Heat-wave summer… declining sales?
August is here, but there’s still plenty of summer left! For consumers and restaurateurs alike, this is the time to maximize your outdoor activities, and what’s better than a nice drink on a patio with friends?
During the summer months, restaurateurs and operators rely on their patio sales to put them above and beyond, but what about when the heat gets too hot to handle? It’s time to take a closer look at what’s happening with your customers’ appetites during those hot, hot days, and some ideas to help you increase your sales.
Is it scientific?
Does appetite suffer during a summer heat wave as compared to normal summer weather?
It’s no surprise that heat seems to diminish appetite, and eating warms us up… Based off of the book Nutritional Needs in Hot Environments, by C. Peter Herman, “Most analyses of heat and eating … point out that a major physiological concern of humans is thermoregulation—the maintenance of an appropriate body temperature—and that eating provides a major contribution to maintaining body heat (Brobeck, 1948).”
During a heatwave, one of the ways your body regulates its temperature is by cutting down on heat-generating functions – like digesting food., This can lead to an inclination to avoid certain foods and drinks.
When dealing with customers, Herman suggests that one should “allow for some shifts in food preferences, to be determined empirically. … there will be a shift in the preferred temperature, toward cooler foods and, especially, beverages.”
Below are a few practical tips to consider when dealing with a heat wave:
Made for the heat
When it’s hot out, our bodies crave something hydrating. If you’re considering daily specials, offer your guests lighter fare. This could include:
- Crisp, fresh vegetables in a salad
- Light soups; even something as fun and cooling as a gazpacho
- Consider what’s in season. From strawberries and watermelon to cucumbers, there are many hydrating options for you to consider. Check out lists of what’s in season.
Eating less means ordering less
Finding that your guests aren’t ordering as much? Try upselling with cooler, less alcohol-heavy drinks like a sangria or margaritas. Promote lighter beers, radlers and ciders. You’re sure to be able to source some interesting and exciting new flavours – and who knows? These may find a permanent home on your menu!
Eat small, eat often
In the heat, guests may not order a large entrée. Consider a daily special similar to a tapas-style dish. Allow time between each serving and remember to maintain proper time-temperature controls – food safety matters!
Keeping your guest hydrated
Your customers will appreciate you offering plenty of water– tap or sparkling . Keep an eye on the glasses and ensure that you’re topping them up regularly. This especially rings true when you’re serving on a patio.
According to Restaurants Canada expert nutritionist Lucia Weiler, R.D, “Hydration is important because in hot and humid weather your body loses extra water through sweat and could become de-hydrated.” She advises that water is a healthy choice to quench your guests’ thirst. Studies show that people are more likely to drink water if it has some flavour.
Dietitian Lucia’s Tip: Why not offer fresh house made ice water with cucumber slices, or berries or lemon/lime? You can also serve freshly brewed iced tea or pour flavoured teas on ice.
Need more info on hydration? Check out this great post from Lucia Weiler, R.D. Don’t forget to check out this great link for examples on how you can work flavoured or infused water on to your menu, and increase your bottom line!
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Lucia Weiler is a registered dietitian and nutrition communications professional who specializes in strategic marketing, education and regulatory affairs related to food and beverages. As Principal of Weiler Nutrition Communications Inc., Lucia provides expert services on nutrition trends, food science and labelling compliance. As the co-founder of Nutrition for NON-Nutritionists TM, and a faculty member at Humber College School of Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism, she teaches nutrition, food safety and professional development. Contact Lucia at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow her on Twitter @LuciaWeilerRD.