Monthly Archives: October 2013

Trick Or Treat! How You Can Capitalize On Halloween Hijinks

Ah, Halloween. It’s the day that reminds people how many days are in October (and by nature, November and September) and that the fall and winter months of “not being able to worry about your diet” trifecta of holidays begins (followed by Thanksgiving and the December holidays and parties). This is the day that, unless you’re particularly throwing large celebrations in your restaurant, you might see sales slip a little. It happens to everyone; parents with kids are taking their children trick-or-treating, twenty-somethings are drinking and enjoying their parties, and at a certain age, many adults just simply stop caring about the holiday.

There are tricks to getting customers in your doors on Halloween, and yes, they usually involve treats.

Look At How Chain Restaurants Do It

The traditional treat with Halloween is candy. By the pound or package, these sugary sweet  snacks are the highlight of the day, which means the aforementioned diets tend to go out the window. Souplantation and Sweet Tomatoes, theoretical purveyors of healthier food (focusing on salads, soups, and sides) is offering free meals to children 12 and under this week, Brand Eating reports (with the purchase of an adult meal). Outback Steakhouse has a free children’s meal on Halloween with the purchase of an adult meal as well. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Sonic is offering corn dogs for 50 cents all day. For a little bit of work, if you arrive at Krispy Kreme in costume, you’ll get a free donut.

USA Today has an article about the world of Halloween offers, and they tend to revolve around similar concepts.

  • Reward costumes. It’s a sight, and many of your customers will already be dressed up. Encourage them to not worry about changing back in appropriate clothes and visit your restaurant. Free snacks, drinks, or even whole meals have been comped for those in costume.
  • Simple discounts on Halloween-related items can work. Half-off desserts to dissuade people from tracking down candy bars is a start, or if you sell milkshakes with candy pieces in them, knock of the price of the candy bars (or even offer to mix up candy they bring in).

If anything, you can revise your menu temporarily to feature many more Halloween-inspired cocktails or dishes.

One thing you may want to do depends on your location. If you’re in a strip mall or other sort of business where you’re within feet of other businesses, you may want to combine forces with your neighbors and purchase candy for trick-or-treaters, encouraging them to come by your location. If you don’t want to buy candy, see what sort of meals and items you carry that could work well for snacks for children. If you have children visiting your shop for Halloween, a little container of french fries can both help break up the sweets they’re receiving and send a little goodwill (and advertising) to your community.

Should You Pay More Attention To Your Drink Menu?

Long menus are ancient and archaic; unless you’re a 24-hour diner that prides itself on the availability of a large amount of items, your menu should be kept shorter than a comic book. One section that tends to be incredibly tiny, and at most is a half-page at the back is the drink menu.

Why does the drink menu get the least amount of attention? Unless your restaurant prides itself on a variety of beers or an eclectic selection of wines, your drink menus includes standard fare at standard prices, and feature nothing special. Considering a drink will likely go with every single customer that comes in your doors, maybe it’s time to take a look at your drink menu and see what improvements can be made.

  • Water: do you sell it in bottles, or do you pour it from water pitchers? If you’re pouring up fresh glasses, are you at least using a water filter? Bottled soft drinks are on the uptick in America for a variety of reasons. According to The New York Times, bottled water sales are gaining ground for the country’s renewed commitment to health combined with increasingly-cheap prices; compare a 24 count pack of bottled waters for $2 versus 12 soft drink cans for $4. There have been complaints that bottled waters prove to be a waste for the environment, but there’s a security that’s not found in other drinks, with drinks being sealed until the consumer enjoys them. The decision comes down to a few factors: can you afford buying and storing enough water bottles for your customer base, or does your restaurant pride itself on being ecologically responsible? Neither is the right answer, but one may just work well for you.
  • Soft drinks are traditionally great profit-makers for restaurants, given the low cost of syrup compared to the price per glass (allowing many restaurants to offer free refills), and restaurants with machines that automatically mix flavor syrups have had major success. You can improve on sales and flavors of these drinks without having to install major machinery with simple syrups. Get experimental and see which flavors work in certain combinations, and offer a “flavor addition” for 20 or 30 cents; you never know, people might start beating down your doors for Butterscotch Sprite or White Chocolate Mountain Dew.
  • Wine may have it’s own menu, but you might need to update how the menu describes the drinks. The Cornell Daily Sun has found that more factual notes on the wine (year, region, etc.) lead to more discussion with the sommelier about subjective notes, like flavor, smell, and beyond. Having a well-trained staff is also of import when selling these high-ticket drinks.
  • Coffee? We’ve got a whole guide on how you may want to make your coffee a bit more important.

The most common drinks in your restaurant might need a bit of a revision. Hopefully, if you take this minor steps, you’ll be able to find newfound interest in the oft-forgotten area of your menu, yet the place all of your orders include an item from.

Oatmeal Day: How You Can Make It Better

Today is National Oatmeal Day, which may not mean much to your restaruant. If you’re in the business of serving up breakfast, you should definitely take advantage of the day. If you’re not, you might want to look into adding oatmeal to your menu. A simple dish, oatmeal is known for it’s various health benefits. Can you take advantage of a desire of healthy eating at your restaurant?

The Various Health Benefits of Eating Oatmeal

SymptomFind has compiled a list of the various benefits you can have from eating oatmeal. All of these benefits take place on the inside, which is supremely important for living a long and healthy life. They include

  • Due to being rich in soluble fiber, oatmeal can help reduce LDL, the bad cholesterol.
  • Being high in fiber also means that the dish offers a reduced risk of developing high blood pressure.
  • It is full of antioxidants, one of which fights off free radicals that attack HDL, the good cholesterol.
  • The same antioxidant as above also helps fight off the hardening of arteries.
  • High fiber in oatmeal can help fight off both breast cancer, diabetes, and weight gain, all due to the fiber content.
  • The dish can boost the immune system.
  • As oatmeal is very low in gluten, eating it in moderation may be safe for those that are gluten-intolerant.

How Can I Spruce Up Oatmeal?

The Huffington Post has looked into a world of oatmeal toppings you may not have considered for your restaurant or personal life. Suggestions include

  • The standard fruit assortment of berries is always okay, but go outside of your comfort zone with pears, nectarines, pineapple, and mangoes, for example. Figs, mandarin oranges, pomegranate seeds, and passion fruit are all oddities that work surprisingly well with the big bowl.
  • Cacao, particularly dark chocolate, can be used in small doses to large effect, adding a bit of healthy sweetness to the breakfast dish.
  • Shredded carrots, zucchini, and eggplant are an off-the-wall trio of veggies that can perk your oatmeal dishes up.
  • Plant the seeds for a healthy day with sesame and pumpkin seeds, mint leaves, pistachios, and ginger.

Is There Profit in It?

The Washington Post reports that there is. Thanks to the combination of oatmeal being incredibly cheap and easy to produce, and finds that the dish is up there with breakfast sandwiches and yogurt for popular morning meals on the go. How simple is it to produce? Some restaurants purely soak the grains overnight and toss them in a rice cooker before pouring them into an oatmeal bowl or disposable foam bowl.

Many of the toppings for oatmeal are things you already carry in your restaurant; fresh fruits, brown sugar, various nuts and veggies and more. This might be a small investment that could pay off big for your restaurant. Oatmeal might be an unassuming start for your day and your restaurant, but could easily contribute to the health of both.