For decades, bar patrons have grown accustomed to receiving a small bowl of salty nuts or chips as a complimentary snack when they order drinks at the bar. This exchange has worked well, since salty and savory snacks are fun to eat, cost effective and easy to serve (plus they usually encourage people to drink more). But as tastes and trends have changed, bar owners are seeking more elegant options.
Customers seek modern looking and tasty foods, while bar owners seek snacks that are easy to store and simple to prepare. Before you offer new products ask yourself a few questions:
- Why do you want to offer different snacks?
- How will you choose new snacks?
- Will you charge customers for snacks, raise beverage prices to cover new costs, or use snacks to increase traffic?
In this article, we’ll look at the many different ways snacks can affect your business.
Why Should You Serve More Snacks?
When you choose to add a new service or offering, you want to make sure that it will improve your guests experience and positively affect your bottom line. Knowing what
your customers want, along with trends in the industry trends will help you stay ahead of the curve.
The 2012 Snacking Occasion Consumer Report by Technomic revealed that nearly half of consumers eat snacks between meals and as meal replacements. Patron dining habits have changed in recent years from the standard 3 meals a day routine. Today’s consumer has an on-the-go lifestyle and seeks out restaurants and bars that fit in with that lifestyle. As consumers choose to eat between meals and want smaller portions of food, bars that provide this will stand out from the competition.
What Can You Serve?
If you are already thinking about serving different types of bar snacks, it’s a sign that you see an opportunity for growth. Expanding your offerings allows you to increase your revenue from existing customers and to attract new customers to your bar. When you think about the types of snacks you’d like to serve you have to consider:
If you want to serve mini tacos with your margarita happy hour and fondue on Wine Wednesday but don’t have an equipped kitchen or employees who know how to make those items, it won’t work.
But if you have storage, a small prep space, and skilled labor, then you can serve those items. You can also use many types of precooked foods that may only need to be plated and serve, or work with nearby restaurants and serve small bites of hot foods. There are many different ways you can expand your snack offerings without having to prep and cook food:
- Small Desserts
- Beef Jerky
- Crackers & Cheese
- Mini Sandwiches
Foods that require refrigeration and heating include:
- Mini-Hot Dogs
- Jalapeno Poppers
- Crab or Cheese Dips
When Should You Serve Snacks?
Having ‘special’ appetizers on a specific day or at a set time will provide consistency for customers and make preparation easier for the staff. If you offer different happy hour specials for drinks on different days, your guests will begin to create a routine of coming into your bar for the drinks and snacks that they enjoy. You can offer new snacks to drive sales in 2 ways: to increase revenue during peak times and to increase traffic in slower times.
Many bars can be quiet and have low sales during the midafternoon, however trends indicate that the majority of people also like to snack during this time. So offering more snacks is an opportunity to drive traffic and increase sales during this notoriously slow time.
Late afternoon-early evening between 4pm and 7 pm, is one of the greatest opportunities to increase sales and traffic. Customers already know that they get great drink specials and by offering snacks you give them a reason to stay at your bar longer- especially if you can offer small plates and appetizers in addition to snacks.
Offering late night snacks is a great way to attract new customers. Traditionally restaurants close between 10 and 11, so offering snacks allows bar owners to offer service to patrons who work late, or who like to skip traditional evening time at the bar.
How to Make It Work
Once you decide what you’re going to serve and when you’re going to serve it, you have to make sure you advertise your new snacks and let customers get used to knowing what will be offered. Building a new customer-base around new products and service offerings takes time.
Poll your existing customers, ask them what they would like to see, and how new offerings will affect how long they stay at your establishment. Giving your customers what they want, what fits their budget, their tastes and their schedule will help ensure that your new bar snacks increase traffic and sales. Make sure that your menus, advertising, website and social media actively promote new offerings and let people know exactly when they’re available.