Category Archives: Restaurant Menu

Don’t Give Them What They Want

A blog post from Restaurant Hospitality magazine last Monday explored consumers’ desire to want what they cannot have:  access to exclusive clubs, tables at restaurants with lengthy waiting lists, limited edition products, etc. When supply doesn’t meet demand, those who demand will pay more for access to the supply.

Sold Out sign

Every restaurant wants a menu item to get this kind of attention!

So, create it!

Limited-supply menu items can be “available” at any price point; there’s no need to go way above what your demographic is willing to pay. Get creative and do some market testing within your own restaurant to see what creates buzz. It can be a simple food idea or an entire concept.

  • Small-batch, chef-created ice creams to polish off summertime meals? Invest in a 4-qt Hamilton Beach Ice Cream Maker and invent a new flavor every day — one batch only!
  • Keep some rich Belgian chocolate on hand and dip only the very best fresh fruit from the day’s market, pair it with espresso for dessert and then package the limited-quantity pairing as a special service for the whole table.
  • One day a week, during a short window, offer afternoon tea for moms (or dads) and kids with lovely but durable Tea Rose tea service. Allow only a few sittings. Serve some small eats that are easy to prep (got leftover ingredients?) and suddenly, it’s an exclusive event!

Should You Highlight The Mediterranean Diet?

It’s the beginning of the year, and that means the beginning of new diets and exercise plans for everybody. By late February, many people who may have started the year with good intentions have fallen off their plans. One diet that would be easy to handle, as it allows a variety of tasty foods, is the Mediterranean diet that’s been surging in popularity in recent years.

Nation’s Restaurant News reports on the diet, pointing out that it’s less of a specific diet and more of an eating focus “with an emphasis on healthful high antioxidant-, fiber-rich ingredients such as fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains, and healthier fats derived from olive oil, nuts, and seafood.” Both the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association have highlighted the diet as ways to manage health for years, with it encouraging a variety of foods.

The diet doesn’t prohibit meat and meat products, but just minimizes them, especially in comparison to fish. Olive oil, fruits, and veggies are generally considered tasty components of meals that most consumers enjoy. The concept comes from the traditional diets of those in Greece, Spain, and Southern Italy. It features a significant amount of monounsaturated fats, which have been suggested to lead to a reduction of coronary heart disease risk, improve cholesterol regulation, LDL cholesterol reduction, and features other anti-hypertensive and inflammatory effects.

Naturally, these health benefits are ideal for many, focusing on not just losing weight and gaining more energy, but towards adjusting many ailments. The addition of red wine to the diet adds antixodants with their inclusion of flavonoids.

NRN’s suggestions on how restaurants can include this diet include

Enhance the natural flavor of dishes through herbs and spices rather than salt. Basil, cilantro, ginger and saffron are just a few accents that can complement any sauce, dressing, marinade, soup or entrée.

Boost the use of fruits and vegetables. Bring color and variety to salads and seafood dishes with fresh, seasonal fruits, and add hearty vegetables to chili, soups and noodle dishes.

Provide alternative sources of protein. Use proteins such as omega-3 rich salmon, tuna or shrimp, or make substitutions available in place of traditional meats in entrées and salads.

Use extra-virgin olive oil in place of butter and highly saturated dressings.Use it to flavor salads and drizzle over vegetables and pastas. It can also be used in low-heat food preparation.

Add texture with fiber-rich foods. Infuse texture into dishes by adding fiber-rich beans and legumes into salads and side dishes, and nuts and seeds as toppings.

Replace refined grain breads and noodles with whole grains. Use brown rice, quinoa, whole-wheat pasta and wild rice in place of refined grains wherever possible.

Naturally, a new focus on wine in your restaurant could also find its way into the diets of your customers. Many of the items on your menu might fit with these suggestions, so it shouldn’t take too much to adjust your menu to highlight the diet.

Ordering Up New Pizza Trends

Pizza’s an iconic menu item in this country, and while it hails from Italy, it has significantly made its stand in this country. Naturally, like anything else America adopts, we have to put our own spin on it. There are a few different varieties of pizza that have made headlines in recent weeks. Could any of these concepts work for your restaurant, or are they at least an entertaining bit of trivia?

WIth Valentine’s Day having just passed, you may have dallied with featuring heart-shaped items on your menu. Consumerist reports that both Papas (Murphy’s and John’s) have both sold heart-shaped pizzas on their menus for specials, One way to go the extra miles with these pizzas, as they suggest, is to cut pepperoni’s into heart shapes with small cookie-cutters. Naturally, this leaves you with unappealing heart-holed pepperoni rings, but you can easily chop these up and use them as smaller pepperoni chunks for a different pizza or ever pepperoni rolls.

Reshaping your crust into a heart design might be one thing, but outright replacing your crust with pepperoni is a whole ‘nother world. Dude Foods attempted this with a pepperoni crust pizza, which seems to have worked significantly better than the pepperoni crust taco that was the original plan. This could be a unique, if not extra-greasy, way to make a pizza that distinguishes itself from the others, and actually would end up possibly being gluten-free, if not exactly great for your heart. His recipe requires a fair bit of work to be perfected, so you and your attempt at it will have to adjust for changes.

Going from heart-shaped crust to pepperoni crust still keeps you fully in the realm of pizza, but going to deep dish might actually make not it pizza, thanks to a Supreme court ruling. Technically, it never went to court, but Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia “ruled” that deep dish pizza shouldn’t be called pizza. In his words, “It’s very tasty, but it’s not pizza,” preferring that it be called a tomato pie. In his mind, pizza is only pizza when it’s more authentic to the original Neapolitan style, thin, chewy, and crispy. Jon Stewart recently railed against the deep-dish pizza as well, claiming it’s more of a casserole than actual pizza.

If deep dish isn’t actual pizza, would three-year-old pizza still qualify? A pizza MRE (Meal Ready to Eat) has been developed that can sit on shelves for three years and be ready to eat, according to The Huffington Post. As pizza is one of the most-requested meals by soldiers, it took researchers nearly two years to figure out how to make pizza that can last this long. The problem stems from the moisture in toppings, including sauce, eventually migrating to the dough, leading to mold. A few scientific changes to the standard pizza recipe adjusts it to control the moisture. While pepperoni pizza is the initial plan, turkey pizza is in the options for those who don’t eat pork.

Three-year old, heart-shaped pizza, heart-shaped pepperoni, and pepperoni crusted pizza? Could you see yourself trying it?