Posts Tagged ‘ Dessert Menu; Hotel Menu Pricing

Dessert Pricing – Sugar Shock?

Maybe you read Sugar Shock!How Sweets and Simple Carbs Can Derail Your Life– and How You Can Get Back on Track by Connie Bennett and Stephen Sinatra, published nearly three years ago?

This isn’t another health blog. I’m just trying to find an explanation for a common dessert pricing practice, and so far I have none. So, I was thinking that when chefs, managers or owners price the desserts for their menus, maybe they do so after tasting them, all of them, and they’re suffering from “sugar shock”, unable to think clearly. I’m open to other explanations.

Let me try an analogy. You walk into a busy, nice looking restaurant, you’re seated promptly and an open menu is expertly handed to you, along with a cocktail list. You notice that every wine offered by the glass, and there are several, is the same price. Hmmnnn. Then you look at the dinner menu and are surprised to discover that every appetizer is the same price. Unusual, but OK. Your biggest surprise occurs when you discover that every entrée is the same price. What’s up with that?

Is this a good idea? An amazing new strategy for…higher check? Ensuring return visits? Creating buzz (well, maybe)?

But in fact, we don’t price all of our items the same. Why not, then? The simple answer, thank you Ockham, may be that uniformity in pricing doesn’t meet the needs of the customer.

Not every customer wants the same thing. Even “like” customers may order differently depending on the occasion (celebration, expense account business meal, dinner with the family to name a few occasions). Some customers may be seeking value. Some may restrict themselves to entrees that are naturally lower in cost (e.g. vegetarians). Others may wish to order something very expensive. Or, their dining preferences lean toward high-end beef or lobster. How do restaurateurs react to this myriad of occasions, needs and preferences? Again, simplicity: a variety of offerings accompanied by a range of prices. Often, a wide range.

Or, put another way: how do I react if the Vegetarian Plate, the Chicken Entrée, the 12-ounce Filet Mignon and the Broiled Lobster Tails are all the same price? Even prix fixe menus often provide an opportunity to “trade up”.

So, let’s go back to sugar shock: why are desserts often all the same price? Which is the finest dessert? Which has the finest ingredients? Which is the best value?

This isn’t about food cost, it’s about profit. And repeat business. Why not offer a dessert so special, so remarkable that it carries a higher price? Chances are, you already do so, without charging the price the item commands. Why not offer a value item, perhaps smaller in portion than the other desserts?
You price your menu strategically, thoughtfully. Don’t stop the process before you get to the dessert menu.

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