Restaurants that market themselves to “foodies” continually raise the bar on quality, selection, and presentation. What kinds of dishes do they serve and how do they organize their menus? Here’s how you can stay on trend, attracting the patrons who recognize and appreciate good eats:
Think Small. Small plates, that is. Foodies enjoy tasting a variety of flavors, and what better way than nibbling on several small plates versus getting full on a single, large meal?
Go Local. The “locavore” movement has only been growing, proving to be more of a lifestyle change for foodies than a temporary trend. Collaborate with local growers, fisheries, and butchers on your seasonal menu, shop at the neighborhood farmers’ markets, and for a micro-local approach, grow herbs and veggies in the restaurant’s backyard.
Serve Vegetarians. Every year, a new vegetable takes center stage. In 2013, kale was a definite favorite. This year, foraged mushrooms are in. Many foodies, however, are meat-free altogether, and more and more restaurants are doing well by including a vegetarian or vegan selection on their menus.
Get Gluten-Free. Gluten-free is one of the top food trends of 2014. But don’t be intimidated—this only means taking advantage of superfoods like quinoa and amaranth, which foodies love, versus wheat and barley.
Go Nuts. According to Forbes, 77 percent of Americans have nuts on hand at home and incorporate them into all three meals. Restaurants are expected to follow suit.
Be a Source of Comfort. Food is always a comforting thing, some dishes more so than others. Foodies’ tastes aren’t typically associated with the likes of macaroni and cheese and fried chicken, but this is quickly changing. Reinvent the comfort food menu with your own creative, upscale version.
Marketing to Foodies
After jazzing up your repertoire, it’s time to market your culinary prowess. Here are three must-do’s for getting foodies’ attention:
Customize your Menu. If the herbs in your stew are hand-picked from the restaurant garden, by all means showcase such details in your menu. Foodies will research your menu online before dining at your restaurant, seeking a selection of high-quality ingredients.
Update your Website. Given the bullet above, it’s important to keep your website up-to-date with fresh content that includes everything from your cooking philosophy to changing menu items, recipe suggestions, and online ordering.
Make Public Appearances. Foodies flock to events like street fairs, wine walks, farmers’ markets, and neighborhood walkabouts. These are great opportunities for your restaurant to make an appearance and sell a best-selling dish or two to a potentially wider market.