Catering - 28 January

Turpin Smale catering consultant Chris Brown will speak on "Taming the Beast - Are you getting the most out of your café?"

Brown will highlight the strength of cafes in garden centres, which are 5% up on last year, represent 23% of total garden centre average spend and "offer informal, good value, all day meeting place with easy parking."

Brown will speak about size and the large number of new 300/400 seat cafes, sales - £1 million plus turnover is now common, staff - you may need 20 or more, and supervision - "control food and wage margins or else".

Brown says:

"Great food overcomes all - visit Bill's Produce Store, Hive Beach Café, Town Mill Bakery Lyme Regis. Customers will beat path to door if food is great."

Brown recommends finding a foodie champion to promote your café and paying the café 23% of your attention if it makes up 23% of your turnover.

IT investment will reap dividends, he says, adding that there is always room for served food if average spend justifies (he uses Betty's cafes, Taybarns and supermarkets as examples).

"Enlightened cafes are moving the same way to have the virtuous circle of reduced queues, increased impulse buying of those all-too-sinful cakes and reduced labour costs."

Brown says a good manager on a bonus can cut wage and food costs and boost profits.

Brown's tips to beat recession:

Don't get caught up in a concept.  Be solid and nostalgic

Offer value.  That doesn't mean cheap.

Go for comfort food.  Stuff that makes you feel warm and loved

Think hospitality.  Public eating is the good time in bad times

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