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September 2018

Food Concession Menus - Know Your Market
By Barb Fitzgerald of

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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.

image via shari sirotnak

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.


by royal4me2, posted 09/19/18 15:13:11

Thank you! We are new to the business and any information is welcomed. We have looked into some of the larger events and although we are able and willing our machines cannot keep up if there are too many customers. Looking forward to more articles, as most seasoned vendors are reluctant to share information.
Yummy Yummy LLC

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