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Euro 2016 is now well under way, it’s the topic on everyone’s lips and it’s taking the nation by storm. For businesses it’s also a chance to attract customers and maximise profits.  However, it seems that many aren’t doing enough to turn the Euro into pounds for their business.

A Mintel pub visiting report in 2015 found that 50 per cent of people chose to watch sports away from home, and we’re sure that this number will rise as casual fans catch football fever as the tournament progresses.

Just a few small tweaks can make your venue the go-to place for the next month and beyond. We’ve put together some simple ideas that your venue can implement to get fans through your doors.

Run with the theme

Have some fun with your food menu and run some new interesting dishes that play on the football theme. Take inspiration from the nation’s food; each dish can pay homage to a country’s cuisine. You could have a Welsh Bale burger (made with lamb, of course), Portuguese piri-piri chicken or a German Muller hot dog (Bratwurst sausages).

As for drinks, bring in speciality beers and ales from the competing countries. Perhaps have a discount on the team’s drink who are playing at the time.

Cater for groups

Fans are most likely to be coming to watch the football with groups of friends and family – these should be identified as your main target market. Make sure your space is right for those watching the match in groups.

Drink pitchers and food sharing platters are a great attraction for those watching in groups - finger food is the best option for food during the game. Promoting ‘VIP packages’ including reserved booths, increases the likelihood of pre-bookings, making sure you know how many people to expect per game.

Post and pre-match entertainment

Extending the activities further than the 90 minute football match is a great way of maximising customers’ time spent in your establishment. Post-match celebrations will definitely be in order should one of the nations win!

If you have a garden, use it to your advantage by providing free activities with something for all ages. To keep visitors even after the full-time whistle is blown, offer social engagement. Having games machines / pool / foosball tables caters for groups whilst providing out-of-game entertainment.

Zone the football

Throughout the championships it is important not to alienate your regular customers who aren’t interested in the football. Offer divided areas for those who want to enjoy a family meal or catch-up drinks with friends.

As an incentive for your faithful year-round customers to join you throughout the football, offer double points on loyalty cards or special deals.

Trent Furniture has supplied furniture to a number of establishments that have revamped their interiors in the run up to the Euros. To find out how we can help you, call 0116 2988 970.

Trent Furniture is used to supplying furniture for village halls of all shapes and sizes.  With the recent celebrations of the Queen’s 90th birthday, village halls and clubs up and down the country have been revamping their interiors in preparation.

In the UK we have a long tradition of celebrating royal jubilees, weddings and birthdays. So it goes without saying that a landmark such as the Queen’s 90th birthday was well-celebrated last weekend.

With the public in a party mood, a number of events were organised across the country including street parties, picnics and tea parties. It was important that any hosts had up-to-date furniture in sufficient quantities to cater for the people coming to their events.

Looking back on our orders for the big day, one furniture order in particular caught our eye, it was for a village hall in Nottinghamshire.

To commemorate the Queen’s birthday, the South Muskham and Little Carlton Village Hall organised an indoor ‘strawberry tea party’. The hall had recently been revamped, extending and improving the facilities available with a new kitchen and toilet. The committee was now looking to add some chairs to match and use for the event.

After searching for village hall chairs, they found Trent Furniture and ordered 80 Buckingham chairs and 20 Buckingham armchairs – so classy that they wouldn’t look out of place in their namesake’s palace. On the day itself, the village hall was transformed into a banqueting hall with crockery and bunting, made complete by their new furniture.

Over 100 locals came to the sold-out celebrations, even the local newspaper - with the revamped interior receiving a resounding thumbs up from visitors. One attendee was so impressed with the revamp and chairs that she donated £345 to the village hall fund. 

The past 12 months raising money has been a struggle for the hall so the total raise of over £600 will be a great benefit. Because of the village hall chairs’ versatility and quality, it is planned to offer the venue for weddings and special occasions – generating another source of income for the fund.

Trent Furniture is delighted by the positive impact that our furniture has had for this customer.

Leicester City have climbed to the top of the table. No, not the kind of table that we're used to talking about here at Trent Furniture, this time it’s the Premier League table. Leicester City have won the title!

Our furniture store is based in Leicester and it’s fair to say that at least half of our staff are long-term Leicester City supporters. As the season has progressed the number of supporters has grown dramatically. It’s extraordinary to see your local club pick up one of the biggest football trophies in the world and Trent Furniture pass on our congratulations on to everybody associated with the football club.

In what has been a successful year for Trent Furniture too, we’ve decided to match items from our furniture range with key members of the Leicester City team by our way of homage to the team and their amazing achievement this season.

Wes Morgan

Solid performances this season from the captain fantastic have given Leicester a sturdy platform from the back to build on. Known for his no-nonsense defending, he gets the job done consistently without stealing the limelight.

Our Tall Captains bar stool not only resembles our captain in name, but also in its characteristics. Strong, sturdy and durable, this stool can be part of team of four to provide a solid defence propped up against your bar. Capable of performing under the biggest of pressures, the stools survive the wear and tear that comes with customers’ – or in Morgan’s case the opposition’s – knocks and pulls.

Riyad Mahrez

Picked up on a low price by Leicester, Mahrez was brought for just £450,000 by Leicester in 2014. He has been a star buy for the team and has provided great value – even picking up the 2016 PFA player of the year.

Our Ascot staking chairs are a hugely popular stock item and at a low price offer just as good an investment. The chairs can be used at conferences, presentations, weddings, parties and seminars - offering the same versatility in positioning as the Algerian.

Jamie Vardy

Vardy is Leicester’s top goal scorer this season and he is capable of providing show-stopping performances. He can lead the line on his own and is known for his speed and high-energy levels.

The Chesterfield sofa is an ideal retreat after a tiring shift on the pitch and fits in perfectly in a pub (the best place for a Vardy party). With upholstered arms and unique detail, this sofa has a luxurious finish which is good enough to match that of striker’s goal-scoring finishing.

Available as a two or three seater there’s also plenty of room for the other strikers Okazaki and Ulloa.

Claudio Ranieri

It isn’t possible to describe Ranieri in just one piece of furniture. The manager knows how to make the most out of a team on a budget, he has evolved this team into one which is now elite. And the same can be said for organising an event - you can still create a champion event without all the money.

Our budget range means you don’t have to put up with inferior furniture. Despite the price, the products are high quality and can provide great results.

Over the years we have supplied furniture for a number of football teams including Manchester United, West Ham United and Portsmouth. But we’re currently waiting for a call from the Leicester City Chair-man asking to use our furniture that is fit for champions.

The good news is that many of our chairs are available in blue and white so meaning they will fit in a treat at the Leicester City conference facilities or even the boss’s office. It’s certainly one summer buying decision that they won’t regret. 

In most parts of mainland Europe, there is really no such thing as a “family-friendly restaurant”; they just call them “restaurants”. In France, Spain, Italy and other countries, eating out with children is perfectly normal. Tables will be rearranged to accommodate families without a second thought. Waiters will be kind and patient with their younger customers. There might be space outside for little ones to run around. Other customers will not be fazed by the presence of small children. Food will come in smaller portions. There will be no tut-tutting. The children themselves will be well-behaved; for them, going out to eat is perfectly normal.

Here in the UK we have, historically, had a different attitude. A survey in 2011 found that one in three young mothers reported being turned away from restaurants simply because they had a baby or a small child with them. But attitudes are changing: after decades in the dark ages, it seems that we are finally coming round to the idea that going out for a meal with the family, including young children, can be a relaxed and enjoyable experience, rather than something to be anxiously endured, surrounded by disapproving glares from other diners and impatient huffing from staff. Restaurants and cafés are finally coming round to the idea that children are not just something to be tolerated, but should be actively encouraged. In short, family-friendly dining is a growing business.

In the catering trade, family dining tends to come under the heading “casual” dining – ie, the kind of informal dining offered by chains such as Pizza Express, Nandos and suchlike. This sector of the market is growing rapidly so it makes good business sense to ensure that your restaurant or café is more attractive to families. Here’s how.

Be friendly

Let’s begin at the beginning:  with your staff. The catering trade employs many young people, especially in customer-facing roles such as waiting and reception, and it’s likely that many of them will not have children of their own. So they may need some gentle reminders, or even training, in the importance of treating families with children as welcome guests. They may need to be reminded that if you talk directly to children you’ll get a good response. Smile. Be helpful and accommodating.

Be flexible

As a customer, there’s nothing more off putting than the feeling that you’re a nuisance, or that you are being squeezed into an awkward space in the corner out of the way of other diners. But a restaurant or café that’s properly geared up for families will be truly flexible: it will have furniture that can be rearranged, tables that can be shunted together, as well as high chairs, cushions, booster chairs, and larger tables for families to sit around. If you’re prepared to be flexible, your guests will appreciate it.

Feeding and changing

Then there’s the delicate business of breastfeeding. There have been infamous cases of restaurants and cafés turning breastfeeding mothers away, or asking them to go somewhere more private, and these cases have caused great offence: breastfeeding is normal and natural, so mothers who wish to do so should feel totally comfortable. Alternatively, if a mother is bottle-feeding a baby, you could offer to warm up the bottle in your kitchen.

Nappy-changing facilities are, of course, essential. Parents are sharing more responsibility for every aspect of childcare so it’s important to offer these facilities in both the men’s and women’s lavatories.

Be fast

Small children will often arrive at a restaurant feeling hungry and thirsty. They might not be used to waiting long for their food to arrive. They might be restless or fractious. Your service should be prompt: make sure everyone on the table is offered drinks as soon as they have been seated. And serve them as quickly as possible. Parents will also appreciate a menu that offers fruit juices and smoothies alongside the fizzy stuff.

The same goes for food: without hurrying things along, or making your customers feel rushed, you can keep your smaller diners happy by getting food on the table quickly, even if it’s just something small such as crunchy raw carrots and baby tomatoes with dips, or breadsticks, to keep the proverbial wolf from the door.

Be entertaining

Another way to keep your young customers amused is by ensuring that they have something to keep them occupied. The colouring-in book is of course a familiar part of children’s dining. But there are also paper tablecloths available which can be coloured in, and disposed of afterwards; a popular brand is Eggnog. These are not cheap, but you could give customers the option and add a small surcharge to the bill. Children will love being able to do something which is normally absolutely forbidden: drawing on the tablecloth!

Toys, too, can help: you could keep a stock of small toy cars and Barbie dolls, puzzles, and even Lego or Duplo, as well as books and comics. Toy cars and dolls could be displayed on shelves; they’ll look attractive, and children can be encouraged to go over to the shelves to choose what they want to borrow during the meal. If you have space, you could create a special kids’ corner with child-sized furniture and beanbags. If you have an outside area or a garden, slides and seesaws will create a children’s area, while picnic benches will enable parents to sit and keep an eye on their offspring. Some child-friendly restaurants will hire in magicians at weekends to go from table to table doing their magic tricks; a publicity campaign could make this part of your family-friendly package. Face-painting, too, is usually a hit with children.

Free Wi-Fi is always a great option with many young people having their own tablet devices and games that need the internet.

Now for the main attraction, the food, and this one can sometimes get a bit tricky. Food can cause a great deal of conflict between adults and children: the youngsters are often picky and afraid of new foods, while the parents might be reluctant to fob them off with chicken nuggets and fish fingers. So you might offer smaller versions of the dishes on your main menu, as well as children’s specials. Children might find the arrival of a large plate of unfamiliar food daunting and off-putting, so keep portions modest.

Get creative with your ideas; many people eat out to try something they might not get at home. Something simple yet out of the ordinary encourages kids to try something new and expands what they are willing to try. Children like things such as; small colourful plates of food that they can pick at, sliced veggies, smaller burgers or pasta dishes. Chunky potato wedges are usually a big hit. A “children’s platter” would go down well with many families: an assortment of small items served attractively. Remember that children can be vegetarians, too, and will appreciate a range of options to suit them.

Desserts are clearly a big deal for children, but again, parents might appreciate some fresh fruit alongside the ice creams and brownies that will be staples in any family-friendly restaurant.

Taking inspiration from restaurants who already offer similar services is a good way to get an idea of the things that you could and should be offering. Popular family-friendly chains such as Giraffe offer a good children’s menu, also Jamie Oliver’s restaurants, Jamie’s Italian, offer a children’s menu that offer both children, as well as adults, a great and varied menu, just to name a few.  

Easter is on its way, and the colour is coming back into the world. This is the festival that has its roots in ancient traditions which celebrated spring and rebirth, going back to the pagan celebration of the spring equinox and the worship of the spring goddess Eostre or Ostara (depending on which part of Europe you lived in). When Christianity arrived and spread, it seemed natural to attach the commemoration of the death and rebirth of Christ to this ancient celebration of new life.

For Christians this is a very special time for worship and for reflection. This sacred side of Easter has been combined with ancient fertility symbols such as eggs and rabbits to create the Easter that we know today. Egg-painting traditions go back many centuries, while the first chocolate Easter eggs were created in the early years of the 19th century.

For people in the restaurant trade, it’s an opportunity to freshen things up, to bring in new customers, or to encourage people to bring their families in for a special Easter celebration. Start planning and advertising now, and it could be a fertile time for your business.

How restaurants can prepare for Easter

Perhaps the first thing to think about will be your sittings. Statistics show that although our eating habits are changing, we still like to eat with our families at least once a week. Easter weekend is a time when families will want eat out together: it’s a good, long break, with many people having four days off work or even more, so they’ll be in a relaxed frame of mind and in no mood to rush, or be rushed. And while not everyone gives something up for Lent, it’s likely that some of your customers will have been saving themselves for Easter and will be in a mood to indulge themselves.

Today’s family mealtimes are often more flexible than they used to be: people eat lunch at 3pm, or brunch at midday. So you might want to offer a brunch menu that continues through to mid-afternoon, and a lunch menu that extends into the early evening – perhaps even a carvery. Seasonal favourites are of course roast lamb, or roast beef, with plenty of fresh seasonal vegetables. Your brunch menu could focus on eggs: poached, scrambled, eggs benedict, eggs florentine, with smoked salmon, toasted bagels, rolls, scones, muffins, hot cross buns and so on.

Desserts should of course accentuate chocolate, and this is a chance for your kitchen to come up with some special creations served in nests or baskets and decorated with little eggs. Remember that today’s consumers are sophisticated chocolate-eaters: they like their chocolate in all its variety – dark, or chili, or salty, and high in cocoa; this is a chance for your kitchen to have some fun with different combinations. A bread-and-butter pudding made with hot cross buns is a clever twist on a traditional recipe. A nice touch, especially if you serve afternoon tea or coffee, would be to offer slices of simnel cake – a special Easter cake that’s been served since medieval times.

Making your restaurant seasonal with the right Easter decor

Decoration is something that’s important across your whole restaurant. Fresh flowers and perhaps table linen in seasonal pastel colours will breathe new life into your dining room. Spring blooms such as tulips, daffodils or lilies inject colour and fragrance. Tables can be decorated with little straw nests containing chocolate mini-eggs. Whatever you choose, the theme of Easter is brightness, light, colour and freshness.

Easter restaurant tips – happy dining, whatever the weather

This year, Easter falls on the weekend of March 25-28 - a little earlier than usual, so the weather may still be chilly. NeverthlessNevertheless, if your restaurant has a garden or an outdoor area, you might consider holding an Easter egg hunt that could also help turn a family meal into an event. Bear in mind that there may be children of different age groups, so you could make some of the eggs more difficult to find for the older children. If the weather is cold or wet, you could place a number of Easter eggs in locations around the interior of your restaurant; rather than running around collecting the eggs, which would of course be disruptive, youngsters could count up how many eggs they can see, and their locations, from where they are sitting, with prizes to those who can locate the most (give them a pen and paper to list them).

Restaurant table tips for entertaining the family

At the table, children could be offered colouring-in paper or books to keep them amused; if these are Easter-themed, with, say, rabbits or Easter chicks or spring flowers, all the better. Or you could get really creative and run an Easter egg painting competition for the youngsters: give them a free hard-boiled egg (no great cost to your budget) and coloured pens, with perhaps a prize to be awarded to each day’s winning design. Let them take the eggs home with them afterwards. Talking of which: your reception area should have a big jar of small colourful chocolate eggs; on the way out, these could be handed out to your customers, both large and small. Gestures such as this cost almost nothing, but generate a great deal of goodwill.

Don't forget...

Bear in mind that this year the clocks go forward on Easter Sunday, March 27, so on Sunday and Monday people may want to enjoy the extra hour of daylight in the afternoon.

Oh, and one more thing: given that many of your customers may be young, sensitive children with a fondness for the Easter bunny, it would probably be best to avoid putting rabbit stew on the menu.

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