By Vanessa Cavasinni, editor Australian Hotelier
Jaime Wirth, operator of the Drink N Dine pub group, will be speaking at the Pub Leaders Summit, adding his insight to the ‘Dishes Into Dollars: The Pub Food Revolution’ session. The Drink N Dine group consists of three hotels and two restaurants in Sydney, with all venues known for their quality food offerings. We asked Wirth for a taste of what we can expect in his session at the Pub Leaders Summit, asking for insight on the current state of food offerings in pubs, and what he expects for 2016.
In the last two years, the quality of food offerings in pubs has become much more important in a pub’s success – why do you think that is?
I think it’s just part of a greater trend of people being more interested in food in general. Greater interest in food and food trends from punters has increased their expectations of food quality and pubs have had to react to that in order to compete. Gone are the days where you could deep fry a frozen schnitzel and expect people to be impressed.
What do you think will be the food trends of 2016? Conversely, do you think there are any that are on the way out?
I think the American food focus has probably had its day and will start to fade out. I would say burgers have had their run too but punters just can’t seem to get enough of them. I think a return to pub classics is probably in order for 2016, after a few years of street food menus. Hopefully Nutella shakes will disappear too.
What do you think is the more successful strategy with a pub’s food offering – to find a niche and stick to it, or to offer a wide range of choice?
Either can work really and there are successful pubs doing both. We like to offer the classics – steaks, schnitzels and burgers – and then add in a niche for the snacks and barbecue sections of the menus: Mexican, Jamaican, Spanish etc. You have to cover the classics though as far as we are concerned. Nothing worse than a pub you can’t get a steak at.
Which food offerings at Drink N Dine venues have proven to be the most popular?
They all work in their own way really but our Black Bettys American BBQ offering has been quite the surprise hit. We run it Friday nights, and on the weekend from a separate kitchen at the Oxford Tavern, where you can order brisket, ribs, pulled pork and shortrib by weight with a bunch of sides. It was a massive job in getting it right but the results have been worth it for sure. Queenies (our Jamaican restaurant upstairs at the Forresters) is three years old and is still going very strong too.
What can we expect from Drink N Dine in 2016?
We have a bunch of potential projects in the very early phases so 2016 I’m sure will be busy, but nothing I can talk about at this stage. Watch this space.
To hear Jaime Wirth, Steve McDermott (Statler & Waldorf) and Matt Kemp (Charing Cross Hotel) talk in depth about food offerings in 2016, make sure to register at www.publeaders.com.au