Beef has the potential to earn restaurants a lot of money. It’s relatively easy to prepare, it can be made into an array of delicious menu items and can be served up quickly to facilitate turning tables fast, too. For operators, the opportunities are nearly endless—but too often, restaurants only offer it as a center-of-the-plate dish: a steak and two sides, for instance. To boost profits, however, operators should work on expanding the ways they offer meat, as well as how they educate diners and staff on which cuts are best. Check out these five ways beef can create big opportunity for restaurants.
1) Star of the show
As a center-of-plate protein, beef of course shines. According to Technomic’s 2019 Center of the Plate: Beef and Pork Consumer Trend Report, 69% of consumers say they eat beef at home or at a foodservice location at least once a week, and 23% say that over the next year, they will try to eat more beef. With dinner being the leading meal at which consumers typically consume beef, it’s natural for operators to view beef as a robust, center-of-the-plate meal and not much else. But while it definitely shines there, operators should be sure not to let those tried-and-true dishes get boring. Update the menu with some fun or unique sauces that can also conveniently pair well with beef for takeout, or look at underutilized or innovative beef cuts that can reduce beef product costs for the restaurant while differentiating the menu from the competition.
2) Customizable bowl meals
Bowl meals are a popular option for consumers—they can choose which ingredients they want and which ones they don’t, and they can build them with bases including rice or other grains, noodles, greens and more. To keep costs low, operators can use smaller, 3-ounce portions of beef—which also aligns with many diners’ health goals—and can also offer them with an array of different flavor profiles to entice diners who may be looking for something a bit more unique than the standard steak-and-potatoes beef offering. Options such as a Greek-inspired beef bowl or a Korean-inspired beef bowl appeal to diners looking for global cuisines and bold flavors, but the options are endless.
3) Slow-cooked, fast-served.
Low-labor preparation options such as slow-cooked beef, smoked beef or sous-vide are great ways for operators to expand their menu without adding back-of-house costs to meals. They also allow operators to use the same cuts of beef—thus not needing to add on food costs—for three (or more!) different meals. By using versatile ingredients such as beef to cater to consumers’ increased appetite for innovative yet familiar meals, operators can edge out competition while offering a fresh and exciting menu. Check out slow-cooked menu inspiration here.
4) Authentic flavor from the real deal
While meat substitutes and plant-based options are proliferating on menus across the nation, there’s no denying that many diners still want the real thing—BEEF. By offering the real deal—menu items that feature beef, including underutilized beef cuts—operators can offer great flavor and filling meals while keeping their product costs in check, as oftentimes, plant-based substitutes can be more costly to keep on hand. While operators can keep some plant-based options on hand for those diners that want to try it, most of the time, a real beef option—such as a burger, gyros, flatbread or other beef-centric dish—will better satisfy diners’ appetites. Beef means business—offer customers what they really want.
5) Educating staff
Beef is an appealing protein option for customers, but it can be even more so when staff are well-versed in how to prepare it as well as how to sell it. Using resources to educate staff on beef production methods, menu inspiration, innovative cuts to serve and more can help boost consumer interest in beef even more. By changing up the menu to accommodate diner preferences, operators can feel confident they’re offering exactly what customers want. And they can do this by using the BEEFoodservice app from the California Beef Council. The app features product quality attributes, nutrition information and more to reduce lag time with customers when they ask staff questions about beef. There are also beef training programs available through the app to ensure staff are ready to field any beef question.
Beef provides big opportunity for operators. To learn more about how it can help restaurants and to learn more about the BEEFoodservice app, visit www.calbeef.org/retail-foodservice/beefoodservice-mobile-app.