Category Archives: Business How To

Don’t Give Them What They Want

A blog post from Restaurant Hospitality magazine last Monday explored consumers’ desire to want what they cannot have:  access to exclusive clubs, tables at restaurants with lengthy waiting lists, limited edition products, etc. When supply doesn’t meet demand, those who demand will pay more for access to the supply.

Sold Out sign

Every restaurant wants a menu item to get this kind of attention!

So, create it!

Limited-supply menu items can be “available” at any price point; there’s no need to go way above what your demographic is willing to pay. Get creative and do some market testing within your own restaurant to see what creates buzz. It can be a simple food idea or an entire concept.

  • Small-batch, chef-created ice creams to polish off summertime meals? Invest in a 4-qt Hamilton Beach Ice Cream Maker and invent a new flavor every day — one batch only!
  • Keep some rich Belgian chocolate on hand and dip only the very best fresh fruit from the day’s market, pair it with espresso for dessert and then package the limited-quantity pairing as a special service for the whole table.
  • One day a week, during a short window, offer afternoon tea for moms (or dads) and kids with lovely but durable Tea Rose tea service. Allow only a few sittings. Serve some small eats that are easy to prep (got leftover ingredients?) and suddenly, it’s an exclusive event!

Brainstorming Ways to Bring in Families

Adults and kids share a meal at a local diner.

Parents spend where their kids will eat.

Recent research from the NPD Group reports that families with children younger than 13 seriously cut back their dining out habits when the economy crashed in 2008. Full-service restaurants were the segment that took the biggest hit, and supper was the meal that took the greatest loss.

These families, like most of us, started pinching pennies when finances got shaky, but now that the economy is in recovery, and spending is on its way back up, a quarter of those same families are still holding back. How can FSRs reclaim this valuable demographic?

Children are big decision-makers when it comes to dining. Figure out how to match what they are looking for (Fun? Avoidance of broccoli? More cheesy pizza?) with what the parents are looking for (Value! Nutrition!) and you have a recipe that will keep them coming back for more!

  • Turn slow weeknights into Mother-Son/Daddy-Daughter date nights and offer one free kids’ meal with the purchase of an adult meal.
  • Turn Saturday or Sunday evenings into an opportunity for Mom & Dad to celebrate their kids by offering a free double-sized dessert with the purchase of an adult meal and a kids’ meal.
  • Turn Friday nights into date night for grownups and offer free dessert to share while the kids are with a babysitter. Make sure you remind them about your great kids’ menu so they will come back with the kids on a weeknight!
  • Create a tween menu (11 to 13 year olds) with food that’s cooler than the kiddie menu, but in portions that are a bit smaller than the adult menu.

Keep brainstorming with food ideas, service concepts, special offers, or entertainment ideas and spend the summer experimenting with ways to bring families out to dine with you!


Sustainable Choices Please Restaurant Customers

A restaurateur’s take on environmental sustainability is a big part of his or her business’s marketing plan even it’s not intended to be.

Diners and drinkers (63% of them!) say they a more likely to visit restaurants that are environmentally conscious. So, if your business IS participating in earth-friendly activities, make sure your customers are aware. If your business is NOT participating in earthy-friendly activities, well, you may have already lost some customers.

Many food service establishments express their own interest in sustainability through the use of local food suppliers and ownership of their own farms and gardens but, research shows as much as diners appreciate farm-to-table dining, they actually are concerned more with environmental awareness through recycling and re-use.

Restaurants can adopt that earth-friendly behavior without having to sort the trash every night by using compostable products. Stout Eco Safe compostable trash bags and compostable disposables from Eco-Products  and NatureHouse are all attractively-designed products that will keep customers at the local juice shop or diner to-go counter feeling confident their choices (and yours!) are doing as little damage to the environment as possible. Instawares offers entire product lines from these manufacturers at prices that won’t do damage to your budget either.