Customers Dig Restaurants that “Go Local”
Sustainability is the buzzword these days in the restaurant industry and for good reason – it’s not only good for the environment but it makes good business sense.
Statistics released this year by the National Restaurant Association estimate that nearly 70% of consumers say they are more likely to patron a restaurant that serves locally sourced items than one that doesn’t.
And it’s not just local produce they want to see on the table.
Customers want it all, including locally sourced seafood and meat. 44% of chefs in the National Restaurant Association survey concurred, saying that local sourcing of food was a top trend among restaurants in the past decade and a trend that expected to continue to gain momentum. Looking to lessen your footprint on the environment and bring a smile to the faces of your customers when they browse the items on your waterproof menus?
Here are a few suggestions from the association and other sources:
- Take baby steps. Restaurant owners might be eager to take a giant step in going local, but it’s better to start small when working in local and season ingredients to your menu. And that goes for your menu offerings as well. It’s easier to cook seasonally and with local ingredients when you have a smaller menu selection.
- Visit the vegetable stand. If you don’t find what you are looking for at one, the vendor is sure to tell you where you can find it. Make connections along the way.
- Research, research, research. Find out the names of local farmers and food suppliers and begin to learn what is in season and what farmers are growing. And don’t be afraid to go check out the competition to get a feel for what they are doing. You’ll find food sources listed on their menus, grocery store labels and by touching base with growers associations. Before you know it, you’ll have developed a sustainable food supply.
- Be flexible. If you want to offer locally-sourced food, while having a go-to menu, offer specials to the menu that feature locally sourced produce. Being flexible is a must. After all, you’ll want to wow your customers with a variety of ways to serve up those tasty veggies at the peak of the season, those salty oysters when they are being harvested and those yummy berries when they ripen at the local farm.
- Be prepared. Menu items that change with the seasons may mean you have some explaining to do. Be prepared to answer customers’ questions about why something is not on the menu at a particular time of year. Asking for feedback from your customers about what they like and don’t is crucial in making your “Go local” efforts pay off.
While going local takes some time and commitment from restaurant owners, it’s a move that is worthwhile – there’s no doubt about it. Not only is it great for business, it supports the local economy, protects the environment and allows the chefs in the kitchen to get a little creative with their menu options. And there’s just one more thing…
Local food tastes great. So what are you waiting for? Go local today!
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