At the Garden Retail Experience conference, Professor in Retail Cor Molenaar spoke about the key role that a restaurant will play in the garden centre of tomorrow: “Catering may be the ultimate experience factor that customers are searching for, especially if combined with loyalty schemes such as free coffee when you buy something.”
Various international entrepreneurs confirmed this view. Ed Webb (Webb’s Garden Centres) said: “Our restaurant accounts for 20% of our total turnover, with cups of coffee representing the largest proportion. We deliberately use our new restaurant as an instrument for challenging customers to provide feedback via social media.”
The right location for your restaurant
An important consideration is where the restaurant should be situated in your garden centre. Erwin Meier (Ernst Meier AG, Zurich) commented: “When we built our new garden centre in 2011, I made every mistake I could possibly have made. One of them was putting the restaurant on the first floor. Now that I’m about to expand it because it’s become too small, I realise that I put it in the wrong place.“
Besides the restaurant’s location, a number of other factors will further enhance the feel-good factor for your customers:
- Make due allowance for the kitchen in an open public area with good ventilation and exhaust fans.
- Ensure pleasant, gentle insolation and reflection of sunlight with sun-reflecting tinted windows.
- Create a good mixture of dark shaded areas and parts with daylight insolation.
Double the number of customers
Thermoflor has already increased the size of restaurants in garden centres for several clients in Europe. At Forest Lodge in the UK (see photo above) we built an extension, enabling them to expand their restaurant. The extension means that twice as many customers can now enjoy Forest Lodge’s gastronomy, and their catering turnover has doubled.
Food is emotion
This short film shows how important the feel-good factor is in a restaurant: