Sweet Success: How to Sell Desserts
Jamie Popp | Monster Contributing Writer
Bringing silverware to assist with breaking through the sugary crust of a crème brulee before dessert is even ordered is how servers increase sweets sales at Bayleaf Restaurant in Napa, California. It also helps to be knowledgeable about the chocolate bombe, right down to the Chambord sauce, according to Daniel Bolyarde. As head server at the fine dining establishment in the heart of California wine country, he has a number of tips for getting people to indulge when they dine.
“We have to be detail-oriented [when it comes to dessert] and know what the diner wants in advance,” Bolyarde says. He pays attention to the entree a guest selects; it’s a surefire way to tell what they’ll want to finish a meal, he says. “If they have steak and a full-bodied Cabernet, they’ll typically want something like our triple chocolate mousse. If they order fish, they’ll want something decadent but more along the lines of a cheesecake with fruit.”
Words to Indulge By
While subtle selling tactics such as reading a guest by their order can work, the bottom line is servers need to know what’s on the menu and be able to recall ingredients that make each dessert an offer a diner just can’t refuse.
“We have a separate dessert menu and describe everything that’s in them…using proper verbiage,” says Katie Morris, assistant manager at Brasserie Margaux in Seattle. Servers at the French-inspired restaurant use words such as “fresh” and “moist” to describe a chocolate cake, for example. “A lot of times we have desserts with orange or cherry liqueur inside; we call out those details that might make something sound better or unique.”
Mel’s Restaurant and Bar in Denver has a chocolate cake with caramel and peanut butter, and the “fudge explodes out of it like a molten lava cake when it’s cut,” says Denise Johler, assistant manager and events planner at the restaurant. “We use words [to sell desserts] such as ‘sinfully decadent’ or ‘fabulous.’”