According to a highly-scientific study we just made up, restaurants that have a signature dish are over 150 times more likely to receive repeat visitors than those that don’t.
A signature dish is like your restaurant’s calling card. If you don’t have one, you’re missing out on a fantastic branding opportunity. A lot of restaurants have signature dishes without making them “official.” Remember, a dish doesn’t have to have a clever name and a special call-out box on the menu to be memorable enough to put your establishment on the map. You may already have a signature dish and not even know it.
More likely, you’ve got a signature dish in-waiting…a dish so close to being great that a little consideration might just push it over the edge.
What makes a signature dish, you ask?
Great question. Signature dishes should be memorable, of course, and in order to be so, they need to be unique. Not “Fish with Creamy Blue Cheese Sauce,” unique, but subtly unique. The best signature dishes are variations on classics that people already know and love.
Your signature dish should also have a ton of flavor. Even restaurants with signature salads aren’t touting the nuance of their dressings; they’re banking on exciting ingredient combinations and well-seasoned flavor profiles.
And finally, remember that your signature dish should be balanced. It shouldn’t be the heaviest thing on your menu because you want your customers to come back for it again and again. It also shouldn’t be super seasonal, either, dependent on trade winds and a reliably-good crop of produce. Your restaurant’s signature dish should be on the menu all year long, when possible.
But how can you make your restaurant’s signature dish stand out?
Another great question. Pairing interesting ingredients together is a fun way to get creative, and it’s probably something you’re already doing. Is there something on your menu the waitstaff customizes when they get off their shift, like a cheese pizza they top with slices of smoked andouille sausage? Take a cue from the people who already know your menu best.
Another good way to stand out is to create a totally custom ingredient. Sauces are a good bet, of course, but they can be tough to standardize night-over-night, chef-over-chef. Creating a custom sausage blend is something Papa Cantella’s is seeing restaurants do a lot more of lately, like a local beer-injected bratwurst for a food truck. Nothing says “signature” like something a customer truly can’t get anywhere else.
Don’t think of your signature dish as a gimmick; think of it as a showcase for what you do best. And don’t limit yourself to one dish! Some restaurants have a lot of success with a signature ingredient, like pork or hummus, or even with a signature concept like endless variations on classic pho.
There’s no wrong way to do a signature dish.
Could a custom sausage blend help your restaurant stand out? (Of course it could!)
Papa Cantella’s is an expert at creating crave-able, customized sausages. Reach out to our team today to find out how easy and cost effective the process really is.