Stephen Hanson Bought 1.5 Million Tomatoes Last Year

Not sweating the downturn.
Not sweating the downturn. Photo: Patrick McMullan

This month, Forbes magazine rides around in Stephen Hanson’s chauffeured Escalade. His eighteen-restaurant B.R. Guest chain — which includes Dos Caminos, Blue Water Grill, Ruby Foo’s, and others — netted $13.5 million last year, partly by cutting costs.

He claims to buy tomatoes at 20% less than what a small restaurant would pay because he buys so many (1.5 million last year)…. At Dos Caminos, chef Ivy Stark’s goal is to keep ingredient costs at or below 26% of the menu price. (Comparable ratio at a fast-food franchise: 30%.) That means that on a $4 order of guacamole, Stark can’t use more than $1 worth of avocados.

Hanson has a “guest-recognition program” that stores 3 million phone numbers, but that’s no surprise in this age of OpenTable. What is good to know is this: “If a couple dining at Wildwood looks bored, they might get two glasses of Cold Ass beer on the house.” Then again, this didn’t work when we were there.

What Recession? [Forbes]

Stephen Hanson Bought 1.5 Million Tomatoes Last Year