Expand Autumn Menu Offerings with These Ideas
Autumn is just around the corner. Temperatures will begin to drop, and the leaves will begin to change. In the world of food and beverage, this ultimately means that restaurants, coffee shops, bakeries, and bars will all start thinking about capitalizing on seasonality with their menu offerings.
As we know, Chicago food trends can vary significantly depending on the time of year, and these changes also bring about the potential for profit. Here are three trends and ideas that local foodservice operators should consider when looking to expand autumn menu offerings.
1. The Return of Autumn Coffee Trends
When the fall season arrives, many people immediately think about pumpkin spice lattés. Even though many people get tired of hearing about them, there is no denying they are a staple of the autumn weather, though they can now be found in coffee shops across Chicago even before Labor Day.
As people put the coronavirus pandemic in the rearview mirror, many are returning to coffee shops once again. Reports and studies traditionally show that people consume more coffee away from home meaning there is an opportunity to increase coffee shop sales as consumers return to their normal habits, which clearly includes much love for the ubiquitous PSL, or pumpkin-spice latté. If coffee shops can use this beverage to increase store visits, they can also use it to upsell or cross-sell their customers on other foods and beverages.
With many coffee shops serving popular coffee beverages like the PSL, how can restaurant professionals separate themselves from the crowd? It is important to find a way to appeal to all five senses. Delicious coffee is about more than just taste. It is also about the sound of the creation process, the sight of delicious ingredients going into the cup, the warm feeling of the cup on a cool fall day, and certainly the smells of the beans. Restaurants can capitalize on some of the same things that make coffee shops so popular.
2. Oktoberfest-Themed Beer
When the calendar rolls over to October (or technically September if you follow Munich tradition), it also means the arrival of Oktoberfest. Oktoberfest is something that is closely associated with Germany, but it has become a popular festival all over the world. Restaurants should consider serving Oktoberfest-themed beers like festbiers or märzens. But Oktoberfest is more than just beer.
Operators should use this holiday as a way to provide a full, cultural experience celebrating everything Bavarian. For example, restaurants may want to combine their Oktoberfest beer with some traditional German food. Consider bands or recordings of German music. And there are plenty of amazing celebrations that take place throughout the country. We're lucky because we get to experience some of the largest Oktoberfest events in Chicago.
3. Fry Those Comfort Foods
With many people looking for a way to stay warm when the temperature begins to drop, frying some comfort foods can be a great idea. Some of the top foods that restaurants may want to consider frying include:
Pumpkin: Don't let extra fresh pumpkins go to waste - consider frying pumpkin chunks. They can be salted to create a nice contrast with sweet and salty flavors.
Pickles: Fried pickles have become one of the most popular appetizers and bar food. Pickles have a wide variety of flavors, so restaurants should try different types of pickles to see how their customer base likes them.
Cauliflower: Fried cauliflower is also a delicious bar food and appetizer. People closely associate fried cauliflower with football season, particularly because it goes so well with buffalo sauce.
There are plenty of other great ideas for fried food this fall to explore as well. We hope to see you out there enjoying the season!