How to capitalise on the late-night eating trend

What are you offering late night revellers?

Today’s diners are eating what they want, when they want, with little regard for traditional meal times, menus or even locations. People, particularly millennials, are not making eating decisions around tradition, instead viewing convenience and taste as the most important factors.

Fast food chains have long been taking advantage of this trend, offering their customers midnight snacks that are often indulgent, quick and cheap. But you don’t need to be a chain to take advantage of the trend – often regarded as the ‘fourth meal’ in the industry, late night cravings can bring in a steady income stream that you may never have considered before. So how can you make these late-night diners choose your venue? And what are the best ways to make it a profitable venture and not just a source of sleeplessness for you and your staff?

Health is not a high priority

Don’t think of late-night eats as an opportunity to promote the same value-oriented daytime menu items. Instead, focus on high-calorie, guilty pleasures. Let’s be honest, you don’t see many midnight snacks involving a salad and a mineral water. Come up with an easy-to-prepare, decadent menu for the night owls, and you could quickly earn a reputation as a go-to spot when most kitchens are closed.

Don’t be strict with meal times

A strict emphasis on lunch and dinner time operations may limit important and high value growth opportunities for your venue. Consider McDonalds’ ‘after midnight’ menu which incorporates breakfast items for early risers, day time meal options like burgers, and snackable and shareable items to cater for the late-night crowd. Just because it’s after midnight doesn’t mean people conform to what you think they want to eat. Give them variety and focus on unique offerings they don’t get any other time.

Tempt them with add ons

Late-night revellers are prone to agree to the ‘upsell’. Consider adding low priced desserts, sweet drinks and side dishes to your menu. Perhaps more importantly though, allow them to add extras to their meal. Extra toppings on burgers and pizzas can be high value propositions for you and will often prove too tempting for indulgence-minded late-night snackers to refuse.  

Create your brand

Many venues that have a loyal late-night following have created a brand around their offerings at that time of night. Don’t simply extend your hours and menu, offer limited edition midnight options that can generate excitement and create brand loyal customers. Social media has a big role to play here – engage with young customers with videos of your out-of-the-ordinary creations. Think loaded fries with copious amounts of cheese or a comically large burger – things you might not offer during the day.

Instead of conforming to typical breakfast, lunch and dinner meal times, branch out and consider catering to the late-night crowd. If you get the balance right, and the loyal customers flooding in, it could be the most profitable meal time of the day.

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