As an operator, you know that menus require a balance between profitable and niche items. The challenge is to understand how to stimulate sales of profitable items by making them unique and irresistible.
Here are six easy-to-adapt profitable menu ideas.
Coffee and Tea
Making money should be easy when your product is 95% water. With coffee and tea selling in most restaurants for about $2, and specialty coffees for up to $5, there is money to be made in promoting them. For a successful coffee and tea program, choose your blends to match your restaurant's sensibilities, and make sure the products are top quality.
Espresso and cappuccino offer great profitability and sophistication. Unfortunately, many servers don't promote this up-sell because they are difficult and time-consuming to make. Some operators find that placing the machines at the bar, and assigning the bartender as a dedicated "barista," has increased sales and improved product quality.
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Selling ice cream (especially super premiums) is also a great way to increase profits. Not only is it an easy sell for servers, but it is a guaranteed average-check booster. Once again, servers may be hesitant to recommend it if they have to manage the scooping and garnishing. Assigning the task to the dessert or cold station is a great way to get your servers promoting ice cream, thereby increasing sales. Taking it to the back of the house also allows greater possibilities for ice-cream specialties. Capitalize on ice cream's indelible popularity by upselling with fun toppings and garnishes.
House Baked Breads
Specialty breads can easily be baked in house and can yield sound profits. Although yeast breads are not difficult to make, they can be time-consuming and tie up oven space for extended periods of time. Quick breads, such as corn bread and biscuits, are leavened with baking powder and/or baking soda. The batters for these breads can be made up to two days ahead and refrigerated until needed, then baked fresh as required in less than 30 minutes. The cachet of using the term "baked in house" is invaluable in today's competitive market.
Salads can be very profitable menu items–just look at how prevalent they are on most chain menus. Profitability lies in entrée salads, which give operators a chance to add perceived value with larger portions and protein complements, such as grilled shrimp or chicken. Make your salads memorable by offering ethnic and/or seasonal favorites. A Southwestern salad spiked with BBQ Ranch or a fall salad dotted with dried cranberries and walnuts create menu interest.
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The trend toward jazzed-up side dishes continues. Humble and inexpensive sides, such as mac and cheese, are getting dressed up with luxury ingredients like lobster and aged cheddar. Mashed potatoes go gourmet with truffle oil and chives. Hand-cut fries move from everyday to extraordinary with grated Parmesan and herbs. These unique side dishes can be prepared inexpensively, but can command premium prices on the menu if executed and marketed well.
Nothing boosts check average and customer satisfaction more than a delicious dessert. Creating memorable and tantalizing treats doesn't require reinventing the wheel. Add classic favorites, such as cheesecake, pie and anything chocolate. Then, let your customers customize their dish with crowd-pleasing toppings. If you rely on convenience desserts, turn them into signatures with garnishes like fresh whipped cream or housemade ganache. Consider adding more portable desserts to appeal to your on-the-go customers.
Enjoy more menu trends and product news on our Dessert Essentials site