Tips to Improve Your Restaurant’s Menu

January 17th, 2017

 Metips-to-improve-your-restaurants-menunus are an important yet often overlooked tool in restaurant promotion. When designed correctly, a menu can convey a specific brand image, nudge consumer choices, and increase sales of side dishes, desserts, and other complementary items. If your current menu is not helping in these areas or is due for an update anyway, you can improve it by following these dos and don’ts.

Dos

  • Do organize your menu logically so customers can order a meal without having to flip back and forth several times. The most common arrangement is to place appetizers first, entrees and side dishes next, and beverages and desserts last, but feel free to choose something that works best for the kind of food you offer.
  • Do focus on writing tantalizing food descriptions as a means of stimulating enthusiasm and appetite. Highly descriptive words such as “melty,” “silky,” and “creamy” appeal to the senses and allow you to promote dishes that will put your commercial cheese melter, ice cream maker, and other restaurant equipment to good use.
  • Do understand consumer tendencies when it comes to reading menus and use this knowledge to print your selections accordingly. For example, the top right of the menu is the first place people look while the bottom left is typically the last, and the dish listed first in each category tends to be the one customers choose most often. Reserve the best spots for the items you wish to highlight.
  • Do make your menus easily accessible. Keeping menus in tabletop menu holders rather than having waitstaff remove them after taking orders is not only more convenient for customers, but also encourages additional browsing and may lead to an increase in dessert and beverage sales.

Don’ts

  • Don’t be afraid to adjust prices when ingredient costs go up or down for a sustained period. Occasional—and reasonable—hikes are to be expected, and are largely tolerated by customers.
  • Don’t print your menus in an unusual font that’s difficult to read. You’ll save your customers and waitstaff from a lot of unnecessary frustration if you stick to readable fonts.
  • Don’t add pretentious details to your food descriptions. Unless phrases like “farm to table” or “all-organic ingredients” are vital to your eatery’s overall marketing strategy, few customers will care how the produce was harvested or how the chicken was raised prior to ending up on their plate.
  • Don’t hesitate to revamp the menu periodically. Whether you do this seasonally, when there’s a major personnel change in the kitchen, or to tie in with specific promotions, your customers will welcome and appreciate some new selections.

One of the first interactions customers have with any restaurant is through the menu, so getting it right is paramount. Use the above tips when designing or improving your own menu to ensure you project the desired image and showcase your best dishes.

2017 Food Trends Forecast

December 13th, 2016

2017-food-trends-forecastSome restaurants appeal to customers by offering an unchanging menu filled with predictable and comforting favorites year after year while others carve out a niche by adapting their menu and services to reflect the evolving preferences of their patrons. If your establishment falls into this latter category, here is a forecast of some upcoming food trends to be aware of in 2017:

  • Nonalcoholic beverages: Beer and wine will always be bestsellers, but look for nonalcoholic beverages to experience a surge in popularity in 2017. And we’re not just talking about standard sodas and iced teas here; today’s consumers expect a wider variety of sophisticated mocktails, designer coffee-based drinks, and original concoctions to choose from, so stock your beverage station accordingly.
  • Hearty and healthy soups: The slogan “souping is the new juicing” began making its way around restaurant circles early in 2015 in reference to consumers looking for a more substantial replacement for juices and smoothies. The movement has been gaining momentum ever since, and restaurateurs are responding by keeping hearty and healthy soups simmering in their tabletop kettles all year round.
  • Fats: Medical experts and consumers alike are welcoming dietary fats—in the form of butter, olive oil, avocados, and nuts—back into the fold, so make liberal use of these ingredients to add succulent flavor and texture to appetizers, main dishes, and desserts.
  • Convenience: Once expected only from fast food chains, consumers now want convenience from virtually every type of restaurant they visit. You can address this need by offering takeout and delivery service, as well as by providing meal kits that can be prepared (or simply warmed up) at home.

Now that you know about the top food trend predictions for 2017, you can get your restaurant ready to accommodate customers’ changing tastes. Start modifying your menu, ordering required ingredients, and purchasing the countertop food warmers, commercial blenders, and other equipment and supplies you need as soon as possible so you can remain ahead of the food trends curve.

Prepare Your Restaurant for the Holiday Season

November 8th, 2016

Everyone knows that the holiday season represents a prodigious boon for retailers. All across the country, big-box stores and mom-and-pop shops alike rake in a reported 20 to 30 percent of their total annual sales in the period between Black Friday and Christmas. This is a significant portion of any bottom line.

But retailers aren’t the only ones who benefit from the holidays. Restaurants like yours can also experience a huge increase in customers and sales, either through direct promotion of holiday specials or via residual foot traffic from nearby malls and shopping centers. The catch is, you have to be ready to handle the upcoming surge in a way that is least disruptive to standard operations. Towards that end, here are some tips on how to prepare your restaurant for the holiday season.

  • Get organized: Planning ahead is crucial for meeting the demands of the holiday rush, so getting organized should be your first step. Reviewing your reservation system (or implementing a new one), evaluating your available personnel and planning key shifts, and ordering extra inventory are just a few items that should be on your to-do list.
  • Hire short-term help: Being overstaffed during the holidays is far preferable to the alternative, which is why you should start looking for seasonal help now. Depending on the size of your restaurant and services provided, you may want to consider adding kitchen hands, waitstaff, banquet servers, and delivery drivers to the roster for the next couple of months.
  • Inventory smallwares and check equipment for usability: More customers means you’ll require faster turnover of smallwares (dishes, glasses, cutlery, etc.) and will have your ovens, dishwashers, fryers, ice machines, and food warming stations working overtime. Inventory smallwares now to make sure you have sufficient quantities to serve larger crowds and inspect your commercial restaurant equipment to see if any repairs or replacements are needed.
  • Consider temporarily expanding your services: To really cash in on the season, consider adding services that you don’t normally offer. These may include home and office deliveries, full-service catering for offsite events, onsite parties, and providing to-go sides, pies, and other desserts for customers to enjoy at their own holiday dinners.
  • Sell gift cards or gift certificates: Gift cards and certificates are not only a blessing for people seeking last-minute stocking stuffers, but also a way to continue driving traffic after the holidays. Be sure to have gift cards or gift certificates available, and train your staff to suggest a purchase to every customer.

A strong holiday season can push your restaurant into the black or turn a good year into a great one, but the benefits aren’t automatic. It takes a lot of time and effort to prepare for the influx of customers and provide them with outstanding service, so follow the tips listed here to get started.

Celebrate National Dessert Month

October 4th, 2016

oct-national-dessert-monthOctober is National Dessert Month and features a number of specialty days sprinkled throughout, including National Angel Food Cake Day (October 10), National Pumpkin Pie Day (October 12), National Chocolate Cupcake Day (October 18), and National Boston Cream Pie Day (October 23). With desserts taking center stage all month long, there’s no better time to showcase your restaurant’s tastiest treats and satisfy every sweet-toothed patron that walks through the doors. Here are a few ideas for organizing and presenting your dessert offerings for the month.

By seasonal fruits

Incorporating seasonal fruits into different dishes is a great way to shake up the dessert menu while taking advantage of the freshest produce available. Apples, pears, figs, and cranberries are all in season, so get those apple pies, poached pears, homemade fig bars, and cranberry coffee cakes into your True Refrigerator display case to attract attention and drive after-dinner sales.

By nationwide popularity

Another idea for celebrating National Dessert Month is to provide customers with a selection of the most popular desserts as ranked by nationwide surveys. According to one such survey, current favorites include apple pie, carrot cake, cupcakes, and Jell-O. You can even present these desserts in countdown fashion by beginning with the No. 10 entry (cheesecake), keeping it on offer for a few days, and then progressing down the list until you get to No. 1 (fudge).

By customers’ expectations

If you serve a more traditional minded customer base, then simply meeting their expectations might be the smartest way to approach National Dessert Month. This could mean keeping extra servings of chocolate mousse in the refrigerated display, whipping up a sizable batch of tapioca pudding in a commercial cook pot, or making sure everyone’s favorite pumpkin pie is always in abundance.

By the calendar

As mentioned above virtually every day in October celebrates a different confection, so if you’re striving for variety in your dessert menu, just follow the calendar. Doing so will take you through everything from Apple Betty to Yorkshire Pudding, brandied fruit, caramel apples, and frappes, a journey that is certain to appeal to conventional and adventurous palates alike.

Whether your restaurant is already well-known for its desserts or you want to focus on popularizing this part of your menu to help increase revenues, you should be excited for October. Take advantage of National Dessert Month by using the above ideas to celebrate all things sweet and gooey with your customers!

Think Outside the Pumpkin Spice: Alternative Fall Flavors

September 20th, 2016

fall-flavorsNow that summer is giving way to fall, it’s once again time for seasonal menu changes. Many restaurants and cafes will simply offer trendy pumpkin spice versions of traditional food and beverage favorites and call it a day, but we find that approach to be very limiting. There are far too many other terrific fall flavors out there to stop at just pumpkin spice, so we encourage you to find a way to add these classic alternatives to your new menu.

Apple

Apples are an incredibly versatile fruit that pair well with other flavors and can be served up in a variety of ways. For example, apple cinnamon is wonderfully comforting in breakfast foods like pancakes, waffles, and cereal, and also goes nicely in tea. Apple based desserts are a no-brainer in the fall, so be sure to consider apple pie, caramel apple cake, and apple strudel for your menu. And of course nothing beats warm apple cider on chilly fall days. Brew up a batch and keep it ready to serve (with or without alcohol) in a Bunn hot beverage dispenser for a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Butternut squash

With its creamy texture and nutty flavor, butternut squash is a perennial fall favorite that can liven up everything from appetizers to entrees. Go-to recipes include a hearty butternut squash chicken stew, butternut squash and kale salad, and butternut squash mac and cheese.

Regular pumpkin

It seems that the pumpkin spice trend has completely pushed regular pumpkin off the radar, which is unfortunate for anyone who loves that satisfyingly savory flavor. Bring it back to your menu in its original form by adding pumpkin cubes to salads, pastas, and chili, or using it as the key ingredient in cookies, cakes, pies, and other desserts. Don’t forget that pureed pumpkin also makes an excellent soup, so find a recipe you like and whip up a huge batch with the help of a Groen table top cooking kettle.

Maple

If you only use maple in syrup form on top of pancakes and waffles, then you’re missing out on the delicious sweetness this key fall ingredient can bring to many other dishes. Maple is perhaps best used as a glaze for desserts such as cakes, doughnuts, and pastries, as well as meats such as ham, bacon, and pork, but is also ideal for flavoring butters and jams. And once you add a touch of maple to yellow pea soup, wild rice soup, or sweet potato soup, you’ll never go back!

Give your customers something more exciting to look forward to this fall than pumpkin spice flavored everything by offering these and other great flavors on your seasonal menu.

Back to School Restaurant Marketing Ideas

August 9th, 2016

Back-To-School-Facebook-Cover-Picture

If the end of summer is typically a slow time for your restaurant, one terrific way to drive sales is to jump on the back to school marketing bandwagon. Offering various discounts and specials aimed at cash-strapped college students and families with school-aged children can help bring in new customers, establish goodwill within the community, and lead to longterm patronage and bigger profits. Here are some ideas to get you started:

Freebies
Everyone loves freebies, especially after spending hundreds of dollars on school supplies and textbooks for the upcoming term. Offer a free appetizer, drink, or dessert to customers that show a receipt for school related purchases or tuition fees. Another option that’s great for bringing whole families into your restaurant is to provide a free kid’s meal with the purchase of an adult entree.

Discounts
If your margin is too tight for freebies, discounts are the next best alternative. For example, eateries located in college towns or near high schools can offer discounts on all purchases for customers who show a student or teacher ID card. If that kind of promotion is unsustainable, consider offering the discounts only at lunchtime or only on a specified day of the week.

Coupons
Many college towns and communities distribute coupon books to students and residents at the beginning of the year filled with promotions from local businesses, so check to see how your restaurant can get in on the action. You can also put printable coupons on your website or Facebook page, or send out offers on sites like Groupon and LivingSocial.

Incentive/Loyalty Programs
A proven way to cultivate repeat business is through incentive or loyalty programs, so this is also a great strategy to try. A stamp card that gives the bearer a free item after “x” number of purchases is easy to implement, as is a free (or discounted or BOGO) item for showing a report card with a B average or perfect attendance.

Promotion
Whatever kind of back to school marketing campaign you implement, be sure to take time to promote it beyond your usual social media channels to ensure you reach new eyeballs. Distribute fliers on campus or at the mall, put up signs in your windows, and place ads in popular local media.

Cold Desserts Your Restaurant Should Serve This Summer

July 13th, 2016

true refrigerator summer dessertsNothing lifts the misery associated with hot, humid summer weather faster than a refreshing dessert. So as the heat index rises to unbearable levels all across the country, be sure to have the following cold and frozen desserts on the menu to ease your customers’ suffering.

Ice cream & sorbet
While it’s perfectly acceptable to serve ordinary ice cream in standard cones, it doesn’t take that much more effort to offer your patrons something different and exciting. We suggest:

  • Making your own custom ice cream flavors or teaming up with a local producer of artisan ice creams.
  • Giving sorbet a kick by blending it with sangria, rum, merlot, or even champagne for a blissfully boozy treat.
  • Creating awesome ice cream sandwiches by wedging ice cream between two giant cookies, brownies, graham crackers, mini doughnuts, or other treat of your choice.

 

Pies & cakes
The true beauty of pies and cakes lies in their versatility. They can be dense and heavy when you wish for hearty fare, or they can be light and airy when the occasion calls for something more refreshing. Some can’t-miss ideas that fall into the latter category include:

  • Pudding-based pies in popular flavors like vanilla, chocolate, and banana creme served chilled from your True commercial refrigerator display.
  • Concoctions that are heavy on fresh fruit, such as key lime pie, strawberry shortcake, rhubarb cheesecake, pineapple upside-down cake, or raspberry tart.
  • Ice cream-based cakes and pies in virtually any flavor, including cookie dough, mint chocolate chip, espresso, and red velvet.

 

fruit berry parfaitParfaits
There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to creating a parfait. If the ingredients taste delectable and look enticing when layered in a glass, then you’re good to go. Some interesting combinations to try this summer are:

  • Mojito cheesecake parfait
  • Pistachio pudding parfait
  • PB&J parfait
  • Watermelon & coconut sorbet parfait
  • Tapioca passionfruit parfait
  • Cranberry meringue parfait

 

The options for refreshingly cold or frozen summer desserts are limited only by your imagination. Don’t be afraid to get creative with your menu and keep your True ice cream freezer, spot freezer, or display refrigerator stocked with scrumptious and satisfying goodies all season long.

 

Attract Guests with (the Right) Outdoor Seating

June 23rd, 2016

restaurant outdoor seatingThere’s no question customers love outdoor dining in the spring and summer. In fact, many restaurateurs report that patrons would rather wait for a table on the patio than be seated immediately indoors. So if you’re looking for a proven way to attract even more guests to your establishment this season, follow these tips to make sure you do outdoor seating right:

  • Confirm that your available outdoor space is suited to customer seating. At a minimum, this means having enough square footage that the tables aren’t crowded too close together. A pleasant view of the surroundings wouldn’t hurt, either.
  • Select weatherproof furniture that is durable yet comfortable. The pieces should be easy to clean and the general style should fit with your restaurant’s overall decorative concept.
  • Protect your customers from the elements with the help of patio umbrellas, awnings, and natural insect repellents like lavender, basil, lemongrass, and citronella.
  • Add extra lighting in the form of tiki torches, Chinese lanterns, tea lights, and other decorative options so customers and staff for visibility after sunset.
  • Consider putting a portable refrigerator or back bar storage cooler near the outdoor seating area to facilitate serving larger happy hour and weekend crowds.
  • Hire seasonal help (if necessary) to ensure you have enough employees to handle the influx of customers.
  • Get all the necessary permits and licenses required by your state or municipality so you can be in compliance with the law and avoid penalties, fines, or even a shutdown.
  • Advertise your newly opened patio space, and generate even more interest by hosting special events such as live music or game nights.

If you have the space and resources to set up an outdoor seating area this summer, you should be able to attract many more guests so long as you use the above tips to help get things right.

Get Ready for Summer Drinks

May 17th, 2016

summer drinks 2

Summer beverage sales have the potential to contribute big bucks to a restaurant’s bottom line. The profit margins for alcoholic and nonalcoholic beverages alike are among the highest in the food service industry, and can provide your establishment with a welcome boost in what might otherwise be a slow season. Check out these great tips on how to get ready for summer drinks:

  • Invest in a Bunn frozen drink dispenser to help cut down on the prep and cleanup time involved in serving perennial summer favorites like daiquiris, margaritas, and slushies.
  • Swap out hot coffee, tea, and other popular beverages for iced and cold brewed versions to allow customers to get their caffeine kick in a more refreshing form.
  • Offer drinks that contain less alcohol by volume. These are often lighter, brighter, more flavorful, less dehydrating and thus ultimately more satisfying than heavier alcoholic beverages in the summer.
  • Add food elements such as candied fruit, edible stir sticks, and interesting garnishes that make drinks more fun and visually appealing.
  • Target your health-conscious patrons with delicious green or fruit smoothies. Peaches and strawberries are especially popular in summer, so be sure to stock your inventory accordingly.
  • Think outside the fruit basket and try using fresh vegetables in beverages to yield a more savory result.
  • Experiment with alcohol infused dessert drinks to increase after-dinner sales. Vodka milkshakes, lemon drop dessert shots, and alcoholic ice cream or sorbet are a few easy ones to start with.

Getting your restaurant, food truck, or kiosk ready for summer drinks can be achieved with a few menu modifications, a commercial frozen drink dispenser, and a willingness to try new things. Put your own twist on these ideas to keep your customers coming back all season.

Get Your Grill On: Lighter Options for your Spring Menu

April 12th, 2016

With spring in the air, it seems that everyone suddenly has a hankering for freshly grilled foods. And while nothing beats a classic burger charbroiled to perfection on a Globe broiler with cast iron radiants, it’s always a good idea to offer your customers a variety of mouthwatering options to choose from. So as you put the finishing touches on your seasonal menu, consider adding these lighter selections that can be prepared on your commercial grill.

grilled foodStarters and sides

Kick things off and whet your customers’ appetites by making these popular starters and sides available on your spring grill menu. All of the food listed here can be customized by mixing, topping, or serving with your own special sauces, seasonings, cheeses, and dips:

  • Shrimp
  • Clams
  • Vegetable kebabs
  • Buffalo wings
  • Whole bell peppers
  • Corn on the cob
  • Potato wedges
  • Artichoke hearts

Main dishes

The great thing about these items besides how easy they are to whip up—just brush with some olive oil before grilling and add salt, pepper, or other seasonings to taste—is that they can be served on bread as a sandwich or on a plate with sides. Either way, your customers will love the result and clamor for more, so be sure to stock up accordingly:

  • Lean pork tenderloin
  • Swordfish
  • Turkey burger
  • Meatballs
  • Thin crust pizza
  • Quesadillas
  • Flank steak
  • Farm-raised pheasant
  • Boneless leg of lamb

Sweet treats

Customers might not be used to thinking of sweets and desserts coming off the grill, but these light and tasty treats will change their mind in a hurry.

  • Fruit, including apples, peaches, pineapple, strawberries, mangoes, and bananas
  • Any variation of S’mores (chocolate or flavored chocolate spread and marshmallows sandwiched between graham crackers or cookies)
  • Grilled ice cream
  • Miniature pastries filled with any of the fruits listed above
  • Grilled pound cake with fruit or whipped cream topping

If you’ve been using your grill only for traditional food like burgers, steaks, and chicken, it’s time to break out of that pattern and offer up something fresh for spring. Choose your favorite ideas from this page, test out a few recipes, and get ready to wow your customers with a new menu.

 

Short Order | What's Cookin'

A Restaurant Equipment Blog for the Enhanced Professional Kitchen

View ShortOrder's Product Lines

Gen2
Gen2
Luxor
Luxor
Nemco
Nemco
Vulcan
Vulcan Ranges
Scotsman
Scotsman Ice Machines

Low Price Guarantee

ShortOrder.com is committed to being the low price leader. Not only will we meet, but we'll beat any legitimate advertised price from a competing food service equipment dealer for any item in our inventory. We will gladly refund 110% of the difference on an identical item from another dealer (including all freight charges.) Contact us at 800-211-0282 if you feel you have located an item that is priced lower than ShortOrder.com.

We beat any price

PRODUCT CATEGORIES