Whether you are opening a new restaurant or dining facility or looking to reinvigorate an existing property, a key to success is creativity. We think the summer season is a great launching pad for making some of those changes and re-energizing your operation.
Creativity is not doing something different just to be different, it is putting your own twist and personality on something that works.
As we work with our BHS/Weiss customers we see two distinct camps in how they embrace creativity. We see extreme risk takers that are in a location in which doing something completely different needs to be in context with what has worked for that operating group before. Then we see a second group in which the previous performance of the location they are taking over requires “swinging for the fences.”
So among our suggestions is working with your culinary team and food and beverage distibutors to create lighter and fresher summer menu. Salads and seasonal items are a great go-to for putting creativity back on the plate. How about cooking using more herbs and flowers. Even a call to you local agriculture department (aka Jersey Fresh etc.)could help add more fresh and local items to your menu to spark creativity.
Too often though, the mistake we see is confusing the selection of a fad that does not set you apart. Our advice is to be mindful by stopping and thinking what you are doing each step of the way, and how the little things impact the total look.
A creative approach to accomplishing that goal is rather than looking at other restaurant designs take a look at the creativity in the retail sector. We find that real industry designs and patterns move much quicker than food service trends.
With that in mind our approach at BHS/Weiss, our goal is to generate creativity with a blend of “stock” items and an eye towards the unique that our customer thinks deserve a special look. Unique does not need to be expensive; a good equipment distributor knows what is new and where to get inexpensive (or expensive) items to fit your bill.
Here’s where the right dealer can make a difference. Anybody can grab an old tomato can and use it as a riser for serving pizza. With a little more thought and very little outlay, you can get that same creative “can” feel with a riser from American Metalcraft. With that little bit of thought, you get a great look and eliminate any sharp edges that can injure your customers or staff.
A couple of other creative and inexpensive looks include cutting tile into 1/9 size for butter service or 1/4’s for cheese or a slice of cake. How about window boxes on the inside with herbs for a nice, sweet smelling look that can be used for cooking or decorating the plate.
The idea of small plates also encourages splitting and therefore ordering more items, lower food costs, and lower plate costs (smaller plates are MUCH less expensive than larger plates).
Again, we suggest utilizing the summer as a backdrop for serving some of these new ideas. We like really nice melamine for outdoor dining. This summer, plates with a matte finish and “trays” are in. How about a creative approach to flatware with matte and gold, bronze and black?
In redefining creativity, we see how it reinvigorates an attentive involved staff, making suggestions to patrons. We also wanted to make the experience special and generate return visits.
So, we agreed that a great way to accomplish that would be by creating a hook of sending out something “free” so the customer feels special. Maybe not an amuse bouche but a taste of a special, an appetizer, or a dessert. Just something to make you feel good about being there. We also agreed to change it up so that one night it is a taste of dessert, the next a taste of an appetizer with the goal of keeping it changing and feeling unexpected.
Cocktails are inexpensive and an easy way to change up the menu but you need to try different concoctions to see what is good what can be team building after hours for the staff. Among the quickest place to reset creativity is on your cocktail menu. From clubs to restaurants, we are seeing the infusing of liquor, bitters and syrups with herbs. Why not finish by garnishing with edible flowers, herbs and lavender. Let’s build out that newly updated cocktail menu with stemless wine glasses for the summer.
We envisioned small casks making bitters and vinegars. The overall feel we discussed was keeping the air fresh and smelling good. We thought about brighter lighting to imitate a garden setting.
Our BHS/Weiss team is here to help you get invigorated with a fresh new summer look. Don’t hesitate to write or call with questions.