As customers look for ever-better deals, restaurateurs are responding with ever-creative strategies for managing food costs.Rob Sanchez, a Melting Pot franchisee in San Mateo, Calif., says purchasing co-ops, similar to those developed by independent restaurateurs to compete with chains’ purchasing power, can work for franchisees, too.“By grouping together with other franchisees in our area [we can] negotiate lower prices for larger orders,” he says.Others have worked on marketing less ...

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