Implementing a garden can help a restaurant differentiate from their competition
Our blogs this month will focus on the benefits of gardening for our commercial customers. In the first in our series we will focus on the ways that gardening and “fresh” can help restaurants differentiate themselves.
In the hyper-competitive retail market (yes, restaurants share some common connectors to how retail works), each outlet needs to stand out from their competition. In the restaurant space, competition comes in many forms:
- Direct – this is from restaurants that offer the same level of service or perhaps a similar menu (think about how many steak places exist near you)
- Indirect – this is where we see more similarities to retail
- Another restaurant outside your value lane – think quick serve, fast food, fast casual, white tablecloth, etc.
- Meal delivery – GrubHub, Bite Squad, etc. – these services offer consumers access to a wider set of choices. This is similar to how Amazon had disrupted retail
- Meal Kits/Home Delivery – whether Schwan’s or services like Blue Apron, this has been a way to get “better” meals than are typically eaten at home (we can debate what “better” means!!)
- Grocery Retail – food at home. This can be one of three options:
- Ready to Eat – hot meals from the deli or from in-store restaurants
- Ready to Heat – pre-prepared meals that you heat up in time for dinner
- Ready to Prepare – meal solutions that the store combines through effective merchandising
- Chain Restaurants – there is a certain comfort that folks find in the familiar. Whether it is McDonalds, Starbucks, Parasole Restaurant Holdings (list of their restaurants here) or some other chain, local or independent restaurants need a bit more pizazz to stand out from the crowded field
- Traditional meal/menu preparation – believe it or not, this is still a thing and some analysis even shows it growing as people seek more time with their loved ones
Quite the competitive landscape – and the challenge is exacerbated by many consumers entering the market fresh each time they make a decision. If they ate at a steakhouse last time, perhaps they may want to try something different – whether seafood or Italian or other ethnic cuisine. This makes loyalty that much more important – and sometimes more difficult to come by based on a few other factors.
So, how can a restaurant differentiate from the competition?
- Curated menu to satisfy multiple tastes – many restaurants today will have things other than their specialty (a seafood dish in a steakhouse as an example) to keep you coming back
- Service – this is perhaps the biggest thing that keeps customers coming back. We used to go to a local restaurant in Minneapolis called Zelo for almost every celebratory dinner but when our favorite waiter left, we began to explore other restaurants. This was not because we were unhappy but the single biggest differentiator – Tony – was no longer there
- Price/Value – while restaurants exist at many different price points, people want to feel like they received a bit more than what they paid for. Service comes into play here as does portion size, a la carte vs. full meals, drink prices, etc.
- Location – this, like in retail, is critical. Adding to this is parking – whether easy and cheap access or perhaps valet, the entire experience of getting to the restaurant and back home again does impact choice
- Fresh & Local – this has become a huge differentiator in many markets – especially in locations that are not in the middle of town (does not matter if “town” means big city or smaller city). We have seen a much larger focus on fresh and local for destination restaurants – Harbor View Café in Pepin, WI is an example of this; check out Harbor View Café’s website to learn more.
As a seller of gardens, our team at Eco Garden Systems is actively focusing on restaurants and Fresh & Local. We envision that every independent would have two or more Original Gardens to help define their cuisine – whether ready access to all things green or to raise a certain type of lettuce, tomato or squash to entice diners to come see what gets made next with the bounty from their garden.
While we do not think that our gardens are right to help every restaurant differentiate, but we do think that every restaurant worth their salt should have some form of garden to drive fresh. Fresh can keep customers more satisfied with an ever changing menu driven by what is not only fresh from their garden but presented specifically for them from local purveyors. An example of this would be Kieran’s Kitchen in Northeast Minneapolis – not only do they feature products made in their own Food Building (home of Red Table Meats, Baker’s Field Flour & Bread and Alemar Cheese Co.) but they have four of our Original Gardens and will be adding to their menu with the bounty they harvest next year. Check out Kieran’s Kitchen Northeast to learn more.
Want to learn more about how restaurants can benefit from having a garden? Check out our Restaurant Page. Want to learn about the benefits of an Eco Garden Systems’ Original Garden for your restaurant? Check out our Restaurant E-Magazine, connect with us via social media, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.