Seasoning Your Menu

Solutions for Operators

I hate to point this out, but Fall is nearly upon us in the Northern Hemisphere. This morning upon waking, the air was chilled; admittedly sensitive to cold, I had to wear sweats.

Do you change your cafe menus with the seasons? It’s a great way to keep your existing customers intrigued and at this time of year, to take advantage of the lower prices in produce.

There’s any number of creative recipes you can come up with for cooler weather. The attributes to build in now are steering the recipes to increase heartiness, warmth and comfort. Soups are a great place to illustrate these changes – squash soups in particular.

So how do you decide what to change up on  the menu? As a chef, I would first assess what I needed to keep, based on popularity with customers. Second, I’d assess the possible change list for per plate profitability and select those that generated less profit as candidates for change. Keep in mind one of the basic rules in foodservice – cross utilization of every ingredient – meaning, every ingredient you bring in the shop must be used in at least two recipes.

Then, with a bit of creativity, keeping in mind the ingredients you already bring in, and perhaps some web-browsing on the recipe sites, you can make a few changes that bring your menu into a new season.

There’s an old statement by the Greek philosopher Heroclitus – that humans don’t like change, but it’s the only constant in our experience. Keep this in mind too, with your customers. My ex-father-in-law despised it when restaurants changed the menu. To address this portion of customers, I always made sure to announce a few weeks in advance that we were going to roll out a few changes to the new season. This builds conversation between your customers and staff and informs them that some changes are coming.

Do you change your menu with the seasons? Do you take advantage of local farms bounty at the end of summer?

Monday I’ll write about how to put up produce in a simple way, which allows you to take big advantage of end-of-summer bounty’s pricing and stretch it out well into winter.

Jeff from Mocafe

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Categories: Operator Solutions

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