Lately, there has been a lot of talk about restaurants moving away from entrees to small plates. The shift is focused on the trend of communal and informal eating. Consumers, especially millennials, are eating out more while steering away from large portions. For many restaurant managers, there is a fear that the introduction of small plates will lead to a decrease in revenue as clientele minimize their orders.
I’ve found the opposite to be true. At two of our properties, we introduced small-plates menus and were surprised at how quickly guests flocked to these areas. At our Virginia resort, small plates account for 20% of our sales; the number of restaurant covers has not dropped, so we believe these revenues are all incremental. At our Sedona resort, small-plate sales have doubled since last year while the number of restaurant covers has stayed constant. The beverage revenues at both properties have also increased proportionally. This tells us we are capturing more of our guests and local diners who seek a light, casual menu.
The genius behind the small-plates movement is that it encourages guests to try a variety of menu options. Instead of ordering two large entrees, guests are compelled to try multiple dishes. It’s the lure of the small portions that encourages diners to purchase additional dishes, therefore increasing revenue.
Sometimes simply giving guests what they want can prove exponentially beneficial.