Now’s the time to think about maximizing what can be one of the most profitable revenue streams of your business.
The word brunch, a combination of breakfast and lunch, was first coined in England in 1895 in a hunting magazine article titled “Brunch: A Plea.” The idea of a sophisticated, lavish spread of sweet and savory plates—including today’s staples of ham, eggs, pastry and fresh fruit—was always intended as a leisurely affair. Some traditions are so good they need little retooling, and in American cities today, this Sunday respite is more popular than ever. With so many options available for diners, it’s important to strategize before entering the fray.
Set the Table for an Experience
Both literally and metaphorically, of course. As mentioned above, competition in this market is fierce. Sunday brunch is not just a meal, it’s often a celebration, and the more festive vibe you provide, the more returns you’ll have. Don’t be afraid to veer a little off brand: identify the audience you want to attract and go for it, whether that is live music, a DJ, performers, or a bopping playlist. If a fine-dining feel is what you are after, fresh flowers and juices in decanters will elevate. More casual? Get rid of the tablecloths and turn up that playlist.
Though brunch is often characterized as a lazy, languid affair, it can be anything but. A higher level of attention to detail, more service steps, and faster table turns than expected can all result in a frazzled team not hitting the marks. Shoot for a percentage increase in number of servers to account for the inevitable Sunday call-offs that can leave the entire front-of-house in a lurch.
Don’t Underthink the Menu
Too often restaurants treat brunch as a cash grab and not an extension and embellishment of the overall brand. Yes, there needs to be egg dishes, but keep it interesting, hinting at the style and expertise your evening menu provides. This is where you can also use inventory from the week, cutting costs. Recreate traditional eggs Benedict with short ribs, risotto cakes, or seasonal vegetable. And though easier on staffing and logistics, do your math before indulging in buffet service, nothing hampers revenue projections like unmonitored food cost and food waste.
Upsell on Your Beverage Program
Consider mimosa kits where a variety of fruit juices are available, allowing guests to serve themselves tableside and eliminating a precious step of service. Present the opportunity for upselling on different bottle price-points. Coffee drinks can include supplemental shots of cream liqueurs or boozy brandies. And for the ballers, a reserve list of premium bubbles provides the impetus to splurge for that special occasion.
Get Your Branding Right
Even the most carefully orchestrated brunch program means nothing if there are no guests sitting in the seats. Promote through your social channels every weekend. Invite media and influencers to help share the word. Don’t forget email: it remains one of the highest marketing performers today. Make sure you have a social media moment for guests to share, whether that is a signature dish so overboard it can’t be ignored (Bloody Mary behemoths; a tower of banana pancakes dripping in chocolate) or your rendition of the neon Rosé All Day inspiring selfies all day long. Bottom line: make brunch fun and they will come.