Whether trying to change up your menu or offer something fun like a limited time offer (LTO), now’s the perfect time.

As all of us sit at home, eating out has become a decadent treat. When we venture out, it is for an experience. I am so thrilled to experience service and a beautifully plated dish that the experience is even more heightened. However, with limited seating, it is even more important for the restaurant to turn tables and generate as much income as possible.

The easiest way to help turn tables with limited seating, help get the diner back home more quickly, and aid the eater in deciding the next item to add to their basket is by retooling or consolidating menus. Smaller menus are not just a current trend. Many restaurants are focused on three to four starters, three to four salads, six entrees, and three to four desserts.

Focusing on LTO items that reflect popular delivery trends can be a fit for any operator. Most restaurants classify LTO’s as specials. Offering burger, sandwich, pizza or flatbread, and pasta specials allows you to target these delivery categories and provides an opportunity to offer these LTO’s or specials in different ways.

  • It might be smart to consider a cycle menu of LTO or special offerings. This is where you have a specific offering each day of the week that repeats each week.
  • Maybe a seasonal market special is better. So, for a season like fall, you create a special menu that focuses on food items that are in season during that period. These specials could be available every day for that seasonal period.
  • Daily offerings is another option. You may choose to change specials or LTO items each day or run the same ones every day for a period of a week or two.

Here is an example of turning an existing menu item into an on-trend LTO. Let’s say a current menu offering is Fried Green Tomatoes topped with Shrimp Remoulade. You can transform that dish into an LTO in several ways using takeout-friendly items:

  1. Shrimp Remoulade and Green Tomato Flatbread - Herbed flatbread topped with roasted green tomato sauce topped with spicy boiled shrimp and melted creamy cheese finished with a streak of New Orleans remoulade sauce.
  2. Grilled Green Tomato and Shrimp Hoagie - Toasted hoagie bread topped with grilled herb infused green tomatoes, spicy boiled shrimp, and a creole remoulade sauce.
  3. Shrimp & Green Tomato Burger - Classic seasoned boiled shrimp formed into a moist patty atop a toasted brioche bun, blackened grilled green tomatoes and finished with creamy remoulade sauce.
  4. Shrimp Pasta with Roasted Green Tomato Sauce - Blackened shrimp and ziti tossed with roasted green tomato and onion sauce topped with a streak of remoulade aioli. With this approach you are using items that your staff is used to handling and producing. You are just offering them in a new creative way to take advantage of current trends. Adapting one of these suggestions or a combination can help you pivot for success.

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