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Summer Menu Innovation Trends

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  1. Summer Menu Innovation Trends • The onset of summer spurred culinary creativity in restaurant kitchens throughout the U.K. With the warmer weather, patrons were more likely to leave their homes to visit local restaurants with friends and family. Restaurant operators replaced heartier winter menu items with lighter, cooler offerings to complement the new season. The reintroduction of classic summer fruits, cold-temperature offerings and shared meals were all popular during the summer months. • Health was top of the mind during summer months as consumers looked to cut daily calories with better-for-you offerings. Chicken sandwiches, in particular, were the most popular sandwich during the summer, providing a healthy and light option for the hot months. Pret A Manger rolled out multiple chicken sandwiches, including a Coronation Chicken & Fruit Chutney sandwich, Chicken Avocado sandwich, and Chicken & Pesto Bloomer. Hungry Horse and Wimpy also rolled out chicken sandwiches. Frankie & Benny’s rolled out a Lighter Options menu with main courses at 650 calories are less. • Shared meals and combo meals for groups were also very common during summer months, as customers were likely to visit restaurants with groups. Combo meals were the most popular new entrée with 55 additions this summer season and six new kids’ items were also added, all of which were classified as combo plates. Some of the combo dishes offered included buy-one-get-one free offers, two for £10 menus or special group deals. Even alcoholic beverages were meant to be shared with special offers. Both Brewers Fayre and Brasserie Gérard, for example, offered a free bottle of wine with the purchase of two glasses. • As the temperatures rose, operators chose to menu cooler offerings to offset the heat. Corney & Barrow Wine Bars rolled out a Summer Coolers menu of both non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. Ice cream, not surprisingly, was also the most popular dessert menued during the period. Fruits and fruity flavourings were very common in both beverages and ice creams. Peach, mango, pomegranate, citrus and berries were common fruits menued during the 2011 summer months.

  2. Summer Report by Segment Note: 407 menu items in June 2011–August 2011 for the Top 100 U.K. chains. The Top 100 U.K. chains rolled out just over 400 new menu items and promotions during the summer period between June 2011 and August 2011. The casual-dining segment was by far the most active, with more than 300 new and returning menu items launched during the period, representing 76% of total activity. Although more active than casual-dining restaurants compared to last season, quick-service restaurants and fast-casual chains added 100 items for 24% of total additions for the period.

  3. Summer Report by Daypart Note: 7 chains with new Breakfast items in Summer. 68 chains with new Lunch/Dinner items in Summer. The lunch and dinner dayparts continued to drive the vast majority of menu innovation at the Top 100 U.K. chain restaurants tracked during the summer period. Sixty-eight different chains added 391 new items to their lunch and dinner menus for 96% of all additions during the period. That compares to just 13 items that seven chains added to their breakfast menus, a major decrease in both items and chains from the previous period.

  4. Summer Report by Meal Part The entrée meal part accounted for the largest number of menu additions during the 2011 summer season with 220 items. With 65 new items, adult beverages were the second most-active meal part, with seasonal-inspired offerings driving much of the innovation, as usual. Desserts were not far behind with 50 new offerings, leaning mostly towards ice creams, which is typical for the summer months. Rounding out the menu additions were appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages. Seasonal summer offerings were emphasized on many appetizer menus, as 23 new items were added during the period. The non-alcoholic beverage meal part was not far behind with 16 new options, particularly summer fruit-flavoured offerings.

  5. Adult Beverage Meal Part • Specialty drinks were by far the most-added new items within the adult-beverage meal part, continuing the trend from the spring season. Seasonal offerings were very popular in the specialty drinks category. • Specialty drink lines were launched at various chains including the Italian Celebration of Summer beverage line at Bella Italia, which included five new alcoholic beverages, and the Summer Coolers menu at Corney & Barrow Wine Bars. • Wine offerings were particularly popular for special events and with other offers. Most common were offers for wine flights; complimentary glasses with the purchase of another glass or main; two free bottles with the purchase of a buffet; or a buy two glasses to get the bottle free. Note: 68 chains with new Lunch/Dinner items in Summer.

  6. Appetizer Meal Part • Starches made up a lot of the appetizer offerings during the summer months. Breaded proteins and breads made up almost 40% of the appetizer offerings, while some of the “other” offerings included nachos, another starch. • Other new appetizers were relatively spread out in terms of category. Non-breaded protein, non-breaded vegetable and soup all had three new menu items each during the period. Lighter options, typical for summer months, were popular, namely Frankie and Benny’s Lighter Options menu with items at 650 calories or less. • Mushrooms were a popular ingredient in various appetizer dishes during the period. Prezzo released a mushroom bruschetta, Crown Carveries launched a button mushroom and blue cheese bruschetta, and Table Table rolled out flat mushrooms with cheese and bacon. Note: 68 chains with new Lunch/Dinner items in Summer.

  7. Breakfast Meal Part • Although breakfast starches lost popularity from 21 menu additions in the spring to just four during the summer, other breakfast menu items became more popular. Fruits and lighter offerings dominated the “Other” breakfast meal part, including options like EAT’s yoghurt and mango passionfruit and yoghurt and mixed red berries, as well as a Sicilian Lemon muffin double deal from Bakers Oven (Greggs). • Combo platters for the summer season had a range of offerings for guests, from a two for £10 Big Breakfast at Garfunkel’s and a choose any two dishes from Frankie & Benny’s to various value options from Beefeater. Note: 7 chains with Breakfast items in Summer.

  8. Dessert Meal Part • Not surprisingly because of the warm weather, ice cream wasoverwhelmingly the most added dessert during the summer season with 25 new offerings, making up exactly half of all the new dessert offerings this summer. Harvester Pub and Grill rolled out a Super Sundaes menu with 10 new offerings, while Zizzi introduced a Famous Organic Gelato summer menu with six new options. • Baked goods were also popular during the summer months with 15 new items. New options ranged from cupcakes and cookies to cakes and pies. • Fruit desserts, which are typically positioned as a lighter and healthier option, were popular for all menu categories in the dessert meal part. Some offerings included Kentish Apple and Damson Lattice Pie from Table Table, Lemon Drizzle cake from EAT, Mango Sorbet from Frankie & Benny’s, Raspberry & Strawberry Shake from McDonald’s, and a Raspberry Ripple Mousse from Hungry Horse. Note: 68 chains with new Lunch/Dinner items in Summer.

  9. Entrée Meal Part • Combo meals were the most popular new entrée with 55 additions this summer season. A wide range was offered, from shared meals and all-you-can-eat menus to two-for-one deals and holiday specials. Operators increasingly turned their attention to limited-edition prix-fixe menus, offering a set number of courses from a condensed menu at a predetermined price. Thai Square, Ember Inns and Davy’s all had prix-fixe menus during the summer months. • With 25 new options this summer, sandwiches were also popular entrée additions. Chicken sandwiches, in particular, were the most popular sandwich during the summer, providing a healthy and light option for the hot months. Pret A Manger rolled out multiple chicken sandwiches, including a Coronation Chicken & Fruit Chutney sandwich, Chicken Avocado sandwich, and Chicken & Pesto Bloomer. Hungry Horse and Wimpy also rolled out chicken sandwiches. Note: 68 chains with new Lunch/Dinner items in Summer.

  10. Kids’ Meal Part • Six new kids’ items were added during the June through August season of 2011, all of which were classified as combo plates. Most of the combos included a customizability option—children were able to customize their own meals with a choice of various courses and a drink. Hollywood Bowl, Toby Carvery and Prezzo all offered prix-fixe kids’ meals with a choice among various appetizers, mains and/or beverages. • Kids-eat-free options were also available with the purchase of adult mains. Giraffe and Sizzling Pub both offered this as a kids’ meal possibility. Note: 68 chains with new Lunch/Dinner items in Summer.

  11. Non-Alcoholic Beverage Meal Part • Mocktails were the most-added non-alcoholic beverage item during the summer months with six new items. Corney & Barrow Wine Bars rolled out a line of Summer Coolers featuring fizzy fruit-flavoured mocktails. • Seasonal non-alcoholic beverages were especially popular during the summer months, featuring summer fruits to provide refreshing tones. In addition to Corney & Barrow’s Summer Coolers with lemon, lime, pomegranate and raspberry flavors, Wagamama rolled out melon, apple and red grape juices, and Browns Bar & Brasserie rolled out a virgin Bloody Mary. • Iced coffee drinks were also popular during warm summer months. Costa Coffee and Starbucks both menued iced coffees. Note: 68 chains with new Lunch/Dinner items in Summer.

  12. Side Meal Part • Breads were the most popular sides during the period with 10 new offerings. They ranged from PAUL Bakery’s Real Bread Festival bread offerings, to various stuffed crusts from Papa John’s and Domino’s Pizza, to bread toppers from Pizza Hut. • Other new side options were relatively less healthy than the sides offered during the spring months this year. They included everything from summer rolls and gyoza to hash browns and sweet chilli dip. Note: 68 chains with new Lunch/Dinner items in Summer.