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Anatomy of a Dessert Menu


Dessert menus can be an easy way to create add-ons for patrons' dining experiences. They are generally small, specialized menus, and with reasonable pricepoints and seductive titles, guests can easily be persuaded to linger over a little more. And in major cities like New York, L.A. and San Francisco, Denver, and Miami, places where theater and night life carry-on into later hours, staying open for dessert can be beneficial to catch this night cap crowd. 

But how can you make sure that you are getting the most out of your dessert menu? Are you gaining business through your desserts? A study from Georgia State University suggests that if just one in four diners orders dessert, you're making money. Our restaurant consultants look at how to best curate your dessert menu to make sure that you are maximizing both your guests' experiences as well as marketing and profit earnings for your restaurant. 

1. Main Desserts: Keep your menu simple. Offer three to four options to minimize layered decision-making. If it's a cut-and-dry choice, your guests are more likely to order. Always include a chocolate option, as chocolate is the most popular dessert item. Consider a rotating dessert option, dependent on in-season fruits and seasonal cravings. Offer a lighter option for those "on the fence" about ordering dessert.

2. Drinks: Most guests ordering dessert will likely go "all in." Offer a small list of wine and spirit pairings as well as coffee and tea options. This will up your add-ons from dinner guests and make you a more attractive destination for late night patrons.

3. Alternative Options: Not everyone has a sweet tooth. If you're committed to vamping up the dessert experience in your restaurant, consider other after dinner bites. A small but varied cheese board is a go-to post-dinner option in many places around the world, especially when paired with chutneys, jams, and fruits. A wider selection will be most attractive to guests who come to your restaurant after dinner--they are looking for a new environment and a broader experience. 

Our restaurant consultants are experts in all facets of menu planning. Contact us today to speak with someone about the anatomy of your dessert menu or to refine your full menu. 

Photo by Stefan Klopp.