Summertime has consumers enjoying the little things in life, time outside, longer days and all the fresh seasonal offerings that come with this time of year. Restaurants have started rolling out their summer LTO’s (limited time offers) in order to entice consumers to try now and come back often. Not surprising, locally sourced, natural and healthy options are top of mind for consumers. Thirty-one percent of Millennials say healthy menu options count in their decision and consumers willing to pay up to 5 percent more for locally grown produce1.
This year’s summer menus are taking full advantage of consumer’s desire for traditional American fare with a twist in both food and beverage options making restaurants perfectly poised to deliver increased traffic and profits this summer season, with a new take on classic flavors.
Cue the Q – Nothing signals summer like BBQ! With its regional taste profiles, barbeque brings local flare to any dish, from loaded BBQ tossed fries to BBQ chicken pizza. Traditional BBQ, like ribs, is also in the mix on this summer’s menus. Guests customize their traditional menu items with a choice of sauces from sweet & savory to hot & spicy, creating the perfect combination of local and new flavors.
Americana – Ballparks, grilling, and picnics bring out the best of summer-time food including burgers, dogs and fries. These iconic American favorites are being taken to new levels. Hot dogs are being reimagined with toppings like green chiles, pickled vegetables and barbecue sauce. Buns for both hot dogs and burgers are getting an upgrade, including pretzel, artisanal and even a hint of sweet to balance the savory.
Raising the Bar on Greens – Consumers are wanting more than the leaf. They want to supercharge with flavors and taste. Pairing greens with fruits and grains, then tossing with crunchies (sunflower seeds, wonton sticks) are essential. Don’t forget to drizzle with sesame, citrus or smoky olive oil to create an amazing vinegariette. Sweet additions, like berries and watermelon take full advantage of the summertime flavor explosion. Kale, quinoa, seaweed, açai berries and more are making their way into new and unique salads promising customers their health benefits and an eruption of taste profiles that operators are able to charge a premium.
Cooling Concoctions – “Customizable” and “handcrafted” beverages are taking the restaurant industry by storm, and they topped the “What’s Hot in 2015” Culinary Forecast by The National Restaurant Association. Just like food, the use of local or artisanal spirits have grown in popularity, allowing operators to show their creativity through handcrafted drinks while charging a premium price. Mocktails (a nonalcoholic drink consisting of a mixture of fruit juices), blended beverages and craft beer beverages are quenching customer’s cravings for cool this summer. Think syrups, grenadine, hand-mudded fruits or bitters. Flavored lemonades and teas continue to grow in popularity among guests and operators are finding new ways to use them as a base to create a premium offering with the price to match.
Create summer time menus that appeal to customer’s cravings for fresh menu items to reap the rewards of increased profits and traffic.
1. 3 TRENDLETTES WE’RE WATCHING IN JUNE Restaurant Business By Sara Rush, Senior Associate Editor on June 2, 2015