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The holiday season is a busy time for the hospitality industry, with people booking festive restaurant lunches with their friends and parties for the office, or just dining out to take a break from shopping and decorating. We know the holidays are all about sharing and looking forward to the new year — when one of the most popular resolutions is to lose weight.

What happens when the spirit of sharing combines with that looming resolution? Diners are more likely to split an entree than order individual items. That creates a paradox of lower checks during a restaurant's busiest season.

Foodservice operators can help both their patrons' waistlines and their bottom lines by encouraging diners to "take half home." Offering a discount or other promotion to anyone who has half of his or her entrée boxed for take-home immediately when served not only avoids the dreaded sharing of one dish, but also promotes healthy eating habits for customers.

Numerous commercial weight-loss programs have long encouraged portion control and dropping out of the "clean-plate club." They've removed any negative connotations of not consuming massive amounts of food at one sitting. At the same time, diners expect value for their restaurant dollar and can feel slighted if served smaller portions. Take Half Home, a copyrighted program of MenuTrinfo, is a win-win for everyone.

Have your customers feel proud of their healthier choice

Diners feel better now by eating a smaller portion at this meal. They feel better tomorrow enjoying the second half of the entrée at home or work, without a lot of cooking or cleaning up. They feel proud that they have taken a step toward better health, and happy that they saved money on the next day's meal. Restaurant operators — and waitstaff — are happy that they paid for — and tipped on — an entire order, not just half.

Restaurants from Arizona to Wisconsin have already offered Take Half Home programs. The Oconto County Public Health Department promoted the idea in April, as part of National Health Month. Establishments in the Wisconsin county offered coupons for 10 percent off the next entrée to participating diners. A pilot Take Half Home program was also part of the effort to create a healthier Pima County, Ariz., one of my personal favorite clients.

Campaigns that target the behavior of the dining public are always more powerful when a number of restaurants in a city or region participate. The message is amplified across many concepts to many types of diners. Patrons may still want to share this holiday season, but come January, they just might thank you for it.

Effect their bottom line without hurting yours

In fact, January is the perfect time to also launch this type of promotion.

With three of the top 10 menu trends related to healthy eating this might just be the perfect promotion for your menu in Q1.

For more information about Take Half Home or any other programs offered by my gang let me know. Leave a comment here or reach out to me with an email. I love helping you make a huge difference in what your patrons eat and effect their bottom line without hurting yours!

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Betsy Craig
Betsy Craig brings 20 years of food service industry experience to MenuTrinfo, LLC a menu nutritional labeling Company. Her commitment to the betterment of the food industry and her desire to affect the dining public are the driving forces behind her new company Kitchens with Confidence, LLC.
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