Here’s Why Restaurants Are Taking Your Favorite Item off the Menu

An all-time staple is being removed from menus across the country. Find out what it is and why it's so hard to order these days.

Insulted woman at table with young man using tabletPhoto: Shutterstock / CREATISTA

“Are you kidding? No way! Why did they take that off the menu?”

If you’re anything like me, you’ve uttered those words—most likely to a college-aged server who has little to no regard for the feeling of despair settling in your stomach. It’s true, my friends. The menu staple that turned any meal into a party…the item that everyone at the table eagerly anticipated…the granddaddy of all things deep-fried is becoming extinct. I’m talking, of course, about the appetizer sampler platter.

The Reason Sampler Platters Are Going Extinct

“We took our sampler off the menu at many locations because it became a bottleneck for the kitchen,” says Brandon Wright, co-owner of Hamburger Mary’s International. “Some of the items on the platter had different cooking times, which took a lot of effort to coordinate. This often resulted in longer ticket times.” Chef Erik Mahr of Edgewater Supper Club-Pewaukee Lake agrees. “The added stress on the kitchen staff was my main reason for not including sampler platters on our menu,” explains the Wisconsin chef. “Additionally, the platters tend to lower overall appetizer sales.”

Profit is another reason these favorites are headed the way of the dinosaur. While visiting a steakhouse recently, I asked my server why the appetizer platter was missing from the menu. “They can’t figure out to how to make money on them,” she said. “People kept ordering the platters, but the house was losing money on them.” It’s clear that it can be difficult to offer a decent variety of appetizers on one plate without charging customers the proverbial arm and leg.

Here’s What to Order Instead

Are folks craving the return of the platter? “We haven’t gotten many complaints as we still have a lot of appetizer options,” adds Wright. “Large parties order multiple items and share them. We can quickly bring our guests great food at a great price. It’s a win-win.”

I, for one, will miss my buddy the sampler platter. Always there to kick off a casual meal, a constant companion during football-watching season and a no-fail solution when picky eaters rain on my parade, the appetizer sampler platter will remain dear to my heart (and stomach). Rest in deep-fried peace, my friend, rest in deep-fried peace.

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Mark Hagen
The former owner of his own catering business, Mark’s been part of the Taste of Home team for the past 20 years. His work has also appeared in Quick Cooking, Light & Tasty and Country Woman magazines as well as in various Pillsbury and Betty Crocker cookbooks. When he’s not spending time in the kitchen with his Westie, Rocco, he’s working in his yard, doing stand-up comedy or devouring a platter of nachos. (Most likely the latter.)