Bonji Hot Takes: Volume 4
Why Changing Menu Items is Crucial
Hi all, welcome back to Bonji Hot Takes, where we address some of the opinions and knowledge that we've picked up along our journey in the industry. We are here to offer assistance, stories, and hopefully some value! This week we are here to help the process of changing your menu. Change is important for so many reasons, but it can often be difficult, specifically when you've seen previous success. We aren't here to tell you that your entire menu should be thrown out and re-made, however, we want to help ease the process of change because yes… it is necessary.
To begin, we've all heard Gordon Ramsay or another famous chef absolutely grill restaurant owners because they've kept the same menu and restaurant decor since the 1970s. Although we don't believe that this is much of a factor these days, there are still many restaurants out there that have never thought about changing their menu. Overall, change is healthy for a business, especially in these wild times that we live in today. When we say you should be changing menu items, that doesn't mean you have to strip away all of the greatness you've built over the years. Simply put, this means that 1-4 times a year, you should be evaluating your menu to see what you can remove, improve upon, or even consolidate. Generally, you should be assessing your business as a whole a few times a year, thus, looking into your menu at the same time wouldn't hurt. When it comes to adding and removing items, think about the seasons of the year. There are some foods like specific fruits that are special in one season or another. Adding a special pumpkin dish in the fall can drastically improve your sales, however, that same pumpkin dish may not sell as well in the middle of winter or early spring. These specialty dishes can and will draw in new customers, as well as keep things interesting for those loyal customers who are constantly returning. Speaking of loyal customers, don't take away the fan favorites! Those customers are usually coming back because there is something you offer that they just can't get enough of! Yet, that doesn't mean they won't get bored and want to try something new. Guests' tastes are constantly evolving and you don't want to be left behind because that new juice bar down the street is stealing your customers. Who's to say a coffee bar or Italian restaurant can't sell a juice or smoothie?!? Additionally, with so many supply chain problems, it's important to review your menu and see how you can prepare for shortages. Maybe you can combine two dishes into one to save ingredients, or even use one ingredient that you always have in surplus to spark a new section of the menu entirely. Finally, if you have a chef in your kitchen, ask for their input! Chefs are the most creative people when it comes to food, and you should always have open communication with them. Don't be afraid to give your chef some freedom when it comes to re-designing your menu, they know what they do best!
Review your menu a few times a year to add, remove, change items
Drastically improve bottom line
Consolidate to save money or scarce ingredients
Allow your chefs and staff to have input
Final Thoughts: All in all, we all know change is necessary at times, but we are also still scared of it. Changing up your menu here and there is important because: 1) Guests' tastes evolve, 2) You can improve sales from returning and new customers, 3) You can save money! Additionally, allowing chefs and staff to be creative and help menu design will not only improve morale but also will show you what type of talent is on your team. There's no need to panic, the best-selling dishes aren't going anywhere; yet, the dishes that bring in little to no revenue should be thrown away even if you are deeply attached to them. It may be a struggle, but this is the livelihood of your business on the line!