Selling Desserts in Pubs

According to research by NPD, 80% of restaurant orders do not include dessert, I’ll bet the figure is similar for pubs too. So how can you make sure your customers order a final course and your pub food business isn’t missing out on the opportunity to improve sales?

Helping diners overcome their reluctance to purchase dessert isn’t rocket science and this guide will, hopefully, help you ‘put the cream on top’ of your food sales, and explain the key factors needed to persuade your customers to purchase a pudding.

Quality Matters

Unless you’re USP is huge portions, the old adage “quality not quantity” is especially apt here. Desserts are commonly viewed as a treat, “naughty but nice” and are very much ancillary to the main course. so when diners do decide to treat themselves to an extra course, they want to make it count. With ever-more discerning consumers it’s imperative you focus on the quality of your ingredients, so “deconstructing” your recipes and focusing on high quality, naturally (and if possible locally) sourced ingredients will reassure customers of the quality of your dishes and that they’re treating themselves to the very best. For instance a great USP for your pub food menu is to make your own ice cream, see the separate article here.

Something For Everyone

It might seem this is too obvious a statement, but customers are far more likely to order dessert if your selection comes close to matching their respective tastes and appetites. At the very least, always have a selection of hot and cold desserts, including a chocolate option and a light fruity dish or selection of ice-creams and sorbets. For instance there are many potential dessert customers who might be on a gluten-free diet or are lacto-intolerant, so not having choices for such customers will limit your menu’s broad appeal.

‘Dairy-Free’ custards and cream desserts are easy to make, use any of the alternative ‘milks’ to make up your standard recipes (soya milk for instance). Unless you’re using the thinner rice milk the texture will be very similar. If the slightly different taste concerns you, increase the amount of flavouring (chocolate, lemon, fruit coulis, etc) or experiment with (un)sweetened soya milk to get the balance of sweetness right.

For a great selection of gluten-free desserts click here and for 197 dairy free puddings click here.

Set-price menus are an ideal way to appeal to your price-sensitive diners and having a set price for a full meal always makes it easier for them to know how much the meal is going to cost and encourages diners to have all three courses.

A great way to tempt those who are on a diet or who may feel too full for a more substantial dessert is to include ‘mini’ options, the recent popularity of sliders and cupcakes is proof enough that miniature dishes are very much in fashion. Options such as Chocolate Brownies, Pannacotta and Strawberry Tiramisu lend themselves particularly well to smaller portions. They can also be upscaled to create a sharing platter for groups of diners.

Above all try and keep your dessert seasonal, there’s no use trying to sell Spotted Dick & Custard to diners sweltering in 30° summer heat and vice versa, to start you off…

Spring/Summer – 25 Top Spring Desserts  Great British Chef’s Summer Desserts

Autumn/Winter – 132 Autumn Puddings  27 Traditional Winter Puddings from The Beeb

Classic Puddings & Desserts – Yotam Ottolenghi’s 10 perfect dessert recipes

And if your culinary skills don’t run to a Michelin star there are plenty of ready-made desserts on the market, the trick with these is to use what skill you have in augmenting their presentation, here is a selection of simple garnishing skills you can develop.

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