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Raise Your Spirits w/ Non-Alcoholic Bevvies

Something for everyone, from functional to flirty. Non-alcoholic beverages are on the rise. According to NielsenIQ, sales of non-alcoholic beverages jumped 32% in the past year, while non-alcohol spirits have grown 114% during the same period.

Pairing beverages with dessert enhances the after-dinner experience, complementing a slice of pie or contrasting the cheesecakes flavor. Coupling something bold and new with a classic – tried and true – is a great way to embrace trends while catering to your guests curiosity and cravings.

Popular Pairings for Every Stage of the Menu Adoption Cycle

New York Cheesecake with Golden Milk

New York Cheesecake (0021) paired with Golden Milk

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Original Cheesecake Xango (7944) paired with Mexican Hot Chocolate

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie (0620) paired with Earl Grey Tea

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cinnamon Crumb Cake (EZ8 1526) paired with Spieced Mint Iced Tea w/ Lyre's Italian Spritz (non-alc spirit)

Cinnamon Crumb Cake (EZ8 1526) paired with Spieced Mint Iced Tea w/ Lyre’s Italian Spritz (non-alc spirit)




Menu Hacks: The Psychology Behind Menu Design

Your most valuable piece of marketing as a restaurant owner is a thoughtfully designed menu. It advertises your offerings while increasing your restaurant’s profitability. Menu engineering is the strategic process of designing a menu to maximize profits. It requires analyzing profitable and your most popular menu items. Using menu psychology techniques to highlight these items, restaurants can construct menus in the most effective way.

First, you must analyze menu items to find the most popular and profitable, which is important since you’ll be constructing your menu around these items. Ensure that your menu is priced correctly for maximum profits and understand item popularity using the menu matrix. After analyzing your menu items and pricing them appropriately, the fun can begin with these designing hacks.

Scannability

The first component to consider in menu design is its scannability. Therefore, restaurateurs want to grab guests’ attention with their high profit items. The research shows that customers are likely to order one of the first items that draw their attention. Since guests only spend an average of 109 seconds looking at your menu, it must be designed for guests to easily find key items aka scannable.

You want to avoid crowded layouts, limit item choices, and create a natural flow. Do you ever get overwhelmed at the sight of too many options? This is the psychological theory known as the “paradox of choice,” which assumes that the more options we have, the more anxiety we feel, whereas too little options make consumers feel misrepresented. The golden number for food options is 7 per category. Anything over seven items can ambush customers and lead to confusion, and confusion can cause them to revert to their “usual” by default instead of trying a new menu item. There is no shame in sticking with what you know, but a well-designed menu will entice you to try something different or more expensive.

  • Limit Options.Psychologists suggest that restaurateurs limit options per category to the golden number, around 7 items, based on the theory, “paradox of choice”. Limiting options can increase perceptions that consumers made the right choice, which in turn brings customers back. in an industry where repeat customers account for about 70% of sales, getting diners to return is the ultimate goal. (Mental Floss)
  • Declutter. Avoid crowded layouts and choose easy-to-read fonts and font sizes. Stick with visible dish titles and clear sections.
  • Location, location, location! Psychologists have studied consumer eye patterns and found that our eyes tend to move to the center of the menu first, then move on to the top right corner, followed by the top left corner. This is known as “The Golden Triangle”. Place your most profitable menu items in these prime real estate locations (Webstaurant)
  • Use glossaries if needed. Some patrons may feel intimidated by unfamiliar names and be deterred from ordering fancy-sounding dishes. A glossary can give more context so guests feel confident that they’re making an informed decision and the right choice.

Sensibility

Next, consider the menu’s ability to tap into the customer’s senses. Do the food items catch your eye? Does the menu evoke emotion? According to restaurant consultant Aaron Allen, colors can conjure different types of feelings and “motivate” behavior. For example; blue has a calming effect, while red can stimulate appetite and a sense of urgency, and yellow draws our attention. Entertain the use of borders, shaded boxes, and white space to highlight specific and profitable items. Crowding your menu with photos can cheapen the feel of a menu, but a nice-looking picture alongside a food item can increase sales by 30%.

Another tactic is writing longer, more detailed descriptions that persuade customers they are getting more for their dollar. According to a Cornell study, researchers found that more detailed descriptions sold nearly 30% more food. Customers also rated those items as tasting better. “People taste what you tell them they’re tasting” says menu engineer, Gregg Rapp (Mental Floss). So tell them a story! Detail dishes with verbiage that describes where it’s sourced and how it’s prepared to be effective in increasing the perception of quality in the items.

  • Use color. Choose a color scheme that reflects your sales and marketing objective. People emotionally respond to color, subconsciously, which can influence their behavior. You can use bright colors, which capture attention and trigger appetite, to draw focus to specific arrears of your menu.
  • Use photos. Use professional photography in your menu, but do it sparingly. People respond to images on display like they would if the plate was right in front of them and if you’re hungry the response is “I’ll have that!”
  • It’s all about semantics! Mind the language that you use to describe your dishes and tell a story. Adjectives like “line-caught,” “farm-raised,” or “locally-sourced” are big turn-ons for customers and can increase the perception of quality.
  • Make it nostalgic. Touching past time-periods can trigger happy memories of their childhood, family or traditions. “Grandma’s Chicken Soup” or “Campfire Hot Cocoa” stir feelings of comfort and closeness.

Another trick is to create space around high-profit items by putting them in boxes or otherwise separating them from the rest of the options. “When you put in a pocket of negative space, you pull the eye there,” writes Allen. “Putting negative space around an item can call attention to it and help you sell it” (Mental Floss).

Profitability

Finally, circle back to your menu’s profitability. Perspective is everything when considering menu design. Author of Priceless, William Poundstone, reveals the psychology behind menus, stating ”ultimately, it’s about minimizing the focus on price”. Making price tags as inconspicuous as possible, we can encourage guests to spend more. A Cornell University study found that written-out prices also encourage guests to spend more. Here’s a few more hacks that are designed to increase your menu’s profit potential.

  • Avoid dollar signs. Currency indicators are a pain point that remind customers they are spending money and make them feel like they are spending more than they actually are. Soften the price by eliminating the dollar sign.
  • Avoid price trails. Price trails are dotted lines that connect your menu items to their price and are the cardinal sin of menu design. This takes the focus away from your dish description and straight to the price instead. Try “nested” pricing, prices that are listed discreetly after the meal description in the same font size, so consumer eyes glide right over it (Mental Floss).
  • Avoid price columns. Placing prices in a column will draw focus to the cost of the food, instead of the dish itself, which could lead guests to choose the cheapest items on the menu.
  • Use price decoys. A price “decoy” is a menu item that would seem overly expensive to guests, placed near high profit margin items. This gives the perception, when compared to the decoy, that customers are getting a deal, a “better bang for their buck”.
  • Sandwich your menu items. D Studies show that customers tend to notice and order the top two items or the last item of each section more often than other items. Place your most profitable items at the top of the list and one at the bottom to optimize your menu categories.

Final thoughts

Guests will scan your menu in less than 2 minutes on average, which means you have a small window to set the menu’s tone for customer satisfaction and optimal profit. Using these psychological tactics of menu design, to revamp your menu can greatly improve your restaurant’s profits and guest experience. Our Sweet Street Design Suite provides you with the expertise and tools to sell more.

 

 

Sources: Aaron Allen | WebstauranteStore | Canva | Mental Floss | The Sydney Morning Herald




Women-Owned Businesses: Growth and Sweet Success

We’re seeing more women-owned businesses, more female investors, and—what’s perhaps even more important—more brands waving their “women-owned and operated” flag, like a badge of honor. And we love to see it!

As of 2019, according to the annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express, there were nearly 13 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. The report also states that women-owned businesses generated $1.9 trillion in revenue for the U.S. economy in 2019. The growth rate of the number of women-owned companies was 3.9% annually, between 2014 and 2019, increasing 21% total. This rate is twice the rate for all businesses. Women-owned businesses only represented 4.6% of all businesses, in 1972 and in 2019 they represented 42% of all U.S. businesses, employing 9.4 million workers.

In the same span of time, the number of businesses owned by women of color increased by 43%, doubling the growth rate of women-owned businesses (21%). As of 2019, women of color made up 50% of all women-owned businesses and generated 23% of total women-owned businesses’ revenue, according to the annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express.

Challenges

Not too different from the challenges of the past, today women-owned businesses are struggling with: access to capital, childcare responsibilities, and the subtle societal prejudice against women entrepreneurs. According to the 2020 report from National Women’s Business Council (NWB), more than 57% of microloans are going to women entrepreneurs, but female founders received only 2.2% of venture capital dollars in 2018.

Growth in funding for women entrepreneurs has not kept pace with the growth of other types of support. While 79% of U.S. women-entrepreneurs feel more empowered now, than they did five years ago, 66% still report difficulty obtaining the funding they need to succeed. What this troubling statistic means is that while women may feel that they have other resources to support their entrepreneurial journey, they’re still not receiving the financial support from investors or VCs needed to get their venture off the ground. According to the 2019 Columbia Business School study, female-led firms are 63% less likely to receive VC funding.

 

“Finally, women business owners are less likely to seek business loans than male business owners. While just a quarter of women business owners seek business financing, a third of male business owners seek business financing. Though this women in business statistic might paint a picture of tighter budgeting, it could also explain why women-owned businesses contributed to just 4.3% of total private sector annual revenue. If more women business owners seek and gain access to business financing for growth opportunities, perhaps their contribution to US revenue will become more proportional.”

Industry Specific

Female food entrepreneurs are on an upward trajectory. Building businesses, raising money, and curating initiatives and organizations to combat the industry boy’s club, and they’re making incredible meals, beverages, and CPG products while they do it.

According to the NRA (National restaurant Association) more than half of the restaurants in the US have women as full owners or co-owners, with women as about 45% of restaurant managers, which is higher than the 38% of female managers in other industries. Women are simply more likely to hold mid to senior leadership roles in the restaurant industry than other industries.

Over 60% of women have worked in the U.S. restaurant industry at some point in their life, but who manages them can make all the difference in their experience and success overall. Without female leadership, the restaurant’s work culture for females is often described as strained, or even toxic at its worst. The need for gender equity in the workforce on all levels is key to ensuring women have the best opportunity for success.

Many female leaders aim to create work environments they wanted to see when they started out. Little by little, female chefs, managers, and owners are helping change the industry’s perceptions of women from the inside out.

Economy Effected

Undoubtedly, women-owned businesses are driving economic growth in the United States. Again, women-owned represents 42% of all businesses (nearly 13 million), employing 9.4 million workers and generating revenue of $1.9 trillion. Yet significant size disparity exists between these businesses and others. Closing the gap benefits everyone, not just women. More goods and services bought and sold grows the economy.

As women and minorities have a combined buying power of around $10 trillion dollars, or about 66% of total US buying power. When women are given the keys to create something great, we know they reward their communities with re-investment. Buying female truly is buying local.

“Realizing the economic potential of women-owned businesses requires changes in policies, business practices and attitudes. Some changes, such as family leave and affordable childcare, impact all working women while others, such as training and access to capital and markets, are specific to particular segments of business owners. Making meaningful change also requires understanding that women-owned businesses are not monolithic. Factors such as gender, race, ethnicity, entrepreneurial motivation, generation and geographic location make meeting their needs more complex.”

Our Story

As a certified women-owned business, we believe in the advancement of women. More than a third of our management positions are held by women, and 60% of our supervisors have been promoted from within the company. We foster a collaborative environment of cultural vibrancy and inclusion, reflective of our beloved city; learning from different experiences and embracing each other’s strengths.

 

“Women, in particular, have a natural tendency towards inclusiveness. We champion big goals early on and drive the mission, because we get it. Women have a passion, they create believers. And that energy makes it flow throughout to their teams and to the company. When it comes to long-term goals, there’s a steadiness there, at the same time as, they get the big idea, it’s an awesome combination. Women are collaborative, they think and plan as a team. They bring these certain skills, inclusiveness and their ability to communicate well, and when they’re smart, we’re unstoppable.” – Sandy Solmon, Founder and CEO of Sweet Street Desserts

We reinvest in our community by championing economic development and access to the arts and education. Sweet Street is involved in Downtown Reading Revitalization by joining Reading CollegeTown, The GoggleWorks, and Jazz Fest. This not only beautifies downtown and expands the communal space, but enriches the lives of our community and creates a lasting impact.

We are passionate about buying local when possible, and being corporately responsible. We’ve initiated sustainability programs with suppliers, supporting women farmers via the Honduras Cocoa collective, facility wide recycling program. All of which ensure our community can flourish for future generations. Investing in women-owned businesses truly is buying local.

COVID-19

It’s no surprise that all businesses were affected during the pandemic. However, the impact was felt more strongly by some. “Women, particularly working mothers and Black moms especially, have taken the brunt of national job loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Raising a family and juggling work responsibilities was challenging before schools closed and day cares limited capacity; tacking on the complexities of the past year only made it harder.”

The NWBC’s report said that the number of women-owned businesses fell by 25% from February to April 2020. Of the over 1.1 million workers, age 20 or older who dropped out of the labor force in September 2020, 80% of them were women.

 

Diversity in all its many forms drives innovation. Women have different perspectives, skills and experiences and therefore solve problems in new and innovative ways. As it turns out, women are often more likely than business owners in general, to see a need in the market and build a company to fulfill it. This bodes well for the U.S. economy, but women face more obstacles when starting and growing their businesses, than entrepreneurs in general. Eliminating barriers that hinder the success of women-owned businesses is an economic necessity that will stimulate innovation and improve productivity, which will create jobs, build wealth and grow the economy.

 

Resources:

Chicago Tribune | Great Business Schools | Big Ideas | Forbes | State of Women-Owned Report | Small Biz Trends | Foodboro | Try Cake | Fundera | Rewards Network




12 Fun Facts About Your Taste Buds

Buzzfeed: We owe a lot to these little guys. They’re the reason we find Sweet Street products so tasty!

https://www.buzzfeed.com/pepsi/fun-facts-about-your-taste-buds

1. You can’t see your taste buds.

Contrary to popular belief, those bumps on your tongue are not your taste buds. Those are called papillae, and they contain numerous taste buds within and around them.

 

 

2. Taste buds aren’t just on your tongue.

They’re on the roof of your mouth, your throat, and even your esophagus!

 

3. That thing they taught you in school was wrong.

Remember that map of the tongue that showed which sections of the tongue were responsible for which taste? This was scientifically disproven. All regions of the tongue detect all tastes, though different parts are more sensitive to certain flavors. Science prevails again!

 

4. So there are these things called taste hairs…

Each taste bud has 50 to 100 receptor cells. Sticking out of these receptor cells are tiny taste hairs that check out the food chemicals in your saliva then send a signal to your brain. Ewww, taste hairs…

 

5. Everyone has a different amount of taste buds.

People can have anywhere between 2,000 and 10,000 taste buds. Yet another fascinating trait that makes each of us unique!

 

 

6. Introducing “supertasters!”

People with significantly more taste buds are called supertasters. They are much more sensitive to taste and may find certain foods too bitter or sweet.

Find out if you’re a supertaster here!

7. A taste bud’s life is fleeting.

Taste buds only live for 10 to 14 days.

8. The good news: They grow back!

Your taste buds are constantly regenerating. So don’t worry when you burn your tongue on some hot coffee — you’ll get new taste buds in no time!

 

9. The bad news: Fewer taste buds grow back as you get older.

Your sense of taste decreases as you get older. SO EAT ALL THE CHOCOLATE YOU CAN WHILE YOU HAVE THE CHANCE!

 

 

Sweet Street NY Cheesecake with Tabasco Bottle

Sweet Street NY Cheesecake with Tabasco

10. Spicy food hurts.

When food tastes too spicy, it’s actually stimulating the pain receptors in your mouth and not the taste buds. So when it feels like it’s burning… it kind of is.

11. Taste buds are there to protect you.

Your taste buds protect you from dangerous foods. When something tastes wrong, you immediately spit it out, thus preventing it from getting to your stomach. Thanks, taste buds!

 

 

12. Taste and smell: It’s a beautiful romance.

Flavor comes from the combination of taste AND smell. Ever notice how your food tastes bland when you’ve got a stuffy nose? These two don’t like to be separated.




Why umami is a vital flavor for food

Image of Zoe's Crush Cookie and Umami callout

Umami is the mysteriously addictive fifth primary taste we all crave unknowingly.  The complex food component has created a hunger in consumers that needs to be satisfied. Luckily, Sweet Street is at the forefront of this emerging trend, that’s about to blow up. Zoe’s Crush is a perfect mix of sweet, savory and umami. This deeply satisfying, gluten free, deliciously packed cookie blends almonds, toffee, toasted sesame, candied ginger, Peruvian chocolate and a delicate hint of miso, that’s where umami plays. What is Umami and why is it vital for food?

 

Image of burger and fries in Sweet Street Cafe

 

It seems as though consumers are just recognizing the name of this elusive flavor, but Umami has been well-established in Asian culinary history, first named in 1908 by a Japanese chemist. In Japanese, umami means “pleasant savory taste”, but we know it as “craveability”. The bold taste can be found in Asian cuisine through ingredients like soy sauce, miso paste, gochujang, and common pantry staples like, tomato paste, Parmesan cheese, and mushrooms – the list goes on.

 

Katie Ayoub, from Flavor and the Menu, points out that there’s a new and interesting trend happening in menu development and Umami is top of the roster. “The collective taste buds of consumers are evolving” she says. Chefs around the world have noticed a shift in the preference of the modern palate, averting overly sweet foods and focusing on the more savory dishes. Umami balances the other four tastes. It’s is more than flavor, it’s a sensation that stays with you and lingers.

Zoe's Crush Cookie on Table with ingredients scatteredThe perplexing taste has earned its place on global menus, but how the flavor actually functions is complicated. Nancy Rawson, associate director of the Monell Chemical Senses Center, says that “there is a molecular receptor which responds to umami stimuli from MSG”. This means that humans have developed a mechanism to sense and respond to umami flavor. This priming process may take place as early as before and just after birth, when amniotic fluid and breast milk contain large amount of amino acids that transmit umami taste, setting us up to crave its complexity throughout life. Even as the senses of an aging population decrease, umami can act as an agent to enhance appetite by keeping the dish appealing. Food scientists are still researching to explain it’s molecular mechanism and human’s nutritional drive towards it, but one thing is clear, umami is here to stay. 

 Click here to try new Zoe’s Crush!

Zoe's Crush Cookies StackedSources:

https://www.fooddive.com/news/why-umami-is-a-vital-flavor-for-food/564489/

https://www.thespruceeats.com/what-is-umami-1664724

https://bit.ly/34Il9op