Last Sunday, I went to a local, neighborhood bar, the Grafton Pub in Lincoln Square with friends. It was definitely one of those, “Hmmm, I’m bored and it’s the middle of the day” decisions, and I was hungry. I would have ordered some food, but I hadn’t ever been to this bar (which was really laid back and had a great waitstaff, by the way). My friends, who are regulars at the Grafton looked at the bar menu, complained that their favorite burger had been taken off the menu, and said “Wow, they really raised the prices on this food.” Then they snapped their shared menu shut and ordered a single beer and a single cider.
After that comment, I somehow didn’t feel inspired to order any food either.
Do you ever wonder why your regulars don’t order food anymore? Have you noticed that your bar menu just keeps getting less and less popular? It might be that your bar regulars are the type of people who want a nice side of whiskey with their, er, whiskey, or it might be that your bar menu needs to be updated. Here are some ideas to get your regulars ordering food again. Grafton, listen up.
1. Rotate or add to your menu.
This does not mean Blue Plate Special. Your daily special is a great idea, and if you have one that’s popular, by all means keep it going. Just realize that your regulars have already tried your Tuesday beef stew and your Saturday chicken enchilada. To rotate your menu effectively, you need to add a few new items and take away a few unpopular items. Your regulars will consider it a challenge, and will say to themselves “Oh! Something I haven’t tried. I must remedy this immediately.”
You can make this a participatory event for your regulars as well, and post voting options on your social media pages so that your regulars have the chance to decide what they would like to have you make for them.
2. Make something new from the same old ingredients.
When you’re coming up with ideas, don’t make it hard on yourself. If you already serve fries and something with gravy, create a poutine dish. If you already make a chicken enchilada, make a new chicken pot pie or a chicken burrito. Use the same ingredients, but make it a different meal.
3. Add cool seasonal items that people love.
You know what really excites me this time of year? It’s not green beer (in fact, I find green beer a bit disturbing), and it’s not Guinness (I drink Guinness all the time…but I do have to admit that $4 Guinness pints this time of year are awesome).
What really excites me are the Irish Nachos. I talk about Irish Nachos all year long, and would make them myself, except that I know they’re really, really bad for me. Call me crazy, but I really want to live past the age of 30. Irish Nachos taste like death on a plate–but they offer really delicious, gooey, satisfying death, so they’re hard to resist. Every March, I give in.
At this time of year, I used to go on a hunt to find the best Irish Nachos, but then, one year, I found them. No matter what my friends want me to do for St. Patty’s Day, they always have to come and meet me at the bar with the best Irish Nachos—and then that bar makes more money.
What are ways that you’ve mixed up your bar menus? What are brilliant bar menu changes that you tell all your friends about?
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