Shaping Your Feature Menu In Response To Supply Chain Issues

Nov 4, 2021

Supply chain issues and price increases continue to impact restaurant owners across southwestern Ontario. Here are some tips to help incorporate special features into your menu in order to better mitigate supply chain issues by taking pressure off products that have increased in price or are not readily available.

Due to recent supply chain issues, margins have gone down on several key products such as chicken wings and seafood. If you can get your customers interested in other products on the menu that are not experiencing price increases or shortages, this can take the pressure off these items. And, by featuring products that are not affected by the supply chain, you will have better operating margins and a more consistent menu.

The first step is to reduce the overall number of items you are offering on your menu and offer more features or specials.

Get Social

The new age of restaurant specials lives on social media. Many successful restaurants are garnering attention for their features by posting to social media. It doesn’t take much to take a quick picture or video of a featured dish and that picture or video can be easily posted to Instagram or Facebook.

How consumers go through their buying decisions in this day and age is different than in years past. Modern purchasing decisions are made not only on price, but also how the product makes us feel as consumers. In this consumer-driven marketplace it is more about the overall experience we are getting from a restaurant, and this can be influenced by how the products appear to us in our everyday social media interactions. Get your features on your social media feeds–it will help!

Create an Experience

People are interested in experiencing a wider variety of flavours these days. Fifteen to twenty years ago, it wasn’t common to order Thai food in Ontario, but today it is very popular. Enjoying food from a wide variety of cultures and the overall experience of a meal has become mainstream.

Our habits as consumers have changed over time and millennials have really influenced this shift. Our society has become more about the ride than the destination. Just like we have come to enjoy a variety of craft beers in our fridge instead of the single brand owned by our forefathers, we now want that same variety and experience in the food we eat. A critical change has happened in our society. We long for variety and choice.

Restaurant specials are now looked upon as part of that experience. There has been a shift in perception of featured products, moving away from them being undesirable to them being a key part of the experience we are trying to obtain when venturing out for a meal. We want to experience seasonality, we want to experience the chef’s mood…quite frankly, we just want more experiences.

Something NEW

Features are a great way to gauge effectiveness of a new dish on your menu. If you are considering switching out a menu staple (due to customer interest or supply chain problems), introducing it first as a special is a great way to gauge interest from your patrons without getting locked into an offering in the long term. If the item does not garner interest as a special, it probably will not be an effective permanent addition to your menu.

Do not be afraid to ask for your customers’ feedback. Your customers are the driving force behind your establishment, so seeking their advice on how to improve a featured dish can be very beneficial. Also, if your customers help influence a new menu item, they will feel a sense of pride and be more inclined to not only order the dish but to promote it to friends and family on social media.

If you are looking to update or change your menu but don’t know where to start, your team at Morton Food Service has you covered. We offer support with menu design and consulting on menu construction. We can help you mitigate supply chain issues by recommending products and features that will not be affected. Contact your local sales rep to learn more about this service.

Features Can Take The Pressure Off

Take the pressure off your key menu items by introducing strategic specials. In most cases, 20% of the items on your menu represent 80% of your overall food costs. If the price of chicken increases and it’s one of those 20% items, it can become a big problem for your bottom line. By switching to a focus on features and specials you can mitigate overspending on those key items in your establishment.

Other Benefits of Featured Menu Items

Having regular specials at your restaurant can give your regulars something to look forward to. Not only that but specials are often perceived to be fresher.

Staffing is a huge issue in foodservice right now. New products or features can highlight new skills for staff and could potentially attract employees to your restaurant who have a thirst for knowledge and want to further their culinary skills.

Co-branding is another big benefit to features and specials. For instance, featuring a pasta with meat from a popular local butcher shop or creating a beer-braised ribs special with suds from a local brewery can help you to reach a broader audience by highlighting your local partnership. This also helps you to promote the fact that you support local companies and community growth. It’s a win-win.

The Psychology of Buying

When buying a steak at a restaurant, it’s more than the piece of meat you are buying; it’s about the preparation, the chef, the environment, the personality of the staff, the service and your perception of the restaurant as a whole.

Sometimes, it’s possible to sell past increases in price caused by supply chain issues. When this is not possible, use the tips and tricks found here to make the features menu at your restaurant truly shine.