Menu Makeover

2 November 2017

While your gaming floor offering, decor, location, layout and employees are all important factors contributing to attracting new customers and retaining regular patrons, there's one other pressing factor that should not be overlooked; your food. With tastes, trends and demographics constantly changing venues need to find ways to spruce up their menu to capture different target markets, increase profitability and improve a venue's overall appeal.

Michael Tan, Creative Director of BrandWorks - a Melbourne-based consultancy business specialising in redefining brands and concepts for hospitality, retail and property offers three tips to consider when seeking to diversify your menu.

Pay attention to Food Trends

The traditional food and dining categories are continually being reinvented, with trends coming and going.  Restaurants are now offering more options, from brunch, share-plates and buffets to all-day-dining, degustation, fixed and takeaway menus.  Tan recommends 'placing a higher emphasis on entrees and sides with less reliance on large mains'.  Creating an interesting menu can keep customers coming back at various times of the day to enjoy one of the many offerings.  Another emerging trend is to 'anchor and twist', which is taking something familiar and turning it into a new idea.  Examples of this concept include 'junk to healthy', 'fast food to premium' and 'hi-lo', which is high-end dining matched with low-end service such as order and pick up your food at the counter or a no bookings policy.  Plating is also very important so make sure dishes are as visually pleasing ans social media-worthy.

Source Local or Seasonal Produce

Customers today want to know more about the food on their plate, whether it is ethical, local, organic, free range or house made.  When establishing a brand philosophy, detailed menus help to tell a story, give waiters a way to engage with customers and show the passion of the chefs.  But be wary of overwhelming your customers.  Tan believes there is a delicate balance between giving the right amount of information and 'preaching' to your diners.  Menus are about offering choices - if there's too much detail, it could be better for wait staff to share this information as then it becomes more personal and believable.

Get the Price Right

Cost is important and helps customers navigate the menu.  Tan agrees pricing is a key consideration for both venues and diners.  Some options for a venue to consider are set menus, smaller portions and more variety at lower prices per dish.  Another simple idea that often works is removing dollar signs from the menu as they remind diners they are spending money.  It's also best to use whole numbers without any cents, keeping the menu clean and user-friendly.  At the end of the day, the menu should be reasonably priced for the diner but with prices at a level that will contribute to your venue's bottom line.

(SOURCE: ClubLife Magazine, July 2017)

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