Top 16 Wildly Successful Concessions Ideas for Roller Skating Rinks
By Corrie Pelc September 25, 2023
As all roller skating rink owners and managers know, the concessions area can be a very valuable and versatile revenue stream for your business. In fact, some experts in the industry say that somewhere between 20-25% of your gross revenue should come from concession sales. However, if you do not offer food and beverages that are exciting and attractive to guests, it may fall short of what it could be.
Here are 16 ideas from concessions experts to help ensure your snack bar or cafe meets its maximum potential.
1: Good Workflow Layout
Paul Artt, president and founder of Quik n’ Crispy, says a properly designed layout that promotes good workflow is one of the first tips for any successful concessions area.
“Oftentimes what happens is they add another piece of equipment, they add another piece of equipment, they add another piece of equipment, and they’re just using the existing counter space instead of just redesigning the space,” he continues “and that it (the concessions layout) is ergonomic and that people can get around and do things sequentially as they need to do.”
2: Use Signage
Scott Logsdon, vice president of sales for the eastern zone at The ICEE Company, says the concessions areas he sees as the most successful are the ones that use the branding power available to them.
“For example, we provide point-of-sale signage to our customers, and most other vendors in our line of work do the same,” he explains. “And the most successful operators of concession areas we find are those that use that signage, make sure to tell their customers what they have, use the brightest colors possible to advertise what’s for sale, and to maximize the impulse effect of all of those different brands they have.”
3: Visible Menu
Artt of Quik n’ Crispy says another vital aspect of a successful concessions area is a menu board that’s legible and clear as far as what they’re offering. There are still some rinks out there that use handwritten signage. Not only does this reflect poorly on branding and image, it’s also hard to read and might dissuade customers from ordering. Visual appeal is imperative when it comes to drawing attention to what you have to offer. If you haven’t switched to a digital menu board, now is the time to do that.
“Menu display visibility is important,” he continues. “I’m more of an advocate of keeping the menu simple, both for the customers’ choice and for the staff.”
4: Add Foods That Check The Boxes
Ryan Schooley, owner of State Fair Mini Donuts, says when adding a new food item to a concessions stand, it needs to tick three boxes that food experts know is proven to ensure a new product’s success.
“The product has to be produced quickly,” he details. “It has to be delicious — not just good — it has to be delicious. And third, of course, it has to be profitable. So when you’re adding new products to a concession, those really are the three categories that if it fits that category, chances are it’s a good fit.”
5: Think Regionally
When adding new food offerings, Artt of Quik n’ Crispy advises thinking about what would work the best in your region of the country.
“Like up in the Midwest, you’ll see toasted raviolis, which you’ll see them in St. Louis and some other surrounding areas. But that’s not a product you’re probably going to see in Florida, Texas, or California,” he says. “Up in the Northeast, another product is called pizza logs. They look like small egg rolls ... but they have an ounce of mozzarella cheese inside with sauce and pepperoni. It’s a very tasty item, but again, it’s more of a regional item.”
“So tying in with regional foods is pretty advantageous if they can prepare it simply and have the profit margins they are looking for with it,” Artt adds.
6: Create “Higher-End” Items
Today’s rink guests are not necessarily just looking for the standard fare of hot dogs, chips, and sodas.
“Their palates have definitely changed, and they’ve gotten fancier, so they’re more interested in higher-end type foods,” explains Ed Golebiowski, operator/president of Fun-o-Rama Incorporated, which runs Cheap Skate in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. “You can see that, for example, at ballparks. That’s where I think the rinks have to evolve as well, and that’s what we’ve tried to do by taking some of the staples that we have and just making them almost gourmet-like.”
For example, Golebiowski takes State Fair Mini Donuts and creates different flavors by adding syrups and toppings. “We’ve added a skewer through five of them, drizzled them with maple syrup like a maple glaze and bacon bits — that’s pretty popular with adults,” he explains. “We’ve done a chocolate peanut butter — just mini donuts on a skewer, drizzle them with chocolate and peanut butter sauce, and top it off with a little crumbled Reese’s (peanut butter cups).”
“So now you can charge a premium for these, and the profit margin on these are great, and it adds a lot of pizzazz to it,” Golebiowski adds.
7: Consider Offering House-Made Items
At Wheels and Thrills in Owasso, Oklahoma — which offers a six-page menu at its concessions area — owner Tammy Johnson decided to start offering hand-dipped corn dogs and cheese-on-a-stick.
“My sister-in-law used to work at the fair for 16 years, and she said you can do this, it’s not as hard as you think,” she recalls. “So we do it, and I’m glad she talked me into it because it’s definitely a big hit. So corn dogs and cheese-on-a-stick, everything’s made to order.”
8: Offer Limited-Time Items
Natalie Peterson, vice president of marketing at The ICEE Company suggests creating limited-time offerings.
“That might be a special sprinkle candy add-on that’s tied into the name of the rink, or a special name for an attraction that happens to be at the rink or event,” she explains. “It is elevating it from only a great frozen treat to this whole experience that you want to post on Instagram. That is great advertising for them to draw people to their rinks.”
9: Take Advantage of Holidays & Seasons
At Cheap Skate, Golebiowski creates special ICEEs for the holidays and seasons. For example, during Halloween, they take an orange ICEE, place a handful of purple cotton candy on it, and call it the Spooky Cotton Top.
And in July and August, Cheap Skate offers the Shark Week ICEE, which is orange creamsicle ICEE as the “sand” base, blue raspberry “water,” gummy candy sharks, whipped topping, and Nerds candy. He also uses some strawberry syrup as “blood.”
“Typically, we like to run these promos for 60 or 90 days, that way they get some length out of them,” Golebiowski says. “Serve it in a collector cup and you can get literally 40% to 50% more on the market for it than you would if you just sold it outright.”
10: Use What You Have On-Hand
Johnson at Wheels and Thrills says there are many ways you can add new menu items by just using products you already have on-hand. For example, she says that with chili and cheese, you can do so many different things.
“You’ve got chili cheese fries or chili cheese nachos,” she details. “You can call them supreme nachos — you just change the name and use the same ingredients that you have.”
And Johnson says you can add a tortilla to just about anything. “You could do a hot dog in a tortilla, you can do chili cheese,” she continues. “If you have chicken nuggets, you can do a chicken wrap. You can do quesadillas. There’s just a lot of different things that you can do with just adding a tortilla to your shopping list.”
11: Think About Shareables
Johnson also offers a number of shareable platters on the menu at Wheels and Thrills, such as a rink platter with a variety of appetizers and the Gold Mine platter with chicken strips, mozzarella sticks, French fries, and fried pickles.
“In this day and age, even parents, when they’re cooking dinner, they will cook multiple items for their kids,” she explains. “It gives them like a smorgasbord of something to eat, so if everybody doesn’t like it, somebody in the group will like it.”
12: Advertise New Offerings Separately
When adding a new food or beverage to your concessions, Schooley at State Fair Mini Donuts says it’s important to advertise that item separately from your digital menu board.
“A digital menu board is just going to group everything together and really doesn’t allow any one product to stand out,” he explains. “So whether it’s a new product that you want to advertise separately on your counter with wall signs, wall banners, etc., or you want to pick a concession item off your digital menu board and rotate it out to advertise it separately, that’s really what’s going to help drive sales.”
13: Try Sampling
Artt at Quik n’ Crispy suggests when considering a new item to add to the menu, use sampling to gauge whether guests will like it or not.
“If it’s Friday night and let’s say I’ve just added churros to my menu, then maybe once every 30 minutes you send somebody out with a sample tray and say try this, this is a new menu item,” he adds. Doing this will allow you to gauge interest. If customers are ordering them immediately after the sample, you know you have a winner on your hands.
14: Utilize Social Media
Peterson at The ICEE Company urges rink operators to utilize social media to promote their food and beverage items.
“We’re really focused on video in social media, whether it’s Facebook Reels or TikToks, to show how fun our product is,” she continues. “When they market it on their socials, they can really bring that feeling of being a kid that you’re going to have when you come in and go into a rink. It’s such a nostalgic experience, but it’s also a modern way to have fun.”
15: Get Guests Involved
Logsdon from The ICEE Company says some of the most successful social media strategies focused on concessions have been when rink operators get their guests involved in making menu decisions.
“Kids love to mix our flavors, and we’ve seen success when rink owners will allow their customers to be involved in naming those flavors,” he details. “Do a social media contest to name a flavor combo. And then sometimes they’ll even menu that item permanently!”
16: Constantly Look for New Ideas
Golebiowski at Cheap Skate says to constantly keep an eye out for new ideas to try out at your rink.
“Always scout out what other places are doing and find out how you can do it,” he continues. “Perfect example – I went to the movies with my son and they had bacon-flavored popcorn. Rather than just butter, they put bacon grease over it. And I thought, man, we could try that for a weekend at the rink and just see how it goes.”
Corrie Pelc is a journalist, editor, and freelance writer with more than 23 year experience. Her byline can be found in a variety of consumer and trade publications, with past and current clients including IAPPA’s Funworld Magazine, Medical News Today, Hometalk.com, PassportHealth.com, INVISION Magazine, and Sacramento News & Review. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: ICEE, Cheap Skate, State Fair Mini Donuts,
Be the first to post a comment!
Post a Comment