Revolution bars are driving up food sales through menus that are fun and on trend
For the past two years, Revolution bars have been undergoing an “Evolution” programme by the management team led by chief executive Mark McQuater. Alongside a modern new look and diversifying beyond vodka, it has been developing its food offering under executive chef Mark Rush who was recruited in 2013. “We wanted to give the menu a clear personality, something people could associate with,” Mark explains. “The drinks menu had this, but the food didn’t at that stage. It needed to be fun, and also different from what you’d get elsewhere.” This is seen in flourishes such as the popping candy with the Fizz Bomb burger or the Wotsits topping the Smokin’ Bacon burger.
To support this, Revolution Bars Group has relaunched its Hub Chef programme in which every region has its own chef who visits each site once a month to provide support and training. It has also introduced Ace training, which teaches every member of the kitchen team how to manage each area up to their position, whether kitchen porter, chef de partie or sous chef. Whenever a new menu is launched, every kitchen manager and general manager also receives hands-on training by Mark himself. “This means that every general manager can cook each dish on the menu, and knows what they should look like when on the pass,” he explains. Delivering food front-of-house is also a key part of the group’s training scheme called ACE – Amazing Customer Experience. “It’s exciting for the customer when staff really know the menu and love it,” Mark adds.
With some venues already bringing in £15,000 a week through food, a new menu has been introduced across the 53 Revolution bars, particularly targeting daytime trade. “With the explosion of the casual dining trend, we see lunchtime as a low-hanging fruit that bar operators should really be exploiting,” Mark says.
There is an improved range of burritos, flatbreads, sandwiches and wraps, introduced after research into sales and customer feedback. For instance, methods for the burritos were completely revised after a “burrito eat-a-thon” was held in London and Manchester to determine which flavours and ingredients worked best. The results include a pulled salt beef burrito, and a smoky aubergine option, both built using guacamole, black beans, Revolution’s “smokinnaise” sauce, spicy red rice and cheese, with tortilla chips and dips.
The menu is heavily influenced by the “Americana hipster” trend, demonstrated by the new Macphilly Cheese Steak sandwich, incorporating pulled salt beef, smoked cheddar, mac ‘n’ cheese and French’s mustard inside a stonebaked ciabatta. Other examples include the cherry cola chicken wrap and the Triple Overload burger – beef, buttermilk chicken and pulled pork inside a triple brioche with “Armageddon sauce”, based on a Korean Sriracha sauce, plus barbecue crackling puffs, smoked cheddar and garlic sauce.
With after-work and party nights still hugely important to Revolution, sharer options have been completely revised, introducing the Street Food Crate and Deli Crate which showcase a variety of products on the menu. “After four years of double-digit like-for-like growth for our food offering, it was vital that the new menu contained dishes that would excite and interest the customer while improving the quality even further,” Mark says.
Originally published in the June 2015 print edition of Bar magazine.