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10 BEST and Most Profitable Lounge Foods and Menu Items

Justin GuinnAuthor


Menu Engineering Course

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What are the most profitable lounge foods?

Most Profitable Lounge Foods and Menu Items

Food may not be the first thing guests think about regarding your lounge — but it could be. 

Lounge owners and operators can benefit from an enticing menu to accompany their vibes, drinks, and other lounge attractions. Of course, if you’re offering a menu, it should feature profitable lounge food.

Cost-effective ingredients, creative recipes, strategic pricing, and customer preferences play a crucial role in maximizing the profitability of lounge menu items. Whether it's sandwiches and burgers, fried goods, or unique cuisine specialities, the most profitable lounge foods can help menus strike a balance between popularity and profitability.

In this article, we'll explore the key ingredients of sustained lounge profitability, delve into individual lounge menu item profitability, and explain how to analyze menu items to calculate plate costs, menu prices, and overall profitability.


Restaurant Cost Control Guide


What is a lounge?

A lounge is a concept that combines the comfort of a living room with the luxury of a high-end bar or restaurant. Typically, a lounge has a sophisticated atmosphere and a relaxed ambiance, with low lighting, comfortable seating, and subtle music. Lounges often serve small plates, snacks, and drinks that can be enjoyed for an extended period of time.

Unlike bars that focus on drinks and music or restaurants that focus on full meals, lounges offer a unique experience that combines both. The goal of lounges is to create a space where guests can socialize, unwind, and enjoy their time in a comfortable environment.

Key ingredients of sustained lounge profitability

Revving up profitability in a lounge can be easier than you think. Here are the key factors to consider when developing your menu of profitable lounge foods:

  1. Cost-effective ingredients: Like any kitchen space, lounges must utilize cost-effective ingredients in order to maximize profits on their menu items. 

  2. Quality and presentation: The appearance and taste of lounge foods play a pivotal role. Using fresh and high-quality ingredients coupled with appealing presentation can justify premium pricing and help enhance profitability.

  3. Unique creations: Differentiate your lounge by offering unique, signature creations. Consider integrating themes into your menu items based on where you’re setting up your truck.


Restaurant Operator Insights Report


Achieving success with strategic menu item pricing

Proper pricing is essential to ensure profitability in your lounge. Here are some tactics to consider when setting or revamping your lounge prices.

  1. Cost analysis: Understand the cost of ingredients, labor, and overhead to establish a baseline price. Pricing should not only cover costs but also allow for a healthy profit margin.

  2. Competitive analysis: Research local competitors to determine what they charge for similar lounge foods and restaurant menu items. Price competitively while showcasing the quality and uniqueness of your offerings.

  3. Multiple price tiers: Offer a range of prices to cater to different customer segments. Include premium, mid-range, and budget-friendly options, allowing customers to choose based on their level of hunger, time to dine, and budget.

Most profitable lounge foods

Here are some of the most profitable lounge foods that can elevate your lounge's success and boost your bottom line:

  1. Finger foods: Lounges offer an array of finger foods like sliders, mini hotdogs, and chicken wings, dips like hummus, salsas, and guac, and finger sandwiches that guests can easily pop into their mouths.

  2. Charcuterie boards: A well-crafted charcuterie board with meats, cheeses, nuts, fruits, and crackers is an excellent option for lounges. This display is not only tasty but also aesthetically pleasing and designed for sharing, making it a popular option to order with friends or groups.

  3. Global cuisine: Modern lounges often offer interesting takes on global cuisine. For example, creative dishes like Japanese-style fried chicken or Korean BBQ pork sliders can inspire guests to try new flavors.

  4. Bulk/group meals: Operators can lean into the more casual, intimate nature of lounges and offer larger dishes that are meant to be shared by groups of 2 or more customers. This could include large proteins, such as roasted pork shoulders or whole fishes, with eating accouterments, sauces, and more.

  5. Cocktails and mocktails: In contrast to other bars and restaurants, lounges can feature a cocktail and mocktail program that emphasizes high-quality ingredients and creative presentations.

By focusing on the most profitable lounge foods and implementing strategic pricing, lounge operators can tap into a prosperous market and ensure sustained profitability. 

With the right mix of cost-effective ingredients, quality, creativity, pricing, and the selection of profitable lounge foods, your lounge can thrive and meet customer demands in the long term.

Optimizing lounge operations with the right blend of tech and service models

Offering the right lounge foods can make a significant impact on the profitability of your business. Incorporating these most profitable lounge foods into your menu may help encourage more profitability from your sales.

Here are a few other ways to optimize your lounge profitability via restaurant cost breakdowns, restaurant technology, and optimized service models.

Adjust what goes on your plate 

Calculating plate costs can show you exactly the costs and profit margins for individual menu items. It’s the combination of recipe cost, portion costs, and individual ingredient costs. It can help bar and lounge owners see exactly how each component is contributing to the overall profitability of a dish or drink — making it easier to achieve an ideal balance between portions and profits.

Remove popular items that’ve lost profitability

If plate costs become too high, lounge operators should be careful not to fall into a trap of sentimentality. Underbelly Hospitality Group realized that the cost of chicken had risen dramatically, fluctuating between 30 and 40 percent higher than usual. Rather than sacrifice the quality or portion size of their famed, crowd-pleaser wings, they pulled them entirely.

Get more efficient with scheduling

More staff doesn’t equal better service. Too many team members and not enough work leads to complacency. Then everyone loses — staff members and their tips and engagement, customers missing out on great experiences, and your ballooned labor costs

Restaurant scheduling software that’s integrated with payroll software can help you take control of your weekly staff schedule and associated costs. 

Implement the New Steps of Service

What if a single adjustment could improve guest and employee experiences while saving on labor costs? Sounds too good to be true until you dive into the New Steps of Service — with streamlined service that can empower guests to order and pay at the table whenever they like. The New Steps of Service ROI Calculator can quantify potential impacts on your labor costs and operational efficiency.

Leverage granular reporting within your restaurant software

Invoice processing automation is an automated tool that digitizes critical invoice line-item data. 

Having this ingredient pricing data readily available can simplify your ability to calculate COGS, monitor price fluctuations, and take action on the COGS side of your ongoing restaurant cost breakdowns.

Just like with invoice automation for food costs, scheduling and payroll and team management tools can help automate and simplify labor cost calculations. 

You likely don’t have time to manually calculate individual payrolls — and you definitely don’t have time to add all that up to get your cumulative labor costs. An easy-to-use payroll and team management software gives you transparency and visibility into fluctuations in your weekly labor costs, tip pooling breakdowns, payroll taxes, and deductions. 


Restaurant Invoice Automation Guide


Where to go from here

Combining Toast and xtraCHEF can help all types of restaurants access reports on daily sales, costs, and how they’re impacting profitability.

Toast Payroll and Team Management, as well as Scheduling, powered by Sling, work together to uncover valuable labor trends so you can make better decisions.

xtraCHEF by Toast empowers you to drill into line-item level detail for every ingredient on each of your supplier invoices.

Together, these tools can automate and simplify the process of creating restaurant cost breakdowns.

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