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Traditionally, higher-end restaurants have focused on their dine-in experience, offering limited (if any) takeout options. But, times they are a-changin’, and upscale dining establishments are evolving right along with them.
Consumers crave high-end cuisine, but these days, many prefer to enjoy it from the comfort of their own homes. The trouble is, some menu items don’t travel well. However, with a little outside-the-box thinking, it’s possible to adapt your menu options for off-site dining. And by sprinkling in some special touches, you can capture the essence of an upscale dining experience — while still capitalizing on the takeout trend.
Efficiency is essential when it comes to takeout, but it can’t come at the expense of quality. To successfully execute on your takeout offerings, abbreviating your menu is a must. As a first step, trim down your menu options by figuring out which items are more to-go friendly. While you want a manageable menu, make sure to curate a nice assortment of options that represent your restaurant well. As you’re determining what to include on your takeout menu, consider the cost. Where possible, offer simpler (read: less expensive) options. One clever idea is to deconstruct a multi-course meal into one simpler dish that features the flavors and characteristics of its fancier counterpart.
Customers don’t just come to upscale restaurants for high-quality food — they also expect a special dining experience. While you can’t exactly replicate your dine-in experience in a takeout format, you can find creative ways to make your to-go experience exceptional. For example, set the mood by including votive candles with your orders. Or, encourage customers to sit down and soak up their at-home dining experience by including wine pairing recommendations for each menu item. Add special touches where possible — a personalized note or a themed playlist go a long way.
While you’re getting creative, give your guests the opportunity to do the same. Enable guests to recreate your restaurant experience at home and put their culinary skills to the test by offering meal kits. Not only can meal kits be faster than actual meals for your kitchen staff to prepare, but they offer a fun at-home opportunity for customers to play chef. Brainstorm different sales-boosting kit ideas, such as “family meal kits” or “two-day meal kits.” To ensure the meal kit experience is one-of-a-kind, include technique tips from the chef or cooking how-to videos. Your customers will love it, and likely tell their friends about your fun offering.
Last but not least, don’t forget dessert! All too often, restaurants skip the dessert section on their takeout menu, and in doing so, they leave money on the table. Many guests don’t even consider dessert as a to-go option because it’s not offered — but that doesn’t mean they don’t want it! Don’t deprive takeout customers of sweet treats to top off their experience. Curate a takeout menu that features a couple of your most popular desserts, and you’ll keep customers satisfied while stepping up your sales.
If you want to be successful with takeout, adapting your menu is an important piece to the puzzle. But as always, consistency is the key to repeat customers. Check out these tips for consistency, so you can wow your guests, time and again.
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