Making Summer LTOs Easier
Written in partnership with Restaurant Business
Limited-time offers are big business for many restaurants. They allow both kitchen staff and customers to get adventurous, especially with seasonally driven offers and ingredients. But how can operators add new items to summer menus without increasing labor or food waste? By offering customizable LTOs, especially on dessert and beverage menus. Read on to see how.
Elevate and customize existing items
One of the easiest ways to create a new LTO is to offer a twist on an existing menu item. For instance, if a restaurant is known for great milkshakes, then it could offer limited-time editions of over-the-top milkshakes drizzled with chocolate or caramel sauce and topped with cookies, candy and whipped cream. Fun, Instagrammable desserts such as these are quick to make, endlessly customizable and extremely marketable. As a bonus, these types of options can tie into holidays and other promotional opportunities.
Another winning idea is to give desserts the LTO treatment by offering customizable toppings bars that let diners turn ordinary desserts into indulgent creations. These customizable stations can increase diners’ interest in desserts—according to Technomic’s recent Dessert Consumer Trend Report, 52% of consumers say that desserts offered with toppings bars are appealing, so restaurants that want to offer an LTO without adding a lot of labor to their kitchen staff can implement this tactic in their restaurants.
For example, marshmallow topping and graham cracker crumbles turn an ordinary brownie into a s’more brownie, while caramel topping and chopped pecans turn it into a turtle brownie. Offer a scoop of ice cream for a small upcharge, and the brownie sundae LTO is born.
Mitigating concerns about managing cost
One thing that might make restaurant operators reluctant to offer LTOs is the added cost or labor. With add-your-own stations and portion-control pumps, however, it’s easy for kitchens to turn out consistent dessert and drink LTOs, and it’s easy for diners to control how much they’re putting on their plate or in their glass.
For example, fountain jar pumps dispense small portions of up to two ounces per pump (or less, depending on an operator’s needs), which is perfect for back-of-house applications where consistency is key. Dispensing syrups into drinks requires consistency to ensure the drink doesn’t get too sweet. Multi-pump stations, on the other hand, take up little counter space while offering diners and kitchen staff an easy way to customize the food and drinks on offer.
Mini stations with spoons, when used in the front of house, keep toppings chilled and in-view, and separate lids help prevent cross contamination, too.
For operators excited about menuing summertime dessert and beverage LTOs, customizable flavor and topping options are an easy and fun way to do so. With portion-control and cost-saving pumps and stations to dispense syrups, sauces and toppings, it’s never been easier to upgrade the experience.