Exploring London's festive foodservice innovations
Shannon Goldsmith, Analyst at IGD, takes a look at some of the foodservice innovations coming to the capital this festive season.
Christmas is rapidly approaching and businesses in the eating out sector are already trying to get customers in the Christmas spirit by showcasing their festive menus and encouraging early bookings.
Despite Covid restrictions being less of a concern this year, there is still high uncertainty caused by the cost of living crisis, with the industry already being impacted by lower consumer spend as customers have started to trade down.
However, this hasn’t stopped the foodservice industry from starting to celebrate the festive period early, with many establishments bringing out their new menus.
In preparation for IGD's Eating Out Christmas Immersion Day on 30 November, we have been in London to see some of the new innovations and Christmas menus.
Focus on creating a memorable festive experience, for formal or informal occasions
As part of our perfecting experience trend, many businesses this year have been focusing on delivering a perfect and memorable experience for customers who have higher expectations than ever as they have been going out less.
The Ivy Chelsea Garden is targeting a premium Christmas occasion with its festive afternoon tea. Delivering on a high-end experience, with Instagrammable treats such as the Santa hat cake, also encourages customers to share their experience, building excitement and encouraging more to upgrade some of their Christmas plans.
Independent pub The Ganton Arms, located near Carnaby Street, is targeting the more informal Christmas meet up with friends with their festive sharing boards. At a more affordable price of £20 per board for four people, the pub still enables more price-conscious customers with an opportunity to enjoy more casual occasions.
Putting a festive twist on existing menus
Efficiency is a high priority at the moment, with rising costs and staffing issues meaning that productivity is key. With this in mind, some businesses are putting a Christmas twist on their existing menu, meaning that they can maintain most of their existing operations, both front and back of house.
Megan’s Christmas feast menu is comprised of a more limited range from the normal menu, with the addition of pigs in blankets as a side, and a pigs in blankets cheese fondue as a starter. A brownie tower has been added to the dessert options, an extension of the brownie and brownie sundae on the normal menu. The Espresso Martini has also been given a Bailey’s twist in keeping with the Christmas spirit. By adding items like these, Megan’s has added Christmas elements to and premiumised their menu for the season, while also being able to maintain their usual menu and operations.
Along with Megan’s Bailey’s Espresso Martini, other businesses are innovating their drinks menus. Drake and Morgan’s Christmas cocktails include the Bailey’s Reindeer, while The Botanist has made festive versions of classic cocktails, including the Candy Cane Collins and the Winter Apple G&T.
Many customers will have tighter budgets this year and may be trading down on occasions. Going out for drinks is often seen as a more premium experience, having a higher average spend than other eating out occasions. Premiumising the drinks occasions for Christmas may help establishments retain these occasions as customers trade down from meals to just drinks.
Meanwhile, coffee chains have also started to release their winter menus, with Costa bringing back their Terry’s Chocolate Orange hot chocolate, and Starbucks adding the Toffee Nut and Praline Cookie flavourings to the lineup.
Ethnic cuisine at Christmas
Many of the ethnic restaurants in London are appealing to Christmas meals with their take on a Christmas menu.
Some, such as Dishoom and Hoppers are incorporating traditionally festive elements into their menus, with turkey raans, cranberry hot sauce and spiced bread pudding. Mixing the two together can help them to stay top of mind for customers looking for somewhere to have a Christmas meal, and appeal to those looking for something different this year.
Find out more about IGD's Eating Out Christmas Day here and join them on 30 November in London to feed your Christmas planning for 2023.