Garden centre catering is a growing market, increasing by around 10% each year. With over 10 million adults eating at a garden centre per year, and almost 1500 garden centres now offering restaurant facilities, customers are expecting to find not just food, but really great food on offer.
So, what can businesses do to make sure they are meeting customer expectations? The answer that comes from a range of experts is that garden centre restaurants need to be all about providing great quality, local food to their customers. In Norfolk, the Green Pastures garden centre has taken this one step further by growing much of the produce they serve in their restaurant on site. This not only enhances the freshness but gives the company the option of marketing on hyper-locality and low food miles for what they serve.
Chris Francis, managing director of Hilliers explains how they have upgraded their menu. They still serve the staples that their customers want, but their ham is now carved freshly from the bone and their eggs are free range. If you’re a big fan of the baked potato, don’t worry, industry insiders are still recommending this favourite remains on the menu.
It isn’t just food though, customers are also demanding better service. It’s important to help staff offer this great service by helping them to clear tables promptly to meet increased demand in the same amount of space. State of the art commercial dishwashers help keep on top of the cleaning up, even at peak times. Contact a reputable supplier such as https://www.247cateringsupplies.co.uk/bar-supplies/commercial-warewashers for advice on which washer is best for your establishment.
If the ethics of food is of interest to you or your customers, it may be worth trying to set up links with local producers to give added value to your menu choices. The Sustainable Food Cities project is a cross-sector initiative to help bring interested parties together to promote healthy, local food. You can read more about Sustainable Food Cities here: http://sustainablefoodcities.org/about.
Another tip to enable you to raise interest and your menu prices is to make the food you offer more exciting. You can do this in a variety of ways, but perhaps your most important decision to support your business will be hiring a great chef.
The future of garden centre catering looks bright and delicious.