by Diane Cosgrove
We all love eating outside.
Whether people-watching at a pavement café or hanging out at the beer garden with your mates, this country loves al fresco dining.
And for the operator that can mean big rewards, being able to increase your covers and hopefully your income as fine weather brings out the customers.
Here’s a few of our ideas on how you can maximise your income and attract customers to your business.
If you regularly show televised football, or if you are planning to hire in a big screen, you might want to think of other options.
Wimbledon, Eurovision and Glastonbury are all on the TV.
With chilled out vibes and sharing platters, viewers could kick back, enjoy a beer and a pizza with friends, filling up the extra seats as they watch.
But while we are on about big screens, check the paperwork is in order if you plan to hire in a screen. You know it makes sense and it’s better to check than to assume.
What will they be eating?
It’s dining at its most casual and therefore you want to provide the right kind of casual food.
According to the latest survey1, pizza continues to rise up the charts, whilst beef burgers and fried fish are sliding south.
But there is a surprising new star.
Hot dogs are everywhere, covered in barbeque sauce, fried onions or chilli.
They are simple to make and could really hit the spot with your target audience.
But don’t forget that a key part of your audience may be eating vegan, so don’t forget to include a decent vegan option and not stick to what 40% of people who regularly eat vegan out of home describe as “overpriced” and “boring”2.
Our BBQ Pulled Jackfruit is one example of a versatile ingredient that meets vegan standards and is great for casual dishes like pizzas and tacos.
But it’s not simply a case of sticking to mealtimes.
If your outside space is just a few tables, then it’s a very difference ball game.
Fruit flavours are a key part of the season (who could have Wimbledon without strawberries?) and flower flavours allow for the prettiest sweet bakes flavoured with florals.
Patisserie also helps with a pavement café vibe.
Floral flavours have been quietly growing in popularity and they really hit the headlines last year when an elderflower cake was picked for the Royal wedding.
But as well as elderflower, we have rose, violet and lavender coming through strongly.
They all lend themselves to elegant, Instagram-friendly bakes and can be paired with familiar flavours.
Botanical gins have carved a path for bakers, making these flavours more common, so why not give them a try?
Our website has lots of useful recipes you can try here.
As the weather heats up, outside spaces become very popular, so keeping them clean is important.
It is off-putting to see a table piled high with used plates and cups, so do you have the staff and training in place to cope?
If you are introducing outside seating, do you need a canopy or individual umbrellas for the tables?
Lastly, is your food suitable for the environment? Does the serving dish it comes in fit the table and is the table sufficiently stable when fully loaded?
It’s amazing how quickly an individual teapot, cup, saucer and plate can fill up a small table. You may need to adapt your serving methods to fit the circumstances.
1 MAC dining panel Feb 2019
2 Mintel Food Trends 2019