Seasonal Menu: Benefits of Having a Seasonal Restaurant Menu

Nicole Georgiev
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    Have you heard about restaurant seasonality? If you have, you may know that a way for restaurants to combat it and thrive during the slow season is to incorporate a seasonal menu as part of their efficient business systems.

    A way to do this in the fall is to embrace farm-to-table offerings. In the winter, offer a comforting soup of the day and rotate fresh summer cocktails during the warm months.

    Seasonal menus tend to include fresh and flavorful items, which make these types of menus more appealing to consumers. They allow restaurants and chefs, such as the executive chef, sous chef, and Michelin star chefs to get creative with their dishes. 

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    Seasonal Menu: What Is a Seasonal Menu?

    A seasonal menu is a restaurant menu that is available for a limited time during a specific time of the year. It consists of fresh and in-season offerings. The fact that this menu is available for a short period of time creates a sense of urgency and exclusivity. This entices customers to try items on the menu before it’s too late. 

    These menus allow restaurants to diversify their kitchens. It also creates a chance for the different types of chefs in your establishment to get creative. They can experiment with in-season products, flavors, and cooking styles. 

    As a restaurant business owner, updating your seasonal menu is crucial. To do so, you must have solid supplier relationship management practices in place. That way, you can source the necessary supplies when they’re in season. Having one or two signature dishes is good, but keeping fresh and updated food options will differentiate your restaurant from the rest.

    Adding items to your existing menu may get time-consuming and costly, especially if it requires reprinting entire menus. In this case, it’s beneficial to look into having a digital menu or restaurant QR code menu. These menus will allow you to add and remove items as you decide. 

    In some cases, it’s also possible to integrate digital menu ordering and a touch screen menu ordering system. With these restaurant technologies, you can streamline restaurant operations

    Incorporating a seasonal menu into your existing restaurant menus will help you grow your business. At the same time, you’ll have the chance to take advantage of the delicious fruits and vegetables that are in season and stay on top of food trends. 

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    5 Benefits of a Seasonal Restaurant Menu

    By offering a seasonal restaurant menu, restaurants take advantage of helping sustain local farms and food suppliers. This is because the seasonal dishes on the limited-time menus will often feature in-season ingredients from local farms. 

    By doing this, restaurants are promoting the freshness of their menu offerings and contributing to their community. Using seasonal foods may also help cut food cost due to the abundance of products during different seasons. 

    Here are five benefits of having a seasonal menu at your restaurant:

    1. Experiment With New Flavors

    Seasonal menus provide the ideal opportunity to experiment with new flavors and food products. Each season has a different food that is considered seasonal. These products are typically full of flavor and perfect to use in recipes and cuisines.

    A rotating menu allows your restaurant to tap into the diverse foods and experiment with flavors. This may set your establishment apart from the rest, and it may also be one of the restaurant marketing strategies you take advantage of to drive customers in. 

    Common winter menus feature ingredients such as brussels sprouts, citrus, apples, squash, and potatoes. Summer menus often include watermelon, tomatoes, avocados, cherries, and asparagus. In the spring, restaurants may consider using mint, radishes, and fennel. During the autumn months, it’s common to incorporate broccoli, beetroot, and pumpkin in various dishes. 

    Keep in mind that with a seasonal menu, you’ll be able to use the produce items at their peak. This means full, distinct, and more robust tastes.

    2. Cut Costs

    Restaurants that incorporate a seasonal menu may see a decrease in their cost of goods sold (COGS) and an increase in their profit. Establishments calculate their restaurant profit margin using a restaurant profit and loss statement.

    When you have a seasonal menu, you’ll likely be purchasing less sub-par wholesale produce items. This is because the items will be fresher since they’re in season. As a result, the items will have a longer shelf life, and you’ll be able to avoid food waste and throwing them away for going bad. 

    In-season produce items are oftentimes less expensive due to their abundance and availability. You’ll likely see ingredient costs drop. At the same time, you’ll get more bang for your buck as you purchase increasingly flavorful products. 

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    3. Chance to Use Local Foods and Products

    If you’re looking to start or increase your use of local suppliers and farms, there’s no better time to do so than when you incorporate a seasonal menu. Based on your restaurant location and the climate, seasonal vegetables, fresh produce, and meat products are ideal to add to your menu.

    Connecting with local farms and suppliers allows you to incorporate a farm-to-table aesthetic. This shows customers that their meals are freshly prepared and include locally harvested ingredients. 

    Showing customers that you’re an ethical business is crucial for the modern-day consumer. It builds your reputation and proves that you value other local businesses in the food community. 

    Key Takeaway: A way to combat restaurant seasonality is by offering a seasonal restaurant menu with fresh and in-season ingredients and flavors. 

    4. Stay On Top of Trends

    Just like food trends, beverage trends, and produce trends, the seasonal restaurant menu trend is one that establishments should follow in the restaurant industry

    The world is ever-changing and in order to stay relevant, businesses must adapt to the changes and trends such as restaurant industry trends. This is what will keep customers coming back and interested. 

    The current trends may be Pumpkin Spice flavored dessert for the fall season or an Irish whiskey cake to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Whatever it is, the goal is to keep people talking about your restaurant. 

    Seasonal menus allow restaurants to stay relevant and on top of their game year-round. The biggest challenge will be designing the limited-time menu. Since these menus will change frequently, it’s ideal to look into having a restaurant QR code menu and digital menu ordering option.

    A digital menu will make it easy to make changes and additions to each one of your restaurant menus. This includes the seasonal menu, prix fixe menu, table d hote menu, and the drink menu design

    5. Improve Staff Engagement

    Making changes to the restaurant menu, such as seasonal changes, will give wait staff and bar staff new items to sell and upsell. Learn about the upsell meaning and cross sell vs upsell.

    Having a menu tasting for the new dishes is an ideal way to have the restaurant employees understand what they’re selling to customers. A tasting will involve the chefs preparing the new menu offerings and give them a chance to talk to the other employees about the in-season ingredients and flavors. 

    The Importance of a Seasonal Menu 

    Seasonal changes impact many things around us. This includes the weather and what we eat. Tweaking your restaurant menu accordingly is a great way to stay relevant. 

    New and existing loyal customers will be inclined to come in and try the new menu offerings. A great way to attract buyers is through exclusive loyalty program promotions or through your restaurant loyalty app

    Seasonal menus are an example of restaurant marketing done right. People are interested in taking advantage of limited-time offerings once they learn about them. To get the word out, you may want to utilize a social media or email marketing strategy

    Incorporating seasonal menus allow you to help out local businesses including farms and food suppliers. By doing this, you promote the freshness of your products and show that you support and are contributing to your community. 

    Frequently Asked Questions About a Seasonal Menu 

    Seasonal menus make great additions to restaurant menus. They allow restaurants to get creative and utilize in season flavors and ingredients. Here are some frequently asked questions about the seasonal menu. 

    What Is a Seasonal Menu?

    A seasonal menu is a limited-time restaurant menu that features in-season products and flavors. These products may include meat and fish as well as fresh produce like fruits and vegetables. Seasonal menus feature these products when they’re in season and at their ripest. This means that they’re full of flavor and are of the highest quality. These menus are more common to see during the slow season compared to the busy restaurant season.

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    How Do You Promote a Seasonal Restaurant Menu?

    To promote a seasonal restaurant menu, follow the steps below: 

    • Create a limited-time menu featuring seasonal products and flavors
    • Create a seasonal beverage that complements the limited-time food offerings
    • Utilize social media to create a sense of the season
    • Make the new menu available for only a limited time
    • Tell a story with each seasonal dish

    Why Is It Important to Change and Improve Restaurant Menus Regularly?

    Changing and improving restaurant menus regularly is important because it keeps your business relevant and provides an opportunity to increase your bottom line. It also proves to your customers that you are staying current with trends within the restaurant industry

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