#21. Seasonal Cocktail Tastings
Regardless of whether or not your restaurant is family-friendly, wine tastings and cocktail menus offered at private events after hours for your adult crowd of patrons are incredibly lucrative. Make a few jokes, leave the kids at home, and an after-hours exclusive event like this is perfect.
Photo Marco Verch / flickr
#20. Private Partnered Events
Tesla x Wildcraft – photo: Bob Vrbanac / Chronicle
That Tequila company you partnered with last month? Has three-hundred employees who would love to taste your new margarita flight during appetizers after work. Make sure to cultivate relationships not just with your managing partners, but with the entire company. It’s a whole untapped world of potential new clients, and you already have something in common to start the small talk!
#19. Fundraisers for Local Charity
Every four months or so, for one day, shut down your kitchen for anyone but those in need around your community. Gathering supplies like paper bags and ziploc plastics will cost you little, but watching your restaurant fill with helpful members of your community just wanting to give back will make it all worth it.
#18. Social Media Scavenger Hunt
To increase engagement with your social media, consistently run short-term social media contests, on whatever platform you prefer, that require your patrons to snap pictures of their meals, of your decor, or of their favorite drinks, and post them with certain hashtags or goofy captions. You’ll definitely snag the younger crowd with this one, but the older crowd might just participate if their kids convince them. Give it a try! Either way, you’ll be all over Instagram in no time.
#17. Summer Music Series
Summer is the BEST time to hire live music, especially if your location gets snow or cold temperatures during the winter. While live music all the time is a very good idea, it can get hard to schedule, and a bit pricey. Hosting a summer music series that takes place during happy hour on the last Friday of each month will have your patio swinging and your kitchen working hard.
#16. New Menu Unveiling
Diners often don’t realize how much time and effort gets put into designing and cooking a new menu. Let them know! A small celebration every time you gently overhaul generates excitement over what you’ll do next, and keeps your patrons begging for what you’re doing now.
#15. Launch a Product
Not only will an over-the-counter product garner you publicity from wherever you choose to sell it, where there’s a launch, there’s a launch party, and that’s an event you’ll really want to host.
#14. Sponsor a Sports Team – and Host Their Banquet!
Probably one of the most traditional ways restaurants can get involved in their communities and bring in more customers, sponsoring local sports teams is a fantastic way to get schools and parents on your radar. The more options you have to host events at your location, the more likely you are to bring in new guests.
#13. Join a Farmer’s Market
It may seem silly because you’re not a farmer, but lots of restaurants today who boast about their farm-to-table cooking style pack up free samples and join their friends at the summer farmer’s markets for promotional gain. Easy finger foods like any one of your appetizers, made in bulk and transported, can be walked around and given to whatever new diners’ interests get sparked. Permits are cheap, and the publicity is unmatched.
#12. Stand-Up Comedy
While your food is delicious and your ambiance creates a perfect concept, sometimes diners can get short on attention and want to get in and get out, without loitering and really enjoying your menu. Hiring outside talent like stand-up comedians can boost your engagement and keep your diners in your restaurant for longer. Plus, you can charge for tickets!
In the same vein as hiring a stand-up comedian, or any talent, really, karaoke brings back that beloved notion of user-generated content, and there isn’t a millennial alive who will turn down a swing at “Don’t Stop Believing” during happy hour.
#10. Tap Takeovers
Whether you are long-term partners with your local breweries or just choose to make this a one-time thing, tap takeovers are just the kind of modern event that will have your diners desperate to attend. Intentionally start with fewer tickets than you have space, and see how quickly they sell. If your employees make the tickets sound attractive and scarce, you can sell the rest later for more, and the interest will already be there for your next takeover.
#9. Prix-Fixe Menus
Oftentimes during winter or summer, or around the holidays, your restaurant can host a sort of on-going event called a Prix-Fixe menu, a starter, entree, and dessert usually picked by the kitchen based on profitable margins popular demand. These menus do incredibly well during Valentine’s Day and similar special occasions, and your kitchen will appreciate the consistency.
#8. Partner With the Arts Community
In almost all major cities around the performing arts centre, there are restaurants who will offer patrons discounts or percentages off their bills if they show that they are attending a play, or seeing the symphony that night at the nearby arts centre. This partnership benefits all ages and many more lives than you can imagine – you’re promoting yourself, the arts, the performers, and your own employees. Wins all around!
#7. Couples Cooking Classes
Another way to monetize an after-hours private ticketed event is to host couples cooking classes with your chefs. The supplies are fairly simple and whether you decide to teach classes during the day or in the evening, your diners will love them.
#6. Special Happy Hours for Local Businesses
Chances are, your restaurant is located near at least one office building, if not more. If you notice that you’re seeing a few consistent local professionals visit you during their lunch hours, think up a quick and easy food and drink discount that you can give to them and also pass out on a flyer to other locals, to keep them coming back.
#5. Employee Parties
Yes, you already pay them, but if you’re a restaurant who’s cultivated a great staff, you want to reward them! Employee events often around holidays bring significant others, friends, and family into your restaurant whom you’d never met before, and they keep morale high. Another win win!
#4. Create Your Own Apparel Line
No fully-realized brand in the modern world is complete without a good line of merchandise. Hats, hoodies, visors, and t-shirts are all in-style; poll your social media accounts for what your diners want most, and get to work. Designing apparel for will get your name out to the public in a big way, and the accompanying launch party won’t hurt either.
#3. Discount Your Food Delivery Services Promotionally
Although discounts aren’t normally the most exciting way to promote your restaurant, discounting menu items on all your food delivery platforms for one week will entice many more Foodora and Uber Eats users to order from you. Everyone loves a sale, and you might create new regulars in the process who would’ve passed you by.
#2. Go Mobile – In All Possible Ways.
Buying a food truck for your restaurant could be the exact promotional event you need to skyrocket your business. Although pricey at first, food trucks are all the rage right now, and one of the most instagrammable fads of all time. Even if you simply buy and renovate a truck that sits and serves food on your patio, the aesthetic is unparalleled, just like your engagement will be.
#1. Reinvent Your Websites – And Celebrate! One of the best things about using an app like Sociavore to create beautiful new versions of both your desktop website and your mobile website is that you’ll be so excited by the results, you’ll want nothing but to host a party! New websites mean new search results, new eyes on your page, and new diners at your tables. Creating two matching, brand-new websites can give your restaurant the facelift it needs to get back out there, and what better way to do that than with a community cookout! Publicize yourself, your food, your atmosphere, and most importantly, your new websites.