Embracing a seasonal menu is a great way for your restaurant to keep up with restaurant industry trends while being interesting to your guests and staff. Not to forget, seasonal menus give you an opportunity to increase business. Customers love the opportunity to try new limited time items, so giving a seasonal style of menu helps.
Seasonal food and drink offerings can add an important, dynamic element to your existing menu options in a number of ways… and we’ll let those ways convince you of the benefits your restaurant could see.
1. Marketing and new business opportunities
Changing the menu with the seasons can be a great driver for business – up to four times a year there are new opportunities for bringing in guests with special, seasonal menu options. Your loyal guests will renew their love of your establishment with the limited-time offerings, and new guests could be inspired to come in because of the seasonal connection.
This is also a good reason to leverage social media. If there’s anything that thrives on social media, it’s a time-sensitive message designed to get people involved. When you create a Facebook post about how your new menu is moving quickly, and people back up the statement by praising your food, others will want to take part in this limited-time opportunity. Many restaurant goers look to restaurants to have options for those seasonal choices. Allowing specialty menus when there are the bigger seasonal holidays gives the restaurant the option to center more buzz around that menu and holiday. Social Media is the perfect way to get some of this important information across and gives restaurants a fun way to make these menus heard.
2. Staff engagement
Switching up the menu on a seasonal basis, even if only for weekly or nightly specials, gives your kitchen team the chance to use new ingredients, experiment with new preparation techniques, and let their talents shine. Servers are excited by the change-up to the menu and pass along that enthusiasm to the guests. Even the bar staff can get in on the seasonal action by incorporating fruits, veggies, or herbs of the moment into specialty cocktails. When there are seasonal changes, the restaurant can showcase that by the decorations that are put up. Staff changing around the restaurant can be a fun way to get employees together to have team time.
3. Opportunity to use more local foods
Using seasonal foods is a prime opportunity to start or increase your use of local farms and suppliers. Depending on location and climate, seasonal vegetables or even meats from local farms are great options for the menu.
There’s no better way to justify a new menu than by connecting it with a local, farm-to-table aesthetic. Letting customers know that their meals feature ingredients harvested from local resources not only speaks to their freshness (and the freshness of the menu) but also reestablishes your restaurant as a contributor to the community. They enjoy knowing that their food is sustainable, and that the restaurant takes part in wanting a cleaner experience.
Not only will this help the local economy and your presence within the larger food community of your area, but it’s another great tactic to bring in new guests who are passionate about supporting local businesses.
Local and sustainably sourced meals are what your diners want. Adding this little by little will set up your restaurant for larger success and could feed into a bigger customer base.
4. Control food costs
Controlling food costs should be a priority all year, but depending on the season and your location, some seasonal foods may actually be less expensive than some of your other menu items because of their abundance. Examples include zucchini, blueberries, or sweet corn which often blossom wildly in the summer, or fall squashes like butternut and pumpkin. Taking note of these foods and the time of year can help your restaurant save money. Food costs a lot of money and so does wasting it. Have your restaurant think about what to do with leftover seasonal foods after a day at the business.
Offering a seasonal menu that includes the correct foods from the season can help navigate recipes and menu ideas. It is reasonable to keep a selection of the popular meals that are chosen by customers, but having the opportunity to show another handful of options that meets the needs of the season will score big with your customers.
Source: Kristen Costa, Upserve