Is it better to rely on a signature dish?

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nvb
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2006/03/20 11:41:47 (permalink)

Is it better to rely on a signature dish?

I'm starting this thread because it started in another and is worthy of its own.

quote:
Originally posted by drsmoke02

Slick,what type of restaurant do you have?


quote:
Originally posted by Slick

Combination BBQ and grill. We do a little of it all.


quote:
Originally posted by drsmoke02

I will tell you that's a problem, get a signature and stick with it, make it the the best, people will flock to your store if you have the best of something.Trust me when I tell you this.


You're not the first to tell me this, but all the other advice on signature dishes have came from management in larger areas than my town with 3200 pop.

I started my business just serving BBQ and did really well with it. Over the first year I had customers coming to me asking me to start serving a variety of foods as they didn't enjoy the food at the only other restaurant in town. I finally heard it enough times that I made the investment into a new kitchen.

I thought about the signature dish but thought what the hell, lets make it all good. So far this has worked for me. I've made plenty of menu changes over the last year because I started out with too many foods. I've been trimming and replacing items as I think are necessary.

So, Doc, I'd love to hear your reasons for the signature.
#1

15 Replies Related Threads

    drsmoke02
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    RE: Is it better to rely on a signature dish? 2006/03/20 15:19:37 (permalink)
    I'm located in a town of approx.2500,although i'm on a busy highway.

    I regularly draw from a 150 mile radius.I have 1 guy,a retired Manufacturing co.owner,who eats at my place at least twice a month,his drive is 3 hrs.1 way.

    I'm not telling you to have just 1 signature dish,just make absolutely sure that ABSOLUTELY everything that comes out of your kitchen is arguably the best in the country.Wether its the chili,burgers,briskit,sausages,pulled pork,etc.Don't serve it if it's just food.

    I am confident that everything I cook,would stand up to any "legendary"Menu item and most of the time the majority of people would prefer what they got from me.

    I keep a book for people to leave their name address and comments.I've working on my 4th book, If someone didn't know better they would think I made all the comments in different styles of handwriting.
    I had a couple in a few weeks back,I asked them where they were from, he said Utah,I asked him what brought him to "this neck of the woods,Gettysburg?"he said,"no actually we came here to eat at Chubby's".I SAid ,seriously what brings you here? he said seriously Chubby's.HE went on to explain that one of his best friends who lives in Atlanta and is a bbq fiend called him to tell him about this incredible place in maryland.since he and his wife are retired they made the trip.they had lunch and dinner 2 days in a row,then went back to Utah.He said to me "this is the best place i've ever eaten in".I don't tell you this to toot my own horn.I just want you to know how totally important it is for you to serve food that is "arguably the best, anywhere".

    If you are doing it just for the money, forget it.If you do it for the ego, the money will follow.

    Hence, signature dishes!

    Best regards,

    Tom

    PS email me,i'll call you or feel free to call me, I don't pretend to be the bible on this it's just that it's really worked for me.

    "GOOD FOOD AIN"T CHEAP, CHEAP FOOD AIN"T GOOD"
    #2
    prisonchef
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    RE: Is it better to rely on a signature dish? 2006/03/20 16:47:20 (permalink)
    signature is the way to go.
    ours is beef brisket.
    1st month we were lucky to sell 2 four ounce servings.
    we now sell 28 cooked pounds at a price of $10.00 per 12 ounces in four hours every saturday.
    this is in addition to 35 cooked pounds of pulled pork at $8.00 per 12 ounces.
    and does not include the creamy brisket on a biscuit which goes for $4.00 per serving and is made from the brisket trim and cream gravy.
    the above is what we are known for and we are plowing every penny back to buy with cash a stand alone restaurant
    not bad for 4 hours on a saturday( course that doesn't include the 16 hour cook time of the briskets and pork but then again i am drinking beer and not dealing with waitresses so it is heaven compared to my other job)
    jack
    by the way florida is not a brisket state.
    #3
    -Tricky-
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    RE: Is it better to rely on a signature dish? 2006/03/20 17:15:32 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Slick

    I started my business just serving BBQ and did really well with it. Over the first year I had customers coming to me asking me to start serving a variety of foods as they didn't enjoy the food at the only other restaurant in town. I finally heard it enough times that I made the investment into a new kitchen.

    I thought about the signature dish but thought what the hell, lets make it all good. So far this has worked for me. I've made plenty of menu changes over the last year because I started out with too many foods. I've been trimming and replacing items as I think are necessary.


    As a former restaurant person who now just eats in them, I shy away from places with a signature. I rarely order the same thing twice, so if it's a "signature" place, I can only go once. Or only when I'm craving the signature. I'd rather know that I'm going to like everything on the menu; then I can visit weekly or a couple times per month.

    I might not be the "normal" guest, though.
    #4
    Sundancer7
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    RE: Is it better to rely on a signature dish? 2006/03/20 17:33:40 (permalink)
    I would think that a signature dish was something your particular restaurant was known for. At least that is true in Knoxville. For instance the Regis restaurant is famous for its Red Velvet cake, Louis on Broadway is famous for its spaghetti and the list goes on.

    I do not believe it means it is the only dish that they serve or that is good.

    Paul E. Smith
    Knoxville, TN
    #5
    nvb
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    RE: Is it better to rely on a signature dish? 2006/03/20 18:54:22 (permalink)
    I understand what you meant now, Doc. It sounded like I needed one dish that stood out from the rest instead of all them being equally good. I was gonna differ with you on that due to a previous experience.

    When I first started this restaurant I had a food rep that was more interested in my female employees than my business. Back then he was lucky to get a $500 a week order from us. He tried to discourage me from venturing out to far from BBQ. He would tell me that was a sure way to kill my business because it wasn't possible for anyone to so many things and do them well.

    He didn't last but about 6 months before I switched food companies. Six months after that I did the remodel and started the grill. Now I'm serving what I'm told is the best food around these parts. Not only the BBQ, but from the grill menu, too.

    That food rep has come around twice since learning I did exactly what he told me not to do and easily ordering 3x the amount I was ordering from him. Told him to kiss the rosey red both times.

    Glad to know that we see things alike.
    #6
    Jeza
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    RE: Is it better to rely on a signature dish? 2006/03/20 19:08:11 (permalink)
    Our restuarant is a 4 star level. So pretty formal and guess what our most successfull dishes are?

    Bangers and mash

    Tua tua fritters (a unique NZ shellfish not disimilar to mussels.)

    Beside this we have venison, big eye tuna , crayfish (like your lobsters), duck and numbers of others and Bangers and Mash is still in our top five dishes sold each week.

    As Drsmoke says just ensure you make the best "whatever" you do and your success will build surely over time. The restaurant I run has always been successful and has never changed its mantra. We have people who dine there four times a week because of this. Some people don't even order they just let us choose. The point is just make sure the food is of great quality for what it is and people will come back. they have expectations when they walk into a restaurant exceeed the expectations bya little and people will be over joyed. Remember they have preconcieved ideas about what they are receiving, by ensuring those ideas are below you own standards people will come from miles aorund.
    #7
    koloa
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    RE: Is it better to rely on a signature dish? 2006/03/20 19:57:24 (permalink)
    in NJ, by the rutgers campus, all my friends always talked about fatcats. these sandwhiches have become real popular around NJ with the college kids. its similiar to what cheesesteaks are to genos/pat in philly. From what they told me, this truck that is famous for naming the sandwhich always has a long line during the weekend, especially when the bars let out. Maybe you guys can have a nickname to a particular item on the menu and wait for the word to get around. that way, the food becomes more than a meal but a cool thing to eat sort of.
    #8
    AndreaB
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    RE: Is it better to rely on a signature dish? 2006/03/21 07:44:47 (permalink)
    As a customer, I go to certain restaurants for "signature" dishes, like the Kentucky Hot Brown. I think signature dishes that you get a reputation for keep bringing people back but everything else on the menu should be up to par as well as diners may be in the company of people who don't like the signature dish. As a customer, I can say 100% a signature dish is good for business.

    Andrea
    #9
    Fieldthistle
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    RE: Is it better to rely on a signature dish? 2006/03/21 08:47:38 (permalink)
    Hello All,
    Just as an opinion from a customer... a lot of it depends on your locality and cliente.
    Drsmoke gets alot of tourists as well as regulars, but I imagine in certain seasons, tourists.
    Slick, I imagine that most of your customers are regulars or at least people in a certain mile
    radius that expect the same menu, but may like something new, special, from time to time.
    When I am on vacation, I am always ready for something different and good.
    Locally, I rely on a good, consistent menu, with some specials offered that become regular items
    if they prove themselves.
    I don't know if I am making myself clear, so let me give an example.
    At work, there are 5 of us that regularly order out. It helps if we can agree to order from the
    same place. Jesses' Quick Lunch signature dish is it's hot dogs and fries. We all get them, but
    some of us has discovered they make great burgers. Dave's Taverna advertises itself as Greek Food,
    with gyros, greek pizza, greek whatever, but we discovered it makes the best burger and fries. Two
    buys the gyros, the others go for the burger. But if someone locally offers something new, but within
    the perimeters of what they usually offer, we all try it. It's got to be something akin to what they usually offer.
    If Jesses' offered spaghetti, I doubt I'd try it. It's not in their genre.
    If I go on vacation, it's nice to find a place that offers a bit more for everyone's appetite if not
    everyone can agree on what to eat.
    But Drsmokes is very specialized and will get the customers who seeks his cuisine, BBQ. Unless he offers
    a BBQ spaghetti, I doubt he will have spaghetti on his menu.
    I apologize if I don't sound clear. Rough night, rough week.
    Take Care,
    Fieldthistle
    #10
    mayor al
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    RE: Is it better to rely on a signature dish? 2006/03/21 09:27:18 (permalink)
    Genny's Diner in Louisville makes a claim to be the "Home of the Frickle". Genny's makes a huge Burger and several other menu items in the lunch 'group'...but the signs push the FRICKLE. Frickles are battered and deep fried pickle chips.
    Not many folks make a main dish out of these little devils, but Genny's sells a lot of them with their sandwiches and Burgers. It is a case where the item is used as a draw, almost a signature item, but not an entree!

    Out West Farmer Boys, a local chain in SoCal brags on the "Farmer Burger". It is a large Burger, dressed with a bunch of condiments and Bacon and Avocado. The descriptor fit's well with the contents of the sandwich and the name of the restaurant. They also are known for their Onion Rings (very large and thick slices of onion) and Zucchini Spears also battered and fried.

    To me, the signature dish, or special item on the menu, may be something I normally wouldn't consider going out of my way for, but in combination with other menu items it would serve as an 'hook, or 'attention-getter'. Think of the times you have watched a "Fudge-Maker"or "Taffy-Puller" working in the window of a candy-shop on the Boardwalk or at Disney etc. The business needs to get you to think about their goods and services. If they can do that they have a start at gaining your business. A signature dish takes that principle one step further. It makes you want to go to THAT store to get the product that you now want for yourself!
    #11
    drsmoke02
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    RE: Is it better to rely on a signature dish? 2006/03/21 10:05:04 (permalink)
    In addition to all of my food being"signature",I tried to make all the items what I call"crave food".You may have craved my chili yesterday,today you crave one of my charbroiled handmade 1/2 lb angus cheeseburgers with a split charbroiled Louisiana hot link on top[lett,tom,mato,ket,must, fri on,hots]Kosher pickel spear!Still crave some chili?good we'll put some of that on too!
    #12
    -Tricky-
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    RE: Is it better to rely on a signature dish? 2006/03/21 11:15:37 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Sundancer7

    I would think that a signature dish was something your particular restaurant was known for...I do not believe it means it is the only dish that they serve or that is good.


    Yeah, but this is how it almost always works out. I've never been anywhere that had what they considered a signature dish where the rest of the food was edible, let alone good. " />
    #13
    Fieldthistle
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    RE: Is it better to rely on a signature dish? 2006/03/21 11:34:30 (permalink)
    Hello All,
    drsmoke, I like what you call "crave food." That is the places I treasure. You put your finger
    on it. "Crave Food" makes me a loyal customer.
    Take Care,
    Fieldthistle
    #14
    Rootsman
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    RE: Is it better to rely on a signature dish? 2006/03/21 19:41:50 (permalink)
    I agree with much that has been said. All my menu items are excellent (my customers tell me so formally and informally) except for my salad which is only very good (I can live with that) but I do have a few signature dishes as it can help customers in their decision making process and improve my profitability.

    Excellent food is a given, so I use the following criteria to select signature dishes:1)must be something unique about it, especially in taste compared to competitor offerings; 2) must be one of my more profitable items; 3) must not be one of the more difficult menu items to make, hold or serve; 4)consistently excellent.
    "Eat jerk. Be happy, mon!"

    [url]www.CKJerkShack.com[/url]
    #15
    drsmoke02
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    RE: Is it better to rely on a signature dish? 2006/03/21 21:03:29 (permalink)
    quote:
    Originally posted by Fieldthistle

    Hello All,
    drsmoke, I like what you call "crave food." That is the places I treasure. You put your finger
    on it. "Crave Food" makes me a loyal customer.
    Take Care,
    Fieldthistle


    Gentle Man,[Fieldthistle],if you create a restaurant,that has all food that people crave,its a "build it and they will come"anything less,they probably wont come again!

    I love your posts!

    Tom
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