MOST PROFITABLE appetizer, coupon-special, item on your menu

Guys, please read on, i am sure we can all benefit if we get this thread going. Please share - what is the most profitable item on your menu? what is your most profitable appetizer? what is your most profitable special (or a coupon)?
I am asking this because i am updating my menu, and i started counting my food cost for every item and it upsets me, because almost nothing on it is where i want it to be (20-25%). 16 inch cheese pizza is costing me 2.65 - i sell it for 9 - food cost over 25%, 8 pc. buffalo wings costs me - 27c a pc. - so it’s 2.16 plus buffalo sauce plus blue cheese, plus salary, conteiner, fork/knife, paper bag - comes to 3.00, and i sell it for 6.59 - food cost on those is rediculous. So, anyway, i am trying to come up with the most profitable appetizer, so i can put it on the very top of my appetizers section. i know i cant get rid of wings , i cant price them much higher, but what us can do - we can offer maybe another appetizer- give it a good description and put it above all, - so what is this appetizer for you, that you price at 6-8 dollar point and your food cost on it less than 25 %. Another reason i need to find this moneymaker, because i am triing to come up with a few great combo specials, that would probably include a pizza, salad and appetizer(preferably chicken something) like a family special, so i can price it at 18-25 dollars but the problem for me is i cant discount this order of wings or fingers that is a 30% food cost or more with it’s original price. But i do want to find the most profitable chicken appetizer and include in my family pack special. What is your most profitable chicken appetizer or appetizer in general?
What i also noticed is that we can never make a killing when we just order precooked, prebreaded something that we just open this plastic bag and put some in fryolator - be it fingers, hallopino poppers, mozz sticks or whatever - food cost is high on those. we should look in something maybe more creative - not french fries for 2 bucks, but get some fries, sprinkle some bacon bit, some cheese, stick it in the oven - you have a 5 dollar appetizer with the food cost where u want it to be.
Guys, what r your signate appetizers, if anybody have one, it’s probably something you r proud of, maybe only your pizza store does, or maybe it’s just something that costs you 2 dollars and you sell it for 8.
Sorry, for this mess you just read, please guide me in the right direction,
We need:
- most profitable appetizer
- most profitable chicken appetizer
- most profitable family deal-special-coupon (ticket of 20-25 dollars with food cost of 25%)

Any thoughts, ideas are greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Re: MOST PROFITABLE appetizer, coupon-special, item on your


I guess the question is … what sort of outlet do you want to be?

It sounds like you may be doing a lot of sales on high cost items and not so much on pizzas with a lower cost. Your 16" cheese cost is 29.4% but if you made it $9.50 it would be 27.9%. It’s an extra 50c profit for you.

Also if your food costs are that high maybe your selling price is too low?

Why knife & fork with wings? Aren’t they finger foods? Also drop off the celery and if people want it add a small charge for it. Other posts (I think it was Nick) said they dropped celery as most people didn’t eat it anyway and then charged 25c or something like that if they wanted it

I would be focussing my sales and promotional push on pizzas and then upselling the sides. Even though the sides profits wouldn’t be better they would then be classed as additional business / profits instead of main.

If you can get the bulk of your sales on pizzas with a better % then your profits would rise and it wouldn’t matter what $ you get from sides as it would then be incremental sales.

I have added after sales products like bags of sweets and chocolate bars. Profit % is not huge (about 50%) but we are getting an additional 60c or $1 per item sale that we weren’t getting before. Staff upsell them and we have them prominently displayed as impulse sales.


Re: MOST PROFITABLE appetizer, coupon-special, item on your

I agree with Dave…charge more for your pizzas and then run a special or a coupon on the pizza or pizza and an appetizer.

Our menu priced pizzas were always pretty low and I found myself running specials on already low prices. Ridiculous! So when we raised our prices I made sure to charge what I needed to charge so I would have room to offer specials etc.

Second, the wings. We carry wings because there are people in the world who will go somewhere else if I don’t offer them. I only offer them to get that customer base and more often than not they order other items with it. But I give them wings and that is it. No celery, no dressing nothing. If they want dressing it is 33 cents extra. Wings are such high food cost why even bother with the celery?

Third, we sell breadsticks made from our pizza dough. Cheap and we played around and came up with a real tasty breadstick. I include that with my “meal deals” never ever wings! Be creative.

As for your menu layout…typically the middle appetizer listed on your menu should be the one you want customers to buy. Human behavior is to skim the menu and our eyes naturally go to the center. Keep wings on the top or the last item listed. Those are the least ordered items.

So your raising your prices…why not raise them so you actually make it possible to succeed? We did a menu increase a few weeks ago and I was doing the food cost on our items and feeling bad for raising the prices. It finally dawned on me that doing a computer “food cost” is under the ideal situation so overall our food cost is probably a bit higher from human mistakes and so forth. I decided then, if they want the menu item they are going to have to pay for it.

If people want your menu items they will pay for them. I raised all our prices so we could actually survive in this biz and handle a few product price increases without being devastated. Do I feel bad or concerned I did the wrong thing? Nope. I found most people didn’t even notice. The ones that did we had the standard “answer” we all used. (With the price of cheese, milk and gas on the rise we had to, we didn’t want to. Have you noticed the price of a gallon of milk these days?) This got people talking about milk prices not our prices. We have been lucky here cuz the media keeps doing stories on the rising dairy costs and effect on pizza places.

And finally my take on appetizers is…most people order something else with an appetizer, so we offer different appetizers some, like wings don’t have a great food cost but I make up for that in my pizzas and for me I like the higher ticket price rather than having a small appetizer selection they don’t order off of.

Good luck to ya and don’t be afraid to charge what you need to charge to make money!

Re: MOST PROFITABLE appetizer, coupon-special, item on your

Hello Dimitri,Our biggest markups are our fry selection.We do many diff.type of fries, 1,Italianno fries-w/sauce,chses.and seas.2,Spanish fries-w/ taco seasoning,onions,hot peppers and chses.3,Crab fries-fries w/ Old bay seasoning and chse.sauce4,Hot fries-fries w/ cayenne seas.,these are our ‘big’ mark-up items and we sell more than we ever expected of these items.Our wings are a great mark-up also,I’m not sure why your not making a good buck on yours.Wings are 1.09 a llb we sell for 6.25 a llb.As for family deals they’re usually not ‘big’ money makers for us because we’re giving the customer a good deal.Maybe you should overlook your menu prices and adjust to give yourself a better food cost.


Re: MOST PROFITABLE appetizer, coupon-special, item on your

I agree with the other posts. We charge $14.00 for a 16" cheese pizza. With costs on key items like cheese and flour up ~30-40% over recent lows you have to look at pricing as a part of the food cost equation.

You have to combine food and labor when you evaluate the profit contribution of menu items and look at complexity. The thing that occurs to me as I read your post is that it does not take into account differences in labor content or the “add on” factor.

When you make pizza you have prep cost in the dough, grating cheese, slicing vegies and of course the make-line production. When you take poppers or mozz sticks out of the freezer and pop them in the oven or fryer you have a lot less labor. Just dough making labor is about equal to the cost of the flour.

I try to see a 35% COGS on ready to use or minimal production products like wings. We buy the largest size wings we can find (10-12) and charge $9 for a dozen of them.

We do pretty well with salads. We buy a high end spring mix and serve Newman’s Own dressing with it. We offer two sizes and price them at $5 for a large single salad and $10 for a family size salad. (9" square lidded clear plastic delivery container)

Like the post above, we do well with bread sticks and cheese bread sticks, both made from our own dough.

If my basic cost of service (delivery etc) is covered in my pizza cost structure, I can also justify lower margins for add-on sales. I am not paying my driver anything extra to bring an order of wings along with the pizza. If I started to see a lot of orders that did not include pizza I would have to rethink that.

I look for non-pizza sales to raise my average ticket by $3.00 even with shorter margins, those $3 are the mosts profitable regardless of what I am selling. My base costs are already paid.

In my business our sales are about:
Salad 4%-5%
Appetizers 5%-6%
Ice cream 4%-5%

All of them are shorter margin than pizza, but they do not add to complexity in a big way or slow us down on the line. Coupons do not apply to them so I am not discounting them at all.

Last, don’t be tempted to try and compete on price with the nationals that specialize in low prices. It can not be done. They are paying a lot less for most food items than you are. Go for quality, make sure you achieve it. Tell your customers about your product and service in your marketing rather than your prices. Charge what you need to.

I just seen this and I know it’s old. … prices so low, lol
Anyhow, the best way to increase profits on appetizers is to set up a breading station. Plain and simple. You can buy a log of provolone for about 2.25/lb and slice it down to make cheese sticks. I can get about $325 in sales out of an 11 pound log of cheese. Zucchini is another one, a case of zucchini costs next to nothing and the amount of zucchini strips u can make is practically ridiculous. All the left over skins and pieces can be sliced up and fried with some bacon and veggies for a lunch special.
If You have space and staff hand battered onion rings can make u a fortune. Study breading, experiment, and learn how to say screw the bag. We also donsausage stuffed banana peppers that are easy to make and cost isn’t bad at all. You can even take your raw sausage, throw it in dough Mixxer with some bread crumbs to ease the cost down a little more.
Just my 2 cents and best of luck

When cheese was pretty high a few years back I wanted to introduce an app with no cheese, so started our garlic knots which use our dough, olive oil, butter & garlic, served with a side of our house-made ranch, they are wonderful, easy, and cheap, and with an order of 12 the perceived value was high despite the food cost being so low. Keep them ready to go for dinner for an easy add-on during peak hours.

Wings are probably high food cost for everybody, but offer boneless wings as well and you should make decent $ on that to off-set the high cost of traditional wings. I know this is an old post but wings at 6.59 might as well be 6.99, leaving .30 cents on the table there, nobody is going to stop ordering them if you go from 6.59 to 6.99.

Buffalo Wild Wings charging almost 1.50 a wing now and those things are lethargic compared to ours.

Agree with pizza now, you can upsale knots or breadsticks for $3.00 and have almost zero food cost in them. If you have a pos make it ask for the upsale before the order closes. Another good one is deep fried dough balls. Hack up a small dough into a bunch of pieces, rolll lightly into balls, and deep fry. Hit em with butter and cinnamon sugar for $5.00 cost is probably 30-35 cents.
If u ever trim doughs for whatever reason (maybe ran out of mediums :/) save that dough and use it for breadsticks, dough balls or even your next batch of dough.
If you use raw chicken breasts don’t throw that fat away, freeze it for a chicken stock for wedding soup. You can even save your onion skins for part of your mirepoix.
Use croutons for salads , don’t dare buy them, use some bread that’s getting stale and make your own (dice, little butter garlic, parm, salt, pepper, game over)
There are so many ways for us smaller places to compete and the main one is to cook and not copy the chains. it’s a win win, you will have a much lower food cost when u do something from scratch and you can charge more because it’s made In house.

I like this idea!

Garlic Knots/Hot Giardiniera Knots by far! $5.99 for half a dozen with pizza sauce for dipping. Easy add on item for any order and a great bar snack for the beer drinkers that come in.

How are you making your Hot giardiniera garlic knots? Its sounds very good since i am a huge giardiniera fan. Thanks

Hi Gary,

8 oz dough ball rolled thru my sheeter twice lengthwise. Cut into long strips about 2 inches wide. Put garlic in the center then pinch the sides together almost like making a tube, then tie in knot with a short trumpet or else it’ll burn. Baste with butter for a 3/4 run in my conveyor. Basted with garlic butter when they come out and toss them in chopped garlic, more butter, and dust with parmesan. Serve with pizza sauce. Costs me $0.38/order including the chow mein to-go box I usually put them in for delco. With hot giardiniera knots, you just need to drain the giard, then relish it in a food processor and follow the same steps as the garlic knots. Costs a bit more but not much. We’re a Chicago place so when we get new customers that come in for deep dish, I always send out an order while they wait the 20 mins for their deep dish to cook. We used to upsell these with every order, but now they sell themselves 75% of the time.