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IdeaBar: The Secret Menu Item

I2m_hardrockcafe_mrluckys There is a restaurant at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas called Mr. Lucky’s 24/7.  As the name suggests, it’s open all the time every day – but that’s hardly unique in Las Vegas.  Their menu is like most other menus at cafe restaurants in hotels … serving the usual entrees coupled with the typical Las Vegas style buffets with every kind of food you can imagine.  In a town like Vegas, it’s tough to stand out for food.  But what everyone who has been to Vegas knows about Mr. Lucky’s is that there is a special item not on the menu.  The "Gambler’s Special" is a plate that includes a steak, three grilled shrimp, a choice of potato or broccoli, and a salad for $7.77 … and only available for those that know to ask for it.  So here’s the question: how many people do you think will go out of their way to get to Las Vegas, go to the Hard Rock Cafe, and make their way to Mr. Lucky’s just to order that hidden menu item that is only available to those who know to ask for it?  Based on the reviews, I’m guessing more than a few.  This is the kind of buzz marketing that helps restaurants stand out.  It’s the kind of thing people talk about.  It’s the kind of thing that makes me dedicate an entire blog post to a restaurant that probably would otherwise be indistinguishable from any other Las Vegas cafe on or off the strip.  Now think outside of the restaurant business.  How much buzz could you drive by offering something outside of your usual "menu" that only the initiated customers knew to ask for?  What could you do with a secret menu item?

About the Idea Bar:

Working in a creative team, the life of our business is new ideas.  We come up with them every day for clients, but sometimes there are ideas that just don’t fit a client.  They are too big, too different, or just not quite right.  Inspired by my colleague John Bell, the IdeaBar is a category of posts that are meant to be "open source" and offer new ideas for marketing.  Read more IdeaBar posts on this blog.

1 thought on “IdeaBar: The Secret Menu Item”

  1. Interestingly a few restaurants in London have started this practice – apart from anything else it seems to generate PR – as the journalist is made to look a little more informed and influential if they can mention an off-menu item or two. In the same way it obviously generates word of mouth comment as sharing the information rewards the teller as well as the hearer (in the way that sharing a good joke is rewarding to both parties).

    The restaurant chain Wagamama in the UK has an interesting variant: green tea is not on the menu but if you ask for it they bring it to you free.

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