Many restaurants thrive from just one or two unique signature items that separate them from the competition. Creating and promoting dishes that are exclusive to your establishment gives guests a reason to choose your restaurant over one of your competitors. Here we detail several steps to identify, create and promote your signature dishes.
Popular Menu Items
Top selling items are a great start when deciding which signature dishes to get behind. If a particular dish is a big seller, fits the theme of your restaurant and provides a healthy profit margin, you may have a winner. Taking that dish and adding some unique touches like garnish, a new sauce or side dish will help to create a true signature menu item.
A different signature for each season is a great way to show off the versatility of your kitchen staff and keep your signature offerings fresh. Taking advantage of seasonal inventory opportunities will help you control the cost of your signature items and ensure your ingredients are at peak freshness. Signature dishes need to stand out, so frozen or expired ingredients are a definite thumbs down.
Take note of which daily specials receive the most orders and the best reaction from your customers. If you start to notice a trend of increased business during a certain special it may be time to make that one of your signature dishes. Daily specials are also a great way to begin promoting your other chosen signatures.
Gathering input from your customers about their favorite items on your menu and what they would like to see added will allow you to personalize your menu to your customer base. Not only that, if you choose one of your customer’s ideas as a signature dish, they are sure to let their friends know.
Many people who enter the food service industry are amateur chefs with new and unique food interpretations. It is very possible your front of house staff is teaming with great ideas. Consider holding a contest where each staff member presents a dish and then hold a vote with the best dish making it to the menu.
Developing your own take on current food trends will make your signature dishes recognizable while still maintaining the unique image of your restaurant. Many of the latest trends focus on nutrition, so having healthy options as your signature dishes can help you capitalize on the health-conscious niche. Taking it completely the other way and using decadent desserts as signature items can give your brand and revenue a boost as well.
Promoting your signature dishes is the most important aspect of this exercise aside from creating standout dishes. Posting videos of how you create your signature dishes and photos of the finished product will help you drive engagement through your social media pages and increase the reach of your brand. Visual content is the most shared content online, with food being the subject matter of much of it.