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Dessert Specialty Restaurants

One way to lessen the risk of opening a large eatery is to choose a concept with a limited menu.

A growing trend in the limited menu arena is the appearance of the high-end dessert only eatery. Variations on this concept are showing up around the U.S.

Often this concept includes exotic dessert-themed drinks and utilizes the skills of a highly trained bartender, now known as a mixologist. These cocktails use fresh minced herbs and spices and contain exotic ingredients like star fruit and 72% Valrhona chocolate. Sometimes the glasses are rimmed with flavored salts from around the globe. Depending on the location, these drinks command prices from $8 to $14 in cities like Los Angeles and New York.

Pastry chefs opening their own high-end dessert places is a growing trend. It makes sense when you think about it. Pastry Chefs are being recognized as stars in their own right, with their names featured on menus alongside the names of the Executive Chef. Desserts are no longer a second thought hastily put together. They’re now wild fantasies on a plate, affordable luxuries that bring us back to wonderful childhood memories.

Dessert-only eateries need very little kitchen space. The components of desserts can be prepared ahead of time, and all that needs to be done during service for the most part is the plating. This translates into lower equipment budgets, less kitchen help, and less prep time versus a full-service restaurant.

Other benefits of this concept include high turns – people will eat their dessert and leave. You can turn tables quickly since the dishes won’t require much, if any, cooking time.

Average checks are kept fairly high with high drink and dessert prices. With drinks costing an average of at least $10 and desserts at around $10 - $12, the check for a table of two will easily equal $60.

So with the benefits of this concept, it’s no wonder that pastry chefs across the nation are giving it a go.

In Manhattan, NY it started with eateries like Chikalicious. Then came Room 4 Dessert.

This fall, Manhattan will see a spate of new dessert-only places opening up. This fall, the well-known pastry chef from Spice Market, Pichet Ong, is opening P.ONG, a pastry and ice cream eatery. Similarly, Sam Mason, former pastry chef of WD-50, Wylie Dufrense's restaurant, is opening an eatery in SOHO which will serve cocktails and have a menu that is 80% desserts.

Chocolate Cafes and Lounges are another iteration of this concept. Chocolate cafes are opening from Pennsylvania to Chicago. Mars opened Ethel’s Chocolate Lounge in the ritzy Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago earlier this year. Chocolate cafes have plush couches like Starbucks and are more approachable than traditional bars for many people.

South Bend Chocolate Company has around 10 chocolate cafes in Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio. While savory items like salads and sandwiches are available, the decadent chocolate drinks and desserts are what differentiates this concept from other eateries.

With the chocolate café concept, chocolate becomes the atmosphere. From the décor, to the menus, aroma, and even staff uniforms – it all speaks the luxury and comfort of chocolate.

Of course, desserts now include serving wonderful artisanal cheeses with homemade breads, varietal honeys, and spiced nuts. I had a cheese plate at Telepan recently, which included homemade zucchini bread along with the cheeses.

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