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

Embed

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

Fast Corp Vending

Frozen food vending machines

Family Fun Corp.

Waterpark walls for rivers, bumper boat and splash down pools.

Mahoning Valley Mfg.

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

U.S. Bowling

Award-winning independent company brings bowling to your venue.

Flagship Carpet

Custom carpets and rugs.

GloCones

Flashing cotton candy cones.

Bulbtronics

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

Spectrum Sports

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

Brunswick Bowling

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

Formula K Raceways

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

R&R Creative Amusement Design

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

Broaster Co., The

Food programs and food service equipment.

Hamilton Manufacturing Corp.

Manufacturer of unattended entry systems and change machines.

Northeast Insurance (NIC)

Insurance programs.

Wapello Fabrications

Inflatables and portable amusements.

West Coast Netting, Inc.

Experienced netting manufacturer on the leading edge of innovation.

Muncie Novelty Co., Inc.

Admissions, financial equipment, printing and tickets.

Gerber Manufacturing, Ltd.

Outdoor furniture, benches, picnic tables and grills.

Jane Farrell Turf and Carpets, Inc.

Commercial carpet, printed and decorative patterns, loop and cut-pile construction. Wall coverings in fluorescents, Class A fire rated. Colored turf, both traditional and neon colors.

Look Solutions

Fog machines.

Splashtacular

Manufacturer of waterslides

Penny Press

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

S&S Worldwide

Large Park amusement rides.

Gould Manufacturing, Ltd.

Concession trailers and Antique, Jeep and Grand Prix auto rides.

Cost of Wisconson

Creators of simulated environments, duplicate structures, sculpted figures, exhibits, water features, mini-golf and more.

Store on Wheels

Importer and distributor of quality toys, lighting and novelties. Cater to the amusement, retail and entertainment industries.

Perfect Fry

Innovative and simple-to-operate countertop deep fryer Perfect Fryers.

Weldon, Williams & Lick

Admission systems and wristband ticketing.

Safari Ltd.

Leading manufacturer of innovative educational toys.

Klopp International, Inc. (Playmeter)

Quality coin counters and sorters.

Friedman Group Ins.

Insurance for amusement devices.

Namco

Namco America is a premier manufacturer of coin-op arcade attractions, ranging from the hottest titles like Crazy Typhoon and Jumpin’ Jackpot to classic game-room experiences such as the Pac-Man 25th Anniversary upright that features Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga. Specialized pieces such as Wonka Sweetland and Flamin Finger are favorites too! For arcade gaming fun, Namco America is your answer.

Challenger Industries

Sports surfaces, carpets and mini-golf surfaces.

Comstock - Castle Stove

Commercial cooking equipment.

Poly Products

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

Lazer Runner

Laser Tag Systems

Laser Star

Laser shooting galleries, laser tag, dark ride target systems, overhead target ranges.

Lakeshore Merchandise (Smart Vending)

Premier vending supply for all of your vending equipment and supply needs.

American Changer

Bill and coin dispensers and counters, ticket machines and more.

Thomco Insurance (Fun Pro)

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

European Body Arts

Airbrushed temporary tattoo products and systems.

A'maze Ventures, Inc.

Mazes for every location, new and used.

Soft Play

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

Coast to Coast

Coin-operated entertainment, crane machines.

Midway Concepts (Circus Tops)

Premier designers of stainless steel food service equipment.

Knight Equipment

Drive cables for ferris wheels, Tilt-A-Whirls, Rock-O-Planes and many others.

Barron Games

Redemption air hockey games.

Berk Paper & Supply

Concession supplies.

Spectrum
LMap Powered by Silvercrest
Premier Polysteel
Cannonball Blaster
Funovation