Summer is always on our minds…and now it’s almost here! It’s time for your restaurant to open the patio, ice the tea, and whip up some special dishes to make this season the most fun yet.

Here are a few ways you can update your menu to suit the sunniest time of the year.

 

Lighter Fare

Plant-based diets are on the rise. Finger foods and appetizers, especially those made with seasonal veggies, are great ways to invite your guests to sit down, stay awhile, and order another round.

Last summer brought an obsession for Pokemon Go, and this summer people are going just as crazy for Poke Bowls – the classic Hawaiian dish. From Cornell to Oakland, people are tossing back Poke, a cool recipe perfect for the summer heat.

Even burgers are going plant-based this year with companies like Impossible Foods offering an incredibly convincing plant-based burger. Take advantage of the bounty of fresh, local produce to brighten up your offerings with the season’s most craveable flavors.

 

Longer Days & Hotter Nights

Summertime is the season for restaurants to shine! Restaurants are expected to add 500,000 seasonal jobs this summer.

Restaurants that serve alcohol, especially those with outdoor seating, will have a lot more time in the day to raise sales and revenue. Vacations from school and work mean you have the opportunity to get more guests in the door, and keep them there eating and drinking more than they might during a business lunch.

On the subject of cocktails, does your drink menu need a makeover? With more guests preferring healthier fare, take a look at the healthy summer cocktails that are raising the bar.

Depending on the demographic of your restaurant, summer may call for longer hours to stay open later and give people a place to comfortably enjoy summer nights. But if you’re in a college town and serve primarily students, you can shorten operating hours while campus traffic is at its lowest point.

 

Fire Up the Patio

As we mentioned in our blog post 3 Ways Outdoor Dining Boosts Restaurant Popularity, patios help restaurants earn more revenue and gain more traffic during the summer months. Even a simple patio can boost revenue by as much as 30%. Outdoor dining and drinking areas give patrons a place to stretch out and take in a summer day (or evening) while ordering a steady flow of drinks and food to munch on.

To lower overhead costs, some restaurants reduce indoor seating and curate a late-night menu of small, shareable plates and drink specials to give diners more reasons to spend more seasons on your patio.

If you have the space and the ventilation, you can join the increasing number of restaurants who are using their patios to offer seasonal grilled items and special event BBQs. Everyone loves to be outside enjoying flame-grilled foods and well-chilled drinks, and the more ways you can offer the trappings of the traditional backyard BBQ with restaurant-quality execution, the better your chances at becoming a regular destination for sun-starved guests.

Every season presents your restaurant an opportunity to change and fine-tune your service, menu, and decor. Take a look at who your core clientele is, and make sure your summer makeover gives them plenty to be excited about.