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Build Sales During Pie Season

Build Sales During Pie Season

Fall is in the air and that means it’s pie season. While diners see pies as tasty, nostalgic comfort food, operators see a sweet sales boost and a good way to delay the financial blahs of winter.

September through December is peak pie season in full service restaurants. Pie servings during these months are as much as 31 percent higher than typical monthly serving averages.* Pie is on everyone’s mind because people are thinking about upcoming family gatherings, holiday celebrations, and seasonal traditions that all center around food.

Pies are always on-trend. In the 2012 National Restaurant Association’s What’s Hot Chef Survey, the NRA asked professional chefs to rate more than 200 food and beverage items as a “hot trend,” “yesterday’s news,” or “perennial favorite.” Pies were named a Top 10  “perennial favorite.”

Pies are also affordable and cost-effective. The food costs are low, and the sales are incremental. In casual and family dining restaurants, customers who order pie raise their check average while incurring very little labor cost in the kitchen. That’s especially true with Chef Pierre® Pre-Sliced Pies.

Convenience is key
Chef Pierre, the Sara Lee Foodservice brand that has offered innovative pies for more than 80 years, created Chef Pierre Pre-Sliced Pies to help operators save money. Pre-Sliced Pies can be plated in half the time of traditional pies, saving labor and increasing speed of service.

Speed is not the only factor that can help boost profits. Pre-Sliced Pies reduce food waste by eliminating crust breakage that can occur when cutting pies. Now you can serve every slice, even the dreaded first slice of a new pie. Each slice is a uniform size, ensuring portion control. It’s easier to project food costs if you know each pie will yield exactly eight slices.

To further reduce food costs, pre-sliced pies allow you to thaw only the number of servings you need each day, not a whole pie. Another money saver, not to mention an employee morale booster, is that pre-sliced pies improve kitchen safety by eliminating the need for knives, a leading cause of kitchen accidents.

With pre-sliced pies, you can start saving money right away. Operator research indicates that operators serving 10 slices a day can save more than $500 a year through reduced labor and waste. Large operators serving 300 slices a day can save $7,000 per year.

Michael Kueppers, Executive Chef at Jackpot Junction Casino Resort in Morton, Minn., says Chef Pierre Pre-Sliced Pies have made dessert service at the operation’s popular high-volume buffet easy as pie. “We used to have to brush, bake, cool, cut and plate our pies,” Kueppers says. “It was a long, labor-intensive process. It was a hassle just to serve pie.”

Kueppers also appreciates the lack of waste. “There’s no broken crust, which was always the case with our old product,” he says. He adds that the pre-sliced pies are so easy to plate that staff has more time to add signature touches such as a dessert sauce.

Now Presenting: Pie
Those signature touches can help make desserts more memorable and increase pie sales. “Chef Pierre is the perfect foundation for deceptively simple upscale presentations,” says Sara Lee Senior Executive Chef Chris Kline. “A drizzle of fruit sauce; a coating of chocolate, caramel and chopped roasted nuts; a dollop of whipped cream blended with fruit jam; a sprinkling of cinnamon, all are easy ways to add value and price points.”

Sara Lee offers the new Dessert Menuvision Signature Dessert Slide Rule, which makes it easy to pair different sauces, garnishes and toppings to create unique desserts. To receive a free copy, click here.

Sometimes diners might (mistakenly) think there is no room for dessert. They can probably be convinced to buy a pie to take home. Chef Pierre Pre-Sliced Pies also offers a to-go dessert program. The pies are easy to handle, need almost no labor, and are available in a variety of flavors. Choose from classics such as Dutch Apple and Pumpkin, or the attractive Blueberry, Apple or Cherry with lattice crusts, or the silky Cream and Meringue pies. To help promote these pies, Sara Lee has a comprehensive “Desserts To Go” program that includes free whole dessert boxes, point of sale (POS) materials and nutritional labels.

The holiday season is the perfect time to encourage customers not to try making pies at home. “We sell whole pies every day and sell around 400 to 500 during our annual Thanksgiving sale alone,” says Gus Tinucci, a third-generation co-owner of Tinucci’s Restaurant in Newport, Minn.

Pies are a great impulse purchase. Sara Lee offers the turnkey Desserts To Go program, featuring free POS and eye-catching displays to increase your dessert sales. For more information, click here.

To earn repeat business, get your customers to continue thinking about pies during the rest of the year. Try featuring new pie flavors with a Pie of the Month Program.

Family Table in Iowa tested the concept for a year. Dean Feltner, corporate manager of the 21-unit Family Table Restaurants, says dessert sales grew 30 percent. “In most of our units we have a few traditional pie varieties on the regular menu, but sales really took off when we added a special pie of the month,” Feltner says. “These were new sales to customers who otherwise would not have ordered dessert.”

Create a calendar of flavors for the year, such as Pumpkin in October, Strawberry Cream in May, Peach Lattice in July. Be sure to display POS materials such as table tents, and train your wait staff to promote the featured pie flavor each month. Instead of a generic, “Would you care for dessert?” the server might ask, “Would you care for a slice of pecan pie?”

To see all the Chef Pierre pie varieties or For information, CLICK HERE

*NPD/CREST, July2012

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