This article originally appeared in the Gordon Food Service Foodscape publication.
Looking for more revenue and profits? Try pouring some attention into your beverage program with zero-proof drinks.
“If you’re not thinking outside water and soda, you’re not thinking in the right space,” said Gordon Food Service Consulting Chef Nicholas Gonring. “It’s not difficult to get more revenue by doing simple things that are exciting and visually appealing.”
Using beverages to enhance the dining experience leads to incremental sales that add up to profits. Zero-proof beverages let operators offer variety, visual appeal, health-driven options and trending drinks with minimal added labor or expense.
The power of powders
Powders are exciting because they create vivid colors consumers love, Gonring says. Many also are associated with health benefits, such as boosting cognitive function.
“Health is a big deal coming out of COVID-19, especially for millennials and Gen Z,” he said, noting that people are willing to pay more for these beverages because they enhance the dining experience.”
Mixing in powders takes almost no labor, and it can be used to enhance lemonade, smoothies, agua frescas and even beverages served from a juice dispenser.
Calling on containers
Ready-to-drink beverages deliver all of the variety and don’t require any prep work, plus they are perfect for grab-and-go and off-premise consumption.
Up your beverage game with juice boxes, cans or bottles of trending beverages. Think: kombucha, cold brew coffee, bubble tea, jasmine tea and sparkling fruit/botanical beverages.
“Sparkling beverages are insanely huge, and their pace is being steered by younger generations,” Gonring said. “It fits the zero-proof concept and works for all ages.”
Operators also can package their own beverage, using bottles with tamper-proof safety caps or filling Capri Sun-style pouches. Both options show off beverage color and work for takeout.
Mixers for alcohol
Operators don’t struggle to sell booze. They struggle to sell beverages at noon on Monday, Gonring said. Even so, zero-proof doesn’t have to overlook alcohol.
Add a shot to any drink for a cocktail version. If your operation can’t distribute alcohol, sell a base mix consumers can use to craft at-home cocktails.
“It’s a pain to mix a good cocktail at your house. Margaritas for a couple of friends takes 10 limes, and that adds up pretty quickly. Then you’ve got to squeeze them all,” Gonring said. Zero-proof premade cocktail mix fits that picture.
Selling beverages when alcohol isn’t flowing is where zero-proof shines, Gonring believes. It creates excitement and adds revenue on the morning, afternoon and portability menu without increasing staff or square footage.
“Experiential dining is super important because there hasn’t been much socialization throughout COVID,” he said. “People are looking to interact, and beverages can take you there.”
Everybody drinks, and beverages can be a high-margin menu item. Ask your Gordon Food Service Sales Representative for ideas to generate liquid profits.