Starters, Small Plates, and Sides, Oh My!

As a growing population of snackers changes their eating-out behavior, consumers are doing a lot more mix-and-match dining. These days, an appetizer can be snack, and a trio of small plates can make up a meal.

Foodservice consumers are looking for chances to customize the menu and often use small bites to supplement or replace a meal reports Technomic. All of these factors are pointing to growth opportunities for starters, small plates, and sides. Their flexibility and downsized portions appeal more broadly to consumers and can fit a wider variety of dining occasions.

“Appetizers, small plates, and accompaniments are becoming more of a draw,” said Darren Tristano, Executive Vice President of Technomic, Inc. “In fact, out data shows that consumer purchases of appetizers are steadily getting closer to pre-recession levels. That’s good news for operators looking to promote add-on sales of starters and other extras. Highlighting the shareable, fun factor of these foods – as well as their versatility – helps them function as menu differentiators.

From “A La Carte.” Wisconsin Restaurateur 80.4 (2013): 4. Print.