Limited time offers (LTOs) keep your menu dynamic, but they also can drive traffic and boost sales. They’re incredibly effective across all age groups: 48% of consumers try an LTO item every month, and half of millennial and Gen X customers race to be the first in their friend group to try a new LTO and promote it on social media. Perhaps that’s why so many restaurants are embracing LTOs: Since 2014, the number of LTO menu items has increased 64%, according to Technomic.
Cheese is a staple in many dishes across every daypart, and for good reason: With roughly 2,000 varieties to choose from, the cheese category truly offers something for everyone.
But balancing consumer expectations and operator profitability in the context of current food and diet trends requires a little imagination—especially if the dairy favorite is at the heart of your business, as it is for Melt Bar and Grilled, a 10-unit restaurant group in northeast Ohio that specializes in gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches.
Melt uses 13 different types of cheese in its sandwiches, but the FSR relies primarily on common cheese types for the sake of cost consciousness. “The other ingredients [in Melt sandwiches] are expensive,” explains owner and founder Matt Fish. “We are a high-volume restaurant, and we want [our offerings] to be affordable to every demographic.” Fish’s customers are seeking “value for the dollar,” he continues, “and to use $9- or $10-a-pound cheese for grilled cheese doesn’t make sense.”
Fortunately, there’s an underexplored world of trendy applications for familiar cheeses.