If you’ve ever read The Great Gatsby, you may remember this quote: “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.” We look forward to this time of year when the weather changes, bringing beautiful fall foliage, clear weather, and cool breezes. For restaurant owners, this is the perfect opportunity to introduce seasonal menu items and cozy decor that will give your business a boost. You don’t have to “start all over again” as F. Scott Fitzgerald’s quote suggests, but fall is a wonderful time to try something new.
Start with Pumpkin, But Don’t Stop There
Once October hits, customers are more than ready to depart from the summery dishes and beverages that they’ve seen on menus for a few months. Coffee retailers have established the seasonal pumpkin spice craze, so you might consider using this flavor to your advantage. As they say, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.” You should consider offering at least one pumpkin spice themed dessert on your menu, or add a cocktail option, such as a pumpkin pie Moscow mule. Since this flavor has unrivaled popularity in the fall, it will be sure to sell well. However, a creative fall menu should go far beyond the “PSL” trend and include unique flavor combinations and hearty fare that is evocative of the season.
A Taste of Fall
There are many ways to bring a fall vibe to your menu with delicious dishes and drinks. Using an array of seasonal ingredients, you can get creative with different offerings that are sure to please any palate.
Here is a list of seasonal ingredients to mix and match throughout the season:
- Apple: popular offerings like apple pie, cider, and apple cake come to mind, but think of savory options too. Apple pairs well with brie on an arugula salad with balsamic vinaigrette, or even on pizza!
- Root vegetables: we crave these vitamin-rich, earthy vegetables in the fall. There are staples like potato, sweet potato, and carrot, but beet and parsnip are also good choices.
- Cheese: an asiago, parmesan, cheddar, or brie is a must-have ingredient for any fall comfort food.
- Pies: classic pies like apple, pumpkin, and pecan are sure to be crowd-pleasers, but there are ways to get creative with other seasonal fruits, such as pear and ginger. You could also go the savory route with a turkey or chicken pot pie.
- Gourds/squash: whether it be pumpkin, acorn squash, or butternut squash, these are excellent options for your fall soups, especially vegetarian options. Top with pumpkin seeds and creme fraiche for added flavor and texture.
- Seasonings: sage, rosemary, thyme, and of course, pumpkin pie spice
- A dash of red: think cranberry, pomegranate, tomato, and beetroot
By choosing from seasonal ingredients and pairing them in creative ways, you’re sure to cook up something delicious for your restaurant.
Once you have added new, fall-themed offerings on your menu, you should make your space as inviting as possible. To bring a fall atmosphere into your restaurant, you need only two words: coziness and warmth. These words embody the kind of atmosphere that people look for to escape a chilly fall day. There are many ways to achieve this type of atmosphere. In a literal sense, you can make sure that your restaurant has adequate heating in relation to the temperature outside. However, “warmth” means so much more than the temperature on the thermostat. To achieve a figurative warmth that is inviting and comfortable, you may need to make some small adjustments.
- Lighting: make sure all your LED light bulbs are warm white vs. cool light. Cool lighting can give off a clinical, unfriendly vibe. Add candles, but make sure they are unscented if they are on tabletops.
- Fireplace: if you have a fireplace, your customers will flock to it. You may consider adding a firepit to your outdoor eating space, if possible. The sounds of a crackling fire combined with the added light and warmth will help your space exude an autumn ambiance.
- Decor: spruce up your existing seating with cozy touches such as velvet cushions or throw pillows. Introduce color and texture with fall-themed centerpieces.
Transitioning your restaurant into fall should be an exciting project, but not a complete overhaul of your menu and interior design. If you make small changes to your menu and decor, you can bring in customers who are excited about the changing weather and fall festivities. The goal is to serve delicious, seasonal offerings in a warm, inviting, comfortable space. So go ahead, dazzle your customers with a pumpkin spice cocktail, or let them warm up by the fireplace and serve up their favorite fall comfort foods.