Children under seven eat free
Where: Pearson's Arms, Whitstable, Kent, www.pearsonsarmsbyrichardphillips.co.uk
The idea: General manager Jamie Evans says: "We have run the offer since opening in December last year because we always want people to know that children are welcome here. Children under the age of seven can eat free on Sundays and we serve food from noon until 6pm that day. There is usually a choice of three or four dishes for them to pick from — fish & chips, sausage & mash, and sausage & chips. They are half the size of the adult version on the menu. Sometimes the chef adds something like a homemade fish-finger sandwich."
What we needed: "As one of four Richard Phillips outlets we have our own marketing company and through that we have taken out local advertising. We also showcase the offer on our website and on the à la carte menu."
Business benefits: "It definitely brings more people in and generates repeat custom. I think it particularly works if people are undecided about where to go and they are often swayed by the offer if they have young children. We generally get between 150 and 170 diners on a Sunday and around 20 will be children. Last Sunday there was a table of 25 with 15 kids, but that is more unusual. We are right on the beach as well, so you can't really beat it."
Top tip: Make sure that people know their children are welcome or you could miss out on potential trade.
Pie and a pint for £10
Where: Renaissance Pubs, London
The idea: Co-owner Mark Reynolds says: "In honour of British Pie Week we offered a selection of our fantastic home-made pies plus a pint of leading British ale for £10. Our chefs enjoyed being creative with their pie fillings — cow pie, with rump, ox cheek and tongue was popular this year."
What we needed: "We promoted the deal on our blackboards, Twitter and Facebook. Our PR agency, Roche Communications, compiled and distributed a press release to our key national and media contacts, and designed an e-newsletter for our group database of more than 12,000, as well as tweeting the deal to their contacts."
Business benefits: "Everybody loves the humble pie; showcasing the fact that we do this well naturally brings the customers through the door. This promotion has put us on the map with regards to the variety of pies we serve on a regular basis and has boosted pie sales. British drinks sales also increased, as our staff paired each pie with a specific ale. We received amazing media coverage."
Top tips: "Plan ahead and promote the deal well in advance yourself or using your PR agency. Vary fillings from traditional, such as steak & ale or fish, to innovative creations, such as wild boar and chocolate. Change them daily to encourage repeat trade."
Takeaway pizza with wine or beer
Where: the Lion Inn, Trellech, Monmouth www.lioninn.co.uk
The idea: Licensee Debbie Zsigo says: "We are in the middle of nowhere, so perfectly placed to do takeaways as there aren't any for 10 miles in either direction. We started the takeaway pizzas just after Christmas and added a choice between a bottle of wine or four bottles of beer for £7 more. We do six pizzas from £6 to £7.95, deep-
fried onion rings and garlic bread with or without cheese from £2.75. Customers can choose to add a family-sized carton of orange juice or four bottles of flavoured mineral water for £3.50 instead of alcohol."
What we needed: "We advertised on our website, in-house and plan to do a leaflet drop within a three-mile radius of the pub. What we also did, which worked really well, was giving every child in the school across the road a flyer to take home with a special offer to come and buy pizzas. There are 200 children in the school so that's 200 families receiving our pizza flyer."
Business benefits: "I think we make around an extra £100 a week from the takeaways. We probably receive around 12 orders a week, but it is worth doing as it doesn't cost me anything to stock the goods. People tend to take advantage of the £7 alcohol add-on during the weekends — never during the week. There tend to be bigger pizza orders at the weekend as well because people are spending the evening in groups. What we get during the week is a dad picking up a couple of pizzas and having a pint while he waits, so we make a bit of extra money through drinks sales as well."
Top tip: Look at what your local area is missing and if you can offer it at the pub, people will take advantage of it.
Where: the Pheasant, Keyston, Cambridgeshire, www.thepheasant-keyston.co.uk
The idea: Surprise five-course menu. Owner of the freehold pub, Taffeta Scrimshaw says: "So many people don't have the courage to try dishes they haven't had before that we decided to introduce this menu to encourage diners to try different foods, in smaller portions. The idea is for them to put their trust in the kitchen and allow us to surprise them with each course. The menu consists of five courses and runs from Monday to Friday evening alongside our à la carte."
What we needed: "The menu is created from largely the same ingredients as our à la carte menu and offers the same style of food, in smaller portions. Customers are asked whether they have any allergies or dislikes at the time of ordering, and we also try to accommodate any requests, so each table's meal is pretty much bespoke. Dishes are about half the size of those on our à la carte menu and have included chilled gazpacho in tea cups, boudin blanc of pork, chicken and rabbit offal, venison fillets with raspberry & chocolate sauce and a seasonal bean cassoulet, and Loch Duart salmon with herb gnocchi and tomato fondue."
Business benefits: "The menu has only been running for a few weeks and marketing has been solely in-house, but already we are getting at least one table a night opting for it. At £42 per person it's good value for money and we are getting positive feedback from the customers who have tried it with many others expressing an interest in trying it out at a later date. People are managing to eat the five courses, but are very full by the end, so it may be that we need to reduce our portion size further!"
Top tip: "You are taking people out of their comfort zone, so ensure your front-of-house team are able to sell the menu in a positive manner and have the ability to allay any customer fears."
Menu Watch: PubChef's focus on new dishes and food promotions
The dish: Vanilla crème brûlée with poached rhubarb, rhubarb jelly and home-made white chocolate ice cream
Seen: The Rose & Crown in Great Horkesley, Essex
Details: Head chef and proprietor Edward Halls changes the menu in accordance with seasonal produce. The dish at £7.50 replaced an orange and passion fruit crème brûlée with macerated oranges and white chocolate ice cream. The rhubarb is cut up and sealed in a vac pack with brown sugar and honey and heated in a water bath before being drained and set into a jelly. "It is decadent, but pretty good," says Halls, who comes up with every dish on the menu. Around a third of desserts sold are the crème brûlée.