Seasonal changes can have substantial impact on your business and monthly cash flow. As a result, it’s up to restaurant owners to come up with new menu offerings to keep customers interested all year.
Offering items exclusive to certain seasons for a limited time is a great strategy to draw new and existing customers because of the time sensitive incentive. For example, McDonald’s famous Shamrock Shakes for St. Patrick’s Day has garnered immense popularity over the years—so much that the product officially went national to 14,000 U.S. restaurants in 2012.
Pumpkin-inspired flavors during autumn are increasingly popular, especially as customers get in the groove for hay rides and pumpkin carving. Starbuck’s fall menu includes the Pumpkin Spice Latte and Salted Caramel Cake Pops. A shortage last year of the latte even spurred outrage among fans on social media. The coffee giant also offers a secret menu that customers can order off if they know where to look—all things to keep its menu new and interesting.
In winter, the explosion of peppermint and chocolates at stores and restaurant is enough to make dentists worry. Burger King celebrates the holidays with a Gingerbread Cookie Shake, revealed last year.
While these are examples for larger chains, smaller restaurants can also make changes to their menu. Here are some simple things you can do to add a seasonal flare to your menu:
• Garnish with seasonal elements – Creating a seasonal look can take the form of a simple ornament or embellishment like flowers or holly sprigs. Plating, or presentation, can actually impact the taste of foods for some people.
• Create with color – Red for Valentine’s Day, green for St. Patrick’s Day — examine your menu to see if there’s anything that could be easily changed in color to add a little twist to existing menu items. This can help attract children who are drawn to color and fun foods.
• Add new ingredients – Take advantage of the seasons by offering new flavors and ingredients. For example, some fruits and vegetables turn out best when grown during certain times of the year and are more attractive to customers.
Other ideas to freshen your menu include:
• Intriguing or whimsical names – It could be an alliteration based on geography, restaurant name or specialty such as “Black ‘n’ Blue” for a grilled burger topped with blue cheese or “Granny Annie’s Chicken Soup.”
• Deals of the Day – Not a new marketing scheme, but a great way to get people to try menu items that they wouldn’t otherwise have tried before.
• Offer Pairing Ideas – Wine and cheese pairings are popular but consider going even further to highlight how foods on your menu work together. Beer, fruits and even entree items can add a little more “oomph” to your menu.
For more information on how seasonal changes may impact your restaurant, read this.