Sharing Plates: A Consumer Trend That’s Hurting Restaurant Business

Jan 02, 2024

According to the James Beard Foundation, in 2023, nearly half of restaurants saw decreased check averages and profits, with a 5.3% increase in dining-out costs. To save money, 21% of diners shared meals in 2022, and many plan to continue. This practice hurts restaurants’ bottom line since it reduces individual check sizes.

How are Restaurants Combatting This?

Restaurants are navigating a delicate balance between encouraging customers to order more while accommodating those who prefer sharing dishes or sticking to smaller portions. Their tactics, from creating less shareable dishes to adjusting portion sizes and prices, reflect the challenge of maintaining profits in an evolving dining landscape.

Some restaurants, for example, adapt by charging more for shareable dishes, like Calissa, while others, like Easy Bistro and Bar, modify offerings to encourage ordering additional sides when sharing entrees.

Other Ways to Combat Plate Sharing

Here are some more tactics restaurants might use to discourage plate-sharing:

Pricing Strategies: Adjust pricing to make individual orders more attractive or create incentives for ordering individually rather than sharing.

Menu Language: Use menu descriptions that emphasize individual portions or specify that certain items are unsuitable for sharing. Highlight the exclusivity or uniqueness of a dish to encourage individual orders.

Staff Guidance: Train servers to gently discourage sharing by subtly recommending individual dishes or highlighting the restaurant’s specialty items meant for one person.

shareable dishes

Separate Components:
Serve dishes with components that are difficult to divide or present sides separately, encouraging guests to order their own complete meals.

Visual Presentation: Present dishes in a way that doesn’t lend itself easily to sharing, whether through plating or serving methods.

Communication with Kitchen: Instruct the kitchen not to modify shared dishes to accommodate multiple plates, such as splitting a shared dish onto separate plates or adding extra components for sharing.

Restaurants may implement a combination of these strategies to gently steer customers toward individual orders without explicitly forbidding plate-sharing, aiming to maintain a positive dining experience while maximizing revenue.