Elevating Your Holiday Brunch

Brunch is a thriving meal due to its association with innovative dishes, sociable atmospheres, bold alcoholic and non-alcoholic concoctions, and sweet indulgences. With all of these elements in high demand during the holiday season, this growing category is bound to bring more foot traffic into your restaurant. If your operation is already in the business of brunch, you must be prepared to heighten the experience to stay ahead of the competition and match the excitement of the holiday season from every operational perspective. Consider these suggestions for executing a profitable brunch program that will flourish during the holidays.

Distinguish Your Holiday Brunch Menu with a la Carte Options

Often viewed as a special occasion, holiday brunch is a time where consumers are more inclined to try adventurous, unexpected dishes. Consider offering a progressive, contemporary à la carte menu for brunch service to highlight seasonal, high-profit items that you know you do really well. Utilizing ingredients that are already part of your inventory, such as seafood, steak, and seasonal produce, is more cost-effective for your operation and increases the value of traditional brunch offerings. An existing breakfast item like waffles can be enhanced with fried chicken and hot honey-chili sauce or pulled pork and bourbon maple syrup. Seafood is another excellent ingredient to showcase bold flavors in traditional breakfast dishes like hashes, eggs Benedict, and omelets. And don’t be afraid to feature more produce in your brunch offerings. Transform a traditional brunch item into an appealing veg-centric meal by serving cauliflower steak and eggs or roasted sweet potato huevos rancheros. Incorporating these ingredients into brunch items helps you use your inventory to its full potential while increasing value perception.

Gather inspiration for your à la carte menu from Garces Group’s restaurant, Olon, in Atlantic City. Their brunch menu is South American-inspired with a focus on seafood. Brunch-goers can choose from a bottomless raw bar with options of oysters, ceviche and tiraditos, seafood cocktails, and seafood towers. Or, they can order delectable items à la carte such as Fig and Bacon Waffles topped with whipped mascarpone, port syrup, and basil and Crab Benedict with Swiss chard, chorizo, and aji panca (Peruvian pepper) hollandaise. Consumers are often seeking seasonal deals this time of year, creating perfect opportunity to offer three smaller brunch items and a beverage for a fixed price. Customers see value in this type of prix fixe offering, as they feel they are getting a bang for their buck while tasting more than one menu item. As you plan your holiday brunch menu, make sure it’s rooted in the familiar but still delivers a new and memorable wow factor that lives up to the hype of the celebratory season.

Seasonal Beverages & Sweets

People tend to imbibe more during the fall and winter holidays than at any other time of year, making beverages a key component in improving the brunch experience and driving sales. Alcoholic beverages such as bloody Mary’s and mimosas are in high demand for brunch, but the festive season calls for special, nostalgic versions of traditional holiday beverages. Give eggnog a global twist by serving an Indian-Inspired Bourbon Eggnog flip or winter tempranillo sangria containing red wine, brandy, holiday spice simple syrup, pear, orange, cloves, rosemary, and sparkling rosé.

Alcoholic drinks aren’t the only beverages in the brunch spotlight. According to Datassential, overall sales of non-alcoholic beverages have increased for one in four operators because of increasing customer interest. Highlight global flavors with a Mexican spin on hot chocolate by serving an Oaxaca hot chocolate with cinnamon, dark chocolate, vanilla, and pasilla chiles. For guests looking for something more familiar, offer cappuccinos and espressos in popular seasonal flavors such as pumpkin spice, ginger, caramel apple, or cinnamon.

Sweet offerings are also a key component of brunch menus. Consumers may feel less guilty and more inclined to order sweeter items that highlight traditionally sweet breakfast elements such as doughnuts, waffles, crepes, pancakes, or French toast. For example, Olon serves Passion Fruit Waffles topped with pistachio, coconut cream, and toasted coconut. You can also add treat-like elements into beverages; try serving a Spiced Buttered Rum Budino that combines spiced buttered rum, pumpkin spice butterscotch, and cinnamon-sugar doughnut holes. Entice customers with these rich, eye-catching offering by having your waitstaff showcase them throughout your entire dining room before serving them to the designated guest.

Preparing Your Staff for Brunch Execution

One of the most important components of a brunch program is ensuring your staff is ready to take on the increased brunch traffic and execute a phenomenal holiday brunch experience. Since the brunch boom was greatly driven by consumers’ fascination with today’s social-centric society, it’s important to train your staff to deliver on the social aspects of brunch that guests are craving. Encourage your staff to make individualized, genuine connections with guests that make your brunch stand out from the competition. Instead of focusing on turning over tables, train your staff to embrace the leisurely aspect of brunch and present customers with more drink offerings. While making customers feel less rushed and inviting them to drink and socialize, you’ll also be increasing check averages. These small efforts can help your front-of-house staff make guests feel like welcomed regulars, creating a memorable brunch experience and repeat customers. 

Another way to differentiation your holiday brunch is training your staff on proper wine service. Providing sophisticated wine service for bunch can help portray your restaurant as a trendsetting establishment, potentially impacting repeat customers and improving your reputation. Your waitstaff does not have to be certified sommeliers to do a good job in this arena, but you do need the right glassware and corkscrews, and to educate your staff on the presentation, uncorking, and pouring of wine. Serve light options for brunch hours like Chardonnay and Pinot Grigio and consider having your staff announce the vineyard, grape, and location of wine to your guests. Your wine vendors might be able to conduct a mini training session the next time you have a delivery. Be sure to collaborate with your bartenders and chefs to help waitstaff suggest brunch wine pairings depending on the entrée ordered. For example, a fruity variety can elevate an item replete with bacon and sausage, a white for bread-heavy dishes like waffles and French toast, and dry rosé for cheesy items. Refining your brunch wine service and promoting wine and food pairings creates an additional area of revenue for your restaurant that can attract more customers and generate increased appeal for your holiday brunch service.

Diners like to feel appreciated and that their business is important. Reward current brunch-goers and draw in new customers by highlighting your brunch specials across as many social media outlets as possible. Everyone at your restaurant is busy, and if it’s not an assigned task, updating your social media won’t get done. Designate one or two staff members to take twenty minutes out of their shift to capture quality photos or live videos of your brunch atmosphere and post it on all of your social platforms. Whether it’s customers socializing or a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the kitchen, intrigue your social audience with live-action shots of brunch. Capturing all of the distinct elements that make your brunch stand out can bring more traffic to your restaurant, boost your bottom line, and make your restaurant the trendy destination this holiday season.

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