Pub food: business boosters

By Jo Bruce

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pub Golf

Boost business with a grill and golf day
Boost business with a grill and golf day
Ideas for driving food sales in your pub including 'Spork' dining, a Bastille Day event and a golf and grill day. 'Spork' dining Where: The Crown,...

Ideas for driving food sales in your pub including 'Spork' dining, a Bastille Day event and a golf and grill day.

'Spork' dining

Where: ​ The Crown, Woodbridge, Suffolk

The idea:​ This lavishly refurbished boutique townhouse inn, this year's joint winner of Alastair Sawday's Pubs with Rooms award, opened last year at the hands of chef-patron Stephen David for freehold owner Thorpeness & Aldeburgh Hotels. One small part of the Crown's innovative menu, "spork dining" has helped to get the well-heeled locals in coastal east Suffolk talking. David says: "Alongside culinary sections at the pub, such as 'Charred', 'Superfoods' and 'On Toast', the spork meals are one-pot/single-implement dishes served in funky pasta bowls with a funky spoon/fork combo implement — hence the name."

What we needed:​ "Offering a variety of dining spaces and dishes, using the same cosmopolitan menu, we are all about comfort and indulgence. Our spork food works well for informal low-table dining on squishy sofas. It's hearty comforting bar-style food and offers a cheaper option, especially for our regulars when they just want a simple tasty bite. There would be a riot if our lamb & chilli meatballs, cannellini beans, spaghetti, rocket & puttanesca sauce came off the menu, but we do mix the other dishes up. Suffolk Gold macaroni & leek cheese with blackened tomatoes is always popular."

Business benefits:​ "Selling at between £10 and £12.50, with around 100 portions sold in a typical week, the spork dishes generally make a GP of around 71%."

Top tips: "Think about what your regulars would like, and try to be creative."

Why do it:​ Innovative dishes that suit your clientele help to boost your profile.

Golf and grill day

Where:​ Peach pub the Almanack, Kenilworth, Warwickshire,

The idea:​ Social golf tournament with dinner at the pub. General manager Jordan Marr says: "The event was held mid-week so we teed off at 2.30pm to allow people to work in the morning. We finished playing at around 8.30pm and headed back to the pub for dinner. We wanted to shout about the produce we use so served Aubrey Allen steak with a pepper sauce and chips."

What we needed:​ "A local clothes manufacturer sponsored us and made up shirts for all the players with our name and their logo on them. We made up some goodie bags with things like golf balls, tees and bottles of water and donated prizes which included vouchers for the pub, a magnum of Champagne, bottles of port and a trophy. It was important to use a local golf club to encourage a community atmosphere and attract players to the pub. We advertised it on blackboards and table toppers."

Business benefits:​ "Our events are designed as a guest-building exercise rather than to make money but we covered our costs — 36 people signed up and we charged them club prices for the golf and £10 for their meal. It turned into a good social evening and most players stayed on until after midnight. The event connected customers who didn't previously know one another and will now come to the pub to meet."

Top tip:​ "Choose an event that is of interest to a staff member and ask them to organise it to ensure thorough planning."

Why do it:​ Creates a community atmosphere and builds regular clientele.

Bastille Day event

Where:​ Charles Lamb, Islington, London,

The idea:​ Themed Bastille Day event and petanque competition. Owner Camille Hobby-Limon says: "My parents are both French and were hoteliers in Sheffield where they always used to hold this event. I wanted to continue the tradition. It's like a big street party. The pub served regional specialities such as galette saucisse, cassoulet, ratatouille, grande aioli and steak haché. French wines, cidre Breton, Pernod Ricard and pitchers of St-Germain spritzers were also available as well as special deals on Perrier-Jouët Champagne. An accordionist and petanque competition provided the entertainment for the day."

What we needed:​ "Ricard supplied us with stock and lots of PoS stuff and I got some sponsorship from St-Germain. We have no outdoor space, but are located on a quiet street and, because this is a local community event, the council suspended three parking bays outside the pub for the day so that we could set up the petanque pitch. We donated a limited edition print of the pub, which we normally sell for £150, as a winner's prize."

Business benefits:​ "Between 150 and 200 people turned up and takings doubled. Thirty two teams entered the competition at £5 a team, raising £160 for charity."

Top tip:​ "Set an early deadline and only allow on-the-day entrants to any competition to encourage people to arrive early and spend more money. We also offered a free Ricard and amuse-bouche to encourage early arrivals."

Why do it:​ Community event celebrates the pub's French/English heritage.

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