An Eggcellent Time of Year
Easter is the first major holiday of the year that offers the opportunity to increase sales and drive profit through value meals, treats or activities. The four-day holiday (14-17 April) attracts families, and friends, new and regular customers, each wanting to celebrate the occasion in their own way.
“Easter marks the start of the tourist season, when people start to get out and about more often,” said Steven Pike, managing director of HGEM. “If you can get front-of-mind for potential guests at this point, you will increase the chances of people visiting during the summer.”
A roast dinner with all the trimmings is still what most people choose on Easter Sunday*. Roast lamb is synonymous with Easter, the perfect and for some, the only choice, with lamb cutlets and chops as equally tasty options (see our Roasted Lamb Cutlets with Chilli Mint Sauce recipe). Otherwise, make sure you have beef and chicken, or even turkey on the menu.
• 55% named roast dinner as top Easter food
• 41% said good value was key when choosing where to eat out
• £11-£20 per person was the price they wanted to pay
Make it easy
For the other three days of the long weekend, you’ll see a busier kitchen than normal thanks to the higher turnover of customers. Save time by using easy to use sauce mixes like curry, parsley, béchamel and cheese that are now available in a ‘granule’ format and can be used in a number of dishes. “The Bisto sauces are quick to make and we’ve made sure that the flavours are well suited to the dishes consumers want to enjoy when eating out,” said Sarah Robb, channel marketing manager at Premier Foods.
By Premier Foods’ executive chef Mark Rigby
• Glazed Gammon with Parsley & Cider Sauce
• Beef Cannelloni
• Cod, Cauliflower & Chorizo Mornay
Gluten free and veggie
Make sure your Easter menu caters to all diets – so don’t forget gluten free and vegetarian options. With 1.2 million of the UK population now not eating meat or fish and large numbers cutting back on meat consumption, according to the most up to date figures*, it’s crucial that your vegetarian offerings are varied and inspiring.“Whilst gluten-free meals are not essential for every customer, the decision on where to eat is driven by the customer with a gluten-free requirement, so if chefs and caterers can successfully cater for gluten-free customers this Easter, they will bring their friends and family with them,” said Kathryn Miller, head of food policy at Coeliac UK.
Keep it casual
The Easter weekend not only pulls in families but friends socialising in the pub for longer periods, so why not offer a snack menu that works outside your normal menu for those ever hungry customers? Snack food is quick and easy to prepare and serve; the style of food often makes for bigger orders and allows you to justify higher menu prices. Hot dogs, nachos, pizza, chips and burgers all fit the bill. And don’t forget your bar snacks: crisps, pork scratchings and nuts are favourites among customers so make sure you stock up!
Helen Vass, pastry chef at Number 16 Restaurant in Glasgow shares dessert and wine pairings for the Easter weekend.
Somontano red wine – Madagascar dark chocolate cremeux with olive oil ice cream
Cava brut nature – Olive oil cake with mandarin foam and granita, caramelised muesli and white chocolate cremeux
Verdejo white wine – Pistachio, mascarpone and raspberry entremet
Rosé cava – Rosé cava mousse with a pistachio crumble, raspberry compote and fresh raspberries
Muscat white wine – Lemon meringue pie
An egg hunt is standard for the children but how about running an adult one? A DJ or live band will draw in customers (especially if it’s free of charge) and keep them there for longer. If booking entertainment is difficult, then why not hold your own game of bingo or have a good selection of board games readily available? Easter is a bumper weekend for sport with 15 Premier League games on Easter Saturday, nine Championship games on Good Friday, three on Saturday and 12 on the bank holiday Monday – so check nearer the time to see which ones are available for you to screen. From Friday to Sunday, there’s also the Formula 1 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Think about ways that you can entice customers and stand out from the competition. A simple touch like giving an Easter egg to every child that eats or having a basket of mini eggs on the bar for children to help themselves will make them feel extra special and leave a lasting impression on the bill payer. Offering a discount for repeat visits or having a 2FOR1 offer during out-of-eating times during the weekend will boost trade. Make sure all the offers, activities and treats are on your website, pushed on social media and advertised in-house. “A bit of investment in promoting what you’re doing and ensuring a great experience in terms of both food and welcome will pay dividends in later profitability,” said Steven Pike. “Look online to see how others have promoted Easter in the past and look for an angle of difference that might get you noticed. And make sure the team are fully aware of your offer so they can sell bookings and, when Easter arrives, manage experiences efficiently and with a smile.”
- During Easter 2015 more than 77% of adults planned to visit a pub or restaurant during the holiday
- Asparagus is a delicious & healthy vegetable to add to your menu
Michelin-starred chef Steve Smith from Bohemia, in Jersey shares his top five dishes for the Easter weekend.
1. Devilled Eggs
Great as a canapé or starter. Once the eggs are boiled, halve them and spoon out the yolk and add mayonnaise and mustard for the filling. Be playful with the garnish too to help amuse kids (and adults!) by thinly slicing some olives to look like Easter bunny ears.
2. Seasonal Soup
Jersey Royal Soup is a great starter dish. Sweat an onion and leek in butter without colouring, and then add potatoes, stock and double cream. Simmer gently for 10 minutes, then finish by blending together the ingredients and finally adding fromage blanc.
3. Hooked on Shellfish
Langoustine is in season so a great choice with diners over Easter. Serve it with parsnip, sea herbs and cobnuts.
4. Load up on Lamb
The perfect choice at Easter. Roast lamb loin and braised neck is a good choice, served with peas and roscoff onion.
5. Give in to the Greens
Purple sprouting broccoli is delicious this time of year and works well with most meats. Toss with roasted garlic and pickled walnuts, as they have a savoury-sour flavour which perfectly complements the greens.
*Sources: Unilever Food Solutions, National Diet & Nutrition Survey 2012