Nowadays, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard about restaurants’ secret menu items. In-n-Out possibly has the most notorious secret menus of all. And trust us, you haven’t lived if you’ve never experienced an animal style burger and fries.
So, what is there to gain from offering a secret menu?
For starters, guests love the feeling of exclusivity. Diners like to feel like they are more in the knowthan others or are receiving special treatment. It makes them feel like VIPs or insiders. If you can build this, you’ve landed a sure-fire way to gain loyalty and convert casual guests into regulars. Feeling like an insider will always make a repeat customer.
Secret menus can also be a great way to get rid of food that may be past it’s sell-date soon, think of it as a different way of presenting specials to customers. Hi, welcome to _____ before we get started feel free to ask about our specials or the secret menu item today. Certainly play with your version of the script, but it has potential to save you some dollars by preventing food waste.
People are enticed with secrets and will almost always inquire as to what the secret menu is. Sure it isn’t secretif you tell people, but it is about the marketing of off-menu items, not the actual secret itself.
If you want to actually keep it a secret, try putting an Easter egg link or button somewhere on your website that reveals your restaurant’s secret menu. Wawa does something like this on their kiosk ordering screens.
So, do you need to go over the top with your restaurant’s secret menu?
Nope! All of the restaurants that currently “offer” a secret menu are just doing combinations of existing items that aren’t typically together or multiples that wouldn’t be ordered by most patrons. You can end up with some truly amazing combinations this way and, while they can occasionally be a pain to make, guests will love you for it.
We’d just suggest avoiding the particularly annoying combinations for your staff’s sake. No need to make anyone’s lives more difficult than they need to be. Fresh takes on the food you currently offer marketed in a different way can help your sales immensely.