Restaurant sales remain tough amid tight budgets

02/24/2012 11:17:00 AM
Doug Ohlemeier

Pete Pelosi, buyer and logistics for A&J Produce Corp., said he thinks foodservice purveyors are focusing more on volume sales to make up for the lost margins. 

“In the past, they could maybe make more money on margin because they had higher-priced items,” Pelosi said.

“Those guys are always complaining but they’re still buying. I haven’t seen too many go out of business since the recession. They’ve had to adjust like everyone else.”

Attraction tactics

The foodservice business remains stressed and restaurants must adapt and try new things to keep attracting customers, said Joel Panagakos, executive vice president of J. Kings Foodservice Professionals Inc., Holtsville, N.Y.

“When you look at the national guys like Applebee’s and the Ruby Tuesdays, they’re wheeling and dealing deals all day long,” Panagakos said. 

“They’re just trying to get people in the seats and figure out later how to make money. There isn’t a lot of profit margin for them when they put out deals like two for $20. There is volume involved so they keep the restaurants moving and shaking. Hopefully, this will get them through these tough times.”

Restaurants definitely are offering more specials, said Alfie Badalamenti, vice president of Coosemans New York Inc.

“More restaurants are getting involved with specials than last year,” he said. 

“What we’ve noticed is a lot of these restaurants, they never really had specials in the past. Some are offering sandwich deals when they didn’t before. That tells you the economic problem is there. There’s not that much business. They’re trying to get as much business as they can.”
New York distributors benefit from having a populace that knows its food, said Mike Muzyk, president of Baldor Specialty Foods Inc.

“Local New Yorkers have a very educated palette,” he said. 

“We have a very educated group of people that eat out who understand and are in the know about quality high-end foods. Not that there’s anything wrong with fast-food chains, as there is a place in the country for them. But there’s a reason why President Obama dined at Daniel’s Restaurant when he came to town. It’s one of the Top 10 restaurants in the country.”


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