Anatomy of a New Menu

We went live with a new menu yesterday.  It’s one we’re really proud of, and it was three months in the planning.  We hope you agree that we came up with exciting new items that you end up loving.

We think that you might enjoy reading about what goes into a menu change.  We won’t recite all the new menu items, because they’re on the menu tab of our website, and you can see for yourself when you come in.  Let’s talk why we do what we do instead.

Since we first opened, we have always strived to do better. Before we start deciding on what we’ll take off the menu and what we’ll add, we discuss in what direction we want to go.

We arrived at two goals this go-round:  we committed to changing our menu seasonally, and we committed to pushing ourselves out of our comfort zone.

For the longest time, we’d update our menu once a year or so.  The reason for that, in a nutshell, is because planning and executing a new menu is a lot of work.  Over time, though, this has proved to be unsatisfying.  Though not a huge restaurant sin, it kind of bugged us, for instane, that the meatloaf that served us well when there’s snow on the ground was also on the menu when it’s sweltering hot.

We wanted to solve that, and discussed what’s the optimal amount of menu updates in a year.  We almost committed to three menus a year, something we still might do in the future, but we decided that going forward, we’ll do two a year.

So, around April 1 and October 1 of each year, our menu will change.  (Now you know we were a month late in coming out with this menu!)

This will allow us the opportunity to use seasonal ingredients that aren’t always optimal year-round.  On this menu, we’re using ingredients such as fresh strawberries, rhubarb and asparagus.  We’ve got corn on the cob on the menu, as well as dill potato salad, utilizing fresh dill.

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This fall and winter, we’ll be imagining root vegetables, hearty sauces and comfort food. Two menu changes a year allows us this flexibility, and it should lead to exciting future offerings.

Since we’re now committed to an updated menu twice a year, it also allows us the opportunity to stretch and take risks.  We know that many of you love what we do and would rather we leave things alone.  We get that.  It’s traumatic to see that your favorite item is missing from a new menu.

But, as Steve Jobs once said, “You don’t know you need something you’ve never had before.”  We get that too.

Since we’re changing our menu every six months, we can take some risks.  If it turns out that we misjudged the popularity of a current item that we pulled, we can get it back on soon enough.

Case in point:  our barbecue nachos.  We knew that there would be howling if we took it off the menu.  We were right.  However, as great tasting as it is, we weren’t satisfied that you were getting the best nachos we could provide.  We weren’t happy that when you got to the bottom of the mound, it’s mostly chips.  Because reworking this item to our satisfaction required time that was being used for new items, we decided to give them a rest.

Be assured that nachos will be back on the fall/winter menu, improved and exciting.

For us, the elephant in the room is always pricing.  Since we opened our doors, we have wanted to be a value proposition, in addition to providing kick-ass microbrew and barbecue.

As you know from frequenting grocery stores, food prices have gone through the roof. That hits us too.  Sometimes harder than the local shopper.  It’s a part of the business, and we don’t whine about it.  Not that we like it.

So here’s what we do.  Rather than just increasing all our prices and calling it a day, we double down on our efforts to bring you exciting new items that are cost effective and we drop those items that we can’t bring in a reasonable price.  Also, we sometimes just take the hit on some of our popular items, leaving the price where it was.

Case in point:  Smokehouse wings.  We left our Wing Nite pricing at 60 cents.  It’s harder and harder to do, but we want to keep our value position.  Next time you’re at Kroger, do a little research.  Look at the price of a pack of raw wings, then count how many wings you get.  We did that a couple of months ago, and it came out close to 50 cents a wing!

When you consider we brine, smoke and grill our wings, while everyone else in town just drops their’s in a deep-fat fryer, our wings truly are a value proposition.

Against this backdrop, we still want to give you bang for your buck.  We did two things starting with this menu that we’re really proud of.

We changed most of our bread to locally sourced.  While it costs us more, we are pleased that we now offer sandwich and burger rolls, and petite baguettes that are artisianally baked by Dan the Baker, right in our neighborhood, using no preservatives.

Most of our chicken is now locally sourced Ohio Proud, cage-free, hormone-free with no use of antibiotics.  We’ll continue to study how we can incorporate more items into this mix.

We’ll continue to look for other opportunities to do similar things going forward.

We’re committed to providing you the best we can offer on a daily basis. We’ll be doing two menus a year, and we’ll continue to research and plan for future items that will surprise, amuse and delight you.  And we’ll do it while always keeping your wallet in mind.

At the end of the day, you visit us because we make you happy.  There are plenty of options out there, and we’re working hard to make sure we compare most favorably. We’ll keep sweating out the details until we’re the doing it the best in town.

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Part Art. Part Science. Part Magic. (TM)
It’s not just a slogan.  The art and science are up to us; the magic is for you to judge.  We want you to leave with a smile on your face.  As always, let us know what you’re thinking.

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Cheers!
Brewdood

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