5 Profitable Menu Items for Your Food Business

If you’re opening a quick-service restaurant or café, it can be difficult to get a sense of what will and won’t sell — and by investing too much of your resources and money into developing unpopular menu items, you can kiss your profits goodbye. Here’s a look at some no-brainer items that you can offer for a great mark-up:


If you have a liquor license, you’re in luck: The average markup for a glass of wine is between 200% and 600%; for a glass of beer, the typical markup is 500% to 600%. It’s one of the most popular purchases when dining out, too: The average American spends $1 out of every $100 on alcohol purchases, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Getting a liquor license can be a hassle in some states, but it can help you boost your revenues significantly.

Tea and coffee

Tea and coffee only cost you around 5 to 7 cents per serving, yet you can sell each cup for between $1 and $2 (or more, depending on your location). For sit-down restaurants, it’s customary to offer free refills on coffee, and with such a high markup, it’s not likely to hurt your bottom line. If you offer drinks to go, you might also consider offering a discount for customers who bring their own mugs — businesses often spend more on disposable cups than they do on the drinks themselves.


Provided that your business has a pizza oven, pizzas are one of the most profitable menu items that you can make. Pizza ingredients are all very low cost: Dough (flour and yeast), tomato sauce, and cheese, with add-on toppings available for additional cost. The ingredients cost for a large pizza averages around $4, while you can sell the item for upwards of $15.


Pasta dishes are a win in terms of both labor and ingredients cost. Unless you make fresh pasta in-house (which you can charge a premium for), your pasta dish will take just a few minutes to prepare from scratch. And while a vegetarian pasta dish will only cost you a couple of dollars at most in ingredients, your patrons are used to paying between $10 and $20 for a plated entrée.


Soup is one of the simplest dishes to prepare for a large crowd. By preparing a large vat or two of soup each day, you can sell each bowl for $5 — even though your ingredients costs may be less than $0.50 per bowl. For even more cost-savings, focus on building a repertoire of delicious bean soups, such as lentil or black bean, which cost just pennies per serve.

Image Credit: madame.furie