That was the topic of discussion during the lull and closing last night at work. Nobody had a menu mix handy, but the consensus was we needed to sell more. Servers want bigger tips, and the kitchen should could use more revenue. Despite our common motive we just don't seem to be getting there.
It seems like we run into 3 main obstacles:
1) We don't want to spend the money. (Usually unstated)
a) We don't want to spend the time.
2) We're too full. (This was cited by our servers as the most common objection raised)
3) Desserts are for special occasions only.
There are another couple of possibilities I'm willing to entertain.
4) We aren't the kind of place were people order dessert.
5) Our desserts suck.
Most of the discussion centered around better or more suggestive selling.
We came up with a couple of neat ideas to address 2. Start offering half portion desserts, or suggest splitting. Or offer to bring it to go boxed so they can just have a nibble or two at hte restaurant, and take the rest home for snack or breakfast.
We also discussed comping a high impact dessert to a central table to prime sales. We're not sure if we have anything to fit the bill. Maybe a flambee if they are still legal here.
We were also thinking of giving away some freebies at the end of meal with the check. It would just be a little something, but it seems from elsewhere to really create a lot of goodwill. We figure if we make it a pastry item, we'd get a bump in dessert sales. Candidates are alfajores (hispanic caramel sandwich cookie), some kind of macaron, or candy made in house.
Our restaurant pastry menu is a bit of a red headed stepchild. Right now we offer:
-Apple Pie ala mode (Bought in)
-Brownie ala mode (Bought in, used to make it)
-Ice cream with choice of chocolate, strawberry, or caramel topping. (All bought in, but sometimes we make the strawberry topping with fresh berries that don't make the cut for fruit platters). Usually have vanilla and choco ice cream and a sherbert (usually rainbow and sometimes orange) on offer. Additional selection depends on the odds and ends left over from banquet/catering.
-Strawberry Shortcake- sweetened buttermilk biscuit, macerated fresh strawberries, vanilla whipped cream. I had to push for this. I make sure the biscuits are fresh, so they a little crunchy on the outside, and moist on the inside. They are so good when the biscuit is still a little warm.
-Cake de jour. This is whatever cake we have as remainders from functions. Generally, it's a high ratio sheet cake (baked in house. MIght be a mix, I dunno) filled with fruit filling from a bucket, and frosting from a bucket. This current one on offer is pineapple with vanilla cream.
The brunch buffet at the restaurant feature some of the same stuff, but has some additions
1/2 pan of bread pudding and 1/2 pan of fruit cobbler in a chaffer (both made in house, but I think the fruit filling is from a bucket most of the time)
Danish type pastries(bought in frozen)
Sweet Trays (These are generally odds and ends from functions that are sold sweet tables. The pastry guy is more inspired here then else where. I've seen some pretty looking jam cakes and canolli.)
Sweetrolls (only if I have the time to knock a couple pans together. I make em from scratch, and make sure the are baked as needed only and brought out while all nice and gooey. Cinnamon roll, and orange are the most popular flavors I think. Going to work on a coconut one.)