THERE are few things more intrinsically linked with the perfect British summer day than a barbecue and a few drinks.
So when the sunny days of 2018 come around, venues with even a small outdoor area could be perfectly positioned to become their customers’ summer venue of choice.
Experts told SLTN that barbecue events can offer licensees an edge over their competitors throughout the warmer season.
And demand for barbecues is said to be growing.
“Barbecues may not previously have been seen as an essential item, but outdoor eating is a growing area of the UK market and operators should be taking the opportunities for extra revenue that barbecues can provide seriously,” said Ray Hall, managing director of catering equipment firm RH Hall.
“Provided some sort of outdoor area is available, any establishment can quickly and easily set up a barbecue for use almost immediately.
“Cooking outdoors can become a regular feature during the spring and summer months, and perhaps even further with the right equipment.
“Barbecue menus can provide a great focus for special events such as bank holidays, but can also provide a great source of extra income every weekend.”
General manager of Cinders Barbecues, Mark Challinor, agreed, saying “extra trade” could be generated by exploiting the greater demand for al fresco dining options.
He said: “Winters can be long and hard, so when the sun shines everyone will want to be outdoors.
“We know licensees can’t forecast the weather beyond one week, so use social media and word of mouth to announce a pop-up barbecue.
“A barbecue is a fun event and that means more custom.”
Barbecue menus can provide a great source of extra income every weekend.
However there are a number of factors that should be considered before progressing with a barbecue event, and one of the main decisions operators have to face is whether to opt for a charcoal or gas grill.
The decision comes down to how experienced an outlet’s staff are at barbecuing and how quickly food will need to be cooked, according to Mark Teed, head of food at Star Pubs & Bars.
He said: “Charcoal is the more traditional cooking method and provides an unmistakable smoky aroma and delicious distinctive taste.
“As a general rule, charcoal barbecues cook food slower and therefore more moisture is retained within the food.
“Although, if you are not confident with barbecuing then the charcoal option can be somewhat tricky to light and regulate at first and will need topping up if used for extended periods.
“The main benefits of gas barbecues are faster lighting and cooking times and a more controllable heat.
“This enables quicker, more efficient service, allowing licensees to cater for more customers.”
Challinor at Cinders urged venues with less practice at cooking with charcoal to buy gas barbecues, as they are simpler to use, while making sure their new piece of kit has been recognised as conforming with EU health and safety requirements.
“Unless you are an experienced charcoal champion, go for a gas barbecue to ease the whole operation and don’t forget to check for a ‘CE’ mark on the data plate,” said Challinor.
Unless you are an experienced charcoal champion, go for a gas barbecue for ease.
“CE will continue after Brexit and it is an important assurance of quality, as well as a legal requirement.”
And when it comes to what to cook, although traditional classics such as burgers, sausages and steak will always be popular, Teed of Star Pubs & Bars said more contemporary options can help give venues a great USP.
He said: “Modern barbecue includes a vast range of flavours, cooking styles, meats and cuts – and pubs wanting to stand out from the crowd and have the commercial edge need to embrace this.
“Grilled lobster tail in orange and marjoram butter and Asian-style pork belly with green mango and gochujang sauce are examples of items featuring on on-trend garden barbecue menus.”
Having purchased a new piece of kit, licensees will be keen not to have to fork out again anytime soon, and there are some steps operators can take to avoid having to buy a new grill every year.
To get the best possible lifetime out of barbecue equipment, and keep food tasting as it should, good maintenance cannot be forgotten, said Hall of RH Hall.
“Regular maintenance and cleaning will help to prolong the life of your equipment,” he said.
“It is very important that all staff are aware and capable of performing essential daily tasks.
“Extra measures should be taken for equipment stored outside.”
“With vegan food popular, have a separate barbecue providing options for these consumers.”
– Star Pubs & Bars
“A pub BBQ on a summer’s day can be enhanced with live music or family entertainment.”
– RH Hall
“It’s important to devise a system for payment beforehand and then let everyone know what the system is.”
“If the forecast is good, operators should ensure staff levels are considered and the bar is well stocked.”
– RH Hall