Build Community with Your Menu
Promote your company values and build loyalty
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Great food and service is the obvious way to keep your customers coming back. But you can also make your restaurant unique and memorable by showcasing your company values. By sharing your values - from how you approach cuisine to how you participate in your local community - you’ll leave diners feeling good about your restaurant and eager to share the story.
Your approach to food - and its corresponding impact on the planet we all share - is more important to customers than ever. Many restaurants now describe their food commitments (e.g. organic, local, sustainable) in a mission statement on the menu cover or back page. For example, do you recycle or compost? Do you grow your own herbs? Are your to-go containers eco-friendly? Whatever green methods you employ, customers will respect you for it.
If you are committed to serving organic fruits and vegetables, especially locally-sourced produce, a thoughtful statement on your menu will give your guests a hint at the goodness in store for them. Grass-fed beef, sustainably caught fish, and free range eggs are in high demand, and if you openly disclose these sources, your customers won't balk at the inevitably higher prices. Some menus even list the names of the local suppliers, lending extra credibility to their commitment. And it’s a boon to us all that the food is clearly fresher and its short trip makes a smaller carbon footprint.
How does your restaurant connect with the local community? Starting within your own doors, do you host fun holiday or tasting events to draw people in? Do you provide a place for clubs to host meetings, or private rooms for families to celebrate their special occasions? Your menu can communicate this open-door policy to invite customers to share their occasions at your restaurant.
There are also dozens of options for restaurants to do community outreach. Do you provide food to the local food kitchen, donate portions of your profits to a special cause, or sponsor community charity events? Do you support the local school district in some way? Maybe your chef teaches at the local culinary school? It’s not bragging to let customers know of your involvement—it’s opening a conversation and giving that cause more visibility.
Sponsoring a local sports team is another popular outreach. Little League teams, adult bowling teams, high school band…they all need sponsors. If you have made a commitment to one of them, a simple note such as “We proudly support the Women’s Rugby team” will celebrate your investment and interest in the community. A picture of the team will evoke smiles, and be sure to update your menu with current photos.
Every restaurant has a story. Was yours the first French restaurant in the city? Did your lasagna earn rave reviews from a visiting dignitary? Did your building serve as an immigration office when your family first arrived in this country? And what inspired you (or your chef) to get into the restaurant business? People are fascinated with stories that give your restaurant—and menu—an authentic individuality. From a colorful family history to quirky details about your town or location, these stories let diners experience the unique, personal aspects of your restaurant.
And don't forget the people who make it all happen - your employees. Do they have special talents? You might feature one employee at a time on your menu: “Our waiter Dave is a sculptor; his art is displayed this month by the front door.” Or showcase charitable work done by individuals on your team. Celebrating your staff makes them more personable, and the friendly vibe will affect your whole establishment.
Every restaurant is part of a community - your customers, your food suppliers, your staff, and your town. Be open about your commitments to that community, and you’ll build long-term relationships with a solid foundation.
Written by: MustHaveMenus Staff