The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Bread in restaurants

Floydm's picture

Bread in restaurants

An interesting piece about the changing place of bread in restaurants.

SF Gate: The cost of serving bread in restaurants

The cheapskate in me doesn't like having to pay for something I get for nothing right now, but I actually like that it makes people think a bit more about bread.  Heaven knows good bread doesn't come for free!  And, yes, reducing food waste is a positive thing.

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

And in Europe, it is very common practice that if bread is not written on the menu that it "comes with bread" it will be charged separately.  A basket will be presented for choice, but every piece has a price.  Not telling the waiter how much you ate could be considered extreme bad manners and criminal.  If not sure whether it is extra or not, play safe, tell the waiter what you ate and let him waver charging you.  I'm sure this practice is influencing restaurants here esp. those with a European flair.  

dsadowsk's picture

I always assumed that plentiful cheap bread was served so that the restaurants could give you less of the more expensive main course. But as portion sizes increase regardless of the amount of bread available, perhaps the economics of free bread changes.

pjkobulnicky's picture

If you are assessing what is going on in your restaurant's service you are seeing a lot of waste in uneaten bread. Once put on the table it cannot be repurposed so it goes in the trash or compost. It makes the restauranteur think about how he/she treats the bread service to be a better use of resources and costs.

mini_maggie's picture

We recently ate at an upscale restaurant, where there's always been bread served.  I was starving but didn't order an appetizer because I (thought I) knew bread would be arriving promptly.  We weren't asked or offered, and there was nothing on the menu about it.   I nearly ate my arm by the time the main arrived! 

Honestly it was at a price point that I would expect bread as part of the experience.  If they want to ask to avoid waste I'd be all for that, but at least let the customer know if it's by request or at additional cost so they can decide, or order an appetizer instead. 

dabrownman's picture

of the restaurant this is the holy grail - more revenue at less cost!.  They get to reduce their costs by half because half, or some amount of people, no longer order bread because it isn't free.  Plus the owner gets to raise revenues and profit margins at the same time as they now charge the others for bread that was once free - a great deal for them and hard to resist I'm guessing.  Ye,  the waste is cut dramatically since those that now order bread for a cost really want it and will be more likely to eat.

But as a bread enthusiast I get concerned.   Many folks only exposed to good bread is at these restaurants so if they don't order it from now on they will never know what good bread is - a very bad thing - and makes them less likely to want to buy it from a bakery,  But i worry more about the people who make this now; un-ordered and no longer bread that has to be made.  How many bakers will lose their jobs? How many bakery owners will see lost sales, lowered margins and revenues if they currently supply breads to restaurants?

For some it is feast and others immediate famine.  The two ways to make sure there is less of something is to tax it or charge for something that used to be free.  Either way its bad for bread enthusiasts of all kinds.

So is more profits for restaurant owners and less bread waste worth the cost to others - many of them never to be bread enthusiasts or exposed to good bread or bread some baking professionals taking a big hit financially?

Maybe there is another solution, outcome and answer?

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

when a new law was enforced about the bread coming to tables wasn't allowed back into the kitchen.  I think that was about 5 years ago.