Great news! Snacking has become something we do 24/7. According to Skift Restaurant Megatrends of 2019, “customers are eating whatever they want, and whenever they want it” (1). Whether it is midday snacking or late night eating, “the definition of meals, where and when we have them, is becoming more fluid,” said David Portalatin, VP, food industry advisor at NPD Group (2). “People are going to restaurants saying a hamburger, something we would consider lunch or dinner, is just a snack.”
These snacking occasions create perfect opportunities for restaurants expand their menu and to increase traffic and sales. So how should you incorporate this new snack trend into your business? Here are three ideas:
Re-size your menu
QSRs have had great success transforming traditional meals like large appetizers or entrées to a sharable, snack sized portions (3). Dallas-based Chili, for example, repositioned their nachos and baby back ribs into smaller grab-and-go menu items (3). Meanwhile, Firehouse Subs began to offer half sized sandwiches, and Red Robin has offered drink and appetizer specials during their off-peak hours. Re-sizing your menu items to provide snack sized options for your customers allow them to sample multiple dishes and to share. It also appeals to those who want bite sized meals sold at value, as well to customers looking for a lighter fare. To start, try adding mini meals such as sliders and wraps, half sized sandwiches, snack appetizers, and non-alcoholic drinks into your new snack menu.
Offer a Variety
As Bradley Day, Chef of STK, a 13-unit steakhouse based in NYC said, “(snacks) are a little bit about variety and speed” (4). His restaurant lets their customers mix and match and add extra sliders for $5 each with a two-slider minimum. The appeal of a tasting menu, a mix-and-match is only growing (4). It also gives customers a chance to try something new—odd bits of meat like turkey necks, beef tongues or pig feet—while challenging chefs to dish out more inventive nibbles. According to Brian Landry, chef at Borgne at New Orleans, it can also be “a fun way for us to utilize the entire fish” (4).
Up the Health Factor
Datassential’s MenuTrends Keynote Report: Seafood showed that nearly 9 out of 10 consumers have snacked on seafood, such as popcorn shrimp, sushi or calamari in 2017, with popcorn shrimp being the most popular item (5). The rise of seafood snacks seems to linked to the overlapping popularity of snacking and health foods. Healthier and lighter fare such as tuna tartare, edamame and seafood taco trios particularly appeal to a younger customer base seeking health friendly, low calorie options. And according to Amanda Topper, food analyst at Mintel, millennials—that is, customers ages of 21 and 38—are significantly more likely than older consumers to snack frequently (6). Moreover, “they are also more likely than older generations to indicate snacks with added nutrition and flavor variety are important to them.” Adding calorie counts into your snack menu is also a good idea.
While the main appeal of snack foods comes from consumers wanting value, it seems to be a combination of variety, flexibility and portability that make snack foods so popular. But as Noveshen, co-founder of Pacific Catch restaurants in California said, “Trying to serve everyone is probably not the best idea.” Restaurants should aim to find the sweet spot on what and to whom to serve their snacks.
About Goliath Consulting Group
Goliath Consulting Group with headquarters in Norcross, Georgia offers a dynamic array of business development solutions, tailored to meet the needs of each individual client – in addition to a full suite of knowledge and tools that help make restaurants more profitable, including strategic planning, menu development, project management, new restaurant development, branding, marketing, franchising, equipment, technology, evaluations, outsourcing, and more. The company also has a management division that manages full-service restaurants. Goliath Consulting enjoys a ten-year track record of creating client success among local, regional and multi-unit national restaurant chains.
Goliath Consulting Group is actively involved in the Foodservice Consultants Society International and is an allied partner of the Georgia Restaurant Association.