Blog Post / May 27, 2021 / Best Practices

How to Maximize Revenue with a Prix Fixe Menu During a Pandemic

by Bianca Esmond
Bianca Esmond

In modern dining, prix fixe menus are synonymous with fine dining and celebrations. If a restaurant has both a prix fixe menu and an a la carte menu, guests usually order from the former to mark special occasions.

While the COVID-19 pandemic put a dent in celebratory dining, the tradition of prix fixe menus doesn’t have to disappear. With some ingenuity and marketing tactics, you can use these multi-course meals to boost revenue at your restaurant. Keep reading to discover:

What is a prix fixe menu?

A prix fixe menu is a menu that consists of two or three courses, and sometimes a wine pairing, offered to diners at a set price. “Prix fixe” (pronounced “pree feeks”) translates to “fixed price” in French. This streamlined menu usually presents diners with a maximum of three options per course.

For example, a restaurant could offer guests a $40 three-course dinner prix fixe menu that features a house salad or soup as appetizer course options, a pasta dish or chicken dish for entree course options, and gelato or chocolate mousse as dessert course options.

In contrast, an a la carte menu is the type of menu that diners typically encounter at restaurants. A la carte menus list all of a restaurant’s dishes and their prices, allowing guests to pick and choose what they want without having to order multiple courses.

Some restaurants offer only a la carte menus, others only prix fixe menus, and others have both. In the United States, prix fixe menus are usually found in fine dining establishments. In France, they’re just as common at Michelin-starred restaurants as they are in casual bistros.

For restaurateurs around the world, offering a prix fixe menu is a clever way to maximize covers and streamline order production. If a guest wants to order two courses, you can easily upsell them a third by pointing them towards your prix fixe menu. And if the majority of guests order from your prix fixe menu, you can more easily manage inventory for those meals.

Prix fixe menu best practices

Follow these best practices when creating your prix fixe menu to maximize revenue, even during a pandemic.

1. Your prix fixe menu is a popularity contest

Ensure your prix fixe menu is a moneymaker by making it an obvious choice for diners. Include only your most popular and profitable dishes as options to boost sales. Popular items help your prix fixe menu draw diners in more easily. And low food costs ensure the menu makes good business sense.

Check your POS reports to figure out which dishes from your a la carte menu cost the least to make and sell the best and include them on your prix fixe menu.

2. Choose dishes that are in the same price range

A prix fixe menu isn’t supposed to be a discounted bundle, but an upscale experience. In addition to being popular and profitable, the dishes featured on your set menu must cost similar amounts to make, otherwise, your restaurant could end up losing money.

Let’s say your restaurant offers a salad and scallops as appetizer options and pasta and lamb as entree options on its prix fixe menu. The scallops and lamb likely have higher food costs than the salad and pasta. Don’t make it so that if a diner chooses a premium option for each course, your restaurant will be at a loss.

To ensure that your fixed price menu is profitable, only offer dishes that cost nearly the same amount to make, or consider up-charging for premium items.

3. Offer a prix fixe takeout menu for holidays

While prix fixe menus are traditionally reserved for on-premise dining, these traditions need to change with the times. Why not create a takeout, prix fixe menu for Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and/or Mother’s Day and make multi-course fine dining accessible at home?

New York City’s Michelin-starred Marea offered guests a prix fixe Christmas dinner for pick up. For $115 per person, diners could feast on burrata, short rib, potatoes gratin, Brussels sprouts, carrots, and dessert at home.

*PRO TIP* Maximize revenue by bundling your prix fixe holiday meals into sets for two or more people, and suggesting a takeout wine pairing.

4. Use prix fixe menus to increase on-premise dining revenue  

On-premise capacity is limited during the pandemic, so your restaurant has to make the most of every cover. After all, it doesn’t make sense to let a group take up a table on your busiest night if they’re only getting dessert. Consider making prix fixe menus mandatory during your busiest times, or for groups of certain sizes.

At New York City’s Baby Brasa, for example, ordering from the prix fixe menu is mandatory for groups of five or more people.

Use your restaurant reservations platform to let diners know about minimums on busy nights, take deposits, and charge cancellation fees for no-shows.

5. Market your prix fixe menu

Build it and they will come, right? Not always…

If you don’t tell guests about your prix fixe menu, they may not know that it exists. Cover all of your bases with broad and targeted marketing efforts. First, spread the word about your set menu through your restaurant’s website, via its social media channels, and by telling on-premise diners.

Then, use your customer relationship management (CRM) software to identify guests who are likely to be interested in your fixed price menu, and reach out to them digitally. For example, you could look for guests who have joined you for a prix fixe meal in the past or have a special occasion coming up. Send them emails or text messages to suggest making a reservation or ordering your prix fixe menu for takeout.

When you have a CRM like SevenRooms that connects to past purchases, you can target your marketing efforts and promote your prix fixe menu to the right people.

Intrigue guests and increase revenue with a prix fixe menu

Dining has changed, but there will always be a time and place for the prix fixe menu. You can maximize sales, even during a pandemic, by taking advantage of this streamlined menu.

Learn how SevenRooms can help your restaurant increase revenue and repeat business. Request a demo.

About the Author

Bianca Esmond

Bianca Esmond is the Director, Brand Marketing at SevenRooms, where she heads up brand awareness, communications and event programming. Based at New York HQ, she's always on the hunt for the best sushi in the city.

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