Pub food: business boosters

By Jo Bruce

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Cream Full breakfast Brighton and hove

Hairdressing service: gets people in
Hairdressing service: gets people in
Ideas for driving food sales at your pub including a sausage festival, afternoon tea and a hairdressing service.

Sausage festival

Where: Sussex Yeoman, Brighton, East Sussex

The idea:​ Keen to offer something different to kick off the 2010 Brighton festival and to launch her homemade sausages, head chef Ellie Ledden came up with the idea of holding a sausage festival at the Greene King pub. The event included a design your own sausage competition with the winning entry being made up for its creator to take home, a sausage and wine matching session and a sausage and cider treasure hunt. Gary Stewart, regional manager for Greene King says: "It is so impressive that a local pub can host such a fantastic event for its people highlighting the important role that the pub plays within the local community. The event has yet again placed the Sussex Yeoman on the foodie map of Brighton and Hove."

What we needed:​ Advertising was via flyers, posters, local press coverage, Facebook, Twitter and word of mouth. All advertising costs were met by Ellie's separate sausage business, EllesBelles, and additional staffing was provided free of charge by her friends and family.

Business benefits:​ The event was attended by over 80 people with takings at the pub up by 50% that day. The sausages are on the pub's menu and are selling well. Ellie's own business has also benefited with over 40 packs of sausages being sold during the festival alone. Ellie says: "When I realised Brighton was lacking somewhere that sold homemade sausages I decided to make my own. The initial reaction has been fantastic. A particular highlight of the festival for me was making up a completely new sausage for our competition winner. The recipe is such a great idea that I'm thinking about adding it to the pub's menu."

Top tip:​ Games and competitions bring fun to an event as well as generating more interest and encouraging customers to stay longer.

Why do it:​ Promotes an exclusive menu item.

Hairdressing service

Where:​ Freehold the Lion Inn, Trellech, Monmouthshire,

The idea:​ Offering a fortnightly hairdressing service. Licensee Debbie Zsigo says: "I started offering this service 12 months ago after requests from my locals who were unhappy about having to have their hair cut in a salon on a busy Saturday morning. The hairdresser visits twice a month on a Monday evening from 7pm until 10pm but will stay later if needed. I insisted that she made her prices more competitive than the local salons so she charges £5 for men and £10 for women."

What we needed:​ "We advertise the service on our website and in the pub, but mainly by word of mouth. The hairdresser brings all her own equipment and the customers pay her direct. There is no cost to me and I don't take a percentage, but do get my family's hair cut for free."

Business benefits:​ "I am part of a rural community and the pub is the hub. This is more of a service to the community than a money spinner. However, it has increased my trade on an otherwise quiet night as people come in specifically to have their hair cut and always buy drinks and sometimes food. The services also cements loyalty to me as I have gone out of my way for them."

Top tip:​ "Ensure demand and approach it as a service rather than a trade booster as you will make money anyway."

Why do it:​ It's a service to the community that boosts trade and promotes loyalty.

Chippy Tea

Where:​ Freemasons, Wiswell, Clitheroe, Lancashire,

The idea:​ Offering a chippy tea menu on the last Tuesday of every month. Keen to make his pub restaurant more accessible to local customers, and to avoid being labelled as a one trick pony, head chef/patron Steven Smith introduced monthly chippy tea nights as a modern twist on a classic northern tradition. For £22 per head diners benefit from a three course meal that includes starters of meat samosa, chipolata sausages with HP dipping sauce and scampi in a basket; mains of Tyrell's beer battered haddock and chips or chicken and leek pudding with chips, peas and gravy and desserts of summer fruit pudding with double cream ice cream or a fresh fruit platter. Authentic touches include buttered teacakes, pots of ketchup and gravy and fish served in newspaper.

What we needed:​ "We invited a local magazine to review the chippy tea as we wanted to claim ownership of the idea. The only other advertising has been on our website and via word of mouth.

As the food is simpler than our regular evening menu our produce costs are lower and I can manage with two less chefs. We used to offer our regular menu alongside the chippy tea one, but it soon became apparent that this wasn't necessary."

Business benefits:​ "This is an all-round winner. Our costs are lower and our 90 cover restaurant is fully booked every month. Our GP on this menu is 75% and the night boosts our takings by £1000 to £1500. It's not my favourite night as I prefer to produce something a little more creative, but it's great for business and avoids us being labelled as pretentious."

Top tip:​ "Offer something that is relevant to your local community, make it authentic and the best quality possible."

Why do it:​ A nostalgic local tradition that boosts mid week trade.

Afternoon tea

Where:​ Broad Leys, Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire,

The idea:​ Offering tea on week day afternoons. Licensee Helen Wood says: "Offering afternoon tea is a new venture for us. We decided to introduce the idea to help fill the traditionally quiet period after lunch and to coincide with the purchase of some new garden furniture. We wanted to offer afternoon customers an extra choice and to perhaps create additional business from small meetings, local offices, tourists, passing trade and regular customers popping in with elderly relatives. Teas are available between 2pm and 5pm and we offer a pot of tea and homemade scones with strawberry jam and clotted cream for £4.95 per person."

What we needed:​ "Set-up costs have been low. The offer is designed to fit in with our existing service set-up. Advertising has been in-house with menus and cards, via Twitter and on our A-board outside the pub. We have also promoted it through our newsletter to our mailing list. The staff have had the opportunity to try the homemade scones and are now very much behind the idea."

Business benefits:​ "We have had a surprisingly positive reaction from our younger customers, it seems afternoon tea is not just for the more mature."

Top tip:​ "Retro ideas are back in fashion. Taking an old-hat idea, bringing it into the present and doing it well, attracts customers."

Why do it:​ Encourages a wider customer base in the afternoons.

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