The dining experience has evolved over time and continues to change according to customers’ tastes. Competition in every sector of the industry – fast food, casual dining, fine dining, and meal delivery – is fierce and requires that your establishment excels in delivering an unbeatable experience. Customers have more choices than ever, so why should they choose your restaurant? It is important to differentiate your place from the pack and emphasize what makes your offerings better.

Customers are looking for more in every aspect of their experience, especially in atmosphere, customer service, menu innovation, and flavor profile.

Create a Welcoming Atmosphere

Many factors go into creating a comfortable atmosphere for customers. Guests want to feel welcomed as soon as they set foot in the door. A warm, sincere greeting from a host or hostess goes a long way in making a customer feel welcomed. Hosting staff should be trained appropriately, smile at guests, and acknowledge waiting customers as soon as possible.

The decor in your restaurant should appropriately suit the style and general character of your establishment. A modern, trendy spot may integrate reclaimed wood and vibrant colors into its look. Places specializing in breakfast might be adorned with farmhouse decor. A retro diner might employ decade-specific items into its design. Whatever the vibe of your place, the decor should match.

Another consideration is the ambiance of your setting. Music should provide a nice, soft background element and not be so loud that guests cannot easily converse. The lighting should be appropriate to match the mood of the restaurant as well as the time of day. For example, votive candles may be used in a fine dining establishment or in the evening.

Cleanliness is an aspect of the dining experience that carries through all areas of the restaurant. Tables should be promptly cleared and cleaned and set up for the next group of guests. Customers using the restroom will also take note of the cleanliness. If the washroom is not clean, guests may conclude that the kitchen is not clean.

The Customer is King (or Queen)

Consistent service is key in delivering an enjoyable experience. Ensuring that your dining area is properly staffed is an effective way to promote great customer service. Guests want to feel that they are your server’s priority and that their needs are being met throughout their meal. Better yet, servers should strive to anticipate and exceed the needs of their guests. Having the appropriate staff available to focus on guests helps ensure this can happen.

Servers should be personable and establish a connection with guests. A server should take the time to introduce himself or herself, explain the menu or specials, and take drink orders at the first encounter with the customers. Excellent food or drinks might bring customers into a restaurant, but outstanding customer service will keep them coming back.

Innovate Your Menu

What is different about your menu? What can guests enjoy in your restaurant that they cannot get anywhere else? Separate your establishment from the others by offering unique menu items made with the highest quality ingredients, including superfoods. According to the National Restaurant Association, 57 percent of adults look for restaurants that serve locally-sourced food. Using locally sourced ingredients helps to create incomparable and memorable menu offerings. Locally sourced ingredients are fresh, healthy, and environmentally friendly. Food that is locally sourced will appeal not only to the local crowd, but to visitors and tourists looking to experience all the locale has to offer.

Providing seasonal offerings is an effective way to add interest and variety to your menu. This cinnamon almond butter banana bread, for example, is a comforting addition to a fall or winter menu while this Thai cucumber salad with cashew butter is the perfect fit for spring or summer fare. Dining patrons are seeking menu items that are only available in certain seasons to enjoy them at the peak of freshness. This also gives customers a reason to come back at different times of the year.

Spice Up Those Flavor Profiles

Infusing delightful and interesting flavor profiles into your food is a surefire way to set your dining experience apart from others. Balancing tastes with other sensory impressions, such as aroma and mouthfeel, creates the right level of intensity when it comes to the overall flavor profile of the meal.

Diners with refined palettes expect to have options when it comes to flavorful food. However, this does not only pertain to “foodies.” For many people, a meal is an experience for all the senses. Offering unique and flavorful selections that appeal to a diner’s senses is a way to inspire future return visits.

Creating a memorable dining experience is not only about the food. Customers have many choices when it comes to dining and they expect more from restaurants. Dining establishments must deliver on the food quality, but also on the atmosphere, customer service, and menu choices. Differentiate your operation by creating an unbeatable interaction with your customers and you’ll surely reap the rewards.

For more information on gourmet ingredients and recipes, visit Betsy’s Best.

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