Chain restaurant menus change all the time, but sometimes, the array of challenges and objectives can make the new design heading off into many different directions at one time, and getting nowhere. But when Ruby Tuesday decided that their beverage menu presentation needed tweaking to showcase premium selections, show commitment to fresh ingredients, increase beverage sales and raise check averages, they kept their eye on what mattered. The result: increased volume and a spike in overall beverage sales directly attributable to the changes. That’s why the chain took home the VIBE Vista award for Best Chain Restaurant Menu this year.
The new beverage menu showcases Ruby Tuesday’s commitment to fresh and seasonally relevant cocktails with select features such as “Fit & Trim ‘Skinny’” cocktails with calorie counts under 150; seasonal specialty drinks made with peach, pear and antioxidant rich ingredients like açaí; and beverages grouped in categories to assist guests with their selections, including “Seasonal Options,” “$5 Premium Cocktails,” “Ultimate Cocktails,” “Refreshing Cocktails,” “Frozen Concoctions,” “Craft Beer,” “Premium Wine,” and “Zero Proof.”
Ruby Tuesday continued with traditional programs, including the “$5, All Day, Every Day” cocktail. Additionally, a wide selection of Ruby Tuesday’s signature specialty drinks made with super premium brands are also being sold for only $5. Some of these specialty cocktails include Signature Sangrias and the Tennessee Tea with Jack Daniel’s.
To make this program easy for staff to communicate and understand, guests also have the option to upgrade their cocktails to their favorite super premium and ultra-premium brands for just $1, $2 or $3 more.
With “Ultimate Cocktails” come generous pours, premium spirits and fresh ingredients such as mint, fresh fruit and more. Ultimate Cocktails include four new cocktails and the signature Ruby Relaxer, Ultimate Patrón Margarita, Top Shelf Long Island Tea, Watermelon Mojito, Mango Mojito and Watermelon Margarita. The design of the menu highlights drinks that are new, seasonal limited time offerings and antioxidant rich.
For “Refreshing Cocktails,” lighter cocktails including four “Fit & Trim” drinks with fewer than 150 calories anchor the menu page. Selections include the Açaí Mojito with antioxidants, Lavender Pear Martini, Superfruit Cooler, Skinny Lavender Lemon Drop, Skinny Pink Lemonade and Lynchburg Lite Lemonade.
Each category of drinks were tweaked – with wine, six of the listed wines were created in collaboration with the winemakers at Cultivate Wines and are noted with a “Cultivate” icon. Wines are grouped into “House,” “Better,” “Best,” and “Select” categories with tasting notes next to each selection.
In no alcohol “Zero Proof,” handcrafted and made-to-order adult drinks are featured, made with all-natural ingredients and juices and free refills offered. Drinks include Freshly Made Lemonades, Tropical Sunshine, Handcrafted Fruit Teas, RT Palmer, Peach Splash and a Seasonal Fizz.
Frequent training - every general manager in the company attends leadership sessions twice a year that involve hands on training in a state of the art beverage center – it’s essential to the program’s success. While the GM’s are in attendance, they are educated on recipe simplification, attributes of quality ingredients and the actual making and tasting of many of the beverage selections.
GM’s also participate in sales building classes specifically involving the bar. Major components of that class involve identifying and selecting the person and personality to build sales and customer bases in their bars. Robust online and printed training is available for all bartenders and all facets of the bar are covered. The training is prescriptive in nature with more challenging levels of training and development for more experienced bartenders. Each level of training consists of stringent testing to ensure that all of the information is retained. Subjects covered within the online training include all drink recipes and specifications, how to build bar business, menu knowledge, bar environment and atmosphere as well as beer, wine and liquor knowledge.