Wednesday, 4 December 2013

The New Year should be a time of optimism and renewed hope...Fuller's Tenants Extra Dec 2013

The New Year should be a time of optimism and renewed hope. Unless, that is, you happen to run a pub, in which case the onset of January is often simply a pain in the backside. Typical New Year’s Resolutions, such as eating less, cutting back on alcohol, losing weight and spending more time in the gym, all tend to make customers think twice about popping to the pub.
Add to that the fact that January is the time when December’s festive spending comes home to roost in the form of bank statements and credit card bills, prompting people to think twice about going out,  and it’s not hard to understand why many publicans view the first month of the year as a write off.
So if you can’t beat them, join them. In menu terms, it’s not difficult to revamp your offer to boost its appeal to customers looking for healthier options. This could include:
  • Fish dishes: Many people see fish as a healthier alternative to meat, providing it isn’t dipped in batter and deep fried.  Talk to your supplier about availability of good value fish, and serve it grilled or oven baked with seasonal veg.
  • Potato alternatives:  Offer rice, pasta and salads to accompany main courses alongside potatoes to offer diet-conscious customers more choices.
  • Soup it up:  Freshly made soup is an appealing alternative to sandwiches. Featuring a home-made soup of the day during January varies the menu and is also a way to make the most of good value ingredients. 
  • Soft drinks: Promote juices and smoothies for customers on the wagon.
In your eagerness to appeal to those looking to vary their food and drink intake for health reasons, don’t forget there are also those staying away for financial motives. Ways to appeal to this group include:
  • Meal deals: Offer special deals such as two meals for a set price, or a free drink when two people dine.
  • January sales: Promote good value meals that can be made economically. Hearty dishes such as shepherd’s pie, curry and stews can be promoted as winter warmers and generate good margins.
  • Food festivals: Make a special feature in January of dishes that can be bought or made relatively cheaply, such as locally sourced sausages or home-made pies.
You have a captive audience right through December, so hand out vouchers and leaflets promoting January offers to every customer at Christmas meals and functions.

It’s also very important to remember that while the average New Year’s resolution will fail well before the end of January, a fresh new look for the menu, supported by interesting promotions, should last all year.  And at the very least, when your regulars drift back, make sure you’re there to welcome them a pint of Pride and a comforting plate of sausage and mash.
This 'Kitchen Porter' column appears in the December 2013/January 2014 issue of Fuller's Tenant's Extra.

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