Diners increasingly look for food that reminds them of home, but without the time and effort it takes to prepare it themselves. Does that mean you can plop some meat and potatoes on a plate, just like mom used to make?
Perhaps. But chances are your kitchen can turn out product that is a bit more upscale than what mom used to make. If your offerings are exactly like home, they don’t really need to visit your restaurant.
Think comfort food, elevated.
What does that mean? It depends on your brand aesthetic. For example, take macaroni and cheese. How can you change this basic and beloved dish to make it more interesting while remaining consistent to your brand? Make it more upscale with the addition of truffle oil or lobster. Make it even more decadent by creating a richer cheese sauce or deep frying it. Use locally produced cheeses to conform to an artisan or locavore aesthetic. Develop gluten-free or vegan versions – difficult to do well at home
Common American comfort food includes menu items like mac and cheese, burgers and fries, fried chicken and mashed potatoes, and other meat and potatoes staples. These may not be the favorite of all your diners. For example, ramen, which has gained a real foothold in U.S. dining, is hearty Japanese comfort food.
Does that mean you should add ramen to your menu?
Not if it will stand out like a sore thumb among your other offerings. You can add ramen-inspired items, perhaps by offering a bowl that includes ramen, but features your signature flavor profiles, rather than trying to imitate authentic ramen.
It may take some experimentation to get it right.
Try comfort food items as specials to see how they are received by your diners. Pay attention to the weather. Comfort food additions to your menu may be more welcome on cold or dreary days.
The right restaurant manager can be instrumental in knowing how to adapt your menu to keep up the latest trends. Innovation often comes from the right leadership.
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