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It's more important than ever to set your restaurant apart from the competition. In a nutshell, what makes you different, better or special?

For some it's quality food, superior value, comfortable decor, fast and efficient service, and an enduring "culture of hospitality." But an attribute that many people don't capitalize on is flavor. Although it's difficult to define and project, flavor is the secret weapon for the 21st century.

 

Think about the crazy dives you've been in. Why were you there? Why did you put up with the bad location... the lack of parking... the noise... the bad lighting... the lines... the surly waiters... the lack of ambiance and other creature comforts? Nine times out of ten, it was because the food was so darned good! Great tasting food trumps everything.

So move Flavor to the top of the list when developing new menu recipes and selling high profit menu items.

New Recipe Development
Flavor should be the focus of every food product purchased, whether raw ingredients, convenience products of finished goods. But there's a catch. Roper research shows that while half of diners want to try something new once in a while, one third of diners want to stick to what's familiar. So your challenge should be to create a new spin on old classics. Use ethnic spices, new sauces, "retro" side dishes, or new preparation techniques to add flavor.

Menu Item Descriptions
Phrases such as "Famous Idaho potatoes" and "Wisconsin cheddar cheese" can instantly deliver a higher quality and value perception to a plain old side dish of scalloped potatoes. The trick here is to leverage the guest’s existing belief that the flavor of these branded products is better. Everyone knows that Oregon Blueberries, Wisconsin cheese, Idaho potatoes, Alaskan salmon, and Louisiana crayfish taste better...right? Unique menu item descriptions should be used whenever possible, even if it's only for a garnish, sauce or other accouterment.

Server Selling
Train servers to become suggestive sellers, and reinforce flavor at every point during the sequence of service. Think of your employees as "internal marketers" who can guide guests to flavorful dishes that showcase your talents, and provide the highest gross profit.

Instead of a generic greeting like "Welcome to the Red Rock Grill" a hostess might say "Welcome. Have you tried our smoky red bean chili?" Or how about, "Be sure to share a platter of our spicy fried calamari." Later, when the waiter or waitress takes a guest’s order, train them to respond to a guest selection with a response like, "Great choice. The flavor of that rib eye is fantastic." Or "The barbecue taste of these chicken wings is unbelievable. People drive from miles around to get that taste."

Train yourself and your staff to take advantage of every opportunity during your to highlight your Unique Flavor Proposition. Flavor should be the theme for the entire guest dining experience , because, ultimately, flavor is what dining out is all about.

For more great tips and ideas to help you focus on flavor, check out "Flavor & The Menu" at www.flavor-online.com.

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