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BII Menu Matters – Coronavirus Special

Dean Kinsey, development chef at Oliver Kay Produce, looks at nine ideas to help support your business and local community in these unprecedented times.

1.Take-aways and delivery meals: With all pubs now having permission to operate as take-aways look at what meals on your menu transfer well to delivery or take-away and create a short but appealing menu.

Brakspear pub The Belgian Arms, in Holyport near Maidenhead, is among the many pubs running a take-away service for food and also selling beer in cartons. They are introducing a portable hand wash station so customers can wash hands when collecting pick-ups.

Promote a take-away or no-contact delivery service (with free delivery) on boards and posters outside your pub and around your local area, on social media, as well as through local community websites and social media groups. Highlight that you are accepting contactless card payments only.

If you have an off-premises license promote bottles of soft drinks, beer, wine and cider with take-aways and deliveries too.

Highlight any ingredients with health benefits in your take-away menu descriptions, such as mood-boosting kimchi or mackerel.

Serve up some comfort food

Offer comfort food dishes like curries and meat, fish or vegetable-based pies, as well as dishes like burgers and fish and chips. Utilise any going out of date draught stout from St Patrick’s Day or other ales in pies and dishes such as beef and ale stew with dumplings. You can also utilise end of date ale in bread, soups, cakes or as a glaze or marinade for dishes.

Please find some useful main course recipes here:

Classic puddings

Stressed is just desserts spelt backwards, and during these testing times people will be looking to treat themselves, so focus on comforting desserts like sticky toffee or bread and butter pudding, treacle tart and crumbles.

Get recipes here:

2.Make ready-meals and meal kits: As well as cooking-up fresh dishes, you could also look to offer frozen ready-meals or ready-meal kits for collection or delivery. Look to use up produce which is going out of date most quickly in these dishes/kits.

3.Donate food going to waste and help deliver: If produce is heading for the bin, ensure it doesn’t go to waste and is given to those in your local community most impacted by the coronavirus and who are self-isolating.

Offer to help distribute food parcels to those having to self-isolate. You could also look to help run a ‘Meals on Wheels’ service for those most in need.

4.Become a retailer: Set your pub up as a food, grocery and drink dispensary. Sell produce to locals from your wholesale suppliers, including food and companies.

Oliver Kay Produce has just introduced a home delivery service to residents near its Bolton depot alongside its service to caterers. Other Bidfresh companies are doing the same, while companies including BrewDog and Hogs Back Brewery are offering a drive through service, where customers drive up, place an order and staff will bring beer to the car.

Post a list of available items on your website and social media with a number or email or online system for people to place orders. You could also do a no contact beer delivery to customers to their homes.

5.Reduce food waste: At present it is even more of a sin for food to be going in the bin, so use as much as possible of the meat, fish and vegetables you are working with, such as using up trimmings of fish to make fish cakes or a fish pie

Get the recipe here:

or utilise vegetables in dishes like this bubble and squeak burger, which is an ideal vegan take-away dish.

Get the recipe here:

6.Preserve and pickle produce: Make jams, chutneys, ketchups, kimchis and pickles with any left-over fresh produce or from any surplus produce locals have grown.

Get a kimchi recipe here:

7.Promote gift vouchers: Remind people that your pub is at the hub of the local community and is there to support them, but that you need their support too. Encourage people to support you through buying gift vouchers for anything from a glass or wine or pint to a £50 meal voucher to spend when normal business resumes. You could also encourage customers to buy a delivery voucher for friends or family self-isolating.

8.Keep engaging with your community on-line:  Support those who can’t or aren’t coming to your pub at present online through your social media channels.

Ideas to help keep spirits up in your community on-line include sharing a daily message through a Facebook Live from the pub landlord or head chef about what is going on at the pub, news of any activities going on in the community to support people, or just to share a quick laugh or joke.

Use tools like Skype or Zoom to host on-line events for groups such as a weekly on-line pub quiz or a cook-along with your pub’s chef  on some of your pub’s best-selling dishes or host an on-line book club.

You could also look to share cocktail and recipe ideas for people to make at home on your social media channels.

9.Embrace the war time spirit: Although the planned VE 75 celebrations are likely to be cancelled, on Bank Holiday Friday (8 May), the nation will be asked to raise a glass at 3pm to toast the heroes of World War II, wherever they are. If take-away and delivery is still allowed at this point focus on dishes from World War II, like the famous Lord Woolton pie, or share war time recipes on your social media.