Texas Pete
Texas Pete

Turning up the Heat on Signature Sauces

The secret sauce for restaurant brand loyalty and extra profit.

In the past, spicy foods appealed to only a few diners, but in the last few years, spicy flavors have emerged as fan favorites across the industry. Datassential reports that nearly 80 percent of Americans say they like spicy foods, while 71 percent of restaurants have at least one menu item called out as “spicy.” The recent surge is being driven by younger consumers, whose preference for spicy dishes is changing the national palate.

Spicy signature sauces can serve as a powerful differentiator of restaurants in a crowded market, as well as a tool for operational efficiency. Craveable signature sauces can help restaurants generate guest loyalty while also giving consumers a chance to customize dishes to suit their own flavor and heat preferences. 

Even more importantly for restaurant leaders, signature hot sauces can help restaurants increase sales at a time when profit margins are typically thin. By adding perceived value to menu items, restaurants can upcharge for signature sauces, which they might typically give away. A sauce help can give a burger, for example, the flair, and pricing, of a premium offering. When added to the menu as an upcharge, a signature sauce becomes a lucrative asset for operators for upscaling a menu item, a unique salad dressing and as a shareable dip for appetizers.

“Let’s say you operate a 20-unit chain, and you add just two signature sauces,” says Dan Plunkett, vice president of foodservice sales at Garner Foods, the makers of Texas Pete Hot Sauce. “You sell 100 servings of each sauce a day in every one of your 20 restaurants at a price of 50 cents each. That can generate $720,000 new revenue a year, not counting the cost of the ingredients and labor. Offer three signature sauces using the same criteria and that number goes to more than $1 million a year in added income.”

Requiring just a few common ingredients that many restaurants already have on hand and with minimal labor, signature sauces are easy to create. For example, Datassential says that Sriracha aioli has grown as a signature sauce by 250 percent in just four years. Plunkett says the recipe can be as simple as whisking mayo, honey, and CHA! by Texas Pete Sriracha Sauce. Texas Pete Original Hot Sauce and ranch dressing is even more simple. Either can be a craveable sauce that can be applied to a grilled or fried chicken sandwich, a burger, a salmon entrée or as a dipping sauce for appetizers or a bar menu. Texas Pete has developed more than a dozen trending signature sauces for foodservice operators that can upsell a menu item and be packaged in plastic ramekins for take-out or delivery. 

“Hot sauce is one of the most versatile ingredients in an operator’s kitchen, and it’s one of the best-loved flavors,” Plunkett says. “The opportunity to leverage craveability by using signature sauces is a powerful message, so we’re sharing it nationwide. Charging extra for condiments that you typically give away is a game-changer, and the variety of spicy flavors Texas Pete can provide can be a major business-building strategy for operators.”