In the age of social media, food trends spread faster than a wildfire. Restaurants get asked by clients if they offer gluten-free and vegan options on a daily basis. Ignoring these requests is a mistake, which may cause the restaurant to lose a consistent share of customers.

This is often the case at a team event with colleagues or big family gatherings – it requires only one person to be vegan, and the restaurant may lose a group of 10 or more.

The vegan lifestyle has turned into a trend and is becoming more popular for the meat eaters as well. Many opt for a plant-based diet to lose weight, adopt a healthier lifestyle or to try something new.

The first step to take as a business is to be flexible with the ingredients used to prepare the meals. Look carefully through the menu – if all that separates a salad from being vegan is an egg, offer to remove it or to substitute it.

A restaurant point of sale system can be convenient for that, for example, ‘Lightspeed Restaurant’ POS allows removing any item immediately.

As soon as the order is input on the iPad, the kitchen can start preparing the vegan meal. This will also give some time for the restaurant to develop a few more vegan or gluten-free options on its menu.

After creating additional menu items, one can go the extra mile and differentiate their business even more by considering the impact their establishment has on the environment. An environmentally aware customer base would instead choose a restaurant that cares about reducing food waste and carbon waste.

‘Carbon free dining’ is a great initiative, which plants trees on behalf of one’s restaurant with every meal ordered, also offering a free restaurant point of sale system.

Finally, invest in some marketing. Don’t depend on people passing by; there are many tourists in Malta who use search engines to find a place where to eat, especially if they have dietary requirements.

The restaurant has a competitive advantage: it’s time to tell everyone about it. One should use the restaurant’s social media channels to bring awareness to the new menu items. Social media is still the most direct and affordable advertisement resource.

Each restaurant is unique in its way and adapting is the first step to progress. There will always be trends which come and go, but by keeping one’s signature taste and a great overall experience, the establishment will be livelier than ever.

Laine Tiltina is marketing and sales executive at Progressive.

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