Planning ahead is crucial to maximising the sales opportunities presented by key events on the calendar.
Many people in Scotland and around the world, celebrate the life of Robert Burns by holding a Burns supper on or around Burns Night, and next year it falls on a Friday.
What to do
•Offer a three-course meal. Start with a Scotch broth, cock-a-leekie soup (chicken and leek soup) or smoked salmon, followed by haggis served with neeps and tatties. Dessert is the traditional cranachan (whipped cream with whisky, honey, raspberries and oatmeal).
•Whisky is the traditional drink – either malts or blends – so stock up! Offer a whisky or wine pairing with each course, accompany dessert with a Laphraoig 10-year-old whisky or shake up your own signature whisky-based cocktail.
•Toasts and readings of Robert Burns’ poetry are an essential part of the event. Begin with the Selkirk Grace, then The Address to a Haggis, followed by a Toast to the haggis.
•Dress staff in traditional attire for the event, and encourage guests to do the same. Many men wear kilts but a tartan bow tie and cummerbund is equally acceptable. Ladies wear a full length fluted tartan skirt with matching tartan, however, a tartan sash or wrap over a dress is fine.
•A piper welcoming guests is the formal procedure for a Burns supper, or you could play traditional music instead.
Chinese New Year
Chinese is one of the nation’s favourite cuisines. With the celebration falling on a Tuesday in 2019, this offers the opportunity to boost mid-week trade.
What to do
•Having a Chinese option on your menu will lure customers away from a takeaway – especially if you incorporate an early-bird menu, 2FOR1 or an all you can eat buffet.
•Serve simple, popular dishes like sweet and sour chicken, chop suey and chow mein. Dim sum are delicious and more adventurous, stir-fries are quick and easy, and Cantonese-style roast duck is a firm favourite.
•Stock up on Tiger Beer, Tsingtao and the not-so-well-known Lucky Beer. For those not drinking alcohol, tea is a must! The traditional options are Pu-Erh (a black tea), Chrysanthemum tea (herbal and caffeine-free tea), green tea and Oolong.
•Red is the customary colour of Chinese New Year, along with gold or vibrant colours, so ask your staff to dress accordingly.
•Fortune cookies are not an authentic Chinese custom, but a red envelope containing money is. The gift is believed to bring good luck, so just pop a few pennies in.
•Firecrackers and fireworks always welcome in the Chinese New Year, so why not hold a fireworks display and make a real night of the event?
A major opportunity for every venue, Valentine’s Day falls on a Thursday next year, so there are several days to capitalise on the event.
What to do
•Have a lunchtime offer or early-bird menu on the day itself – mid-week customers may not want a late night.
•Create a special Valentine’s menu for the Friday evening or host a Valentine’s party on the Saturday.
•Host a singles night. They too want to celebrate with friends, or hopefully find love!
•Shake up your cocktail menu with novelty cocktails such as Black Velvet and Don Julio Romance. See takestockmagazine.com/recipes for more ideas.
•Stock up on Prosecco and offer pink Champagne – a lovely alternative to the classic.
•Offer wine by the glass, bottle and half bottle. Red beer is fun – make your own by adding food dye to your light lagers.
•Steak is always a popular choice, however have good vegetarian options available. Sharing platters for mains and desserts are a perfect option for romantic couples.
•Raising prices will only sway customers to dine at home, so keep your regular menu alongside a two or three-course deal. Little touches like candles on the table, a welcome drink, or flowers, are vital.