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chachahut 06-06-2011 02:13 PM

Sauce To Go Dilemma
A little background...

The Cha Cha Hut is a small mostly take out joint in upstate NY. We've got 22 seats inside & 5 picnic tables outside. We do not provide table service - just Order Here/Pick Up Here (though we will run food out if not too busy).

At any given time we have 6 house sauces plus one or two Sauces of the Moment. When customers want to sit down at the Hut to eat, we provide a six pack of sauces to use at their table. For To Go orders, we have a table with bottles of the sauces & 2 oz cups for customers to use to take the sauces they want. While both are figured into the menu price of every Q item, they are offered for free. We do sell 8oz squeeze bottles & 10oz glass bottle of each sauce.

Our sauce philosophy has been: "Take a few 2oz samples - we want to get you hooked on our sauces so you'll come back to buy a bottle."

And here is where the dilemma arises...

We're not seeing enough bottled sales with the To Go customers. Instead, repeat customers continue to take 6 - 10oz of sauce (depending on the amount of Q bought) even if we mention the bottles for sale. At this point, I am fairly sure this is adding about 5% (if not more) to our food cost each week.

So the question is - how would you/do you handle this To Go sauce dilemma. Sit down customers do not - by and large - abuse the sauce. It's more about To Go - especially those ordering dinner for 4 - 8. I know some sauce should be provided - we do not sauce any of our Q - but I cannot continue to give away bottle after bottle to the same people each week.

Any input would be greatly welcomed.


chad 06-06-2011 02:51 PM

Do like Burger King does with catsup. Have them ask for it. PITA but it will bring this walk-away food cost under control. They know a bottle (8 oz) of sauce should cost 'em $5-6 bucks (or whatever the cost is). There are always folks that will abuse self-service. Just don't give them the chance. Having to ask for sauce will make this problem go away. Figure what should be given and give that - make the beg and always offer a bottle!!!

If anyone else asks, tell 'em why. You're in business and they are not your best friend!!

landarc 06-06-2011 03:14 PM

All three places I go to put the sauce into the order for 'to go' orders. You get more 2oz cups as you order more. 1 cup per order, 2 per order for a 4-way. Extra cups cost more 'to go'. In house, the sauce is 'free'.

landarc 06-06-2011 03:18 PM

By the way, I am good friends with the three shop's owners and I would never ask or accept their bottled sauces or meats for free. I can afford my life because people pay for my services, they are in business so they can eat as well as I do. A good friend or customer understands that if you draw too much from the well, pretty soon, nobody is drinking.

chachahut 06-06-2011 03:26 PM

We sell 10oz glass bottles or 8oz squeeze bottles (actually squeeze bottles cost more than glass) for $6. Small run sauces go for $8 (usually have exotic, local or expensive ingredients). We've been thinking the "ask for a sauce" with a tasting table where the current food cost leak exists might be the answer. I think Landarc is on to where we are going with this - the larger the order - the more 2oz cups you get (within reason).

Also considered a sign: "If this is your 1st time here - feel free to take some sauce samples. If this is a return visit, feel free to support us by buying a bottle." Or something like that.

jbrink01 06-06-2011 04:09 PM

If it leaves the shop, put a (1) container in the order. Anymore, they buy it.

chachahut 06-06-2011 04:48 PM

Agreed JBrink & it would work well if I only made one sauce. Unfortunately, I made the choice to go a bit overboard covering the bases. I have:

Thundernagi (traditional ketchup Q sauce)
Sweet Lightnin' (brown sugar & jalapeno ketchup sauce. Kind of a KC sticky sauce)
North Carolina Vinegar
South Carolina Mustard
Go Go (an Asian BBQ style sauce)

plus usually 1 or 2 limited sauces.

So I do need to find a way to allow new customers to sample these before making their choice. Just not sure - other than having them eat in the joint with the six pack - how to allow the tasting.

landarc 06-06-2011 05:03 PM

At Phatt Matt's, my usual place, they ask what sauce you want and have a list. They give those ice cream sample spoons if you ask for a taste. It actually helps folks decide. I really dislike public sample bowls or folks squeezing sauce onto their fingers.

HBMTN 06-06-2011 09:15 PM

I see it some when I vend, we sell 16oz sauce for $5 but some people will order 3lbs of pulled pork and then go over to the condiment table and squirt half a 24oz squeeze bottle on top it the pork.

chachahut 06-07-2011 11:03 AM

Landarc - we do provide spoons on the current Sauce To Go table & direct folks to them for sampling. It's looking like the solution might be giving out cups based on amount of food ordered.

The biggest issue is our BBQ feasts - bascially a sampling of everything on the menu. Three levels: 1/4lb of each meat + 1/4 rack (The Mini), 1/2lb of each + 1/2 rack (The Junior) & 1lb of each + full rack (The Grande). We're thinking 1 4oz cup for the Mini, 2 for the Junior & 3 for the Grande. It's folks ordering these feasts that REALLY abuse the to go sauce.

Now if some one orders multiple Grandes, we do throw in a free bottle of sauce.

landarc 06-08-2011 01:41 PM

Just knowing how folks seem to drink BBQ sauce, it seems like if you sell 2 to 3 lbs of meat, you are typically going to see folks draining 3 to 4 ounces per person. I see it all the time at my local joint I hang out at. Folks getting 2 ounces with a 1/2 pound of meat needing a second 2 oz cup.

chachahut 06-09-2011 02:11 PM

Decided to go with giving out cups based on the amount of menu items in a To Go order. Posted this sign by the register & sauce table:

Have spoons on the sauce table for folks to use for sampling. We'll see how it plays out this weekend.

boogiesnap 06-09-2011 07:29 PM

getting the same amount for both a rack of ribs and the grande?

1/2 rack 1. full 2. grande 4(you do have 4 meats in the grande, yes?)

also, just how much 1 is, would be good.

chachahut 06-09-2011 09:32 PM

Boogiesnap - avoiding the hassle of putting 2oz as most people would look at "2oz" & be put off. Hand them a 2oz cup & they seem fine with the size. Actually had a customer tonight get 2 cups for the 1/2 rack & only put about an ounce of sauce in each (2 different sauces)

With ribs - I consider a 1/4 rack to be for 1 person, 1/2 for 2 & Full rack for 4. Hence 1, 2 & 4 sauces. Of course, things do get wonky considering the Grande is full rack + 1 pound each of three meats. The Feast saucing - which by the way is the source of the abuse - is still a work in progress.

boogiesnap 06-10-2011 09:40 PM

ah, that makes perfect sense.

i always make a whole rack just for me. overboard mod.:becky:

and you can just call me boogie.

but still, you could prolly save some on racks to make up for the abuse with the "feasts".

you're sauce amount per rib is very generous. not that that's a bad thing.

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