Get customers involved in your pub's food offering

By Ashley McCarthy

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Potato

McCarthy: "Customers who turn up go away feeling happy to be involved in ‘menu development’"
McCarthy: "Customers who turn up go away feeling happy to be involved in ‘menu development’"
The great British weather has decimated our potato crop, increased food costs and failed to provide us caterers with the correct product for the job! So what do we do?

I don’t know about the rest of you but we’ve had lots of negative comments lately from customers about our chips of all things. The complaints led us to sample a lot of varieties of potato over the past month or so to try to find a good-value spud that exceeds customers’ expectations in something as simple as the great British chip. So how as a business can we turn these negative comments around?

We run a dining club with more than 1,200 members so we have invited them to come along and help us to choose the perfect chip. We will be offering a vast selection of potatoes cut by hand into our style of deep fried beauty and asking for feedback. Hopefully this will help us find our own X Factor spud.

With luck we’ll get a good turnout on a quiet night, with everyone buying a drink or two and maybe even staying for a meal. Even if we get a 5% turnout we’re still looking at 60 covers walking through the door. It will give our customers the feeling that we care about what we serve and listen to feedback.

It also generates a great talking point for customers as well as giving them a sense of ownership towards our food offering. Don’t get me wrong — chips are only a very small aspect of our menu, but it gives us a chance to involve our customers in what we do at very little expense. Our vegetable supplier was more than happy to send a selection of potatoes for us to sample free of charge.

So the end result? Our database members get contact from our business reminding them that we’re here; customers who turn up go away feeling happy to be involved in ‘menu development’; we fill the pub on a quiet Monday evening; everyone will buy a few drinks and probably return at some point with friends for a meal; and people will talk about the fantastic chips that they were personally involved in sourcing. We might even make the local papers — everyone’s a winner!

  • Ashley McCarthy is chef-patron of Ye Old Sun Inn in Colton, North Yorkshire

Related topics: News

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