I’ve been fascinated lately with the concept of mindful eating and how to “hack” your environments to lose weight and maintain healthy habits painlessly. I came across author, leading behavioural economist and food psychologist Brian Wansink on my quest for more information regarding mindful eating and how mindless eating can cause weight to creep on.
While I started out reading his book “Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life” by Brian Wansink from a personal standpoint, while I was reading the chapter on restaurants it occurred to me that there was information in the book that could benefit restaurant owners and franchisees that have some control over their menu and porcelain dinnerware collections. I’ve rounded up some of the best tips to easily and painlessly increase your restaurant profits – without your customers knowing you’re doing it and still leaving satisfied!
1. Buy smaller plates (example – downsize from an 11in plate to just under a 10 inch plate). For buffet owners, portions still look to be equivalent, but there’s actually less food being eaten, less food being wasted and the buffet restaurant therefore spends less. For table service restaurants – buying smaller plates still applies because diners feel like they’re getting better value for their money even when there’s less food on a smaller plate.
2. Ask your wait staff to sit diners farthest from the buffet. It makes food less tempting for diners as they can’t see the buffet easily, and makes it less convenient to go up to get more food.
3. Add descriptive words to lower food cost items to entice more sales – words that are sensory (crisp, pillowy, velvety), nostalgic (old-style, grandma’s), geographic (peruvian, southwestern). Diners are more tempted to order a crisp summer salad with avocado and shrimp then a shrimp salad.
4. Offer half plate portions. Most restaurant portions nowadays are large enough that a number of diners consciously choose to only eat half their entrée and take the rest home. If your restaurant is renowned for generous portions, diners that are just not that hungry may even be inclined to choose another restaurant. They may or may not order an appetizer or dessert depending on their appetite. With half plate portions, diners are more likely to feel they have room for an appetizer or dessert and a drink – equating to more money spent per cheque. Jamie Oliver’s restaurant in Yorkdale, Jamie’s Italian Restaurant, does half plate pasta portions well.