Small Plates Will Continue to Rise in Popularity, Replacing Traditional Mealparts



CHICAGO, Oct. 8, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Though some foodservice consumers still view the left side of the menu (LSM)—particularly starters, small plates and sides—as "extras," the LSM is uniquely positioned to serve consumers' shifting dining needs. According to Technomic's Starters, Small Plates & Sides Consumer Trend Report, the LSM offers incomparable opportunities for personalization, socialization and flavor experimentation, providing fun, unique and memorable experiences both during and between traditional mealtimes.

Find more starters, small plates and sides insights here.

"As diners become increasingly adventurous, the LSM is a place for operators to stand out by featuring unique, signature and bold flavors that cater to demands for customization," explains Kelly Weikel, Technomic director of consumer insights. "Allowing consumers to express themselves through low-risk experimentation creates a 'connection' with a restaurant. Modular pick-and-choose menus are an area of opportunity: both consumption and menu presence of small plates, for example, has increased since 2013, and interest in these versatile offerings shows no signs of waning."

Compiling findings from more than 1,500 U.S. consumers, as well as Technomic's MenuMonitor, Digital Resource Library and Top 500 Chain Restaurant Report, the Starters, Small Plates & Sides Consumer Trend Report also reveals:

  • 53 percent of consumers order sides, 39 percent order appetizers and 30 percent order small plates on all or most of their restaurant visits;
  • Nearly half of consumers (47 percent) say that happy hour deals would encourage them to order appetizers more frequently;
  • The fastest growing sides include non-breaded vegetables, deli salads, fruit and beans at limited-service restaurants and pasta/noodles, other potato (au gratin, hash browns, home fries, tater tots, etc.), fruit and rice at full-service restaurants.

The Technomic Starters, Small Plates & Sides Consumer Trend Report is one of 12 topics in our 2015 Consumer Trend Report series, offering the most current analysis, insight and opportunities to help grow your business. Our best-in-class intelligence combines 50 years of foodservice expertise with critical findings from over 7,000 menus per year and nearly 30,000 annual consumer interviews.

Technomic publishes a complete library of Consumer Trend Reports. To learn more, please visit or contact one of the individuals listed below. For Technomic updates, please follow us on Twitter, LinkedIn or our blog.

(via PR Newswire)


How to Design a Menu for Your Restaurant


When it's time to design your menu and you are not artistically inclined, it might be best just to hire some one who knows what they're doing. Regardless of whether or not you produce the design, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.

The size of the menu is very important. If the menu is too big, it could inhibit guest interaction. If it's too small, people will have  a hard time reading it. It needs to be just right.

The information on the menu must also be presented in a way that is readable for guests. This means coordinating the type of material used, the color choice, the font, and the spacing. You also might want to consider the order that dishes and drinks appear on the menu so that it progresses in a logical order.

Something that is often overlooked is that fact that your menu can be used as a marketing and sales piece.

"What information should be on it? Should the address, phone number, website be on the menu, so that when someone prints it online, they have all that information with them?"

Your word choice is also vitally important. Your descriptions should not be too lengthily and descriptive because your guests will quickly lose interest. However, the descriptions can't be so short that people are unsure of what they're ordering. You can't rely on the designer here. The word choice is up to you.

Looking to work in Hospitality?

Discover who’s hiring on Harri

Follow Harri on Facebook and Twitter

for real time job posts and industry news. 

Different Kinds of Menus


When you are planning your menu, it's important to consider whether your restaurant will be a la carte or prix fixe. While a la carte gives the guest more options by allowing them to order as many or as few courses as they desire, prix fixe typically comes at a specific price and requires the guests to order a specified number of courses.

If you have a tasting menu, the restaurant is able to decide how many courses the guest will receive and how much all of the courses will cost. The restaurant now has the responsibility of planning out the courses in a way that the guest will find pleasing. Don't put all the fun dishes in the beginning. You want the guest to always be anticipating the next dish.

"Often multi-course menus will have multiple courses before a main protein item, like an entree, that is considered the climax of the savory part of the meal. Sometimes tasting menus have multiple dessert courses that may end with petit fours or chocolates."

Timing is extremely important when serving a multi-course meal. You don't want the guest waiting too long to receive the next course, but you don't want to rush them either. To provide an enjoyable experience for your guests, make sure that the entire table is dealt with as a single unit. Everyone at the table should have their courses cleared and delivered at the same time.

To pull this off in a seamless manner, the dining room needs to communicate with the kitchen.

"The kitchen needs to be able to respond to the changing tempo of all of the different dining room tables and how they are dining either quickly or more slowly."

Looking to work in Hospitality?

Discover who’s hiring on Harri

Follow Harri on Facebook and Twitter

for real time job posts and industry news.