Adding new items to your menu can be fun and smart for your restaurant. A menu change can bring in new customers and it’s a chance to introduce items you’ve never had on your menu before. Around the Spring season, many of us take the time to transition from our winter gear to embrace the upcoming Spring and Summer months. This same approach should be taken when thinking about how to freshen up your restaurant’s menu.

Local + Organic

Adding local ingredients to your menu isn’t a trend that is going anywhere anytime soon. More and more diners are familiarizing themselves with where their food is coming from. One green dining survey found that most consumers are willing to pay more at restaurants that serve organic and locally grown food. In total, 65% of consumers noted that they would be willing to pay 10% more to dine at a green restaurant. In the same survey, a full one-fifth said they’d pay more than 10% more in order to eat green. A survey by the Organic Trade Association shows that the organic farming industry is booming, accounting for 5.3% of total food sales in America.

Eat Your Vegetables

This phrase might make you cringe and think back to a time when you were little and couldn’t leave the table unless you ate all of your broccoli. However, much like adding organic and local items to your menu, more customers are looking for veggies in their meals. Customers are looking for more balanced meals which include a protein with a variety of vegetables instead of just a salad or potatoes. You could even get creative and offer vegetable noodles such as zucchini, carrot, or squash noodles for those who are gluten-free or trying to be more healthy – 2 birds, 1 stone! The top 10 concept trends from the National Restaurant Association included vegetable-forward cuisine — often described as vegetables taking the place of meat as the “star” of a dish.

Is it Gluten-Free?

Over the next three years, the restaurant business’s demand for gluten-free food products will likely double. Statista reported that in 2006, gluten-free and so-called “free-from” foods rang up about $0.9 billion in retail food sales. By 2020, Statista said its data indicated that sales of those same foods will total $23.9 billion in the U.S. The reality is, there aren’t THAT many people in the U.S. that have to (medically) abide by a gluten-free diet. But, there are enough people that still want it, so by not including gluten-free options on your menu, you are missing opportunities for new customers and a new revenue stream.

Tis the Season for X

Make sure your restaurant is tapped into what local events are occurring and adapt to the ever-changing holiday seasons. These are ideal times to add a quirky new option for your customers that might emotionally draw them in for purchase. Around 59 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to purchase an item on a restaurant menu if it’s described as “seasonal”? In fact, according to research and consulting firm Technomic, 49 percent also said “seasonal” menu items are more appetizing, and another 39 percent believe “seasonal” dishes are healthier.

The goal of adding specialty items to your menu isn’t to replace your current menu. Your focus should be to ensure you aren’t excluding any potential future customers that could be visiting and ordering from your restaurant.

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