As you look to reopen your restaurant or business after Shelter-in-Place has ended, Cheetah has assembled some advice and helpful links from our industry experts and top customers. Follow this series for real advice, tips and resources.
As we inch closer to dining rooms opening to the public, menu planning is a critical step towards the great comeback. Some restaurant menu concepts have done better than others during the pandemic. But, a vast majority of restaurants built a menu to serve dining rooms filled with people. With no dining rooms to fill, it’s probably time to reconsider your menu and even your service style.
Just before the health order is relieved, there’s still time to test and try new things that you have always wanted to offer. But, it’s also time to stick with what is selling and keep people ordering on a regular basis.
Here are some ideas to consider to remain relevant and profitable in these challenging times.
Keep it simple
There are many barriers to overcome towards your road to recovery, so keep it simple. Food costs are volatile and supplies are limited. If some items happen to be missing this week, you might not be able to offer certain dishes on your menu. This leads to confused kitchen staff and disappointed customers at a time when you really don’t want to be letting anyone down.
Simplifying your menu requires fewer employees and fewer ingredients and allows you to be more flexible with your offering. Recreate a menu that does not compromise your concept, aligns with your budget, and is always delicious.
Stick with the Winners
If it’s currently selling well, keep it on the menu. Now is not the time to be shocking your customers with unexpected, exotic menu items. People are looking for comfort food and stability. This goes for your newly added takeout dishes, too. Although indoors dining is back, takeout and delivery trends will likely continue, so don’t be too quick to push those dishes aside for the old dine-in favorites.
Get with the Times
Speaking of takeout and delivery, it’s time to compose a few dishes that travel well, if you haven’t already. Acai bowls, boxed lunches and salads can be great additions to any menu, and you can easily adapt them for a dine-in menu as well.
If your items are best served straight out of the kitchen, like burgers, find the packaging system that will help keep them fresh and crispy. Cardboard boxes and thermal bags will help maintain temperature. To hold things in place and prevent sogginess, stick a skewer straight through the burger and supply sauces on the side.
Try Something New
While it’s best to stay financially conservative and keep things simple, this is also the time to try a new dish or two. There are plenty of ways you can freshen things up without risking too much. Use fresh, local ingredients that follow trends in your cuisine and community to come up with new pizza toppings, burger sauces, a salad or an appetizer. These would go a long way without putting a burden on your staff or a dent in your budget.
Can’t Touch This
If you’re still sanitizing laminated menus every five minutes or throwing your money away on printed paper menus, it’s time to join the digital world. Find a new way to present your menu that is contactless and easily accessible. Offer a smartphone barcode system so customers can view menus without touching them, switch to digital menus or simply write it on a board.
Let Cheetah Do the Rest
Every great meal starts with fresh, tasty ingredients. These days, going to the market and handpicking tomatoes is a luxury few restaurant owners can afford. With half your staff and not a moment to spare, you need a supplier that can help you automate the ordering process and stock up on everything you need, whenever you need it. Cheetah helps you replenish your shelves and fridges with all the supplies you need to create those delicious meals, while you just focus on serving hungry customers.