The Lenten holiday can be a tough menu month for restaurants. There are many food limitations for those who observe this holiday and some may be frustrated with the lack of menu items for them to choose from when dining out. But there is a reason to love this holiday (and not just because it is the same day as Valentine’s Day!) - it is a great opportunity to capture sales. All you need to do is make some simple changes to your menu during this time frame.
Go Beyond Fish
The first menu change that most restaurants go to is to add more fish options. These are definitely important to add to your menu, but take it a step further. Along with refraining from eating meat, many people who observe the holiday also give up unhealthy items like carbs, chocolate, or alcohol. You can offer dishes that give up some of these common vices so patrons can observe without guilt.
Include Vegetarian Options
There are many people who observe the holiday and do not like to eat fish, but who also do not want to eat meat. Increase and promote the vegetarian dishes you have on your menu. You can even go a step further and take your most popular dishes with meat and replace them with vegetarian options.
Try Adding Pasta Dishes
Even though there will be some people giving up carbs during this time, you can still capitalize on providing alternate menu options like creative pasta dishes. Offer a variety of fish options to go with your signature pasta sauces, or get creative with alternative protein options in the pasta to replace meat.
Serve Breakfast for Dinner
Another alternate menu option to provide is breakfast! Many restaurants stop serving breakfast after a certain time, but attract more people to your restaurant during this holiday by serving breakfast all day long. This gives you an opportunity to show off your breakfast/brunch menu for future sales as well.
Don’t Forget the Specials
Once you have your menu changes to help attract more people to your restaurant during the Lenten season, you now need to get people in the door to order! With each of these menu changes, you can create a feature that will encourage people to order it. Here are some ideas for each.
- Fish Friday. Since a lot of people who observe this holiday switch to no meat on Fridays, it is a great time to offer a featured fish entree, offer your fish dishes with a reduced price or offer buy one, get one fish dishes on Fridays only. This will ensure your restaurant is packed and sales are generated!
- Veggie Discount. For all the vegetarian dishes you are adding or highlighting, offer an incentive to try the dishes with a vegetarian discount. Offer a small dollar amount off, or 10% off all vegetarian dishes.
- Pasta Happy Hour. With many people giving up alcohol or sugar during this Lenten holiday, provide a different type of a happy hour during the holiday. You can do half off pasta during happy hour or offer bottomless bowls for a certain time frame.
- Free Breakfast Side Dish. You can either extend your brunch to a night time breakfast happy hour for those observing the holiday. Or you can encourage late night breakfast ordering with a free side dish with their breakfast meal. This could be an extra free pancake or a side of fresh fruit.
Just by having these different options, you will already help encourage people to indulge and eat out during this religious holiday. But adding the additional specials for each of these items will help your restaurant take advantage of extra sales.
Looking for more ideas to provide to your observing patrons in your restaurant? Check out this blog from last year on 3 Ways to Attract Patrons to Your Restaurant During Lent.