Want to Boost Check Averages? Try These Tips

April 14, 2015

Discover how to build your sales with simple add-ons, sides, snacks, and desserts. We’ve gathered 48 of the best sales builders for you. They’re easy to implement and will fatten your check averages.

All it takes to build sales is a little imagination, particularly in those areas of the menu that lie outside the traditional main course. Paying attention to “periphery” items like side dishes, desserts, and snacks and nibbles—as well add-ons like premium salad toppings or items for nontraditional dayparts—can go a long way toward boosting check averages and giving customers the variety and price point they’re looking for.

Snacks & Bar Bites

Consider these easy-to-prepare finger foods and appetizers:

  1. Hummus or other spreads

  2. Quick-serve nibbles like nuts, housemade chips, marinated olives

  3. Hot pretzel with mustard or queso cheese

  4. Chilled or hot shrimp by the piece

  5. Nori rolls (similar to sushi)

  6. Slice of quiche or savory tart

  7. Fruit and cheese and/or meat plates

  8. Crudités

  9. Housemade pickles

  10. Flavored popcorn

  11. Meatballs

  12. Stuffed dates

Get Started: Hot Pockets® make for delicious snacks and appetizers, as well as add-ons to soup and salad.

À la Carte Side Dishes

These individual side dishes or shareables for the table are trending now:

  1. Broccolini

  2. Specialty or seasoned fries (duck fat fried, accompanied by dipping sauce)

  3. Sautéed or roasted mushrooms

  4. Cauliflower or Brussels sprouts

  5. Gratins (mac and cheese, potato)

  6. Choice of three sides as a main plate or table share

  7. Farro, quinoa, or other grain pilaf

  8. Salt roasted, whipped, or smashed potatoes

  9. Risotto

  10. Flavored corn on the cob

  11. Asparagus or broccoli with hollandaise

  12. Creamed spinach or kale 

Get Started: Look to Stouffer’s® for menu-ready side dishes such as Scalloped Potatoes and Yams & Apples.


Although classic comfort desserts are always in style, here’s what’s popular now:

  1. Beignets or doughnuts

  2. Dessert for two (made-to-order bread pudding, supersize ice cream sundae)

  3. Cookies or chocolates for sharing or take-home

  4. Specialty coffee or tea beverages (Irish coffee, chai latte)

  5. Flavored or specialty cheesecake (mascarpone, peanut butter chocolate chip)

  6. Old-fashioned carrot cake

  7. Root beer float

  8. Panna cotta, custard, and mousse

  9. Roasted or grilled fruit

  10. Ice cream sampler

  11. Pineapple upside-down cake

  12. Red velvet cake, brownie, or cupcake

Did You Know? Nestlé dessert toppings, including Nestlé® Crunch® Candy Pieces and Butterfinger® Candy Pieces, add flavor, texture, and a premium upgrade to confections of all types, including ice cream specialties, baked goods and more.


Upgrades, additions, and tweaks you can charge a little extra for:

  1. À la carte bread and signature spread (focaccia and white bean dip, biscuits, and pimento cheese)

  2. Premium additions to sandwiches and burgers (prosciutto or bacon, caramelized onions, fried egg)

  3. Upgraded side salad (such as a small Caesar or mini wedge salad) with an entrée or sandwich

  4. Tableside or to-order preparation (made-to-order guacamole, freshly squeezed juice)

  5. Mix-ins for a shake or malted

  6. Wine pairings for specific menu items

  7. Salads, antipasto, and other prepared foods to-go, from a grab-and-go case or to order

  8. Cooked and/or protein toppings for salad (grilled chicken, salmon, or shrimp; thick-cut bacon, anchovies)

  9. Cut meats or cold cuts and cheeses at retail, from a “butcher shop” service or deli style

  10. Housemade or local/artisanal soda and other refreshers

  11. Specialty sauces or crusts (such as blue cheese) as an add-on for a steak or grilled fish

  12. Limited mid-afternoon or late-night menu

Plate of cheesecake

Dessert Excitement: Upgrade the Favorites

Put a cherry on top of your profits with desserts that appeal to traditional tastes, while pleasing adventurous eaters too. Discover our tips that update classic desserts for every season.