Dining Style, Marketing, Menus, Public Relations, Staff

If Walls Could Talk

Have you trained your servers to taste-test your evening specials and given them the list of paired wines which you would like to recommend and, in doing so, create an enthusiastic atmosphere towards selling (and upselling) your evening meals?

For the purposes of identifying best-case scenarios on targeting sales, I evoke the dinner hour to best capture positive response rates and impulse-purchases. Certainly, you can rely on the talents of your servers to create momentum from tables of two as much as from a group table – with an invigorating recitation of the evening specials. The challenges are evident when not everyone at the table is ready to place their order, or perhaps indifference from the diners themselves becomes more of a chore, leading to regular menu choices (and a smaller tab for the restaurant in sales).

Certain upscale brand restaurants have captured the momentum by displaying and offering a customized wine list via an elegantly encased iPad with their embossed logo on the front cover and every digital page therein. Its visually attractive content is a well-designed presentation for the Generation X, Y and the why-nots who will try anything once. The pleasant feeling of luxuriating over the well-chosen wine selections paired with meal selections makes this a no-brainier, you just want to keep “shopping” – and this is exactly how progressive dining with colleagues and power lunches/dinners goes into overdrive. Point, select, and proceed at your own pace, and pass the iPad along around the table. Not everyone wants to put on their reading glasses and “wait on themselves”; however, within certain cliques and personalities, there just might be a passionate form of one-upmanship should this be a group dining table.

In retrospect, there is room to grow on this digital momentum and expand on an even more interactive plane – placing pre-recorded videography and slideshows along the restaurant wall, exhibited by framed thin-profiled LED TVs showing the chef preparing meals with flair and flare. Present trends in certain high-profile restaurants offer exclusive dining in the kitchen while the chef cooks for the group. By placing wall-mounted TVs throughout the main dining room, guests can see other exquisite presentations to entice and create allure – bartenders preparing specialty drinks, champagne being poured in slow motion, caviar and hors d’oeuvres being scooped up on silver tines and a couple welcoming the service prepared tableside for chateaubriand or an equally enticing bouquetière selection. Of course, it’s all advertising and best videography services specializing in food styling is a given.

Prepare for this capital investment and acquaint yourself with a trendier way to upsell, even if no server is present. This becomes a valuable accommodation for demonstrating your BOH skills at their best. This approach may be your best solution for upselling and inviting your guests to have “what he’s having”, even if he’s on display 6 feet high on the walls of your restaurant. Now, all you’ll have to do is deliver the quality of your menu in truth and performance.

Note – This suggestion comes at a time when being outstanding and digitally ready to meet your competition is a “remote” possibility. I would like to hear from my other fellow F&B bloggers about how they are creating and working with their IT and wait staff to help market the restaurant and upsell the bar and food menu this summer.

Question: What technological solution or capability will make the biggest difference between success and failure for restaurant operators? Response (from Daniel Houden, CEO of Task Retail): The ability to interact with the guest is key. If your business systems are not open to embrace mobile, interactive digital creative, social media and other web-based platforms, your business systems were DOA in 2010. ReferenceHospitality Technology, June 2013 issue, article “What’s Holding Back Restaurant IT”