Most people love appetizers, but if you have customers that are trying to avoid fried foods, selling even the most delicious-sounding appetizers can be a challenge. Make sure you have at least two appetizers that are not fried on your menu at all times.

One suggestion would be a cheese and olive plate. This can be a set menu item or you can make it a Chef’s Choice and offer different cheeses that change with the seasons. Add a few olives, a country olive medley is nice, and a unique cracker or flatbread. Since this is a great appetizer to share, you can probably get a higher price than some of your other offerings that are meant to serve one person.

Dessert is another course that many diners avoid because of concerns over health. We sell perception, and the perception exists widely that fruit and cheese is healthier than cake. Adding a fruit and cheese plate as an option on your dessert menu can help to increase your check average. Again, this can also serve as a shared plate and result in higher sales of coffee and after-dinner beverages for the whole table.

Generally, you will want to choose 3 to 5 cheeses to serve on your cheese board or platter. The cheese pros recommend grouping cheeses that can play off of each other. You could offer a soft, a hard, and a blue cheese or go another route and choose by type, such as a sampling of different types of semi hard cheeses like gouda, provolone, and cheddars. Cheeses can also be arranged by country of origin. Popular choices include Italy, France, Spain, Switzerland, and the United States. Cheese plates can be served with many enhancers such as flat breads, baguettes, and crackers. Fresh and dried fruits such as apples, figs, pears, and grapes serve very well with all types of cheeses and gives that extra added touch. Add in your own house-made jams, jellies, chutneys, or compotes, and your customers won’t be able to resist sampling the flavors together, regardless of the course!
Contributed by: Audrey Nash, Sales Development Manager, Performance Foodservice – Metro NY

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