Garden centres owners advised on cost-effective catering

A number of suggestions were discussed by garden centre cafe owners with the 100-plus delegates.

  • - Thirsk Garden Centre co-owner Helen Joyce said the turnover threshold of £750,000, given by the HTA as a viable figure to open a cafe, is not always true. She recommended keeping menus simple, not pricing too low, and using the best equipment you can afford.
  • - Langlands Garden Centre co-owner Robert Ducker said his new cafe-bar had taken pressure off his restaurant and was popular with "yummy mummies" and younger customers. HTA adviser Doug Stewart helped set up the operation.
  • - Byrkley Garden Centre co-owner Frank Thompstone and his catering manager Andy Evans suggested setting up island food points, grab-and-go areas and more ready-made food to buy as queue-busters.
  • - Heighley Gate Garden Centres catering manager Susan Givens said the Wyevale-owned operation's bakery was proving popular for visitors to its food facilities.
  • - Blueberry Consulting owner Sajid Salim, who set up the catering at Blooms in Bicester, said the next big thing would be outdoor play areas adjacent to cafes.
  • - Searcy chief executive Duncan Ackery said that caterers must look at "menu engineering" - using cheaper ingredients or smaller portions - to cut food costs and keep profits up.


Catering Business Improvement Scheme members' food costs
2007: 32 per cent of turnover
2008: 30 per cent

Labour and food costs
2007: 72 per cent
2008: 69 per cent

Average transaction
2007: £5.67
2008: £6.39

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