Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sticking to What You Know

A new study released recently has shown that many new "Limited Time Only" items on food menus will report very low sales for most restaurants. For example, the study shows that one in only five people will order the new Philly Steak and Cheeseburger from Carl's Jr.

It's not that the food at Carl's Jr is necessarily bad, but consumers will typically stick to items that they know or have been on a menu for much longer periods of time. As the quality of restaurant increases, however, the amount of people unwilling to order a special item dwindles.  It may be due to people being a little more adventurous than your everyday processed cheeseburger from a fast food chain.

When a consumer does opt for a newer food item, they typically go for something within the same category. So instead of that plain cheeseburger, they'll still likely get a hamburger of some kind. Although they may switch on a rare occasion, the study indicates that permanent menu items are more attractive than limited-time-only items.

Even though the study focuses on fast food chains, it's still an interesting read that applies to almost any restaurant. From firsthand experience, I've seen many of our specials that we thought would be very popular with the diners here never seem to sell at all in the long run. We also have our normal customers that we could continuously count on to order the same exact thing every time they are here (you know who you are).

We do try to break these habits for you by offering our digital menus. They allow you to see what your food looks like before even ordering to give you somewhat of a familiarity with new dishes. And while you may be one of those people that orders the same thing every single time when you're here, we'll always try to make sure it's one of the best meals you've ever had.

But who knows, maybe this article will spark some interest into a more adventurous side of you that would be willing to try something new. And when you decide to take the plunge, don't forget that we change our menu daily to always offer something exciting and new that can't be found anywhere else!


  1. Not at all a fan of your digital menus, have cut back significantly on my time in your restaurant since you instituted them, but I'd have to agree that a picture of a new item is only possible via this menu method. It's a compelling point. You still should have a handful of paper CURRENT day menus, (no excuse to give me a 2-day old paper menu after a lecture/browbeating) and if a picture is required to help me consider the special, THEN haul out the technology. Oh, that's right - you don't WANT me to order the special since you can't be bothered to make a printout each day (so laborious apparently) so forget the whole thing....but at least now I understand one reason why the tablet is something you wanted to do. ps I go to a restaurant to be away from computer screens, thank you.

  2. First of all, thank you for your business and we do hope you do continue to dine with us in the future. We also appreciate you writing to us about your experience with our digital menus. It is always nice to hear from our customers whether that is good or bad. We hope to learn from the situations.

    Over the course of the last few months, as we unveiled the new digital menus, we feel it has been an exciting step in enhancing the customers' experience here at the Uptown. Although we knew there would be those that did not like the technology being placed at the table, we have instructed our staff to encourage the customers to give it a try and to help guide them through the menu. Like you had mentioned, there are several features that are simply not possible with paper menus, and these are the features we wanted to bring to the experience. As you know, we have a pretty extensive menu. We like to switch things daily in order to keep things fresh. Having a paper menu meant we had to print them daily. Then in the situation where we would run out of something mid-shift, the customer would then have to sit down thinking they were going to be able order a certain item and then be told we were out. Going paperless not only saves toner and paper, but it also allows us to change things at any time of the day. We can turn items off without anyone noticing, and we can add things on fresh that afternoon, right when it comes off the truck. At the time of our installation, we were the 2nd restaurant in the state of Illinois using this software. We like to be leaders in the industry and feel over the next 5 years, digital menus will grow 100 fold.

    Again, we do appreciate your patronage and hope to see you soon. By all means, we will still provide you a paper menu any time you visit. Thank you for your post. We will take printing a current copy or two every day into consideration.