5 Simple Menu Tweaks to Increase Profits in 2019
As luck would have it, the savvy restauranteur’s secret ingredient is likely already on your menu: pasta!
Pasta has huge profit margin potential because it is a low-cost raw product that can easily be transformed and elevated – pulling a significant markup. Not to mention, despite low-carb fad diets, pasta remains ever-popular: people in the United States consume 2.7 million ons of pasta annually, and the market is growing year after year.
A profitable pasta program can help you truly get the most out of your menu, but there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Here are a few simple strategies to help you increase sell-through and earn repeat customers, without overhauling your inventory.
- Use the right buzzwords
Today’s restaurant consumers crave true-to-locale culinary experiences and have a better understanding of the difference great ingredients can make. If you serve fresh pasta, make sure your menu includes buzzy descriptors like “fresh,” “authentic,” “homemade,” or “house-made,” – diners associate these words (rightfully so) with superior quality and flavor.
2. Make fresh pasta an upsell or menu special
Maybe you serve mostly dry pasta for cost and convenience reasons, or your customers are used to a lower price point for pasta dishes. To gauge their price sensitivity, try introducing one or two fresh pasta entrées as chalkboard specials! Most likely, guests will be intrigued by the option and willing to pay a premium. Alternatively, you can offer fresh pasta as an “upsell” option that diners can order with any of your usual dishes for a few dollars more.
3. Make pasta your platform for trendier (or pricier) ingredients
Pasta is a perfect canvas for experimentation. Perhaps you’d like to utilize some proteins that are still novel to many diners – think game meats like bison, venison, or even offal – but don’t want to price yourself (or your customers) out with a risky main course. A well-executed pasta dish is a great way to start small and test marketability with outside-the-box ingredients.
In the same sense, pasta is perfect for diversifying your menu pricing to please more diners. With pasta as a base, you can serve a smaller portion of premium, sustainable meats or seafood to lower your cost-per-plate without sacrificing quality. A customer who might balk at a $39 seafood dish could be more easily be sold on a $25 seafood pasta.
4. Shop your own kitchen to create specials
Introducing plenty of variety is key to customer retention – thankfully, using pasta, you can keep your menu rotating without sourcing new products. Get creative with a daily or weekly pasta special using ingredients you already have on hand! There are infinite combinations of protein and vegetables that can be tossed with pasta for an instant menu hit, and something as small as a unique herb or unexpected spice in a cream sauce can make it extraordinary.
5. Make it Insta-worthy
Like it or not, industry experts across the board agree – social media has revolutionized the way we eat and appreciate food, and the more visually exciting you can make your food, the better. Plus, even if the flash-snap of dozens of smartphones in your dining room irks you, a shared image from your restaurant is instant free publicity!
Increasing the visual appeal of your food can be as simple as putting a little more love into plating – wipe up any splattered sauce, arrange elements neatly, add an eye-catching and colorful garnish. You can also amp up share-ability by introducing ingredients with unusual colors or shapes – try black squid ink pasta, oversized jumbo ravioli, or unique pasta cuts like Creste di Gallo.