Olde Town Athletic Club Café ~ Warrenton, VA The Health & Fitness Center at Washtenaw C.C. Café ~ Ann Arbor, MI Breakthru Fitness Center Café ~ Pasadena, CA Metropolis Café & Spa~ Miami, FL Energy Source Café ~ Red Bank, NJ Fresh Fitness Café ~ Ooltewah, TN Breathe Fitness Juice Bar~ Poway, CA Results Fitness Juice Bar ~ Newhall, CA Life Fitness Management Cafe & Juice Bar ~ Cumberland, MD Vida Sports Nutrition Juice Bar ~ Miami, FL WAVE Cafe ~ Vaughan, ON Canada Performax Health & Fitness Juice Bar~ Waldwick, NJ

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