Seasons Change: How to Prepare Your Restaurant for Autumn

Seasons Change: How to Prepare Your Restaurant for Autumn

It happens every year at about the same time no matter what region you’re in. 

The temperatures are starting to drop and we’re beginning to see restaurant patios start to close based on the weather. The days of heat and humidity are almost over. 

What’s left is clear, crisp, cool days. Time to pull out the sweaters and heaters and enjoy.

When seasons change, traditionally it's a gradual shift in temperatures like autumn to winter, winter into spring, and then the progression into summer. 

The one difference is when summer transitions into fall. It never seems to be a slow crawl. One day it’s hot, the next day cool.

Seasons change and going into autumn is huge.

For restaurant owners, it signifies a big change too. It’s the time to make preparations for menu changes, decor updates, and staff labor shifts. 

With people returning to restaurants during the summer of 2021, many businesses enjoyed a better summer than the year before, and the goal is to keep the momentum going.

But as the seasons change, so do your customers’ tastes. A refresh of the menu is probably in order and it’s a good time to showcase some of your restaurant’s favorite fall dishes. There are also two big holidays this autumn that serve as a great opportunity to attract customers and increase your revenue — Halloween and Thanksgiving.  As a restaurant owner, depending on where you live, it also may be your last chance to impress customers before they head south or west for the winter.

Let’s dive deeper into when the seasons change and several ways on how to prepare your restaurant for autumn.

More Hearty Menu Items

What’s out for summer and in for autumn:

OUT

IN

Salads

Soups

Watermelon

Cranberries

Lemon Flavored

Pumpkin Spice

Potato Salad

Baked Sweet Potatoes

Fish Tacos

Pork Tacos

Lobster Rolls

Brunswick Stew

Grilled

Smoked

Hamburgers and hot dogs

Turkey

Corn on the Cob

Squash

Citrus

Maple

Ice Cream

Fresh-Baked Pies

Sorbet

Apple Cider Donuts

Margaritas

Hot Spiced Apple Cider

Pina Coladas

Bourbon

When the seasons change, it’s time to go from light, cool dishes to warm heartier meals.

Replacing light-style items like Caesar salads or cold pasta salads should be autumn soup mainstays like tomato, potato, and butternut squash. Also, the fall harvest season in most parts of the country includes acorn, buttercup, and spaghetti squash.

Now, in autumn, Pumpkin Spice is on everything, but it truly emulates all that is symbolic to fall flavors, and that includes pumpkin pie. 

There’s something about fresh-baked pies in autumn that ignites the senses and gives customers warming comfort food vibes. Many will walk into a restaurant and see that apple, apple-cranberry, blackberry, or pecan pie sitting on display in your restaurant and think back to grandma baking in the kitchen.

That is an upselling point and a way to coax customers into getting a dessert without mentioning it.

Your restaurant’s cocktail menu will probably also make a major shift as we hit autumn. Warm or heavier beverages will replace the so-called tropical concoctions. Hot ciders, and drinks using cognacs, and rich bourbons that warm the soul will supplant the icy and frozen pina coladas, margaritas, and mojitos.

Read More: 5 Autumn Cocktails That Your Customers Will Love

Embrace Your Region's Flavors

Your local customers are your most loyal and they most likely grew up in the area around your restaurant. To appeal to their changing tastes, you should introduce or bring back some fall favorites to your fall menu.

autumn-menu

Also, depending on where you live can dictate the fall menu items to add. For example, in New England, apple cider donuts and hasty pudding are traditional fall favorites. 

In the south, like Alabama and Mississippi, chicken and dumplings become the norm during autumn. Additionally, Louisiana breaks free from summer dishes and you’ll find the hearty dishes of gumbo and jambalaya are popular. In the Acadiana region of Louisiana, from Lafayette to Baton Rouge, they will serve pastalaya as a dish.

The cool, crisp light salads you were serving in places like Georgia and Virginia should give way to Brunswick Stew, a tomato-based bean, vegetable, and usually game meat. Both of the states claim it started in their commonwealths. But either way, this will be a robust hit on your menu.

As a restaurant owner, it’s important to look for or know what kind of autumn dishes your customers prefer. Determine what is the best of the region and get your chef to make it. Going further, maybe the town you live in had something in its history to bring out and create.

This will hit on two sets of customers. One being the loyalists to your restaurant, who remember those tastes and can’t wait to have it again. The other is the new customers who may want to try these unique regional dishes. 

Read More: 5 Autumn Entrees That Will Spice Up Your Menu

Customers Leave, Customers Return

In many areas of the northeast and Midwest, autumn becomes your last quest until spring to enjoy busy months in the restaurant business. 

In those colder climates, some of your customers are “snowbirds” and leave the area mid-to-late fall to early spring. So you need to be creative, maybe having a going away weekend, offering specials so you can get the customers in one last time.

Now that’s in the northern climates and the snowbirds take off and head for Florida, Arizona, and Texas, and other southern states. For those restaurants, it’s a welcome party. Florida estimates the state’s population grows by 5% during the season. 

In preparing your restaurant for the seasons’ change in these states, go completely subtropical. Yes, it gets cool in these southern states too, but your incoming clientele from the north are primarily retired and it’s going to be snowing soon in their hometown. They want to soak in all the sunshine, warmth, and fun foods they can.

Revamp With Holiday Decor

During the seasons change, there are two holidays in which you can use as an opportunity to make some fresh new changes to your restaurant’s decor and add an autumn vibe to your guest’s dining experience. 

autumn-restaurant-decor

Halloween

People aren’t the only ones who can dress up for Halloween — dress up your restaurant as well with some fun props and spooky decorations. The decorations could be as simple as hanging cobwebs and spider props from the ceiling. Choose a variety of options such as jack-o-lanterns, bats, Halloween art wall decal, and more. Depending on the concept of your restaurant, you’ll be able to tell what decor matches the vibe of your atmosphere for the holiday. 

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a huge opportunity for your restaurant to have a holiday event and increase sales. Since this holiday is more geared towards spending time with families and eating big Thanksgiving meals, the decorations you should use are a lot more subtle than Halloween. 

Think fall scented candles, pumpkins as table centerpieces, fall-colored leaves, or fall flower arrangements at countertops. 

Read More: Transitioning From Summer to Fall With Your Menu and Decor

Conclusion

Weather plays a role in the seasonality of any restaurant in any location. Depending on where your restaurant is, you should always play to the strengths of the season, including the new food and holidays.

Now is the time to bring out some autumn decorations and those hearty dishes that make the cool-day-leaf-turning-colors the best they can be. 

With Mad Mobile’s All-In-One POS system, you can collect and keep track of all the information you need to optimize your autumn menu. Technology can make it easier to get real-time reports and analyze data to enhance your customers’ experience. 

Take a look at our Restaurant Seasonality Checklist to find more ideas and helpful tips to prepare your restaurant for the new season.

seasonal-checklist

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