Developing a plant-based menu of sharable items is only the beginning for restaurant operators. Getting the word out to consumers is key to driving sales.
Devan Rajkumar, culinary consultant and brand ambassador for Toronto-based Food Dudes, notes that hosting special promotions, such as themed nights can be great way to draw attention to vegetarian dishes. During his time with Loch & Quay in downtown Toronto, which focuses on healthy comfort food, the restaurant offered successful vegetarian nights.
“I would [also] recommend using social media and all relevant hashtags,” he adds.
“Operators should consider offering snack-sized appetizers in addition to regular-sized apps. Or, offer sharable apps, scaled to the size of the group,” says Greg Boyer, director of Marketing, McCain Foods Canada. “We’ve found that a lot of operators are having success when they offer small portions of craveable and trending apps.”
“Offering these items at an accessible price point entices consumers to add them to their regular purchase, or in addition to ordering a beverage, and can increase appetizer sales by 10 to 15 per cent,” he adds.
It’s also worth considering vegetarian items that can do double duty. Spicy Battered Pickle Fries, for example, can be served as a side, or they can be used as a unique topping for sandwiches and burgers.
“It’s also no longer merely about what’s being served — but also about how it’s being served. Thoughtful presentation of a dish can command a premium, leading to higher profit margins,” Boyer notes.
“When I have clients already in the restaurant, or who have already come in multiple times, I often like to give out an appetizer to [let] them try [something new],” says Denis Guiol, executive chef of Four Barrel Holly’s in Toronto, explaining that people sometimes need a push to try something outside of their comfort zone. “Plus, a little surprise like this can help generate word-of-mouth.”