In the food concession business, when it comes to menus, it can be a challenge to identify and pin down your market. Because your market is, literally, a moving target.
In one day your customers might be attendees of a farmers market in the morning, and Harley Davidson riders, enjoying a swap meet, in the afternoon. The following weekend you might have your concession at an art and wine show. Then, two days later, you find yourself setting up at a five day county fair.
I don't know any menu that can maximize sales at every event. Cotton candy is for kids, and fajitas are preferred by adults. Event goers admiring art while tasting wine are not likely to buy a corn dog. But, they might buy chocolate dipped strawberries or oysters. The reverse is true for people attending a motocross race.
Most concessionaires serve a menu based on their ambition. Generally, concessionaires who earn well over fifty thousand dollars a season operate highly productive concession booths and serve a menu that has broad appeal. The food they serve can be prepared and served to hundreds or thousands of people within a short window of time. They dominate large events, such as state fairs and large sporting events. These high attendance mega events attract a wide demographic of attendees and the earning potential is huge. There, too, booth space and other operating costs are equally huge. For these food concessionaires the critical mass bar is high, but, when reached, so is the pay-off.
However, large events are not for everyone. In my world most concessionaires prefer to work smaller special interest events and festivals, such as horse shows, farmers markets, car shows and small fairs. They cost less to participate, and the attendees are usually more receptive to a variety of menus.
In either case, no matter what your business model, menu, and type of events you work, achieving critical mass is key. The bar is high for concessionaires who operate high production booths, selling food at mega events. The bar is much lower for others who sell economically at moderate events. There, a less productive menu that appeals to fewer people might work just right.
There is more to reaching critical mass in sales than the popularity of your menu.
Thank You Barb, this is very helpful to me as I am a new owner of a concession trailer. With yes of cooking behind and hopefully in front of me. I have so many menu ideas it's almost impossible to choose what to have on the menu and what to leave off. I truly do not know where to begin. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
As right now, I am only waiting for the Health Dept Inspection. I have her cleaned and ready to cook. I am just stuck on set menu items. I know I need to have at least one or two items that have to stand out from the crowd. Anyway, this is what I have always worked for and my husband has made it possible for me. I will not let him down. We have the time,the trailer and the ideas,now to put them into focus.
I am rambling on. Sorry for that. I just got he home from TN yesterday and I can't contain myself! Please call me Moon.