Despite the bad news that fewer people are ordering salads all of the time, the fact remains that, on the whole, people still order salads regularly. In fact, the same poll of 500 diners revealed that 77 percent said they ordered a salad at least sometimes. An additional 16 percent said they rarely ordered a salad. That means your salad has the chance to attract a whopping 94 percent of diners.
So, which toppings should your salad boast to make the majority of diners happy? From 2007 to 2009, diners’ favorites remained basically the same. That meant the following were consistently the most popular, in this order:
Tomatoes (cherry tomatoes in 2007; tomato wedges in 2009)
These survey results have some important implications for your restaurant business. Consider these tips for making your salad a menu star:
Keep it Fresh. Or at least keep the appearance of freshness. One simple way to do this is tableside preparation. Allow diners to customize their salad by choosing toppings, or maybe just the dressing and cheese.
Try Something Different. It’s true that the old standby vegetables are still popular, so don’t throw out your cucumbers and tomatoes just yet. However, money-conscious diners may pay more attention to inflated prices on these common items. Combat their sticker shock by offering some more exotic or rare (but relatively inexpensive) toppings. Try incorporating different types of lettuce, asparagus, or boiled potatoes for a more memorable experience.
Use What You Already Have. Many restaurants have begun using the money-saving trick of incorporating their entree ingredients into salads (Think Chili’s’ fajita salad). Offer grilled salmon or chicken as an addition to your existing salads.
Source: 2009 American Express MarketBrief