By Jason Vigotsky, Content Contributor
Diners often decide whether to eat at your restaurant based on your menu alone. If one of the dishes catches a patron’s eye, they’ll give it a shot. But if the offerings are uninspiring, they’ll likely dine elsewhere. While menu design is an art in itself, this post will focus on the benefits of rotating menu items.
In other words, why it’s beneficial to alter your menu based on the season or time of year.
In-Season Food Tastes Better & Costs Less
Whether produce is in-season or not can make all the difference when it comes to taste. Berries are sweeter in the summer, and mangoes are juicier in the winter. Asparagus packs a more powerful punch in the spring, but squash is best in the fall. If you want to provide your guests with the most delicious menu items possible, make sure whatever you’re serving is in-season.
Another advantage of serving in-season produce is the cost. Not only is food more plentiful when in-season, but it’s also likely to be available from local sources. So rather than paying a premium for produce that’s been shipped across the country or across the continent, you’ll be picking it up directly from its source. That’ll save you a decent amount of change.
It Supports Local Farmers
Sooner or later, successful restaurants become cogs in their communities. They contribute food to fundraisers, cater large events, or just become the go-to place for people celebrate to special occasions. And by supporting local farmers, you’ll be putting your restaurant in an even better position to become a pillar in the community.
Buying produce from local farms can lead to greater guest loyalty. Farmers will recommend you to their other customers. Furthermore, there is also a large portion of diners who support the local farming movement and the sustainability it preaches. If you advertise the fact that you purchase produce locally, you’ll be more likely to attract these customers to your restaurant.
Experimenting Leads to Innovation
Part of the beauty that comes with a revolving menu is chefs can try new things. Not every dish will be a knock out. But every once in a while you’ll come across something you’ll be tempted to put on your menu permanently. Whether you decide to do so depends on a range of factors—including cost of the dish, quality of the out-of-season ingredients, and whether diners will enjoy it as much during another time of year.
For example, if a new soup you’re offering results in increased business during February, it’s not likely to continue doing so in the summer. But even if you don’t keep the dish on your menu permanently, you’ll have it waiting in the wings for when the proper season comes around again.
Better Side Dishes & Repeat Customers
In all likelihood, your restaurant specializes in a select few dishes that do the bulk of your business. Those meals aren’t going anywhere. But offering a revolving menu gives you an opportunity to occasionally breathe fresh life into these fan favorites. In-season vegetables can be rotated and served alongside your staples. This allows diners to indulge in their favorite dish while also experiencing something new depending on the time of year.
And while some diners might get tired of the same old menu offerings, that’s not a problem for restaurants that feature rotating menus. By featuring something new each season or every few months, rotating menus give guests more incentive to return and get a taste of whatever new dish you’re offering.
Encourages You to Keep up With Trends
Trends come and go pretty quickly during the social media age. But that doesn’t mean you should disregard them. Capitalizing on new food and drink fads is a great way to increase revenue. Simply offer a dish until either it goes out of style or proves itself as a consistent producer of revenue.
Many diners are currently opting for diets that feature plant-based protein and other health/diet food movements. This is the perfect example of a trend that restaurant-owners can capitalize on. Another trend that’s gaining steam in 2019 is snack food from the sea. Salted seaweed snacks were all the rage a few years ago. But now items like seaweed butter and kelp jerky are ready to emerge as summertime favorites. If you want to stay ahead of the curve, strive to be the first restaurant in your neighborhood to offer them.
Rotating menus require much more work than their static counterparts. Restaurant operators will need to feature rotating specials on chalkboards, print up new menus each season, or just opt for digital menus. No matter how you choose to represent your rotating menu, be sure to update diners of your offerings via your online presence.
About the Author
Jason Vigotsky is the Content Writer for Culinary Depot, a company that distributes restaurant equipment and designs commercial kitchens. He is responsible for blog posts, social media, product descriptions, and more. Jason has a genuine curiosity about the restaurant industry, and his blog posts cover a range of interesting topics.