Seasons 52 looked at casual dining desserts like Steve Jobs looked at cell phones. Learn about the Seasons 52 Dessert Program and let it inspire your menu.
Menu Strategy: Seasons 52 Dessert Program
About Seasons 52 and Darden
Seasons 52 is the new darling of Darden Restaurants. Darden as many of you know is the world’s largest casual dining restaurant chain. Darden’s other brands include Olive Garden, Red Lobster, Bahama Breeze, and Capital Grill. Darden will only invest in a concept if they believe it has at least a $1 billion market potential.
While there is much to point to as innovative with regard to Season’s 52 – and while the example of their dessert program has been lauded quite a bit already – it is worth mentioning again just how good of a job they did with their dessert program.
Seasons 52’s Dessert Program
While most restaurants have less than 3% of their revenues derived from the dessert case and have dismal “capture rates” (capture rates are the number of customers who opt for dessert, reported as a percentage), Seasons 52 has been reputed to have dessert capture rates of as much as 80%.
Rather than sell a 2-pound cake for $7.95 as many dated casual dining players still did, Seasons 52 offered an assortment of fresh desserts in a “taster” size for just $1.95. This was the casual dining restaurant equivalent of putting those candies and lifestyle magazines at the grocery store checkout – you couldn’t miss them and it is an easy indulgence.
What to Learn from the Seasons 52 Dessert Program
To my dismay, many casual dining players have tried to just knock-off the Seasons 52 program rather than learn the deeper lessons is offers about innovation, merchandising, impulse purchases, being first, and challenging conventional wisdom. Seasons 52 looked at desserts in casual dining how Steve Jobs looked at mobile phones and set out to not just do something “better,” but do something with fresh-eyed enthusiasm and entrepreneur-ism in the spirit of innovation.