Tapas dishes on the table with veggies around them in nice white dishes

Tapas, they’re not just for Spain any more. The small plate trend isn’t going any where, in fact it’s only becoming more popular and more profitable. You don’t need to be a traditional tapas restaurant to bring small plates to your restaurant, any cuisine can embrace the trend. “Grazing and plate sharing are becoming increasingly popular over traditional meal structures, especially among younger consumers,” said Annika Stensson, the director of research communications at the National Restaurant Association.

Having a small plate program at your restaurant has benefits that stretch across all aspects of your business. Check out some of ways in which this trend can help you turn small plates into big bucks.

It’s healthier.

As people continue to eat out more as a part of their regular routine, they’re looking to do so in healthy ways. Small plates deliver healthier outcomes as people eat smaller portions and overeat less frequently. They also are often made of healthier, fresher ingredients.

It’s economical.

Small plates can add a lot to your bottom line, especially with the bar crowd. As in traditional tapas culture in Spain, many people look for a little snack while having a drink. Having small, less expensive options makes it more likely people may order something while standing at the bar. This is especially helpful during happy hours or off-peak hours. With small plates there is also less food waste, and tighter inventory control.

It’s creative.

Small plates aren’t just popular with diners, chefs love them too. Chefs can have more freedom and be more experimental with small plates than in traditional entrees and diners are much more likely to try something new and unique when it’s small and low risk. This proves to be an economical way for chefs to try out new dishes or ingredients also. Rather than offering little freebies, you can sell a small portion and see how your customers are reacting to it.
apps on bread

It’s fun.

Small plate dining encourages a more fun experience for diners. By nature, these types of dishes encourage sharing, and more conversation. Dinner becomes more of a shared experience than just a meal. Diners are trying new flavors, sharing the experience together and having a fun night.

It’s fast.

Kitchens can deliver the food as they are ready, as opposed to the kitchen timing the dishes to be ready all at once. This gets food to the tables quickly and guests are happy faster. When the food comes out quickly, and guests can continue to order additional items, the meal tends to have a lively pace, which results in a higher turnover of tables, but without the diners feeling rushed.

Have you expanded your menu to include small plates? What changes did you notice?

Written by   |  
Kristin lives on the West Side of Providence with her wine blogger husband. When she's not co-hosting their monthly wine tastings, she's planning her next travel adventure and daydreaming about Spanish jamón. She can often be found pouring over travel guides at her favorite neighborhood spot, Nick's on Broadway.