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Whether you need inspiration for a new ice cream shop or you’re cooling on your existing menu, it’s important to take time to test out new restaurant menu ideas.
You’ll want items that balance profitability with popularity and consistently deliver on customer expectations while also expressing the uniqueness of your brand. That’s why we’ve put together tips to help you nail your new ice cream shop menu.
Engineer your menu to balance popularity with profitability
Give the people what they want while boosting your bottom line. Here are a few ideas to help you strike that balance:
1. Master the basics
Ice cream can be temperamental.
Making, storing and serving it requires walking a fine temperature tightrope. No amount of creativity can fix a scoop that’s soupy or rock hard.
Nail the ice cream first, before focusing on other items such as homemade waffle cones, cookies, brownies, etc. Anything you’re investing time and money in should provide returns that justify the costs.
Don’t be afraid to pull those extra items if your customers aren’t interested. Otherwise, you’ll end up tossing out unsold inventory.
2. Look at modifiers and add-ons
Cones, toppings, and other add-ons can be a great, low-cost way to pad your margins.
But you’ll need to strike a balance. You don’t want to be that place that nickels and dimes patrons with ridiculous upcharges. Look at what local and regional competitors charge for cones and other add-ons.
3. Calculate your costs
Measuring profitability starts with controlling costs — and controlling your costs starts with consistently calculating them.
A focus on profitability doesn’t mean that every new menu item has to be a heavy-lifting money maker. Remember, you have to strike a pricing balance— but if you can dig out costs while maintaining prices, there’s your profit bump.
It all starts with a strong, consistent data foundation. For the restaurant industry, this means invoice processing automation. These tools, such as xtraCHEF by Toast, digitize critical pricing details within your invoices, freeing up time to ideate new ice cream flavors and toppings.
Ice cream is a classic dessert that never seems to go out of style – prepare your ice cream parlor dreams with this business plan template.
Effective ice cream shop menu examples
Embrace regional favorites — even if they’re not your own
There are tons of culinary peculiarities across the country when it comes to ice cream. Don’t be afraid to embrace some of these regional flavors. You may find that they resonate in your area, and that you gain a loyal customer base of transplants!
One such example is the Blue Moon Ice Cream from The Chocolate Shoppe. It’s a Michigan favorite, sold at Yogi’s Pizzeria and Ice Cream Emporium in Nashville, TN.
Give customers a DIY experience
It could be “make your own sundae” or some other DIY frozen dairy idea. And you can monetize the experience with a slight upcharge. Maybe a regular sundae is $3 while a DIY version is $5 or even $6. Again, balance is key.
Here’s a great example of a DIY bar…Egger’s Ice Cream Parlor.
Offer other sweet treats
If you think there’s an appetite for products other than ice cream, test them out as means of monetization. An easy entry point is to partner up with other sweet sellers. See if they'll sell to you at a markdown, and then you can mark up to achieve your own bit of margin.
Here’s an example of expanding your product offering without taking on a ton of risk. Cary Dairy Ice Cream Cafe partnered with local Riverside Bakery to bring in some new sweet treats.
Get creative with what you can freeze
You’ve got the freezers — why not use them to test frozen menu offerings beside ice cream? There are tons of options available in fruits alone. You can freeze bananas, strawberries, or even apples.
Here’s an example of Sloan’s Ice Cream selling a frozen candied apple.
Consider coffee to boost sales
Maybe your ice cream sales skew toward kids. Sales are sales, but if you find that older customers aren’t imbibing very often, it may be worth adding more adult items like coffee.
Therapy Ice Cream and Coffee Bar has leaned all the way into the coffee scene.
Make it your own
If you’re going to build an ice cream shop that lasts, you'll need to take control of your costs while testing new ideas to boost sales. Mixing up menu items can keep folks coming back to your shop week after week.
Looking for more support with your ice cream shop? Don’t miss On the Line’s article on how to open an ice cream shop, with tons of ideas for nailing your new business from the get-go.
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