While many restaurants thrive during the summer months, there are an equal—if not greater—number of concepts that see their profit margins run tighter than they would like over the course of the summertime.
Some restaurants choose to go dark, weighing operational budgets against incoming profits, but at the helm of an independent concept that happens to be attached to a hotel, that’s not feasible for us. As a result, the entire front and back of the house team, in addition to our banquets department, developed a number of ideas and programs to encourage new diners while accommodating those staying at the hotel. Following are the top three, which may not universally work within the hospitality industry, but have proven to be both inspirational and effective in keeping our restaurant top of mind.
We serve inspired, American fare using fresh, local ingredients. While it might seem the time to throw anything and everything at the wall to try to grow those summer margins, it’s just not a very good idea if that idea sacrifices the overall brand. Hands down, consistency is the most important, across-the-board attribute a restaurant can possess. Consistency with menu items, dependability of freshness and quality, as well as reliable professional service will keep customers coming back. By staying focused and offering alternative presentations of what originally gave the restaurant its positive reputation in the first place, it creates enough fun and diversity to showcase talents and tap into new audiences while at the same time respecting core philosophies. For example, we serve an enormous amount of steaks. Instead of turning our restaurant into a steakhouse we expanded our menu with opportunities to upsell different sauces and crusts for those steaks and we also decided to introduce different cuts like a tomahawk or prime rib.
Operating a restaurant is not for the faint of heart (especially in challenging months) but with a little imagination and a great team willing to execute many of the ideas, summertime can once again become the season where ‘the livin’ is easy.’
Dean Sampson is General Manager for the Doubletree Suite Suites by Hilton and Redz Restaurant in Mount Laurel, New Jersey, with over three decades of experience within multiple sectors of the hospitality industry.