Should I have a Seasonal or Non-Seasonal menu?
For any aspiring juice bar owner an important question to consider is whether to have a seasonal or non-seasonal menu. There are advantages and disadvantages to both models and ultimately it comes to to what kind of business you are trying to create.
The Seasonal Menu
With a seasonal menu you will be constantly changing your menu depending on what is growing in your area. Seasonal menus are advantageous because your ingredients are always fresh, local, usually less expensive and you lower your carbon footprint.
For your customer this could be very attractive and stand as an added benefit to your business model.
While seasonal menus are great there are a few challenges that they will present for you.
1. Ordering is more dynamic with seasonal menus.
Things go out of season and from year to year it is difficult to predict when a certain ingredient is going to come into or out of–season.
If you go with this model you will need to be changing your menu constantly. This might be costly for a few reasons. You will need to train your staff on the new drinks with each seasonal change, which is an additional investment in time.
Sometimes you might have all of the ingredients for a certain drink but one presenting the challenge of explaining this to your customers, or having to change the menu.
2. The lack of consistency for customers
As much as customers may be inspired by the local sourcing of the produce. Often times customers might become disturbed and upset by the idea that their favorite drink is no longer available. Humans love consistency as well as surprise. When someone has been drinking the same juice each morning for the last 3 months, to suddenly discover that you will not be carrying that drink for another 9 months, might be a sad day fro them.
People get attached to things they like and if you want to retain customers you have to make sure that your business always serves things that they like.
Seasonal menus work great if you are in a location that has access to an abundance of produce. This clearly becomes more of a challenge if you are in a produce dessert.
With a non seasonal menu the number one thing you get is consistency. This means you don’t have to worry about changing the menu all the time saving you time both on menu design and in training your staff.
The downside to choosing this option for your business is you might lose out in terms of cost and quality. When things go out of season you’ll need to order ingredients from other countries and this tends be more expensive. (This doesn't mean you are literally calling vendors in other countries, it means this is where the produce is being sourced)
Since these items are being shipped long distance they may be picked before they are ripe to help with the transport process. As well, you never know where these things are coming from with as much accuracy as when you buy locally.
It’s hard to say which of these is the better option. I tend to lean towards having a non-seasonal core menu with seasonal options. If you are thinking about scaling your business especially, simplicity and consistency are key. It really depends on what you are trying to create for yourself
What worked for me...
THE HYBRID MODEL
Something I have done is to have one or two seasonal items on my menu. This is a solution I have found that is the best of both worlds. Only a few new drinks each season isn’t really that complicated and customers seem to enjoy the variety at times.
Whichever option you choose, try to communicate what you’re doing clearly with your customers so they know what to expect.
If you’re interested in going deeper into this conversation or other that I talk about, I have an online course which explores these concepts in greater depth, as well as offering you literally everything you will need to open your juice bar.