In these times of economic austerity and squeezed consumer spending, especially on treats such as dining out, pubs now, more than ever, need to find points of difference to their competitors. For those of you with outdoor areas at your pub, such as a beer garden or terrace, creating events to attract customers old and new, are essential in making these areas pay their way all year round. One way of achieving this is to add a pig or hog roast to your calendar of outdoor events.
Colin George, a director of RotiGrill gives you his take on outdoor cooking events.
The Theatre of Cooking
Times are tough and in such circumstances publicans are reluctant to risk increasing their costs, however, that doesn’t mean that you have to “shut up shop”. It just means that you need to put your money where it gets the best return. Added to that, you don’t want to attract people to your pub who might only come once or twice, you need to build interest and loyalty. That means offering something different.
I used to be a professional event producer and I can tell you from experience that taking the time to produce something that sets you apart from the rest, is time very well spent.
Outdoor cooking events have always been popular, we know this, as we sell the kit to people who run them and the feedback we get is quite interesting. Recently, a customer reported that she had attended a pub advertising a “Hog Roast”. When pushed, staff admitted that they were cooking pork legs in their oven. Now this is not an event! An event is something that generates a “buzz” and delivers something a bit different. In days of old a “Pig Roast” was seriously memorable, where the pig was brought in as part of a procession and the whole event was entertaining.
What You See Is What You Get
Some pubs go for the “theatre”, but all too often, customers only see what is served on their plate. They could be anywhere, eating roast pork. And how often have we been disappointed at eating tasteless, watery pork, that is offered as a “hog roast”.
At Rotigrill, we produce traditional open fire, charcoal roasting machines and our tag line is “The Theatre Of Cooking”. However, there are quite a few manufacturers of Hog Roast equipment, most of them use gas and their units are often on wheels. These are ideal for mobile and event caterers, but they do not produce any “theatre”. Pubs are not mobile and therefore have the opportunity to create something a bit different that will build a reputation and attract customers.
Why hide your pig or lamb inside a steel canister when you can let your customers see and smell the cooking experience – and taste the difference, from an “open fire”?
And why restrict your BBQ events to a grill when you can have spit roasts, kebabs and a grill all in one unit?
Added Value For Outside Events
Then, think about added value: Minstrels, dancers and story tellers. There are loads of amateur groups who are looking for venues at which they perform. Often they are linked to a charity, which always has a feel good factor and can help make your pub the “heart of the local community”. A bit of time and thought can really make a difference and you can charge a premium.
Outside “roasts” offer a tremendous opportunity in terms of revenue generation and customer satisfaction. However, if all the customer sees is what comes on the plate, a massive opportunity has been missed to build an event which has some theatre. It’s the theatre that makes the difference. Seeing and smelling your food as it is being cooked is both captivating to watch and it makes your mouth water – literally.
Not Just Pigs
The Hog Roast is only one of the outdoor “theatre” opportunities. We also supply a Lamb Roaster and a multi-roast BBQ, where you can spit roast, kebab and grill at the same time if you wish. Operated by numerous Pubs and Clubs, the Rotigrill Hog Roaster has shown itself to be an excellent revenue generator, with a very low outlay. It’s economical with charcoal and easy to clean.
The Rotigrill Lamb Roaster is a scaled down version of the Hog Roaster designed to cook a lamb up to 22 kilos. It’s light and portable and does the job perfectly. Capable of cooking up to 14 kilos, the Rotigrill XL2 is robust and versatile. The three main skewers can take up to nine chickens.
Take A Look At How Easy Hog Roasting Is
Quality Not Quantity
I’m not a butcher, but we have a lot of contact with them. I also know the difference between rare breed pork and mass produced pork. I have to say that even the cheapest pig cooked on an open fire tastes good, but a rare breed animal can be sensational. When I have run my own events and used a rare breed animal, the comments from guests are always along the same lines. “This is how pork used to taste” and “I haven’t had pork like this since I was a child”.
A butcher contact of mine put up an interesting argument recently. He said that if you cook two pigs of equal weight, one being a cheaper, mass produced animal and the other a rare breed animal and measure their “cooked” weight. Then divide what you paid by the cooked weight. He reckons that the rare breed pig will be cheaper by the pound or kilo. His argument is “How much water and fat are you paying for in the cheaper pig”? Food for thought indeed!
Listen to all the clichés and this makes sense. “Buy cheap and buy twice” and “You only get what you pay for”. Of course this is your decision, but also think about your customers. What will make your event different? Rare breed, locally produced or mass produced from a cash and carry? What will build loyalty with your customers and provide positive PR for you?
If you want help or advice on hog roast equipment or putting on an event with a difference, please give Colin a call on 01494 511368 or visit their website www.rotigrill.com which has plenty of resources, including recipes and FAQs on the rotisserie cooking methods used in a hog roast.
If you quote the discount code in the members’ area you’ll get a 10% discount on all orders
a Free copy of Phil Vickery’s “The Great Outdoors Cookbook”
Top Tip – once you’ve acquired your hog-roast kit, don’t forget your beer garden isn’t the only place you can use it… advertise your pub’s new outside catering service to local groups, charities, businesses.