the season to build and improve customer relationships while
spreading holiday cheer.
the season's freshest and best selections in exciting ways,
and showing diners that you care that they've chosen to dine
at your establishment obviously can solidify lasting customer
relationships at any time, but never more so than during the
latest economic reports are showing improved consumer confidence
and although this is welcome news -- especially for the foodservice
industry -- a lingering sense of uncertainty may continue
for some time. Historically, most successful restaurateurs
have learned that in leaner times, trying harder can lead
to doing better in the long run.
year especially, you might want to consider creating specially
priced menus, highlighting exceptional seasonal menu offerings,
and aiming higher with intangibles that improve the bottom
line -- a more welcoming ambience, improved service, and increased
take-home message is that paying attention to the basics counts
more than usual. That's because whether you're serving guests
a pizza and beer, or a complex, seven-course menu paired with
the finest wines, you're providing much more than food and
drink. You're selling perceived value -- especially in terms
of attentiveness and creativity.
tighter times, many customers expect more than ever in exchange
for their dining dollars. But even with limited budgets and
a lot of choices, they'll remember a great meal. So if you
make sure that everything is top quality and well executed,
this busy season, many managers take time to focus staff with
quick training reviews and added encouragement. They make
sure everyone understands and appreciates his or her part
in providing pleasurable, restorative (the essence, after
all, of the word "restaurant") dining experiences.
In fact, this is exactly what guests are looking for when
they dine out -- the food, the place, and its people should
provide them both a haven from stress and a bounty of pleasure,
especially during this special season of giving.
Trendspotters checked around and found that especially in
today's market, pricing is a key measure of value. Chef David
Féau of New York City's Lutéce is offering his
current prix fixe three-course dinner menu at $59 -- twenty
dollars less than just a few months ago. Diners can order
from the main menu their choice of appetizer, main course,
and dessert, but will pay a supplement for some signature
dishes such as Féau's renowned foie gras in chocolate
sauce with bitter orange marmalade. Since once they're in
the restaurant, diners tend to buy up -- tempted by offerings
that aren't on the fixed menu -- sales even out while customer
another tack, Daniel Patterson, chef-owner of restaurant Elisabeth
Daniel in San Francisco, has adjusted the number of courses
of his prix fixe menu since two years ago when it originally
listed six courses for $77. It now features five courses for
$70. Despite the Bay Area lagging the rest of the country
in rate of economic recovery, Patterson says December and
January are two of the restaurant's busiest months, with excellent
bookings due, in part, to holiday parties.
and holiday menus at Elisabeth Daniel will highlight such
specialties as diver scallops from Maine, spiny lobster, wild
mushrooms, and truffles. Current offerings include chanterelles
with lentils and a green peppercorn emulsion; duck breast
with baby bok choy, black "forbidden" rice and lapsang
souchong infusion; ragout of prawns and wild mushrooms seasoned
with ginger. A delicious seasonal finish is chilled rosemary-scented
pear soup with pear and huckleberry sorbets.
assure repeat visits to Martini House, their newest restaurant
in St. Helena in California's Napa Valley, restaurant designer
Pat Kuleto and partner Chef Todd Humphries' menus change daily
so they can provide the highest quality products attainable.
holiday season offerings at Martini House have included cream
of chanterelle soup with Hobbs smoked bacon, French-Canadian
foie gras with coriander-macerated raisins and golden raisin
sauce, and pan-roasted Millbrook (New York) venison served
with a leek-turnip gratin.
some areas where weather slows business during the winter
months, it may make sense to give something extra. A small
suburban Italian restaurant we know often surprises customers
with a complementary glass of Marsala at the end of their
meal. By serving a small glass, they keep the cost low, which
is more than offset by increased dessert orders to accompany
the after dinner bonus. Customers also appreciate and remember
their host's warmth and generosity.
high-end restaurants customarily serve chocolate truffles
and/or tiny fresh-baked cookies on a separate plate along
with coffee, or before the check, even if diners don't order
dessert. The message sent is the same: thank you for coming.
them with Christmas accents, or with silver non-pareils or
on a plate with candy confetti for New Year's -- along with
a genuine wish for the happiest of holidays -- might be one
way to show your appreciation and build customer loyalty.
keeping customer satisfaction at the forefront and serving
extra holiday cheer with every cover, you and your staff will
be sure to enjoy the holiday bustle, as well as plenty of
repeat business throughout the coming year.
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