Some say sriracha has dethroned ketchup as America’s favorite condiment. The Thai chili sauce started winning fans in the U.S. more than a decade ago and sriracha seasoning has since found its way into everything from cocktails to beef jerky to the menus of mainstream quick-service brands. If your guests are clamoring for sriracha, consider using it to add some warmth and zip to vinaigrettes, condiments, marinades, or as a seasoning on soups and snacks.
When supplies are unpredictable and it’s more critical then ever to minimize waste, restaurants need to find ways to make use of every ingredient they have on hand – even when those ingredients are changing week to week and season to season. Being nimble with ingredients – and not necessarily hiding that from customers – can help. As described in a recent Nation’s Restaurant News report about how restaurants will be operating in the near future, Puritan & Company in Boston has gotten creative about adapting its menu to whatever stock it has on hand. The chef there has a $22 dish on the menu dubbed the “kitchen sink” lasagna. It incorporates whatever vegetables the restaurant happens to have available, as well as any excess meat it has at the time the dish is offered. If a kitchen-sink-type dish won’t work on your menu, think about how you might best cross-utilize ingredients across multiple dishes. It minimizes waste, utilizes labor more efficiently and typically improves overall business results. Restaurant brands ranging from McDonald’s to Olive Garden to Taco Bell have trimmed their menus in recent quarters. Instead of turning off customers, the move has improved performance across the board because it has enabled the restaurants to focus on churning out more of its most popular items to larger numbers of people.
Since global tastes are so popular with consumers, it can be easy for restaurant operators to overlook the strong diversity of regional flavors, ingredients and cooking styles right here at home. From the Cajun cooking of Louisiana, to Philly cheesesteak, to Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, there are countless craveable foods that could make for appealing limited-time offers and other promotions. What regional specialties might find a devoted following on your menu?
Dessert doesn’t have to be decadent – and at a time when consumers are concerned with their health, providing some interesting end-of-meal options that aren’t only eye-catching but are also lower in sugar and higher in nutrients can help you boost check totals. Consider offering simple combinations of fresh ingredients or using fruit or yogurt to create a lighter twist on classic desserts.
Fall’s cooler temperatures call for cozy foods – and soups and stews are prime menu additions for restaurants right now. They are easy add-ons to a meal, they help operators incorporate the abundant produce of the season, and they are big-time efficiency boosters when it comes to your inventory. This season, consider soups and stews with plant-forward ingredients and lean proteins that combine comfort and health.