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Premiumise Comfort Food To Increase Pub Sales, Stars of the Future Delegates Hear

Star Pubs & Bars has revealed the top food trends for operators to capitalise on, amid rising food inflation – advising pubs to concentrate efforts on premiumising and tiering classic comfort food dishes. During the second Stars of the Future masterclass at The Raven in Birmingham recently, focussed on food, delegates received insight and advice from the pub group, in addition to demonstrations from Brakes UK and plant-based company Redefine Meat. A look at the latest food trends revealed new dishes can help expand a pubs customer base, while a focus on ‘comfort for all’ is key as household costs continue to increase for consumers.

At a time when many people are looking at ways to cut back, premiumising traditional pub dishes can be a cost-effective way to increase spend per head. Fish & chips, pies, sausage & mash and steak dishes can all undergo a premium makeover in terms of the way they are presented, the use of additional ingredients and the chosen wording on menus.

Mark Teed, Head of Food at Star Pubs & Bars, comments: “While a straightforward, value-driven sausage & mash could be on a menu for £6.95; this can be elevated by serving it with cheddar mash, petit pois and red onion gravy. Small additions could put the price up to £9.95, but these extras make a dish that a consumer would recognise, worth paying more for. For an even more premium version, source local sausages and include this on your menu. Plus, serving with minted petit pois and a caramelised red onion and Inch’s cider could put the price up to £12.95.

“Particularly during challenging times, people want to turn to familiarity and that goes for eating out as much as anything else. During our latest Stars of the Future masterclass, 60% of our chefs in attendance said a pie was their best-selling dish. If this is homemade, make sure it says so on the menu, experiment with fillings and serve alongside hand-cut triple cooked chips for a more premium experience.”

In conjunction with Brakes, the session also revealed the top food trends to be aware of moving into 2023:

1. Carb Comfort

Traditional pub grub has an important role to play here, but there is also the opportunity to modernise within this space through loaded sandwiches which take influence from different cuisine types such as Italian or Mexican – in addition to considering vegan options which can be enjoyed by all.

2. A Cut Above

The perception of meat is changing, with it now considered a treat in many households as opposed to a staple. Newer cuts of meat can help keep costs down for guests when they eat out, such as cross-cut ribs, rump cut and even offal. While when there is an occasion to celebrate, pull out all the stops with a sharing steak that friends and family can enjoy together.

3. Nostalgia

From the humble Yorkshire puddings to household brands such as Nutella and Lotus Biscoff – sometimes diners just want to revisit childhood favourites. A modern twist can be applied with Yorkshire Pudding wraps, homemade Pop Tarts and desserts or cakes using branded spreads.

4. Better For Me

Starting with greater scrutiny from parents for the foods available for their children; right the way through to climate-friendly diets – this trend is gaining traction. While comfort is often king within a pub environment, 42% of consumers have claimed they would choose a venue because its signage displayed a commitment to reducing CO2. Carbon miles could well be the new calories so it’s definitely one to watch.

5. The Power of social media

Gen Z (those born in the mid-late 1990s) can’t go longer than four hours without internet access. Representing 12.6m people, this is an audience to attract, particularly as they are also likely to have disposable income. TikTok is just one of the latest platforms used by this generation, with self-made influencers sharing new food creations that can go viral in no time at all. Being part of the channel can help pubs connect with this customer base or having someone on the team feeding new trends back to the kitchen could also help chefs create timely specials that can be advertised on social media.

Mark continues: “There are challenging times ahead for the hospitality market, no doubt about it. But we are committed to offering publicans the support they need – whether that’s through our Stars of the Future programme where we’re offering free training to delegates, or more broadly with advice on how to plan ahead and make small changes that can increase sales or save valuable cash.”

Star Pubs & Bars launched its Stars of the Future programme in June 2022, with a further session planned for operators to nominate front of house staff to attend on making the most of experiences and events.


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