Creating excitement with seasonal dishes

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.

Verbal Communication : What are you really saying?

The previous issue was all about non-verbal communication and the impact on a successful restaurant operation. Verbal communication is the focus of this issue, both (verbal and non-verbal) are essential when providing an exceptional customer experience. Verbal communication plays a vital role in the impressions that are portrayed, both to the customer and team members. What you hear, is as important as what you see. If you have not had the chance to check out the whole article on non-verbal communication here is the link:

 Keys things to remember is tone, speed, and volume of your 
voice when interacting with guests and co-workers alike. 

Speaking quickly can imply being in a hurry and appears to be an unwillingness to listen.  Talking slower with clear pronunciation makes for a more inviting atmosphere for a conversation and makes the other person feel important and valued, opening the lines for communication. An easy experiment for this is to try this on the phone. Although smiling is a non-verbal portion of communication, it applies to verbal as well. When smiling on the phone, it can be heard.  Experiment by answering the phone without smiling and then try it while smiling.   Even though the person cannot see you, they can hear the smile.  Miscommunication is more frequent than you may think and using these tips can minimize those miscommunications and makes for a better experience all around. Can you remember a time that you felt someone was short with you or not listening?  Think about how they delivered their words.  Could they have been more conscious about their delivery or perhaps just adjusted their tone, speed, and/or volume?  Would that have changed your outlook on the situation?

Tone of voice seems obvious, but some are unaware of their tone or how it comes out. For a quick look into your tone of voice, just record yourself and have a listen. Feelings often come out in the tone and can be off putting to anyone. Tone has much to do with choosing words wisely. If a guest asks for an extra napkin rather than replying “ya” try “absolutely”, “I’d be glad to get that for you”, “of course, I’ll be right back.” This shows respect and creates a welcome and positive environment and connection that is appreciated. The more professional and positive the response, the better the chance that words will not be misconstrued.   When seating a guest instead of saying “table for only 1?” try “how many in the party today?”  When using the word only, it can start the guest experience off on the wrong foot and in some situations, have a negative connotation. 

Another one that is used a lot is “you guys.”  Some people can get very offended using this term so try not to use it.  More formal options would be “folks” or “everyone”, or “ladies and gentlemen.” It seems so simple but makes a difference on how your words are interpreted. Volume should be specific to the situation. Depending on the what type of establishment you are in determines what volume is appropriate. Whispering to a guest in a night club, will have just as much of a detrimental effect as speaking too loudly in a small and quiet café.
The key to making verbal communication effective is paying attention to the situation and always being aware of surroundings and guests. What is appropriate at one establishment may be inappropriate in another. By following these simple tips, you can be a more effective communicator.

Need more help with communicating effectively in the workplace? Find out how we can help at

Be Prepared and Control your Income

Every server should have:

One of the most integral parts of being a successful server is being prepared.  A server that is prepared exudes confidence and looks more professional to guests and co-workers alike.  Although it depends on the type of establishment, the following items are recommended to have on your person before every shift:

Being prepared in a restaurant