Chef & CULINARY Insights
These days many customers want healthier options on the menu. Diners seek delicious flavors and hearty plates that will fill them up without bringing on the guilt. Many fine dining establishments offer healthier options (especially with the rise of the veggie entree) along with fast casual concepts, giving hungry guests plenty of options.
Today, many people are interested in healthy eating. That means while they want healthier meal options at home, they also want to see healthier options at restaurants. And one big aspect many customers want to see are sustainable proteins on the menu. Why? Because they want food options they feel good about, whether it’s due to their outlook on the local ecosystem or their view on healthier ways to fuel their own bodies.
At the chain-restaurant Dick’s Last Resort, customers expect obnoxious service as part of the experience. There must be a call for rudeness somewhere because Chicago’s stronghold of rude, Ed Debevic’s, will be reopening within the next year. Both establishments are not for the faint of heart.
Once, after having personally cooked a staff meal for the prep crew, I stood off to the side with my sous chef, beaming like a proud poppa as they tore into the food. My sous chef, sensing my smugness, elbowed me into the present by saying, “Don’t think for a moment that just because you cooked them a meal that any one of them wouldn’t gut you like a fish in your sleep.”
Any good restaurant menu re-build or engineering analyzes product mix, high performers, good margin items, and dishes that need to go away, among other edits. Getting wise to special interest menuing is a logical next step. Gluten-free is not a fad diet, it has been around too long and it isn’t waning. Vegetarian is a staple. Heart healthy has been around since we learned about cholesterol.
Fast casual dining is still going strong, and for good reason. Combine quick service with sit-down dining, and food that’s made of quality ingredients (such as locally-sourced and healthier options), fast casual has plenty to bring to the table. And we have the chefs behind the concepts to thank.
By Donald Burns, Foodable Industry Expert
Take a look at your menu. Go ahead. Take a look as if you were casting your eyes upon it for the first time. It is making a statement that supports your brand identity or a cry for help? Being self-critical for some is just downright difficult. It's so easy to point out the flaws in other restaurant menus and hard to see the flaws in our own.
Your menu is the one thing that every guest will look at. It's so important, yet why do so many not give it the full measure of respect it deserves? Let's fix that. Now, in order to give your menu a real chance at change, you will need to leave your ego at the door. Don't worry, you can pick it up later — but you must be objective on what is best for the brand.
Get some blank paper and pencils. We are going to construct a visual mind map that will set you up for success. If you are ready, then here are the 10 steps for a total menu makeover.
Below, we share some of our favorite shots from our travels around the country. Enjoy!