Summer is almost upon us, and customers will be looking to you for ways to cool off in the unrelenting heat. In the upcoming April issue PMQ managing editor Tracy Morin leads you through the ins-and-outs of serving ice-blended drinks in your restaurant, and provides a brief introduction here.

Last year, Nation’s Restaurant News ordered a survey to gauge the opinions of customers about nonalcoholic beverage programs; findings related that out of the 2,700 respondents, the words most commonly used to describe quick-service drink programs were “old,” “boring” and “tired.” Are your customers thinking the same about your pizzeria’s beverage choices? If so, ice-blended drinks may be a welcome addition to your menu.
“Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past decade, you’re aware that ice-blended drinks are one of the hottest menu items going,” says Robb Anderson, beverage specialist for Kerry Food & Beverage, Waukesha, Wisconsin. Indeed, a Mintel study found that Americans buy about $2 billion worth of pureed fruit drinks per year—a number that is expected to grow by 10% for 2008. With summer fast approaching, now is a great time to see if you can profit from this nationwide trend.

Need a Beverage Boost?
A survey conducted online in March 2007, through Nation’s Restaurant News and Next Level Company, revealed that customers crave more exciting beverage programs in restaurants. The study polled 2,700 customers from ages 12 to 54. Here are some of the survey’s findings:

Respondents indicated that drink menus may sway their decisions: Only 22% know what drink they’re going to order before they enter the restaurant, while 40% decide when they see the menu, and 30% know when they pick their meal choices.

Some possible solutions for improving beverage programs: offering a wider variety of drinks (46%), having signature items not found elsewhere (42%), and offering healthier drink options (41%).

Sixty percent said they were somewhat or extremely likely to try a drink they had never had before.

More than half change their favorite nonalcoholic beverage over the course of 12 months.

Strawberry, banana and raspberry were the most popular flavors (out of a list of 10 choices).

Consumers said they’d be more likely to try new drinks with these incentives: coupons, new flavors and unlimited refills.

To learn more check out April’s article “Blending In.”

Pizza News