What is your whale?

Everyone has seen the Food Shows where Adam Richman goes to a restaurant and eats the 12 pound hamburger or the 8 pound burrito, or some over the top challenge that a mere mortal could not achieve. And truth be told, 99% of the people who visit those restaurants on a regular basis are not there to complete the over the top challenge of a ridiculous dish. But, the restaurant doesn’t care. All they want is for people to talk about it in the community so that the word of mouth makes people come in.

             We had a Pirate bar and created a sandwich called a “Shipwreck Burger”. It was two grilled cheese sandwiches for the buns, a half pound burger, a fried egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato, barbeque sauce, onion rings and pickles, all held together with a twelve inch bamboo skewer. It was huge and we created a challenge around finishing it in a certain time limit. If they did, they got a T-shirt proclaiming their gastronomic accomplishment. And we put their time and name on a plaque. Seems rather simple. They ate a burger and had fun. And they paid for a $20.00 burger. Additionally, when we carried it through the dining room, everyone looked.

             But, they wore their shirt proudly around town. They told their friends about the adventure. They had bragging rights and it created word of mouth. In the business, it’s called having a “whale” on the menu. Something that is not intended to be ordered frequently, but something that is so over the top that people talk about it. True to form, I introduced myself one time and the person saw the restaurant name and said, “wait, you’re the guys with the crazy huge burger that’s impossible to eat”. Mission accomplished. The real secret was that we didn’t sell that many of the burger. But we didn’t have to, everyone talked about it.

             We introduced an item at one of our restaurants that features great jumbo wings. It was a “Dingy of Wings” . Ten dozen wings with sauces in a Large Plastic Dingy for like $135. And for an additional $400, you could keep the dingy! When you highlight that on the menu, it makes everything else look like a bargain. But it gets the conversation started. Don’t spend $135 for the wings, “Wow. A dozen wings is only $18.00”. What’s your whale that gets everyone talking about you and makes all the other dishes seem like a bargain?

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