Successful operators keep up with emerging trends in their business. Menus need to be reviewed and re-invented periodically. This will assist in retaining existing customers and generating new demand. You will need to be attuned to the differences between a fad and a trend. Fads are short-lived while trends reflect longer-lasting changes in the industry. By expanding your menu offerings and infusing new ideas into your restaurant, you can broaden your customer base beyond your regular diners.
American Express OPEN Culinary Advisor Dick Williams has put together this list of emerging trends:
· Right-size. Portion sizes are being reduced as an alternative to raising menu prices. Look at customer’s plates after they finish dining to judge how much of an item is typically not consumed. Also be aware of which menu items frequently result in a request for a take-home container. Be sure to coordinate the new portion size to the new menu price.
· Go green. Feature locally grown and raised products on your menu. These will change seasonally. Inform your guests of local product sourcing so that they can appreciate your efforts to support sustainability.
· Go organic. Organic foods and wines are increasing in popularity and availability. Consider featuring these items on your menu and wine list. Inform your guests of the health benefits of eating and drinking organic food and beverages.
· Be interactive. Ask guests for a favorite recipe. Several chain restaurants recently have used recipe contests as a way to freshen or reshape menus as well as a way to involve their customers. This makes menu writing an interactive process with your customers, and may result in increased loyalty.
· Get fresh. Add freshly-squeezed juices to your cocktail menu. Incorporate them in creative, signature cocktails. Guests are willing to pay more if they are aware that fresh ingredients are being used.
In addition to his advisory role with OPEN, Williams, a 40-year industry veteran, serves as Managing Director and Founder of HVS Food & Beverage Services, a global consulting and services organization focused on the hotel, restaurant, shared ownership, gaming and leisure industries.
Williams entered the restaurant business by serving a two-year apprenticeship under a Swiss chef at the Café Promenade. Soon after, Richard became the Executive Chef at the Chateau Pyrenees Restaurant with increased responsibilities in management. Subsequently, he moved into front-of-the house management as the Managing Partner at two restaurants.
Undoubtedly, his most well-known venture has been the revitalization of the world famous Buckhorn Exchange Restaurant in Denver. Representing the Buckhorn Exchange since 1978, Richard has instilled vital changes as the restaurant manager and enhanced its reputation.
In addition to acting as manager and owner to several of Denver, Colorado’s finest restaurants, Williams has performed over 500 real estate appraisals of restaurants, hotels and resorts since joining HVS in 1993. He specializes in market studies, feasibility studies, appraisals, and on-going consulting needs for several historic restaurants and hotels. His extensive background in business management has formed him into a widely successful business and restaurant owner in the Colorado area.
Richard is a graduate of the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration. He is a certified general appraiser and a licensed real estate broker and holds the MAI designation of the Appraisal Institute.
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