How to put on a fantastic post-lockdown summer

The sunshine has finally arrived and with it, we hope, relaxed restrictions and many venues re-opening. After lockdown, customers will be looking for a good time. Make your venue THE place to go this summer for the best food, drinks and atmosphere

Get the BBQ fired up

If you’re lucky enough to have an outdoor space, then customers will likely be knocking your door down already. To adhere to Covid-19 restrictions (or just because you want more kitchen space), take your cooking outside by investing in a BBQ.

Make it an event

Put on special BBQ events every weekend and bank holiday (3 and 31 May). Take pre-bookings to manage numbers and your stock levels. If you want to really minimise waste, you could take pre-orders. Showcase your menu via social media, your website, in your window and on A-boards for passers-by.

Your menu should shine

Sausages and burgers are obviously a must, but a BBQ is so much more than this these days. Think large, juicy steaks (like this Côte de Boeuf), salmon, extravagant meat-free burgers and tempting side dishes.

Plant-based BBQ food has really come into its own in recent years. Customers looking for a meat-free option don’t need to put up with bland bean burgers anymore!

“25% of Brits want to eat less meat”
- CGA’s BrandTrack

If you haven’t tried them already, look at Garden Gourmet Deluxe Burgers. They look, smell and taste just like beef patties. Make them really special with add-ons – veggie (or vegan) cheese, BBQ sauce and a tasty egg- and milk-free bun.

Don’t miss the extras

Upgrade your sides and puds, rather than relying on the same old green salad and bowls of ice cream. Sweetcorn cobs drizzled with butter and a sprinkle of chilli flakes, a refreshing watermelon salad and a sweet potato and spring onion salad would all be delicious. Aim to make most of your side dishes veggie or vegan so they are suitable for all customers.

For desserts, choose simple options that can be prepped ahead of time and just cut up and served on the day. Cheesecakes, chocolate fudge cakes and cookie ice-cream sandwiches tick all the boxes. Check out this delicious Strawberry Cheesecake with Crunchie Bits.

Strawberry and Honeycomb Cheesecake with Crunchie Bits

Grab a glass!

It’s time to celebrate all those occasions over the past year, which fell into the Covid-19 abyss. The lockdown birthdays, the engagements, the Friday night after-work drinks…

All being well, as May/June arrive a sense of normality will be returning to pubs, restaurants and bars across the land.

Crack open the bubbly

You had better get the bottles of fizz ready. “If the vaccine roll-out progresses well and the On Premise [on-trade] can re-open smoothly, we may well see a major uplift in celebratory visits out – and that would bring excellent opportunities across the sparkling wine category,” says Mark Newton, CGA client director and wine category specialist.

Encourage customers to get into the spirit by offering deals on your sparkling bottles. Offer a reduced-price bottle with a main course or do a deal – buy one glass and get one half price. Add some fizzy cocktails to your bar list. Prosecco grapefruit spritz, anyone? Or the summer favourite, a peach Bellini?

“36% of people are looking to choose premium food and drinks when they go out”
- Heineken Consumer Sentiment Report, February 2021

Stock up on summer favourites

Pitchers of beer or icy cider work well for groups of six. Customers will love the feel-good factor of getting a deal, too. Jugs of cocktails will also go down well.

Rosé wine is an essential for any summer, but especially at the moment with sales booming in retail. To accompany a BBQ spread or tapas-inspired Mediterranean meal, offer customers Mountain Range Rosé. This beautiful wine will whisk customers off to sunny climes with its intense red fruit aromas of cherries and strawberries.

Bartender making a fizz cocktail
Picnic food on blanket

Alfresco picnics

A picnic might traditionally be a meal prepared at home and taken to the park, however, unusual times call for unusual thinking. Create a hamper of delicious bites that can be enjoyed by customers in your outdoor space or to take away.

Give price options

Appeal to more customers by offering a traditional or premium option. The classic picnic could be egg and cress or ham and mustard sandwiches, sausage rolls (meat or veggie) and a packet of crisps, followed by a slice of Bakewell tart or brownie.

For customers who want something a bit more special, include mini sausages with a sticky hoisin glaze, fish finger brioche rolls and sweet potato and corn fritters. For sweets, include mini cheesecakes with passionfruit drizzle or a salted caramel topping.

Add a refreshment

Don’t forget the picnic drinks. Soft or alcoholic, there are plenty of options. As well as the classics such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi, offer something customers might not have tried before like Ribena Sparkling. Flavoured fizzy drink sales grew by 4.2% last year which makes this a brilliant bet.* It comes in blackcurrant and raspberry flavours and the can would fit perfectly in your picnic offering.

Upgrade your offer by giving customers the opportunity to choose an alcoholic option to add to their box for an additional charge – try a mini bottle of wine, bottle of beer or can of spirit and mixer.

The extras (and logistics)

To complete your picnic include paper plates and napkins, plus recyclable wooden cutlery. Or, to make things easy (and cheaper), make sure all the food is hand-held so you just need to add in napkins.

Put some time into making the appearance of the picnic look special. Arrange it well and serve in a wooden tray, basket or nice card box. Ask for a refundable deposit on return for a tray or basket. By making the picnic look high-end, customers are more likely to share a photo with their friends and help spread the word.

*EXT IRI, MarketPlace GB, Value, latest 52 weeks to 22.11.20

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