How and Why to Sell Appetizers: 5 Essential Server Tips

In the fast-paced restaurant business, time is everything. Studies show pushing appetizers not only benefits servers by freeing them up to focus on other tasks, but also enhances the customer experience. Appetizers take little prep time and help ensure quick, smooth service for diners.

Additionally, starting patrons off with small starter plates keeps them happily occupied if main courses run late during the rush. This appetizer buffer avoids dissatisfaction and impatience. Ultimately, strategically offering apps is crucial for optimizing the server’s workflow and delivering an enjoyable meal pace – a win-win for staff, kitchen, and guests alike.

Tactful Server Tactics: How to Push Appetizers

1. Suggest By Name, Not Generically

After setting the table for appetizers, it’s time to take the order. Rather than broadly asking, “Can I start you off with an app?” this server shares that he targets specific dishes to pique interest, like cinnamon rolls or loaded nachos. Calling out particular appetizers by name makes it easier for customers to envision and therefore, order them.

It also conveys an implicit recommendation, signaling that these apps come highly endorsed. When patrons then thank the server for the crave-able suggestion, it validates they welcome the expertise.

2. Upselling Isn’t The Objective

While pushing extra items could drive up the tab, the server clarifies that inflated checks aren’t actually his endgame. Most apps clock in around $10-15, so splitting one only negligibly impacts the tip amount either way.

His core motivations revolve around managing meal pacing and earning loyalty through attentive service – not maximizing spending. Apps simply help enable both priorities simultaneously.

3. Appetizers Buy Time and Focus

The key value of apps is they grant the server precious extra minutes without feeling rushed. After taking the drink order, the next routine step would be food orders. But during crowded shifts, the server can’t always circle back immediately to the same table while also juggling several others.

If one table agrees to an app, this keeps them contently occupied so the server can pivot focus elsewhere as needed until ready to return. This flexibility alleviates pressure tremendously.

How to Suggest Appetizers in Restaurant

4. Quick Interactions Foster Efficiency

Apps also allow for briefer table visits compared to documenting full dinner orders from large parties. When managing multiple table orders, every moment saved at each one optimizes time management.

Limiting the interaction to just the app order enables the server to swoop in and out faster before bouncing to the next task. Customers in turn feel well attended to when the server isn’t chained to one notepad endlessly.

5. Apps Stimulate Appetite…And Ordering

While profit plays negligible motivation, bigger overall sales still naturally follow from apps. The small plate experience kicks hunger up a notch, compelling patrons to order more items across the entire meal.

Plus, mouths already watering with apps tend to care slightly less about the total spent. So higher tabs organically emerge, even if driving higher purchases wasn’t the server’s intent.

The Bottom Line:

At the end of the day, suggesting appetizers is far more nuanced than a surface-level upsell attempt. While generating incremental revenue can be an ancillary result, a server’s motivations in pitching apps run deeper – to provide bespoke and attentive hospitality through pacing guidance and personalized recommendations.

So the next time you tempt the table with an array of tantalizing starters, trust that the intent is not solely profit-driven. Rather, consider it an invitation into an insider’s preview of coming menu attractions – all artfully sequenced to help cultivate the ideal overall dining experience.


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