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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 04-28-2011, 11:49 AM   #1
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Default Why do many Q joints go so "skimpy" on their sides?

I think I know the answer I'm going to get on this question but I'll ask it anyway. I've noticed that A LOT of Q joints serve their sides (i.e. potato salad, slaw, beans etc.) in these "itty-bitty" cups that for the most part only have two maybe three decent bites then its gone.

Being an accountant/auditor by trade I understand profit margins, keeping food cost under control and maximizing profits. But as a consumer nothing makes me madder than me getting the feeling that a restaurant is trying to nickel and dime me to death. I ate at a Q joint not too long ago and ordered slaw and potato salad as my sides and when they brought out my order here sat these two little bitty what I call "sampling" bowls with my two sides. Yet I paid $12.99 for a "regular size" rib plate.

For those who are in the business day in and day out. Does increasing the portion size to respectable amounts make that much difference in profit margin over a calendar year? I've made potato salad, slaw and beans in bulk before and know the actual costs that goes into it. It maybe just me but it irkes me to no end to pay that kind of money and feel like I'm getting short changed. But I find that a lot of Q joints do this. Am I in the wrong here?
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Unread 04-28-2011, 12:01 PM   #2
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The simple answer is "yes - increasing portions increases cost". Pretty simple math there. That - however - does not figure in the diner perception issue. I too have to agree most joints have too small of sides.

I believe the main reason is this notion of "a meat & 2 sides" as some sort of BBQ rule. Inevitably that ends up being 6 - 8oz of meat & 4 oz of each side. We give a free 4oz slaw cup along with our sandwiches, but all our sides are 8oz. So - you order a brisket plate, you get brisket & an 8oz side included. Want another side? That's $4 for an 8oz side. I'd rather give you one decent portion with a plate or ribs than 2 skimpy one.

That's just how we do things...
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Unread 04-28-2011, 12:22 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chachahut View Post
The simple answer is "yes - increasing portions increases cost". Pretty simple math there. That - however - does not figure in the diner perception issue. I too have to agree most joints have too small of sides.

I believe the main reason is this notion of "a meat & 2 sides" as some sort of BBQ rule. Inevitably that ends up being 6 - 8oz of meat & 4 oz of each side. We give a free 4oz slaw cup along with our sandwiches, but all our sides are 8oz. So - you order a brisket plate, you get brisket & an 8oz side included. Want another side? That's $4 for an 8oz side. I'd rather give you one decent portion with a plate or ribs than 2 skimpy one.

That's just how we do things...
Thanks for the response. I know this maybe an impossible question to answer but is the "difference" that material? Are we talking about a difference of $10K, $20K, $50K or > in profits by doing this?
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Unread 04-28-2011, 12:31 PM   #4
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This why the "by the pound" system used for meats and sides is so great in many of the Central Texas joints. Perfect portion control.

Cooper's in Llano, Texas has a pit just as you enter where you see and smell the BBQ, and you invariably order and pay for, once it is weighed inside, more than you can eat.
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Unread 04-28-2011, 12:40 PM   #5
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I hear ya buzzard.
The local joint here in Mooresville that I frequent offers a baby back rib dinner for $14.99 for a 1/2 rack and $20.99 for a whole rack and you get 2 dixie cup sides to chose from and 2 fried biscuits with apple butter.

Now.....I keep going back mind you, but I've always wondered the same thing.

HOWEVER....I'm never hungry when I leave. Maybe they know that in the long run you'll be satisfied and will still come back if the meat's right.....which it always is.
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Unread 04-28-2011, 12:45 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wampus View Post
I hear ya buzzard.
The local joint here in Mooresville that I frequent offers a baby back rib dinner for $14.99 for a 1/2 rack and $20.99 for a whole rack and you get 2 dixie cup sides to chose from and 2 fried biscuits with apple butter.

Now.....I keep going back mind you, but I've always wondered the same thing.

HOWEVER....I'm never hungry when I leave. Maybe they know that in the long run you'll be satisfied and will still come back if the meat's right.....which it always is.
Unfortunately with a regular rib plate and tiny sides I can honestly say if we don't order appetizers (I may have found my answer ) I'm still hungry. I kid you not the sides are served in cups that look like sampling cups.
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Unread 04-28-2011, 12:52 PM   #7
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Buzzard hit the nail on the head, tiny sides in a micro styro cup at a BBQ joint dosent make for a good experience, especially when you order a "plate."

If you werent hungry you'd order a chopped beef sandwich, when you order a "plate" it means that your hungry and need a "normal" serving of 2 sides.

just my $0.02
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Unread 04-28-2011, 12:55 PM   #8
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The funny thing is the meat is prolly more expensive than the sides. I would think load the sides bread fill you up would be the norm.
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Unread 04-28-2011, 01:14 PM   #9
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My response is simple: don't go to BBQ restaurants! I like my own cooking a lot better anyway, plus it's almost certainly healthier and a lot cheaper.

I have learned, though, to write a polite note to the manager. In this situation, an angry note won't do you any good whatever. Just mention that your perception is that they should consider increasing the portion size on their sides, and you thought you'd let them know why you won't be coming back there. Then don't go back until you find out they're bigger.

I was in Austin a couple of years back and we drove the hill country for a couple days, stopping at all kinds of BBQ joints starting with Black's in Lockhart. I don't think I got skimpy sides even once.

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Unread 04-28-2011, 01:17 PM   #10
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I have found that joints that do this also tend to have sub par Q, and not alot of customers. It could be that they are giving out the small sides because they are making them in small batches to avoid throwing too much away at the end of the day.

Down here in Slidell LA the population is almost 30,000. There is one BBQ restaurant here, and I expect it to close any day now. There have been numerous Q joints open and fail here, and its not because people here don't appreciate good BBQ, its because people keep opening them because they see an open market and dollar signs. They don't know or care anything about having a quality product. They are banking on you coming to them because they have something that nobody else in town has.

Oh if I only had the money to open one myself.
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Unread 04-28-2011, 02:12 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seattlepitboss View Post
My response is simple: don't go to BBQ restaurants! I like my own cooking a lot better anyway, plus it's almost certainly healthier and a lot cheaper.
Unfortunately that's not always feasible. Especially when you're coming out of church, leaving a movie etc. and "the group" wants to go grab a bite to eat and the consensus of the group is BBQ.

For the most part I do my own bbq when I want Q. But in some cases as mentioned above I end eating a Q joint. And not all of them are bad. But Whether in the good ones or the bad ones I've just found that for the most part they go very skimpy on the sides.
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Unread 04-28-2011, 02:28 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by orangeblood View Post
Buzzard hit the nail on the head, tiny sides in a micro styro cup at a BBQ joint dosent make for a good experience, especially when you order a "plate."

If you werent hungry you'd order a chopped beef sandwich, when you order a "plate" it means that your hungry and need a "normal" serving of 2 sides.

just my $0.02
Especially seeing some of the prices you pay in these Q joints. I don't mind paying 12.99 for a "regular" rib plate but also give me "regular" servings when it comes to my sides.
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Unread 04-28-2011, 02:29 PM   #13
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My theory is people come to a BBQ place for the meat. Sides are incidental. With that being said, we give people a choice.. They get a plate with 2 4oz. sides or they can order by the pound and buy their sides separately. We have 4, 8 and 16oz. sizes.

Simple.
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Unread 04-28-2011, 02:38 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigmista View Post
My theory is people come to a BBQ place for the meat. Sides are incidental. With that being said, we give people a choice.. They get a plate with 2 4oz. sides or they can order by the pound and buy their sides separately. We have 4, 8 and 16oz. sizes.

Simple.
If you think about it, a half cup of tater salad is actually a healthy portion. You may WANT to eat more, but do you need to...
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Unread 04-28-2011, 02:40 PM   #15
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I am one of those people that stupidly orders a pound of brisket at a order by the pound place, knowing full well I can't eat a pound at one sitting. I like the idea of ordering meat and sides separately, but, most folks seem to like getting sides. I see it all the time at Matt's, they order the meat right off, then slow the line to a stand still working over beans or slaw...

I think I would be just as happy getting a couple slices of brisket, onions and a pickle, no sides rather than get a slaw shooter.
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