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Building a Menu In 2023

This week starts the beginning of a new year. As chef and restaurant owner, this is the time of the year I begin to think about what’s new on the menu for the months and seasons ahead. Even today, as we begin our 8th season of cooking and feeding our guests, I think about what else we can bring to the table? What flavors and twists on food can I play with? Then a wave of reality quickly kicks in.

Supply chain issues don’t seem to be going away which, along with inflation, is driving up our cost to do business. Wage growth is likely. Increased operating expenses foreseeable.  All this combined with an almost nonexistent workforce will challenge all of us in 2023. I ask myself, in today’s economic uncertainty, what is the willingness of our diner’s wallet, and will it offset our increased financial burden?

Fortunately, for restaurants, the message being sent by the market is clear–people are wanting to go out to dinner again. They want community. They want a sense of socializing. They want to experience food and drink they can’t get at home. Even in inflationary times, consumers want to visit restaurants says the National Restaurant Association. For me, this begs the question of how do I balance all that is financially real for me with providing an interesting and intriguing dining experience?

Sitting here now, I know the guest’s menu experience as well as what makes sense for the business is very different today than in 2021. The variables we need to consider have changed.  So here I go, foraging for ingredients, testing recipes, and noodling the economics of what I hope will be a fresh and inviting new menu to introduce this Spring.

As part of the work ahead, I want to share what I learn and discuss how I navigate some of today’s realities. Of course, because, like many of you, I do this grounded in a passion of food, I’ll talk about some of the new ideas and why. Looking forward to the discussions ahead.

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Fred Latasa-Nicks, Executive Chef, Strangers & Saints.

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PDF menus on phones ruin the dining experience.
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PDF menus on phones ruin the dining experience. Switch to a true quick response menu and give guests an experience they’ll love.