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Boost the bottom line with bacon

Photograph: Shutterstock

Many diners find bacon irresistible. Restaurant operators should always have it on hand so they can capitalize on that love.  

For operators seeking simplicity and efficiency when stocking their kitchens, bacon’s versatility adds craveable flavor to an array of dishes across the menu—from starters and sides to entrees and even some desserts. Bacon also boosts check averages, which is why it already appears on menus morning, noon and night.

Here are some creative ways to give bacon a meatier role on the menu.

Think beyond the basics

Limited-time offers (LTOs) often are big sellers for restaurants. Exclusivity and rarity can boost interest, even if the LTO costs a little more than a traditional menu item. In fact, 35% of consumers say they are more likely to try a new flavor if it’s on the menu only for a limited time, according to Technomic’s 2019 Flavor Consumer Trend Report.

Operators already know that adding bacon to a new, limited-time menu item can increase its appeal. But there are lesser-known ways to incorporate bacon into—and elevate the appeal of—other menu items.

Bacon on the breakfast menu is a no-brainer, but what about adding bacon to the breakfast/brunch cocktail menu? Try garnishing the standard Bloody Mary with a few strips of smoky, tasty bacon instead of (or in addition to) the familiar celery stick. Cocktail creativity can extend beyond the morning meal, too. Upgrading craft cocktails by infusing bourbon, scotch or rum with bacon or by leveraging it as an ingredient or garnish is unexpected. Who wouldn’t want to try a bacon old fashioned rich in sweet andsmoky flavors?

Bacon can also be used to upgrade (and upcharge) classic entrees. If scallops are on the menu, wrap them in bacon and boost the price by a few dollars. Filet mignon, chicken and other proteins can get this same treatment, giving guests something that’s upscale and indulgent while still being familiar.

Go big—and go blended

While adding bacon on top of a burger is common, some operators have begun offering diners the choice of what kind of bacon they want to add. For instance, instead of regular bacon, operators can offer thick-cut bacon or even bacon lardons as a topping—an easy upcharge and one many diners would be willing to accept.

Beyond bacon as a topping, operators can consider offering patties made from meat blended with bacon. In fact, 70% of consumers said they would order a blended burger patty featuring beef and bacon, according to Technomic’s 2019 Burger Consumer Trend Report. Such an offering allows operators to upsell the burger patty itself, adding a few dollars to each burger before consumers even start to add toppings.

As a back-of-house workhorse for more menu parts

Speaking of toppings, adding bacon as a premium topping across menu parts offers operators an easy, no-added-labor way to boost checks. For example, chefs can use bacon they’ve cooked ahead of time as an add-on for just about any dish—from sandwiches to pizzas, salads to soups. And by crumbling that cooked bacon, kitchen staff can enhance (and charge more for) mashed potato sides or french fries or give sweet desserts such as brownies or sundaes a salty, smoky kick.  

Easy menu additions with big benefits

Operators already know that bacon is a versatile menu item. What may not be as obvious is how easy it is to upcharge for items that feature it. Using bacon in cocktails and entrees, offering different cuts and blends and making it a premium topping are just a few easy ways to boost check averages.

Looking for fresh ways to cook with bacon? Find recipe inspiration at clemensfoodservice.com/menu-ideas.

This post is sponsored by Clemens Food Group