Wine and beer flights are common among sit-down establishments, but now operators are taking flights to food, offering a sampling of several varieties of a single item. Menu mentions of non-beverage flights are up 5.6% year over year, per Technomic’s MenuMonitor. This is a result of consumers’ increasing desire for more menu variety and shareable options, according to Technomic’s Future of FSR Consumer Trend Report. Here are four ways operators can offer flights.
1. Breakfast flights
Many restaurants are taking advantage of customers’ willingness to sample a variety of items at breakfast. Two-thirds of consumers (67%) say that a wide variety of options is important when dining out at breakfast, according to Technomic’s Breakfast Consumer Trend Report. Here are three examples of breakfast flights:
- Chicago Waffles in Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood menus a Waffle Flight featuring red velvet, chocolate, liege and green tea waffles topped with blackberry, strawberry, bananas and hazelnut chocolate for $13.95.
- Waffle flights are also available at the Palette, which opened in Chicago in March. Blueberry, strawberry, chocolate-raspberry and sweet potato waffles are available. The idea was inspired by a breakfast flight option at chef and co-owner Derek Rylon’s other Chicago restaurant, Batter & Berries. The Lincoln Park breakfast spot serves a Flight of French Toast—a sample of strawberry, blueberry, lemon and caramel French toasts served with maple butter for $11, a $1 upcharge from each of the options served individually.
- At Nashville’s Bread & Company Bakery & Cafe, a $7.59 Pancake Flight features features a choice of three small pancakes from a group of four: plain, blueberry, chocolate chip or pancake of the day.
2. Appetizer flights
More than half of consumers (52%) would like to see more appetizer sample platters, according to Technomic’s Starters, Small Plates & Sides Consumer Trend Report. Here are three examples of appetizer flights:
- Boston’s Restaurant & Sports Bar takes its signature entree offering to the appetizer menu with a Pizza Flight. Guests can sample mini portions of its most popular pizzas, cut into four bite-sized pizzas to share with a group. Diners choose three pizzas from a choice of Barbecue Chicken, Deluxe, Florentine, The Flying Buffalo and Ultimate Pepperoni.
- Texas chain Blue Mesa Southwest Grill serves an $8 Queso Flight, featuring samples of three quesos: classic, spinach-artichoke and ground beef-chorizo.
- Four-unit Cuba Libre serves a Ceviche Flight of two or three signature ceviches for $15.50 or $17.50.
3. Dessert flights
Dessert occasions are often shared, so offering options like dessert flights that appeal to multiple taste preferences is vital. In fact, more than two-fifths of desserts ordered at full-service restaurants are shared, and 37% of consumers say the ability to share a dessert is an important factor when selecting a restaurant, according to Technomic’s Dessert Consumer Trend Report. Here are three examples of dessert flights:
- Available through April, Houlihan’s is offering a $4 flight of Bite-Size Pot de Cremes, available in vanilla ginger, chocolate rhubarb and bourbon butterscotch brulee varieties.
- Two-unit Hoosier Mama Pie Company offers Friday night pie flights. The restaurant provides a plated flight of three small pie slices that guests can select from a changing menu of five to six different flavors.
- Harvest restaurant in Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Marriott serves a Signature Mini Cheesecake Flight. Guests can get Oreo, peanut butter, banana-caramel and cinnamon-apple flavors for $9.
4. Sauce flights
Sauces can differentiate any menu item with a simple dollop and provide easy customization. To add an extra layer of variety and differentiation, operators can offer a flight of numerous sauces. Here are three examples of sauce flights:
- The Counter offers a Sauce Flight for its burgers. For 75 cents, guests can get three sauces from a choice of 21 different types, including Korean chili aioli, Dijon balsamic and basil pesto.
- At The Little Nell in Aspen, Colo., a $12 maple syrup flight is available to pair with the restaurant's many breakfast items. One is aged in a bourbon barrel, another is infused with bourbon and a third is infused with Tahitian vanilla.
- Manneken Frites in Arvada, Colo., menus Sauce Flights for its french fries. Guests can select 1-ounce portions of any four dipping sauces for $2. About 25 sauces are available, including a Parmesan pesto garlic mayonnaise, a curry ketchup and a traditional Belgian sauce featuring chives and shallots in mayonnaise.
Some of the more senior members of the team smile at the junior staff who are excited to uncover an interesting trend in “eatertainment” or the latest single-ingredient concept. We try not to be condescending when we suggest they do some research by looking at past issues of Restaurant Business or old Technomic top chain reports before calling it the next big thing.