There’s no question that fruits and veggies are more flavorful when in season, but have you ever considered how ripe produce can factor into your restaurant’s sales? In the same way that one might associate fresh berries with summer, autumn has quite the festive produce lineup that can be incorporated in your seasonal menu. While decorating an establishment with gourds and pumpkins is a creative way to emulate the highly sought after fall feel, changing up your menu with unique and tasty autumn-inspired dishes is where the profits start to roll in. Below are five examples of fall produce to work into your menu this season and tips on how to market them correctly.
It seems like pumpkin season arrives earlier every year, but this celebrated fall produce’s availability has less to do with ripeness than a solid marketing plan. Take it from companies like Starbucks who get fans excited for the pumpkin spice latte in August before summer is even over. New Yorkers have endured a hot three months and are ready for some fall weather and treats in their lives, so promoting pumpkin-based meals, desserts and beverages early is a must. Fresh pumpkin can be used as a base for a variety of dishes and is no longer just destined for pie. Consider experimenting with a unique pumpkin dishes, like pumpkin ravioli or pumpkin overnight oats!
Similar to pumpkin, apples are a no-brainer when it comes to fall produce favorites. Apple pie and apple-infused salads are simple yet decadent examples of seasonal dishes, but the appreciation of mixology has put apple-based cocktails on the map too. If your restaurant serves alcohol, try whipping up an apple cider beverage with a kick. Gin, bourbon, and rum are all exceptional spirits to pair with apple juice for that spicy autumn flavor. Give your concoction a name and then conduct an Instagram-worthy photo
Contrary to their name, sweet potatoes are on the rise as produce fit perfectly for a savory dish. Packed with healthy carbohydrates, the vegetable is an ideal base for guilt-free comfort food. By pureeing sweet potatoes into soup or roasting with salt and pepper for a side of low-calorie fries, customers will be more than eager to get their veggies in.
You may not consider garlic to be seasonal produce, but this vegetable is at peak freshness in the fall. Italian pasta and Thai recipes are examples of delicious menu items that benefit from a hint of ripe garlic. Who doesn’t crave a warm dish with a spicy kick once those cooler months roll around? Plus, the best part about stocking up on fresh garlic this season is that the bulbs will last for months when stored properly in a dark and cool space.
Restaurant chain True Food Kitchen recently introduced its seasonal menu with a bang this year by featuring the new “Unbeetable Burger.” By doing so, the establishment has both reminded customers that beets are a fall vegetable and sparked a curiosity in trying a beet-based burger to celebrate the season. Making use of fall produce to highlight a brand new menu item is a savvy marketing tool. Let restaurant patrons know that fruits and vegetables like beets are in season and that your menu is packed with unique dishes they need to try before it’s too late.
When marketed properly, a seasonal menu can boost restaurant sales. Customers will be just as excited to try your establishment’s festive dish as they are for some gorgeous fall foliage when advertising an autumn-inspired menu relentlessly. To get a better idea of what’s in season this fall, check out the harvest calendar provided by The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets.