Why is the restaurant salad bar so hot again? How does a traditional buffet become the next exciting foodservice trend? We give credit to creative menu engineering and innovative salad bar setup ideas. The remarkable transition from ordinary to extraordinary is happening in all types of settings.
From five-star dining rooms to drive-through windows, restaurants are revitalizing this self-serve classic and inspiring a fresh round of salad bar trends. Consumers on a never-ending quest for healthier options are showing their appreciation with snaps, tweets and shares all across social media.
Updating the Restaurant Salad Bar: 8 Fresh Ideas
If you already offer customers a fresh salad bar, you know how important it is to serve your best. If you’re thinking about adding this versatile station to your dining room, you want a setup that sets you apart from the competition.
These eight salad bar ideas for restaurants work with existing buffets and new serving stations.
1. Impress With Fresh Variety
Make every customer’s trip to the salad bar memorable by offering a bounty of fresh ingredients. Ruby Tuesday recently rebranded its restaurants as destinations for salad lovers by expanding its Garden Bar concept. Take a cue from the chain’s success, and give your customers an impressive variety of salad bar options.
2. Dress With In-House Recipes
Cater to different tastes and dietary preferences with housemade dressings blended in your restaurant kitchen. Incorporate signature in-house dressings into branding and marketing strategies too. It could lead to your own line of delicious salad dressings featured on local market shelves.
3. Put Pasta on the Menu
Pasta salads are always customer favorites, and they pair perfectly with traditional leafy greens. Refresh these salad bar standards with healthy ingredients like whole grain pastas tossed with broccoli and feta or fresh melon and grilled chicken breast. Pasta salads also serve well as a base for locally sourced seasonal produce.
4. Showcase Caesar Salads
The original is iconic, but there are so many ways to recreate the Caesar salad. Renew customer appreciation for this classic by grilling fresh romaine hearts or substituting yogurt for yolks. Turn your original Caesar into a signature salad with a toss of handcrafted croutons and a drizzle of housemade dressing.
5. Serve Salads as Comfort Food
Warm up appetites with a salad bar that brings back favorite food memories. Surprise and delight with comforting salad combinations like creamy macaroni and crisp bacon or sliced potatoes and boiled eggs. Turning familiar dishes into new salad bar classics turns first-time guests into loyal customers.
6. Toss With a Touch of Elegance
A restaurant salad bar can easily rise to the occasion in a fine dining setting. Complement white table cloth service with an elegant salad buffet featuring an array of fancy salad bar ingredients. Offer luxurious extras like thin-sliced beef tenderloin, lump crab meat or fresh peeled shrimp.
7. Side With Housemade Soups
Roll out the steam table, and side the salad buffet with a housemade soup bar featuring chowder and minestrone. Add another cold table, and stock it with chilled gazpacho and vichyssoise. Cost-effective soups and salads make a perfect pairing that works especially well for designing health-conscious menus.
8. Elevate Salads to Entrees
Upgrade the salad options on your buffet from traditional sides to enticing entrees. Transition lunch and dinner dishes to the salad bar by recreating them on beds of premium produce. Keep your main-course salads fresh and customer interest high by rotating seasonal salad ingredients.
Spotlighting New Ideas
A restaurant’s salad bar offers a unique stage for showing off culinary talent and a commitment to healthy menu engineering. It’s a cost-effective service that can easily change to reflect the seasons or the latest food trends. You have to applaud the staying power of a tradition that adapts so well to an ever-changing industry.
We applaud your talent for adapting to changes too. As a foodservice professional, you keep up with innovations that are challenging and rewarding. It’s our pleasure to spotlight new ideas that you can turn into successful restaurant business strategies. Our teams here at Boggiatto Produce are proud to be at your service.