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Marketing Your Business

Four Reasons to Serve Food at Your Bar

February 12, 2020

If you’re running the local watering hole, you’ve no doubt wondered if adding food would benefit your business. Although it requires a little more upfront costs and additional staff, unless you’re drawing in huge crowds with world-class cocktails, chances are the additional revenue stream will outweigh the costs and effort of setting up your kitchen.

Here are four reasons why you should serve food at your bar and tips on how to get started.

1. Bring in new customers

Though your friendly bartenders, great drinks, and electronic slot machines and games may draw in regulars, you’re missing out on the crowd that’s looking for a quick bite and a beer. Even small plates or snacks can go a long way when it comes to drawing in a crowd during happy hour or after 10 p.m. when bar hoppers are looking for late night snacks.

2. Increase sales from regulars

Offering food not only adds a new revenue stream, but it will increase the length of your customer’s stay. When people are comfortable at a bar, they tend to stay inside and keep drinking. However, after a few hours their stomach will start to rumble, and their hunger may drive them out of your bar. Don’t give them a reason to leave.

Serving food is especially important during happy hour. Between 4 and 6 p.m., customers have no reason to walk away from drink specials and their cozy seat at the bar. But once dinner rolls around, they’ll head for the closest bar that serves food. And unfortunately, once your customers leave for the night, they’ll probably get comfortable at their next stop and won’t return.

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3. Curb instances of overserving

Overserving your customers can cause a big mess, and more importantly, it can result in major fines or even losing your liquor license. When customers are drinking for hours without eating, the chances of overserving increases. Make things easier on your bartenders by offering food to keep people from overindulging on drinks.

4. Customers are demanding snacks

Speaking of snacks, they’re not only easy to prepare but are very in-demand. According to the 2018 Snacking Occasion Consumer Report by Technomic, nearly one-half of consumers eat snacks between meals and as meal replacements. Today’s on-the-go lifestyle means that people aren’t sitting down for the three standard meals anymore. They’re eating smaller portions as they move about their day, which bars can capitalize on by offering snacks like chips and guac, hot pretzels and buffalo wings. These snacks are inexpensive and don’t require the equipment or skills needed to prepare more complex meals.

How to get started serving food at your bar

Once you’ve decided to serve food at your bar, the first thing to do is look at local health and safety requirements and attain the appropriate licensing. You’ll then need to look at existing equipment, kitchen and storage space, and staff (both from an availability and skills perspective) to determine what upfront purchases and hires need to happen in order to deliver quality food to your customers. And when it comes to menu creation, choose foods that complement drink specials and mesh with the vibe of your venue.

Thinking about serving food in your bar? What are your biggest concerns and motivators? Leave your comments below.

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