The food and beverage (F&B) purchasing function is operating in a rapidly changing environment, whereby professionalisation and efficiency become key. This paper aims to identify generic skills that are most important for small F&B operators when it comes down to purchasing and supply management. Factors facilitating as well as hindering purchasing maturity are discussed. The focus lies on six single-site independent restaurants in the UK, supported by the presentation of the findings from in-depth interviews with the owners or managers. In this methodological context, the skills of buyers in small F&B operations are described through a 7-dimensional conceptual framework including: procurement planning, the structural organisation of the purchasing function, the process organisation, human resource systems, controlling structures, relations with supplier and finally sustainability. The study of these activities provides clear insights into the purchasing function developed by F&B operators, paving the way to the development of maturity grids outlining families of skills required in this specific sector of activity. Such tools can help operators developing a structured purchasing function in order to improve efficiency of processes as well as the evaluation of-and relationship with suppliers.