Brunch represents an important daypart in which an increasing number of diners are choosing to eat in restaurants again after staying home during the pandemic.
But with so many restaurants offering brunches that have similarities, finding a way to stand out from the competition can make the difference between a slow service and a packed dining room. Here are a few ideas for creating a unique, memorable dining experience that should help get your weekend morning reservations booked.
Know the Competition
In order to gain a competitive advantage for your restaurant’s brunch service, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the competition. Dine at your competitor’s restaurants so that you can have a personal perspective on the experience. Take notes, capturing the positive and negative elements of your experiences, and share them with your management team while brainstorming ways to set your own brunch service apart.
Think Like a Guest
In addition to personally understanding what your competitors are doing, it’s necessary to think of how guests see your restaurant compared to others. Guests will be evaluating the quality of your food and service as well as your prices in comparison to other dining experiences they’ve had. If your menu is too similar, if your service is lacking, or if your prices are notably higher than others, guests may choose to dine elsewhere.
Highlight Brunch Cocktails
Fun drinks make brunch more than a meal, so make sure your beverage program is an attraction with clever, Instagrammable innovations. Instead of simply offering mimosas, consider introducing a roving mimosa trolley that goes table-to-table offering customizable beverages with a variety of freshly squeezed juice and mixers, alcoholic and non. Or, highlight the Bloody Mary with a Bloody Mary bar, where guests can choose their own flavored rim and add-ons.
In addition to the classic brunch cocktails, consider coming up with a unique brunch cocktail that’s available exclusively at your restaurant. At one restaurant where I worked, the owner created a signature drink called the Evil Keevil—a combination rum punch with orange, pineapple, and cranberry juice. The drink was so popular it outpaced bloodies and mimosas on the brunch menu, and people lined up around the block waiting for their Evil Keevils.
Try Out LTO’s
When it comes to drawing guest attention, limited time offers (LTO’s) are always useful. These can allow you to follow trending recipe ideas without committing to putting them on your regular menu, or they can allow you to offer hyper-seasonal menu items that use abundant produce, drawing on guest demand for seasonality. When introducing LTO’s, it’s important to get the word out, so share often on social media, in your newsletter, and with local press.
Collaborate With Guest Chefs
Guest chefs are a common sight at ticketed dinners, but it’s less expected to see them at brunch. There can be a ton of fun ways to riff on brunch by collaborating with other chefs in your community. Consider hosting a takeover where a chef from another restaurant brings their type of cuisine to your restaurant, and then return the favor by cooking at theirs. Sell tickets in advance to make sure you can cover your costs and pay the visiting chef, and make sure to spread the word to both your followers and the followers of the visiting chef’s restaurant.
Think Outside the Dining Room
Because of the increasing interest in off-site dining options like delivery and takeout, it’s wise to consider how to pack up your brunch offerings to-go. Not all brunch foods work well outside the dining room, so look at your brunch menu with a critical eye to identify which dishes will hold well over time and distance. Populate your to-go brunch menu with these items, as well as batched cocktails, and other add-ons that will make for an enjoyable at-home brunching experience. Capture good photos of these items so that customers can see exactly what they’re getting when they order.