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Going al Fresco

Winter weather may have been a wash-out but our desire to head outdoors hasn’t been dampened.

As soon as the first rays of sunshine peek through the murky clouds, customers will be itching to get into a beer garden for a pint or a meal. Eating al fresco boosts customer’s spirits – and your profits. Here’s how you can make the great outdoors even greater.

Maximise outdoor areas

Whether you have a beer garden or patio, you should maximise your outside space whatever the size as it could provide an additional income stream and boost your wet sales. Mintel found that on average, outside dining areas increased beer sales by 10-15%. All you need is suitable furniture and some shade from the sun – or rain! The Yard Bar and Kitchen in Cardiff has an outside temporary bar which holds DJ nights in the summer. “We found we were losing money with too many customers queuing so the outside bar relieves the main bar and generates more money as people sitting outside can use it rather than going inside,” says assistant manager Janine Johnson.

The trusty BBQ

Two in three adults ate food cooked on a barbecue last year, according to Mintel. National Barbecue Week starting May 27 is the perfect time to dust down your barbi and kick off the summer tradition, getting you ready for this season of sport. The Yard Bar and Kitchen runs barbecues when the rugby is on and its last one made £900 profit in four hours.

Get cooking

Chefs can take some pressure off the kitchen by cooking outside. Rotigrill offers a selection of products, including hog roasters and stainless steel rotisseries complete with skewers and kebabs. “Our products give a competitive edge by supplying a see and smell experience – diners can see and smell the cooking,” says owner Colin George. Pizza ovens are another novel way of cooking outside and create a real point of difference.

Picnicing

The Saddle Inn near Preston has introduced picnic baskets for families to enjoy in the pub grounds. For just £25 they provide a family of four with a bottle of beer, small bottle of wine, two fruit shoots, crisps, fresh fruit, baguettes, potato salad, coleslaw and home-made biscuits. “The idea was to relieve the bar and catering staff of work during busy periods but the picnic baskets have quickly become a success story in their own right,” licensee Graham Rowson reveals.

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