5 Ways to Promote Your Restaurant for the Holidays

'Tis the season for holiday gift shopping, light hanging, tree decorating, and of course, a little bit of chaos. With all the time demands and stress that come with the holidays, customers will be looking for a place to get a hot meal that they won't have to cook for themselves. To help you make the most of this opportunity, we’ve compiled a list of 5 holiday promotion ideas for your restaurant, bar, or cafe that should make getting customers in the door even easier.

1. Send a Holiday Card

Sending your customers (or potential customers) a postcard in the mail is an easy and inexpensive way to remind them about your business. Try featuring appetizing pictures to induce cravings for your signature entrees or cocktails. Be sure to include a coupon or special offer on the card, so guests have a little extra motivation to visit your restaurant. You can also send out e-cards, but using this strategy runs the risk that your promotion will get lost in the other hundreds of emails your customers receive every day. Besides, during the holiday season, who doesn’t love to get a good, old-fashioned card in the mail?

2. Feature Special Menu Items

Wine Glasses

By offering special drinks, desserts, entrees, and appetizers, you can help your guests to relax, unwind, and enjoy the holiday season in a way they will always associate with your establishment. Try offering up seasonal dishes like a take on the Italian "feast of the seven fishes", or try incorporating some unique holiday cocktails on your drink menu. Just remember to do what you do well, but don’t be afraid to get creative!

3. Market Your Event Space for Large Parties or Family Gatherings

Restaurant Seating

If you have a designated event space, or a separate dining room in your establishment, be sure to market it as an area for large family get-togethers and private parties. Try posting flyers around your bar area or restaurant, advertising in the local paper, or reaching out to followers on social media to book the space well in advance of the holidays. You can choose to simply rent out the space, or you can offer catering services, as well. Don’t forget to decorate this area for the season to create an intimate and homey atmosphere.

4. Give the Gift of Gift Cards

Gift cards and certificates offer an easy way for your customers to gift your delicious food to their loved ones. An easy method to improve gift card sales during this time is to offer customers an extra incentive with the purchase of a gift card. For example, you can sell cards at a discounted rate ($50 gift card for $45), or offer a free $10 gift card with each $50 gift card purchase. It’s hard to resist free food, so guests may end up buying these for their friends, family, and even themselves!

5. Shout it on Social Media

When you’re putting forth the effort to create special holiday deals, be sure to let your customers know about it. Social media sites are great for sharing all of the promotions you have, and if your customers are pleased with what you’re doing, they’re likely to share your deals with their friends, as well. You can simply advertise your in-house deals, or offer completely separate social media deals (i.e. a post that says, “Show this post to your server for 10% off your bill.”). Social media is a free tool that allows you to reach a large number of people, so it’s always a good idea to share your special offers and promotions.

Offering deals for the holidays is a relatively easy way to draw tired and stressed out shoppers into your restaurant. Not only will new customers be more likely to give your establishment a try with a coupon or gift card, but your existing customers will appreciate your efforts to reward their loyalty. Give some of these promotions a try, and help your guests have a happy holiday experience.

Posted in: Holidays | By Sabrina Bomberger

How to Prepare Your Restaurant for the Holiday Rush

It’s the start of the most wonderful time of the year, which means that shoppers are beginning to flood malls, boutiques, and other stores for their holiday shopping. In between going from store to store, these shoppers develop a hunger that will have them scrambling to your restaurant or cafe. But are you prepared for this holiday rush? If not, don't worry. Below are some tips you can follow to get your business ready!

Hire Seasonal Help

Whether it’s a food runner, a busser, or an extra cook, making sure you have a full staff is key during this time. Before hiring your seasonal staff, it’s important to look back on years past to figure out what your problem areas were. Did you have long ticket times? Did it take a while for servers to run food? Pinpointing areas that need improvement will help you decide where your establishment could benefit from an extra staff member.

Get Your Staff Ready

Get Staff Ready

Both front- and back-of-house employees will determine the success of your restaurant during these hectic months, so it’s important that they’re ready for the changes that the holiday season brings. About a week or two before your busier months begin, have a talk with your staff about what is expected from them during this time. Whether it’s longer hours or additional responsibilities, informing them about upcoming adjustments before the rush begins can help them mentally prepare for what's to come.

Since this time of year does bring in bigger crowds, it’s also important to discuss with your front-of-house employees how they can quickly turn tables. Not only will this give them a chance to make more money, but it will create shorter wait times for your customers. Pass on some of these tips to your servers to help them turn tables faster:

  • Pre-bus tables with bus bins and boxes.
  • Suggest dishes and special menu offers when guests first sit down.
  • Give guests their bill as soon as they're done eating, but be sure to tell them that there's no rush.

Provide Alternative Ordering Options

After a long day of shopping, some guests may just want to order your food to-go. If you don’t already offer take-out options, the holiday season is a great time to start. Using services like NetWaiter can help you to set up an online and mobile ordering system for your business. While taking orders via the phone can add a more personal touch, employees can often misunderstand guests, causing them to place the wrong order. Online and mobile ordering creates fewer errors since guests are selecting and verifying their orders themselves. It also gives employees time for other tasks rather than spending it on the phone. Since this ordering method is more convenient for guests, their orders are likely to be as much as 20% larger than phone orders.

Keep Inventory Stocked

When you go out to eat, there’s nothing more disappointing than hearing the words, “Sorry, we’ve run out of that.” While guests may understand, it will still leave them with a bad impression of your establishment. If you’ve stayed on top of your records from years past, you should be able to predict what your more popular dishes are, allowing you to stock ingredients accordingly.

Promote Your Seasonal Offerings

Are you staying open on Thanksgiving or other major holidays? If so, make sure customers know about it ahead of time. This way you can take reservations in advance and have your front- and back-of-house prepared for larger parties. Does your restaurant offer party platter versions of your entrees and appetizers? Advertise early to secure advance orders, and give yourself plenty of time to stock up on ingredients and supplies like appetizer and catering trays.

Stay Positive

Stay Positive

With all the stress the holiday rush brings, like long waits and impatient customers, it can be easy for you and your employees to get stressed out. Keeping morale up in your restaurant is one of the best ways to keep stress levels low. If you're expecting an especially busy shift, provide your employees with energy drinks, juices, and snacks to keep them fueled and happy all day long. This shows them that you understand how tiring this time of year can be, and that you care about their needs.

By getting ready for the holiday rush, new and returning guests will be left with a positive impression of your establishment that will have them returning soon. So, instead of letting the holiday season be the most stressful time of the year, try some of these tips to make it a little more wonderful.

Posted in: Holidays | By Emily Hepner

6 Tips to Make Your Food Truck More Successful this Winter

You may have mastered operating your food truck during warmer seasons, but is your business prepared for the colder months? While customers have no problem waiting in line for your tasty culinary creations when the weather is warm and enjoyable, you may begin to notice a slow decline in guests as temperatures begin to drop. Luckily for you, we’ve got the information you need to successfully run your food truck in the winter.

Food Truck

Getting Started

Before you begin to implement the tips below, it’s important to take a step back and analyze your truck and your local area:

What Are Your Strengths?

Whether you bake the best cupcakes in town or have exceptional customer service, it’s important to recognize what makes your food truck unique. Finding out what makes your truck special is the key to figuring out what your winter strategy will be.

How Are Other Food Trucks in Your Area Preparing?

One of the best things about the food truck industry is the strong sense of community among owners. Talk to your fellow truckers to find out what they plan on doing in the winter months. This could provide you with additional ideas and inspiration as to what decisions your business should make.

Talk to Your Guests

Since your guests are the ones waiting in line for your food, talk to them and find out what you could offer that would make braving the freezing temperatures worth the wait. This can be done simply by having a conversation with your regulars or by sending out a survey via email or paper and offering an incentive for completing it.

6 Tips to Preparing for the Winter

1. Look Out for Your Employees

Your customers aren't going to be the only ones exposed to the winter elements. Employees make a lasting impression on new and returning guests, so it’s necessary that they’re comfortable and happy during these colder times. While your employees may be feeling the warmth from different appliances inside your truck, they're still going to feel the chill from the winter air. Consider outfitting your crew with some branded winter gear like coats and hats, or ask them for their suggestions on other ways to keep the truck warm and comfortable to work in.

2. Consider Catering


One way that people can still have your delicious burritos, burgers, and other food items is by using your food truck at catered events. From weddings and holiday parties to school dances and birthdays, there are many opportunities for your business to serve up your signature food items. Since there are a few differences between running your food truck and a catering company, it’s important to research what additional skills you and your employees will need to learn before offering these services.

3. Take Your Truck to Local Events

While events in the winter months aren’t as plentiful as they are in the summer and spring, that doesn’t mean they should be overlooked. Local gatherings like winter carnivals, tree lightings, and holiday showcases can be valuable business opportunities as they generally draw in hungry and thirsty crowds that are looking for something to eat on-site. You should also find out if neighboring towns and cities host monthly events like “First” or “Fourth Fridays”, since this will also bring in large groups of people despite the cold temperatures.

4. Partner with Local Businesses

One way you can boost the number of customers at your food truck is to team up with a local bar or restaurant and sell to their customers. For example food trucks that offer savory items like tacos and barbecue are a perfect fit for bars that don't serve food. Trucks that serve sweeter options like cupcakes and crepes should look for restaurants and cafes that don't have any dessert options on their menu. However, you should learn the local laws in your area before partnering with another business because there could be restrictions.

5. Add Seasonal Options

The weather outside may be frightful, but that doesn’t mean your guests shouldn’t be feeling delightful. Offering customers seasonal dishes like Thanksgiving-dinner-themed burritos and crepes or warm peppermint drinks will lure guests to your truck. Some trucks have even found it beneficial to sell items like mittens and gloves at a low price for guests to stay cozy while they chow down.

6. Find a Regular Stop

Food Truck Group

When your truck isn’t traveling from one event to the other, you should have a go-to stationary spot to sell your goods. This will save you time trying to find a new daily spot and will give you a more consistent routine that will provide your business with a steady stream of sales. Try talking to local businesses to find out if they’d be willing to let you park your truck in their lot at lunch time. If they're interested, offer some incentives like a free soda with meal or discounted menu items for their employees.

Instead of closing your truck or falling into a slow period during the colder months, try using some of our tips so your business can stay steady all year long. Also. don't forget to stock up on all your food truck supplies like serving utensils and paper food trays!

Posted in: Food Trucks | By Emily Hepner

It's Time to Winterize Your Outdoor Patio Space

As temperatures begin to drop to the 50s and below, it is time to start thinking about closing your outdoor patio space for the colder months. This can be overwhelming even if you’ve done it many times in the past, so we’ve compiled a list of the top 5 things to remember when winterizing your patio space.

1. Get Your Grill to a Safe Space

If you’ve invested in an outdoor grill for summer barbecuing, make sure it lasts you for many seasons to come by cleaning and storing it for the winter. First, check that there aren’t any problems with the grill that need immediate attention, such as fuel line cracks, potential gas leaks, or rusted parts. Next, deep clean your grill by scrubbing the grates, burners, burner protectors, bottom tray, and body of the grill. If you have room, it’s best to store your grill indoors, but if that is not possible, a durable grill cover will work to keep it safe from the elements. Also, it is important to remember to leave the fuel tank outdoors and covered to prevent potential hazards.

The end of grilling season can bring on the cold-weather blues for some customers, so be sure to check out how you can get the smoky flavor of summer without using your grill.

2. Clean and Protect Your Furniture

Your patio furniture has given customers a place to relax all summer, and while that’s great for business, it can cause serious wear and tear. Fortunately, the winter season is the perfect time to evaluate your outdoor furniture and see what you need to replace or repair. If you use metal tables and chairs, be sure to check for rust and paint scratches after you clean them. Small rust spots can be scraped and painted over, but if a piece has large rusty patches, consider replacing it.

Fabric furniture can become moldy if it is not properly cleaned for the winter. To prevent this, try vacuuming each cushion and umbrella, and then cover them for storage in a dry area. Plastic furniture can simply be washed with soap and water and stored indoors, while wicker and wood furniture should be treated with oil before storing.

3. Keep Pests at Bay

Your customers aren’t the only ones who will seek the warm solace of your indoor dining area this winter. During the colder months, rodents and insects will be looking for every opportunity to get out of the freezing temperatures and into your restaurant. To prevent this, be sure to close and seal the server door to your patio, and make sure that any outdoor vents are properly covered with mesh. Also consider trimming plants and shrubbery around the patio, as small animals love to burrow in the shelter of bushes and flowerbeds.

4. Power-Wash Your Patio

After all of your furniture and cooking equipment is cleaned and put away, you can wash away all of the summer grime from your patio floor with a power-washer or hose. This step will make it easier to clean again once it’s time to put the furniture back out for the spring season. Don’t forget to clear any leaves or debris from your patio’s surface whenever possible, as they can stain certain patio materials when wet from the rain and snow. After you’re finished, be sure to clear the hose of any water and turn off the outdoor tap to help keep pipes from bursting. This is also a good time to cover any exposed pipes in your building with foam insulator for the winter.

5. Consider Staying Open

If you’re lucky enough to own a restaurant or bar in warmer parts of the country, you have the option to keep your outdoor patio space open into the fall, and in some climates, through the entire winter. If you wish to remain open, you should still take a day or two to deep clean your patio using the tips listed above. You should also consider placing a few patio heaters around your outdoor space to ensure that customers stay comfortable when the sun goes down.

An outdoor patio makes for a unique atmosphere that customers enjoy, so get the most out of this space by properly preparing it for the winter months. By doing a little extra cleaning and preparing in the fall, you can save yourself a lot of hassle come springtime.

Posted in: Furniture | By Sabrina Bomberger
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