by Jo Bruce
Managed pub operator Barracuda is aiming to drive its food sales to 18% of overall turnover in the next two years and is also putting a stronger focus on coffee.
Martyn Smith, catering development manager at Barracuda, where food currently accounts for 13% of turnover, said: "We want to remain pubs that serve food. We have seen strong growth on food in the last year because we listen to our customers and don't compromise on the quality of the products we use."
Smith said the company had seen 20% year-on-year food sales growth in the last six months.
The company has invested £200,000 on new coffee equipment, cups, and training for 20 pubs, many of which offer coffee from 10am.
Smith said that in the eight weeks since putting a stronger emphasis on coffee, sales had increased by £14,000 on last year.
Six types of coffee are available including Americano and latte made from a bean specifically produced for the company. Prices range from 95p to £1.50. Point-of-sale material is helping drive the offer.
Around 40 Barracuda pubs now offer breakfast and Smith said that although the company has been offering breakfast at some sites for four years, the opportunity has recently been given a bigger push, with many of its new sites opening with a breakfast offer.
The company is also increasing the range of South African dishes on its Barracuda bars menus from May from three to eight dishes. New dishes include steak served with monkey gland sauce (made from wine, tomato juice, onions and Worcester sauce), piri piri chicken, Cape Malay lamb shank and a selection of meats that have been cooked over a braai (barbecue).
Smith said: "Our South African dishes have proved very popular, so we have decided to give the menu a much more South African feel." All the dishes are made in the UK, but using meat from South Africa.
Two healthier options have been added to Barracuda's new Smith & Jones menu, which will be launched in May. Both the salmon and leek pasta and chilli chicken have reduced fat and salt levels.
Barracuda pub the Graduate in Sheffield has recently started to serve food in dog bowls. The dog bowls are used to serve dishes such as chips, chilli and Mexican chicken. Smith said: "The bowls are going down really well. Obviously the bowls have never been used by dogs!"