Amid high inflation, you’re likely having to make some tough decisions with regard to your menu right now – whether that has involved raising prices, swapping in more economical cuts of meat, shrinking portion sizes, or all of the above. While consumers are noticing the changes, there are some they mind less than others. In a recent Bloomberg report, Nailya Ordabayeva, a marketing professor at Boston College, said size reductions tend to go over better with consumers than price increases. “People tend to underestimate changes in object sizes,” she said. “It’s pretty convenient for companies to actually move size, move around size, more than they do price, because people do notice price changes more.” Since American restaurants have been serving up larger portion sizes for some time, there is room to shrink them – and there are benefits to this. Aside from helping you cut back on waste and better manage your inventory, reducing portion size can also help your kitchen focus more on quality than bulk. What’s more, your kitchen can be more nimble. You will be able to make quick and creative menu adjustments based on what ingredients are available, giving guests a good reason to come back and see what new items you’re offering. To deemphasize the reduction in portion size, serve entrées, sides, beverages and condiments with smaller plates, glasses, ramekins and to-go containers – and plate foods creatively, filling empty space with high-value ingredients wherever you can. Once this inflationary period is behind us, it may make sense to keep these smaller sizes around for the control they are able to give you in the kitchen.
At a time when restaurants need to find every opportunity they can to carve out a profit, your dessert menu needs to earn its keep. That can be difficult when desserts are often shared by guests, there is a limit to how expensively they can be priced, and they increase the time it takes to turn a table in-house. To help, consider adding some lighter and more savory items to the menu to balance any heavier, sweeter items that many guests feel they must try to resist. Reduce portion sizes where possible so ordering an individual portion of dessert doesn’t feel like such a splurge. Finally, suggest some alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages to complement your dessert offerings.