The restaurant industry has been on a wild ride for the last three years. First, COVID-19 quarantines locked customers out and forced owners to adapt quickly or consider if they could even remain in business. Today, restaurant owners and managers are dealing with labor shortages, supply chain issues and price increases due to rising inflation. None of this is a great recipe for financial success.

So, what can owners/operators do to address these issues and keep loyal customers coming back? There are certainly complex financial solutions that will have an impact, but there’s another opportunity that they can control – achieving peak flavor. It’s time to remind restaurant operators why consumers dine out. Yes, service, ambience and the whole experience of dining out play an important role, but ultimately it comes down to food and flavors.

Flavor variety and updated menu items remind customers why they enjoy dining out.

Restaurants must be proactive and continuously innovate ways to entice customers to visit with the same or increased frequency, especially in the face of other challenges. More than 80% of U.S. consumers said they are eating out less often as a result of inflation, according to a recent Morning Consult survey.

The good news is consumers are seeking flavor more than ever. Nearly one in four people has experimented with different cuisines, ingredients or flavors since the start of the pandemic, according to a survey by the International Food Information Council. Restaurants and suppliers can capitalize on this by working with a flavor and ingredient partner, such as Summit Hill Foods, to identify and implement immediate updates to menu items using custom or off-the-shelf ingredients and flavors. There are opportunities to leverage ingredients in new ways, fuse flavors and menu items, or add new flavors that meet expanding consumer palates.

After a consultation with Summit Hill Foods’ head chef, foodservice food processors can determine which ingredients may best enhance or differentiate a customer’s menu offerings. For example, it’s easy to enhance flavor and keep menus fresh with a twist on bases, hot sauces, Asian sauces, ready-to-use sauces, demi-glaces, concentrates, marinades, dry soup mixes, biscuit mixes, gravy mixes and even pancake mixes. Moreover, restaurant operators and their patrons can trust brands such as Louisiana Hot Sauce, Chef Myron’s Asian Sauces, Southeastern Mills, Shore Lunch, Five Star and Better than Bouillon.

Longer-term collaborations may open the door to even greater innovation, custom mixes and solutions that help reduce operational pressures, maximize margins and offset labor challenges.

Keeping the focus on flavor can bring exciting possibilities to operators’ menus and their business. After all, no matter what challenges arise and what else changes, flavor will always be what keeps customers coming back.

Elisa Gumbel, Summit Hill Foods Director of Customer Engagement and Insights

With over 15 years in the food industry, Elisa Gumbel has made a name for herself as a trend stalker. From convenience to fast casual, full-service and now ingredients, Elisa has been researching and eating all the latest trends. With a passion for being ahead of the trend curve, Elisa has the ability to sift through the latest trend noise to find the perfect flavor fit to meet a range of customer needs.