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Food

Simplify the menu by considering margin, flexibility and demand

Photograph: Shutterstock

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, restaurants have leaned heavily on takeout and delivery orders to keep their businesses afloat. Alongside this shift in business, operators have also streamlined their menus to ensure that every dish they sell is as great-tasting off-premise as it would be if the customers were dining in. When simplifying the menu, operators should focus on three factors that ensure success: margin, flexibility and demand. By choosing items to put on the menu that cater to all three, operators can feel confident in their offerings.

Margin

Simplifying the menu is often done to eliminate high-cost items that may not be as popular, as well as items that don’t travel well. By favoring menu items that offer high margins—such as breakfast sandwiches—while holding well during delivery times, operators can ensure their customers receive great food, all while maintaining good margins. Additionally, versatile menu items like breakfast sandwiches are easy to upcharge with ingredients such as bacon or avocado. By considering margins and the potential for upcharge, operators can easily refine which items should stay and which should be cut from the lineup.

Flexibility

Another aspect to consider when simplifying the menu is flexibility—both in how an ingredient can be used as well as its compatibility with both on- and off-premise ordering. The most important factor in choosing where to order delivery and takeout from—at least before this year’s pandemic—was that the food tasted as good as it did when they dined in, according to Technomic’s recent Takeout & Off-Premise Consumer Trend Report. Consumers also said it was important for the food to taste as fresh as it would if they were dining in. For operators, this meant choosing foods for the takeout and delivery menus that held up well, even during longer delivery drive times.

Items such as SUPERPRETZEL® Soft Pretzel Fries, from J&J Snack Foods, offer the flexibility operators need in this time of simplified menus and an increased need for high-quality takeout and delivery. Perfect as an appetizer (loaded with toppings), as part of an entree or even in dessert, soft pretzel fries offer a unique solution to a common challenge in restaurants. Plus, they stay fresh during delivery times, making them ideal for off-premise orders.

Demand

Finally, operators need to consider demand. Simplifying the menu is meant to streamline costs, but if consumers don’t want what’s left on the menu, that’s a problem. For that reason, operators need to know what consumers are interested in eating. Snacking occasions, for example, are popular among younger diners, with 30% (compared to 15% of older consumers) snacking in between meals at least three times a day, according to Technomic’s 2020 Snacking Consumer Trend Report. As for what they’d like to snack on, 31% of Gen Z consumers would order soft pretzels as appetizers, and 29% of millennials are likely to purchase soft pretzels as snacks. And not only are pretzels appealing, they’re also trending, with pretzel bites up 8.3% on menus year-over-year, soft pretzels up 6.8% and pretzel buns up 25%.

Incorporating menu items made with soft pretzel products addresses all three of these factors—they offer high margins and are easy to upcharge (consider using pretzel buns for breakfast sandwiches), they offer flexibility and hold well for delivery and consumers are looking for them on menus.

For operators wanting to streamline their menu and make takeout and delivery orders more profitable and popular, paying close attention to margin potential, flexibility and demand is key. Learn more about all J&J Snack Foods has to offer at jjsnackfoodservice.com.

This post is sponsored by J&J Snack Foods

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