If your restaurant has yet to embrace the concept of small plates, perhaps it's time to make a change. After all, the small plate food trend is being fueled by millennials—the hip, young demographic you need to be tapping into if you truly want to boost your bottom line. Here are some tips and ideas to help you get started.
According to Matt Yglesias of Slate, millennials love this style of dining because they're able to try multiple dishes. "And because you get to try more stuff, you get to be more venturesome in your eating," he explains.
Millennials tend to appreciate variety and have an adventurous spirit, which means they typically embrace new things. For chefs, this is excellent news because it means you can avoid feeling guilty about following your more daring impulses when crafting dishes.
If you're able to create one remarkable flavor profile with a few interesting ingredients and then figure out the ideal portion size and price, your faithful diners will spread the word about your establishment.
Embracing the Sharing Mentality
Millennials usually don't go out to eat as a group and order two of the same thing unless there isn't enough of one order to share with the entire table. When planning your menu, you can take advantage of this sharing mentality by cutting back on expensive ingredients and offering a larger menu of smaller, higher-margin dishes.
For instance, you can use vegetables and starch-based foods as centerpieces, and augment them with smaller amounts of flavor-packed, bang-for-your-buck meats (think soppressata, braised chicken thighs, chorizo, and pulled pork) to boost your restaurant's reputation as a place for millennials to get affordable, shareable plates. To complement your culinary creations, and rake in even more profits, develop a killer cocktail menu. Market your menu as having an assortment of dishes to share (maybe include medium-sized plates, too) to encourage couples and groups to come and indulge at your establishment.
Streamlining Your Kitchen Operations
Small plates can help you speed up the workflow in your kitchen by getting rid of extraneous garnishes and expensive enhancements like fancy wine reductions and other margin-eating sauces.
You can even have your staff inform tables that food will come out as it's ready and in no particular order. This will allow your kitchen staff and servers to work in a more efficient (and less tense) fashion than traditional kitchens allow for because they won't have to factor in wait times between appetizers and entrees.
This will also allow your restaurant to turn tables faster, allowing for higher volume and, in turn, higher profits. With higher profits, you and your kitchen staff can take more risks by investing in exotic ingredients that will attract even more diners to your restaurant.
If you have yet to incorporate small plates into your menu, it's time to jump on the bandwagon. All you have to do is start thinking small and revamping your menu with shareable dishes. Before you know it, big things will start happening for your bottom line.