Foodservice Updates is designed to help foodservice operators keep on top of all the industry news and provides tips for keeping business running smooth. We endeavor to provide the latest tips and solutions to keep you in the know.
Find your menu’s sweet spot
Your take-away menu is carrying a lot of weight these days. It needs to offer a sufficient range of items to satisfy guests (though not so many that you overwhelm them with choices or generate waste). It must communicate the experience of eating these items (but without too many words). And it must accomplish this all without the person ever having to walk through your doors to experience your brand. Chances are we’ll be looking at another several months of dining room restrictions and being limited to take-away and delivery – particular during the winter months, when it can be hard to get people to come out even in normal years. So give your menu a reality check now. Aside from organizing items by category, ensuring everything travels well, explaining options with a handful of carefully chosen words that help communicate the texture, freshness and aroma of an item, and including appealing photos, try to add some intrigue. Beyond your popular standbys, think about what regular tweaks you can make that will entice people to come back and see what creative menu items – or even new categories – you are offering. New research from Postmates, for example, found that sales of family meals had climbed 175 percent and alcohol sales 49 percent over last year. Special occasions have resulted in food and beverage spikes too: National Ice Cream Day in July led to a 118 percent increase in ice cream sales, and Election Day resulted in sharp increases of orders of pizza, alcohol, cupcakes and ice cream. Clearly this is a year when people crave comfort. What kind of comfort can you cook up for upcoming occasions this winter?
Even before this year, consumers were thinking more about the sources of the food they eat. Last year, a YouGov study of more than 9,000 consumers in the U.S., U.K., Italy, Canada, Spain, the Netherlands and Sweden found that 66 percent of consumers said they would feel more positive about companies that can demonstrate they are making efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of their products. Now that 2020 has put climate concerns under a magnifying glass and also demonstrated to consumers how it can be difficult to get the foods they want when they want them, food sourcing has become even more important. As the Rail reports, some restaurants are stepping up to promote greater transparency around their sourcing and environmental impact by identifying meals on their menus that have a low carbon footprint. Panera, Just Salads and Chipotle are among them – and Chipotle has even developed a proprietary tool that evaluates a menu item against measures including carbon in the atmosphere, water saved, improved soil health, organic land supported and antibiotics avoided. Can your existing technology help you harness data about your inventory that you can then use to market menu items? In addition to helping the environment and building customer loyalty, it could be just plain good for business: Just Salads reported a 26 percent sales increase after they started labeling products with lower carbon footprints.
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