FRESH APPROACHES FOR SELLING SALADS
As new spring buds appear, diners turn to the leafiest menu item around: salad. Their interest doesn’t instantly convert to sales, however. For many, there’s another force in the way, a voice in the back of their heads declaring salads bland and insubstantial by nature. As an operator, you know this isn’t true— but that won’t do any good if you keep it to yourself. Convince your patrons to side with their springtime cravings, not their lingering doubts. Make your best case for salad, with fresh ingredient lists that promise floor to ceiling flavor, substance, and style.
A Leafy Foundation
Start your salad sales pitch strong with an enticing array of leafy greens. Lettuce is a standard base, but that doesn’t mean it should be left generic (or left out entirely) in menu descriptions—this gives doubting diners a chance to fill in the blanks with the blandest stand-in iceberg they can imagine. If you’re making your Caesar salad with fresh, local romaine, say so! Red leaf or Bibb lettuce can be similarly appealing when compared to a no-name alternative. Arugula has an intriguing name, interesting leaf shape, and a taste that goes well in more savory salads, like those featuring cheese, nuts, or cured meats. For another trick, try baby versions of already familiar greens. That simple adjective is often enough to make customers take a second look at an item. It’s more than a gimmick—when featured raw in salads, greens like baby spinach boast significantly different (and to many, more appealing) flavors than the full-grown version.
A common concern for salad-doubters is that the dish won’t be filling — address this fear by featuring protein-rich ingredients. Cheese is an easy start. Add chunks of feta cheese to your Greek salads and generous shavings of Parmesan to your Caesars, so these filling and flavorful components stand out in menu images, meals, and memories. Slivered almonds or pecans are also great additions that provide flavor and texture. For a protein-rich option, bring out the avocado. Vegetarians and meat-eaters alike know this food means business when it comes to making a meal, easily giving any salad that includes it more credit as a potential main course. Speaking of meat-eaters, be sure to include chicken or other meats that are already part of your pantry as up-sell add-ons, offering an extra layer of flavor that requires little to no extra prep.
Funkify with Fruit
Counter “boring” salad stereotypes with unexpected, colorful, flavorful ingredients. Fruit is a natural choice for these stand-out additions, from bright, juicy orange slices on a teriyaki chicken salad to sweet and tart dried cranberries playing off walnuts and blue cheese. Strawberries are another addition, especially while they’re in season in North Central Florida, and front-of-mind for customers.
Dress It Up
Some folks call salad “a vehicle for dressing.” Turn this view to your advantage by offering dressings with bold flavors and eye-catching components. Fruit comes to the rescue again, here: use citrus to provide a tasty splash of sour with more excitement than your standard vinegar. You can also use fruit for a dressing with a sweeter side, adding ingredients like mango and raspberry. When exploring creamy dressings, don’t be shy about going big on flavor. Blue cheese dressing, already a winner as a dipping sauce and sandwich topping, can easily take salads to “fan favorite” levels. Last but not least—oil and vinegar. How do you jazz up this salad staple without ruining its subtle appeal? Use regional olive oils and infused vinegar to spark diner interest while still providing the comfort of the familiar.
No matter how you toss it, salad is a great springtime item and a simple way to add profit-rich LTOs to your menu and fulfill your diners’ cravings. If you need help deciphering which specialty salads might work best for your establishment, talk to your sales rep— they’re always ready to find the right ingredients for your success!