Can Tapas Top Off Your Registers?

Tapas might just be the new restaurant craze that will encourage customers to order lots of dishes and leisurely enjoy them in your restaurant. They can be a way for consumers to try a variety of your recipes on a small scale, leading to them trying them in larger quantities later. Many major chains have been introducing tapas dishes, such as TGI Fridays and Olive Garden, in an attempt to grab some of the Millenials audience they may be losing. A modern restaurant must face the concept that many 20-30s will skew full meals and instead prefer smaller dishes they can share.

But what are tapas?

Tapas: The Spanish Sensation

Tapas are a Spanish concept of eating, a wide variety of snacks and appetizers that replace a meal for many. In many cases, these are served on small plates, and parties are expected to order a handful of variety of plates to share with each other. The allure of the small plate is simple; having “small plate” dishes on your menu allow customers to buy a bunch of them and share with their cohorts. The cost is low for the individual, but they get a chance to try multiple things on the menu, which you may actually sell larger versions of. Consider them, in this regard, to be paid samplers.

Many cultures have their own variations on this concept. Argentina has “Picada” (mainly featuring cold dishes), Korea has anju, Japan has izakaya

The real treat is how easy they are for customers to share, and how varied they are, encouraging groups of friends and family to orders multiples and a variety of them. Additionally, this may increase foot traffic, as people with a limited budget or desire to eat might just pick up a tapas snack, and spend money elsewhere on items that drive profits, such as drinks.

What They Can Do For You, And How?

Tapas dishes can bring in younger audiences, while bringing more of them in as well. Consumers will want to share and order in large quantities and share with friends, all while requiring very little on your part. To make this type of menu, you just need to take a few things into consideration.

  • See what menu items are perfectly fine as is. Chances are, you might sell a few menu items that could work as a tapas dish, such as breadsticks, french fries, and other appetizers.
  • Reformulate a few items to, possibly, make smaller and sharable versions of your main dishes. Lasagna works as an example; instead of doing larger cuts for customers, you can do smaller ones that are bite-size and sharable. For buffalo wings, you can even just reduce the count on them. Many dishes can be made easily dividable and sharable with a bit of different.
  • Make sure to invest in small plates; with customers ordering many plates, table space is actually at a premium. Beyond the small plates the dishes come on, you may want to serve more dishes for customers to place their food on as they eat.

Have you considered adding small, shareable dishes? Do you see the value in making them a regular part of your menu, or would you consider doing them on a trial basis? What dishes do you serve that you see customers splitting, sharing, and passing around?