Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The price of a sandwich

Bread + filling = sandwich.

Simple really?

So simple that it took an Earl to come up with it during a card game. Actually he ordered the meal but it was his kitchen staff that probably put the thing together. As legend would have it though, he got the credit, not his lowly subordinates. No one ever remembers the poor bloke who carried the stones for Tutankhamen’s pyramid. That reminds me. You know when people say they’ve been re-incarnated? Well why is it always someone famous? Why is it never a Night Cart operator, a chimney sweep or galley slave?
Anyways, back onto topic.
Recently in the papers, reportage has been focused on the issue of hospitality wages and their apparent inequities. I think this is the tip of the iceberg as more investigation will uncover a shocking truth that will bring out into the open the issue that very few consumers will want to realistically take on board.
Much is deliberated about what is fair and equitable for the hospitality worker by the consumer who is often outraged at the poor working conditions, appalling pay and transitory nature of the work. What is never asked is ‘How much money is a reasonable amount to earn if you are the owner of a business?’
It’s as if this is a taboo subject. On one hand, the rights of the worker are taken up as a cause celebre and yet those same people become very quiet when it comes to any considerations for the business owner.
I find it curious that the same people will not join the obvious dots and realise that perhaps they are not paying enough for the product in the first place? Yes that’s right, pay more! Problem is, as far as perceptions go, being a cafĂ© or restaurant owner these days is being akin to a used car salesman.
‘It’s easy’ I hear you say. ‘If business costs are rising then simply charge more for your product’. Quite.
So a $3.80 latte becomes a $5 latte. This would have all the Vincent Vega’s of the world exclaiming: ‘A $5 coffee? No Bourbon in it or anything? Wow a $5 latte!’
And then they would go somewhere else.
It is this fear that hamstrings most operators into assuming a submissive price position and ultimately motivates them to find a way to cut costs elsewhere.
Sadly, it’s the staffs that have born the brunt of this and subsequently we’re reading about it in the news these days however it’s only about 50 years too late.
But there’s another way to avoid paying high costs in which many places also engage.
It’s by buying cheap, mass-produced, generic, indiscrimate country of origin, pre-cooked, frozen, thawed produce. Now if you’re happy buying and eating that, then fine but don’t expect many of us who have a commitment to paying staff correctly and using product of the best quality to be able to serve our food for the same or similar price.
Quality always costs more, there’s no avoiding it.
Yes you could get a Subway sandwich for heaps less than I sell them for however: We made the roll. The pork hock is smoked at a butcher before we prepare it and cook it. We made the mustard. We made the applesauce. We made the coleslaw. We hand washed the local pink eyes and chipped them fresh for every serve. We carried it to your table, served it to you, cleared up, washed the utensils, paid the power, water and the gas to run the grill, oven, lights, refrigeration, paid the rent, wages, super, BAS, licensing, stationary, advertising and many more associated costs, you name it, its all there in the price of your sandwich that you could get from Subway.
But you came here instead because you know we are trying to make the effort to do something that’s not all about processing punters and selling units.
Try to understand this when you quibble over the price of a sandwich next time.


Brrrr_Ice said...

Couldn't agree more!

You get what you pay for.

Roz said...

Costs are rising and people are in denial. Even my homemade sandwich is a cost I don't like to add up, from slicing my homegrown tomatoes to the lobster sandwich. Tomatoes - bought the plants, bought the special organic soil, paid for it to be laid, bought and installed the rabbit proof fencing. My lobster whilst it sounds deliciously cheap, commissioned a local to make my pot, bought the petrol for the boat...it just goes on and on.

steve said...

G'day Brrr_Ice and thanks for reading

Hiya Roz and welcome. Denial. Spot on.
A while back I was asked to provide sandwiches, 'Not too special, just sambos' I was told. OK I thought: if they don't live up to expectations, I'm the one who cops it not the person who imposed the budget. So I quoted $7 for 1.5 'sambos' each (already a subsidized 'locals-rate' and I thought very generous considering we make the bread and fillings etc)
The incredulous no outraged response I got was telling>
'For Sambos!?' he said 'Each!?'
I told him you could make em yourself cheaper but he declined to follow my advice.