The ‘burnout generation’ sees time-pressed consumers no longer making their own lunch; working hours have increased and the lunch hour has become a quick sandwich at the desk. So how can your business tap into this ‘grab n go’ market? Can you adapt your existing lunch offerings without compromising on quality of brand identity?
BigHospitality has spoken to two restaurants that seem to have come up with some answers.
One Blenheim Terrace in London's St John’s Wood has launched a new lunchtime delivery service for £5 including delivery, allowing customers to choose from a regularly-changing lunch menu, place their orders before 11.30 and have their lunch delivered for free within a one-mile radius.
The British restaurant, established by former chef of The Ivy Ed Shaerf last October, delivers linch dishes such as citrus-cured salmon with cucumber feta salad and pumpkin soup with wholemeal roll to customers’ workplaces in a branded pedi-bike, which is also used as a taxi service for locals.
A loyalty scheme has also been set up through the delivery service, with The Wellington Hospital.
Meanwhile, boutique hotel Dukes St James London has launched the ‘Power Lunch’ menu at its recently launched restaurant Thirty Six By Nigel Mendham. The lunch offer allows diners to select optional extras from a menu of ‘useful items’, mini spa treatments and services, all designed for the ‘burnout generation’ to help reduce a customer' to-do list without compromising their lunch hour.
Power Lunch guests can request personal concierge services such as letter and package posting, theatre and transport reservations, dress and suit pressing, shoe shining and flower delivery. Alternatively, diners may wish to purchase useful items from a shopping list which includes stamps, batteries, occasion cards and ladies tights.
A two-course lunch at Thirty Six By Nigel Mendham is prices at £21, with Power Lunch ‘extras’ charged separately.
Why these initiatives?
“People are time precious nowadays,” said One Blenheim Terrace’s chef-patron Shaerf. “But lack of time shouldn’t compromise choice or quality. The deliveries allow us to reach out to those busy people who still want fresh, seasonal and healthy dishes for lunch.
“We constantly speak to locals and diners to see what they want from us, then we change or adapt to fit in with their lifestyles. The thing with lunches is that you need to cater to a wider audience than, say, for dinner.
“Our lunchtimes need to be appropriate for businesses meetings, for light lunches with friends, special occasions and everything in-between. We see ourselves as a neighbourhood service and if delivering to local residents increases our brand profile, that is a great bonus of course.”
Debrah Dhugga, general manager at Dukes St James London, added: “We decided to launch the Power Lunch menu as we appreciate that 21st century life is time-sensitive and fewer people are able to enjoy a relaxed lunch out of the office. This way diners can sit back and relax over a delicious guilt-free lunch, feeling accomplished after having fulfilled a portion of their daily duties.
“Obviously, as more restaurants open, the competition becomes bigger therefore you have to think outside the box to bring new business in - it’s not just a promotion for promotion’s sake.”
How effective have they been?
Shaerf from One Blenheim Terrace said: “The lunchtime delivery service is still very much a new project but we have already seen an increase in our lunchtime sales. Very soon, we hope our pedi-bike driver will be very busy indeed."
Dhugga from Dukes added: “The Power Lunch has been really well received by guests and locals alike – it’s given a boost to our lunchtime trade and we’ve received positive feedback from everyone that’s tried it for themselves.”
Guy Holmes, managing director of Captivate Hospitality Consultants, said: “I think these offers show that the restaurants are listening to their customers. Many people now demand a different experience at lunch; healthier, cheaper, quicker. The best businesses listen to their customers and adapt their offering accordingly.
"Some restaurants really struggle at lunch, particularly Indian restaurants as lots of customers think the cuisine is too heavy to eat. It’s always been true that the most expensive thing in a restaurant is an empty table – so the right lunch offering is essential."
Words of warning…
Caroline Cooper, founder of Zeal Coaching, which helps hospitality and leisure clients retain their customers, said: “When doing something a bit different to boost your lunchtime trade, consider carefully how it fits in with your brand image.
“Seeing offers of two for £10 will probably do little for your image and any takers you get will not be your ideal market - compare this with what Dukes St James London is offering, which is totally congruent with their brand.
“Whatever you do, if the purpose is to attract new business, consider your target market carefully, and whether the people you get through the door will be compatible with your existing loyal guests.
“You should also have things in place to build trust and long-term loyalty, so those customers come back and try other services. This means what you provide as part of your lunchtime ‘deal’ has to be representative of the experience they’d get at any other time, and good enough to leave them eager to return."
Holmes from Captivate Hospitality added: “Location and target market are very important. But it’s also essential to think about how this will be communicated to your target customers - it’s no good have an amazing offer if no one gets to hear about it.
“Therefore, it’s essential to build up your customer database, social media followers and have striking marketing materials to run alongside your lunchtime offering.”