Less expensive tasting menus are a trend to watch this year.1 With consumers wanting unique dining experiences, and restaurants looking to save on food and labor, prix fixe menus and creative tastings can be just the trendy “fixes” to boost sales.
Post-pandemic, many chefs turned to prix fixe formats to give guests a one-of-a-kind dining experience, while saving on food costs and labor. Since then, there’s been an uptick in tasting and prix fixe menus, and you can reap more than a few benefits by offering dishes in this format.
- Easy Fixe- By streamlining offerings, you cut down on the work related to inventory and ordering. This makes it easier for staff to perform inventory management tasks, which saves money.
- BOH Benefits - By reducing or eliminating a la carte offerings, your BOH staff can hone in on prep and service to make the process more efficient, saving labor costs.
- Impress Guests - Set menus allow you to create offerings that represent the best of what your kitchen can create. Grab the opportunity to present dishes exactly as you would want the guests to experience them. Fixed menus can be a great way for guests to get to know a concept better, creating confidence and encouraging repeat visits.
- Tasting Time – Every second matters and with fixed menus, you have more control over the pacing of the meal. So, it might be easier to build in as many turns per night as you need to ensure a profitable service every time.
Some diners don’t care for fixed menus, and it’s important to understand what your target demographic is looking for and what they like. Consider having small a la carte and fixed menus, perhaps reserving fixed menus for busier times and a la carte menus at slower times. When considering these menus, keep some strategies in mind:
- Timing is Everything - Fixed menus put the control over pacing largely in the hands of the restaurant, and some guests love to linger. It’s important to understand the impact so you can weigh that against the potential advantages.
- Your Meal, Your Choice - Some guests simply prefer to order a la carte. One way to tap into this crowd, while still offering fixed menus, is to create choices within those fixed menus. For example, a prix fixe menu may include the option of a soup or salad to start or may present an option of three desserts. This gives a bit of flexibility while still putting control in the hands of the operators.
Time to Taste Test
Now that you’ve weighed pros and cons, experiment with different menus. A prix fixe menu with up to three options for each course still allows for creativity and cost control, while ensuring all diets and palate preferences are included. With demand for interactive, unique dining experiences, a chef’s table is an easy, profitable way to present your tasting menu. Designate a certain table with the best view, an exclusive area of the bar, or even close to the kitchen.
Guests love it because it feels special and exclusive, and you can charge a premium. Speaking of special, prix fixe and tasting menus are perfect for holidays, sporting events, and other industry occasions, so a perfect time to test them out are around these special events where guests are likely to indulge a little more.
1af&co + Carbonate: 2023 Hospitality Trends Report