Smart menu development, forward-thinking, savvy pricing, and processes for consistency are key ingredients of a profitable food service program.

At CenterEdge, we’re huge proponents of industry education, and we sponsor a few of the best educational events available. If you haven’t attended Amusement 360, Birthday University, FEC Success Institute, or Foundations Entertainment University, we highly recommend that you put one or more of these events on your ‘Must Do’ list for 2022.

Last week at Foundations, we had the chance to listen to industry expert, Jim Howell, of Perky’s Pizza. Jim shared terrific insights that can help any foodservice operator increase efficiency and profitability. We sat down with Jim and asked him to share a few of the most impactful tips that you can implement today to achieve immediate results. Read on for our interview.

Q1: What advice would you offer FEC Operators to increase profitability?

Jim: In today’s climate, there are several key factors to increase profit.

  1. Sell What Sells! Stick with the traditional FEC menu items that have a long history of sales and profit generation. Pizza, pretzels, ICEE, nachos, chicken tenders, fries, a variety of soft drinks, and an ice cream option. Period. Think In N’ Out size menu, not Quick Service size menu. One great benefit of this idea is cooking fewer items consistently should result in higher quality, hot and fresh servings for your guests.
  2. Manage your capacity. Don’t make your customers wait on a busy Saturday. Analyze your operation during your busiest times. If you find that customers are waiting on any one item on your menu, buy an additional piece of equipment for that menu item, such as an extra pizza oven, an extra ICEE machine, etc. There is no excuse for customers to wait on menu items when the solution is so easy and affordable.
  3. Raise your prices. This is a tough one for sure. Remember that you are a small business that has to maintain profitability to pay employees and make a profit for the business. These are essential in order for your business to remain a viable, fun part of your community. Do not apologize for this fact. The consumer sees increases everywhere, and they will likely not be surprised. If you consistently deliver fresh, hot menu items, price becomes a lot less of an issue. If you haven’t raised your prices in a while, it’s a good idea to consider doing so now.

Q2: How should an FEC think about its menu offering?

Jim: Hands down, an efficient menu is the key to success in the FEC F&B space these days. What really matters is “Matching your Menu with your Venue.” What I mean by that is, if you have a 15,000 sq. ft. FEC, there is no reason to have a large menu. Keep it simple with just a few items that a) people want and b) are highly profitable. Having too many menu items or menu items that aren’t in sync with your venue and brand is just a waste of time, money, and resources.

However, a large 40,000 sq. ft multi-attraction FEC with a full bar and a wider audience has plenty of space on their menu for things like calamari and flatbreads.

Q3: How can operators determine if their menu is healthy?

Jim: A great exercise is to run a generic report on the top-selling items off your menu. Run it by the actual number of units, and actual sales. (CenterEdge Users’ Note: The Best Sellers by Category is a great CenterEdge Report that can tell you total quantity sold, total revenue, percent of category sales, and percent of total sales.) Take a hard look at the list and pare down the bottom selling items, or mid-tiered items that eat up inventory and storage space.

Also, your menu isn’t just about food. Consider how you’re selling soft drinks, slushies, and ICEE’s. Keep it simple. Eliminate as many cup sizes as possible. Consider offering one size for ICEE products and two sizes for soft drinks. In a full bar, simplify glass sizes. Use pint glasses, one wine glass, and martini glasses. This helps with speed of service (even self-serve), frees up enormous space in the kitchen, keeps replacement ordering simple, and saves the labor of ware washing, drying, etc. – all of which can tremendously impact your facility’s profitability.

Q4: How can an FEC gain efficiencies in the kitchen?

Jim: Try to complete your prep by Friday afternoon for your high-volume menu items for the weekend. This will allow you and your team to focus on cooking and serving great products for your guests.

Also, and I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this missing. Have pictures of the finished menu item, what it should look like BEFORE sending it out to a guest. Even a Hot Dog Basket should have a picture so you can maintain consistency.

Q5: How do you maintain morale in the kitchen?

Jim: The more efficient you make your kitchen, the easier it is for staff to work in it, so that’s the first step. But also, consider incentives and bonuses to make your food and beverage team feel important. Your food and beverage can impact a guest’s entire experience, so consider giving a boost to the team that makes it happen.

If you have questions for Jim or want to learn more about Perky’s Pizza, contact him at

To learn how CenterEdge can help you manage your food and beverage operation more effectively, schedule a personalized demo now.


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