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Boosting Dessert Menu Sales

Dessert

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25 replies to this topic

#1 bripastryguy

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Posted 17 March 2003 - 05:57 PM

I work in a 50 seat restaurant, preparing all the desserts and setting up the menu. I have complete (well-almost) control over whats on the menu. The waitstaff can't seem to sell dessert, no matter what I put on the menu.

They say "[I]This is not a dessert town", these people don't eat dessert.....

I say BS!!! They don't know how to up sell

How do the rest of the pros (here) do it?

How do I tell these career waitrons that if they put a little umph into describing the desserts they might actually sell some.

I'm all for giving a few away but the owner is knee deep in bills and really doesnt want to give anything away. He is really happy (yes, people who haveread my previous posts will remember my plight) now with the desserts and the menu

Help me sell my hard work so that it is not in vain?

What makes people buy dessert? A waitress' description? a quick glance of a fancy dessert as it goes by???

:wacko:
"Chocolate has no calories....
Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence
SWEET KARMA DESSERTS
www.sweetkarmadesserts.com
550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554
516-794-4478
Brian Fishman

#2 Sandra Levine

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Posted 17 March 2003 - 06:13 PM

I had a feeling of deja vu:

Boosting dessert sales

#3 tan319

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Posted 17 March 2003 - 08:11 PM

I had a feeling of deja vu:

Boosting dessert sales

I just finished reading the thread reffered too.
I'd like to throw my 2 cents in.
Firstly, no dessert carts. Or displays. Stuff starts looking bad, it's way 70's,etc.
BPG, I forget what was on your menu. Make sure you have some cool garnishes, ones that look good as a dessert get's walked across the room.The other day my chef and I were discussing how one item ( a berries and cream panna cotta) has it's ups & downs on my menu. One person at lunch ordered one, I had a great, kind of oversized tuile, cloudlike in that panna cotta, and boom, sold 4 more in 15 minutes.
MAKE SURE your servers taste everything. Make them love your stuff and you.
Make sure all your stuff is indie, no cuts.
Get together with your chef or owner and maybe have him (and you?) have a meeting with servers discussing selling desserts. How they're helping themselves and the house by adding more sales to the kitty.
I agree w/ Steve Kic in the other thread, consider doing a dessert in a martini glass or such.
Like the Tiramisu ideas that have been on some of the Spanish threads. THAT would sell like crazy, people love that stuff!
I did one that was orange accented,in a ring mold the other night as a special, sold out all 15. And I live and work in an area that is chain restaurant central. Or a triple layer mousse in a glass.
Make sure your menu is appealing, that if you were presented with it as a customer you would HAVE to have something from it.
Maybe talk to your chef about a prix fixe special every night that offers dessert with it.
Personally, I hate sampler platters, although the Trotter one looked nice. Mesa grill had a nice one too. I just don't like them. When I was working in NYC, if we had a big table, my chef would just say give me 2 or 3 of everything and we would plate them individually.
Lastly, use good words to describe them on the menu. " Chocolate from south Pacific cocoa beans, or "Venezulean chocolate'.
If you're doing a Panna Cotta make sure you or your servers mention that there are no eggs in it.
Hope this is helpful!'Good Luck,BPG!!!

PS: Don't comp unless it's a VIP or your boss demands it.

Edited by tan319, 17 March 2003 - 08:14 PM.

2317/5000

#4 Michael Laiskonis

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Posted 17 March 2003 - 09:30 PM

Make sure your servers taste everything. Make them love your stuff and you.

The most important element, I think. Sometimes, deeper explanations of your ideas, your motivations, and simply sharing your enthusiasm will win the servers over. Excitement is contagious. There are times when I read a ticket and I know exactly who the server is, just from the order- they will fall in love with a dish and sell it because they like it, and can describe the blend of flavors and textures, as well as explain to the guest how the dish was concieved and how it has evolved. My servers, well, some, know all about Adrià and Gagnaire and Hermé and Passard and can explain how they have an influence on my work. But then, our dining room environments are very different...

Brian, to help you more, can you describe the current overall situation?

Edited by Michael Laiskonis, 17 March 2003 - 09:31 PM.

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#5 wingding

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Posted 18 March 2003 - 01:41 AM

I talk to the waitstaff and we all taste together-every day.It's fun,and gives dessert sales a definite boost.Visual appeal helps too,but be aware,we are entering diet season-everyone suddenly realizes that they will be taking off the coats and wearing less.

#6 thebaker

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 05:33 AM

I have the same trouble.

the desserts that are on the menu sell ok

But when i do a special ( fri sat night)

they dont sell.

I do get some feedback from a lunch waiter ( he has been a waiter for years)

he tells me these young kids (the other waiters) they work at night, do not know how to sell..
plus the people like what they like and dont like to try anything new..

we are getting ready to change the menu for spring and i am wondering what is going to happeng
I bake there for I am....

Make food ... not war

#7 Rail Paul

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 08:51 AM

he tells me these young kids (the other waiters) they work at night, do not know how to sell..
plus the people like what they like and dont like to try anything new..

Selling is a learned skill. Sometimes you, the chef, have to get in and pitch the product yourself. Pitch the servers, pitch the customers. Maybe even a digital camera picture on a "specials" dessert menu handed to customers before the dessert menu.

If a server tries a dessert and likes it, that's half the war. But, the server has to be enthusiastic, and part of that is tasting. The other part is the additional $2 per person tip for each dessert order
Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

#8 Chef/Writer Spencer

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Posted 22 March 2003 - 10:21 AM

Desserts are hard to sell if you don't use certain catch phrases sometimes. Creative chefs want to cook like Achatz, Keller, Adria so sometimes they end up with titles so convoluted sounding and nauseating that customers opt out. Use phrases like Pot de Creme, Creme Brulee, Mousse, Cake--imagine actually calling a cake a cake instead of a gateaux or delice, I know it may be tough on the creative soul. But if you want to sell your creations to people that freak when they hear foreign language you need to do what the chains do and hone in on eighties Americana. Trust me, when I create elaborate layered constructs, I'll use the term Napoleon nine times out of ten instead of Mille Feuille. Maybe that's your problem amigo. And drop a few freebies on regulars--if they like the stuff they'll tell the tables around them, probably bragging that they know the pastry chef...

#9 wannabake

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 01:44 PM

There seems to be a trend in minis or mini samplers. Making the customer feel ok about ordering a treat for just themself or a sampler for the table. Just a thought.

#10 elyse

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Posted 01 April 2003 - 02:42 PM

If I remember correctly, Brian's boss isn't the give away anything for free kind of guy. But it does make sense to me.

#11 bripastryguy

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Posted 02 April 2003 - 07:33 AM

Elyse,

He's actually coming around to the idea of freebies.

Look, a new post!
"Chocolate has no calories....
Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence
SWEET KARMA DESSERTS
www.sweetkarmadesserts.com
550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554
516-794-4478
Brian Fishman

#12 elyse

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Posted 02 April 2003 - 11:29 AM

Eggcellent.

#13 Basildog

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Posted 03 April 2003 - 08:18 AM

Tonight i have put on the menu that 1/2 size desserts are available at 1/2 price.Worth a go :biggrin:

#14 TrishCT

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Posted 03 April 2003 - 01:12 PM

Speaking as a customer and consumer, non-food professional (not even a wannabe):

I will not usually order dessert if the server just says "Are you interested in dessert".... Although I have never analyzed why.... I think it's because I get the impression dessert is very much an after thought at this place, so why bother..

However... if there is a special dessert menu and it is handed to me and the waiter makes a suggestion or 2 then takes his leave for just a few minutes.... chances are a dessert or two may be ordered.... even better if the menu has a few regular or specialty coffees or after dinner drink things listed....

User friendly is key to me. :smile:

Edited by TrishCT, 03 April 2003 - 01:12 PM.


#15 bripastryguy

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Posted 03 April 2003 - 02:15 PM

My Existing Menu (about to go through spring changes)

Warm Toffee Apple Tart
rum raisin caramel and vanilla ice cream

Molten Chocolate Cake
merlot cherry sauce

Toasted Marshmallow S'more
graham cake, homemade marshmallow

Carrot Cake de-construct
warm carrot cake(almost of sponge pudding type), cheesecake mousse and spiced pineapple salad

Classic Creme Brulee
caramel crust and marble wafer

Its going through changes

Illegal Chocolate Pudding
naked whipped cream and cocoa hazelnut bisotti
"Chocolate has no calories....
Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence
SWEET KARMA DESSERTS
www.sweetkarmadesserts.com
550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554
516-794-4478
Brian Fishman

#16 nightscotsman

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Posted 03 April 2003 - 02:40 PM

I'll have one of each, please. :biggrin:

#17 tan319

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Posted 03 April 2003 - 06:43 PM

My Existing Menu (about to go through spring changes)

Warm Toffee Apple Tart
rum raisin caramel and vanilla ice cream

Molten Chocolate Cake
merlot cherry sauce

Toasted Marshmallow S'more
graham cake, homemade marshmallow

Carrot Cake de-construct
warm carrot cake(almost of sponge pudding type), cheesecake mousse and spiced pineapple salad

Classic Creme Brulee
caramel crust and marble wafer

Its going through changes

Illegal Chocolate Pudding
naked whipped cream and cocoa hazelnut bisotti

nice stuff!
2317/5000

#18 indiagirl

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Posted 03 April 2003 - 09:46 PM

those sound lovely.

from a purely customer point of view, i usually have dessert if:

a. the last taste in my mouth demands it!
there are some meals that beg to be finished with a dessert, a tossed pasta dish is one (rather weak) example i can come up with right now.

b. i've still got room
entrees that are not sized to feed a family, i think, go a long way to ensuring dessert space. i know down sizing an entree is not necessarily a good idea but i prefer restaurants that serve me a little less food soo i can have a dessert without the guilt of wasting.

c. it looks good, ofcourse.

#19 thebaker

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Posted 04 April 2003 - 05:33 PM

Sounds like great desserts

:laugh:
I bake there for I am....

Make food ... not war

#20 Basildog

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 05:35 PM

Tonight i have put on the menu that 1/2 size desserts are available at 1/2 price.Worth a go :biggrin:

Well the first week worked well..lots of sales of 1/2 size desserts, and i don't think its people saving money!

#21 Rail Paul

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 06:31 PM

Tonight i have put on the menu that 1/2 size desserts are available at 1/2 price.Worth a go :biggrin:

Well the first week worked well..lots of sales of 1/2 size desserts, and i don't think its people saving money!

Basildog -

This is interesting. Dee and I occasionally split a dessert, bt rarely order two full sized items. Is your total dessert revenue up significantly over the control period against which you're measuring?

Paul
Apparently it's easier still to dictate the conversation and in effect, kill the conversation.

rancho gordo

#22 Basildog

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Posted 10 April 2003 - 06:43 PM

I don't analyise figures...but just by talking to the customers and taking the orders, the feedback is that 1/2 size is appreciated.The vast majoirty of people having a 1/2 size would not have had a full size one.

#23 Saffy

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Posted 13 April 2003 - 02:23 AM

Let me start by saying, no one ever has to convince me to order dessert. It is the part of the menu that I always look at first.

But I can say that things that will make me choose one dessert over another ( which may also convince people who don't think they want it are )

If I have had a huge main and an entree the waiter/waitress saying
" Would you like coffee and dessert ? The - insert light dessert name here - is very light and completely delicious. It gets lots of compliments from customers.
If you like I can bring you two spoons to share it ? "
Invariably one of us will want it and we end up sharing a dessert

One other thing is the waiter/waitress telling me that they have eaten it and loved it -accompanied by appropropriate to die for facial expressions.

To sell more desserts, you could also invite me to your restaurant.. I'll try em all out! :)

#24 Bageless

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Posted 13 April 2003 - 12:18 PM

Someone mentioned portion size of other courses as a factor. When I visit the US (from Europe) I rarely order dessert unless I can split it with someone because I've already left 1/3 of my food on the plate -- it's just too much!

#25 chocophile

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 12:55 PM

As a customer and consumer, one of the things I respond to is having to order dessert as a part of ordering dinner because the desserts take a while to prepare (true or no).

Here's a nice story about a dinner/dessert I had at Verbena in NYC between Christmas and New Year's with my wife.

We went in and the dessert menu had several options that needed to be ordered in advance. I couldn't decide, and asked our server to have the pastry chef send out whatever was her favorite - as long as it had chocolate in it. Well, out came a fabulous dessert and about five minutes later out came the pastry chef with what was actually her favorite but wasn't on the menu that night. We had a great talk about chocolate (she uses El Rey), pastry and other items. I've recounted this story many times, so the act of generosity I am sure has been well rewarded by my good will and promotion.

Another fun experience I had was at a restaurant called Supper last year. The dessert menu included a hazelnut panna cotta, and the server carried a pot of warm chocolate sauce when she served it, saying simply, "Say When" and started free pouring the sauce. The panna cotta was great, the sauce only so-so -- but the idea was way cool and could be used to great advantage on a dessert menu.

Finally I wonder if you need to do more with the descriptions to make the desserts sound interesting as has been suggested elsewhere in the post. The naked whipped cream is definitely a step in the right direction. If you're using any seasonal and/or varietal ingredients I would definitely highlight them. What merlot? What kind of cherries? A molten chocolate cake made with a single-origin Venezuelan chocolate topped with a Napa Valley merlot and organic Washington State morello cherry sauce takes a tried and true item and makes it sound much more exotic and interesting.

FWIW,
Clay
Clay Gordon
president, pureorigin
editor/publisher www.chocophile.com
founder, New World Chocolate Society

#26 bripastryguy

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Posted 22 April 2003 - 01:08 PM

Luv it Clay!

I will work on that
"Chocolate has no calories....
Chocolate is food for the soul, The soul has no weight, therefore no calories" so said a customer, a lovely southern woman, after consuming chocolate indulgence
SWEET KARMA DESSERTS
www.sweetkarmadesserts.com
550 East Meadow Ave. East meadow, NY 11554
516-794-4478
Brian Fishman





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