There are benefits to serving a seasonal menu that can increase revenue, loyalty, and visits per year from regulars. With summer right around the corner, many restaurants are taking advantage of having more local ingredients available. In the Okanagan, we see new exciting dishes that are crafted with care with the freshest ingredients.
Having seasonal menus does not mean that you must come up with a whole new menu every 3 months, but rather tweaking the menu in order to keep the regulars coming back. Adding a couple of seasonal dishes on the menu creates interest and exclusivity which is an advantage for an establishment. The fear of missing out can drive sales as seasonal dishes are only available for a limited time.
Changing up the menu is vital to keeping your establishment feeling fresh and exciting. Regulars appreciate the change and get excited to come back and try the new dishes often so they don’t miss out. For those that fear change, there are still the favorite dishes that stay as a staple for your establishment. Many people value the opportunity to sample local cuisine and beverages when visiting the region. Even locals appreciate seeing local offerings within their favourite dining establishments.
This allows for more creativity in the kitchen and keeps servers on their toes. No time to get complacent and creates excitement amongst the staff which is passed on to customers. Excitement is contagious and with so many possibilities to choose from, it is easy to add some local selections to the summer menu. It can be as simple as adding a fresh local fruit crisp to the dessert menu or offering local wine on the drink list.
Another way to increase excitement is to limit availability. When a server tells you that there are only 2 specials left, doesn’t it make you want it more? Limiting the quantity or time frame a dish is available, increases the feeling of scarcity which is effective at driving up sales.
If you are still unsure about the benefits, then specials are a great way to test any new dishes you are considering adding to the menu. If you are selling out of a specific special all the time, the dish may be something you should consider when developing the next menu. Specials are also a great way to use up items which are coming to the end of their shelf life. By incorporating these items into specials, you are generating revenue and effectively reducing your food costs.
On top of all the other benefits in having seasonal menus, it gives a restaurant the opportunity to keep customers and potential customers engaged in your marketing. Having new dishes to post on social media keeps you top of mind which can be a struggle for most establishments.
Try it! It does not have to be scary, just start out with trying out local ingredients and seasonal dishes as specials. Being innovative will pay off. Seasonal dishes and menus are a win for all, the community, regulars, potential customers, employees, and the business.