From burgers and salad, to pizza and beverages, customization is making its way onto restaurant foodservice menus across the country. While build-your-own menu items are traditionally found in fast-casual segments, today’s millennial diners are looking for ways to make dishes their own, regardless of the foodservice operation.
According to the Technomic Inc. State of the Industry, the key to winning over millennial diners lies in the ability to customize and personalize dishes on the menu. Make-your-own burrito bars and custom beverage offerings at coffee shops have instilled the thought that all restaurants should allow some sort of customization.
The benefit of adding customizable dishes to your menu is simple - you ensure that millennial diners are receiving a dish that they love. What better way to create a craveable flavor than to give diners the opportunity to add their favorite flavors and ingredients.
Giving diners the chance to get what they want, how they want it, when they want it, can help to build repeat business with your diners. It opens up the possibilities of your menu, as well. Technomic Inc. gave the example that it’s one thing to offer one vegetarian sandwich on your menu, but it’s another to let diners experiment with ingredients and create new vegetarian sandwich offerings over multiple visits.
Cravings drive 50 percent of all consumer foodservice occasions, meaning that the ability to let your guests create a craveable food or beverage, means they’re that much more likely to return for more.
When planning your customizable dishes, don’t forget that it’s not just about what you put into it. Size matters too. Take for example a customizable burger; while some diners might be encouraged by the opportunity to add their favorite toppings, buns, or proteins, others might find the sheer size of their customer burger overwhelming. Offer slider sized, traditional burgers, or jumbo half-pound offerings and let your diners’ creativity take over.
It doesn’t take a complete menu overhaul to offer a build-your-own, or customizable menu item. One way that you can take a page out of fast-casual’s playbook is to take a popular, low-cost item such as a burger, a burrito, nachos, sandwich, shake, or whatever else you might find, and offer options for customization.
Offer multiple sizes and a bounty of ingredients to choose from and you’ll be serving your millennial diners something they love, without reinventing the wheel.
You can even keep it simple in the beginning to see how your kitchen and your staff can best handle these variations on dishes - offer two or three options at first, and expand your offerings as you become more familiar with the preparation needs of each item.
No matter how you choose to get started, or what dishes you make customizable, the key is to offer something unique on your menu. Putting your diners in control gives them the flexibility to create something just for them. Not only will these crave these dishes, they’ll keep coming back to experiment more.