Consumers are flocking back to restaurants in droves, and they are craving dishes that are unique, fresh, and exciting.
Restaurants are starting to see a surge of diners come back, and competition in the industry is tougher than ever. Incorporating unique or limited-time offers into your menu creates customer loyalty and repeat business. Draw diners in and heat up your summer menu with these tips for creative LTO dishes.
Seasons in the Sun
Diners’ tastes tend to change with the season. Give them what they crave with some exclusive limited-time dishes that scream summer. A grilled watermelon feta salad, a weekend seafood boil, boozy popsicles, or even coconut ice cream served up in a pineapple are just some great examples to serve up on hot days and nights. And we can’t forget about the drink menu. Diners are thirsty and want refreshing and fun beverages to cool them off this summer. Create some limited-time fruity mocktails, frozen daiquiris, tiki drinks, or other summery cocktails to quench their thirsts and keep them coming back for more while lingering longer. Smoothies and fruit-infused iced teas are another unique addition that could put an uptick in your foot traffic this season.
Hit ‘Em in the Feels
Comfort food and dishes that evoke feelings of home are always going to be a hit. A chili dog piled high with all the fixins’, baked mac and cheese served up in a casserole dish, or fried chicken drizzled in hot honey are all great dishes to consider as LTOs. For more ways to get in on the nostalgia trend, check out our top tips here.
If you discount it, they will come. Consumers love a good deal and if it’s only available for a short time you up the ante even more. The fear of missing out is one of the main reasons LTOs work so well for restaurants. Consider offering buy-one-get-one for apps, half off the margarita of the day or simply offering free delivery or a free dessert can be an easy way to boost summer sales quickly.
The Shareable Experience
Most customers, especially the younger demographic, love bite-sized snacks, tapas, or other small plates they can share with a group of friends or quickly on the go. And snacking is big business for restaurants, so you can’t go wrong by offering just about anything shareable such as a platter featuring different dips, charcuterie boards, piled-high nachos, or mini BBQ shrimp skewers with a spicy dipping sauce. Add a margarita flight or mini cheesecake flight to the menu and you’ve created an LTO experience that appeals to a wide variety of customers.
Don’t forget about all the summer holidays, national food days, and current events to create some excitement around your LTOs that will drive foot traffic. The Olympics are coming up at the end of the month and designing some cocktails and happy hour apps around that theme are a great way to drive some new business. National Hot Dog Day is coming up on July 15, and National Tequila Day and National Chicken Wing Day are also at the end of this month. And Labor Day will be here before you know it, so make sure to plan some LTO specials for that in advance and start promoting them in August.
Whatever you decide to add to your menu this summer, get creative with your LTO ideas. Remember, you don’t have to go off brand or outside your budget to offer these dishes to customers. Diners want to feel like they are a part of something special, so deliver that with a unique, exciting dish they can’t find anywhere else.