How to Choose the Right Concession Foods for Your Snack Bar
What to Consider When Menu Planning for Your Concession Stand
If you operate a concession stand at a public park or pool, you have the challenge of understanding who your customers are and offering them the foods they want at your venue. There are several things food stand management should take into consideration when menu planning to maximize profits as well as customer satisfaction.
Who will be running the equipment?
If your stand is run primarily by volunteers or by inexperienced employees, keep this in mind when deciding what types of food to serve. Will the machines be easy to operate? Will safety be a concern? For example, fryers may not be the best choice for these types of situations – instead, lean toward less complicated equipment like popcorn machines and warmers.
How much space and electrical capacity do you have?
When planning for equipment you’ll need to make sure to have room for your staff to move and adequate electrical capacity. Most hot dog grills and small to medium popcorn machines use standard 120 volts but meet with your building manager as well as any local inspectors to ensure your space has the ability to handle each piece of equipment you’re considering. Don’t forget to think about the amount of power being used if all the machines are running at the same time.
Who are your customers?
Regardless of what you personally want to sell, you’ll need to meet people where they are. What types of people visit your location, and for what purpose? For families at pools or playgrounds, you may want to provide more traditional concession foods like nachos, cotton candy, and caramel corn. If your stand is at the entrance to a nature park, however, your clientele may differ, and you’ll want to include options like trail mix and fruits. Hot dogs and burgers also go over well in parks for visitors looking for picnic foods.
What are your hours?
If your stand has limited hours such as weekends only, consider what foods will keep well and what will spoil. Don’t use bagged nacho cheese, for instance, if you run the risk of opening a bag on Sunday and not using it again until Friday. In this case, Portion Pak Cheese would be a better option. There are a number of prepackaged items that offer your concession stand favorites in convenient grab-and-go packaging. This allows you to save on labor, as well as enjoy a longer shelf life.
How will you address health and safety concerns?
You want your customers to have peace of mind and feel comfortable. Choosing prepackaged foods is one way to adapt your offerings. Another option is updating your technology. For example, Gold Medal has introduced the ReadyPop® Jr., an 8-oz commercial popcorn machine plus self-serve station in one. Operators simply pop multiple batches, then customers can fill cups or bags through the automatic push-button dispenser without impacting any food safety concerns. Be sure to also have a safe and clean environment. Set up hand sanitizing stations and use barriers to encourage social distancing. You can even wear concession food face coverings.
No matter which menu items you choose to sell, plan to review inventory and sales regularly to determine which items are over- or under-performing. Revise your ordering and selection based on which products sell well and which drive the most revenue for your concession stand.