Slight menu changes impact Mountain Lodge’s restaurant

Daily Mining Gazette file photo The Keweenaw Mountain Lodge’s bar and grill offers new menu choices that so far have increased the revenue of the operation significantly.

EAGLE RIVER — While the Keweenaw Mountain Lodge is doing very well this season, Harvey Desnick, KML coordinator said for July the bar and grill needed to be addressed.

“The bar and grill was at a break-even for July.” he told the KML board at Wednesday’s meeting. “The grill menu provides limited upsides due to the low average ticket of only $10. To improve on that, last Thursday, we added four dinner offerings that have doubled the average ticket during the dinner period of 4:30 to 8 (p.m.). We have increased that time period to a level that equals or betters the rest of the day.”

Desnick said the financial statements showed that there was an approximate loss of $500 on $36,000 in sales, which when viewed with payroll costs to revenue, indicated the bar and grill are at about 60 percent of sales.

Now, that’s high, but the problem isn’t, or wasn’t, overstaffing,” Desnick explained. “It was underperforming revenue-wise. You need a cook, you need a dishwasher, you need a bartender, and you need at least one server.”

To correct the problem, Desnick said he added four higher-priced dinner items to the menu with larger margins, including barbecue ribs, strip loin steak, lake trout, whitefish and shrimp linguini. That made a significant difference.

“The period August 3 through August 7, which is Thursday through Monday of the week before we added the dinner menu,” Desnick said, “we had a total of between food and beverage at $5,904.18. The following week, starting with the first day that we added the dinner menu, we literally have had a 50 percent increase in our total dollar volume for the first five days: it went up to $8,858.90. And $2,220 of that was contributed by those four items on the dinner menu. This has raised the average ticket during that period to almost 20 bucks, and it’s brought our entire day’s average ticket up substantially.”

Desnick said at that level, it allows the “head room we need in order to” cover staff expenses, which is required to operate the facility.

“It’s not a big expense increase as much as an improvement in our ability to realize more net income income out of restaurant operations,” he said. “It’s just a fundamental reality.”

Desnick said that after the items were added, customers coming for sandwiches instead opted for the full dinner.

“Within the first day-and-a-half, we sold out every piece of fish that we had,” Desnick said. “We kind of tiptoed into it, and now that we see what kind of volume we’re going to be doing, we’ve upped our purchases on lake trout and whitefish. Whitefish sells like 10-to-1 on some nights, at least 5-to-1 on your average night. So, I’m very happy to be able to do that, because I think you’re going to see increased revenues in the grill operation from now right through the end of the year.”