Whether the season is moving from summer to fall or winter to spring, you will want to maintain a seasonal menu in your restaurant or bar. Having a seasonal menu can give your business a better means to reach your customers and take advantage of the seasonal prices available.
With that in mind, take a look at ways to create a seasonal menu that will benefit your business and keep customers satisfied.
Create Customer-Friendly Menu Options
Does your bar serve a world-famous corned beef sandwich around St. Patrick’s Day? Do you get a rush of people requesting your patented eggnog cocktail during the holiday season? Then you can see the benefits of having a seasonal menu put together for your customers.
Most businesses become known for their food, drinks or atmosphere. Creating a seasonal menu for your business will give you many opportunities to draw people back in for their seasonal favorites. You might consider:
- Spiked eggnog in winter
- Corned beef sandwiches in spring
- Homemade alcoholic teas in summer
- Pumpkin IPAs in the fall
You can take your specific location into account during these times, offering people local seasonal favorites, or your business may become famous for importing seasonal foods and beverages from other areas.
Your goal should be to develop offerings that will help drive traffic or at least keep customers coming back. This can be especially effective if you combine the food and drink with promotions related to the season.
Focus on Low-Cost Products
A major reason that you will benefit from making a seasonal menu for your business is that you can take advantage of lower prices. Everyone that has ordered products throughout the year understands that you can get most products at any time. However, when some items are not in season, they tend to cost a fair amount more.
Think about some of the products that you use and serve in your bar or restaurant. Examples of seasonal items where the cost is higher out of season include:
- Citrus fruit
That is not to mention the products that are only made during a certain time of the year or remain widely available and inexpensive during a certain time of the year. If your seasonal menu has elements that focus only on what is in season and has lower costs, then you could pocket the savings.
You don't have to eschew fruity drinks during the winter, but you should consider drumming up seasonal sales while those items are cheaper and more readily available.
Be careful not to overburden yourself with useless items, too. Determine what you want to serve relative to your projected sales and make wise purchases. It may also help if you do some informal surveying of your customers to determine what flavors or products they want to experience at your business.
Take Time to Refresh Your Menu
Many businesses fall into a rut at some point during their operation. Some items on their menu sell really well and others sell so infrequently that the bartender might not remember that it is even offered. When you have a seasonal menu, it is much easier to prune, add and update your menus without upsetting your patrons.
You should find the year-round best-selling products for your menu and keep them as mainstays, but also look at the menu to see which parts do not belong due to their low sales volume. At the end of every season, you can change the menu and make suggestions for the next year based on your experiences this time around.
Seasonal menus are great because they don't lend themselves to stagnation, a problem that comes with many bars and restaurants. If you aren't innovating, you're stagnating! Fresh items help appease and attract your consumer base.
When it is time to bring out the new menu, it can be used as a signal that it’s time to look at sales projections, deals with suppliers and much more. Download our guide to building a seasonal menu here.
Give Your Employees a Time to Shine
Lastly, developing a seasonal menu will allow you to see what your employees can do. When you create a seasonal menu, you will bring in many new products to make dishes or drinks. Using those items that you purchased, you can ask your bar manager and other experienced bartenders to come up with signature drinks.
Some people may be apprehensive about allowing their workers to experiment. But employees have shown, time and time again, that they can be incredibly creative when allowed to try new things. At the very worst, you have some wasted product. The potential upside is much higher when your bartenders create signature products that bring people back to your establishment.
Certain foods and drinks will bring people to an establishment on their own merits. Think about all the people that line up at McDonald’s for a McRib or a Shamrock shake. Your workers could develop products that generate buzz and increase sales only for your establishment.
Return Equals Effort
Seasonal menu changes have the power to make a large impact on your business as long as you are ready to put in the effort. You must take a close look at every seasonal menu to see which parts are both relevant and helping your business make sales and which ones no longer meet your needs.
Whether you are transitioning from one client base to another or striking out in search of good deals, taking the time to implement seasonal changes can be a massive benefit for your bar. Don’t forget to tie the menu to certain holidays and celebrations to pump up sales and make customers feel like you’re always with the times.