The days are getting shorter and in many parts of the country, our leaves will begin to turn red, yellow and gold. Now is the time when people in foliage-crazy New England start searching for terms like “scarves”, “apple cider” and “sweaters”.
Fall is upon us, and people are in the mood, so let’s update our restaurant marketing strategies to reflect the change in seasons.
1. Get Social with your Fall Menu
Bikini season is over and people are ready to eat again. The popularity of Instagram is based mostly on drool-worthy photos and recipes. Consider sharing your best new dishes on Instagram and Facebook. You can even promote the posts to reach even more customers.
2. Give Away Fall Recipes from your Restaurant
Savvy chefs know that no matter how many recipes you give away, people will still want you to cook for them. In fact, if they fail too bad, they might even be in line for dinner at your place that night! If you don’t want to give away any proprietary formulas, then cook up a new one instead or give away an old special. If you sell gourmet ingredients, consider putting together savory recipes with matching photos.
3. Create a fall-themed event
An email list is reserved for your VIP customers – the ones who want to keep in touch. Throw a fall-themed event like a harvest party or a wine tasting. Divulge the apple and pumpkin-themed menu in advance to keep their taste buds watering all the way to the door.
4. Introduce Customers to Local Farmers
If your kitchen is stocked by local artisans, find creative ways to shout them out. Chelsea Market Baskets recently got excited about honey for the fall season and wrote an entire blog post about their journey to find local honey. Their blog details the hive of beekeeper Clare Marin and other stories of local honey discovery, like lip balms and royal jelly. Blog updates translate easily to email, so don’t skimp on the storytelling!
5. Decorate for Fall
Don’t leave all the fall fun for your menu! Add (tasteful) seasonal decor to your restaurant with pumpkins, wreaths, and lights.
6. Update your Bar for Fall
Pumpkin Hard Ciders
Cider should be enjoyed year round, but some are exclusively marketed as fall ciders. You’ll find that more likely than not, those have some extra fall spices and maybe even some pumpkin. They range from super sweet to rather tart, so make sure you know all the flavor profiles of what you have on tap for when people ask!
A great cider starting point is Harpoon Cider. But if you want to mix it up, try Harpoon’s Pumpkin Cider.
Octoberfest and Pumpkin Craft Beers
The craft brew trend is widely acknowledged and well documented. As more heavy, flavor-packed beers appear in bars, this tasty beverage is guaranteed to become a staple of fall coziness.
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7. Update your Menu with Seasonal Ingredients
According to Local Food Tours, chefs have increased their use of pumpkin by nearly 40% in the last 2 years. In fact, they go so far as to call pumpkin the new bacon. While I strongly disagree with this statement, there’s no denying that pumpkin is going to be bigger than ever this fall.
If I see a dish with ginger I will always order it. Ice cream, noodles… There are few things that can’t be improved with some freshly grated ginger, and what better time than to appreciate this weirdly shaped root then when it is at its peak season? While it may not be the centerpiece for any meal, it definitely gives you some autumnal taste without being too obvious.
Eggplant is one of those vegetables that can absolutely make a dish. A perfectly prepared eggplant will have you thinking about it days after you eat it, if you’re anything like me. Roast them, grille them, saute them, any which way you prepare them during their prime time is going to be amazing. Toss some tomatoes in a pan with them, for a two in one seasonal produce extravaganza!
8. Add Fall Soups to your Menu
Are millennials the soup generation? Campbell’s hoped they might be, but questions like these will only be answered in the history books. Certainly, fall is the soup season. Here’s some recent soup data to convince you:
Soup is found on 70% of unique menus across the US, making it one of the most popular dish types.
- Price: Of that 70% of menus, roughly half are in the $$ segment which for Food Genius means locations with an average entree price of $7-12.
- Trends: The average price for a soup item in the US is $6.40 with the most common price point being $4.00, and a long tail of more expensive items.
- Veggies: Onion, tomato, mushroom, and corn are the top four vegetables that are featured in soups. No other vegetables rank on more than 10% of menus featuring soups.
9. Start Planning for the Holidays
Speaking of staffing, you are slowly but surely creeping into the holiday season. Your younger staff are going to start trying to request off holidays and it’s going to get harder and harder to make your schedule around everyone’s requests. Now is the time to put in the limited amount of requests off and figure out what days are blackout days as well. You’ll need to make sure you are prepared for the busy time surrounding the holidays.
With these fall tips, you make fall your best-selling season, and build guest loyalty that will continue through winter.
Check out Upserve’s Marketing Strategies Guide!