Brunch. Do your ears perk up just from hearing the word? This bridge between breakfast and lunch is a weekend dream and a popular social outlet for friends to catch up over eggs and mimosas. If your restaurant offers a brunch option, you already know it’s a great way to rake in some extra profit before the weekend dinner rush.
But, just like anything else in your restaurant, you want to keep your brunch fresh and exciting to inspire repeat business. We’re giving you three winter brunch ideas to use at your restaurant this season.
The History of Brunch
Before we dive into some winter brunch ideas, I’ll give a brief history of how brunch got its start. According to the Smithsonian Magazine, brunch began as a way for families and friends to convene for a meal after church. The phrase “brunch” was first seen in print around 1895, and was described as cheerful, sociable, and exciting (which still rings true today).
Brunch rose to greater popularity in the 1930s when Hollywood’s elite stopped along their train routes for a midday meal. And then, after World War II, it became an activity of respite for both men and women, as more women joined the workforce during the war.
Despite the time period, it’s clear that brunch has always been seen as a way to gather with friends and family, to enjoy a lighter meal, and to take a break from an otherwise busy work week.
And although the brunch rush may be tough to pull off for restaurant workers just coming off of a busy Saturday night, it is a popular treat for consumers who are willing to pay for the experience. Plus, as mentioned, it’s a great way to bring in additional revenue to your restaurant.
Winter Brunch Ideas
Alright, now that we’ve covered the history, let’s dive into the ideas! How can you warm up your brunch offerings for winter? Here are three ways:
Introduce New Menu Items Inspired By Cooler Temperatures
Releasing new menu items gets your customer base excited to try new things. Quarterly changes to your offerings help to keep your brand fresh and allows you to incorporate seasonal ingredients. Although you may have core brunch items you want to keep year-round, like a signature omelette or classic pancakes, try swapping a few dishes out for something more winter-focused.
A warm oatmeal bowl filled with hearty fruits and grains is a healthy option to include for the colder months. French toast with a winter compote of pomegranate and mascarpone puts a new twist on a classic breakfast order. And to incorporate lunch items, introduce a new soup and sandwich combination with classic flavors like tomato bisque paired with a turkey and cranberry club, or an Italian wedding soup with a pesto chicken panini.
To sweeten the brunch deal, you can even throw in a free offering to each table. A warm loaf of bread or basket of muffins can help appetize your guests and give them a glimpse of the deliciousness that will come next. Plus, it’s a low-cost way to provide more value to the meal.
Swap Mimosas and Bloody Marys for Winter Warmers
Okay, maybe you don’t want to get rid of the classic brunch cocktails completely, but add a few more to the list that are season-specific. If you serve bonafide brunchers, they’re probably tired of drinking traditional mimosas each week. Keep your loyal clientele engaged and excited. Change it up with a pomegranate champagne punch, a hot toddy, or some mulled wine to soothe the soul. These flavors won’t appeal to everyone’s palette, but you still have your tried and true backups to satisfy the rest of the crowd.
Punches and ciders are great for bottomless brunches because they can be batched ahead of time and served quickly. With table turns and a limited time frame in mind, you want to be as efficient as possible. Plus, no guest likes an empty glass, especially when they’re being timed.
When it comes to non-alcoholic brunch beverages, entice diners with winter specials like peppermint mocha lattes, spiced chai teas, and fun milkshakes like marshmallow and dark chocolate. With enough variation, there’s something appealing for everyone.
Bonus Tip: If you already have a loyalty program, consider making brunch part of it. For every weekend brunch attended, your guests can get points. After a certain amount gained, they can enjoy a free brunch entree on you!
Entertain the Crowd
Introducing new types of entertainment keeps customers engaged during the meal. This varies with each restaurant concept, of course, but there’s sure to be something to fit every atmosphere. People who are dining out want the full experience, not just a simple meal. And attending brunch definitely proves that. Guests don’t just join you because they want a few eggs; they come for the unique menu offerings, the ambiance, and the chance to get together with family and friends.
You can take your brunch to the next level by securing recurring entertainment. Scour the surrounding area for an impressive local band and feature them throughout the winter. Maybe you want to make your brunch a DIY craft gathering; invite guests to make a different take-home treasure each week, like a wall painting, a planted pot for spring, or a signature winter cocktail with a recipe card. Something that they can bring home with them will help them remember the awesome time they had at your restaurant.
If you’re a family-focused establishment, consider hiring a children’s entertainer, balloon-maker, or caricature artist. If you’re a sports bar or a brew pub, make sure the sought-after weekend sports games are streaming. On the higher end of fine dining? A simple cellist or pianist can help set the tone.
Even something as simple as a brunch raffle to win a restaurant gift card or branded item basket can get your crowd excited about your restaurant. Ask all brunch attendees to throw a name and email address into a hat. Announce the winner via email each week. This is a great way to stay engaged with your guests after the meal.
Brunch is a popular meal with a long history. And it’s also a great way to earn some extra profit during an otherwise slow time of day. If you offer brunch at your restaurant, you should always think of ways to keep it fresh and appealing. Whether it’s a new seasonal menu or incorporating creative entertainment during the meal, there are plenty of ways to keep customers coming back for brunch.