Your restaurant’s menu should always be changing. There is something to be said about not messing with a good thing, but this has more to do with ensuring your restaurant stays good- what’s tasty this week may be boring the next. Incorporating new recipes and cooking styles into your restaurant is key to its survival and success. Sure, there will always be a place for the classics which people have always, and will always love, but you shouldn’t have a stagnant menu.
A few ways to change your menu
You can do a full remodel. This will work well for small boutique restaurants with specialised, seasonal menus. A less drastic tactic is to just add a few new items. This is a great way to add diversity without getting rid of what’s already working for your restaurant. Brighten up your menu with a new item. A different way to do this is to replace poor performing items with new, trendy dishes.
The final way you change up your menu is by not changing it at all. What? Let me explain; a redesign. If your dishes are trendy but not performing as well as you’d like, try changing the dishes name or description and giving your food an all-around makeover with a different style of menu.
Some considerations for introducing new recipes
The key is to ‘think execution’. The most obvious consideration is, will it be profitable? This has many ramifications. You won’t be able to tell how popular a dish is before it’s served, but you can mitigate risk and test the dish. Will the dish require a lot of ingredients not commonly found in your kitchen? How many of those ingredients are perishable?
Other considerations are things like, where will you store the prep for it? Will it fit into the working schedule of the kitchen; how much prep is required? How will it be plated? You’ll need to consider how time efficient the dish is, and who is going to have that time available. You don’t want your kitchen to take a hit in efficiency. How will you pull the dish off during a busy service? Ultimately, how will it fit into your service?
It’s worth going through all the steps of the recipe and identifying which can be prepared ahead of time and which must be done last minute. If it must be done last minute, is it even feasible?
If you’re hoping to impress your chef by suggesting a new recipe for the kitchen, make sure you’ve thought all of this through, and impress her/him by demonstrating that not only do you have an awesome meal idea, but you’ve through long and hard about how it will fit into the kitchen schedule.
A lot of kitchens are having success with daily menus, which is a fun way to always keep your customers engaged. The students at Hurst Culinary School are encouraged to put their learning into practice by cooking new recipes every day for the lunch service of Meals on Main Cafe, a restaurant attached to the culinary school. By doing this the restaurant is able to engage on a daily basis with their clients (by sending out the daily menu) and it’s a great way to keep customers interested and always coming back for more.