Restaurant CEOs provide tips to drive sales

Published on
May 18, 2009

Developing offers that do not erode a restaurant’s brand and stressing seafood’s health benefits are some of the ways that restaurants are thriving in down economy, CEOs told restaurateurs at the National Restaurant Association’s Restaurant Hotel-Motel Show in Chicago this week.

“Introducing new items at price points that are more competitive, or combining offers that don’t erode your brand [is better than] discounting. Discounting for the sake of discounting is dangerous territory because it is really hard to get out of it once the economy returns,” said Aaron Noveshen, co-founder of Pacific Coast Restaurants and founder of The Culinary Edge, during the panel Top Restaurant CEOs Reveal Successful Sales-Driving Menu Strategies for Tough Economic Times.

Instead, Noveshen suggested creating events and packages that offer value without discounting prices. For example, Pacific Coast features seafood from specific regions six times a year. Recently, it featured Alaska seafood, and offered combination deals, such as King Crab Soup, Smoked or Grilled Salmon, and Baked Alaska, for around $26.

“That is significantly higher than our average check, and we have been able to engineer the dishes so that our food cost percentage isn’t too high and we have high profit margins,” said Noveshen.

Emphasizing seafood’s health benefits is another way to improve restaurant sales, said Sam King, president of King’s Seafood Co. in Costa Mesa, Calif., which operates 12 King’s Fish House restaurants and other concepts. Because healthy eating is particularly important to its California customers, King’s recently conducted a nutritional analysis on all the items on its menu.

“We are definitely the best menu compared to competitors in regard to fat content. We are going to start finding ways to leverage that,” said King.

In addition, King’s boosts its sales by talking about the origin and method of production of its seafood.

“We have every one of our seafood items identified as wild or farmed. We talk about some of our farms, such as our catfish and trout farms, because we want to let them know we are proud of what we are doing,” said King.

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