Restaurants have adjusted plans and menus throughout 2020, and the holiday season will be no different. Instead of big dine-in crowds and catering events, operators this year are looking for a new approach. Gift boxes and meal kits could be the solution.
Gordon Food Service Culinary Specialists suggest these sales-building ideas for operators looking for an edge during the typically busy Thanksgiving and Christmas season.
The gift of food is always in style, says Chef Bobby Viel. “Gift boxes are an opportunity for the operator to create something craveable for people to enjoy,” he says. “And it can be food to be enjoyed over an entire weekend.” Suggestions include foods contained in jars, tins or bags:
- Fruits and roasted nuts
- Jellies, jams, spices, infused oils and salami
- Cheese, spreads and sauces
- Crackers and breads
With any holiday box, don’t forget the power of marketing, says Chef Rachel Mazur. “Always think about the brand aspect and make sure you have your name on product labels,” she says. Other ideas include tucking in a holiday card, a menu, or a discount coupon for a future visit.
To enhance the appeal, make sure each box looks like a gift, using a festive liner inside and a ribbon, bow and gift tag outside to make it special.
A lesson learned during Mother’s Day and Easter is that meal kits and family meals provide convenience for customers and keep your restaurant top of mind. These meals can take a couple of forms:
- Meal kits. Provide a complete dinner—turkey, ham, pasta, etc.—ready to serve or to heat and eat. This also works for your house specialties—seasonal vegetarian entrees, salads, taco bars, etc. Market this idea as a way to add holiday convenience.
- Deconstructed meals. Provide all of the ingredients with instructions on how to create the meal at home. Market this idea as a way for families to enjoy the holiday in the kitchen and at the table.
Neither of these ideas are limited to the holidays. They are a great way to connect with customers who love your food but are not comfortable eating with a crowd. Taking a page from the Blue Apron playbook is how Wild Oats Bakery & Cafe in Brunswick, Maine stayed in the game during the pandemic, Viel recalls.
“They took some of their best baked items and sold their recipes separately, creating clever point-of-sale material, cooking instructions and a branded box,” he says. “They even made some videos—if you purchased the recipe box, you would find a special link that showed how to make the recipe.”