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It’s no secret that independent pubs, hotels, and restaurant owners are currently under a lot of pressure. With rising food and staff costs, labour shortages and the long-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, not to mention the increasing popularity of delivery and takeout, the challenges are many and varied. Also, according to a recent FSA survey*, consumer dining habits are changing, with many eating fewer takeaways cooking and eating at home more; buying items on special offer more; and changing what and where they buy to cheaper alternatives.

These challenges are therefore making it difficult for independent pubs, hotels, and restaurants to do what they do best and thrive. However, there are a number of things that businesses can do to adapt and overcome these challenges. For example, focusing on providing high-quality food and service to attract and retain loyal customers, partnering with other businesses to offer discounts and promotions, or getting creative with their marketing and how they promote their business. One of the most effective approaches can be to create unforgettable dining experiences, which we will explore in this blog. Not only does this approach keep your customers happy and loyal, but drives new customers through your door with word of mouth and glowing online reviews.

From our experience as food-lovers here at Cooper Foods, and conversations we’ve had with many of our own customers, here are just some of the things that can take a good dining experience and make it something truly special:

  • Good food, made with high-quality ingredients: It might sound obvious, but the quality and presentation of your food is everything to your customers. To create a memorable dining experience, ensure your food is fresh, well-prepared, and flavourful. Even if it’s a twist on a classic, your dish should be something your diners won’t get at home. This is one of the reasons our customers choose us to deliver their fresh meat, seafood, frozen and chilled goods. We work hard to source the best ingredients, so they don’t have to!
  • Excellent service:Exceptional service goes a long way, especially if there are any hiccups with the food. Ideally your waiting staff should be attentive, friendly, knowledgeable about the menu and able to make recommendations. Providing training for your staff on areas such as food intolerances and allergies can help you customers feel more comfortable to enjoy their time with you. According to YouGov, 2% of the British public are vegan (3% during January!) and 10% of the British population that follow a gluten-free diet. To support growing market demand for vegan and gluten-free options, we now supply 17 vegan and 40 gluten-free food products to our customers.
  • The right atmosphere: What kind of experience do you want to create for your diners? Consider whether your most loyal clientele prefer a relaxing atmosphere, with soft lighting and ambient music, or whether they prefer theme nights or live music. Find out what brings customers through your door and cater to their tastes, to ensure they keep coming back for more.
  • Attention to detail: A clean, well-maintained and nicely decorated dining area (and toilets!) cannot be underestimated. Your customers should feel immediately reassured when they walk in the door that they have made the right choice, booking a table at your establishment. Don’t forget comfortable chairs and easy access for wheelchairs too!

We hope you’ve found these ideas helpful and would love to hear how you are creating unique dining experience for your customers.