There are a number of events throughout the year that affect the restaurant industry. A smart new restaurateur will make the most of the annual trends in the restaurant business and turn them to their advantage without looking cheesy – unless that is what they are aiming for!
Seasonal FoodA big trend in modern British restaurants is for your menu to be full of seasonal and local produce. In order to buy into this trend – which makes a great deal of sense for all sorts of reasons (it’s cheaper, tastier, better for the environment, better for the local economy and a great way to get inspiration) – you need to know about the seasonality of good produce.
Many consumers as used to seeing and buying strawberries in December (probably from Kenya) and asparagus in February (probably from Peru). If you devise your menu around what is in season, not only will you be terrifically fashionable, but you will also be doing your bit to be responsible.
Buy a good gardening book, ask your green-fingered granddad or read up on the internet – find out when the best British soft fruit is available, or when the first Jersey Royals are ready. Use this information to plan your menu and shout about it! Put your local supplier's names on your menu, or use your blackboard as a marketing tool for when Scottish strawberries and cream will be available.
Special DaysWhen you look through your diary you will see a number of days throughout the year that can be utilised in your restaurant. Valentines Day and Mothers Day are the perfect times to put on a special, set price menu. You can make it a little themed, if that’s what you like, or just suited to the occasion – scallops and steak for Valentines, roast spring lamb for Mothers Day, perhaps.
You can go one step beyond the classic restaurant days to special events for Wimbledon, the rugby or school holidays.
Mondays and Tuesdays are often the quietest days for the restaurant trend, so these are the perfect days to either close (opening Sundays is more profitable) or to have early bird menus and new ideas. You can try a curry night or a pudding night, wine tasting or two for one. Whatever you choose that suits your restaurant, these are the days to try them out.
Christmas and New YearChristmas and New Year are usually the most profitable time for restaurants – hospitality research shows that a savvy restaurateur can bring in 40 % of their annual profits over December alone. In order to maximise this business trend, you need to have a great products and great marketing. Office parties are a great way to earn, although if you cater for the lowest common denominator you may not do it for more than one year!
Keep costs low by offering a set menu that needs to be ordered in advance and then keep the quality high. Offer some sort of entertainment – an acoustic guitarist or even just a great CD makes a difference. If you start giving out tequila shots and party poppers, don’t be surprised if it all starts going downhill!
Dinner and dancing is a popular ticket for New Years Eve, especially if your restaurant is near a hotel that you can put together a special offer with. Be careful not to let drunken revellers in towards midnight, though.