Ideas for daily specials?

Joined Sep 30, 2010
Hi all! This is my first post, but I've looked around here for a few months and have found so much great information. Thought I'd post about something, and see if anyone has any ideas.

I have a coffee shop/cafe where I serve very basic breakfast and lunch items. I am owner/operator, and have part time help, but I do all the cooking, prep, etc., so please keep this in mind in your responses (no sous chefs!). I make everything from scratch as much as possible, including my soups, breads, pastries and goodies, I oven roast all my meats for sandwiches, and I have a daily special or two in addition to my regular menu. That's where my question comes from.

I would love any "special of the day" ideas any of you may have. Some of the ones I've done to date are open faced meatloaf sandwiches with gravy, stroganoff, bbq chicken sandwiches, meatball subs, chicken cacciatore and taco salads. These are popular, but I'm looking to expand this rotation.

My limitiations are pretty simple: The specials need to be easy, without lots of steps for service. I try to keep the specials to the type of things that do well in a crock pot or oven for most of the day, without losing quality. I usually start making my special at about 9 am, as that's the lull I have in my schedule between breakfast and lunch, and I usually have about an hour of mostly uniterrupted time. Lunch starts at 11 am till 3 pm.

I'm not looking for recipes per se, as I can find those or create them. I'm just looking for ideas for the specials you may have experience with.

Thanks, and I sincerely look forward to hearing your ideas!
Joined Nov 5, 2007
Glad you finally decided to post, I imagine you'll get some useful info.

One thing might be a bratwurst served with a cup of cheddar beer soup.  That might be more of a Midwest type of thing, where are you located?  The brats could be slowly simmered in a beer and water broth, then grilled to brown them up a bit to order.

Or maybe a cold beef and soba noodle salad served with a cup of hot mushroom broth.  Basically beef broth with some soy sauce, sliced fresh mushrooms, possibly a slice or two of something like a Thai bird pepper ( HOT ) or jalapeno with some coarsely chopped green onion added at service time.

Something I fixed the other night might be good.  It was angel hair pasta with a pretty simple sauce.  Diced bacon cooked crisp, diced tomato thrown in and stirred just long enough to heat it up, then topped with basil leaves and parm.  This was just a dinner for my wife and I, not sure how that might translate to your situation.  It has been a LONG time since I worked in a restaurant kitchen.

Joined Jul 30, 2007
paninis, which the skys the limit on, enchilada casserole(stacked like lasagne with corn tortillas  rst. corn , black beans and cheeses, fennel sald, sw. caesar, grilled caesar with chicken, green chili pork chowder...any chowder chile corn, clam, soup and salad combos, pasta primavera, hot open faced turkey sandwich with mashers/gravy, of course, italian sausage sub or grinder...people love a soup and sandwich combo, or soup and salad,especially now that its getting cooler.....artisan personal style pizza on naan, fresh tuna with asian slaw and carrot sambal, tilapia spice rubbed and cooked on flatop with roasted sweet peppers, on bed of soft fresh pita or flatbread top with, feta, greek olives,served with baby organic greens with light greek dressing or a black olive vinaigrette.....really good hearty soups, chilis, s.w. turkey chili and stews are always popular.fruit and mixed greens salad with cranberries, walnuts and gorgonzola with a poppyseed dressing. simple stir frys, carne asada.....just to name a few...don't know what your market is or your price point, but these are all reasonably priced items...a nice bowl of steamed mussels(thai green curry perhaps?) is easy and inexpensive...just a few early thoughts...will send more along if you like


 3 plate special....different protein,  one pasta or grain and one veggie(roasted beets or root veggies, chopped salad etc)

veggie spring rolls

curried salmon cakes

 lasagna rollups with ricotta, spinach and artichokes

 just a few things that are tried and true for me
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Joined Feb 8, 2009
Open face hot turkey sandwiches, mashed potatoes, gravy. hot veg

Open face hot beef sandwiches

Chicken fried steak

Maryland fried chicken

Pork cutlet

Swiss Steak

Salisbury steak

Beef Stew in a bread bowl

Roast pork

Smothered pork chops

German style pork chops

Pork loin sliced with scalloped potatoes

Baked pit ham with scalloped potatoes

Spaghetti and meatballs

spaghetti and meat sauce garlic bread

Baked Lasagna

Chicken Parm with spaghetti

Chicken Alfredo with Caesar salad

Taco salad

Super Nachos

Cheese or Chicken Ench, Charro beans, Spanish Rice

Super Burrito

Chicken or beef Fajitas rice and beans

Sweet and sour chix with white rice egg roll

Cheese and chicken Quesadillas

Bbq Chicken potato salad and corn on the cobb

Homemade fried chicken strips, fries and cole slaw

Fish and chips cole slaw

seafood platter w/clams, shrimp and fish

Sweet and sour meatballs over white rice

Crispy chicken Caesar salad
Joined Apr 3, 2010
I am not about to tell you what to make. You have been in business long enough to know and keep track of what your customers like. What I will tell you is try and do things that later if left over can be a component part of another dish. Give them good portions of correctly prepared food This eliminates leftovers, and that is a big part of your profit and food cost picture. Since you are a coffee shop type operation, stay away from hi cost items or gourmet type item.. Do things that can be prepared and served quickly, so seats will turn over. Look to see what competition is doing. In this day and age feature a diet type dish for weight watchers.
Joined Jan 2, 2007
And don't forget vegetarians, they can be particularly evil if there's nothing on the menu for them!
Joined Jul 30, 2007
just one more thought......

if its wintertime, think comfort food...pot pies(updated), shepherds pie, mac and cheese(not your mother's) etc.......winter =comfort...when its all cold and icky outside, people just love, love love(as you most probably know) something warm and steamy, gooey, potatoey, and hearty...we are in the same boat as i do all my own prep, and sous, no team of cooks, just me and the dishwasher...i'm always looking for good/different things to do with food, but that do not take an offensive amount of time to prep, or expensive to veal stock, for instance...who does that? 

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Joined Jul 11, 2011
An awesome Panini to run is the ABC Panini. Grilled chicken breast, avocado, bacon, roasted red peppers, brie cheese, and chipotle aioli on ciabatta bread in the Panini press give it a try I think its amazing 
Joined Dec 1, 2016
Hi There!

     Well I have been doing the same thing and I have found that if something for free always works.  Of course I use things that don't hit us hard.  We are the same we make just about everything in house, I don't have all those chefs either.  I think the only difference is that we are BBQ.  I've got three different sizes in our sandwiches, the plates, burritos and so on.  I know for a fact that even the fountain drinks work the benefit for you would be that the fountain drinks per 16 oz cup is about .04 cents.  I sat down and put down the cost of all the foods what brought more profit and less in cost works the best.  As long as the word free is involved......I'm going to look for idea's for the twelve days before Christmas.
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