4 Restaurant Trends Heating Up Summer of 2012

It’s hot outside, but are you turning up the heat on your business?  Here are some of the biggest growing trends in restaurants this summer:

  1. Outdoor Dining – In recent years, the number of restaurants turning to outside dining has significantly increased.  Customers are attracted to the great outdoors and enjoy knowing they have the option to sit on a patio while dining with friends.  If you have the space and ability to serve diners outside, perhaps you should consider applying for the proper permits and looking for some outdoor restaurant furniture!
  2. Chef Grown Foods – The buzzword of the last few years has been sustainability, and restaurant chefs need to be aware of the change in how people think about food and where it comes from.  Plus, economically speaking, if you can sustain some of your own menu items, it is win-win for everyone!  Rooftop herbal gardens are popping up on cityscape restaurants, but it doesn’t stop there.  Your restaurant may grow your own veggies, or take it a step beyond and consider a farm-to-fork program to raise your own meat, or even recruit a chef who doubles as a bee keeper.  By controlling what ingredients you use, you also control quality, which is also important to you and your guests.
  3. Seasonal Menu Items – From fast food to fine dining, most restaurants introduce appropriate summer themed menu items.  Whether you add bacon and barbecue sauce to your best selling burger, or launch a line of healthy salads (I recommend a mixture of strawberries, spinach, feta cheese, almonds, and a sweet poppy-seFriends enjoying an outdoor restauranted dressing), it’s summer time and you need to take advantage of the fresh foods available at this time of year and also meet your customers’ expectations for a sizzling summer taste.  Offer corn on the cob as a new summer side dish, or challenge your chef to get creative with other fruit and vegetable recipes.  Experiment with rhubarb, asparagus, or artichokes.  Don’t forget it’s also a great season to get the freshest seafood from your local fish markets.  Create your own spin on classic summer dishes or invent something brand new that hollers summertime.  Summer can be done well, no matter what type of clientele you cater to, so don’t be afraid to introduce fresh new summer specials to your menu today.
  4. Less is More – Summer diners tend to enjoy smaller portions, maybe due to the heat or maybe due to a change in summer lifestyle where they are snacking more throughout the day and don’t need a huge dinner-sized meal when they stop into your restaurant.  Be sure to offer some smaller portioned entrees, and don’t forget to give them a small shot of dessert, too.  Keep in mind many people will meet up with friends for just appetizers and drinks more so in the summer, so adding a great summer appetizer and cocktail list to your menu will be well appreciated, too!  Don’t forget to promote your local breweries and wineries, which often launch summer ales and new wines this time of year as well.

Whether you have an outdoor restaurant or are just making the most of summer through your menu (and air conditioning!), it’s a great season for your bar or restaurant.

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