It’s hard to imagine any way you can compete
with the big burger chains for their dollar menu shoppers. There is no
realistic way for an independent restaurant to eat the loss on many small items
that cost more to make than their sales price. You can, however, prepare to
address those Millennials who are moving to a snacking lifestyle. And, your
first move will be to change some of your layout.
Restaurant Dining Sets Don’t Work
Sure, if you are going to continue
serving to traditional customers, you will want to keep a portion of your
restaurant filled with tables and chairs. Snackers, however, want to be in and
out. To help them feel that you are addressing that need, increase availability
for bar seating and small tables. If you have a picture window, set up a long
bar there and let people sit individually for a quick getaway.
Aren’t These Tapas Reworked?
I know some people will think that the
smaller portions of snack-like items are just another way to bring in tapas.
There is a different goal though. Tapas are designed so you order several
different items to put together a meal of bite-sized morsels, and tend to be
high end. The snacking choices that are coming on the market are considerably
more comfort related.
Pack Them Together
Just because your guests don’t want a full sized meal, or the full
sized price, doesn’t
mean they aren’t
interested in a bit of variety. The really hot trend is flights. Bring together
pairs or trios of foods from all over the menu. For example, you might offer a
flight of soups, letting your guest taste several of your best. Popsicles are
back in vogue and make a great dessert flight in sets. Think sample sized and
fun and you are ready to roll out your new menu.
Accommodating the Snacker
Of course, you are going to want new,
smaller dishes and containers in which to serve these snack sized items. This
is where a quick call to your commercial restaurant equipment supplier is in
order. Ramekins, tiny plates and even hand painted platters are a perfect way
to upscale what is really a very basic concept. Keep in mind that you will
still be charging more than they do on the dollar menu down the street, and you
want to make the experience special, as well as affordable.
Another way to steal some thunder from
other snack friendly locations is to push your limits in what you prepare.
Pundits are telling us that eggs, pork and lamb are moving up the charts. Duck
and bison are also increasing in popularity. All of these can be offered in
small portions, presenting savory delicacies to the guests. Just make sure that
you create a few of these “snacks” for every time of the day and you are ready to