Get a Theme
Theme nights are a great way to bring in custom and drive sales at your outlet.
Hold a theme night on a monthly basis and serve something different to your normal menu, the point of difference will attract loyalty and repeat custom. Rolls-Royce Leisure in Barnoldswick has been holding a monthly theme night for more than 12 months. “We had one Friday in every month where the club was quiet so we knew we needed to do something to bring customers in,” said Anthony Burniston, club manager. “And the theme night worked!”
Themes have included Mexican, Greek, curries of the world and tapas with entertainment to match. “We charge £13.50 which includes a buffet and entertainment, so once the food is finished customers will carry on spending behind the bar,” adds Anthony. “And clearly they like it because when they come to settle their bill, they always ask when the next one is!”
How to manage your theme night
• Advertise on your social media pages, website, in-house and outdoor boards. Tell your customers that you are going to have a theme night
• Decide if it’s a booking-only or walk-in event to help monitor covers and keep waste to a minimum
• Decide if your menu is going to be a buffet (no more than 10 dishes is advisable) or a set menu of two or three courses
• If possible, host the event during lunch as well as evening service
• Only decorate your premises if necessary – decorations have a cost implication, however, are worth it if they can be reused
• Have themed entertainment – this way, customers will stay longer
• Stock up with beers and wines that complement the theme of the event
• Offer a complimentary drink (theme dependent)
Why not host a Scottish or Chinese night in light of Burns Night and Chinese New Year?
Every year on 25 January, the life of Robert Burns, Scotland’s national poet, is celebrated in Scotland and by Scots all over the world. The tribute to the great Scot is held through the ritual of the Burns Supper, originally started by his friends following his death in 1796, to honour his memory.
What to do
• Food – the iconic haggis is the centrepiece of any good Burns supper
• Drinks – whisky is the usual choice; either malts or blends
• Poetry – recitals include ‘Selkirk Grace’ and ‘Address to a Haggis’. Others include a speech commemorating Burns ‘The Immortal Memory’, ‘Address to the Lassies’ and ‘Reply from the Lassies’
• Dress up – if you want to be really traditional then why not suggest your guests wear tartan? A hat or tie or even the full kilt for those feeling brave!
When to host
This year, the event falls on a Thursday. Creating an event on the actual date is a great opportunity to boost weekly trade. Alternatively, hold the theme night over the weekend to draw customers in.
How it’s done
The Lodge on Loch Lomond is holding its Burns dinner and entertainment night in its Glen Luss Suite on Friday 26 January. Hosted by Mark Thompson, global brand ambassador for Glenfiddich, the evening will begin with a Glenfiddich cocktail on arrival, Glenfiddich whisky with each course and address to the haggis followed by folk entertainment and after dinner speeches. They are charging £39.95pp.
By The Lodge on Loch Lomond
A Taste of the Orient
Chinese food is one of the nation’s favourite cuisines, and guaranteed to be a theme-night pleaser!
Why it works
Giving diners a chance to celebrate oriental cuisine with your food offering needn’t require a huge menu overhaul. By featuring one or two relevant dishes, there is huge potential for increased profit margins. Using speciality rice in dishes is a brilliant way of boosting incremental sales as its premium taste means you can demand a higher price.
When to host
The beauty of Chinese food as a theme is that it is eaten all year round. However, if you want to create an authentic, traditional event why not hold it during Chinese New Year? The festival lasts around 23 days with the main celebration taking place on Friday, 16 February – perfect for the weekend trade.
What to serve
Create a sharing plate of a New Yearthemed salad – Yu Sheng – a Cantonese favourite – that uses raw, thinly sliced salmon (or even smoked salmon) and a variety of grated or thinly sliced raw vegetables (turnips, carrots, radish, peppers, kohlrabi) and bowls of seasonings (crushed peanuts, sesame, plum sauce, rice vinegar and five spice powder, fresh ginger). All ingredients are served in separate bowls on a large platter for sharers to mix together to suit their taste – delicious and lots of fun. Keep mains simple by offering piles of jasmine steamed rice or plain boiled or fried
noodles and a choice of dishes to go with it – one vegetarian with mushrooms and tofu, one meat or chicken, and one fish or seafood. For dessert, offer chilled lychees with mango sorbet – and plates of fortune cookies. Or make your own fortune cookies and put your own messages inside – such as dining vouchers or free drink coupons.