While lamb shanks are a favourite, think of ramping up your winter offering.

Diners are choosing mid-range venues such as clubs and pubs during tougher economic times, accounting for nearly half (48%) of all dining bookings in Australia, up 9 per cent from January 2022.

There has also been a 28% decline in premium and fine dining venues in the same period, according to data by ResDiary.

Stefan Overzier, APAC Head of Customer Service and Support, said the insights showed that people are still enjoying eating out, but are choosing casual over premium options.

“The data shows Australians still have the desire to head out and enjoy a good quality meal, however, we can see people choosing mid-range options, and are experiencing ‘bookers remorse’ for higher-end venues as they cancel plans a higher percentage of the time. But it’s not all doom and gloom, your local pubs and cafes are the big winners with an increase in bookings overall,” he said.

While booking at more expensive options have dropped, clubs and pubs numbers remain steady throughout the second half of 2022 and into 2023 despite the economic pressures. Diners are still heading out but preferring those venues with a lower price point of $21-$40, which includes the club and pub space.

The cooler months also translates into customers wanting to eat heartier meals with less focus on dieting, says consultant chef and Club Management columnist Paul Rifkin. 

“It’s a great opportunity for you to develop interesting offerings, to entice them to be a more regular diner and help with your sales growth,” he says.

Share plates for starters that are a step up from your norm will create interest and extra revenue: think hot dips, spicy numbers, pull aparts.

While lamb shanks have always been a favourite, think eggplant parmi, beef cheek ragout pie or brisket instead. Light curries with seafood or fish, or Thai green curry with eggplant for the vegans will also prove a firm favourite, he says.

“Desserts are the perfect item to sell, and with the correct training your staff can entice your customers to ‘want’ to have dessert. Remember, most people want it, but will say no,” he says. “Your upsell techniques can change this and improve spend per head. Seek training for your staff on how to upsell, it’s worth the investment!”

Whatever you end up doing, don’t forget to keep it as simple as you can, and be sure your staff can manage it when staff challenges occur.

“Think revenue, ensure all your items can produce the highest gross profit,” Rifkin concludes. “With a well thought-out menu you will increase total sales while improving gross profit and wages at the same time.”

For more top winter tips, club managers can sign up to receive a free copy of Club Management magazine. For a free copy of the ResDiary inflation fighter, click here.  

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