3 Ways to Incorporate Seasonal Items into Your Menu

Throughout the year, diners enjoy various seasonal and holiday-themed menu items and are more likely to give their business to restaurants with seasonal options. In fact, restaurants with seasonal menu items see approximately 26 percent more orders and a 23 percent increase in average ticket size over other restaurants.

With the holiday season in mind, here are several ways restaurants can capitalize on seasonal menus to attract new customers and repeat orders from returning customers year round.

Include items that fit with your restaurant’s menu

Offering seasonal food specials doesn’t mean you need to stray from what your restaurant does best. Instead, figure out the best way to incorporate seasonal ingredients into customers’ favorite dishes. Are sandwiches among the most popular items on your menu? Consider adding a “Thanksgiving Leftover” special during November, with turkey, stuffing and other Thanksgiving staples. If you run an Italian restaurant, an easy option is to add in-season vegetables to your pasta dishes, such as zucchini in the summer and pumpkin in the fall. With any limited-time special, make sure your back-of-house staff is aware in advance, so all ingredients and cooking instructions are ready when the time comes.

Keep your menu up to date with seasonal specials

Rather than creating an entirely new menu for seasonal specials (which can be costly and time consuming), simply add an insert to your regular menu or place rotating table tents on display at your restaurant. These are easy and affordable to switch out several times each year, whether you choose to offer new specials monthly, seasonally or for specific holidays. Since many diners opt for delivery or takeout, include a festively-designed printout of specials with orders so customers can try something new next time. For online ordering, make sure your digital menu is updated to include these seasonal and limited-time items.

Market seasonal dishes

Achieving success with seasonal menu items requires getting the word out to target customers. Sending an alert to your email newsletter subscribers, updating your website and updating the signage in your restaurant are simple strategies to spread the word about seasonal specials. Social media also offers countless opportunities to target loyal customers and attract new ones. Post photos of seasonal menu items, encourage diners to post their own and set up a social media poll for diners to vote on their favorite seasonal specials. Not only will such marketing efforts increase your revenue for a given seasonal offering this year, it will also keep customers wanting more. Once a seasonal special becomes a customer favorite, you can drum up momentum in subsequent years by promoting a countdown in the days or weeks leading up to the dish’s release.

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