Specials are so much more than a mere conversation piece for your servers.
Many restaurants have tremendous success with menus crafted specifically for the promotion of special occasions. As a business, ignoring national holidays, local festivals, and other special occasions could result in leaving a ton of money on the table. Creating special occasion menus could be just what your business needs to gain loyal customers and increase profitability.
Take Valentine’s Day for example. This is one of the busiest days of the year for the restaurant industry. So, how can you make your business stand out amongst the many other businesses hoping to attract customers? Create a special menu in honor of the day of love and use it to pull in new customers.
Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Mother’s Day, Christmas, Halloween, Birthdays...
Impress Guests With Your Special Events Menu
Through our extensive experience in the food and beverage industry, we have learned a lot about how to create the ideal restaurant menus for any occasion. In this easy-to-read guide, we have broken down our top 10 tips to help you succeed.
1. Make sure your staff has the new special occasion menu down.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s important! While your servers have had months or years to learn everything there is to know about your regular restaurant menu, they only have a short time to learn everything about the special occasion menu.
It is inevitable that your customers will have questions about the temporary menu items, so make sure that everyone on your staff has the answers. This will ensure that the big day you have all been preparing for goes smoothly both on the floor and in the kitchen.
2. Promote your special occasion menu everywhere.
Self-promotion is always an important aspect of running a business, but it’s especially important when it comes to limited time offerings. Whether your special occasion menu is being offered for a day or a month, work to get the word out in the weeks leading up to it.
Get the word out about your upcoming special occasion menu by sharing the details on your social media accounts, putting up signs in your restaurant, and having your servers remind the customers.
You want your restaurant to be the first one people think of when they make plans to dine out for that special occasion, so make sure they know you will be featuring a special menu for the occasion!
3. Incorporate related imagery and design into the new menu.
Get in the holiday spirit! Creating a restaurant menu specifically for an occasion affords you the opportunity to incorporate related images and design. This means using deep red fonts for Valentine’s Day menus, pastel-colored imagery for Easter menus, and ornament designs for Christmas menus. Curating the restaurant menu design to match the occasion makes the dining experience more fun for the customers.
This tool is not just limited to holiday menus. It can also be a fun way to spice up the special occasion menu for a seasonal product being highlighted.
For example, asparagus season is a big deal in Germany. When asparagus is in season, many restaurants in Germany create special menus dedicated to dishes that highlight asparagus. A restaurant with a seasonal menu for asparagus could use green colors in the design or include a professional photo of asparagus somewhere on the menu to make it fun.
4. Consider using a prix fixe menu for busier holidays.
Holidays like Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day are notoriously busy for restaurants. On special occasions like this when you know you will likely be extraordinarily busy, consider using a prix fixe menu. This will allow you to limit the dishes being offered and will make it easier for your kitchen staff to get a larger number of meals onto the floor in a shorter span of time.
Prix fixe menus are not only beneficial from an efficiency standpoint, but it guarantees that each guest will be able to try out multiple meals and get a better sense of what your restaurant can do.
This is a great opportunity to make a wonderful first impression on new customers and remind returning customers why they love your restaurant so much.
5. Use a pricing strategy that makes sense for your restaurant.
Depending on the occasion, you can charge slightly more than usual for the dishes on your special occasion menu. This is common practice when it comes to holidays like Valentine’s Day, which is a time when people prefer something a bit more elegant.
However, don’t charge absurd prices just because you think you can. All this will do is drive away your customers. When determining the pricing for your specialty dishes, take into consideration the cost of making the dishes and the price point you think your customer base would be willing to spend.
You can calculate your ideal restaurant menu prices by following these simple steps:
- Choose your preferred food cost percentage. On average, this is typically between 25 and 35 percent.
- Determine the raw food cost of the dish by adding up the cost of each ingredient.
- Calculate your menu price by dividing the raw food cost by your preferred food cost percentage.
It also never hurts to check out the competition and see what their prices look like!
6. Choose dishes that match the occasion.
While a standard restaurant menu should have a solid variety of dishes for different types of customers, a special occasion menu is the perfect time to serve dishes reflective of the event itself.
- For example, on a Valentine’s Day menu, you could serve dishes that contain known aphrodisiac foods like oysters and chocolate.
- For a Thanksgiving menu, you could serve dishes that incorporate foods like turkey, potatoes, and cranberries.
- For a Mother’s Day menu, you could offer a complimentary treat for all mothers to take home.
- For a Christmas menu, you could offer a meal that represents the food people traditionally eat on Christmas in your country, but in a more elevated way.
- For a Halloween menu, you could offer spooky themed desserts.
- For a birthday menu, you could learn a little about the guest of honor and make the menu reflective of their likes and dislikes. You wouldn’t want to include green beans on the birthday menu of someone who hates them
Let yourself be inspired by the event being celebrated. Your customers will love the spirit!
7. Use locally-sourced seasonal ingredients.
Creating a temporary menu for your restaurant provides you with the ideal opportunity to utilize seasonal ingredients. If you are promoting a special occasion that takes place during the wintertime, incorporate locally-sourced ingredients that are currently in season where you are located.
Customers love menus that showcase the best ingredients their region has to offer, so take advantage of the fact that you have the freedom to create dishes with produce while it is the freshest and most flavorful it will be all year.
8. Let your item descriptions work for you.
When crafting the descriptions for your special occasion menu, you have a very limited amount of space to get the customers excited about the dishes that are coming their way. Consider using descriptive words that are related to the event being celebrated.
If creative writing is not your strong suit, consider hiring a copywriter to write your special occasion menu descriptions for you. This will alleviate some of the pressure from your plate and ensure a high-quality product. Once the item descriptions are saved to your Menutech account, your menu is ready to be automatically translated and designed to impress your guests.
9. Highlight the high-margin items on your special occasion menu.
If there is a particular dish on your Valentine’s Day menu or Christmas menu that has done extraordinarily well at your restaurant in years’ past, make sure to highlight it.
This also works for new items being featured that your staff favors the most and expects to be a big hit.
Whether you use a different-colored font, bold or italicized lettering, or a symbol next to the name of the dish, make it known that these high-margin menu items are different from the rest.
10. Be transparent about the food contained in your menu items.
As with any restaurant menu, the special occasion menu must follow the regulated health and safety guidelines for your country. Just because the menu is temporary does not mean that it should not comply with food safety laws.
By incorporating clear dietary and allergen declarations on your menu, you can ensure that each of your guests feels welcomed in your place of business.
Special occasions should be exciting times that allow your business to increase profitability and make customers happy. Always make sure you triple check your special occasion menu before sending it to the printers to ensure that everything has been done in accordance with the law.
If you have any questions about the tips above or want to add any ideas of your own, tweet us your thoughts at @menu_tech.
- “A Guide to Building the Most Effective Restaurant Menu” by Lorri Mealey
- “Food safety in the EU” by Europa