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Restaurants Use Condiments To Expand Menus

As restaurants begin recovering from the pandemic, they are finding ways to add appeal to their menus.

Some have added new items to the menu, like Taco Bell with its Chicken Sandwich Taco and Cantina Crispy Melt Taco. Taco Bell is taking it a step further by looking to add chicken wings to the menu. Chicken wings have been a popular item during the pandemic, and Taco Bell wants to cash in on the popularity of chicken wings and chicken sandwiches.

Adding appeal to their menus is especially important as many restaurants have simplified their menus to improve operations during the pandemic, as we’ve reported in a previous OM in the News post.

However, not all approaches are as radical as Taco Bell’s. Many restaurants are keeping menu upgrades simple, and easy on operations. One such approach is the use of condiments. Not only do condiments offer different tastes, but can add an upscale appearance to the menu.

Truffle-based sauces are a popular addition. Buffalo Wild Wings has added a Truffalo Sauce. Shake Shack ran a limited time offering (LTO) in December 2020, with a black truffle sauce on premium burgers.

Global ingredients provide a special appeal. Velvet Taco is using a garlic-Champagne sauce on its chicken parmesan taco. An aioli made with Herbes de Provence and lavender syrup graces the Bistro Burger at Mooyah Burgers, Fries and Shakes. Firebirds Wood Fired Grill has added a Ham-Jam Burger, while Sonics is offering a Bacon Jam Cheeseburger.

Video Spotlight:  

This post is based on the NRN article, Here’s How Restaurants Are Using Creative Condiments and Sauces to Elevate Dishes, by Nancy Kruse, June 3, 2021; the Eat This article, Taco Bell’s Upcoming New Item Is Already Stirring Up Major Controversy with Customers, by Mura Dominko, September 28, 2021; and the YouTube videos in the Spotlight. Image source: Foodcollection.

Discussion Questions:

1. Why add new condiments?

Guidance: Condiments offer a quick way to add luster to a menu without making wholesale changes to it. Another benefit is that adding flavors can generate buzz regarding a “new” product through both traditional advertising, and social media.

2. What is the impact on operations of adding condiments to a menu?

Guidance: Even if the condiment is created at the restaurant, the impact on operations is minimal. This gives restaurants a way of adding some variety and pizazz to menus without putting a large strain on the kitchen.

In many cases, no new equipment or cooking methods are required. Most of the time, the condiments are added as the last step.

From an inventory/supply chain perspective, restaurants are not adding a large number of ingredients that are difficult to source. Many of the condiments being used are combinations of currently used ingredients.

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