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Plan Ahead

BACK TO UNIVERSITY SEPTEMBER – OCTOBER, BRITISH ROAST DINNER WEEK 26th SEPTEMBER – 2nd OCTOBER & CURRY WEEK 10th – 16th OCTOBER

Get fresh
Freshers’ week gives the on-trade the perfect opportunity to showcase and promote their business. Get your brands to support you with POS material and giveaway stock. Attract students into premises with outside signage; advertising deals like 2FOR1 and pitcher serves. “Outlets need to come up with sharing and pitcher serves that are clearly communicated, and also offer lower ABV and non-alcoholic sharers too,” said Kay Thompson, brand development manager at Maxxium. “Quirky drinking vessels are great as most people in bars buy with their eyes, and if they see something that looks good, they will ask for one without knowing what the drink actually is.” Try and capture students’ email addresses so you can send them weekly events and promotions by having a special freshers’ week prize draw.

Global cuisine
The variety – and number – of dishes that university chefs cater for involves organisation and preparation. “Planning ahead is a must for university caterers, as they face challenges year on year like no other sector,” said Julie Barker, chair of TUCO and director of Accommodation & Hospitality at University of Brighton. Over the past year 1.7 million undergraduates enrolled on full-time courses, so caterers not only have to deliver excellent service but meet the demands of food trends by providing a diverse menu. “Only 5% of university students surveyed actually wanted to eat British food, 84% wanted to eat a mix of foods from home and elsewhere,” adds Julie.

Toast the roast
British Roast Dinner week is growing from strength to strength. The success of the event is down to the fact that customers don’t just want a roast on a Sunday – research by Unilever found that 40% of customers want to see roasts on the menu everyday. The Duke of Wellington, in East Horsley, a finalist last year in British Roast Dinner Week has seen its roast sales increase by 50% since last year’s event and the winner Larwood & Voce, in Nottingham smashed its record number of covers three weeks in a row after taking the ‘Best British Roast Dinner’ title. “I didn’t expect to see people tucking into a roast dinner on a Monday lunchtime or a Tuesday evening,” said Dan Cramp, general manager. The pub sold 800 covers during the week and has since seen a 60% increase in sales since winning. For more info visit unileverfoodsolutions.co.uk/ menu-support/pub-roasts/british-roast-dinner-week.html/.

Spice it up
Curries are a staple diet of the UK consumer, so should feature on your menu. Paired with pale lager (alcoholic and non-alcoholic) and even Pimm’s, Curry Week is a golden opportunity to boost trade and see if your menu can cope with more than one curry – something different than the bog standard korma. “People want and expect to see something other than chicken tikka masala on the menu,” said Anjula Devi, a traditional Indian chef. “They don’t represent what Indian food is really about and there is absolutely no reason why a non-Indian chef could not create great Indian food. If they are not used to cooking with spices it’s not rocket science, it’s just like cooking a coq au vin with complex flavours which need a fine balance. My Lamb in Indian Pickling Spices (see over) is a good one to start with.” 

Promote yourself
Advertising and word of mouth in the weeks leading up to your event are key. Post the event, times and booking requirements on your social media accounts pages (see our feature on page 56 if you need help) and your website. Have outside signage, posters inside – at the university make sure you cover halls of residence – and brief staff to spread the word so your customers know well in advance what you have on offer.

Click here for Lamb in Indian Pickling Spices recipe

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