Operators that can utilise outdoor space to expand their food offering will quickly realise the financial and commercial benefits it promises, but only if they get the set-up and specification right first, writes Karen Swift at Cinders Barbecues.
Outdoor space increases a venue’s footprint and adds menu diversity. With al fresco dining, operators can facilitate a faster turnover of tables for the kitchen, increasing the covers served.
An outdoor barbecue is an al fresco chef’s table and can attract new clientele to a venue they may have hesitated to try, potentially converting them to regulars.
Venues can become seasonal destination pubs or restaurants because of their al fresco offering. Cinders customers have even formed new outdoor catering divisions based on their new barbecue expertise.
To do this, operators need the right equipment. Barbecues are phenomenally popular, but only if they produce high-quality food quickly and have the reliability factor — the tenets upon which Cinders’ brand was built.
Operators must also plan well, preparing side dishes, hot or cold, in the main kitchen, finding ways to prevent an off-putting queue putting a dampener on the fun, and creating interesting menus.
Space doesn’t have to be a barrier. The barbecue service area can be highly contained. At Cinders, our Classic barbecue measures either 80cm for the SG80, or 160cm for the TG160. Space issues often relate to queuing areas and safety zones.
With careful management and simple tactics, queuing can be avoided. Cinders barbecues are also very stable, reducing safety concerns.
Storage presents different space requirements. Cinders’ barbecues are easy to fold down to very compact sizes and are equally easy to set up should a spell of fine weather come along.
When it comes to choosing the right solution, commercial operators need commercial barbecues and should not be tempted by anything intended for private use.
They should look for the CE mark on the data plate — an assurance of quality that will continue to be a legal requirement after Brexit. Buying British-made is a wise choice and having advice and service support on a line that operates within your time-zone and in your language is key.
Fuel choice matters. Cinders’ LP gas barbecues reach cooking temperature within a fraction of the time of charcoal-run barbecues, while offering more control and reliability. For environmentally-conscious operators there are issues regarding charcoal’s sustainability and its emissions.
We expect street food’s presence to be felt in beer gardens and on terraces in 2019, making it a big year for StreetWok, which recreates street food’s drama but in a more relaxed environment, with a larger and captive audience.
This should also be a big barbecuing year. It’s an Ashes summer and anything Aussie always boosts barbecuing. Britain is also hosting the Cricket World Cup, so chefs can theme barbecues around Australian, Caribbean and Asian foods according to matches played, getting everyone in the mood and making those outdoor eating areas vibrant and magnetic spaces.
Karen Swift is director of marketing at Cinders Barbecues, one of the UK’s leading producers of catering barbecues, outdoor grills and barbecue accessories. www.cindersbarbecues.co.uk