Already tired of pumpkin spice this and apple cider that? Seasonal menu items are popular for a reason, but there is another way to capitalize on their fame without just creating other versions of what’s already out there.
According to research firm Technomic, 59% of consumers admit they are more likely to order an item off the menu that is described as ‘seasonal’. While 39% do so because they believe seasonal dishes are healthier.
This is great news for chefs and restaurants across the country, simply offering a menu labeled as seasonal could increase your sales – even if pumpkin spice doesn’t make an appearance. While pumpkin, apples, and spices like cinnamon and nutmeg take center stage in chain restaurants this fall, there are plenty of other fall ingredients just waiting to be showcased. Here are a few steps to get you started on creating or revamping your seasonal fall menu.
- Plan Ahead. The first step is to be sure you know what meats and produce are available locally or regionally and during the fall season. Take a look at these state seasonality guides for a better idea of what’s getting harvested in your area. The less common an item is, the more likely guests are going to be willing to go out of their way to try it, so take inventory on everything you can find.
- Find Farmers. Check out local farms at your farmer’s market or the largest one near you. Take a drive out into the country or ask around, either way you are sure to find some type of farm in your region. Seasonal items are best when sourced fresh, so make friends with a farm that fits your needs and can provide what you are looking for.
- Get Creative. Standard fall flavors are either loved or hated, some people can’t get enough of them so they may have a place on your seasonal menu. But, the key is to offer those same flavors in a way guests don’t see every day. Make your restaurant stand out as a fall favorite by really thinking outside the box with your flavors and creations.
- Let It Be Known. Start with all the people who work in your restaurant. Host an employee only tasting so everyone from front of the house to dishwashers can see exactly what your fall menu looks and tastes like. This will not only help with a smooth transition and give servers recommendations for guests, but will also motivate them to spread the word. Utilize social media and local media to post fall menu teasers just before the season as well as pictures during.
- Make It Official. Print out your seasonal options as an insert to your regular menu or to be showcased on each table. Be sure guests can see this menu and get as excited about it as you are.
Fall flavors don’t have to be standard and predictable. Wow guests this season with the best in beets or get creative with grapes. However you choose to incorporate seasonal ingredients into your menu just remember to think local and outside the box.