Tips to Improve Your Business: Getting the Menu Right at Leisure Entertainment Facilities

February 14, 2011 No Comments

February 14, 2011

Most, if not all leisure entertainment facilities offer some type of foodservice component, but many operate it as an afterthought, giving little real consideration to the type of items available there. However, this is a short-sighted method of operation, because by many industry estimates, a well-thought-out, quality foodservice component can account for 25 percent or more of an average facility’s total revenues. Even more important, it is essential to cultivating repeat business. According to Randy White, of White Hutchinson Leisure & Learning Group, the most successful and oldest operating leisure entertainment facilities have built their reputation and following as much around food as much as they have around the entertainment components. As a result, owners and managers must go the extra mile to ensure that they get their facilities menu right.

Closely monitoring restaurant trends, through observation as well as by reading foodservice trade magazines and consumer publications that cover local and national dining, constitutes a good start. “The once standard fare of pre-frozen hamburgers, pre-frozen shell pizza and soft drinks will no longer ‘cut the mustard’ in today’s sophisticated restaurant environment,” White said. “Just look at the menu selections of many casual cuisine, chain restaurants such as Chili’s or Applebee’s. Consumers are becoming more and more sophisticated in their food choices, and expect the same quality and variety” from leisure entertainment facilities.

White added that his company’s research with families shows a marked interest in healthier, higher-caliber offerings. Examples include ethic wraps, branded gourmet coffee bars, thin-crust gourmet pizzas (for adults, children still like the classic style), fresh salads, grills, fresh fruit smoothies and specialty children’s menus that go beyond the standard chicken nuggets and fried fare. Bellaboo’s Play & Discovery Center in Lake Station, Ind. put a spinach salad and a variety of wraps on its menu after monitoring local trends, resulting in a considerable increase in foodservice sales, according to a spokesperson.

Considering the tastes of target audiences is equally important. “It’s good to have something for everyone, but the more the majority of the food ‘matches’ the clientele, the better the results,” stated Al Roque, director of marketing, Fastcorp.

Peter Shapiro, owner of Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, N.Y., would agree. In configuring Brooklyn Bowl’s menu, Shapiro kept in mind the fact that the facility caters to a younger, “hip and upscale” urban clientele. As a result, its menu offerings include “edgy” fare, like smoked fish salad, blackened salmon, and roasted adobo corn; ethnic favorites, such as hummus; and eclectic menu items, from oyster po’ boy sandwiches to Sloppy Joes. New twists on old favorites, like macaroni and cheese made with several different kinds of cheese and such add-ons as artichokes and black olives or smoked chicken and peas, are available as well. Brooklyn Bowl also touts traditional dishes, among them a variety of burgers.

Visitor demographics and preferences were also taken into consideration when Giuseppe Ciufra, founder and CEO of La Jolla, California-based Giuseppe Restaurants & Fine Catering, created the menu for the Museum Café at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, which is also located in La Jolla and is managed by his company.  Ciufra said the museum’s visitors are largely well-traveled, adventurous types; “so the typical steam table and fried items were never in the running.” The café does serve a hamburger, but it is topped with chipotle aioli, melted smoked gouda, and onion marmalade, plus tomatoes and lettuce. Prepared using hormone-free, grass-fed, all-natural premium Angus beef, it comes with rosemary roasted Yukon gold potatoes.  The café’s version of a grilled cheese sandwich, dubbed the Ultimate Grilled Cheese, features mozzarella, prosciutto, tomatoes, and basil pesto on sourdough bread.

Yet another strategy for “getting the menu right” entails testing different options, whether this means offering items on a trial basis first, querying guests verbally or with surveys to discern what they would like to see offered on a menu, or a combination thereof. When one roller skating rink owner, who asked not to be named, decided to augment her facility’s menu of sandwiches and burgers, she introduced a veggie burger for a limited time to gauge patrons’ reaction. She still has several cases of the products in the freezer, and a test of another undisclosed item, to be kicked off by a survey guests will be invited to fill out when they enter the facility, is about to get underway.

Similarly, Debbie Branby, foodservice manager of the Café Musee at the Nevada Museum of Art in Reno, Nev., “went through” several iterations of her establishment’s hamburger before she was satisfied that it was the “right choice.” She experimented with a few different types of bread and meat prior to drawing a conclusion; “in the end,” she said, “it was worth the trial and error and adjustment to find out that the plain roll was the best roll.”

Phil Tromber, president of Rio Syrup Company, also advocates playing around with adjustments to arrive at a good menu option and mix. “It doesn’t even have to be a big change,” he stated. “For example, a small, and relatively inexpensive, addition can add greatly to your fun park treats.  With snow cones, for example, you can add cream, a ‘sour shot,’ a combination of flavors, or a piece of fruit to an otherwise plain snow cone and see what happens. The additional perk shouldn’t cost a great deal, but can command a bigger price, and a nicer profit.”

Industry News

Triotech’s Mad Wave and Typhoon Coin Dominate the Industry

Over the past years, Triotech’s legacy motion based coin operated units have consistently made the top of an industry ranking.

The MadWave Motion Theater and the Typhoon (second generation of MadWave Motion Theater) deliver up to 2G’s of acceleration, 400 movements per second and an exclusive motion technology with high-tech actuators, allowing the player to sense it all.  Over 1,000 MadWave Motion Theaters and 300 Typhoons are presently in circulation worldwide.

Founded in 1999 by Ernest Yale, Triotech is a leading manufacturer of interactive attractions for the entertainment industry and a privately-held company based in Canada, that has developed award-winning products, gained recognition on an international scale and continues to innovate by bringing new products to the market.  The Triotech team includes some of the best hardware and software engineers, amusement industry veterans in sales, marketing and customer service, as well as the best creative minds in the business.  With sales offices in Montreal and Texas, the company has many strategic partners in Europe and Asia including Sega Amusement Europe.

Back

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Sponsors

Omega Carpets

Printed carpeting for all your facility needs.

A'maze Ventures, Inc.

Mazes for every location, new and used.

Adventure Glass

Unique paddleboats.

Klopp International, Inc. (Playmeter)

Quality coin counters and sorters.

Enchanted Castle Studios

Fiberglass statuary and figures for restaurants, mini-golf, theme parks and other attractions.

Adventure Golf

Miniature golf courses, consultants, architecture and design.

Qubica

Sells capital equipment to bowling centers.

Gerber Manufacturing, Ltd.

Outdoor furniture, benches, picnic tables and grills.

Friedman Group Ins.

Insurance for amusement devices.

Birthday University

Concept development, training and birthday party touring seminars.

Ride Development Corp.

Electric floor, gas and battery-powered bumper cars.

Brunswick Bowling

Entertainment bowling center developer and manufacturer of bowling equipment and entertainment products.

Spectrum Sports

Climbing walls, ropes courses, go-karts and more.

Tarobots

Boxerjocks robotic boxing amusement ride game attraction.

Action Lighting Co.

Lighting supplies.

Embed

Provides innovative IT products and services with a primary focus on card-based solutions and database applications for the leisure and retail industries.

GloCones

Flashing cotton candy cones.

Kay Park Recreations Corp.

Picnic tables, grills, park benches, planters, trash containers and more.

Bulbtronics

A premier source for lamps, LEDs, batteries and lighting-related and electrical products.

Soft Play

Leader in designing, manufacturing and installing soft contained playground equipment.

Playsmart

Patented soft play design, soft playgrounds.

Wapello Fabrications

Inflatables and portable amusements.

Barron Games

Redemption air hockey games.

Midway Concepts (Circus Tops)

Premier designers of stainless steel food service equipment.

Rio Syrup

Over 250 flavors, syrups and concentrates for shaved ice, sno cones, shushes, food colors. Now featuring Hawaiian Flower Cups.

Water Wars (T&D Enterprises of Brainerd)

Water Wars water balloon game, portable or startionary.

Rides-4-U, INC.

New and used rides, kiddie, family, major and thrill.

Art Attack

Theming, miniature golf, parade floats, 3D props, air-brushed murals, signage and art panels.

Sippers By Design

Design and manufacture of specialty custom-shaped drink containers.

Mahoning Valley Mfg.

A complete line of Imperial strollers, wagons and safari utility vehicles.

Chestnut Identity Apparel

Uniform supply, embroidered apparel and flag manufacturing.

Harris Miniature Golf Course

Design and construction of miniature golf courses and water rides.

Thomco Insurance (Fun Pro)

Fun Pro is an insurance program especially designed for party planners and party rental businesses.

Flagship Carpet

Custom carpets and rugs.

Center Edge Software

Facility Management Software Solutions

Comstock - Castle Stove

Commercial cooking equipment.

Formula K Raceways

Go-karts, kiddie cars and bumper boats, go-kart parts and tires.

Wells Fargo

Commercial insurance for inflatables and event planners.

Price Chopper, Inc. Wristbands

Admission, financial equipment and wristbands.

Poly Products

Tables, benches and related products. Green products for a green world.

Money Tree - ATM

ATM machines.

Northeast Insurance (NIC)

Insurance programs.

Penny Press

Penny souvenir machine, great for parks, FECs, bowling and skating centers, museums and tourist attractions.

Tube Pro

Waterpark tubes.

Coast to Coast

Coin-operated entertainment, crane machines.

Tear Repair

Tear-Aid industrial strength patches to repair holes and tears.

R&R Creative Amusement Design

Designers of unique themed parks, attractions and environments for the entertainment business.

Johnny Rockets
LMap Powered by Silvercrest
Premier Polysteel
Spectrum Sports
Cannonball Blaster
Funovation
Empex Water Toys