April 10, 2018 |

All About the Menu Fads

By Mandy Wolf Detwiler


Is a good thing really over?

Recently, food critic and annual International Pizza Challenge judge Allan Borgen asked a provocative question: are popular food trends over, such as bacon, kale, food trucks or cupcakes? He got plenty of responses –– namely that bacon is a food group –– but Allan brings up a good point. When is a good thing over?

If you’ve got menu items that just aren’t selling, it might be time to take a second look. More important than the fact that they’re just not selling is why they’re not selling. Are you selling a tuna ceviche on your appetizer, just because you like tuna ceviche, but you’re mainly a pizzeria? That’s a lot of wasted expensive fish for maybe, what, two orders a week? What about that taco pizza that went over so well last year as a specialty, but seems to have dropped off? In fact, when was the last time you did a menu overhaul?

Five solid reasons to change your menu include:

  • Items aren’t selling. Even if you’re cross-utilizing ingredients, these items take up space on your menu where something more profitable could reside.
  • Menus that are too big run the risk of having items with ingredients that are out of stock. You don’t want to tell a customer that you can’t make their barbecue chicken pizza because you just haven’t stocked the crunchy fried toppings that finish it off.
  • Fad items have gone out of fashion. In our industry, there is admittedly not a lot of change, but that low-carb pizza you’re still menuing? How many of those are you selling? Check out our list of hot ingredients for 2018 here.
  • Price increases. We’ve seen cheese and flour prices rise over the past few years. Eating that cost works in the beginning but you’re eventually going to have to pass that on to your customers. Slight price increases work better than drastic ones.
  • Your competition has changed. If big chains have entered your market, it’s tempting to lower your prices to meet or beat theirs. But you can “pretty up” your menu with descriptive wording that showcases your artisan prosciutto, local meats and craft cheeses. If you’re not using those keywords to draw your customers in, it’s definitely time to reboot. Here’s a tutorial to get you started.

Finally, make sure you update your menu on your Web site. There’s nothing worse than a diner arriving with tasty expectations you can’t meet.

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